Reclusive Ridley Caused a Riotous Reaction in Ringgold

Just when you think you know someone, they tend to surprise you. In this crime case, a very small town was shocked to discover that a man they believed to be a recluse who lived alone, was not quite what he seemed. His oddball behaviour already had tongues wagging about him. However the man’s double life would have them reeling for years to come.

Ringgold – 24 miles south of Chattanooga – Tennessee – population 2400. The town is a tribute to the Civil War, ornamented with old cannons and wagons. Bluegrass music and the Tigers High School football team provide local entertainment, along with the gossip mill. The close-knit community holds no secrets from neighbours. Everyone knows everyone else’s business.

alvThere was one exception: “Crazy Alvin“, Alvin Ridley, a 55-year-old recluse who kept to himself in his isolated house. All that was known of Alvin was that he used to be the Zenith television man, expertly performing TV repairs. People thought he was an oddball and they regarded him with suspicion. Ridley had an antagonistic past, coupled with a cantankerous nature, blank stare and suspicious air.

Eventually Ridley’s business failed and the parents he lived with died, leaving him alone in a rather ramshackle house that was surrounded by a forbidding fence with several signs warning “Beware of Dog.” Ridley only ventured out on occasion in the afternoon to the local flea market.

Ridley wasn’t shy about talking to the locals. He often spoke of outlandish, paranoid theories. He believed that the Ringgold Police Department was out to get him. Although people shook their heads at Ridley’s oddball statements, later it would be discovered that he had good reason to be concerned about the police.

virgRidley had always been known as an oddball. As a teenager, he placed a blow-up doll in his car and drove around town with it to convince people that he had a girlfriend. Ridley met 16-year-old Virginia Hickey in Rossville. Now he didn’t need to place a blow-up doll in his car. He had the real thing. Like Alvin, Virginia was a social outcast. She was obsessively shy partly as a result of severe epilepsy. The Hickey family liked Ridley. In 1966 the two were married but tensions arose between Ridley and Virginia’s family. He became more possessive of her. The Hickeys didn’t think Ridley was able to take care of Virginia’s epilepsy. Ridley kept them away.

Ridley stated that Virginia’s parents told people they didn’t trust Ridley and that it upset both him and Virginia. The Hickeys convinced a judge to produce Virginia in court, which he did. She told the judge, “I’m where I want to be. I’m with my husband.” There was nothing more the family could do to contact Virginia. The Ridleys became more isolated from the outside world. In the 1980s Virginia stopped taking her medication. She believed that “God would heal her.” However the seizures returned and Virginia stopped going out in public.

VirginiaRidley-4In 1984 Ridley brought a grievance against the Chief of Police, entering into a court battle which, predictably, Ridley lost. Ridley’s van was seized by the county and as a result his TV repair business failed. “It humiliated me,” Ridley stated years later, “I cried a lot for a year.” This was the beginning of Ridley’s mistrust in the Ringgold community and of the Ringgold police.  Six weeks later the van was returned but Ridley stated he “wouldn’t accept it back.” For decades it sat rusting into the earth outside of his property. The Ridleys took refuge behind the walls of their dilapidated house. Apart from the lack of running water and their near-total isolation, their domestic life seems to have been oddly unremarkable.

On October 4, 1997, Ridley drove to a pay phone and called 9-1-1. “I think my wife passed out,” he stated. “She’s not breathing.” That alone was a shocker. Ridley had a wife? In all the years he’d lived in Ringgold, no one had ever known it. Emergency services arrived at Ridleys residence within 5 minutes of the peculiarly calm telephone call. The EMT worker noticed the musty, old smell of the immaculately neat house and the strong odour of cat urine. A 49-year-old woman, Virginia Ridley, was stretched out on a bed. Without a doubt Virginia Ridley was dead.

The county coroner was as shocked as everyone else to discover that Ridley had a wife. No one had ever seen the woman in town. Ridley and his parents had been seen hundreds of times in public but never his wife. When they were first married, Virginia was an incredibly pretty girl with blonde, 60’s styled hair and a sweet smile. Even in death, Virginia was reasonably attractive.

Ridley alternated between grief and hysteria. In a monotone voice, Ridley told the coroner “I kept on hollering at her and she didn’t respond…she was cold.” Ridley informed the coroner that Virginia was a severe epileptic who often suffered seizures. The coroner felt Ridley was being evasive. Ridley insisted Virginia had the most violent seizure he’d ever seen that morning. He insisted there was no need for an autopsy, but an autopsy was held. Unfortunately, the coroner marked Virginia Ridley’s death as “suspicious.”

50555435Virginia had been estranged from her family for 3 decades. Trixie LeCroy, her sister, had known that her sister lived with Ridley. They believed Ridley had killed her long ago yet strangely they’d never reported it. The medical examiner found broken blood vessels behind Virginia’s eyes known as subconjunctival hemorrhage, a sign of suffocation, as well as blood spots on her face. However this is also a sign of seizure and manual strangulation. Authorities decided Ridley had suffocated his wife. The pathologist agreed with this perspective and deemed Virginia’s wife a homicide. Detectives found it odd that Ridley spoke in a monotone when discussing his wife’s death.

About Virginia’s reclusive existence, Ridley insisted “she wouldn’t see nobody. She wouldn’t go nowhere.  I couldn’t even get her to go to church or nowhere.” Ben McGaha, an elderly man known as “Salesman Sam” for no particular reason, a friend of Ridley’s, had known Virginia. The last time he had seen her alive was in the 1970s. The biggest suspicion about Ridley was that no one except Sam knew he’d had a wife. Rumours swirled. Crazy Alvin Ridley murdered is wife. “He’d had her chained to a bed, her hair was a mile long and her fingernails were curled.” Local and then national press wrote about Ridley’s supposed criminal confinement of Virginia Ridley for 20 years. The Ringgold coroner stated that Virginia had died of suffocation and concluded that Ridley had murdered his wife.

Ridley retained an attorney, McCracken Poston, to represent him. Poston told Ridley to “keep his mouth shut.” Medical authorities confirmed it was possible Virginia died from natural causes due to her epilepsy. Further, the few people who knew Ridley and Virginia knew he loved her very much. Poston was permitted inside the house to investigate the scene. “It smelled terrible,” he stated. “The windows were closed up.” He found hundreds of writings belonging to Virginia behind a sheet of wallpaper. They were a type of diary. She wrote about her contented marriage to Ridley, what they ate for dinner, and her suspicions of the world around her. It was discovered that Virginia had hypergraphia – the compulsion to write maniacally. Nowhere in the writing did Virginia write that she was being held against her will.

Florence_Griffith_Joyner2The trial was as strange as the case itself. It was as though someone had pulled a page out of Alice in Wonderland and her trial in the court of the King and Queen of Hearts. Curious characters included Dr. Frederick Hellman, “the suave and darkly handsome GBI pathologist who performed the autopsy on Virginia Ridley”, who responded to every question by swinging his chair to face the jury and deliver a lecture irrelevant to the question he’d been asked. During the trial, the pathologist, who had determined that Virginia Ridley was murdered, refused to admit that the hemhorrage found behind her eyes could be indicative of anything other than suffocation. including the epileptic death of famous athlete, Florence Griffith Joyner (FloJo). It took all day for the pathologist to grudgingly admit to the court that other possibilities including a epileptic seizure, could have caused Virginia’s death.

McGaha, also a witness in the trial, serving as Ridley’s eccentric court adviser, claiming  to have a flawless memory, yet was frequently caught explaining errors with the claim that he’d forgotten some details.

Alvin Ridley was found not guilty in the death of Virginia Ridley. The court erupted in cheers and applause. The town of Ringgold had been sympathetic to the unhappy old man. Who knew? Naturally several of the town’s inhabitants insisted they “always knew he hadn’t killed Virginia.” For their part, the jury revealed that although nobody liked this man they couldn’t contrive a motive for Virginia’s murder. His wife was the only thing he had, so why kill her? Virginia Ridley also helped her husband’s acquittal. Her copious notes about her happy life with Ridley had saved him.

Alvin and Virginia Ridley were simply an odd, hermetic couple who were fiercely protective of their privacy. There was no forcible confinement inside the Ridley household. There was no murder. There was no actual mystery. Strange, yes, but sinister, no. Instead there was a gossip mill that got out of control and convicted a man long before he was wrongly forced to endure a criminal trial for an imaginary crime.






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Scientology and Schizophrenia Make for Bad Bedfellows

When a family is aware that their child suffers from a serious mental illness most often the reaction is to seek psychiatric help. This doesn’t guarantee the sufferer will become healthy and happy, and be guaranteed that fairy tale ending everyone wants to hear. The number of violent schizophrenics is incredibly low and a rarity for people with the disorder. Having said that, a family that does nothing at all to combat a profound mental illness in a family member is a recipe for disaster. This is the story of a family whose lives ended in tragedy because their religious faith, Scientology, forbade  involvement in the psychiatric community. It is a tragedy that simply didn’t have to happen.

Amherst – New York – Ellie Perkins was a happy homemaker, well-liked and living in a suburb of Buffalo. She lived with Donald Perkins and their two sons, Danny and Jeremy Perkins. Jeremy Perkins was a quiet young man who usually kept to himself. He also suffered from what used to be known as paranoid schizophrenia. The DSM-5 now doesn’t discriminate between types of schizophrenia.

On March 13, 2003, a terribly tragedy unfolded inside this idyllic household. An odd telephone call was placed to 9-1-1. It was from Donald Perkins: “I think my son may have attacked my wife.” A police officer attended the residence and called out to Ellie. 28-year-old Jeremy gave the creepy answer, “I’m in here and everything is okay.” Then, “Oh my God someone came in here and hurt my Mom bad.” Well which is it? Okay or bad? Jeremy wasn’t trying to mislead police. He truly didn’t know the difference. This is known as delusional. It also applied to the Andrea Yates case.

jeremy-perkinsJeremy stepped out of Ellie’s bedroom. He was wild-eyed, wore a scruffy black beard and long black hair. The police officer found Ellie covered in blood, motionless and lying on the bedroom floor in the fetal position. In a fit of madness Jeremy stabbed Ally 77 times in the chest. While being diagnosed by up to 10 psychiatrists Jeremy casually stated that “sometimes (Ellie) looked like she was like evil…like the devil or something.” That’s a typical delusion among schizophrenics. Yates drowned her five children while believing they were possessed by Satan.

In the early 1970s Ellie converted to the highly controversial Church of Scientology. The former Deputy Executive Director of Scientology of the Church of Buffalo, explained that Scientology considers psychiatry to be “a form of social evil.” the Director met the Perkins early after they joined the Church. Celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta Kirstie Alley, Sonny Bono, Jenna Elfman and many others are devout followers of this religion.

Matt Lauer (L), host of the NBC television network morning show "The Today Show", interviews actor Tom Cruise about his new film "War of the Worlds" during Cruise's appearance on the show in New York City June 24, 2005. Later in the interview, Cruise took Lauer to task when Lauer commented on Cruise's earlier criticism of Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants. NO SALES NO ARCHIVES REUTERS/Virginia Sherwood/NBC Universal/Handout

Matt Lauer (L), host of the NBC television network morning show “The Today Show”, interviews actor Tom Cruise about his new film “War of the Worlds” during Cruise’s appearance on the show in New York City June 24, 2005. Later in the interview, Cruise took Lauer to task when Lauer commented on Cruise’s earlier criticism of Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants. NO SALES NO ARCHIVES REUTERS/Virginia Sherwood/NBC Universal/Handout

Jan Eastgate, International President of Scientology , believes strongly that “psychiatry commits human rights abuses every day.” On the Matt Lauer talk show, The Today Show,  Tom Cruises stated that “before I joined Scientology I never believed in psychiatry and then after joining Scientology I started realizing more and more why I didn’t agree with psychiatry.”

“Scientologists believe that psychologists and psychiatrists are the rats and vermin of society and are destroying our civilization,” Lawrence Waltershime, a former member of Scientology explained. “The fear of psychiatry stopped this woman from getting help and that woman is dead.”

Jeremy explained, “my Mom, I thought she was out to get me. Like sometimes she’d be totally normal and then she’d have that face again.” The attorney who represented Jeremy in legal proceedings believed the real tragedy was that his client never got medical assistance for his mental illness. Naturally the Church stated that Ellie’s murder had nothing to do with her faith. Dawn, a friend of Ellie’s, believed that Ellie was searching for answers in her life when she joined the Church. The Church often recruits members with a personality or stress test, administered through a faux device known as an “e-metre.” Scientology itself admits “the metre is nothing.”

A main tenet in Scientology is that of Dyanetics. Dyanetics’ aim is to bring its members to The Clear. The latter aims to rid people of their negative effects that life has brought them and that “hold one back.” Scientology can make people euphoric. The belief that there is a means of ridding someone of stress and negative life experiences is a powerful incentive to join Scientology.

jeremy-perkins1For a time, Jeremy was functional and he didn’t appear to display unusual symptoms. At 24, he informed Donald that he heard voices. His father’s response was to “tell the voices to be quiet.” Meanwhile, Jeremy’s behaviour grew increasingly bizarre. Court-ordered psychiatric reports about Jeremy Perkins maintained that Jeremy showed disturbing symptoms of mental illness since 2001. Jeremy’s illness continued to increase to the point where Donald noticed his strange behaviours at his work. He had to fire his own son. Jeremy was banned from taking Scientology courses by the Church which knew he was a troubled man. They decided he was sick and stated Jeremy needed to “get help before he could become active again.”

Ironically, Ellie allowed Jeremy to take a sleeping pill prescription but this antagonized his symptoms. One night, Jeremy went out walking and became aggressive toward strangers. He was arrested for assaulting a number of people. Court-ordered psychiatric evaluations confirmed that Jeremy was a schizophrenic. Ellie assured the court she would take her son to a psychiatrist, although she had no such intention. A neurologist recommended anti-psychotic medication but the Perkins refused. The permitted vitamin therapy for Jeremy’s symptoms. Naturally, this weird approach failed.

March 12, 2003, Ally Perkins had a telephone call with a friend Dawn. She was stressed because Jeremy’s vitamin therapy wasn’t working. On March 13, 2003, Donald and Ellie informed Jeremy that he would be leaving to attend Albert Brown, a self-proclaimed “natural healer.” Jeremy felt threatened. The only sense of stability and security he had ever known was slipping away from him. Later that day, Jeremy attacked his mother with a large butcher knife. He stated, “I held my right hand behind my back. I decided to do my Mom…she was screaming ‘no Jeremy don’t….I knew she was a goner.”

200px-Elli_Perkins_screenshotHigh-ranking Scientologists flew into Amherst and insisted that Scientologists remain quiet about the incident. Reportedly, the goal was “to distance the church as far away as they could from Jeremy Perkins.” The murder punctured the Church’s promise that certain ranking members could achieve special powers and that these members would be “protected.” Scientologists wanted the murder to be “hushed over.” Eight months after the Perkins murder, the Church through a gala opening for the opening of a new church. All was well. Keep calm and worship on.

Cruise made his denunciation of psychiatry on television. “Psychiatry is a pseud-science…You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do.” Becoming agitated and belligerent, Cruise argued, “all it does [psychotropic drugs] do is mask the problem and if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem…you’re not getting to the reason why. There is no such thing as chemical imbalance…the anti-depressants masks the problem…drugs aren’t the answer…Matt you’re glib. You don’t even know what Ritalin is….you should be a little more responsible in knowing what it is. because you c-communicate to people.”

Cruise’s face was one of rage; wide-eyed, brows drawn together and open-mouthed, he appeared ready to jump out of his seat and attack Lauer. Ironic, considering Scientology believes that when an argument is in progress, the higher road is to talk the other person up into one’s belief system in order to avoid conflict. In March 2006, an advertisement in LA Weekly blamed Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology for Perkins’ violent death. The ad stated: “Thanks, Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, for your expert advice on mental health.”

Jeremy Perkins and the murder of Ellie Perkins are strong evidence to the aforementioned claim.






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Lessons of Lust and Loss from a Loose Teacher

Knoxville – Tennessee –  2006 – 180,000 people resided in Knoxville. It is a conservative community, part of the Bible Belt, with several churches and a love of football. On Cochre Avenue, 29-year-old Erin McLean prepared for her first day as an English teacher at Always High School. McLean however, looked nothing like a teacher. She wore tight mini-skirts and sky-high heels. She was very attractive and very bright. She had her Masters Degree in Education.

Erin_McLeanHowever, her appearance made it difficult to focus on English literature. She didn’t behave like a teacher. McLean sat and giggled with the students and had inappropriate conversations with them. McLean enjoyed the boys’ attention. She was “touchy-feely” with the boys, knowing her approach was arousing. One boy in particular, 17-year-old Sean Powell, paid close attention to her. Powell was popular, girls like him and he was considered “the life of the party.” He was kind-hearted toward everyone.

McLean and Powell began flirting with each other. Most teachers would have set boundaries against this sort of thing but McLean didn’t feel the rules applied to her. Soon it was rumoured there was a mutual infatuation. Powell shared McLean’s love of English Literature. Powell wrote poetry and shared it with McLean. The poetry was often sorrowful and when McLean looked into Powell’s background, she discovered Powell had been born to an abusive drug-addicted mother, and she had given him up for adoption early in his young life. Powell had been adopted into a good home. McLean herself hadn’t enjoyed a particularly stable childhood. Her parents divorced when she was young. She lived with relatives who passed her around among themselves. She wasn’t particularly wanted by anyone.

McLean saw Powell as a soul mate. She felt he could meet her needs and desires. McLean crossed the boundaries she should have set with Powell and all her male students. Eventually, Powell and McLean became involved in a sexual affair. McLean knew what she was doing was very wrong, and she didn’t care. Yet McLean was married to a musician, Eric McLean. McLean had been drawn to her husband because she liked his artistic sensibility. The two had met when Erin was sixteen. Both grew up in Knoxville and met during high school.

101208erinmcleanposter_5388092_ver1_0_640_480Erin liked the fact that Eric’s family was stable. There was no divorce. McLean had never known stability and this gave her reassurance for the future. McLean became pregnant at nineteen and she married at that age. Soon they had a second child. The strain of child-rearing took its toll and the marriage weakened. Neither spouse spent much time with each other. Eric joined a band and often stayed out late, away from his family. Erin became angry with the lack of attention. She was frustrated that she had married young, and felt she had missed a great amount of her youth.

When she met Powell she felt as though she had a second chance at her youth. She felt like a teenager again. Powell’s mother noticed a change in his behaviour. He was distracted and distant. Powell told his mother he liked a new girl but he wouldn’t tell her that it was his teacher. Erin didn’t hold back when it came to a sexual affair with her student. She saw nothing wrong with it. She was driven by her own unfulfilled needs, betraying her husband and her role as teacher. McLean believed the affair could continue endlessly, without concern for consequences to Powell or her husband.

Late November, Powell was caught with alcohol on the school property. He was expelled. His parents were furious and sent him to a 28-day rehabilitation program. McLean was distraught. She began to text Powell and begged him to come home so they could be together. Powell, helpless to break away from McLean’s spell, agreed. Powell checked himself out of rehab and returned to his affair with McLean. Powell’s parents refused to let him come home. Homeless, Powell lived on the street for a few nights McLean, naturally went to his rescue and asked Eric if Powell could live in his van space. Eric, completely oblivious to the situation, agreed. Essentially, Eric created a love nest for his wife and the teen.

6a00d83451bbfa69e200e54f0ab3c58833-640wiEven though McLean was satisfied with the relationship with Powell, he had no intention of leaving Eric. She wanted both lover and husband. She needed Eric to care for the kids and to earn money. McLean had the audacity to welcome Powell into her home. Eric, who must have been incredibly naïve, allowed him to live with his family. Over time, Eric noticed the unmistakable chemistry between his wife and Powell. Erin ignored her sons and devoted her time to Powell. Eric kicked out the hapless teenager.

By now 18, Powell continues the affair with McLean and he brags to his friends about his sexual conquest. Eric’s suspicions about his wife and Powell grew and one afternoon he followed Erin right to the door of his van space. Powell stepped out and Eric watched, infuriated, as the two kissed then disappeared inside the van space. Consumed with jealousy, Eric confronted his wife later that night. Erin insisted it was Eric’s fault for “neglecting her needs.” Eric tried to appease his wife but she told him “you’re just going to have to deal with it.” The affair intensified. Erin even locked her young children out of the house so she could have sex with Powell.

eric_mcleanBy now several students and some teachers suspected McLean was involved with Powell but no one spoke up. McLean and Powell became more obvious about their relationship; one Friday night they went out drinking together. The two encountered Eric who was socializing with his friends. In front of her husband, Eric leaned over and kissed Powell passionately. She enjoyed humiliating her passive, submissive husband. With Eric’s passivity, Powell became cockier and more confident. Hours later, Eric returned home to find Erin and Powell in their bed. Oddly, Eric simply closed the door and walked out, spending the night on the couch.

Eric’s rage slowly grew. He decided to finish the affair for good. Incredibly, Eric wrote what seemed like a suicide note, explaining he had retrieved his shotgun from his father.  “I have thought about suicide many times … I have nothing left to look forward to,” he wrote. But he was unable to shoot himself. On Saturday March 10, 2007, Eric believed his marriage might be improving when Eric got dolled up and told him it was “date night.” Of course, Erin then told Eric her date was with Powell, not him. This was the final straw. “Don’t come back!” Eric finally told her. “That’s fine by me,” Erin replied “There’s nothing here for me anyway.”

100808erinmclean1_5780882_ver1_0_640_480Suddenly Powell strolled in the door as if he owned the house. Erin informed Eric she and Powell were taking the children and leaving. Blind with rage, Eric went and found the shotgun. He had reached his limit. Powell laughed at him and told Eric “in two weeks, they’ll be calling me Daddy.” Suddenly, there was the sound of a gunshot. Erin appeared to be in shock. She called 9-1-1. “Oh my God he shot him. Sean Powell, my student!” A neighbour tried to console her but Erin walked away from her and into her house. The neighbour peered into Erin’s car. Powell sat slumped over with a hole in his head.

Eric was arrested the next morning walking along a train track, desperate and in shock. He was charged with the first degree murder of Sean Powell. As the investigation began, Erin left with her children. She wanted to place as much distance between herself and her husband a she could. Eighteen months later Eric went on trial for Powell’s murder. The courtroom was packed. The trial was all people seemed to talk about around town. The student-teacher aspect of the murder was especially titillating.

Eric told the court Powell’s murder was an accident. “I’ll take that gun and shove it up your ass,” he told the court he said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t even believe it.” Not one juror 100808erinmclean2_5780885_ver1believed that McLean could deliberately kill Powell. Instead McLean was found guilty of reckless homicide, a crime that carried a sentence of only 90 days in jail. Although Powell was a young man who lost his life after being manipulated by an older woman, he was still an adult who had responsibility for his own actions. Erin was tracked down in Austin, Texas. In Nashville, Erin got another teaching job and soon after she began another affair with a student. Prosecutors determined that Erin committed no crime with Powell since he was 18 when the affair began. However she got 95 days in jail for fleeing the state with her children and skipped mandatory court appearances in the custody proceedings.

Erin McLean’s pathological need for attention and her disregard for other’s well-being led to a violent crime that should never have happened. 95 days is hardly going to lead McLean down a better path.

On October 18, 2008, Erin McLean gave an interview to the Knoxville News Sentinel, stating “It’s simply not possible for me to live in Knoxville. I am so hated there. I cannot have a life there, in the community that I loved.” About her relationship with Sean Powell, she claimed it was, “the biggest mistake of my life, and a regret I’ll carry for the rest of my life.”

In her narcissistic manner, McLean managed to shift the blame to Powell even after his death. “I’m not saying he was a bad guy,” Erin adds. “If he were alive today, I would still be his friend, but he was manipulative and troubled, and absolutely, it was a huge mistake.”

I’m certain Sean Powell would have agreed with her.








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Tokars Terrible Thanksgiving Tragedy

Sunday, November 29, 1992 – 39-year-old  Sara Tokars, a gorgeous blonde mother of tokars_011two, loaded the family car with her little boys, Ricky and Mike. They were headed home after a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with her father, Dr. John Ambrusko. Sara’s husband, Fred, a handsome defence attorney, was conspicuously absent; he claimed he had to meet a client in Montgomery, Alabama. She drove herself and the children nine hours back to their house in Marietta Georgia, just north of Atlanta. The phone rang just after Sara had left the house. Tokars asked her father if Sara was still there. Upon learning she had left, Tokars hung up.

Sara drove into the garage and entered the house with her children where she was startled by a male intruder. The man ordered Sara, Mike and Rick to return to the vehicle. He pointed a sawed-off shotgun at Sara and ordered her to start driving with both her children in the car. Sara pulled the car over after the man ordered her to drive down a dead end street. He promptly shot her in front of the boys, jumped out of the moving car and ran away. The Toyota coasted to an open field and rolled to a stop.

Little Ricky reached across his dead mother to turn off the ignition. In the distance Ricky saw the lights of a house. He and Mike took a long walk to get there and informed the 0693_sarahstory1residents that their mother had been hurt. They contacted police. The first officer on the scene stated “one thing I’ll always remember is she had long hair and the blood would run down and the droplets would just drop off.” The two little boys were treated for shock in an ambulance. Michael had vomited on himself. They were both spattered with their dead mother’s blood. Police alerted Fred who was still conveniently in Alabama.

The following day police searched the Tokars home. The house had been burglarized but police concluded it was ‘suspicious.” Nothing valuable had been removed. Sara’s father knew right away that her death was “an execution. Somebody had that girl killed.” He told his surviving daughters, “I’m an old man so you girls have to see this solved.”

fred-tokars1Fred Tokars was less than enthusiastic about participating in the search for Sara’s killer. He refused to speak to police. Tokars attended Sara’s funeral, walking with his mother. Tokars never talked about Sara to her family. He kept saying “I’ve gotta get out of Dodge.” He explained to Sara’s sister, Gretchen Schaeffer that he couldn’t go to police because “I’ve taken a lot of money from shady clients who do not pay taxes on it. And I’m afraid if they’ll look into my business dealings they’ll accuse of tax evasion.” Really? That’s his big concern after his wife has been murdered?

Initially police thought Fred Tokars had been the intended target and not his wife. Lawyers in the vicinity were supposedly arming themselves with shotguns in case a disgruntled client planned on killing them. In December Tokars finally attended the police department for an interview. He stated, “I just can’t even imagine” who would want to kill Sara. He was nervous and talked incessantly yet he didn’t give much information. He revealed he and his wife owned several life insurance policies. One policy he had on his wife would pay him $1.7 million upon her death. Oops. That’s a little too much honesty.

Tokars insisted he and Sara had a good relationship and he affirmed they slept together sara-tokars-and-childrenand had sex with each other. However the two boys assured police their parents didn’t share a bed. The marriage was on the rocks. The more police learned about Tokars, the more he became their prime suspect.

The Tokars lived an affluent life together. Sara was a fulltime housekeeper and a wonderful mother. However Tokars kept Sara on a strict allowance. She also suspected Tokars had affairs and had confided to her sisters that her marriage was failing. She stated her husband had a “dark side.”

Sara hired a private detector to find out if Tokars was having an affair. He had, and Sara confronted him. He dismissed the fling as a meaningless dalliance. Although she insisted on a divorce, Tokars assured her she would never gain access to their children. This was the one threat that kept an unhappy Sara trapped in her marriage for some time. One day, Sara began copying documents from the family safe. The documents revealed accounts with hundreds of thousands of dollars in them. She Tokars had become involved in money laundering with some of his shady clients, known drug dealers. Finally Sara contacted Gretchen and told her she had found a way out of the marriage and that she would be able to take her children with her. Two weeks later, Sara was murdered.

Authorities now had two reasons to consider Tokars as the lead suspect in her murder. The first was his illegal activity. The second was the life insurance policy against Sara. They also knew Tokars had hired someone else to kill his wife. At the behest of the police, Sara’s family appeared on television asking the public for tips in solving the murder. Finally, an anonymous tipster informed police about a man named Curtis Rower. Rower was a drug addict and small time dealer. Rower had bragged about the killing to his supposed friends who called police.

Fred-Tokars-660x728Rower confessed immediately after police arrested him. He told police he’d been hired by a 28-year-old businessman with a criminal record named Eddie Lawrence to kill Sara for $5,000.00. Lawrence was a low-life conman in a suit who had a history with Tokars. Ten months before the murder Lawrence hired Tokars to defend him on a counterfeiting charge. Tokars began investing in Eddie Lawrence Industries, which included a construction site. Tokars had never mentioned Lawrence to police. Eventually police confronted Tokars about Lawrence who stupidly said, “you never asked me about him.” Tokars was publicly announced as a suspect in Sara’s murder. That same day, Lawrence and Rower were charged with her murder. It was also revealed that Tokars was under investigation for drug trafficking and money laundering.

On the day of the announcement Tokars and his sons were in Florida preparing for Christmas with Sara’s family. Tokars implored her family to stop talking to police and to “let it die down.” The following day he took a drug overdose and left a suicide note, proclaiming his innocence. When he didn’t answer the phone later that day a friend sent an ambulance to his hotel. Tokars released a questionable statement to the public: “I emphatically deny any involvement in my wife’s murder….unfortunately I became very depressed. I started to think of the lifestyle I was losing….my whole lifestyle.”

eddielawrence-prison-mugWhen Lawrence turned state’s evidence, police had all they needed to arrest Fred Tokars. Lawrence entered his plea in the murder of Sara Tokars, guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison and was spared the death sentence, as was Rower. He agreed to testify against Tokars in court. Nine months after the murder, Tokars was arrested. Tokars mother Nora was visibly shaken. She shouted at the press “No! No! No!” when asked if Tokars was guilty of murdering his wife. Tokars was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for his money laundering. He was arraigned on the charge of conspiracy to murder his wife.

Two primary investigators in the case had sold their story to a Hollywood producer. When confronted by the press they declared they had made a mistake but insisted it hadn’t affected their investigation. Seriously. What were they thinking? In 1994 both detectives were fired. Four years after Sara’s murder, Tokars’ murder trial began. It was discovered that he had become “enthralled with the easy money of the criminal world” and didn’t want to lose it. He had Sara killed to protect his criminal enterprise and to collect life insurance money on her. Lawrence claimed Tokars paid him $25,000.00 to kill Sara, who in turn, hired Rower for $5,000.00 to kill her. On the day of the hit, the day after Thanksgiving, Tokars and Lawrence met to discuss details. Lawrence and Rower drove to the Tokars house where Rower killed her.

Upon delivering the verdict the jury stated that although they had found enough evidence to impose the death sentence upon Tokars, they recommended life in prison. He cried with relief and turned around to look for his mother. His mother told press “I’m so happy, I’m so thankful, I’m so glad. Life is sweet.”

For the Ambrusko family the victory was bitter-sweet. They felt Torkas deserved the death sentence, especially since he knew the two boys would be present for the murder. Strangely, one juror said he couldn’t be sentenced to death because he didn’t pull the trigger. The jury considered the impact of the death sentence on Tokars’ sons. “I was thinking that the boys had lost their mother and if they lost their father too it would hurt them. They would be more devastated than ever.”

That’s one thing I can agree upon.

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Clarence Clue a Catastrophic Blunder by Clueless Cops

celkinsAn innocent, 6-year-old girl wrongly sends an innocent man, “Uncle Clarence”, to prison for a terrible crime he did not commit – her rape and the rape and murder of the child’s mother. Years later, the confused little girl recanted her statement and helped to overturn the emotionally charge battle of a man trying to win his freedom.

Barberton – Ohio – 1998 – A little girl named Brooke Johnson lay sleeping in her bed in her 58-year-old grandmother, Judy Johnson’s home when she heard a commotion in the living room. Curious, the child got out of bed and went to investigate. The horror she witnessed would not only remain with her for the rest of her life, but would wrongly convict Judy’s son-in-law, Clarence Elkins, the child’s uncle and send him to prison for six years.

In the early morning hours of June 7, 1998, someone broke into the Johnson residence, raped and murdered Judy Johnson, then raped the child with a bunt object and strangled and beat her. The child, wearing a bloody nightgown with a bruised and swollen face, left the house after the attack and knocked on a neighbour’s door, seeking help. Strangely, the neighbour made the child wait outside on a doorstep for 30 minutes. The child made the comment, “he looked like Uncle Clarence.” It was an innocent comment that was later made into damning evidence against Elkins by police.

The neighbour drove the girl home. Her mother and father were asleep inside. April Sutton, Brooke’s mother, asked Brooke who she believed to be the perpetrator. By now the child had Elkins’ image imprinted on her mind. “Clarence,” was her reply. At the hospital when police spoke to Brooke and asked her who did it, she first replied she didn’t see then stated, “Uncle Clarence.” When asked how she knew it was Elkins she responded “it looked like him.” Years later, Brooke said she had grave doubts about the identification at the time but went along with it. “I just wasn’t sure it was Uncle Clarence or not,” Brooke said. “But I was too afraid to say anything.” 

She later described the situation on Larry King: “I woke up and I found my grandma dead, I went to a next door neighbor’s house and I told her that it looked like my uncle Clarence and it sounded like him. So, she took me home and she told my mom that — what I told her and then everyone just started freaking out. And then my mom and dad called the police and my mom and dad told the police that it was my uncle Clarence who did it.” When asked how the identification could go so wrong, she replied “Well, I told people that it looked like him and they just went like it was him. They didn’t even listen to what I was saying.”

The coroner determined that Judy Johnson had been murdered sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 a.m. She had been repeatedly beaten with the same bunt object that had been used to rape Brooke. Johnson was also raped and sodomized with the object. A detective commented “it was more like a slaughter than a murder.” When Brooke was 11-year-old, she described events leading up to but not including, the murder.

Two hours after Brooke’s statement to police, Elkins was arrested at his home, 40 miles away from Johnson’s residence. “I was totally shocked, I didn’t know what was going on,” Elkins stated, years later. His wife Melinda Elkins refused to believe her husband was guilty. In fact he had been home with her during the time of the murder. The two sisters attended Judy Johnsons’ murder, holding hands. But Melinda commented, “it felt so final.” They didn’t speak again for three years.

23murderWhen 36-year-old Elkins was arrested for the crime, it meant he faced the death sentence. Prosecutor Michael Carroll stated, “I was convinced after speaking with the child and her psychologist that he was guilty.” A reporter named Phil Trexler stated, “the police believed they had “an open and shut case”, a little girl who saw her uncle kill her grandmother.” Of course, in reality there is no such thing as an open and shut case.

One hundred items were collected from the scene to corroborate the claim that Elkins was the perpetrator. Hairs recovered from Johnson’s body were excluded as having come from both Elkins and Johnson. Although tests were run, nothing connected Elkins to the crime. Nothing incriminating turned up in a search of the Elkins’ home. Despite the lack of physical evidence, prosecutors admitted that Brooke’s statement was all the proof they needed to convict Elkins.

There was other reason to believe Elkins could be the perpetrator. He and Judy Johnson had a volatile relationship. Elkins and Melinda had wed when they were only 18 years old. The couple fought often. They had two sons and the stress of child rearing exacerbated their problems. To cope, the couple often separated for days at a time. Johnson was annoyed by these separations and blamed Elkins. Johnson naturally defended her daughter. And Elkins and Melinda had “been physical” a number of times. However Elkins never “became physical” with his mother-in-law. And volatile relationships between in-laws are hardly unusual.

Unfortunately, juries tend to believe that traumatized children cannot be wrong, nor can they mislead. In May 1999, Elkins was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Earl-mann200Melinda refused to give up on her husband. Following the second failed appeal, the family’s research turned up information about the next door neighbor, Tonia Brasiel, who had driven Brooke home the morning after the attack. It was discovered that Brasiel’s common-law husband, Earl Mann, was a convicted sex offender who had just been released from prison two days before the murder, on June 5, 1998. It had been overlooked that Mann’s wife Tonia left Brooke, a severely beaten and bloody 6-year-old in immediate need of medical care, on the porch for more than 30 minutes instead of calling 911. In my opinion, it had been overlooked because police believed they had found their man and refused to look elsewhere.

Three years after Elkins’ conviction, 10-year-old Brooke recanted her testimony on videotape. The court believed the statement was coerced and overturned an appeal. Melinda was determined to collect Mann’s DNA, but he was in prison by that time. Coincidentally, Mann was serving his time at Mansfield Correctional facility, the same facility Clarence was serving his sentence. Clarence Elkins collected a cigarette butt discarded by Mann. Imagine the feeling of sitting across from the man responsible for sending you to prison and having to pretend you are friends. He sent the cigarette to his attorney who sent it to a lab for testing. It was a match.

After Mann was identified, Brasiel admitted under questioning that Mann returned home the early morning hours after the murder with deep scratches on his back. When she questioned him, he claimed he’d been with a “wild woman.” According to Brasiel, when Brooke knocked on the door following the attack, he became angry and insisted that Tonia not let her in or call police. Further reports stated Brasiel gave Mann the opportunity to leave the house by the back entrance. Brasiel reported to Brooke’s mother that she had already named Clarence as the attacker after she drove Brooke home. Brasiel testified at Elkins’ trial that the child told her Clarence was the perpetrator.

Despite the DNA evidence connecting Earl Mann to the murder, district attorney declined to release Elkins. Elkins attorney contacted then Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro. Petro himself contacted prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh regarding the case on several occasions. He then took the unorthodox step of holding a press conference to put public pressure on the prosecutor, who refused to re-open the case,  in the case to dismiss the charges. The prosecutors conducted another round of DNA testing on hairs found at the scene and again, Mann was identified. Walsh reported that she had “misgivings” about Mann’s criminal record and found it “disturbing.” She declined to state that Petro had to contact her several times to re-open the case.

clarence-melinda-elkins200On December 15, 2005, the charges against Elkins were dropped and he was released from prison. He and Melinda divorced in September 2006. In 2008, ten years after the crimes were committed, Mann pleaded guilty to charges of Aggravated Rape and Aggravated Murder for the death of Johnson as well as Aggravated Rape of Brooke to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to 55 years to life in prison.

Clarence Elkins settled with the state of Ohio for US $1.075 million. He later filed a civil suit against the Barberton police for failing to disclose the incriminating statement Earl Mann made during a 1999 arrest, “aren’t you going to arrest me for Judy Johnson’s murder?” Barberton police still sought to have the case dismissed, but this time they were blocked. The judge ruled that had Mann’s statement to Officer Gerard Antenucci been disclosed to the defense, they would have noticed Mann’s proximity to the Johnson residence, as well as Tonia Brasiel’s bizarre behaviour following the murder. Mann’s DNA would have almost certainly been run and Elkins would not been convicted. Elkins settled with the Barberton police for $5 million.

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Milwaukee led McLeod to a Macabre Murder

You’ve heard this story many times before: an unhappy, young runaway flees her foster home for the city looking for a better life. Of course that’s not what awaits her. Instead, a dangerous pimp and a street life the teen didn’t want leads to a cruel fate. In this case it would take the help of a little 3-year-old boy to bring his own father to justice for the torturous murder of a naïve young woman.

March, 1991 – Goose Lake  Wildlife Preserve- Wisconsin.  A young woman’s body is found in a lonely field during a chilly winter. She is partly decomposed yet obvious signs of trauma are still visible on her battered body. She has multiple contusions about the face, abdomen, legs and chest. She is sexually assaulted after her death. Strangely, her hands have been cut off and disposed of somewhere in the area. It is a pathetic, tragic sight. Very few people should end up this way.

Five days after the gruesome discovery hunters find the girl’s hands minus the fingertips. Clearly whoever tortured and killed this girl knew her and was aware that she had a criminal record, hence the removal of her hands. On March 15, 1991, a morgue photograph was downloaded into a computer and a visual image of what the young woman might have looked like in life is created to assist detectives with identifying her remains. The sad story receives national coverage but no leads are forthcoming. Detectives adopt her as their own McLeod01-Mar09and hold a private funeral for the unfortunate victim in Forest Hill Cemetery,  Madison, Wisconsin. Some detectives weep during the ceremony.

Weeks later, the Illinois, Milwaukee Police Department and informs Wisconsin that a woman in their vicinity saw the poster and believes she might know the identity of the dead girl. The woman informed police she believed this woman had been seen with a pimp named Joseph White. In 1990, he had recruited a “snow bunny“, a young white woman, to work for him. One day, she vanished. The woman had run away from a group home and straight into the arms of her pimp. The group home’s administrator sees the photographs of the missing girl and she reluctantly identifies her as Doris Ann McLeod. Police discovered the McLeod was sexually abused as a child and eventually lived in 17 foster homes.

McLeodDFrom the beginning, McLeod experiences problems with White. She doesn’t want to prostitute herself. It isn’t the life she hoped to find in the city. Further, McLeod had been living in abysmal conditions in White’s basement that was little more than an unfurnished, filthy squat. She had a mattress and little else.

McLeod’s desire to leave the life doesn’t sit well with White. Instead McLeod lost her own. White was part of a gang of pimps called the Gangster Disciple Nation, one of the most violent gangs in the U.S., that had strict rules for their girls. One of the punishments for a girl who refused to hook was death and it was a nasty one: fifty blows chest.

June 18, 1991 detectives arrived at White’s house in a Milwaukee inner city neighbourhood, intending to arrest him. They entered by the front door but cowardly White exited by the back, leaving his 3-year-old son behind. However, a uniformed officer caught him exiting the back and returned him to the scene. Inside the filthy, unkempt house, police discover clothes ad jewellery belonging to McLeod. White’s 3-year-old son suddenly tugged on the flashlight on a detective’s belt, curious about the object. He wanted to play with it, When the child, Joseph Jr., was shown a picture of McLeod he said, “that’s Dee.” He told the officers that “the monster in the house hurt her.” A child’s mind is a fascinating thing. A young child cannot reconcile a violent criminal with his own parent, and he separates the two into father and monster. It is a survival mechanism.

Little Joe Jr. led the police downstairs to McLeod’s makeshift bedroom. He pointed the flashlight to steam pipes in the ceiling ad explained that he saw Dee hanging from the pipes, telling the men how the monster had bit her fingers. Pointing to an officer’s fingertips he stated, “over here, over here, over here, over here, over here.” This was the crude way White had removed poor McLeod’s fingertips. The adorable little boy then stated, “I heard the monster. Goddammit why don’t you go upstairs? Now get out of here.” Detectives believed this was where McLeod was tortured and possibly killed.

josephwhite-prison-mugYou know how a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? Well so egotistical was White that he insisted on representing himself in court during his murder trial. The judge advised White that he was poorly prepared. He criticized his poor line of questioning to the witnesses. He even informed him that the “jury might be getting quite uncomfortable with the questioning.” Six days later the prosecution rested. After only four hours, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. White is eligible parole in 2074, McLeod’s 100th birthday.

By then White will be long dead and will not be released on parole. That will prove to be a nice birthday gift for Doris Ann McLeod.








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Lachrymose Latimer Leaves a Life Sentence Behind

Robert William (Bob) Latimer is one of the most controversial Canadian killers in Canadian history. Latimer was a canola and wheat farmer in Wilkie, Saskatchewan. He was married to a woman named Laura. They had four children together. Unfortunately his daughter Tracy was a severely handicapped child who would always have the mental capacity of an infant.  An interruption of oxygen during Tracy’s birth caused her to develop cerebral palsy. She suffered from many side effects including seizures that were so violent medication couldn’t control them. She could neither walk nor talk. Tracy required constant care. The Latimer doctor claimed the family gave her exceptional care.

Tracy Latimer
The worst symptom Tracy suffered was constant, severe pain. Once her mother took Tracy tracylatimerto the doctor. Laura had to hold up Tracy’s leg in the air, her knee bent. When Laura tried to move the leg, Tracy cried out in pain. The poor girl had a hip dislocation (bloody ouch) but couldn’t be given pain killers because they interfered with her anti-seizure medication. Tracy had several surgeries including a procedure to correct scoliosis, a condition where the spine grows in a severe “S” or “C” curve. Steel rods had to be inserted into poor Tracy’s back. The x-ray below shows a spin twisted into an “S” curve. Can you imagine living with that pain without pain killers?

According to some people outside of the family, Tracy seemed to enjoy her life on occasion. She lived intermittently in group homes. Workers there claimed she loved horses, and she had a love for music. “She also responded to visits by her family, smiling and looking happy to see them.”

Tracy’s Medical Treatments
On October 19, 1993, the doctor scheduled surgery for Tracy’s dislocated hip. The surgery idiopathic-scoliosis_1was risky. It could result in an entire hip reconstruction or her hip would remain attached to her body only by nerves and muscles. Ouch. The doctor speculated that recovery would take one year. Other doctors were involved in Tracy’s care told the Latimers that further surgeries for pain in the joints in her body would be required during the following year. Tracy’s life was one of ongoing surgeries and constant  pain. The surgeon, Dr. Dzus reported that “the post operative pain can be incredible“and stated that the only useful short-term solution was an epidural to anesthetize the lower part of the body and help alleviate pain while Tracy was still in hospital. One wonders what type of painkillers, if any, Tracy would have received at home.

Tracy’s Death

lauraOn October 24, 1993, Laura Latimer from a church service with her children to find Tracy dead. She died while at home with her father. At first Latimer maintained that Tracy died in her sleep, however, the autopsy revealed high levels of carbon monoxide in Tracy’s blood. Latimer confessed he killed his daughter by placing her in his truck and connecting a hose from the truck’s exhaust pipe to the cab. He said he considered other methods of killing Tracy, including Valium overdose and “shooting her in the head“. Apparently Latimer had yet to learn the meaning of “too much information.”

Nation Sensation
The media swarmed the Latimer farm and courthouse whenever Latimer made his appearance. The story sparked debates about the rights of people with physical and mental handicaps. The killing of Tracy Latimer was called an act of “compassionate homicide.” Others believed that leniency for Latimer, would show that the disabled are regarded as second-class citizens. The question of whether or not euthanasia should be legalized n Canada became a hot topic for discussion. Talk shows discussed the Latimer case. Newspapers carried the Latimer name in headlines. People lined up outside the courthouse to get a seat. Tracy’s death was big news and big business.

Latimer said his actions were motivated by love for Tracy and a desire to end her pain.  He described the medical treatments Tracy had undergone and was scheduled to undergo as “mutilation and torture“. With the combination of a feeding tube, rods in her back, the leg cut and flopping around and bedsores, how can people say she was a happy little girl?” Latimer stated in court.

Latimer was charged with first-degree murder, convicted of second-degree murder by a jury, and sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 10 years. Upon hearing his sentence Latimer yelled at the jury that “you people have no sense of justice!” I remember the Latimer case. I read about it in a Reader’s Digest magazine while sitting in a doctor’s office. At the time I felt sympathy for the whole family including Latimer but I believed that no one had the right to committing euthanasia, no matter what the reason. Now with all the facts, and several years later, I think a little differently. That poor little child suffered every day. Her family was helpless to ease her anguish. Had I felt their grief over a family member in my home, I might have considered euthanizing little Tracy, too.

In  June 1996, the original Crown prosecutor was charged with attempting to obstruct justice through jury tampering. in February 1997. After a new trial, Latimer was again found guilty of second-degree murder. At the sentencing hearing, Latimer’s lawyer argued he should be given a “constitutional exemption,” or that the judge should find the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to be “cruel and unusual punishment” in the circumstances, and therefore a violation of  Latimer’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On 1 December 1997, the sentencing judge surprised many when he found that a 10-year sentence would indeed be “grossly disproportionate” to the offence. New legal ground was broken in December 1997, when Justice Ted Noble distinguished between mercy killing and cold-blooded murder. He sentenced Latimer to two years less a day, half of which would be served in a provincial jail and half on his farm.

On December 5, 2007 Latimer requested day parole from the National Parole Board in Victoria, BC. He told the board he believed killing his daughter was the right thing to do. The board denied his request, saying that Latimer had not developed sufficient insight into his actions, despite reports that said he was at low risk to reoffend. In February 2008, a review board overturned the earlier parole board decision, and granted Latimer day parole. Latimer was released from William Head Prison and began his day parole in Ottawa in March. Latimer was determined to prove himself right. On his release he stated that he planned to press for a new trial and for identification of the pain medication that the 2001 Supreme Court ruling suggested he could have used instead of killing his daughter, Finally, on November 29, 2010, Latimer was granted full parole.

traLatimer told in a sit-down interview in Toronto on Monday, he didn’t expect that his decision to end Tracy’s life would trigger a storm that would envelop his own life for years to come. “It wasn’t anything to consider, it wasn’t a priority. (But)I didn’t think things would get so wild, I didn’t realize. I thought they would be more realistic than they were,” Latimer said, referring to prosecutors. “Tracy’s life was a pretty horrific event. I don’t think anybody in their right mind would volunteer to go through that kind of thing,” Latimer said. He believes the “majority” of Canadians would agree with the choice he made if given all the facts. A book written by Gary Buslaugh entitled Robert Latimer: A Story of Justice and Murder was released in 2010. In the book Buslaugh mentions that Latimer’s bad luck with juries began early in his life. At 21, he and a friend were convicted of sexual assault but under appeal it was overturned, due to excessive pressure on the jury.


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