10/21/14

Celebrities Who Kill Pt. Two

I had a few cute emails about my first celebrity murderers article and my brother ragged me about the lameness of the Laura Bush paragraph so I decided to give it another try. So here goes.

Charles S. Dutton
No wonder he is such a good actor. He has lived it all. Charles S. Dutton served prison sentences for manslaughter, illegal possession of a firearm and acting as the ringleader of a prison riot. He killed a man during a fight at age 17 and was sentenced to manslaughter. He served seven years. Once released, he was caught with a firearm and did three more years. He was a shit starter in prison and once, while in solitary confinement when he accidentally found himself with a book on black playwrights, he fell in love with acting.

Lillo Brancato Jr.
This is one of my favorite celebrity fuck-up stories. He's just so damn dumb. I loved Lillo in A Bronx Tale, a wonderful true story of life in the Bronx for a young Italian boy in the 50's. He was also on the Soprano's, another plus. After his brief dance with fame, poor Lillo got hooked on heroin. He and a buddy broke into a home with intent to burglarize for drugs and an off-duty police officer intervened. The friend shot and killed him. Lillo was sentenced to 10 years and was paroled in 2013.




Skylar Deleon
Here is another raging dumbass. He had a teensy-weensy bit part in The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the 90's as a kid. He grew up to be a big ol' douche and murdered a couple, Thomas and Jackie Hawkes, on their yacht which he had been pretending to buy.



Don King
The boxing mogul shot a man in the back, but was found to be justified during a burglary. Not long after that incident, he stomped a man to death who worked for him and owed him $600. He spent four years in prison. Whoa. He's totally learned his lesson.





10/20/14

Truest True Crime Movies

Many people claim an interest in true crime books, movies or news reports is morbid, sick even. They take great strides to tell the rest of us how gratifying it is to the killer when we want to know what happened. They demand to know "who knows the victims' names" and toss around insults to those whose curiosity and interests are peaked.

The truth, however, is that without an interest in the "who, what, why and how" these things happen, there will never be an end to it. All the prison time and state sanctioned murders in the country will not stop it. Only an understanding of the acts can prevent them.

In keeping with that theory, there are many amazingly insightful movies about true crimes that not only depict the crimes in horrifyingly realistic detail, but show all sides of the crimes and criminals for a whole picture. In fact, some true crime movies and documentaries have won worldwide awards for the light they shed on such horrific acts and those who commit them. 

Here are some of the most renown true crime films ever made in no particular order. 

The Thin Blue Line
Not every true crime fan thinks of this one. It is the story of the investigation of a Dallas, Texas police officer and the corrupt police force therein. Drifter, Randall Adams, ran out of gas and after a 16 year old runaway, David Harris, picked him up, they went on a day-long pleasure excursion; drinking beer, smoking pot, hanging out and catching a movie. Adams returned to his hotel room where his brother was also staying, and went to sleep. He was arrested and charged with the murder of a police officer shortly after. The problem however was there wasn't any evidence that connected him to the crime. David Harris was a runaway in the throes of a crime spree and eventually ended up on death row.   




Cropsey
Released in 2009, the filmmakers delve into their own childhood myth and track down the origins of their neighborhood boogeyman and  5 missing children. This film also says a lot about mental health and law and order in the 70's. If you're a child of the 70's, it's an interesting take on the way we lived in those days. In the end, you're left wondering if the killer was ever mentally ill at all or just a very clever man. You can see it free here: CROPSEY .

The Cheshire Murders
This HBO film is a documentary about the murder of a woman and her two daughters in Connecticut. The husband/father lived. The interesting part about this film is how many it times it shows you where this crime could have been prevented as well as a whole host of police screw ups in the investigation. It cumulates into a high profile death penalty case.

 

How Terri-Lynne McClintic Became a Killer

This documentary tells the story of little Victoria "Tori" Elizabeth Marie Stafford, 8; her life and death at the hands of Terri-Lynne McClintic,18, and Michael Rafferty, 28,. The pair abducted, raped and murdered the young girl. The shocking part of this case is not only the horrific crime, but the fact that the mother was the prime suspect, despite a witness coming forth to identify a video of a woman luring the girl away. The film then goes into Terri-lynne's life. She was raised by strippers and molested repeatedly from an early age. She lived a life of horrific abuse of every type and never knew anything but that. She never had a day that did not hold rape or a beating or drug abuse. So many people blame themselves for knowing what was happening and not stepping in. Although some did, the authorities did nothing. It's an interesting view of the making of a monster. You can see it for free here: TERRI-LYNNE


10/19/14

Chiquita Bulger Oklahoma


Strangely enough, convicted murderess, Chiquita Bulger, was offered a chance at parole eventually. She was convicted last week in the shooting death of Emily Clark for "snitching", as she told a witness.

 Just before 8 p.m., at the Addison Apartment complex in the 10100 block of E Admiral Blvd. Bulger walked into the apartment and shot Clark in the head. An unnamed witness heard the gunshot and went into the apartment to see someone removing a gun from Bulger's hands and hearing her say Clark was a snitch. Clark's death was Tulsa's 13th death.

Bulger was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

10/18/14

Roxanne Buck - Ohio

 Roxanne Buck, 45, has been found guilty of murdering her 21 year old roommate, Michelle Johnson in Stow, Ohio. Details in this case are sparse, but authorities claim Buck was approximately four months behind on rent and was asked by Johnson to move out but had not.

Johnson's body was found with multiple stab wounds to the neck in a shed behind her Maplepark Drive home after her mother alerted authorities that she had not returned her calls in several days. She was covered with several blankets.

Buck was an employee of the Stow Burger King. She will be sentenced October 21rst.
From Fox News:



TORRANCE, Calif. –  A woman who spent 17 years in prison for the death of a homeless man hugged her grandchild for the first time and did a dance of happiness after she was judged innocent of murder and freed.

"I always knew that one day God would bring the truth to the light," Susan Marie Mellen, 59, told reporters Friday, after she was released from a Torrance courthouse shortly before 6 p.m.

About eight hours earlier, a Los Angeles County judge overturned her conviction, saying that her attorney failed to properly represent her and that a woman who claimed she heard Mellen confess was a "habitual liar."

"I believe she is innocent," Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold said. "For that reason I believe in this case the justice system failed."

The courtroom burst into applause after his ruling.

Based solely on witness testimony, Mellen was convicted of orchestrating the beating death of Richard Daly at a Lawndale home where Mellen and others lived.

The mother of three was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

She was embraced by her three grown children after her release.

Mellen shrieked and clapped her hands as she kissed and hugged her 19-month-old grandson, Aiden.

"First time I held him," she told reporters.

"I'm a free woman now. Let me do the running man," she said, and did a few jogging dance steps before the microphones.

She joked and beamed but also described her imprisonment as "cruel punishment."

"I would cry every night" in prison, Mellen said, but never lost faith and even wrote "freedom" on the bottom of her tennis shoes "because I knew I was going to walk free one day."

Mellen's case was investigated by Deirdre O'Connor, head of a project known as Innocence Matters that seeks to free people who are wrongly convicted.

The witness who claimed she heard Mellen confess was June Patti, who had a long history of giving false tips to law enforcement, according to documents in the case. She died in 2006.

Three gang members subsequently were linked to the crime, and one was convicted of the killing. Another took a polygraph test and said he was present at Daly's killing, and Mellen was not there.

In a habeas corpus petition, O'Connor said the police detective who arrested Mellen was also responsible for a case in 1994 that resulted in the convictions of two men ultimately exonerated by innocence projects.

Mellen said she held no ill will against those who put her behind bars.

"No, no, I always forgave my enemies," she said. "Even your haters, you have to forgive them and sometimes you have to thank them because they bring you closer to God."

Mellen said she planned to go to dinner with her family and wanted to eat an avocado, steak, or maybe something she had never had.

She also hoped to have a McDonald's Happy Meal with her youngest daughter.

"Me and her were at McDonald's when I got arrested and we didn't have a happy meal that day," she said. "... It's a happy ending right now...We're going to have a new beginning."

As Mellen's family waited outside the courthouse before her release, her son, who has little memory of his mother because he was so young when she was imprisoned, opened his shirt to show reporters a broken heart he had tattooed on his chest to honor her. Donald Besch, 25 and in the Navy, said he was hoping to have some time with his mother before he is deployed overseas in a few days.

Daughter Jessica Besch, 27, said she and her fiance of eight years were waiting to get married until her mother could be at the wedding.

"We're going to go dress shopping together," she said.

Her third daughter, Julie Carroll, 39, brought Mellen's grandson.

The children were raised by their grandmother and other relatives while their mother was in prison. They said they never told friends where she was or that she had been convicted of a crime she did not commit.

10/12/14

Texas May Have an Innocent Woman on Death Row

Kimberly Cargill is on death row for the killing of her mentally retarded babysitter, Cherry Walker. Ms. Walker was found burned on the side of a rural road in Texas. Doctors had diagnosed her as mentally challenged in 1995, saying she had the living skills of a 9 year old.

Witnesses, some her own family, testified that Cargill was abusive and violent toward them and to Cherry Walker. Cargill was arrested in 2010 on child abuse charges and a custody trial was pending in which Cherry Walker was slated to testify. The state alleged that Kimberly killed Cherry to keep her from testifying.

Kimberly has always said that she did not kill Cherry but that she suffered from a seizure as she was riding in the car with Kimberly. She had been prone to seizures and Kimberly panicked. She tried to revive her, but could not. When she realized Cherry was dead, she set her on fire in an attempt to rid any DNA from her body. She was certain she would be charged with her death.

She was convicted. She was sentenced to death in 2012. The only problem is she may be innocent. In a recent letter from Kimberly, she tells me her writ appeal was filed a few weeks ago. The Office of Capital Writs hired an expert in the field of "Mortality in Epilepsy". His findings from medical examiner testimony, autopsy reports and medical info show Cherry did, in fact, die from a seizure related to epilepsy. Her trial attorneys saw that the medical evidence pointed to a seizure and yet sis not hire an expert. Kimberly hopes to get a new rial based on ineffective assistance of counsel because of that fact.

Kimberly is exceedingly excited about this fact. She's so happy to finally have some proof that she was telling the truth all along. The trick now is to get the state of Texas to care enough about the fact that they made a mistake to do something about it. The odds are not in our favor.

10/7/14

Celebrities who Kill

Isn’t it strange how when celebrities are involved in a murder it only seems to make them more famous? It’s a far different experience for the average joe. Case in point, consider these celebrity murderers.

Matthew Broderick killed two women by reckless driving. He and Jennifer Gray were tooling along a country road in Northern Ireland when for some unknown reason he went into the opposite lane and ran head on into an oncoming car, killing two women inside. He was convicted only of reckless driving and given $175 fine. He claimed memory loss from the accident and has no memory of why he swerved into the wrong lane. Somehow I don’t think I would have gotten off quite as easily.

William S. Burroughs, a writer, shot and killed his common law wife. He claimed several different stories before finally settling on a mishandling of the gun. He served about two weeks in prison.









Rebecca Gayheart was driving on a Los Angeles street when she killed nine-year-old Jorge Cruz, Jr. Cruz wasn’t using the crosswalk, but the traffic in front of Gayheart had stopped to allow him to cross. Gayheart veered around the cars in an effort to avoid stopping and struck Cruz. Gayheart was also talking on a cell phone at the time. She pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years’ probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine and 750 hours of community service. A civil lawsuit from the Cruz family was settled out of court.

Ted Kennedy
Senator Ted Kennedy left a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts with Mary Jo Kopechne. During the drive, Kennedy took a wrong turn down a dirt road and drove off the Dike Bridge, his car coming to rest upside-down in the water. While Kennedy swam to safety, Kopechne never emerged from the car. The senator, however, didn’t notify police, and when the body was found the next morning, he turned himself in, claiming that he’d been in shock. Kennedy later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, but no other charges were filed. He received a two-month suspended jail sentence, and his driver’s license was suspended for over a year. The scandal surrounding not only the accident but also the fact that the married Kennedy was alone at night with a young woman effectively ended his aspirations of running for President.

Vince Neil
Mötley Crüe lead singer, Vince Neil, was driving in Redondo Beach, California when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into an oncoming car. His passenger was killed, and the two occupants of the other car suffered serious injuries. Neil had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and was arrested for drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. In 1986, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, five years of probation and 200 hours of community service and was ordered to pay the victims of the crash $2.6 million. He served only 15 of the 30 days in jail.



Laura Bush

Yes, the pristine republican first lady ran somebody over with her car. 

Scorned Victims of Murder

There are victims of serial killers and atrocious murderers whom no one cares about. Their names are known. Their connections apparent, their pain obvious, and yet the public at large still ignores them and many even point fingers and gossip. These victims rarely matter to anyone but each other. They are the killer’s family and friends.

The family and loved ones of convicted killers are treated with extreme disrespect in most cases and even abused physically, emotionally and mentally (including cyberbullying) and no one cares. No one does anything about it. I scoured the Internet for hours and found only a handful of articles and videos on the subject. The family members of killers go through an immense pain not unlike the death of a child or loved one. If the death penalty is on the table, the loss of a child is no different for them than other parents. They are left with feelings of horror, grief, denial, outrage, misery and confusion with no one to turn to but each other. Why is their pain any less significant?

Can you imagine how Isaac Zamora’s mother must feel? He is a delusional spree killer from Washington who killed several innocent people, including women and cops. His neighbors, people he liked. Isaac suffers from severe Schizophrenia. For years his mother begged for help. She committed him, she monitored him, she told his doctors of his violent, abusive and unusual behavior. Nothing was done. Or not enough was done. She feels the grief of each person her son killed and the grief of losing him twice. She lost him to mental illness and to murder. Her agony is doubled, tripled that of other involved in the case as she bears it from all directions. No outpouring of public empathy ours her way. She is threatened. She must always be careful and fears for her life at times.

Victim’s assistance programs aren’t offered to the killer’s family.  They are left alone to cope. The public rarely recognizes them positively. An article on CNN states; “In the aftermath of a massacre, questions and criticism are frequently directed at the parents, spouses and children of the accused. The public sometimes sympathizes, often criticizes and even goes so far as to blame family members for the actions of their kin.”

What the hell is going on here?

Many people may point to the fact that it is always close family members who provide the weapons, as in the case of school shooter Adam Lanza, whose mother financed his arsenal. That argument makes no sense, however, when faced with quotes like this about killers; “The more psychopathic they are, the better they are about hiding it.” from violence expert, Sandra Brown. Professional psychologists the world over tell us people are hardwired to believe and protect their kin, even when it comes to facing hard evidence. The human mind still wants to find a solution for the one we love. People must realize that there will always be someone, somewhere who loves that heinous murderer and should not be punished for that.


Experts agree that killer’s families are victims as well. A USA Today article on the subject stated: When young people turn violent, we naturally turn to parenting to explain what went wrong, even though research suggests that hidden, often undiagnosed mental health problems — as well as perpetrators' relationships with peers, teachers and others — can play a much bigger role.

Tragedy Compounded: Killers Parents Become Instant Pariahs
Killers Families Left to Confront Fear and Shame


10/5/14

Dark History Convention in Rantoul, Illinois


I was invited as a special guest to the Dark History Convention in Rantoul, Illinois last weekend. So, my boyfriend Steven and I, along with my son Lucky and his lifelong bestie, Dillon, came along for the ride. Rantoul is 8 hours from my home in Middle Tennessee so we headed out very early. I slept a lot and read a lot and prepared for my reader’s questions.

The hotel would not let us check in until 3 and the event began at 6 so I was pressed for time to get something in my stomach and become presentable after an 8 hour drive. We tried to eat at Olive Garden but it was so packed I wondered if it was the only restaurant in town. A quick Google search pointed out a nearby TGI Friday’s so off we went. I sipped through two glasses of Chardonnay while I ate my pasta and my nerves eased up just a little.

The hotel was in Champaign, Illinois, about 30 minutes from the venue, a V.F.W. lounge. I set up my table next to Richard O. Jones, who writes and sells “Two Dollar Terrors” in pamphlet form. Next to him was Maureen Hughes, author of The Countess and the Mob, Sins of the South and An Angry Fire Still Burns. On the opposite side of the room was Joe Hiles of Serial Killer Central and Matthew Aaron of The Last Dime Museum; both of these guys were featured in the John Borowski film, Serial Killer Culture, which was viewed at the convention. Next to them were Disney animator, Philo Barnhart and comic book creator, Charles D. Moisant.

I was just thrilled to finally set eyes on Joe Hiles. We have talked for years and I was very much looking forward to seeing him. Matthew Aaron was another big thrill for me, but I didn't get a chance to chat with him. These guys are pioneers in the True Crime sub-movement and those people buy books! Joe was so nice and so interesting and everything I knew he'd be.

I took books from my new publisher, RJ Parker Publishing, and some rack cards about this blog and the inmate services I provide. Most questions I fielded were about Eileen Huber and Richard Ramirez, however. Who knew? Judging from blog stats most people come here in search of information on Brenda Andrew. Some questions were about the new book from RJ Parker Publishing, Serail Killer Anthology Vol2., containing my chapter on Canadian serial killer, David Russell Williams, releasing in December.


It was a great time, really. The public was wonderful and the host was gracious. 

Matthew Perkins Triple Murder

The man who committed these murders recruited my daughter into the Army. We had quite a bit of contact with him at the time. Can you ima...