Thinking Outside the Box Might Solve the Case of the Boy in the Box

Originally posted on Tales from the Dark Side:

We must go back 55 years to investigate the story of the Boy in the Box, also known as America’s Unknown Child. This tragic case involves a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6 who was found inside a J C Penneybox, abandoned in a small dump on Susquehannah Road, Fox Chase, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The little boy had been horribly abused, probably since birth. His body was covered in faded, yellowing bruises, as well as fresh bruises and cuts. There were a number of cars discovered on his body which appeared to be made for IV cut-downs. X-rays revealed the old scars of broken bones, too numerous to be explained through simple accidents.  read America’s Unknown Child

The nude body was freshly washed and his hair was cut and razored in a crude fashion, possibly to disguise his identity.  He was partially cloaked in…

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Victorian Virgin Violated by a Villainous Cad(aver)

1878, Los Angeles, California was a very different scene than L.A. is today. It was always a party if you were among the Spanish elite, but it was also the Victorian Era and a virtuous reputation was essential for both men and women. Chico Forster, a wealthy handsome man, fancied himself a Lothario. His family was among the 1% of Spanish royalty in California. In reality, 72ee9d48-a75f-4498-9b01-54b13c60df45-3he was a cad. He seduced unsuspecting women, he was a gambler, had two illegitimate children, and had a dark reputation among his peers. No matter. A man with money rules the world. He was always able to find female companionship. Very cruelly, his biggest conquest was 18-year-old Lastonia Abarta. Abarta was in a very different social class than Forster. Her father owned a billiard saloon. They were lower-middle class people. As soon as Forster set his eyes on Abarta he hatched a nasty plan to bed her. Knowing that a young, single woman in the community was a virgin he looked at her as a tempting conquest. For Abarta, her virtue was the only treasure she owned. If it was taken from her, she would be shunned by society. To add insult to injury, Abarta was already engaged. Abarta’s mother, Isabel, was no fool. She knew of Forster’s reputation and ordered him to stay away from her beautiful daughter.

Forster however was a very selfish man. He wanted every woman he saw and he would stop at nothing to get them. Forster told Abarta that her fiance was a “monkey” and called him a “dirty idiot.” Abarta was intrigued by his attention but refused to become his mistress. Forster countered by promising to wed her. In reality, he only intended to bed her. On the night before her supposed wedding to Forster, Abarta was invited to sing and dance at a picobanquet given by Pio Pico, California’s last Mexican governor. He was also the uncle of her fiance. At the time, Pico had lost his Rancho Santa Margarita to Forster’s father in a famous lawsuit. The week before, on a Friday evening Forster conned the beauty into “eloping” with him in Tucson, Arizona. Forster brought a marriage license with him to prove his intentions were honorable. Finally, Abarta relented. A proposal of marriage in the 1880s couldn’t be broken. People kept their word in this era. Abarta was inexperienced and young. Tragically, she believed this joker. Now Abarta sat singing and needling Pico with improvised Spanish lyrics: “I salute your loving lips,” she sang, knowing the proud man was sensitive about his prominent mouth.  She gave a mocking bow and ran into the arms of the man she loved. It was her farewell to the stage forever so far as Abarta was concerned. (The woman pictured is Ysidora Pico, daughter of Pio Pico). The resemblance to her father is in the shape of her mouth. It is this feature that Abarta mocked the night she left with Forster.

Forster booked a suite in a beautiful hotel. He assured Abarta they weren’t going to engage in sexual relations but merely rest. He promised her on the following day they would be wed.Forster kept Abarta locked in the hotel for three days. He threatened her that if she didn’t submit to him then he wouldn’t wed her. As far as I’m concerned that was rape.  Abarta reluctantly gave in and he happily deflowered the poor girl. As soon as he was done, he zipped up his pants and informed her in a haughty manner he certainly wouldn’t be marrying her. She was nothing to him now. His mission was complete. Abarta was finished. Abarta was mortified when he abandoned her. She became desperate with shame and fear.

Returning home, she informed her parents that she had been bedded by Forster. Isabel’s response was to throw her precious daughter out of the house. Just knowing Abarta had been staying in a hotel with Forster was enough shame for the family. Think about that. This isn’t just about losing one’s virtue, otherwise known as rape. Her entire family rejected her (except her sister Hortencia, bless her). Abarta was suicidal. What did she have to live for? But wait! Hortencia had a plan. She would force the cad to make good on his promise. She refused to seSiegelPostinge her beloved sister an outcast. Don’t you wish you had a sister like that? Accordingly, on March 16, 1881, the two sisters went looking for Forster and found him in the company of another woman, naturally. She insisted he honour his promise. She hired a priest and found a church before she even found him. Aghast, Forster refused. He insisted her would return to Tucson with Abarta and marry her there. Riiight. Isn’t that what he said the first time? Forster stalled. He found another reason why he couldn’t wed poor Abarta.

Finally, Abarta snapped.  If Forster wasn’t going to marry her, then he would suffer the same fate: she would ruin him. Abarta pulled out a gun and shot Forster in the right eyeball. You go, girl. As far as anyone was concerned, he got what he deserved. He destroyed Abarta’s life. His life was the price he would pay. Amazingly calm after the murder, Abarta displayed an “icy demeanor.” Of course, revenge has consequences and the poor girl was charged with homicide. Fortunately for Abarta, her lawyers came up with the genius to use her sex (that is her gender, not her relations with Forster which was firmly established) in her defence. Nineteenth century American medicine was dominated by female “hysteria,” which was linked to sexual deprivation and malevolent influences of an oversexed uterus. Say what? Abarta’s lawyers introduced evidence that she had indeed been a virtuous woman with the bloody bed sheets recovered from the hotel room. Dr. Joseph Kurtz, a local physician with a sterling reputation, sealed the deal when he testified that, “any virtuous woman when deprived of her virtue would go mad, undoubtedly.”  In fact, “manual stimulationby a medical doctor to stimulateparoxysmswas often performed on patients. Nasty. The spectators applauded Kurtz’ diagnosis. Seriously. They bought into this crap. I’m not opposed to the jury’s final decision. It’s the perspective on women that makes me snort.

When you think about it though, we still have a version of female reproductive organs as a criminal defence today. I’m quite certain you’ve heard of it: PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome. In Virginia (love the irony of the name) Dr. Geraldine Richter (keep in mind she’s a doctor) was charged with impaired driving and other crimes. The judge pms-womanacquitted her based on the PMS defence. In Liverpool, England, 1994, a jury acquitted Jan Painter after she stabbed her husband to death with a kitchen knife. She claimed he slapped her and “impaled himself on the knife.” You know that old standby, “he fell on the knife.” Her lawyers testified that it was PMS that drove her to it. She was acquitted. That demonstrates how little men (and maybe women) understand about female sexual organs today. The charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter and she was released on probation as long as she also took progesterone. Years later she did commit other crimes when her dose reduced. Meh. I’m not buying it. There has been a similar case in the 1990s where a woman was completely acquitted of murder based on PMS. Now really, people. If PMS was a homicidal trait, more women would be offing people when good old “Aunt Flow” arrived. Still The American Psychiatric Association Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes Late Luteal Dysphoric Mood Disorder (premenstrual). The Blue Cross defines it as a disease. Wonderful. Menstruation isn’t a natural biological process anymore. Now it’s a disease. Anyhoo. Back to Abarta and Forster.

Abarta told the jury she couldn’t remember anything and as a matter of fact, they believed her. It was believed that women who lost their virtue went insane and couldn’t be responsible for their actions. Abarta was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She stood up, raised her arms over her head, and was surrounded by cheers. Her virtue restored, Abarta wed another man and “lived happily ever after.” Bless them both. And female hysteria aka PMS, of course.

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Eugenia Falleni Falls into a Fatal Gap

Eugenia Falleni , born in 1875, wasn’t all that she seemed especially beneath her clothing. She lived in constant fear of discovery. Over the years, this odd disguise would cause her mind to snap and she would begin to kill incessantly to maintain her alter identity, married man Harry Crawford. Believe me when I say Falleni wasn’t the prettiest girl on the block, at least not after her teens. Then again, Crawford was no movie eugeniastar either. I’ve blogged about a transgender existence before. I am sympathetic to these people: their lives are difficult from the get-go. They are persecuted from the time they are in their youth throughout the remainder of their lives when they finally begin living as the opposite sex. However Falleni doesn’t quite fit into this category. She was a murderer and a very skillful one at that. She killed people to remain undetected. It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone with a sinister nature.

Having said that, Falleni had good reason not to wish to be exposed as a fraud. In Victorian Australia transsexuals and transgenders, who were known incorrectly as transvestites, were unheard of by most people at the turn of the century. And Falleni’s family were hostile and uncomprehending about her need to live as a male. Falleni grew up erroneously believing that impersonating a man was grounds for an arrest. It is entirely possible that her father instilled this belief in Falleni in an effort to get her into a dress, although no such criminal law existed. She was once arrested for vagrancy due to her transgender identity, however. It was this constant, unnecessary worry that would lead to her eventual crime of murder and a prison conviction.

Falleni was the eldest of 22 children, of whom seventeen survived. FEugenia%20Falleni%201900-1910alleni’s father, a stern disciplinarian, was a man of many talents. He worked as a carrier with a horse and cart and as a fisherman, among other occupations. He used Eugenia to obtain work in brickyards and stables during her teen years by repeatedly allowing her to dress in male attire. As a child, Eugenia developed into a tomboy. She loved to dress in boys’ clothing and to play rough games with the boys. Unlike other girls in her neighbourhood, she had no interest in dresses or dolls. She was expected to play a major role in helping her mother look after her younger siblings, but she refused. In her early teenage years, she was considered beautiful, but uncontrollable. She clashed with her Italian father, who was unable to accept that Eugenia was not interested in leading a traditional female existence. In her adolescent years, even though she kept her hair very short, Eugenia was considered  to be a beautiful young woman. Her disdain for any romantic approach caused would-be suitors to redouble their efforts to gain her favours. Eugenia’s unhappy father couldn’t understand why his daughter so readily rebuffed romantic offers from these fine young men. Her mother was of no help to Eugenia; she supported her husband’s hostility against their first-born child. Only her grandmother accepted her as she was and refrained from trying to change her ways. This emotional support would always remain with Eugenia. Years later when she would give her daughter Josephine (conceived through rape) to another family, Eugenia would refer to her daughter’s foster-mother as Granny.

On 14 September 1894, when Eugenia was nineteen, her father, thinking that it would make his daughter ‘normal’, forced her into a marriage in Wellington to Braseli Innocente. She was horrified to have a stranger and a male forced upon her by her father. Her new husband turned out to be a scoundrel who already had a wife and another family in Auckland. He took Eugenia to Auckland, but she escaped and made her way back to Wellington, where she shunned contact with her family. Finally Eugenia left home in the guise of a cabin boy and began calling herself Eugene Falleni. Falleni’s family made little effort to find her after years ofamf being hostile about her decision to live as a boy, even though they were the ones who encouraged her to dress as a boy in order to work alongside her father. That’s not stupid. All the years of psychological and familial struggle finally convinced her that she had been born into a body of the wrong gender. She only felt comfortable when she wore men’s clothing. She only felt normal when she walked and talked of a man. She was happiest in men’s company and doing manual work that only men were permitted to do. She was at home in a pub with rough, working-class men, drinking pints of beer. Her need to live life as a male was not something she chose. She simply was meant to be a man. She accepted this and followed her instincts.

Falleni left Wellington to sail the seven seas. After a few years at sea as a cabin boy, her anatomical sex was discovered after a drunken conversation with the ship’s captain. They had been talking in Italian when Falleni stated her family considered her to be a ‘piccolina‘ the feminine version of ‘piccolino’ meaning little one. Falleni failed to alleviate the captain’s suspicions as to her sex. She became  ostracized by crew members and she was repeatedly raped by the ship’s captain. Ick. I read another account where Falleni deliberately told the captain about her real identity as she was bisexual and was tired of being celibate.  Either way, having a woman on board a ship was viewed as bad luck, and Falleni was unceremoniously dumped ashore, pregnant and destitute in 1898 in Newcastle, Australia. No wonder Falleni preferred life as a boy than a girl. In that same year she gave birth to a daughter, Josephine Crawford Falleni, in Sydney and put the child into the care of an Italian-born woman, Mrs. de Angeles. She took on a male identity as Harry Leo Crawford’,of Scots descent, visiting her daughter only when it suited her. Perhaps she suited life as a male for more than one reason. Josephine called Mrs. de Angeles ‘Granny‘ and later recalled that ‘Granny’ said her father was a sea-captain. Josephine knew, however, that Falleni was her biological mother and that she preferred to dress in mens’ clothing.

Falleni eked out a living through several unskilled manual jobs in meatworks, pubs and a rubber factory. Eventually Falleni found work with a a Dr G. R. C. Clarke in Northern Sydney. She was used as a general worker and a sulky driver (no, not having a sulk, sulky means a lightweight car with only two wheels).  It was there that she met Dr Clarke’s beautiful housekeeper Annie Birkett, who had been widowed several years before and left with a 13-year-old son, Harry, to support. To Annie, Crawford was a handsome man who paid her vast amounts of attention whilst ignoring the advances of the other female staff. Harry often took mother and son on sulky rides and to visit the circus.

Annie and her son left for Eugenia Falleni arrested in Long Bay Gaol, October 1920Balmain where Annie used some money she’d inherited from her late husband to set up a confectionery shop. Falleni took an interest in the business and in Annie’s wealth.On 19 February 1913, the two were married. Soon after their marriage the couple moved to Drummoyne where Falleni worked in hotels and factories. All of his jobs involved heavy, masculine work. In all that time, witnesses, including Falleni, stated Annie was not aware her husband possessed a female’s anatomy. In 1917 Annie was told by a neighbour that Falleni was a woman. It is difficult to understand how a person could be intimate with a man and not discover that he is actually a she. However, it has been done many times in history throughout the world. Brandon Teena is a modern example of an American girl who lived as a boy and was sexually active with several girls who were astonished to learn after the relationship had ended that Teena was actually a girl. Gemma Barker, 19, in 2012, was convicted of sexual assault when she had sex with underage girls in Los Angeles, while disguised as a boy. A judge commented about her case,  it has got a very mean, manipulative streak to it.’ Anyhoo. Back to Annie and Falleni. Annie confronted Falleni but of course she refused to confirm her sex, fearing that Annie would tell the police and have her arrested. Annie resolved to end the marriage against Falleni’s wishes.

One afternoon, Annie suggested that the two of them have a picnic near Lane Cove River. According to Falleni’s later statement to the police, the two of them fought after Annie told Falleni she wanted a divorce since she believed her husband “was a woman.” At some point during the physical “argument” Annie “slipped” and fell backwards, hitting her head on a rock andeugenia losing consciousness. Annie died within minutes. Falleni panicked and since there were no witnesses he disposed of Annie’s body by burning it. Nice guy. A real romantic, she left Annie’s body in scrub land, off Mowbray Road, Chatswood. Eventually Annie’s body was discovered but in spite of dental records that included a dental plate Annie wore, Annie’s body was not identified. Newspaper accounts were soon reporting that the police believed it to be a case of suicide based on accounts of a woman ‘whose manner has been regarded as strange‘ being seen in the area. Really? A “strange” woman poured flammable liquid on herself and set herself on fire? This wasn’t the Middle East. Anyhoo. Poor Annie’s remains were buried in a coffin marked ‘The body of an unknown woman’ at Rookwood Cemetery. When Harry asked Falleni about his mother, Falleni told the child that his mother had run off with another man. Eventually a witness at Falleni’s inevitable trial would also claim that Falleni told them Annie had ‘cleared out’. Not the kindest thing ever told to a little boy who had a close relationship with his mother.

In 1919 Falleni met Elizabeth King Allison, known as Lizzie, and fell in love. They married at Canterbury in September 1919 with Falleni again giving his name as Harry Leo Crawford, place of birth as Scotland and his occupation as mechanical engineer. Lizzie was over fifty years of age at the time. Lucky for Lizzie, Falleni’s killing streak would soon be over due to the ongoing concerns of Falleni’s late wife’s son, Harry. After his mother’s disappearance, Harry went to live in Woolloomooloo.In 1920, he visited his aunt and, ‘told her things which led to an interview with the harrPolice’. He stated that after returning from a holiday weekend Falleni took him to the notorious suicide spot The Gap (not the clothing store, silly) where he threw stones off the cliff. Falleni tried to get the boy to walk closer to the edge, but he refused. A week later, Falleni took Harry to scrub land near Manning Road, Double Bay, and asked Harry to dig a large hole. He did, without knowing that it was for his mother, and they returned home.

The boy also told police that his mother only married Falleni because he was so persistent and ‘there were always rows and they were never happy’. Neighbours reported to police that the quarrels increased in frequency when Falleni’s daughter Josephine arrived to live with them. For her part, Josephine was fully aware that Falleni was her mother and not her fatherHarry mentioned an incident when Falleni found them after Annie left him to live with her sister, and how he ‘smashed up everything’. Uh-oh. This bit of news was a tad worrisome. Police arrested “the Man-Woman” as Falleni was dubbed by the press, at a hotel in Annandale on 5 July 1920. Falleni asked to be placed in the women’s cells. Who knows? She also requested that Lizzie not be told that she was a woman. In a locked leather suitcase, police located an ‘article’ made of wood and rubber in the shape of a phallus or dildo.

At Falleni’s trial for murder in October 1920, the ‘Man-Woman case’ created a press sensation, with the accused appearing first in a man’s suit and then in women’s clothes, as ordered by the Court. The Prosecutor stated Falleni ‘was so practical in deceit’ as to be able to convince two women ‘for years’ that she was male. A large crowd watched when Falleni was remanded at the Central Police Court on the charge of murder. A newspaper described the accused:

The accused woman is strangely interesting. She bore an extraordinary resemblance to a man, for facially she is masculine. She wore a man’s clotheseugenia arrest. While in the docks she appeared distinctly nervous. She wears a gold band ring on the little finger, and she “fiddled” with the dock rail. In her right hand, she carried a grey felt hat. her hair is almost black and clipped short. It was neatly brushed and parted on the left side of her head. Her face is considerably wrinkled, and suggests that she is older than her stated 43. “

Falleni probably looked older than 43 due to the nature of her work and the stress of living as a man while fearing discovery. The prosecutor was given permission to treat Falleni’s daughter Josephine as a hostile witness. Obviously she must have been very defensive when subpoenaed to appear in court. The D.A. submitted her earlier sworn statement to police as evidence:

I first remember my mother when about seven years of age. She always wore men’s clothing, and was known as Harry Crawford. I was brought up at Double Bay by Mrs. de Angeles, whom I used to call ‘Granny.’ Granny told me that Harry Crawford was my mother, and that my father was the captain of a boat. My mother was Mug shot 4very cruel to me when I was a child, and often forgot me. Granny told me that my mother tried to smother me when I was a baby. Mrs. de Angeles died when I was about 12 years of age, and my mother took me to a little confectionery shop in Balmain, kept by a Mrs. Birkett, who had a son named Harry. My mother told me Mrs. Birkett had some money, and always thought my mother was a man. I said to my mother, ‘She’ll find you out one of these days.‘ My mother replied, ‘Oh, I’ll watch it. I would rather do away with myself than let the police find anything about me.’ My mother told me always to call her father, and not let Mrs. Birkett nor anyone else know that she was a woman. I did not know that my mother was married to Mrs. Birkett, but they occupied the same bed-room. They quarrelled a great deal, and mother used to come out and say, ‘More rows over you. I cannot get any sleep.’ I replied to my mother, and she said, ‘Oh, a lovely daughter I’ve got.’ I said, ‘What can you expect? A lovely mother I’ve got.’ In 1917 I met my mother, who told me everything was unsettled and upside down, as Mrs. Birkett had discovered she was a woman. My mother seemed very agitated, and was always reticent about herself.”

While incarcerated, Falleni was treated no better than a circus falleni_zps52dacdc9freak. She was kept in a cage so members of the public could observe him, all while prodding and poking him with sticks, umbrellas, and anything they could find. I agree Falleni should have been in lock-up and I believe she did murder Annie. I disagree that Falleni should have been treated lower than an animal. What appeared as a “freak-show” to the press was the humiliation of a human being to friends and family of Falleni, and of course, Falleni herself.

Falleni pleaded not guilty to the murder, but she was convicted and condemned to death. Falleni consulted with an attorney, before making a statement to the court: ” ‘I have been three months in Long Bay Gaol. I am near to a nervous breakdown. I am not guilty, your Honor. I know nothing whatsoever of this charge. It is only through false evidence that I have been convicted.”  Fortunately for Falleni, her sentence was commuted to life in prison. After some years in prison, Falleni was released. Falleni assumed yet another identity, that of “Mrs. Jean Ford” and became the proprietress of a boarding house in Paddington, Sydney. On 9 June 1938 she stepped off the pavement in front of a motorcar and was strucFP07_0224_017k by it. She died of her injuries the following day in Sydney Hospital. She was only identified through fingerprint records and the £100 she gained from the sale of the boarding house business just before the accident. The inquest returned a verdict of accidental death. Maybe. I’m inclined to believe Falleni deliberately killed herself. Falleni is buried in the Church of England section of Rookwood Cemetery, the very same where her first wife, Annie Birkett.

Public and historic fascination with the case continues today. The Sydney Living Museums, Sydney, Australia, has a collection of Eugenia Falleni photographs from the time of her first arrest in 1920. Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum was the site of Mark Tedeschi’s book launch, Eugenia Falleni: A True Story of Adversity, Tragedy, Crime and Courage. Interest and research into the “Man-Woman” case has never waned; doctors, eugenia-falleni_bookpsychiatrists, journalists, endocrinologists, feminists and historians have tried to make sense of Falleni’s identity. She has been labelled as a sexual hermaphrodite, a “homosexualist”, a masquerader, a person with misplaced atoms, a sex pervert, a passing woman, a transgendered man, and as gender dysphoric. Perhaps the most accurate is the latter, and specifically transgendered man. Obviously these assessments Falleni wasn’t a “hermaphrodite” (now known as intersex). Autopsy records have proven this to be false.

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Sinister Sante Stashed Slaves and Stiffs

Sante and Kenneth Kimes were grifters. Grifters are con artists who rob you blind but in such a manner that the victim barely notices until it’s too late and the thieves are long gone. The Kimes didn’t stay in one place very long because the plethora of crimes they committed necessitated an early escape, usually before sante and kena police investigation had even begun. Sante possessed movie star beauty. Born Sandra Louise Walker in Oklahoma City in 1934, Sante looked like a chubby version of Elizabeth Taylor in her later years. In fact, so like Taylor was Sante, that she even impersonated the movie star when it suited her. She had charm, wit and she oozed sexuality. Kenneth was more subtle. He stayed in the background as she wove her web to con her victims, ready to do as she directed. Eventually, Sante would be charged with two murders, robbery, violation of anti-slavery laws, forgery and numerous other crimes. Sante was a busy woman. Sante admitted that she committed many acts of fraud that were not financially necessary, such as enslaving maids she could afford to pay and burning down houses she could have sold for profit. Sante was described by an FBI profiler as “an onion with many different layers.”

Where does a conman or conwoman come from? Usually these paradigms run in families. what-is-the-balance-between-technology-and-safety-600x400-450x300Psychopathy is supposedly inherited genetically. Personally, the jury’s out on that one. Like many disorders, psychopathy develops from a combination of nature and nurture. The early environment of a con is filled with an abusive family of frauds, thieves and liars. They teach their offspring and younger siblings everything they know and are able to welcome them into the family circle of crime, rather like a miniature Mafia. Psychopaths make terrible parents. They can’t teach love, empathy and impulse control because they can’t teach what they don’t know. Sante and Kenneth are a perfect example of this phenomenon. And the heredity of psychopathy is called into doubt in the person of Steve Kent, Sante’s son from another marriage. Kenny was born from her second marriage to wealthy, alcoholic motel tycoon Kenneth Kimes Sr. Kent had a very different upbringing than Kenny. He has never broken a law except perhaps for a parking ticket.

Kent stated that Kenny (as he was usually called) didn’t attend public school. “He was always tutored at home. His life in some ways was sheltered and in some ways confining. My mother was always there.” Well, that’s a bit odd I’d say. After Kenneth Kimes Sr.,’s death Kent said “that was when I became aware of how strange things were becoming with my mother and my brother.” Kent sensed negative vibes coming from the two and he avoided them.

Sante spent the better part of her life fleecing people of money, expensive merchandise, and real estate, either through elaborate con games, theft and arson. She committed insurance fraud on numerous occasions, frequently by committing arson and then A_Look_At_The_Life_Of_Prisoncollecting for property damage. Kenny was in on the impersonation act. He posed as an ambassador so successfully he and his mother attended a reception at the White House during the Ford administration. Perhaps the worst crime Sante committed was that of slavery. She frequently offered homeless, illegal immigrants housing and employment. She promised to treat them kindly, then kept them prisoners by threatening to report them to the authorities if they didn’t do as she said. She made her slaves do ridiculous things, such as cleaning a floor they had just cleaned. Sante’s cruel streak was endless. It was as though she created new ways to torment her prisoners on a daily basis.

As a result, she and Kimes Sr. spent years squandering his fortune on lawyers’ fees, defending themselves against charges of slavery. They were sentenced in 1985 by the U.S. District Court to five years in prison for violating federal anti-slavery laws. Kimes Sr. took a plea bargain and enrolled in an alcohol treatment program Afterward, Kimes Sr. and Kimes Jr. lived a relatively normal life until Sante was released from prison in 1989. Kimes, Sr. died in 1994. Boo-hoo. Soon, two more people who encountered Sante and Kenny would also shuffle off their mortal coils.

kimes_003David Kazdin was murder victim number oneHe allowed Kimes to use his name on the deed of a home in Las Vegas in the 1970s and in doing so he signed his own death certificate. Sante Kimes convinced a notary to forge Kazdin’s signature on an application for a loan of $280,000, with the house as collateral. When Kazdin discovered the forgery, he threatened to expose Kimes. Naturally she ordered Kenny to kill him, which the latter did do by shooting Kazdin in the back of the head. Kazdin’s body was found in a dumpster near a Los Angeles airport in March 1998. The murder weapon was never recovered.

Irene Silverman was next. In June 1998 Sante perpetrated a scheme where she would assume the identity of their landlady, (alas, not Elizabeth Taylor this time), the 82kimes_007-year-old socialite Irene Silverman. In doing so, Sante’s plan was to gain ownership of her $7.7 million Manhattan mansion. How do people come up with these crimes? That takes some pretty conniving planning and considerable knowledge of the estate business, I should imagine. Silverman took copious notes about her fear of mother and son. These notes were used to help get a 2000 conviction, despite the fact Silverman’s body was never found.   During the trial for the Kadzin murder Kenny confessed that his mother used a stun gun on Silverman as she slept. Ouch. Kenny strangled her, stuffed her corpse into a bag and deposited it in a dumpster in Hoboken, New Jersey. Nice.Although the Kazdin murdered occurred before Silverman’s Sante and Kenny were arrested in NYC, so the Silverman murder trial was held before Kazdin’s.

Kenny pleaded guilty to the murder of Kazdin, and happily blamed his mother for the crime, stating he only did what Mommy Dearest told him to do. Such loyalty. It’s almost pathetic….oops, I mean poetic. Actually there is a lot of truth to that statement. Sante kimes_009raised him to be a grifter from a young age. He knew no other way of life. Not only were the two convicted for the murder of Irene Silverman and Kazdin in two separate trials, the Silverman jury also found them guilty of 117 other charges including robbery, burglary, conspiracy, grand larceny, illegal weapons possession, forgery and eavesdropping. Apparently Kenny didn’t learn his lesson while he was in lock-up. In October 2000, he held Court TV reporter Maria Zone hostage by pressing a ballpoint pen into her throat. Zone had interviewed Kimes once before without incident. Kenny demanded that his mother not be extradited to California, where they faced the death penalty for the murder of David Kazdin. After four hours of negotiation, prison guards created a distraction which allowed them to remove Zone and wrestle Kimes to the ground. I doubt Zone will be interviewing Kimes again anytime soon.

Sante was portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore (who still looks great) in a 2001 TV movie kimes_008titled, Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes. Sante was again portrayed by Emmy winner Judy Davis in another TV production called A Little Thing Called Murder. Sante couldn’t con her way out of her life sentence. She loved the limelight, even after her conviction. Larry King interviewed her and attempted to corner her on the Silverman murder. She was a slippery snake and managed to hold her own about her innocence. She died in prison in early 2014 at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, California where she was serving a life sentence of 120 years from the NYC conviction and a life sentence in California. Kenny was sentenced to 125 years in NYC and life in prison in California.


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Flickering Flames Finish a Farrar Family Fury

Debra Green
Debra Green was a beautiful, slender brunette. She had dark brown eyes, long dark hair and great legs. She was also brilliant: after earning a degree in chemical engineering, she went to medical school and passed with honours, becoming a physician. Her parents were proud and rightly so. Around that time she met handsome brown-haired Michael Farrar, who was also a medical student in her school. Mike took one look at the lovely Debra and he was finished. Right after they graduated medical school, the two were married in a modest ceremony. Debra chose to retain her own surname for professional purposes. It was almost a hint of the riff that would eventually emerge between the two. In fact it wasn’t long before the cracks began to show in Debra’s demeanor: when she flew into a rage, which she often did, she self-harmed, or she threw objects and broke them. Her tantrums took place in public and in private.

Mike would eventually become a successful cardiologist. Debra became an oncologist. The two were brilliant and rolling in the bucks. Not a bad beginning for two young people just out of school without a nicdebkel to their names. Yet in spite of her beauty and intelligence, Debra suffered from a mental illness that hadn’t been diagnosed. Later Debra would be assessed as a “major manic depressive wtih suicidal impulses.” The symptoms were there but at first they were reasonably subtle. Mike and her parents simply considered her to be “moody” on occasion. Over time she lashed out at colleagues and patients. When the mood swings became too much even for Debra, she began drinking heavily. Debra just wasn’t meant to deal with patients. Her bedside manner was dreadful. Her tantrums shut her off from family and colleagues but her self-control was absent. She seemed unable to do anything about her behaviour which was also indicative of extreme emotional immaturity. She rose to great success early in life, but her personality was unable to develop with it. Slowly, her beauty faded and she turned into a stern-looking, angry woman.

Prairie Village
In the early 1990s, life was good for the Farrar family, or at least it seemed that way. Life in Cinncinnati, Ohio, in the suburb of Prairie Village, gave Debra the opportunity to make her family appear perfect. She’d been held up to a tall yardstick by her own parents and she expected the same of her children. TIm Kelly Lissa Debora FarrarFortunately for the children, Mike and Debra were able to afford a nanny, giving both Debra and the children breaks from one another. One day, Debra mentioned in an offhand way to the nanny,”I didn’t want kids; I never had. I’m just doing it for Mike.” She certainly demonstrated her loathing for Tim, the eldest. Debra frequently abused the boy, emotionally and physically, simply because she could. She probably looked at him and saw a younger version of Mike. The abuse was a way of exacting revenge against her husband, although only Debra knew for what. Even after Tim’s death, Debra abused his reputation, claiming he started the fire that killed Kelly and himself, and that it was Tim who tried to poison Mike.

Tim wasn’t the only child who suffered at her hands. All three of the children were afraid of her when she drank. Debra was a terrible alcoholic and when she wasn’t drinking, she was popping pills. Her life rapidly spiralled downward to the point where she couldn’t possibly timwork as a doctor anymore. As for Mike he avoided his wife by working as many hours as he could, leaving his children to bear the brunt of her rage. While he was gone Debra told the children repeatedly about Mike’s supposed shortcomings, assuring them he didn’t love any of them. Gradually they believed their mother and treated their father with disdain. Life with his family became unbearable and  in January 1994, Mike moved out. At some point Mike asked Debra for a divorce which, naturally, threw her into a rage. Oddly, he and Debra volunteered to participate in a school trip to Peru in June 1995 with a group of friends. In fact Mike even moved back into the family home in an effort to repair the marriage. By the time the trip began however, he knew he would be again asking Debra for a divorce. During the trip, Mike became cosy with another woman, an attractive blonde named Margaret Hacker. Coincidentally she was a registered nurse married to an anesthesiologist. Hacker’s marriage was also on the rocks. The two became friends during the Peru trip but Debra didn’t seem to notice, or else she didn’t care. When they returned home they began an intimate affair. Debra didn’t discover the affair until late July 1995, when Mike asked Debra for a divorce a second time.

The Poisoning
So determined was Debra to kill Mike that she made several attempts to poison her husband with castor beans, a very lethal type of bean. People keep castor plants as ornaments because of their beauty, in spite of their deadly quality. Professional assassins, such as those hired by the KGB, have used the chemical ricin, a derivative of the castor bean, to murder their targets. Debra succeeded in poisoning her husband and then some. When he wasn’t at home vomiting and writhing in agony, he was hospitalized getting several brain and heart operations. Meanwhile, Debra snickered at her own cleverness, although she wasn’t clever enough. Somehow, Mike toughed it out and managed to survive. Debra wasn’t snickering anymore. Bah, foiled again. After Mike recovered from one of his surgeries, he decided he wasn’t taking anymore chances on his erratic wife and her treatment of the children. He forcibly confined her to a mikemental institution. Debra’s chilling comment was “you’ll get the children over our dead bodies.” Perhaps Mike should have given that comment more thought. Instead, he went ahead and began an aggressive campaign to take the children away from Debra. Debra didn’t remain long in the hospital; she wasn’t considered to be a danger to herself or her children. Incredibly, Mike didn’t inform the hospital about Tim’s abuse. Perhaps he was used to seeing his son covered in bruises. Mike was a bit of a weirdo himself, you might say. Unable to tolerate Debra any longer, Mike moved out of the family home but he continued his attempts to gain full custody of the children. He had no idea he’d saved his own life by leaving. Furious, Debra decided it was time to die, at least for the children. She wasn’t part of the plan naturally. Debra needed to tell Mike the kids were dead, then gloat at the look on his face.

Debra continued her theatrics, keeping her family on eggshells. She drank daily and by the evening was often unconscious. One evening, Mike was called home by his children who had 640px-Ricinus_communis_008found Debra unconscious and unresponsive. Mike rushed to the home but by the time he arrived, Debra was nowhere to be seen. She had hidden in the basement, although she lied and claimed to have been out wandering around town, hoping a car would hit and kill her. Her antics had no effect on changing Mike’s mind about the divorce and so Debra got busy. She went to the library and took out books about children’s deaths and arson. Not very suspicious, of course.

The Fire
On October 24, 1995, a fire blazed out of control in the Farrar household and soon engulfed the entire house. Debra managed to escape just as it was beginning and she claimed she ran to a neighbour’s house and asked him to call 9-1-1. Later the neighbour stated Debra was not alarmed (pun) when she approached him and that oddly, Debra’s hair was very wet. When she returned to her house, Debra discovered Kate had managed to climb out of her bedroom window and had made it onto the roof. Debra called out to her frightened daughter, telling her to “jump and I’ll catch you!” as she held her arms out to her. Nervous, Kate moved to the edge of the roof and jumped off. Suddenly Debra stepped back, putting her arms down by her sides. Kate fell hard onto the ground. She was stunned to realize her mother had deliberately lied to her and hadn’t tried to save her little girl. As bad as that was, Debra did something truly evil to Tim. When she stood outside the side of the house where Tim’s bedroom was located, he made it onto the roof, also calling out to his mother for help. He asked if he should go and find Kelly. Debra told him no and to “go back inside.” Again she made no effort to help her son survive. If anything, she knowingly sent Tim to his certain death, exactly as planned.

Finally police and firefighters arrived. The house was a massive, burning inferno. Neighbours gathered outside on the street, horrified to learn the children were inside the house. When police questioned Debra as to who was still inside the house, they noticed she was deadpan, emotionless. Kate on the other hand was in hysterics. She was led to the debora-green-2ambulance to be treated for shock and checked for injuries from her fall. Suddenly, Mike pulled up in his car. He’d just heard the news and raced to the scene. Police blocked his path, telling him Kate was in an ambulance and it was fruitless for him to enter the house. Instead two firefighters entered the inferno, searching for the remaining children. The could see nothing and so loud was the fire, they couldn’t even yell to one another. Instead they crawled on the floor beneath the smoke, one fireman holding onto the other. Somehow the men managed to locate Kelly Farrar. The child lay undisturbed as though she was sleeping. Instead, Kelly was dead, killed by smoke inhalation and toxicity from the fumes. The men were unable to find Tim Farrar. The next day, after the smoke had literally cleared, firefighters would find Tim’s badly burned body in the basement of the house. One of the floors had collapsed and his body had fallen with it.

Police brought Debra and Mike to the police station for questioning. Mike was devastating. Police were satisfied he knew nothing about the fire. Debra, on the other hand, was eerily calm. When she spoke to detectives she referred to the children as “my three-year-old” and “my ten-year-old” rather than by their names. She made the morbid comment about Tim stating that, “he used to be my thirteen-year-old.” She continually asked if Mike was present at the station. She didn’t ask about her children and whether they’d survived. Finally one of the policemen told her the truth, that two of her children were dead. Debra barely reacted. However, when she stated she wanted to tell Mike about their deaths, one of the policemen told her he’d already been informed. Debra became furious. She had wanted to tell her husband that the children were dead. How dare they break the news to him? Where previously she had been cooperative and friendly with the detectives interviewing her, now she attacked them verbally, calling investigators and their methods “pathetic”. She demanded to be allowed to see Mike and the remains of the house. Police looked at one another. No one had ever reacted to the news of their children’s deaths like that before.

The Investigation
Soon after the house fire, firefighters determined the fire was an arson. Investigators sought to find the source of the fire. It was neither electrical panels or the furnace. “Pour patterns” were found on the ground and second floors, meaning a flammable liquid had been poured in these areas. It covered many areas of the ground floor and stopped at the door of the house’s master bedroom. It also soaked into the carpeting leading to the children’s bedrooms. Investigators were unable to determine the exact liquid that was used though they proved that a can of gasoline the family kept in a shed had not been used. The amount of accelerant used was identified as “less than ten gallons and momike-farrarre than three gallons”. Since Mike hadn ‘t been in the family home for a number of days and the children had no reason to start the fire, suspicion rested heavily on Debra Green. In response, she refused to speak further to police. Investigators suspected that because of the use of accelerant, the fire may have singed or burned the setter. They tested clothing worn by Mike and Debra that night and took hair samples. Neither Debra’s nor Mike’s clothing seemed to have come into contact with accelerant however, Farrar’s hair showed no singeing, but Green’s showed “significant singeing”. She had even had her hair cut very short in an effort to remove singed ends before the testing, but to no av

Detectives investigated Mike Farrar’s poisoning before the fire. They contacted a store named Earl May to ask if any employees recalled selling packets of castor beans. A clerk at reported having spoken to a woman in September who requested that the store order ten packets of the out-of-season seeds. The clerk provided a description of the buyer that corresponded to Green, and tentatively identified her in a photo line-up. Prior to one of Mike’s surgeries that fall, he had submitted to tests for ricin in his blood which
was found to be positive and in substantial amounts.

The Arrest
Several months after the arson that had claimed Timothy and Kelly Farrar’s lives, Debra was arrested and charged with a plethora of crimes: aggravated arson; homicide of Timothy Farrar; homicide of Kelly Farrar; attempted first-degree murder of Mike Farrar and attempted first-degree murder of Kate Farrar. She was also charged with aggravated arson. The Greens arrived to support Debra during her trial. They were shocked by her appearance; they hadn’t seen Debra in years. Where was the beautiful, slender daughter they remembered? They could hardly believe this obese, hard-looking woman with the close-shaven haircut was their Debra. She was a completely different person and not for the better.

On April 13, Debra’s defense team notified District Attorney Paul Morrison that
Green wished to agree to a plea bargain, and on April 17 1996 Debra Green pled no contest to five charges – two counts of capital murder, one of arson, and two of attempted first-degree murder. To avoid the death penalty, the no contest Green accepted a prison sentence of a minimum of forty years without the possibility of parole. Green denied being under the influence of any drug which would affect her judgment in making her plea. Green read a statement to the court in which she said she had been “not in control of myself” at the time of the children’s deaths. Mike and Kelly Farrar were left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Kelly had a difficult time adjusting to life with her father: Debra’s lies had deeply impressed the child and added to this she was emotionally scarred by the fire and her siblings’ deaths. It would be a long road for Mike and Kelly to repair their relationship as father and daughter. For the young and impressionable Kelly, it will probably take a lifetime to forgive her mother and come to terms with the tragedy.

**Update** – Years after her imprisonment Debra began to correspond with a writer who wished to publish a book about the fire in Prairie Village. Now protesting her innocence, Debra wrote: “I find the concept of long-term plans pretty overwhelming still. Right now my hopes and plans are fairly simple — to see justice done. If justice is done, I’ll be out of here. Then I would hope only to be able to spend a fair amount of time with my surviving daughter, Kate. I would like the opportunity to get a job and support myself decently — I certainly will never again see the lifestyle I once had, and that honestly doesn’t matter to me. Being here certainly teaches you how little ‘things’ matter.” Little things, such as castor beans perhaps?

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Sex, Lies and Videotape: Jim Jones and the Jonestown Slaughter


There are many cults in America, each one stranger and more tragic than the last. I would suggest that Jim Jones and his many dedicated disciples can be included in the top three on that list. In fact, the followers of Jim Jones known as The People’s Temple, would eventually meet a fate that is parallel to David Koresh and the Branch Dividians, but without the hellfire and brimstone that took all of the cult members’ lives. Instead on November 18 1978 the 913  Jonestown, Guyana members of the Temple would die in what is still known as the largest mass suicide in history,” even though it was discovered that many cult members didn’t willingly ingest the drink. Instead they were forced to drink the cyanide-laced grape Kool-Aid at gunpoint. Members who tried to escape were shot to death. Sounds more like a mass murder to me. Survivors believe that Jim Jones himself didn’t commit suicide. They insist Jones escaped  with his life although this has been proven to be untrue. The false notion that Jones lived after the mass murders belies the continued ownership Jones had over these people’s minds.

Jim Jones
Jones was born in 1931 in Randolph County, Indiana to James Thurman Jones, a WWI veteran, and Lynette Putnam. Putnam was just plain delusional. She believed she Lynetta_Putman_Joneshad given birth to a Messiah. Perhaps she and Jones had a celibate marriage. Economic difficulties during the Great Depression (nothing great about it from what I’ve read) necessitated that the Jones’ family move into a shack without plumbing. I should imagine keeping up with the Jones’ would be a definite step downward in that circumstance. The poverty Jim Jones endured in his youth may have set the stage for his craving for great wealth as an adult and cult leader.

Jones, an intelligent child, was a voracious reader in his youth and enjoyed reading about his mentors,. Wouldn’t you know they included  Hitler, Stalin, Karl Marx and Ghandi.  Jones developed an interest in religion and here’s a shocker, it was because he found making friends rather difficult. Although he exhibited pathological behavior from an early age, I can’t help but sympathize with the child. Had he born into a healthy family, there probably wouldn’t have been a Jonestown or a People’s Temple. Childhood acquaintances describe Jones as being a “really weird kid” who was “obsessed with religion … obsessed with death”. He engaged in normal boyhood activities such as holding funerals jim_jones_001afor small animals on his parents’ property and stabbing a cat to death. Mee-ouch.  Ironic, considering decades later, he would humiliate a little boy for stepping on a bug. “I’m gonna give you a break this time, ….put you in a class and talk about why you stepped on that bug.” would be his ominous words. Jones had some childhood friends, one of whom claimed that Jones’ father, who was an alcoholic, was associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Well if Putnam wouldn’t let James have any sex, that might have driven him to drink. Unexpectedly, Jones sympathized with the country’s repressed African-Americans probably because he too was a social outcast. Misery loves company, I guess. Jones later recounted how he and his father clashed on the issue of race, and how he did not speak with his father for “many, many years” after the old man refused to allow one of Jones’ black friends into the house. Okay I can understand not talking to his father for a couple of days perhaps but many years? This certainly reveals the intensity of Jones’ beliefs. I can’t help but look at Jones’ photo and ask myself, what happened to make this little boy grow into a psychopath who would one day be responsible for the death of hundreds of people? The hand that rocks the cradle truly rules the world, or at least a town of 900 people.

Jones became a handsome man, in spite of his character. He married nurse Marceline Baldwin in 1949. In 1951, Jones began attending Communist Party meetings and rallies in Indianapolis. He was harassed for his participation ni the rallies during jonesthe McCarthy Hearings. This provoked a religious response in Jones who asked himself, “how can I demonstrate my Marxism?”  Why, of course, infiltrate the church. Well he was a Messiah after all. A Methodist superintendent helped him to get a start in his church even though he knew Jones was a communist. That superintendent should have been shot at dawn. In 1952, Jones became a student pastor in Sommerset Southside Methodist Church, but he left that church because he was prohibited from allowing blacks into his congregation. One thing I can say on Jones’ behalf is his lack of racism and consistency in this belief were indeed quite impressive, especially in 1950s America. Then again, Jones may have targeted these people because he knew they were marginalized and therefore, easier to manipulate. Jones soon saw a faith-healing service in a Baptist church and realized it was a means to financial gain. With financial resources from such healings, he knew he could help accomplish his social goals. Such a “resourceful” man.

Of Monkeys and Men
Jones organized a mammoth religious convention and fundraiser to take place 1956, in a humongous Indianapolis hall called Cadle Tabernacle. Jim invited religious leaders so jim_jones_003he could appear in headlines.  Without significant finances, Jones’ Temple would go nowhere. As it often is with these c cultists, it was all about the money, for now. Jones actually shared the pulpit with Rev.William M. Branam, a healing evangelist and religious author as highly revered by some people as Oral Roberts and Billy Graham. Roberts of course became involved in a money scandal within his own organization but that wouldn’t be for decades after the Jones’ fundraiser. Jones’ association with Branam was both brilliant and frightening. Cult leaders are often very intelligent and know how to influence masses of people. Oddly, Jones’ actually sold monkies in order to raise church funds. Monkies. Not Davy Jones’ band. Real live monkies. Seriously. And somebody equally strange was buying them. Who wants a pet that poops all over their house and throw feces at the walls? Naturally, people who associated with Jones. Whatever.

The People’s Temple
Jones began his own church, which changed names until it became the Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel.The People’s Temple was an inter-racial establishment. Jones stopped associating with the Communist Party. In 1960, Indianapolis Mayor Charles Boswell appointed Jones director of the jim_jones_008Human Rights Commission. If only Boswell had seen the future and the way Jones would decimate human rights, he might have chosen more wisely. A monkey, perhaps. A narcissist, Jones ignored Boswell’s advice to keep a low public profile, and he gave interviews on local radio and television programs. It was difficult to oust Jones from his post since the public generally liked Jones: Jones helped to integrate churches, restaurants, the telephone company, the police department, a theater, an amusement park, and the Methodist Hospital. The hospital’s desegregation was the result of Jones’ intervention when he was placed in the black ward after a health collapse in 1961. He refused to move, made the beds, and emptied the bed pans of black patients. Pressures resulting from Jones’ actions forced hospital officials to desegregate the wards. Impressive. That’s how cult leaders operate. They appear to be sincere in the public light and in this manner attract more and more followers.

Jones received criticism in Indiana for his views. A swastika was placed on the Temple, a stick of dynamite was left in the Temple, and a dead cat was thrown at Jim_Jones_brochure_of_Peoples_TempleJones’ house after a threatening phone call (perhaps it was the cat he stabbed to death as a child). Jones himself was involved in some of these threats. He and  Marceline adopted several children of “partial non-Caucasian ancestry” (not too black and not too white). whom he called his “rainbow [brite?] family.” Jones stated, “Integration is a more personal thing with me now. It’s a question of my son’s future.” Jones began to refer to the Temple overall as a “rainbow family.”

Death Prophecy
In December 1963, he told his Indiana congregation that the world would end in a nuclear war on July 15, 1967, resulting in a socialist Eden on earth. He moved the jim_jones_004Temple to northern California to await this magnificent prophecy. While Jones always spoke of the gospel’s virtues, Jones concealed the fact that his beliefs were based on communist theory. He mixed communist views with that of religion: “If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin. But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.” Jones spoke out again traditional Christianity as “fly away religion,” referring to its teachings as a tool to oppress women and non-whites. Odd, considering his mother would have choked in her grave had she known of her son’s peculiar views.Jones even went so far as to tell the Temple, “What you need to believe in is what you can see … If you see me as your friend, I’ll be your friend. As you see me as your father, I’ll be your father, for those of you that don’t have a father … If you see me as your savior, I’ll be your savior. If you see me as your God, I’ll be your God.” In 1977, Marceline stated in an interview that, “Jim used religion to try to get some people out of the opiate of religion,” and had slammed the Bible on the table yelling “I’ve got to destroy this paper idol! ….You’re gonna help yourself, or you’ll get no help! There’s only one hope of glory; that’s within you! Nobody’s gonna come out of the sky! There’s no heaven up there! We’ll have to make heaven down here!”

Jones gained public support with prominent politicians. In San Francisco, Jones and George Moscone, a mayoral candidatemet with vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale. Mondale publicly praised the Temple, resulting in Jones and the Temple gaining serious influence in San Francisco politics. The Temple helped to get Moscone elected as mayor in 1975. Moscone returned the considerable favor by appointing Jones chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission. However in spite of these glorious developments, all was 121812-national-end-of-days-infamous-doomsday-prophecies-heavens-gatenot as well in the Temple as it seemed.  Two years after Moscone’s election, Jones and several hundred Temple followers left San Francisco and relocated in Guyana, after Jones learned that New West Magazine was about to publish an article detailing sexual and physical abuse by former Temple members. Not one for modesty, Jones named the new Guyanese settlement “Jonestown” after himself.  Jones did not permit members to leave Jonestown for any reason. It was the beginning of the end for members of the People’s Temple. Jones began his preparation for what he called “Translation,” where he and his followers would all die together and move to another planet and live blissfully ever after. Perhaps they would encounter the Heaven’s Gate cult and hitch a ride on their space ship.

Descent into Madness
Jones may have become paranoid, or he may have devised a plan to further captivate his flock. He claimed that when he went to put on a pair of shorts, “they had the needle fixed with some poison on it… I knew right then what someone was up to. But I want you to know I’ve not been off my feet.” His audience cheered, relieved that their savior hadn’t been poisoned by a traitor in their midst. Rather like a Judas selling Christ for 30 pieces of silver, you might say. That was the image Jones deliberately sought to impress upon his followers and it appeared to work. None of them knew, of course, that Jones was obsessed with nuclear war and he was addicted to drugs. Slowly however, surviving members, including his own son Stephan, believed he went “insane.” For Stephan, he realized something was truly wrong with Jones when Jones took him to his mistress’ house. Later, Marceline told Stephan that Jones had related in detail what had happened with himself and his mistress. “I could no longer rationalize his behaviour.” Sometimes Jones whipped his crowd into a tribal frenzy, producing howling noises, and sounds reminiscent of a movie presenting Native Americans in battle. God (pun) only knows what else the Temple did during those ceremonies.

Sexual Abuse
Naturally every earthbound god needs his goddesses and Jones was no exception. In spite of his marriage to Baldwin, Jones insisted on a steady diet of young, white virgins. The unfortunate young women were sexually molested and raped by Jones. No one intervened, believing the Temple’s leader w08-11a-everhen he insisted his sexual deviances were meant to expose hypocrisy in the church. That made no sense but none dared to question him. Jones praised open marriages and any spouse who was jealous over their partner’s infidelity was verbally attacked before the congregation. He simultaneously preached celibacy for his flock. Say what? Jones banned sex among Temple members outside of marriage, but he engaged in sexual relations with both male and female Temple members. For Jones’ perverse enjoyment, each person confessed their sexual practices and women complained about their husbands’ lovemaking. Jones told his congregation he was the only true heterosexual in the Temple, yet he also sodomized men.

Congressman Ryan
On April 11, 1978, the Concerned Relatives, an organization established by escapees from the Temple, circulated a packet of documents called an “Accusation of Human Rights Violations by Rev. James Warren Jones” to the Peoples Temple, members of the press, and members of Congress. In June 1978, escaped Temple member JT-1978-01-entrance_jiDeborah Layton detailed crimes by the Peoples Temple and substandard living conditions in Jonestown. Suzanne Jones, a stepdaughter of Jim Jones, turned against the Temple. After she abandoned the Temple, Jones referred to Suzanne as “my goddamned, no good for nothing daughter”.  Family loyalty. It warms the heart. In November 1978, Congressman Ryan investigated Jonestown. His brought with him relatives of Temple members, an NBC camera crew, and reporters for various newspapers. The delegation packed up and ran for their lives when Temple member Don Sly (a good surname for this guy) attacked Ryan with a knife. Congressman Ryan and his people succeeded in taking fifteen People’s Temple members who stated they wanted to leave. At that time, Jones said they could leave as they desired. Of course, Jones had that proverbial Ace up his sleeve and as Ryan, a reporter and a cameraman from NBC, a San Francisco Examiner photographer and Temple member Patricia Parks boarded two planes Jones’ “Red Brigade” armed guards arrived in a red pickup truck and shot all five dead. Several temple members were killed inside a Cessna airplane. Neville Annibourne, a Temple member, managed to survive and described many horrors that occurred regularly in the People’s Temple. One of the supposed Temple defectors, Larry Layton, drew a weapon and began fired on members of the party. An NBC cameraman filmed the first few seconds of the shootings. Jones attempted to defect to Soviet Russia; they had been negotiating an exodus for months. However, the U.S.S.R. would not take them after the murders.

The Massacre
Later that day Jones explained to the Temple that suicide was necessary due to supposed betrayal via

NEVILLE-ANNIBOURNE-002conspiratorial government organizations. He stated that men would “parachute in here on us….shoot some of our innocent babies…. and….they’ll torture our children, they’ll torture some of our people here, they’ll torture our seniors.”  According to a surviving Jonestown member, Jones’ claimed that government would convert their captured children to facists and that “the ones that they take captured, they’re gonna just let them grow up and be dummies.” The word “betrayal” of the People’s Temple was used in his preaching that day. Jones declared that the time had come for the group to commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Jones opened a container full of Kool-Aid, however, empty packets of grape Flavor Aid found on the scene proved that this was used to mix the “potion“, along with a powerful sedative. 909 people died of apparent cyanide poisoning that day. This resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate, criminal act until the 9-1-1 killings. Photographs of the morbid event are simple heart-breaking. That so many people believed in the teachings of the twisted Jim Jones even as he abused and misled them, is baffling. Their pathetic loyalty brought them to this grim end.

When members cried during the forced suicide, Jones counseled, “Stop this hysterics. This is not the way for people who are Socialists or Communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity….Don’t be afraid to die..[they were]“just stepping over into another plane” and that death was “a friend….We didn’t commit suicide; we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.” Children were given the drink and families were told to lie down together. On a regular basis prior to the actual suicide, Jones held img-mg-cults-jonestown_ceremonies called “White Nights“, where his followers drank a liquid he falsely stated was contaminated with poison. This was meant to psychologically prepare his flock for the actual event. Jones didn’t ingest the poison. He was found dead in a deck chair with a gunshot wound to his head that coroner Cyrill Mootoo stated was a self-inflicted gun wound.  

Stephan Jones
Jones’ son Stephan believed the cowardly Jones had someone else shoot him. Marceline died of cyanide poisoning. Sons Stephan, Jim Jr., and Tim Jones did not die in the mass suicide because they were playing with the Peoples Temple basketball team against the Guyanese national team in Georgetown. Three days before the tragedy, Stephan refused to return to Jonestown for Ryan’s visit. Stephan was unfairly accused of being involved in the Georgetown deaths, and was placed in a Guyanese prison for three months. Talk about visiting the sins of the father on the children. Stephan had been in the Guyanese commune for 8 – 10 months before his father’s arrival and described that idyllic time as “the best months of my life.”  But when his father arrived “work went from being a means of production to a means of control….when you were off work, your time was his time.” Not surprisingly, Jim Jones“was constantly seeking adulation and praise of whoever he was with.” Stephan is now married with three daughters. He appeared in the documentary Jonestown: Paradise Lost. He has never grieved for his father. No wonder.

A surviving death tape of the massacre and aftermath revealed how bone-chilling Jones’ control over many of his people had become. “How very much I’ve loved you. How very much I’ve tried to give you a good life….a handful of people with their lives have  made our lives impossible….No man takes my life from me. I lay my life down….if we can’t live in peace then let’s die in peace….we have been betrayed. We have been so terribly betrayed.” These words are among the final that Jones would ever state.  Even at this moment of death, many

jonestown_3cult members cheered for their twisted leader, and supported his grim views. “I’ve never lied to you. I never have lied to you,” Jones lied. Members cheered. “Take the potion like they used to take in Ancient Greece…anybody that has any dissenting opinion please leave.”Another tape recorded the voices of the “sons and daughters” of the People’s Temple, and their supposed acceptance of their imminent deaths. “We do have the right to die and everyone has made that decision. Anyone who [inaudible] is given permission to leave.” Clearly, Jones’ statement about the right to leave was mere propaganda.

Vernon Gosnesurviving People’s Temple member discussed what life in Jonestown was like. During Ryan’s visit, Gosne wrote a note that was to be passed to Ryan about the reality of life in Jonestown and that he wanted to escape, but instead the note ended up in Jones’ hands while Jones was being interviewed by Ryan. The expression on Jones’ face in the interview was very telling. Gosne was terrified, believing he would be killed. Ultimately, Gosne survived the massacre. Gosne’s 5-year-old son did not. The two boys picture are (left) James Warren Jones and (right) Stephan Jones, Jim Jones’ sons. The adoption of James Warren was the first adoption of a black child by a white family in America. Stephan was the Jones’ only biological child. Both boys survived the massacre.

stephan-jimmy-200-415c8c4a25fad8fd9896b7e284c927fdd3201820-s3-c85There is the mistaken belief that people join cults. No one joins a cult. They are recruited by cult members who recognize both a need in the new individual for acceptance, and an advantage to the cult in having that person join. Usually new members who do not acquiesce to the cult’s beliefs are immediately rejected. Sometimes they are forced through”brainwashing” to adopt the cult’s way of life using several different methods:

  1. the individual is never allowed to be alone
  2. the individual is imprisoned in a room s/he is forced to watch hours of videotape of the cult leader espousing the cult’s views
  3. depletion of the individual’s financial resources
  4. physical and emotional abuse

As unlikely as it sounds, these tactics work on the majority of people who are integrated into a cult. The majority of cult members never leave. That is, until a mass death/murder takes place under the delusional leader’s orders, under the foreboding guise of, “how very much I’ve loved you.” Personally, I’m parched. Grape Kool-Aid anyone?


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Brutal Bitemark Busts a Bitter Murderer

In the middle-class suburbs of the city of Wood River, Illinois in the 1970s, life was pretty good for most people. In general, the ‘burbs in nicer areas were safe, clean, decent with good neighbours who watched out for each other. They collected each other’s mail Wood_River_Standard_Oil_2when one or the other went on vacation. There were Neighbourhood Watch signs posted at street corners. There was Child Watch, a system that offered emergency shelter to children who were being bullied by other kids or followed by an adult. It was a time when people worked at the same company for 30 years until they retired with the obligatory gold watch. The stats actually stated that most families boasted 2.2 kids and an income of about $36,000.00 per household. Life was good. Ordinary and predictable, but good. As best as I can I have gathered what various authors and bloggers claim to be true details about the case. Here they are:

Karla Brown
Brown was a pretty, blonde girl who moved into the middle-class suburb of Wood River.  On June 20, 1978, she and her fiancée, Mark Fair moved into their new home on Acton Drive together, not something a couple did every day in 1978. However Brown and Fair were planning a wedding. Buying the house cemented their commitmvlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h03m07s251ent to one another. For a while Brown suspected Fair was still using his “little black book” but over time she was convinced he had completely dedicated himself to her. Brown herself had experienced many failed relationships but Fair was forever. And so they bought a house at 979 Acton, and agreed to be wed to one another.

So attractive was Brown, that the previous summer the local press had taken a photograph of her in her string bikini and straw hat as she walked along a beach. She was petite, about 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 100 pounds, with golden-blonde hair, and a curvy, slim figure. When the newspaper photograph was published, Brown’s parents had to change their phone number due to all the calls they were getting from young men interested in meeting their daughter. Brown was also a former cheerleader, having headed the cheer leading team at her high school. She was pretty, popular and everything the average American girl could want to be. When Brown and her fiance moved onto the street, the men took notice of the petite, gorgeous blonde woman. One of their neighbours was Paul Main. A friend of his, John Prante, was over visiting when the couple moved in. They kidded each other that Fair was a “lucky bastard” to have a woman like Brown. Fair also had a good job. Brown and Fair were on a significantly different social status than Prante.  Main and Brown entertained themselves with small dinner parties and invited their equally successful friends over. Prante got high and drunk. Brown’s closest girlfriends were also beautiful blondes and they had handsome, relatively successful boyfriends. Most of this crowd were college graduates. Brown and Fair seemed to have a perfect Ken and Barbie life.

John Prante
Prante’s interest in Brown was immediate. The day after Brown and Fair moved in, Prante soon learned that Brown was having a house-warming party. He approached her and asked to join the festivities. Brown must have laughed in his face (I would have). Brown of course told him “no” very firmly. Prante was a loser. There was no possibility he would ever mingle with Brown’s crowd. He didn’t have the social skills or the income to mix with her friends. They were entrenched in two very divlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h04m52s92fferent social spheres and that would never change. Brown was astonished this total stranger would even ask. Angry about her reaction, Durante provoked a fight with Brown, threatening her if she didn’t allow him to attend the party. Naturally, this confirmed for Brown that Prante was an oddball. From her driveway, she ordered him to leave then she turned away from Prante.

It was 10:45 a.m. on June 21, 1978 when 6-year-old Eric Moses, would one day testify in court that he and his grandmother had driven by the house at 979 Acton on June 21, 1978, while his grandmother, Edna Moses, was taking him to a dental appointment in the area. He’d forgotten to tell her where the dentist’s office was and in turning around Eric and his grandmother saw a blonde woman and a man talking in the driveway of 979 Acton. Moses would testify that as his grandmother was turning around, the woman started to walk toward the house. Later that day, John Prante   joined Main and the two got drunk and high. Prante told Main that he had put in a few applications looking for work that morning and that he had talked to Brown over at her house. It was typical of Prante to be unemployed. Prante just couldn’t seem to hold down the same job for long. Usually he was fired for tardiness, absence, a poor attitude or simply not doing the work. After a while, a delivery man showed up on the doorstep, and rang the bell and knocked. Prante muttered under his breath, “I don’t know why he keeps knocking. She ain’t gonna answer.”

The Murder
At approximately 5:45 p.m., Fair returned home from work with a friend Thomas Feigenbaum, who had helped him move into his new house. He noticed the front door was open and became annoyed. “I keep telling Karla to shut the door,” he muttered. He and Feigenbaum went inside to get a beer and sit outside in the beautiful sunshine. Fair called out to Brown who didn’t answer. After searching the bedrooms, a confused Fair went downstairs. There he was greeted by a sight he would never forget. Near a corner in the basement lay the half-nude body of Karla Brown, her head and shoulders immersed in a large barrel of water. Brown’s hands were tied behind her back with a wwhole_whiskyhite extension cord. With a yell, Fair ran to Brown, pulling her out of the water. He yelled to Feigenbaum to call police and an ambulance. When ambulance attendants made their way to the basement, they found Fair holding his fiance’s body to his chest and sobbing with grief. Attendants took Brown from Fair and continued CPR but ceased after several minutes. It was obvious that Brown was dead.A number of police cruisers lined the street outside Brown and Fair’s house. A coroner’s truck was dispatched to remove Brown’s body to the city morgue. It was covered with a blanket to hide the body from the eyes of curious neighbours who lined up on the sidewalk across the street. Brown’s body was a horrid mess. The attack had been prolonged and utterly savage, the work of an extremely vengeful killer. Brown was the victim of an overkill, where the killer attacks well beyond the actions that would quickly and simply end a person’s life. This killer was determined to make Brown suffer.

The Autopsy
The coroner’s report later revealed that Brown had been beaten about the head, strangled and stabbed. Brown had also suffered dry drowning. There are many different types of dry drowning, some of which have nothing to do with water. In Brown’s case the phenomenon occurred when she was already unconscious but submerged in water. Water leaked into her lungs, but it wasn’t aspirated with the same frantic gasping as a conscious drowning victim. For that reason , only a small amount of water entered the lungs which remained mostly “dry.” Hence the term dry drowning. The cord that had been knotted around Brown’s neck had cut already off most of her air supply before her head was submerged in the barrel. Brown was covered in dark, ugly bruises. For some reason, Brown was wearing a heavy sweater that was buttoned and that she usually wore only for social occasions in cold weather Two men’s socks, tied together, were tied tightly around her neck. She had a large gash on her forehead, a cut on her nose, and a large gash on her chin. The area where the socks had been tied around her neck was bruised.

vlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h16m32s153The crime scene itself was a hazard. The socks had been kept in a dresser drawer in a bedroom upstairs, the extension cord that had been used to tie her hands together had been packed in a box in the basement, and the clothes in the lard can had been dumped on the basement floor. A couch in the basement was blood soaked, and blood was splattered on the basement floor. A bloodied cushion was heavily saturated with water. On a coffee table near the couch was a blood-stained tampon. The killer had either allowed or ordered Brown to remove it before the assault. At one end of the couch a stand of TV trays was overturned. A coffee pot from the couple’s coffee maker was found in the rafters of the laundry room. The entrance at the rear of the house led directly to the basement. With the exception of the TV tray nothing was overturned.  Police noticed that the killer had left a bloody hand print on the doorknob as he left. That meant he hadn’t taken the time to wash himself off, for two reasons:

(1) he didn’t want to be in the house should Fair return home early
(2) he lived close by and had no concerns about being seen

When Fair notified Brown’s family about the murder, they were shocked and horrified. Word got around town and reached Brown’s friends. The following day the local press made Brown’s murder the front page headline. Local news broadcasts asked for people to call in with any possible information, no matter how trivial it seemed. Sometimes it is the most unlikely clue that can lead to an arrest. Brown’s funeral took place three days after the murder. Rather than preparing for her wedding, Brown’s family now had to prepare for her funeral. Her mother chose her favourite dress to bury her daughter. The funeral director’s make-up expert was careful to disguise Brown’s bruises as best as he could. Although the deceased Brown was still lovely, the Brown’s requested a closed casket for their daughter’s funeral. They didn’t want Brown exposed for people to satisfy their morbid curiosity.

Police began investigating all of the men who lived on the street and were home at the time of the murder. Allkarla-brown of the men except for one had airtight alibis (most of them being at work). John Prante wasn’t currently employed and he had no alibi as to where he was on the day Brown was killed. Police Prante was quite happy to take a lie detector test, and to the police’s disappointment and surprise, he passed. Cleared of any suspicion, the police no longer pursued Prante but the latter instigated his own involvement in the case. A few days after the murder, he contacted police to ask if the killer had been found yet, and if there was anything he could do to help. Although he was assured there was no need for his help, Prante kept contacting police and asking how close they were to finding Brown’s killer. Naturally his unusual interest didn’t go unnoticed by police who began to take a closer look at this concerned citizen.

Prante had been an outcast all his life. He had a very few friends but he hadn’t seen his family for years. Most people weren’t particularly fond of Prante. But no one actually hated Prante either. Vickie White was an acquaintance of Prante’s for about eight years. She and her husband Mark, probably saw him three or four times a year. Three days after Brown’s murder she and Mark were visiting with their friends Spencer and Roxanne Bond in the kitchen of their house in East Alton. Prante appeared out of nowhere and entered the kitchen. One day White would testify in court that he wanted to talk all about Brown, saying that he had known her, which was ridiculous considering Brown and Fair had only moved onto the street the day before. Prante told everyone present in the kitchen, that Brown had been murdered and that her body was down in her basement, and she was in a curled up position. Prante also said that “she had teeth marks on her body.” As he talked, Vickie stated, “[h]e put his arm over his shoulder“, demonstrating where the bite mark was in Brown’s shoulder. Incredibly, Prante told everyone present that he had been at Brown’s house the day Brown was murdered.  He stupidly confessed he had to “get his story straight with Paul Main” about his whereabvlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h16m05s135outs when Brown was murdered because he was “in trouble and had to get out of the state.”

White would later tell the court and police that newspaper articles about Brown’s  exhumation brought Prante’s weird conversation into her head. She stated she hadn’t read about Brown’s murder. The only articles she’d read were those concerning the exhumation. Strangely in 1978, White was unaware of the importance of Prante’s  statements with respect to the investigation. How it was that a person could hear such dreadful details about a murder and not believe the information given by someone like Prante might be important to police is beyond my comprehension. Anyhoo. Weeks after Prante’s weird admission about his knowledge of Brown’s murder, he felt a noose tightening around his neck with the police’s interrogation. “I never even knew the girl,” and, “I didn’t even know what her name was until I saw it in the paper.” Bond replied, “You told me, you were the last one to see her alive or something.”  Prante argued, “Me and Paul, we saw her putterin’ around outside and everything.” When Bond mentioned that “[t]here was something about a bucket of water was in there …. a bucket or a pail or something, — don’t remember nothing about that, huh?” Prante insisted,”Didn’t pay any attention to that even, not even when it happened, none of my business.”

In 1981, Susan Lutz became Prante’s girlfriend for a while. For whatever reason in his twisted head, one night when Prante and Lutz were in bed “[h]e kind of whispered in my ear that he had killed a woman.”  Stunned, Lutz later asked Prante, “Did you really kill somebody[?]“ to which he responded, “I can’t really talk about it because I’ll lose my freedom.”  Lutz sked why he had killed the woman; Prante simply stated she made him “mad...there was a couple times he bit me on the neck, and it made me mad.”  Prante hadn’t been able to resist biting Lutz in the same place he’d bitten Brown, on her right shoulder.

Vickie White had known the defendant for about eight years. She said that not more than three days after the murder of Karla Brown had occurred she and her husband, Mark, were visiting during the weekend with Spencer and Roxanne Bond in the kitchen of their house in East Alton when the defendant came in and began to talk about Karla Brown, saying that he had known her when hvlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h03m48s223e had gone to “SIU.” The witness testified that “Prante had stated that she was murdered and that her body was down in her basement, and she was in a curled up position, and she had teeth marks on her body.” When he made the remark about the teeth marks, she said, “[h]e put his arm over his shoulder.” She stated further that Prante had “said that he had been there that day — the same day she was murdered. Prante said that she [sic] was there the same day that she was murdered, and he talked about, you know, her body being in the basement and she was in a curled up position. She had teeth marks on her body, and that’s when he pointed over his shoulder. And he — he had made the statement that he had to get his story straight and he had to get out of town because the police were looking for him.”

FBI Agent Douglas
Meanwhile, so determined Weber was to solve the case, he turned to an FBI profiler to get a general sense of the person he was tracking. Weber et al weren’t sure what to make of this newly emerging soft science in criminology. It all seemed rather hocus-pocus to them but they were backed against a wall and looking for any way to zero in on the killer. Agent Douglas attended the White River police department, and Weber sat in an office while Douglas examined the crime scene photographs in Brown’s file. He stated firmly that he could offer a profile but that didn’t mean he would be able to identify the killer, nor would Weber do so simply on the basis of a profile. Instead he would be able to offer basic characteristics about the killer that might help narrow down the suspect they sought. After several minutes of studying the pictures, he looked at Weber, smiled and said simply, “are you ready?” Weber turned on the tape recorder. The following is not a quote, rather it is a paraphrase of the general information:

The killer is a white male living in the vicinity, or he was at the time of the murder. The killer is in his late 20s to early 30s. He is a semi-skilled tradesman and has difficulty holding down a job. He is an outcast with few friends. Most people dislike him as soon as they meet him. His own family doesn’t communicate with him. He has never been married or lived with a woman, and he has no children. He is highly disorganized and may have planned on killing the victim but he didn’t think far ahead. The lack of organization in the kill is evident the turned over TV tray, the manner in which Brown was killed, and the coffee

douglaspot stuck up in the rafters. The pot was used to fill a large lard can where the victim’s head was initially submerged. The coffee pot held the water and he used it to pour into the can. Having no idea what to do with it, the killer shoved it up into the rafters before he left. The overkill suggests that he lost control and went into a frenzy. The killer didn’t return the TV tray to its original position, indicating he forgot about it. The mens’ socks and extension cord used in the attack also indicate he may not have planned on killing Brown. He found the socks in a nearby hamper and the extension cord elsewhere in the basement. He must have brought the knife with him because it is unlikely he went upstairs to the kitchen to retrieve one, then returned to the basement.

Bringing the knife to the scene was further evidence that Prante probably intended to murder Brown. Initially he made a sexual pass at her, which she rejected. This caused him to go into a rage. Brown struggled with him when he began raping her, resulting in her fatal stabbing. He didn’t wash the blood-stained doorknob because he didn’t know he’d left it behind. He didn’t wash his hands before he left because he lived very close to the victim and because he was afraid of getting caught in case Fair returned home suddenly. He wanted to leave the residence as quickly as possible. The killer had possibly interjected himself into the police investigation, partly because of the thrill he got in eluding police and partly because he wanted to know if they had begun to suspect him. He may have taken a polygraph. If he was satisfied with the kill and felt no remorse, he would have passed it. Although the killer lived locally at the time of the murder, he moved away soon after he was interrogated.

Weber was stunned after hearing the profile. He hadn’t known so much information was in the photographs. He’d tried to brief Douglas on key details before the reading, but the Agent had shaken his head and politely insisted he would rather hear the observations after the profiling. He didn’t want the Weber’s perspectives to interfere with his observations. Weber asked Douglas how he could possibly catch the killer. Douglas had two very creepy answers:

(1) have a woman call him up from time to time, crying into the telephone and asking why he’d murdered her;
(2) visit Brown’s grave on occasion to see if he returned there, perhaps wiring the grave with a recording device. Many killers return to the victim’s grave out of a sense of remorse, or simply to re-live the murder for their own twisted stimulation, and particularly on the anniversary of the kill.

Neither of these recommendations assisted Weber to locate Prante but he put them into action nonetheless. By now vlcsnap-2012-07-30-21h07m04s86the homicide department had all but given up on finding Brown’s killer but Weber refused to let it drop. Another year went by. Weber still refused to give up on finding Brown’s killer. The memory of this young woman’s battered body and the position it was in when it was found sickened him. In his mind, he felt the killer taunting him. Finally he met Dr. Homer Campbell, an expert on the computer enhancement of photographs. Campbell looked at the pictures of Brown’s body and pointed out that some of the bruises were actually bite marks. Campbell said that they were good enough impressions to match to a suspect. The photos weren’t clear enough, so coroner Dr. Levine suggested they exhume the body and get another look.

Four years after the murder, the body of Karla Brown was exhumed. Present at the exhumation was the funeral director who had assisted the Browns in choosing Karla’s casket. The lid was opened with a loud hissing sound as air escaped the pressurized coffin. Ironically, a large amount of water had flooded the top lid. The director assured them this article_bfc0433c120d8677_1357667620_9j-4aaqskwas normal and that the seal below the lid was water-tight. This seal was opened with another loud hiss as air escaped Brown’s final resting place. True to form, the coffin had help up and it was completely dry inside.  She was remarkably well-preserved and almost appeared to be sleeping. The investigators hit pay-dirt (pun) and found their bite-mark evidence. “Even after all that time,” Douglas said, “the skin was still intact and we were able to get a bite mark impression off the victim’s neck….The damage done by biting is often missed by medical examiners. To them it looks like bruising and they don’t really take a closer look at it. The more experienced pathologists or forensic odontologists tend to spot it and get some photographic enhancement. Biting is often part of a violent sexual assault, whether it’s rape or murder. It gets back to the issue of control and dominance. I’ve interviewed a few offenders about this, but you don’t expect them to tell you things like, ‘It was the ultimate control.’ You have to interpret it from what they say. It’s about anger, aggression, and power. To them, it’s total domination. They’re consuming that person in every possible way. Their teeth are tools. They’re destroying with every weapon they’ve got.”  

The doctor performing the autopsy confirmed the wounds were bite marks, not bruises. The marks were inflicted at the time of death, because the woun28santos.600ds “showed fresh hemorrhage in the subcutaneous tissue with no inflammation.” It came out that shortly after the murder Prante had been talking about the fact that Brown was bitten on the right shoulder. Even the police had not known this, so he quickly came under suspicion. He was forced by a warrant to give a dental impression. His impression was submitted with that of two others, along with the new set of photos of the bite mark, to Dr. Levine. Prante’s teeth matched perfectly. Later, Weber interviewed Prante about the rape-murder. Although he refused to admit to the crime, when Weber asked him where the bite mark was located, Prante slowly took his hand and reached up to touch the right side of his neck. It was a chilling motion that made Weber’s skin crawl.

Bite Mark Analysis
A bite mark is used in analysis in this manner: The study of odontology is that of a forensic dentist. This doesn’t merely apply to bitemarks on a human being. It also refers to matching dental records to unidentified victims. “Bitemarks h
ave become a major contribution in forensic dentisty, of fighting crime.”
Ted Bundy is a well-known example of a killer who left bite mark evidence on his victims. The bite marks were “a major part in his conviction.”  The odontologist first extracts DNA from the bite mark. When a person bites a victim, s/he always leaves a sample of saliva behind. This saliva is used to extract DNA. The DNA includes “white blood cells, sloughed cells from the inner lining of the [mouth].” Comparing dental records to a bite mark is another way that odontology can identify a killer, or the victim or a natural disaster, or other type of death. Dental records are always unique, as unique as a fingerprint. Hence it is referred to as a “dental fingerprint.” No two people ever have the same bite mark or dental identification. Some people have capped teeth, others have gaps between their teeth. Still others have dental plates or fillings. Fillings are made by hand, as are plates. Holes drilled into teeth are also individual. People who grind their teeth can show an imprint that is much more uneven than people who don’t. People with varying levels of physical health, for example a person who has suffered from malnourishment, show this effect in their teeth. A child’s bite mark or dental record is much smaller than an adult’s.

However, before you become too impressed, this isn’t to state that bite mark analysis is flawless. Bite-mark analysis is an inexact tool. The American Board of Forensic Odontology found a 63 percent rate of false identifications. Some of these were used in criminal trials and innocent people were sent to prison. They weren’t released from prison until DNA proved the inconsistency of the bite mark testimony and the saliva left by the actual killer.

CSI Effect
Defense lawyers take steps to counter what they call the C.S.I. effect,” when juries become too impressed by forensic evidence. Lawyers often ask potential jurors about their television-watching to weed out bozos who can’t separate fact from fiction. I blogged about the C.S.I. effect and mentioned that so many people believe in fictitious police and laboratory procedures, that they actually think fingerprints and other forensic evidence is returned to police within a few hours or days, whecsi-miami--screenshot-5n in reality this takes weeks. Some people believe that police stations have their own laboratories to analyze crime evidence when in reality, such an expense is well beyond the means of police operations. DNA testing however is very expensive and costs taxpayers a great deal of money. DNA testing is used only when absolutely necessary. Most cases are still solved with witness statements and sometimes circumstantial evidence. Sometimes DNA evidence is not enough for a certain conviction. Once I took a police forensics course out of interest. The investigator who taught it told us that in a single room in a house, perhaps 1 or 2 usable fingerprints from the people who live there might be collected to bring to trial. Following the forced bite sample from Prante, the odontologist identified him as Brown’s killer and Prante was arrested for the murder of Karla Brown.

The Trial
Fifty state witnesses were brought forward who testified to Prante’s behaviour and conversations after Brown’s murder. Among them were the Moses’, Vickie White and Spencer Bond. White and Bond testified to his odd information the day after the murder and the intimate details he seemed to know about the crime scene. Bond also mentioned that soon after Prante had been interviewed by police he denied saying anything about the crime to the Bo5067197ea8b54.preview-620nds and the Whites. Fair was also a witness. He now lived with a woman and they were engaged to be married. She accompanied him to the trial. When asked to describe what he found in the basement the day Brown was murdered, he reacted as if the murder had occurred that day: Fair broke down on the stand and sobbed uncontrollably. Brown’s family attended the trial. her mother, Jo Ellen Vanglide Brown and elder sister Connie Brown, were tormented by the details of their loved one’s murder. When the evidence regarding Brown’s tampon was mentioned, Connie wept. Had Karla really had to suffer that humiliation too?

Following a three-week jury trial in June and July of 1983, Prante, was found guilty of the murder of Karla Brown and sentenced to the Department of Corrections for a term of 75 years.After the trial ended with Prante’s conviction the family, without Jo Ellen, went to celebrate the triumph at their home. Jo Ellen preferred to return to her own home alone, recovering from the trauma of hearing and seeing the sickening evidence of her daughter’s murder. It was both a trauma and a loss for her. Although Karla’s killer was convicted, she was lost to her mother forever.

Naturally, Prante appealed his conviction, presenting a number of issues for review:(1) whether the evidence was insufficient to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt “that the prosecution failed to prove criminal agency on thepart of the defendant which contributed to the death of the deceased”
(2) whether “[t]he prosecution properly introduced to the jury the defendant’s prior extra-judicial statements as substantive evidence rather than for the limited purpose of impeaching testimony of witnesses.
(3) whether “[t]he prosecutor’s conduct during the course of the trial compounded the aforementioned error”

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(4) whether expert testimony concerning bite marks should not have been permitted “because of its exclusionary nature and its improper conclusiveness of the guilt of the defendant”
(5) whether the defendant’s motion for a change of venue should have been allowed “as a result of the use of the press as an investigative tool by the prosecutor.”

Brown’s murder is a landmark case since it used bite-mark analysis as a DNA sample that convicted the killer. It also involved an exhumation, something that is atypical of most murder trials.


Jeffredahmgery Dahmer, the murderer turned cannibal gave Stone Phillips an interview about his interest in cadavers. Dahmer suggested when he was consuming a human being, this became the ultimate ownership of his victim, that this person became his forever. About his dissection of people he admitted, “It became a compulsion…it became exciting to see…I was looking for some way to find some pleasure.” This is far removed from biting in the sense that consumption of a person is beyond desecration or ingestion. However I should imagine that biting isn’t too far removed on the continuum from that sick fantasy in terms of ownership and power.

Another profiler, M. Godwin, studied serial killers who bite their victims. These killers are  “object-affective,” in that they fail to see their victims as human. The victim is an object and the killer murders the victim slowly and sadistically. Douglas states that it does not johnprante-prison-mugreally matter whether a bite mark is on the face, stomach, breast, or buttocks: It all amounts to the same thing. “[Brown's] bite was on the neck. Bundy bit the breast and buttock. Francine Elveson was on the thigh. This isn’t about cannibalism, which takes it much further. It’s about bringing the victim completely under their power.”

Whatever the reason killers bite their victims, they are truly cowards. They usually overcome people who are weaker than them. They often use weapons. It is never a “fair fight.” That would require a killer with confidence and a perspective about the lack of balance of power between himself and the victim. So far as I can tell, such an enigma doesn’t exist.





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