On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
Domestic violence becomes news - only when it turns into a mass murder As the report points out, there's a glaring flaw in Washington State's protection-order system: "With very few, recent exceptions, law-enforcement agencies did not have protocols in place to remove firearms from protective-order respondents or convicted domestic-violence offenders." [more inside]
Jury acquits escort shooter. Texas Penal Code s. 9.42 has been interpreted to possibly allow the shooting of sex workers who accept money at night but do not then perform sexual services, and Ezekiel Gilbert was therefore found to have the legal right to shoot at a sex worker over a $150 dispute. This interpretation of the defence of property has come under some criticism, and although the jury may have reached their decision on a different ground, the possibility of this defence under state law appears to be sound.
Going through my parents' stuff didn't make me suddenly miss them, but I became more intrigued by them every day. I wanted to know more and more about them, to solve their mysteries. At the same time, I felt a corresponding, if conflicting, urge to speak, or write, about what many people seemed to think was unspeakable: my ever-present lack of grief. So I decided to combine these seemingly divergent impulses into an Tumblr blog called My Dead Parents, which I kept anonymous both out of respect for my family and because, after years of writing fiction, I wasn't sure if I could handle revealing so much about myself in writing.Anya Yurchyshyn writes about rediscovering her parents through their letters, after their deaths.
What started as a report of a convenience store robbery near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last night has sprawled into a chaotic manhunt for the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. The deadly pursuit, involving a policeman's murder, a carjacking, a violent chase with thrown explosives, and the death of one suspect, has resulted in Governor Deval Patrick ordering an unprecedented lockdown of the entire Boston metropolitan area as an army of law enforcement searches house by house for the remaining gunman. The Associated Press has identified the duo as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who remains at large. Both are immigrants from wartorn Chechnya in southwestern Russia. The Guardian liveblog is good for quick updates, and Reddit's updating crowdsourced timeline of events that has often outpaced mainstream media coverage of the situation. You can also get real-time reports straight from the (Java-based) local police scanner.
"Before examining the night in question – the petrol, the plot, the screaming 999 calls, the dead children – Thirlwall said: “It is necessary to look at the history of your relationship with women.” I’ve rarely heard a judge say such a thing, although in the judicial system there aren’t that many female judges, so there’s more chance this take on events is overlooked. Across Europe, the average gender balance among judges is 52 per cent men and 48 per cent women. At 23 per cent, England and Wales is fourth from the bottom, followed only by Azerbaijan, Scotland and Armenia. The higher up the court system, the more male-dominated the bench becomes. Only 15.5 per cent of High Court judges are women. The odds were against Philpott meeting a female judge this week – one woman he had no chance of controlling, striking, or impregnating – but I’m quietly joyous he did." In The Independent, Grace Dent looks at the abusive background of Mick Philpott, who got his six children killed in a house fire he started to take revenge on his ex. [more inside]
In 1933 political activist and champion for sexual freedom Aurora Rodriguez killed her Utopian 'project' and brilliant young daughter Hildegart. The Red Virgin is a short film about Hildegart by Sheila Pye. (all films somewhat NSFW) [more inside]
The Cramps ripped it up, madly channeling the sordid specters of rock 'n roll's past while staying true to its psychedelic future, even when voxman Lux Interior was a lean 59 years old. The first show from their last-ever tour does nothing but prove it. [more inside]
William Blake has been held in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York State for nearly 26 years, after he murdered a Sheriff's Deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt back in 1987. Sentenced to 77 years to life, he will be eligible for parole in 2064. But Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers "a sentence worse than death." (Via) [more inside]
'Bladerunner' Oscar Pistorius (previously), the South African olympian and paralympian sprinter, charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp whom he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, has now given his account of what happened that night at a bail hearing. In an affidavit he claims that he loved Steenkamp, who he thought was still in bed, and fired at what he thought was a burglar, before breaking down the bathroom door with a cricket bat and watching his girlfriend die in his arms. The prosecution takes another view. Police have asked for blood tests on Pistorius, anticipating a possible 'roid rage' defence after steroids were found in the home following the shooting. Pistorius is the latest in series of elite male athletes to find themselves mired in controversy.
Timeline: Christopher Dorner is a former U.S. marine and police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He is wanted in the largest manhunt in LAPD history. Dorner is wanted for the alleged murder of a police officer and a young couple from Irvine (though evidence linking the murders to him is still largely circumstantial). During the ongoing investigation, LAPD officers have wounded various civilians in three separate cases of mistaken identity. In once incident, officers fired dozens of shots at a car in Torrance, CA, wounding two women who were delivering newspapers. [more inside]
Murder happens a lot less in real life than on television, that's a given, but how much less? [more inside]
Anthony Wayne Smith was a first round draft pick for the Raiders in 1990. Alternately described as a "big old teddy bear" and "[like] a dog [that] is super beautiful, sweet looking, wagging its tail, and it's acting really friendly, but there's something about that dog.... You worry one day he's gonna bite your hand," he faced the usual hassles of an athlete shifting to civilian life when his career came to an end. Then came the arson and murder. Maybe.
On Monday, a 12-year-old California boy was convicted of the second-degree murder of his father, regional Neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall. [more inside]
Western tourists (mostly female) visiting Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali) are ending up dead, likely poisoned. Local officials have blamed the use of the insecticide DEET as an exotic ingredient in so-called "Bucket Drinks", or the use of Chlorpyrifos in hotel rooms. But Deborah Blum, an author and poison expert, doesn't buy into the insecticide theories offered by local officials. She thinks this looks like targeted murders. Since writing about the poisonings, she says she's been contacted by people who claim poisoning foreigners is common in 5-star hotels, and the police and owners cover it up.. A Facebook group was formed not only so that world travelers could share safe travel tips, but also so that notice of the unexplained, and often uninvestigated, deaths could be made public.
Reportero (alternate link) - follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. In Mexico, more than 50 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to power and launched a government offensive against the country's powerful drug cartels and organized crime. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced? [more inside]
And it's my plan if some great man, Dies with a broken head, Sirs, With much bewail I does detail, His death before he's dead, Sirs!
You wouldn't think so from its trendy shops and restaurants today, but Seven Dials was once one of the worst slums in London. Intended as a smart residential area when its construction was completed in 1710, this cartwheel of streets between Charing Cross Road and Covent Garden quickly declined to become an over-crowded refuge for the city's thieves. It was here that London's thriving trade in gallows ballads made its home.A collaboration across more than 100 years, from the jobbing hacks writing ballads and selling them at the foot of the gallows to the historical investigation of the British Library's broadsheet collection by MeFi's own Paul Slade, to modern rock, folk, and blues musicians, and then to your ears. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Security experts agree that it’s only a matter of time before smartphones become the smart person’s murder weapon of choice.
Alferd (or Alfred) Packer has inspired musicals, songs, tourists, cookbooks, students, films and government employees. Even the local library and the state archives have found it necessary to document Packer's journey from maneater to vegetarian. Some still claim he was innocent.
The complicated and contradictory life of Cecilia Chang, former dean at St. John's University. [NYT] Having enjoyed a meteoric rise at St. John's as a fundraiser in the 1980's and 90's, and having served there as an administrator for over thirty years, in 2010 Chang was accused of embezzling $1 million from the school to pay for "lingerie, trips to casinos and her son’s tuition bills." [NYT] Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that she was using foreign scholarship students as her servants, making them clean and cook at her home for up to 20 hours a week. [NYT] And during her trial, it came to light that Chang's first husband, Ruey Fung Tsai - with whom she argued over millions and divorced bitterly - was executed in broad daylight back in 1990. As he lay dying in the hospital with three bullets in his back, he wrote on a piece of paper, "My wife did this" and handed it to the police. She was never charged. [more inside]
John McAfee [recent previously], eccentric Silicon Valley mogul and creator of a McAfee antivirus software, lowered his taxes by relocating to Belize a few years ago. But his expatriate neighbor Gregory Faull was not a fan McAfee's dogs, prostitutes and partying. After Faull was shot to death last month Belize police named McAfee a "person of interest" in the case. McAfee went on the lam and invited Vice Magazine to join him, which must've seemed like a good idea at the time. McAfee was soon arrested and has since been fighting extradition back to Belize from a Guatemalan jail. McAfee said yesterday he just wants to return to a "normal life" in the U.S.
Gene Weingarten: "Since 1979, Brian Murtagh has fought to keep convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald in prison"
Gene Weingarten: Since 1979, Brian Murtagh has fought to keep convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald in prison. (Here is the single-page link.) Warning: graphic details of the murders of Colette MacDonald and her two small children. [more inside]
Researchers found that the pattern of murder in Newark, NJ is very similar in pattern to the spread of an infectious disease. Could this research show law enforcement a new way to predict where murders will occur?
'On April 12, 1987, Michael Morton sat down to write a letter. “Your Honor,” he began, “I’m sure you remember me. I was convicted of murder, in your court, in February of this year.” He wrote each word carefully, sitting cross-legged on the top bunk in his cell at the Wynne prison unit, in Huntsville. “I have been told that you are to decide if I am ever to see my son, Eric, again. I haven’t seen him since the morning that I was convicted. I miss him terribly and I know that he has been asking about me.” Referring to the declarations of innocence he had made during his trial, he continued, “I must reiterate my innocence. I did NOT kill my wife.' [more inside]
John McAfee is the founder of the McAfee security software company, one of the first and, to this day, one of the biggest. But it's what he has done since leaving the company in 1994 that has attracted him notoriety. After working on instant messaging software for a few years, McAfee devoted himself to thrill-seeking: yoga, jet skiing, and "aerotrekking," or flying small aircraft at low altitudes. After the 2008 financial crisis reportedly wiped out most of his personal fortune, once estimated at $100 million, McAfee decamped to Belize, where he began promoting a business venture aimed at halting the spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. But as science writer Jeff Wise (who also wrote the aerotrekking article) detailed after interviewing him in 2010, McAfee's commitment to the project seemed half-hearted at best, and his behavior came off as erratic and even paranoid. In a follow-up article, written after Belizean police raided McAfee's compound on suspicion of illegal weapons possession and drug manufacturing, Wise explores how "the enlightened Peter Pan seems to have refashioned himself into a kind of final-reel Scarface."
He was methodical, he rode the highways, and he preyed on teenage girls. Girls who'd run away. Girls no one would miss. In the summer of 1985, the author was such a girl. One night on I-95, she hitched a ride from a stranger and endured the most terrifying moments of her life. Now, years later, she returns to the scenes of her fugitive youth looking for clues to that terror—and the girls who lost their lives to it - The Truck Stop Killer
“I was a monster,” Malvo said. “If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives. I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so. . . . There is no rhyme or reason or sense.”
Her name is Catherine Davis. And she is a Hollywood legend. A near saint. Taylor Negron remembers Catherine Davis, the woman who was murdered by "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis.
Over the last forty years, many young women – most of them indigenous – have been murdered or gone missing along northern British Columbia's Highway 16, now nationally known as the Highway of Tears. Nobody knows just how many have disappeared: estimates range between a handful and hundreds. Their families have spent decades fighting institutional racism and governmental bureaucracy in a tragic tale that has seen no conclusion. Since 2007, the Royal Canadian Mountain Police have been investigating eighteen of these cases as part of Project E-Pana. Today, the RCMP announced its first major development: the death of Colleen MacMillen, who disappeared in 1974, has been linked to American serial killer Bobby Jack Fowler, who died in an Oregon prison in 2006. Previously on MeFi.
Two weeks ago 34 striking miners were shot dead by police at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa. Now, using laws once used by the apartheid regime to prosecute black activists fighting for democracy, the remaining 270 miners from the protest have been charged with their fellow workers' murders.
Sarah Stillman for the New Yorker on confidential informants and the ends they meet -- "Gaither was tortured, beaten with a bat, shot with a pistol and a shotgun, run over by a car, and dragged by a chain through the woods." [more inside]
"Abused people go one or two ways: They either self-destruct or make a difference, you feel me? I’m gonna make a difference."
'In 2002, five years before journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered by members of Your Black Muslim Bakery, (Previously) a woman identified only as Jane Doe No. 1 stepped forward to report decades of sexual abuse, welfare fraud and violence by the bakery's leader, Yusuf Bey Sr. She was prepared to hand over to Oakland police DNA from her three children -- evidence that Bey had impregnated her, the first time when she was 12. This was a risky move, but the woman had powerful motivation: her daughter, then 18, had alerted her that Bey was trying to abuse her -- his own child. Now, Jane Doe No. 1 has decided she no longer wants to be nameless. Her name is Kowana Banks and she is the first of Bey's victims to speak publicly.' Video interview. Transcript. (Via) This post recounts experiences of rape and sexual abuse. Topics may be disturbing to some readers. [more inside]
"What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies. One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films - for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed." - of the British TV film slots accompanied by an introduction perhaps the most celebrated is Moviedrome, running between 1988 and 2000 and presented first by Repo Man director Alex Cox and then film critic Mark Cousins. [more inside]
From Vanity Fair, The Murder Hustle: In 1988, 'When businessman Gene Hanson died in a California doctor's office, his partner, John Hawkins, a former Studio 54 bartender, got $1 million in insurance. Nine months later, Hanson was caught in Texas with a new face and a new name, Wolfgang Von Snowden. He and the doctor are awaiting trial for murder. Hawkins, a scam artist and sex addict, has disappeared with the money. Ann Louise Bardach investigates three double lives in the business community of Columbus, Ohio, the Genet underground of West Hollywood, and the luxury condos of Miami's Biscayne Bay.' Part 1. [more inside]
"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." [more inside]
The Ax Murderer Who Got Away - Shortly after midnight on June 10, 1912—one hundred years ago this week—a stranger hefting an ax lifted the latch on the back door of a two-story timber house in the little Iowa town of Villisca. [more inside]
"There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls. It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.” Tor.com brings us some short horror/fairy tale fiction from Leigh Bardugo, "The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale."
Body parts suspect the focus of international manhunt. [cbc.ca] The search for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the 29-year-old suspect in the grisly slaying and dismemberment of a victim whose body parts were sent in the mail, has now spread beyond Canada. [thestar.com] Who is Luka Rocco Magnotta? Luka Rocco Magnotta dated Karla Homolka (Canadian serial killer), police confirm. [nationalpost.com]
Los Tocayos Carlos - a comprehensive investigation by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students which uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. The issue of The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, entirely dedicated to this investigation, is available at this website.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again: black Mississippi man tried six times for the same crime.
Between 40 and 50 percent of female homicide victims are killed by their husbands, boyfriends, and exes. And, for about half of these victims, police had been alerted to previous incidents of abuse. There is, however, one exception to this grim trend: Maryland. Since 2007, domestic violence homicides in the state have fallen by a stunning 40 percent. What is Maryland doing that other states are not? The answer appears to lie with a former high school nurse, an ex-Washington, D.C., police lieutenant, and their ground-breaking efforts to protect the most vulnerable victims of abuse.—Fighting Back is an article by Tim Stelloh about new method to identify and protect abused women, developed by a group of law enforcement officers and academics (Note: The article features graphic descriptions of domestic violence and murder). The article focuses especially on the work of Prof. Jacquelyn Campbell. You can watch an interview with her here.
Gu Kailai, the wife of senior Chinese party leader Bo Xilai, has been arrested for the murder of an English businessman. Bo, until his sudden fall from power this year, one of the most popular politicians in China, the leading figure of the Chinese New Left and Party Committee Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, has completed his downfall by being expelled from the politburo and stripped of all party positions. The collapse started in February, when his top lieutenant, Wang Lijun, was suddenly demoted and then fled to the US consulate for a day - supposedly, either attempting to defect or to give incriminating evidence on Bo and Gu to the Americans for safekeeping. [more inside]
"Andrea Yates' story tracks so many of the themes we talk about all the time today. The role of religion in family life. The cognitive dissonance of so many marriages. Lingering stigmas about mental illness, especially as they relate to postpartum depression. The Yates trial was a big deal 10 years ago — even though it was overshadowed by the fallout from 9/11." The Atlantic looks back at the Andrea Yates case and how she's doing now.
"Homicide Watch is a community-driven reporting project covering every murder in the District of Columbia. Using original reporting, court documents, social media, and the help of victims’ and suspects’ friends, family, neighbors and others, we cover every homicide from crime to conviction." [more inside]
Need a spouse or uncooperative business associate taken care of? Have no fear! HitmanForHire.net is here.
The Chicago Reader's current cover story, "The Color of His Skin," (parts 1 and 2,) revisits the murder of a black man on Chicago's South Side in 1970 by a gang of white teens. Last September, a similar article by the same author, "The Price of Intolerance," (parts 1 and 2,) examined an incident from 1971, in which a twelve year old boy and thirteen year old girl were killed.
With a tough economy and less money to go around, gang members in New York City are resorting to sharing guns hidden in easily accessible places.