The Unsolved Murder of Martha Moxley

by John W. Taylor

Greenwich, Connecticut exudes wealth and privilege. Much of the affluent town is filled with old money and respected surnames that have carried down through generations. Within Greenwich lies the gated community of Belle Haven with its massive homes, located on spacious acreage. The properties commonly possess swimming pools, tennis courts, and secondary houses for attendants. Having copious amounts of money in Belle Haven is the norm, not the exception, and “the help” are the only persons in the area lacking wealth.

In 1975, the Moxleys lived at 38 Walsh Lane in Belle Haven. John Moxley was a partner in the large New York accounting firm, Touche, Ross & Company. John lived with his wife, Dorothy, and their two children, John, age 16, and Martha, age 15. Martha was a high school sophomore and a cheerleader at Greenwich High School. She had long, beautiful blonde hair, an infectious smile, and was voted “best personality” at school.

The Skakels lived across the street from the Moxleys. The patriarch of the family, Rushton Skakel, was brother to Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy. Rushton was chairman of the board of the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. After Ruston’s wife, Anne, died of cancer in 1973, he was tasked, along with the hired help, with raising their seven children. Tommy and Michael, who were 16 and 15 in 1975, respectively, were the oldest children. The Skakel clan also included: John, Julie, Rush, David, and Stephen. Similar to the Kennedys, the Skakels experienced more than their share of tragedies. Along with losing his wife, both of Rushton’s parents were killed in a plane crash. His brother George died in a separate plane crash and his brother’s wife choked to death on a piece of meat at a dinner party. When Tommy Skakel was only four-years-old, he was thrown from a car. He sustained severe head injuries but survived.

Rushton Skakel employed twenty-three-year-old Ken Littleton as a tutor and care-taker for his children. Ken taught science and coached at the prestigious Brunswick School. Ken arrived for his first day of work at the Skakel residence on October 30, 1975. That evening, Ken Littleton took several of the Skakel children, including Tommy and Michael, along with two friends, to dinner at the Belle Haven Country Club at 7:00 p.m. Though only teenagers, both Tommy and Michael drank heavily while at the country club. A little bit later, Martha Moxley and three friends went to the Skakel home, waiting for everyone to arrive back at home from dinner. It was the night before Halloween, and many of the neighborhood kids roamed the area engaging in mischievous but fairly innocent pranks. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., the kids began to head inside or home for the evening. However, at 9:30 p.m., Tommy and Martha remained outside together on the front lawn of the Skakel property.

Around midnight, Martha’s mother, Dorothy, became concerned when her daughter failed to come home. Dorothy and her son John began looking for Martha in the neighborhood. They stopped at the Skakel residence, at least twice, trying to locate Martha. At 3:48 a.m. on the morning of October 31, 1975, Dorothy called the Greenwich Police Department to report her Martha missing.

The search for Martha continued through the early morning hours. At around 12:30 p.m., family friend Sheila Maguire discovered Martha’s body. Sheila found her lying under a pine tree on her family’s estate, less than 200 yards from the front door. She had been bludgeoned to death with a golf club. Martha was found face down with her jeans and underwear pulled down to her ankles. The authorities believed that she may have been sexually assaulted but not raped. Further, no semen was found on or near her. Martha’s badly beaten 5’5,” 120 lbs. body was discovered about midway between her house and the Skakel home.

In 1975, Greenwich, Connecticut had only 63,000 residents, and there were only three murders in the previous 25 years. The low crime rate appealed to locals and prospective residents alike, but it meant that law enforcement lacked experience regarding the intricacies of homicide investigations. After finding Martha’s body, police did a cursory search of the Skakel home, but they failed to obtain a search warrant. Police may have misplaced key evidence. Several witnesses identified an individual walking several blocks away from the murder, but police did not immediately follow-up on the lead. The autopsy allegedly failed to contain basic pictures memorializing the injuries.

Martha was beaten with a Toney Penna 6-iron. During the initial investigation, police determined the murder weapon belonged to a golf set from the Skakel home. The blows to Martha’s head were so violent and forceful that the steel golf club broke into four pieces during the attack. Investigators recovered three of the four pieces. The grip portion of the club was missing, which had the “Skakel” name on it. The strikes to Martha’s head eviscerated her scalp. Experts estimated the perpetrator bludgeoned her somewhere between nine and fourteen times. Further, post mortem, the perpetrator drove a piece of the golf club’s shaft into her neck. It was a barbaric scene.

Based on the crime scene blood, forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee stated that Martha was likely attacked initially on the driveway, but she was killed on a nearby patch of grass. During the fatal attack, he opined that a portion of the golf club shaft flew over 100 feet when it broke. According to Dr. Lee, the killer dragged Martha approximately 80 feet to a tree, stopped, rolled the body over, and changed from pulling the upper body to pulling her from her feet.

Though police entertained the idea of a transient entering the neighborhood and killing Martha Moxley, they quickly dismissed the theory. Belle Haven was a gated community with its own security force. Outsiders immediately stood out. The police casted a wide net, interviewing several hundred people associated with Martha’s murder. However, with the discovery of the murder weapon being tied to the Skakel household, investigators turned their focus toward those individuals present at the Skakel residence during the likely time of the murder (somewhere between 9:30 p.m. and approximately 10:30 p.m.)

Police zeroed in on three individuals: Tommy Skakel, Michael Skakel, and Ken Littleton. Though Michael dated Martha previously, investigators dismissed him because he had an apparent air-tight alibi. He was at his cousin’s house from 9:30 p.m. till 11:00 p.m. on the night of the murder. Ken and Tommy were both in and around the Skakel home during the estimated time of the murder. Tommy was the last known person to have seen Martha Moxley alive. During his initial interview with police, Tommy told them that he talked with Martha outside his home until around 9:30 p.m. His sister, Julie, corroborated this information as she saw them together at this time as well.

Ken Littleton was new to Belle Haven. He appeared to investigators as nervous, agitated, and unstable. Investigators who interviewed him described him as a “haunted man.” He also failed two polygraph examinations. However, he denied any involvement in Martha’s murder, and the police did not have any evidence tying him to the crime. Regardless, he remained a person of interest.

Investigators initially interviewed Tommy Skakel for five hours on the night of October 31, 1975. They were unable to gather any articulable incriminating information against him. Tommy passed two polygraph examinations. Regardless, police continued to suspect him in Martha’s murder. Though police had suspicions about Tommy’s involvement, they did not have any hard evidence. Rushton Skakel, Tommy’s father, soon cut-off police’s access to Tommy and prevented them from getting his medical and school records.

Ken Littleton was an outsider without the power and wealth of the Skakels. No one wanted to believe a Belle Haven resident could commit murder; therefore, Ken represented a convenient alternative suspect. Unfortunately for investigators, no one was talking. There were no confessions, and this was long before DNA testing. As a result, the police made no arrests nor was a grand jury convened. The case went cold.

After Martha’s murder, Ken Littleton experienced substance abuse problems and depression. In 1976, he was arrested for breaking and entering and larceny. Later, Ken was arrested for assault, disorderly conduct, and driving while intoxicated. Police were left wondering if Ken Littleton’s erratic behavior was indicative of guilt related to murder, a reaction to being suspected of murder, or as a result of what he knew.

In 1991, Rushton Skakel hired a group of New York private investigators from the firm, Sutton Associates. His objective was for the investigators to dig into all areas of Martha Moxley’s murder in order to exonerate his son, Tommy, who the police believed was the perpetrator. Ultimately, Rushton’s honorable intentions led to further complications for his family.

Sutton Associates vetted all the investigators assigned to the case and required them to sign non-disclosure agreements (“NDA’s”). Investigators assembled their findings in a document that became known as “The Sutton Report.” Rushton Skakel allegedly paid somewhere in the realm of $750,000 for the comprehensive investigation and associated reports. The findings remained secret for years.

The Sutton investigators parsed through every piece of evidentiary minutia from the original investigation. The investigators generated suspect profiles, scrutinized previous interviews, and re-interviewed many of the witnesses and potential suspects in the case. The investigators accumulated a mass amount of information and derived conclusions based on their assessments. Though the report stayed secret for years, eventually, the contents of the report leaked.

Since the Greenwich Police placed Tommy Skakel in their crosshairs, the Sutton investigators initially focused on him. During an interview with Sutton investigators, Tommy admitted that he was with Martha for about 20 minutes beyond the 9:30 p.m. time he originally told police. According to Tommy, on the night of Martha’s murder, he and Martha engaged in a sexual encounter in the Skakel’s backyard. He last saw Martha walking across the backyard after their sexual tryst. This new information placed Tommy with Martha until 9:50 p.m. The Sutton investigators considered this a huge break-through in the case. Why would Tommy openly divulge incriminating information about himself almost 20 years later, if it were not true? During the initial police interrogation, Tommy withheld this information from them. Yet, under no pressure, Tommy just gave up the additional information to the Sutton investigators. Why? The private investigators now knew that Tommy initially lied to the police, and he successfully beat two lie-detector tests.

Though Ken Littleton initially failed two law enforcement lie-detector tests, the Sutton investigators attributed it more to Ken’s nervousness and overall instability than deceitfulness. Plus, they knew Tommy beat the lie-detector test twice; therefore, a false positive on Littleton was not outside the realm of possibility. Ken Littleton arrived for his first day of work at the Skakel residence on October 30, 1975, the day of Martha’s murder. He did not have a relationship, nor had he ever met Martha Moxley prior to this day. The killing appeared personal and filled with rage. The Sutton investigators also believed the killer was quite familiar with the area, and Ken was not. Though they did not view him as completely innocent, the investigators found it unlikely that Ken was the perpetrator. Further, investigators felt like Ken’s time was accounted for throughout the evening, thus he did not have the opportunity to kill Martha.

Greenwich investigators initially removed Michael Skakel from suspicion because he had an alibi. Jim Terrien, Michael’s cousin, told investigators back in 1975 that he, along with Rush, John, and Michael, left the Skakel residence at 9:30 p.m. on the night of Martha’s murder. The group left in the Skakel’s Lincoln and did not return to the Skakel residence until around 11:00 p.m.

Michael previously dated Martha. On the night of her murder, Martha overtly flirted with Michael’s older brother, Tommy, in front of him and other friends and siblings. According to the Sutton investigation, Tommy and Michael fought often, and at times, about Martha.

Almost everyone interviewed acknowledged that Martha was a flirt, though her flirtatious manner was considered more attributable to her confidence than as a form of sexual invitation. Regardless, Michael told investigators that he did not consider her flirtatious. Investigators found it interesting that Michael refused to acknowledge Martha’s flirtatious manner when it was considered common knowledge among the group of friends. Michael also downplayed his sexual interest in Martha.

Michael told the Sutton investigators that he could not remember when he found out Martha was killed. The investigators found this highly suspicious, since learning of a close friend and former girlfriend being murdered would be a memorable event.

According to Rushton Skakel, Julie, Michael’s sister, was terrified of Michael. Ken Littleton told Sutton investigators that he witnessed Michael kill small animals. He was disgusted by Michael’s behavior. In 1977, therapists administered a psychological exam on Michael Skakel. He was identified as: depressed, possibly psychotic, with borderline features, such as an inability to attach meaningfully with others and exhibited impulse control issues.

With the above known, investigators re-visited Michael’s alibi. Andrea Shakespeare, a friend of the Skakel’s, hung out at the Skakel home on the night of October 30, 1975. According to Andrea, Michael did not go to Jim Terrien’s. Michael’s brother Rush also could not remember Michael going with him to Terrien’s house. Michael’s other brother, John, also failed to remember Michael being in the car when they left for the Terrien’s. Even under hypnosis, John was unable to remember Michael’s presence in the Skakel’s Lincoln that night. As a result, investigators concluded Michael stayed at home. Now, Michael’s whereabouts between 9:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. were completely unaccounted for during the crucial timeframe.

Julie Skakel drove Andrea Shakespeare home shortly after the group left for Jim Terrien’s house. Julie returned home around 9:50 p.m. She claimed that she saw someone traipsing around the bushes outside the Skakel home in dark clothes and a hood. Julie thought she saw a male, carrying something in his left hand. Because it was the night before Halloween, kids commonly roamed the neighborhood engaging in mischief. As a result, Julie was not alarmed by the apparent prowler

Tommy was likely still with Martha at this time. After Julie went inside, she saw Ken Littleton in the kitchen. As a result, the Sutton investigators determined that Michael Skakel was the only unaccounted for male at this time. They believed Michael was crawling around in the bushes shortly before 10:00 p.m. According to the investigators’ theory, Michael spied on Tommy and Martha while they made out.

According to Littleton, Tommy joined him in the master bedroom at 10:03 p.m. to watch “The French Connection.” This precise time was determined based on Ken’s estimation that Tommy came into the bedroom about 20 minutes before the “chase scene,” which began at 10:23 p.m. Tommy left the master bedroom at the end of the “chase scene,” which was at 10: 32 p.m. According to Tommy, he went to the kitchen to get food. However, no one knew Michael’s location during this entire time.

According to Jim Terrien, the Skakels left his house around 11:00 p.m. At 11:30 p.m., John Skakel told investigators that he heard someone leave his house. Julie Skakel also thought someone may have left the house around this time. In a startling revelation, Michael Skakel told the Sutton investigators that he left the house at 11:40 p.m. He allegedly watched a neighbor woman disrobe through her window and then climbed a tree alongside Martha’s house. He yelled her name twice, and then he masturbated in the tree while outside her window. On his way back home, Michael claimed he felt someone’s presence in the area where Martha’s body was later discovered. When he returned to his house, he climbed in his second-floor bedroom window because all the doors were locked. According to Michael’s story, he was gone for 30 to 45 minutes. When Rush Skakel arrived home at 11:45 p.m., Tommy was in bed. He made no mention of Michael.

Investigators wondered why Michael Skakel changed his story. The investigators speculated that Michael was aware of family members who saw or heard someone leave the house around 11:30 p.m. He may have thought they knew it was him; and therefore, he needed to create a story to explain why he left the house and what he did. Investigators found it note-worthy that he supposedly “sensed” someone in the area where Martha was found. This new information placed Michael close to the crime scene at a time when Martha was likely already dead.

Sutton investigators theorized that both Michael and Tommy changed their stories as a means of damage control. Investigators believed the Skakel brothers thought the investigation had netted new evidence, and they needed to concede some information regarding their activities on the night of Martha’s murder.

According to the Sutton investigators’ assessment, the murder weapon signaled impulsiveness. With Martha having endured 14-15 blows to her head, they considered her murder “overkill.” These traits, along with many others they used to develop a profile of the killer, most closely aligned with Michael. With Michael’s alibi removed, his whereabouts during the likely time of Martha’s murder were completely unknown. Investigators postulated that Michael killed Martha in a fit of rage after seeing her with Tommy. After killing her, Michael sneaked back out of the house around 11:30 p.m. to move her body and possibly engage in activities designed to conceal his involvement, such as hiding the grip portion of the murder weapon. Sutton investigators believed that possibly Tommy and/or Ken Littleton either assisted with or were aware of Michael moving Martha’s body.

Within a few years, two new witnesses from the Elan School for troubled boys in Poland Spring, Maine, came forward. John Higgins, a former classmate of Michael’s at Elan, provided information on statements made by Michael. Higgins claimed that Michael indirectly admitted to murdering Martha Moxley. Michael told him that he took a golf club out of a bag and ran through the woods. Michael could not remember if he killed her or not. Offsetting Higgins statements, he later admitted the monetary reward enhanced his interest in telling this story.

Though he was serving time in prison for criminal trespassing, another former Elan classmate of Michael’s, Gregory Coleman, indicated that Michael Skakel told him: “I am going to get away with murder. I am a Kennedy.” According to Coleman, Michael also told him he drove a golf club into Martha’s head after she denied his advances.

Several years into the Sutton investigation, there were individuals working on the case who never signed NDA’s. In 1998, one of the individuals, allegedly not covered by an NDA, provided the full report to writer Dominick Dunne. Dominick in turn gave the report to former L.A.P.D. detective Mark Fuhrman. Later, the report was leaked into the public domain. Fuhrman looked into the case, but he was treated as an outsider by those in Greenwich. Notwithstanding the stone-walling he received in Connecticut, Fuhrman wrote a book about Martha Moxley’s death called, “Murder in Greenwich.” Similar to “The Sutton Report,” Fuhrman identified Michael Skakel as Martha’s killer.

In the late 1990s, a one-person grand jury convened in Greenwich. On January 19, 2000, police arrested Michael Skakel for the murder of Martha Moxley. He was later released on a $500,000 bond. Michael did not go to trial until 2002. On June 7 of that year, after a three-week long trial, the jury convicted Michael Skakel of murder. According to jurors, they convicted him based on his incriminating statements combined with his erratic behavior. Michael was sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison.

In 2003, Michael Skakel’s lawyers began the appeals process. They challenged his conviction on several legal grounds, including a claim of prejudice when the prosecution referred to him as a “spoiled brat” in front of the jury. In 2006, the appeals court rejected the legal arguments, and Connecticut’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction. In 2007, Skakel’s attorneys requested a new trial based on statements made by one of Michael Skakel’s former classmates, Gitano Bryant. He claimed someone other than Michael killed Martha Moxley. The court rejected this assertion as well. Michael’s lawyers kept trying. They submitted motions claiming Martha was murdered by anyone and everyone, except Michael Skakel. At one point, his lawyers even argued that Tommy Skakel, Michael’s own brother, was the likely culprit.

Prior to Michael Skakel’s indictment, a mother of one of the girls present at the Skakel home on October 30, 1975, called Martha’s mom, Dorothy Moxley. She told Dorothy to stop pursuing Martha’s case. She went on to say that it would only result in harm to the Skakels, and no good would come of it. Also, prior to the indictment, a woman from Greenwich approached writer Dominick Dunne in a Vermont bookstore. Her first husband lived near the Skakels. She told Dunne that she knew where the grip part of the golf club was located. She continued by stating that a lot of people in Greenwich know where it is. The woman then refused to tell Dunne the location of the golf grip and left the bookstore shortly thereafter. Apparently, Greenwich has many secrets, and some individuals will go to great lengths to ensure they are kept.

Michael Skakel, accused in the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley, walks with attorneys Hubert Santos and Jessica Santos outside Stamford Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, after being released following a hearing. Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, who has served 11 years of a 20 years to life sentence, will remain free awaiting a new trial. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

In 2013, a judge ordered a new trial for Michael Skakel due to ineffective legal representation. His trial lawyer failed to call a key alibi witness. Later that same year, Skakel posted a $1.2 million bail and was released. In 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated the murder conviction, finding that Michael Skakel’s legal counsel was competent. The following year, after the composition of the high court changed due to retirements, Michael Skakel’s attorneys requested the state supreme court to review its own decision. On May 4, 2018, Connecticut’s Supreme Court reversed itself in a 4-3 ruling, vacating Skakel’s murder conviction, based on ineffective legal representation.

When Martha’s mother, Dorothy Moxley, was asked about the recent ruling, she stated, “We got him arrested and convicted and put in jail. It isn’t my job now. It’s enough.” The State has not decided whether or not they will re-try Michael Skakel for murder.

Works Cited

The Associated Press, “Neighbor Talks to Grand Jury On ’75 Murder in Greenwich,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/13/nyregion/neighbor-talks-to-grand-jury-on-75-murder-in-greenwich.html?ref=michaelskakel, August 13, 1998.

Crittle, Simon, “The Skakel Trial: Day 2,” Time, http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,236427,00.html, May 9, 2002.

Dunne, Dominick, “Trail of Guilt,” Vanity Fair, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2000/10/dominick-dunne-martha-moxley-murder-greenwich, October, 2000.

Farber, M.A., “Who Killed Martha Moxley? A Town Wonders,” The New York Times, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/20131024skakel/Whokilledmartha62477.pdf, June 24, 1977.

Herszenhorn, David, “2 Witnesses Say Skakel Confessed to 1975 Killing,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/21/nyregion/2-witnesses-say-skakel-confessed-to-1975-killing.html, June 21, 2000.

Lavoie, Denise, “Fuhrman Claims He’s Solved ’75 Slaying,” Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/1998/feb/15/local/me-19311, February 15, 1998.

Rojas, Rick, and Kristin Hussey, “Connecticut Court Reverses Murder Conviction of Michael Skakel,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/nyregion/michael-skakel-conviction-reversed.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Frick-rojas&action=click&contentCollection=undefined&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection, May 4, 2018.

Rojas, Rick, and Kristin Hussey, “Four Decades After Martha Moxley’s Murder, Her Mother Says ‘It’s Enough,’” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/05/nyregion/martha-moxley-murder-case.html, May 5, 2018.

Vincent, Isabel, “I tutored a Kennedy relative – and wound up accused of murder,” The New York Post, https://nypost.com/2017/09/17/i-tutored-a-kennedy-relative-and-wound-up-accused-of-murder/, September 17, 2017.

“How the Skakel-Moxley Murder Case Unfolded Over Four Decades,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/nyregion/michael-skakel-martha-moxley.html, May 4, 2018.

“Michael Skakel Fast Facts,” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2013/05/27/us/michael-skakel-fast-facts/index.html, May 4, 2018.

“The Sutton Report,” http://thesuttonreport.com/The%20Sutton%20Report/campysuttontoc.html, accessed June, 2018.

Click below to view John W. Taylor’s previous intriguing posts:

How Jeffrey MacDonald’s Words Betrayed Him

Do Helena Stoeckley’s Ramblings Convey Reasonable Doubt for Jeffrey MacDonald?

Jason Young: Stone Cold Killer or Victim of Unfortunate Coincidences?

Murderer, Manipulator, or Do-Gooder? The Many Sides of James Rupard

“Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should)

The Deep Sleeper – Darlie Routier’s Plight for Innocence

Drew Peterson – A Legend in His Own Mind

Not How It Was Supposed To Go: Joanna Madonna and the Murder of Jose Perez

The Many Trials of Tim Hennis

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Darker Side of Aaron Hernandez

johntJohn W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.  John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

John is the host of the true crime podcast “Twisted,” which can be found at www.twistedpodcast.com. It is available through iTunes, Stitcher, and Libysn. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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THE ROOTS OF THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE: BLOG #4 OF OUR 10-PART SERIES

by Lise Pearlman © 2018

h11How did Panther Party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale become revolutionaries?

The Seale family arrived in the Bay Area from Texas the year before the worst disaster of World War II on continental United States soil. Munitions improperly loaded onto cargo ships in Port Chicago suddenly ignited on July 17, 1944 — less than 25 miles from where the family now lived. The explosion rattled windows 50 miles in every direction. The devastating accident accounted for 15% of all African-American casualties suffered on naval duty during the war. It prompted the Navy to begin desegregating its units in 1946 when Bobby Seale was ten.

Devastating explosion at Port Chicago

Devastating explosion at Port Chicago

Seale inherited his mother’s athleticism and blamed racism for spoiling his chances to excel in high school sports. He dropped out of Berkeley High and joined the Air Force in 1955 where he learned to be a sheet metal mechanic. In 1958, he received a dishonorable discharge due to an angry outburst at his commanding officer. Seale then worked at several different aircraft companies. Each fired him after learning of his bad conduct discharge — until his last job at Kaiser Aerospace where his boss considered Seale’s expertise on a missile project too hard to replace.

Robert Williams, exiled American author of Negroes with Guns (1962): "I advocated violent self-defense because I don’t really think you can have a defense against violent racists and against terrorists unless you are prepared to meet violence with violence."

Robert Williams, exiled American author of Negroes with Guns (1962): “I advocated violent self-defense because I don’t really think you can have a defense against violent racists and against terrorists unless you are prepared to meet violence with violence.”

In 1960, Seale started taking classes at Oakland City College (later renamed Merritt College). He began focusing on his heritage, grew his hair into an Afro and wore a moustache.  Increasingly political, he quit his job at Kaiser Aerospace to stop helping the war effort. A natural extrovert, Seale had some success as a stand-up comic. He also worked as a mechanical draftsman. When he met Huey Newton in September 1962, Seale had just joined a new West Coast chapter of the Revolutionary Action Movement (“RAM”), a secretive East Coast organization that advocated guerrilla warfare.  RAM found inspiration in a new book, Negroes with Guns, by former NAACP leader Robert Williams who had fled the United States for Cuba. [http://pbs.org/independentlens/negroeswithguns/rob.html]

Alameda Naval Air Station in the 1940s

Alameda Naval Air Station in the 1940s

Like the Seale family, the Newtons were World War II transplants from the South.  Huey Percy Newton, born February 17, 1942, was the youngest of Walter and Armelia Newton’s seven children. Walter left Monroe, Louisiana in 1944 for work in the Alameda Naval Air Station. His family joined him the following year, when Huey was three. By the time the Newtons moved to West Oakland, their oldest children were adults. The family relocated several times and ultimately settled in a racially mixed, working-class neighborhood in North Oakland.

h4Melvin was the next youngest boy, four years older than Huey (pictured with Huey in the early 1970s). While Melvin focused on academics, Huey favored the streets like his older brothers Leander “Lee” Edward and Walter, Jr., “Sonny Man.” But Huey was also a quick study with a phenomenal memory. He displayed talent for playing the piano and had three years of classical training. Yet, to his parents’ dismay, Huey was often truant in high school, preferring to spend time in pool halls like his brother Lee, who had already served a jail sentence. Huey also hung out with Sonny Man, a Korean War veteran employed at the Naval Air Station, who liked to frequent the race track. A violent incident at Berkeley High got Huey suspended and referred to juvenile court.  He graduated from Oakland Tech and escaped the draft with a 1-Y psychiatric exemption. Huey enrolled at Oakland City College focusing on courses in philosophy and militant politics, particularly the recent Cuban revolution and guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Recently retired, former Chief Judge Thelton Henderson of the Northern District of California was in an Afro-American Association study group with Huey Newton back in the early 1960s that Judge Henderson believed gave Newton many of the ideas for the philosophy of the Black Panther Party.

Recently retired, former Chief Judge Thelton Henderson of the Northern District of California was in an Afro-American Association study group with Huey Newton back in the early 1960s that Judge Henderson believed gave Newton many of the ideas for the philosophy of the Black Panther Party.

By 1962, 20-year-old Newton was well-known on the Oakland City College campus. He joined the Afro-American Association, an informal study group that met at the home of local lawyer and scholar Donald Warden (later known as Khalid Abdullah Tariq al Mansour) who hosted a radio program of the same name. [https://blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-dialogue-on-afro-american-association.html]. Among the association’s members were Ron Dellums, future Congressman and Oakland mayor, and future federal judge Thelton Henderson. When interviewed for our film project, Judge Henderson remembered Newton well: “A very bright young man . . .  a quick learner. He contributed a lot, and I’ve always imagined that many of the ideas he got for the Panthers’ philosophy and some of the interest areas that they had, came from those meetings at the Afro-American Association.  . . The premise of [which] was that blacks should not accept the white historical version of a Negro . . .”

Soon, Newton grew restless. Since the fall of 1962, he had often spoken at a forum by the Oakland City College campus known as the Grove Street orators. His favorite topics caught Seale’s attention — the Cuban revolution and the history of American colonial power. Seale impressed Newton, too, with his skills as an expert marksman, trained in the military to take apart and reassemble an M1 carbine blindfolded.  Seale suggested Newton for membership in RAM, but RAM turned Newton down because he resided with his parents in a “bourgeois” neighborhood. (Ironically, RAM had accepted undercover policemen as charter members).

h12Between 1962 and 1965, Newton and Seale saw each other infrequently. Newton took seasonal jobs at the nearby Del Monte cannery, which employed two of his sisters. From time to time, he hired on as a construction worker or longshoreman or city street cleaner. He supplemented his income with car burglaries and parking lot robberies, selling stolen property and, for several months, pimping. His first serious brush with the law came in 1964 after an argument with an aggressive stranger at a dinner party whom Huey stabbed with a steak knife. Huey was convicted of felony assault and served six months before his release on three years’ probation. En route to Santa Rita, the 22-year-old spent one month in an Alameda County jail cell known as “the soul breaker.” At Santa Rita, Newton also spent time in isolation, but he was outside in the prison yard in early December 1964 when busloads of arrested Cal Free Speech Movement demonstrators arrived. Their political commitment impressed him greatly. Upon his release, Huey returned to Oakland City College. He signed up for California criminal law taught by Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Ed Meese. Huey was a top student, eagerly memorizing the constitutional rights of suspects and the do’s and don’ts of California’s open-carry gun laws.

h6h7In 1965, Newton and Seale joined blacks on campus who founded the Soul Students Advisory Council. One of its leaders was Ken Freeman, a self-taught expert on African history and editor-in-chief of the new radical political and literary magazine Soulbook. The Council increased awareness among blacks of their heritage, lobbied for courses in black history and pushed for the hiring of African-American faculty.  Soulbook writer Louis Armmond introduced Seale to the works of the late revolutionary Dr. Frantz Fanon (pictured),  who had participated in the recent Algerian overthrow of French colonial rule. The Soul Students Advisory Council studied The Wretched of the Earth [the 1963 translation of Dr. Fanon’s 1961 book, les damnés de la terre] as a blueprint for how a liberation movement could be started for American blacks. Seale then recommended The Wretched of the Earth to Huey Newton.

In June 1966, SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael  made a powerful speech h13rejecting the pacifism of Martin Luther King in favor of black power. A SNCC voting rights group in Lowndes County,  Alabama had a black panther logo. Carmichael inspired the formation of Black Panther organizations elsewhere, including San Francisco. In October 1966, Newton and Seale launched their own Black Panther Party for Self-Defense while both were employed in the new Oakland federal jobs program headed by future Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson. Seale and Newton secretly used the office mimeograph machine at night to print out copies of their new 10-point program (modeled on The Nation of Islam’s “What We Believe”). Wilson discovered that the two of them brought guns to work and fired them. Seale and Newton then opened their first recruitment office in January, 1967 with final paychecks from the anti-poverty program. But Seale later pointed to the moment in 1965 when the two focused on the impact of Dr. Fanon’s writings as the true genesis of the Panther Party.

Next week Blog #5:  Launching the First Movement Trial

Click below to read Lise Pearlman’s previous Blog post:

“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton” – the untold story by Lise Pearlman

www.lisepearlman.com           www.Facebook.com/LPAuthorandSpeaker/

Producer, American Justice on Trial www.americanjusticeontrial.com

Click on the links below to select books by Lise Pearlman:

With Justice for Some: Politically Charged Criminal Trials in the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today’s America

The Sky’s the Limit People V. Newton, the Real Trial of the 20th Century?

American Justice On Trial: People v. Newton

Call me PhaedraCALL ME PHAEDRA: The Life and Times of Movement Lawyer Fay Stender

Lise Pearlman’s latest book just won the American Bookfest 2018 International Book Award for biographies and was named a finalist for both U.S. History and Multicultural Nonfiction!   See review in Counterpunch by Jonah Raskin

[Edit Post]

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The Unsolved Murder of Missy Bevers

by John W. Taylor

On April 18, 2016, surveillance video from the Creekside Church of Christ in Midlothian, Texas captured an individual breaking into the church. It was 3:50 a.m. For the next 25 to 30 minutes the perpetrator roamed around the church in what appeared to be a tactical, police-like uniform, including a helmet. At 4:16 a.m., 45-year-old Terry “Missy” Bevers pulled into the church’s parking lot for her 5:00 a.m. fitness class. The first student arrived at 4:35 a.m. but waited until 5:00 a.m. to enter the church. A few minutes later, students called 9-1-1 after finding Missy bludgeoned to death inside the church’s main entrance.

missy10Missy was a wife and mother of three. She was also an instructor for “Camp Gladiator,” an intense four-week training course that pushes participants outside their physical comfort zone. Missy provided support and encouragement to those willing to wake-up hours before an acceptable time. She also walked the walk. Missy was not only fit, but incredibly strong. Showing her commitment to her psychical regimen, on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 7:55 p.m., the day before her murder, Missy posted on Facebook: “If it’s raining, we’re still training…No Excuses…You are Gladiators!” referencing the training session the next morning. She also posted the exact time and location of the training session on Facebook: 5:00 a.m., Creekside Church of Christ.

The church’s video security system captured the perpetrator eerily lurking throughout the building. The individual was dressed in dark police tactical clothing, including a helmet that obscured the individual’s face. As a result, it is difficult to discern much about the individual’s appearance, including even identifying the person’s gender (For simplicity, the perpetrator will be referred to as male). The perpetrator appeared to be carrying either a claw hammer or mallet. While inside the church, he opened doors, broke windows, and appeared to be searching for something. According to police estimates, the individual is between 5’2” and 5’7” tall.

missy11In the security footage, the individual seemed to be giving the appearance of looking for something rather than actually looking for items. The perpetrator walked into a room and then back out seconds later, which kept the assailant from adequately searching the room. Many of his actions appeared random and without purpose, as if he wanted to give the appearance to police and church staff that someone burglarized or vandalized the building rather than actually engaging in those activities. The perpetrator took nothing of value nor made any real attempt to find anything of value.

With Missy’s murder occurring minutes after the perpetrator’s arrival, the intruder most likely wanted the authorities to think Missy’s murder was random. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since nothing was taken, we must assume robbery was not the objective. If the intruder planned the murder and associated cover-up, then he likely methodically orchestrated these actions ahead of time. When a perpetrator engages in deceptive activities, it takes time and focus away from the actual crime. It is also deliberate. A stranger or random criminal would have no need to deceive law enforcement. Only a person who law enforcement would likely suspect would have the motivation to divert police in an alternate direction.

missy5The fact the perpetrator concealed his identity while inside the church likely means he knew there were cameras in the church. If he was unaware of the cameras, he would not have needed to put his helmet on until close to the time Missy arrived. Further, he likely knew Missy would be alone and he planned to kill her; therefore, it was rather immaterial if she saw him or not. The helmet prevented the security cameras from displaying his face or even hair. With a planned murderous act, dark clothes would be expected, but not clothes that impersonated a police officer. Like the helmet, the police outfit was most likely part of a cover. The uniform served no purpose within the church. However, the perpetrator’s vehicle was never (officially) identified by police, per news reports. If the intruder drove a car (or was driven) into the church’s parking lot, it would have been detected by the exterior surveillance cameras. One possibility is that the perpetrator rode a motorcycle to the church. Though the outfit appeared to be that of a tactical police uniform, it also looked like an outfit one would wear when riding a motorcycle, sans the “police” insignia. The perpetrator could have worn that outfit to and from the crime scene without drawing attention to himself. The police insignia on his back could have been used to possibly mitigate the likelihood a police officer would pull him over. The perpetrator may have believed if a police officer pulled up behind him, he would have assumed the motorcyclist was law enforcement on his way to or from a shift.

missy4On the video, the perpetrator drug his right foot and walked with his feet pointing outward. He demonstrated a distinctive gait. He appeared to be overweight, though the tactical disguise could have been padded to give the appearance of a heavier person. The individual moved in a slow and deliberate fashion similar to that of an older person or someone suffering from an injury or chronic condition. The perpetrator may have tried to fake a limp or some other mannerism as further concealment, but if he had, there would have been times on the surveillance tape where his true gait materialized. The intruder’s movements appeared consistent, which indicates he was most likely not attempting to conceal his gait.

The perpetrator did not shoot Missy, which would have been the most effective and efficient means of killing her. The church is not located in a heavily populated area; therefore, a gunshot would have most likely gone unheard. The killer chose to murder Missy in a brutal and painful fashion. The manner in which this crime was carried out seems to indicate the killer knew Missy well and wanted her to suffer. He wanted to inflict serious bodily harm to her, rather than just systematically terminate her existence.

missy9The killer chose to attack Missy from inside the church. This was also a deliberate decision. There was no effective place to hide or conceal one’s presence in close proximity to the main entrance. Missy most likely would have seen the perpetrator coming toward her outside the church. This would have prevented the assailant from having the advantage of surprise. Missy also would have been a formidable opponent and catching her off-guard would have significantly increased the chances of success. With Missy’s stellar physical conditioning, in open space, she could have easily escaped by running. By attacking her inside the church, the perpetrator provided himself with the tactical advantage of surprise, and it prevented Missy from being able to easily escape.

The perpetrator’s outfit may have been designed in a manner to distort his physical dimensions, but most likely, the outfit was designed to enhance his ability to successfully brutalize and kill Missy. He needed to avoid placing too many layers of clothing or other items on his person, which could have impeded his ability to attack Missy. He likely wore the helmet and protective wear about his body to protect himself from a potential counterattack from Missy.

missy the carExterior cameras at a nearby SWFA Outdoors hunting and fishing store captured a car in their parking lot for approximately six minutes around 2:00 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 2016. It is believed to be a white or silver 2010 to 2012 Nissan Ultima with an oval sticker on the back bumper. At times, the car’s lights were off. Police indicated that they do not believe the car is connected to Missy’s murder, but they want to talk to the driver as he/she may have seen something or someone. The timing of the Nissan in the parking lot does not line-up with the times the perpetrator entered or likely exited the Creekside Church. However, SWFA is only a half mile from the church. Further, a car sitting in the parking lot of a closed store in the middle of the night is unusual. With the publicity surrounding Missy’s murder, the fact the driver has not come forward is note-worthy. It is possible the person is unaware the police are looking for him, but it’s also possible the individual was either involved in some unrelated nefarious activity or is connected to Missy’s murder. Either way, the car’s proximity and timing is close enough for it to warrant serious law enforcement attention.

husband and wifeAccording to police-provided information, Missy and her husband, Brandon Bevers, had marital problems and financial issues. In the context of a murder, any issue within a marriage can be amplified and appear to be motive. Unfortunately, all relationships undergo problems, but a vast majority of them do not end in murder. During an interview, Brandon acknowledged that he and Missy experienced problems, but he indicated that they were dealing with their problems. Law enforcement should always look closely at the spouse, but realize that since most marriages experience problems, it should not be the deciding factor.

According to reports, Brandon Bevers has a solid alibi. He was fishing in Mississippi at the time of the murder, which police independently verified. There is nothing to indicate her husband had any reason to harm Missy. Many internet sleuths identified a similar walk and posture between Brandon’s father, Randy, and the person in the church’s surveillance tape. However, Randy was in California at the time of the murder, though there are many physical similarities between Randy and the perpetrator. Police have indicated that no one in Missy’s family, nor her friends, or co-workers is a suspect. Regardless, with a planned murder, the perpetrator almost undoubtedly knew Missy.

missy6According to Missy’s friends, she received a “creepy” message on LinkedIn from an unknown male, three days prior to her murder. Police uncovered “familiar and intimate” communications between Missy and male individuals who were not her husband. Friends described Missy as being more concerned and acting as if someone was following her or after her in the days prior to her murder. This may have been more obvious or suspicious in hindsight rather than in real-time, but any of these clues could lead to the killer. This was a deliberate and planned act. Missy’s murder was also quite heinous, which leans more toward someone with significant anger toward her. The individual responsible for Missy’s murder likely had a close relationship or perceived close relationship with her. Though a more remote scenario, the perpetrator could have been a for-hire killer, even though the surveillance activities conveyed an individual far from professional or experienced in the criminal realm.

missy15By definition, a “gladiator is an armed combatant who entertained audiences by engaging in violent confrontations.” Missy’s fitness training regiment involved emulating exercises and activities similar to what would assist a gladiator in skill enhancement and conditioning. Though Missy’s workouts were designed to improve her overall health, her perpetrator engaged in a real-life reenactment of these barbaric events, but likely only for his own morbid entertainment. Though premeditation can be only seconds, Missy’s murder was planned for days, if not weeks, in advance. This is a dangerous individual. Missy’s marked change in demeanor in the days prior to her death likely indicate she was becoming aware of the dangerousness of the individual who entered her life. The perpetrator contacted her in some manner – email, text, social media, or in person. Her communications are the key to linking the killer to Missy. This individual is likely closely following media reports of this case and his obsession with Missy has probably only slightly dissipated as a result of her death.

Works Cited:

Duke, Alan, “Odd Silence Falls Over Missy Bevers Murder Probe as ‘Person of Interest, and ‘Vehicle of Interest’ Emerge,” Crime Online, http://www.crimeonline.com/2017/01/10/odd-silence-falls-over-missy-bevers-murder-probe-as-person-of-interest-and-vehicle-of-interest-emerge/, January 10, 2017.

Haaf, Landon, “Midlothian PD: No Family, Friends or Coworkers are Suspects in Bevers Murder,” WFAA 8 ABC, http://www.wfaa.com/article/news/crime/midlothian-pd-no-family-friends-or-coworkers-are-suspects-in-bevers-murder/206847689, May 20, 2016.

McPhate, Christian, “Missy Bevers’ Murder, Still Unsolved Nearly Two Years Later, Gets a New Detective,” Dallas Observer, http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/glenn-beck-puts-private-jet-up-for-sale-10595879, February 13, 2018.

Pandav, Jillian, “The Missy Bevers Case: What We Know,” Court Junkie Blog, http://courtjunkie.com/blog/page/6/, May 24, 2016.

Salinger, Tobias, “Fitness Instructor Murdered Before Early-Morning Workout Session at Texas Church,” New York Daily News, http://beta.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fitness-instructor-murdered-texas-church-article-1.2606128, April 18, 2016.

Spillyards, Allie, “2 Years Later: Hunt for Missy Bevers’ Killer Continues,” NBCDFW.com, https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/2-Years-Later-Hunt-for-Missy-Bevers-Killer-Continues–480155303.html, April 18, 2018.

Crimesider Staff, “New Video, Timeline Released in Woman’s Death at Texas Church,” Crimesider, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-video-timeline-released-in-terri-bevers-death-at-texas-church/, April 22, 2016

Unknown Author, “Murder in a Church: The Brutal Killing of Missy Bevers,” True Noir Blog, https://truenoirstories.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/missy-bevers/, March 28, 2017.

Click below to view John W. Taylor’s previous intriguing posts:

The Tragic Death of Jason Corbett: Father-Daughter Tag Team, or Self-Defense?

How Jeffrey MacDonald’s Words Betrayed Him

Do Helena Stoeckley’s Ramblings Convey Reasonable Doubt for Jeffrey MacDonald?

Jason Young: Stone Cold Killer or Victim of Unfortunate Coincidences?

Murderer, Manipulator, or Do-Gooder? The Many Sides of James Rupard

“Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should)

The Deep Sleeper – Darlie Routier’s Plight for Innocence

Drew Peterson – A Legend in His Own Mind

Not How It Was Supposed To Go: Joanna Madonna and the Murder of Jose Perez

The Many Trials of Tim Hennis

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Darker Side of Aaron Hernandez

johntJohn W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.  John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

John is the host of the true crime podcast “Twisted,” which can be found at www.twistedpodcast.com. It is available through iTunes, Stitcher, and Libysn. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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OAKLAND: THE MAKINGS OF A RACIAL TINDERBOX: Blog #3 of our 10-Blog Series

© by Lise Pearlman 2018

West Oakland was a tinderbox long before the Black Panther Party came into being — a ghetto suffering from two decades of high unemployment, overcrowded housing and heavy-handed policing. The black community considered patrolmen an occupying army. The situation was far from unique in urban America. In August 1965 devastating race riots had raged for days in the Watts area of Los Angeles. In their aftermath, President Johnson sent experts from Washington to tour ghettos across the country. They concluded that Oakland was likely “the next Watts.” Why?

handshakeLawyer Amory Bradford was a key member of the team of experts sent to Oakland by the Economic Development Agency. In his book Oakland’s Not for Burning, he noted that national media had already zeroed in on Oakland as “a failed city plagued by racialized poverty and unemployment” (page 36). A good friend of mine, Oakland native Morrie Turner (1923-2014) helped explain the city’s history of race relations for our film project and my book.  The son of a Pullman porter, Morrie grew up before World War II in a harmonious mixed-race, working-class neighborhood on which he later based the first integrated comic strip, “Wee Pals.”

As Bay Area industries geared up for the war effort in 1941, traditionally stable black-white relations began to change for the worse in a hurry. Roosevelt avoided a major civil rights protest by issuing Executive Order 8802 in 1941, forbidding discrimination on grounds of race, color or national origin in hiring workers for the national defense program. Kaiser Shipyards then recruited heavily in the South, encouraging a mass migration of blacks. Many poured into neglected neighborhoods in West Oakland. By 1945, four times as many blacks were counted in the official Oakland census as in 1940.

source: photo by Ariel Glenn, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oakland_tribune_tower_detail.jpg

source: photo by Ariel Glenn, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oakland_tribune_tower_detail.jpg

In the 1960s, Morrie Turner worked as a rare black clerk in the Oakland police force. He described most of the officers he worked with as “bigoted”. Once he took a phone message meant for a white co-worker: “The niggers are taking over Oakland.” Historically, a Republican political machine held enormous sway in Oakland and white monopoly power was threatened. Joseph Knowland, the publisher of the city’s long-time newspaper, The Oakland Tribune, was known as “The Power in the Oakland Tribune Tower.” His son, Senator Bill Knowland, took over the reins of the Tribune in 1961. For fifty years, the Knowlands hand-picked most members of the city council and controlled who became mayor. (The paper merged in 2016 into the East Bay Times.)

During World War II the government constructed temporary hous­ing for black shipyard workers and their families near the Navy Yard in Alameda, a nearly all-white town separated from Oakland by the Oakland bill pattersonEstuary. Shortly after the war ended, that gov­ernment housing was bulldozed, forcing newly unem­ployed blacks to relocate to West Oakland, which was already overcrowded. The situation only got worse in the 1950s when ground broke for the double-decker Cypress Freeway. It bisected West Oakland and separated it from the city center. East Bay resident Bill Patterson (my former colleague on the Oakland Public Ethics Commission) rose to head Oakland’s Park and Recreations Department (pictured here in the early 1960s).  He vividly recalled in his filmed interview what the segregated city was like back in the ‘50s and ‘60s: “The police department . . . if you traveled outside of your sector, you got stopped. Today they have a new name for that — they call it profiling — but it happened back then as a regular thing, because in neighborhoods that were all white, there was fear, you know, of black people. . ..”

morrie turnerOn a daily basis Morrie Turner typed up reports for white officers who often claimed that black men “resisted arrest.” He concluded that was a cover story to justify bruises and injuries to arrestees or, occasionally, to explain away their deaths. By 1966, Oakland’s population was over one-fourth black and thirty percent minorites. The divide between police and minority communities was exacer­bated by police patrolling in cars rather than walking beats on foot as they had once done. For Mexican-Americans the situation in East Oakland’s flatlands was similar. Future Alameda County Judge Leo Dorado recalls policemen stopping him as a teen riding his bicycle across the bridge to a public beach in Alameda: “I was clearly stopped because I was a brown face from Oakland. . . It was the way it was.”

sun reporterIn the spring of 1966 minorities in both East and West Oakland had a somewhat sympathetic new mayor who promised to listen to their concerns. John Reading’s fellow council members elected him in February of 1966 when the incumbent John Houlihan — a lawyer for The Oakland Tribune —  abruptly resigned after being caught embezzling from a law firm client. Mayor Reading promised dubious West Oakland leaders a new “open door” era at City Hall. He candidly acknowledged fears Oakland might otherwise “blow.” (pages 122,130).  While Oakland remained free of any major incidents in the summer commissionof 1966, riots broke out in San Francisco, Chicago, Brooklyn, Cleveland and Louisville. Widespread riots followed across the country during the “long, hot summer” of 1967 prompting President Johnson to order a blue-ribbon panel to study its root causes. Chaired by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, the commission issued a best-selling book. Nicknamed “The Kerner Report,” it zeroed in on the lack of diversity in police forces across the country as a major problem. The panel placed most of the blame for urban unrest on “[w]hite racism . . . for the explosive mixture which has been accu­mulating in our cities since the end of World War II.” The panel also criticized the press for reporting the news through “white men’s eyes.” It warned that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal” and proposed more major investments in the nation’s inner cities like the pilot jobs program in Oakland.

https://localwiki.org/oakland/Stop_the_Draft_Week

https://localwiki.org/oakland/Stop_the_Draft_Week

Civil unrest was only one national crisis in the fall of 1967. The other was escalating opposition to the war in Vietnam. Leaders in Washington worried about the conver­gence of mostly white war pro­testers and mixed-race civil rights demonstrators. Starting in the fall of 1964 when protesters on the Berkeley cam­pus launched the Free Speech Movement (“FSM”), students staged numerous sit-ins, marches and teach-ins. They also plotted to disrupt the arrival of troop trains at the Oakland Army Terminal. During the third week of October 1967, a coali­tion of Bay Area activists launched “Stop the Draft Week” — several days of massive demonstrations designed to shut down the Oakland Induction Center, one of the largest such facilities on the Pacific Coast. On the first day, some 3,000 protesters blocked the center’s entrance, leading to more than 100 arrests. The follow­ing day twice as many demonstrators blocked the doorway and the sur­rounding streets. An estimated 250 Oakland police, sheriff’s deputies and highway patrolmen dispersed the crowd, spray­ing mace and swinging batons. Pioneering black TV reporter Belva Davis covered the melee. She knew she was witnessing history: “The Bay Area felt like ground zero in a generational battle for the soul of the country.” (Belva Davis with Vicky Haddock,  Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism, Kindle location 1848).

Alameda County’s District Attorney brought conspiracy charges against key planners of the anti-war pro­test; the county’s top prosecutor D. Lowell Jensen would eventually try them together as “The Oakland Seven.” [Movement on Trial: The Oakland Seven]. A team of three defense law­yers, headed by Lawyers Guild veteran Charles Garry, quickly assem­bled. The defense team planned to invoke the Nuremberg Principles in their clients’ defense — putting the Vietnam War itself on trial as a crime against humanity.

It was hard to imagine at the time that another Oakland arrest would generate enough coverage and controversy to drown out the noise sur­rounding the “Oakland Seven,” while pitting the same lead counsel against one another — with the police and establishment on one side, and anti-war activists joined with civil rights protesters on the other.  Just two weeks after “Stop the Draft Week” came the spark FBI head J. Edgar Hoover dreaded. The synergy of anti-war and civil rights activists got a powerful boost from a single bloody confrontation in the very same city where the Oakland Seven would be tried – an early morning shootout involving two Oakland policemen and Huey Newton, the co-founder of the fledgling Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In the summer of 1968, Amory Bradford published his book not in triumph that the federal government’s intervention had averted another Watts, but in guarded hope that Oakland truly was not for burning.

Next week – The Roots of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Click below to read Lise Pearlman’s previous Blog post:

“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton” – the untold story by Lise Pearlman

www.lisepearlman.com           www.Facebook.com/LPAuthorandSpeaker/

Producer, American Justice on Trial www.americanjusticeontrial.com

Click on the links below to select books by Lise Pearlman:

With Justice for Some: Politically Charged Criminal Trials in the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today’s America

The Sky’s the Limit People V. Newton, the Real Trial of the 20th Century?

American Justice On Trial: People v. Newton

Call me PhaedraCALL ME PHAEDRA: The Life and Times of Movement Lawyer Fay Stender

Lise Pearlman’s latest book just won the American Bookfest 2018 International Book Award for biographies and was named a finalist for both U.S. History and Multicultural Nonfiction!   See review in Counterpunch by Jonah Raskin

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Why Revisit the Newton Death Penalty Story Today? — Blog #2 in Our 10-Part Series

© Hon. Lise Pearlman (ret.)

Last week I quoted from the author’s note to my 2016 book. This week I share some then-and-now observations in the book’s Introduction. As we go along, I will be highlighting key passages throughout the book, but not, I hope, provide too many spoilers:

American Justice on Trial revisits in light of current events People of California v. Huey P. Newton — the internationally watched 1968 murder case that put a black militant on trial for his life for the death of a white policeman accused of abuse. The trial put our nation’s justice system to the test and created the model for diversifying juries “of one’s peers” that many of us now take for granted as a constitutional guarantee. In the process, protesters orchestrated by the defense generated a media frenzy that launched the Black Panther Party as an international phenomenon. Using this trial as their platform, the Panthers took aim at entrenched racism in a democracy founded on the principle of equality. They put their sights on toppling white male monopoly power, and they convinced many followers to pay it forward. They also prompted an extraordinary backlash from those in power. The ramifications of this decades-old conflict continue to unfold today.

The year 2016 marks a half century since Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded, in Oakland, California, a small militant group that they named the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Like Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project and other civil rights activist groups today, Panther members were predominantly in their late teens or early 20s when they took to the streets, challenging the nation’s criminal justice system and making bold accusations of abusive policing. Today almost everyone recognizes the image of Black Panthers in iconic black leather jackets and berets, their fists raised in defiant salutes. In 1967, that fledgling organization would likely have disappeared quickly if not for one riveting murder trial. Now — a half century later — is an especially good time to take a fresh look back, to reexamine what may very well be the most pivotal criminal trial of the 20th century and ponder what it tells us about the importance of diversity, if we want to improve some of the most glaring shortcomings in our beleaguered American justice system.

* * * * *

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Oregon

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Oregon

In the Introduction, I describe several widely publicized, racially-charged incidents in the past few years. One key incident began in January 2016 — the armed takeover of a federal salutewildlife refuge in Oregon by militant white ranchers who vowed to instigate a broader revolt against the United States government. The FBI’s cautiously measured response clearly reflected the race of the perpetrators. Notably, then presidential candidate Donald Trump refrained from calling the ongoing siege of federal land an act of terrorism while he repeatedly vowed to take harsh measures against any and all Islamic terrorists. What repercussions would there have been if the Oregon takeover of public lands had instead been perpetrated by a small band of Arab jihadists or by black militants? I was far from the only one who wondered about that.

Journalists immediately speculated that racism played a major role in political reaction to the Oregon standoff. (Dean Obeidallah, “Trump — ‘Call Oregon Siege Terrorism’” CNN, January 5, 2016; and Richard Prince, “What if the “Militants” Were Not White”, Jan. 27, 2016 , Maynard Institute).

Many Americans would never have expected, or tolerated, a similar restrained FBI response if the militants were not white. Reaching back half a century to compare the illegal armed seizure of public lands in Oregon to an infamous Black Panther protest in Sacramento in 1967, one commentator wrote: [Unlike] what’s happening in Oregon right now, [the Black Panthers] entered the state Capitol lawfully, lodged their complaints against a piece of racially motivated legislation and then left without incident. But for those who see racial double standards at play in Oregon, the scope and severity of the 1967 response — the way the Panthers’ demonstration brought about panicked headlines, a prolonged FBI sabotage effort and support for gun control from the NRA, of all groups — will serve as confirmation that race shapes the way the country reacts to protest. (Nick Wing, “Here’s How the Nation Responded When A Black Militia  Group Occupied a Government Building” The Huffington Post, January 6, 2016  (updated Jan. 9, 2016)  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute

What has changed in race relations since that tumultuous era? What hasn’t? Consider the radically differing reactions to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show. In October 1968 African-American Olympic track medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos shocked observers around the globe with an emphatic civil rights gesture during their awards ceremony — each raising a black gloved fist in a classic “Power to the People” salute. They were promptly banned from the Olympics for life.

In 2016, during halftime at Super Bowl 50, more than 110 million viewers witnessed megastar Beyoncé’s dance troupe perform a similar raised-fist tribute to the Black Panthers, whose own fiftieth anniversary year coincided with that of the Super Bowl. Just a day earlier Beyoncé released a new video, “Formation,” which paid homage to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Beyoncé’s polarizing halftime message triggered a barrage of negative tweets and blogs as well as calls from conservative politicians, talk show hosts and police to boycott her performances, all of them unlikely to diminish the entertainer’s enormous fan base.

The Super Bowl incident is just one illustration of hot-button race issues that have recently dominated the airwaves. In the last few years — unlike prior eras in American history — deaths of unarmed blacks at the hands of police have garnered as much news coverage as killings of officers. Technology advances are the primary reason race issues today take place in a particularly volatile context: the near-constant presence of smart phone cameras has turned millions of Americans into potential on-the-spot documentarians.

* * * * *

How will this play out? Chance footage filmed by passersby feeds suspicion that widespread mistreatment of minority suspects would be revealed if only there were more transparency. Unlike officers’ deaths, fatalities caused by the police have not systematically been tracked over the years. Going forward, that is already beginning to change. As we consider proposed solutions to the current divide between police and minority communities, what can we learn from how media-savvy activists drew an international audience to a murder trial that turned the tables and put the American justice system itself on trial nearly a half century ago? And how did it all start?

Justice on TrialliseThe timing of this blog could not be better. In mid-May, the Berkeley Film Foundation underscored the relevance of the 1968 Newton death penalty trial to America today at an event that featured the book’s companion documentary film project — the 2017 winner of the prestigious Al Bendich award for projects promoting civil rights. BFF was celebrating all the winners of its 2017 awards at the Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley (also the home of Fantasy Studios). It was doubly rewarding to hear BFF President Abby Ginzberg (pictured with me in photo above right) announce that my book had just been named a finalist for the Next Generation Book Awards for books on social change.  (That awards event will take place in late June in New Orleans.)

Tune in next week for Blog #3

Click below to read Lise Pearlman’s previous Blog post:

“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton” – the untold story by Lise Pearlman

www.lisepearlman.com           www.Facebook.com/LPAuthorandSpeaker/

Producer, American Justice on Trial www.americanjusticeontrial.com

Click on the links below to select books by Lise Pearlman:

With Justice for Some: Politically Charged Criminal Trials in the Early 20th Century That Helped Shape Today’s America

The Sky’s the Limit People V. Newton, the Real Trial of the 20th Century?

CALL ME PHAEDRA: The Life and Times of Movement Lawyer Fay Stender

American Justice On Trial: People v. Newton

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“American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton” – the untold story by Lise Pearlman

LiseLise Pearlman is a retired California judge and award-winning author who appeared in Stanley Nelson’s 2015 film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” as the country’s leading expert on the 1968 Huey Newton death penalty trial. You can find a description of her four critically-acclaimed history books and bio at www.lisepearlman.com. She is currently producing a nonprofit film project, “American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton.”  It is a companion work to the prize-winning book All Things Crime Blog has asked her to write about in an exclusive series of blogs. © Lise Pearlman

American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton – the untold story by Lise Pearlman

This year marks the 50th anniversary of People v. Newton, the internationally-followed death penalty trial of Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. 1968 was one of the most turbulent years in that century. Those of us college-aged at that time would agree with TIME magazine’s assertion — 1968 was “the year that shaped a generation.”  Before the shocking assassinations of Martin Luther King and Senator Bobby Kennedy, there was already substantial unrest over both the Vietnam War and the nation’s history of race bias.

Justice on TrialIt was in the context of abusive police practices stretching back two decades that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in October 1966. By 1968, it spawned branches across the country — using the international attention drawn to the Newton death penalty trial as the Party’s launching pad. Even to this day the influence of the Panthers is felt, as reflected in the extraordinary popularity of Stanley Nelson’s 2015 film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” and the sell-out crowds who flocked to the extended run of the 2016-17 golden anniversary retrospective on the Black Panther Party at the Oakland Museum of California. The Panthers were the spiritual –and sometimes literal — grandparents of the current Black Lives Matter Movement.

HueyNewton seated on a wicker throne with a spear in one hand and rifle in the other has become a lasting icon symbolizing black militancy. (The photo is of a painting hanging in Oakland’s Merritt College Student Lounge dedicated to former students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale). Newton undoubtedly inspired the Oakland-based character Erik Killmonger in the 2018 blockbuster Marvel comic feature film “Black Panther” directed by Oaklander Ryan Coogler.

But my book focuses on the untold story of the Newton trial – its lasting impact on the system of justice, primarily in their demand for a true “jury of one’s peers” in criminal cases, and what it suggests regarding the critical role of diversity in further needed reforms to our justice system today.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution promised criminal defendants a “jury of one’s peers” but never effectively delivered on that promise from the eighteenth century to 1968.  Instead, until the Newton trial it had been customary, particularly in death penalty cases, to seat white men exclusively, or with token participation by women and minorities. Nor were jurors questioned strongly about race bias. Newton and his lawyers changed all that. That one widely-watched trial would wind up revolutionizing the approach of defense counsel in seating criminal juries nationwide. It is a key reason — but not the only reason — I have argued that it should be recognized as “THE TRIAL OF THE 20th CENTURY.”  All the ground-breaking aspects of the 1968 Newton trial are included in my two books on the subject: The Sky’s the Limit: People v. Newton, The REAL Trial of the 20th Century? [Regent Press 2012] and American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton, [Regent Press 2016].

The 1968 murder trial of Huey Newton is now recognized as “a world-changing true story.” I am pleased to share that my book American Justice on Trial won a 2017 award for best book on Law and was named a finalist in Multiculturalism and U.S. History. Just this month, it was also named a finalist for the 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the category of “Current Events/Social Change.”  So I want to share with you why this is such an important story to revisit now.

Let’s begin my weekly blog entries with the “Author’s Note” to the book when it was released in the fall of 2016. I believe my observations then remain acutely relevant today:

As I write this, the nation is still reeling from multiple shocks in July 2016. First, as the month began, came yet two more videotaped incidents of police shooting to death black arrestees after many other such widely-publicized incidents over the previous several years. The day after the Fourth of July holiday, disturbing footage went viral of Baton Rouge police outside a convenience store firing repeatedly at 37-year-old Alton Sterling while two white policemen already had Sterling pinned face down on the ground. A day later, a thousand miles away in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, the quick-thinking girl friend of Philando Castile used her cell phone to capture a local policeman still waving his gun outside Castile’s car window as Castile lay bleeding to death seated beside her following a traffic stop. This graphic image was followed within days by breaking news of a horrific sniper attack on Dallas policemen who were monitoring one of many Black Lives Matter protest rallies prompted by the deaths of Sterling and Castile. Then, on July 17, 2016 came another attack, this time on Baton Rouge police.

The carnage and proliferation of demonstrations and hostile reactions in the aftermath have drawn renewed national focus to fractured police-community relations in cities across country, the very issue that gave rise to the Black Panther Party a half century ago. Indeed, the day after video footage went viral of Castile dying from gunshot wounds following a traffic stop, AlterNet reporter Alexandra Rosenmann drew a direct comparison to the sensationalized 1968 murder trial of Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton. Rosenmann titled her web article, “Gun Rights, Police Brutality and the Case of the Century: Philando Castile’s tragic case of police brutality pulls one of the most famous cases back into focus.”   (Alexandra Rosenmann, “Gun Rights, Police Brutality and the Case of the Century,” Alternet, July 7, https://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/gun-rights-police-brutality-and-case-century-video.)

The two incidents did start out in similar ways. In the early morning of October 28, 1967, Oakland policeman John Frey stopped the car Newton was driving to write a ticket for an unpaid traffic fine. A shootout ensued that left Officer Frey dead and Newton and a back-up officer seriously wounded. Newton claimed to have been unarmed and the victim of an abusive arrest; no gun belonging to Newton was found. His death penalty trial the following summer drew international attention to whether any black man could get a fair trial in America.

Before the deadly July 2016 incidents occurred, interviewees for this book had already noted the remarkable relevance of the 1968 Newton case to current events. Among them is William “Bill” Patterson, a former President of the Oakland NAACP and the first black foreman of the Alameda County Grand Jury: “It does resonate today. A young man [Oscar Grant III] being killed in the BART station by BART police and how that played out. The Florida case . . . again another young man [Trayvon Martin] shot to death. These situations continue to emerge and if we are not careful, we will find history repeating itself.”

In the past several months, both champions and critics of the Black Lives Matter movement have drawn parallels to the split among Americans in the turbulent 1960s. The comparisons reached a point where President Obama felt compelled to reassure the world, on July 9, 2016, that most Americans are not as divided as we were fifty years ago: “When we start suggesting that somehow, there’s this enormous polarization and we’re back to the situation in the ’60s, that’s just not true. You’re not seeing riots, and you’re not seeing police going after people who are protesting peacefully. . . . We’ve got a foundation to build on . . .” (Kathleen Hennessey, “Obama asks Americans not to fear a return to a dark past,” Associated Press, July 10, 2016) [http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ad7321415b1d4e6a91d2f98e2f9ba81d/obama-take-questionsdallas-attack-race-relations.]

President Obama himself symbolizes the profound change in the fabric of our nation over the past half century. So, too, do black police chiefs like Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Chief Brown’s reaction to a black gunman ambushing randomly chosen white officers on the evening of July 7, 2016, captured the sentiments of most Americans: “We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred in our city. All I know is this must stop: this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.” (Greg Hanlon, “Police Chief David Brown on Dallas Ambush of Officers: ‘All I Know Is This Must Stop,’” People: True Crime, (quoting Dallas Police Chief David Brown. July 7, 2016). [people.com/crime/dallas-ambush-police-chief-david-brown-says-all-i-know-is-that-this-must-stop/]

This book scrutinizes the 1968 Newton trial and its context and poses the same questions President Obama and others have recently addressed: what has changed in this country in the last half century and what has not? How do we best move forward?

Lise Pearlman
Oakland, California
September 2016

Update May 2018: We can add several lethal police shooting incidents in the last twenty months to those I cited in 2016 and more violent protests and counter-protests. We are exhibiting far greater polarization as a nation than President Obama observed in 2016 and than I, or probably most of us, imagined could take hold just two years ago. The about-face in Washington by President Trump and Attorney General Sessions on Obama-era criminal justice policies and priorities clearly played a large role in ramping up the intensity of racial divides. Yet the two questions I asked then are equally relevant now. What has changed in this country in the last half century and what has not? How do we best move forward?

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Can’t Miss Crime Fiction: “Second Story Man” by Charles Salzberg

review by Patrick H. Moore

Charles Salzberg has always been an interesting crime novelist. He came late to writing fiction, but since publishing Devil in the Hole in 2013, his brilliant psychological study of John Hartman, a desperate Everyman who murdered his entire family and then skipped town, he has been quite prolific. Charles has not only written the entire Henry Swann series (5 volumes) starring his curmudgeonly PI protagonist; he now brings us a new novel Second Story Man, an intriguing in-depth look at Francis Hoyt, America’s most skillful high-end silver thief, and the two detectives — grumpy prematurely retired Charlie Floyd and the ebullient Manny Perez — who are determined to bring him to justice. The story takes the form of a police procedural narrated by three separate first person voices.

Second Story Man was published by Down and Out Books on March 26th.

I have always found Charles Salzberg to be that rarest of crime writers, an author who insists that his books be realistic. This means that in his stories heads do not typically explode “in a savage red rain”, and the fate of the world does not constantly hang in the balance. Rather, Mr. Salzberg presents us with utterly convincing characters who do real things. In Second Story Man, each of his three main characters — not to mention the supporting cast of Francis Hoyt’s girlfriends, as well as two memorably unsavory professional “fences”– ring true.

Along with his penchant for realism, Mr. Salzberg insists on maintaining “freshness” within the genre in which he chooses to work. This, of course, is no easy task. In Second Story Man, he achieves this by presenting the reader with three separate protagonists, each of whom speaks in his own distinctive first person voice.

The bad guy in this story is Francis Hoyt, high-end silver thief par excellence. He is like the mean little guy in middle school who picked fights with innocent children just for the fun of it.  Francis had an abusive father who made his childhood hell, which helped him develop what a psychologist would likely term “borderline personality disorder”. In layman’s terms this means “having a very short fuse” and being prone to fits of irrational anger. Francis starts adult life as a second story man. He only gets caught once but that is enough. After that he swears off ladders and concentrates on the bling (only the best bling, you understand) that the kitchens of the elite have to offer.

As part of his overall odious make-up, Francis treats his girlfriends as disposable commodities.

Although Francis is undeniably obnoxious, not to mention cruel and even murderous, readers may gradually find themselves rooting for the little guy as he engages in his cat-and-mouse game with the two obsessed detectives who are doing their best to “breathe down his neck”. Mr. Salzberg cleverly depicts Francis Hoyt as both “underdog” and “untouchable”. In his mind, the detectives have no chance in hell of ever capturing him, and he likes nothing better than leading them on a wild goose chase in which apparent good “leads” vanish like the proverbial will-of-the wisp.

The two detectives who set out in pursuit of him — retired Connecticut homicide detective Charlie Floyd and suspended Miami PD detective Manny Perez — have distinctly different personalities and styles of speech: Floyd is hard-bitten and taciturn and not the kind of guy you want to be cross-examined by. Perez is bubbly and buttoned-down. Proud of his hard won American citizenship, he loves the U.S. and wants to protect it with every ounce of his fiber.

Floyd and Perez are both highly believable characters. Their pursuit of Francis Hoyt is done with verve, patience and creativity. Yet, as a reader, I was never certain whose side I was on: Francis Hoyt’s or that of the stalwart detectives.

The old saying, “there are many slips ‘twixt the cup and the lip” justly describes the detectives’ earnest but perhaps not entirely successful pursuit of Hoyt.

Any reader of crime fiction who enjoys a fresh, realistic psychological crime thriller cum police procedural full of twists and turns but sans gratuitous violence will want to purchase a copy of Second Story Man. This is a book that is likely to fare well in this year’s book award contests.

Charles2Charles Salzberg is a former magazine journalist who has now turned to a life of crime. His first novel, Swann’s Last Song, was nominated for a Shamus Award, and there are three others in the series: Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair, which was nominated for two Silver Falchions, and was a Finalist for the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award, and Swann’s Way Out. His novel, Devil in the Hole, was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense Magazine, and his novella, “Twist of Fate,” was included in Triple Shot, a collection of three noir crime novellas. He is the author of more than twenty non-fiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times, with Soupy Sales. He has taught magazine journalist at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member.

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The Tragic Death of Jason Corbett: Father-Daughter Tag Team, or Self-defense?

by John W. Taylor

After Jason Corbett’s first wife died from an asthma attack in November of 2006, he was forced to raise his two children, Jack and Sarah, alone in their homeland of Ireland. Jason hired an American, Molly Martens, as an au pair for his children. However, their professional relationship quickly turned romantic. They married in 2011 and moved to the jason3United States. The couple and Jason’s two children settled into a four-bedroom house in a golf course community in Davidson County, North Carolina. From the outside, everything appeared idyllic.

jason12On the evening of August 1, 2015, Molly’s parents, Thomas and Sharon, came to visit unexpectedly. Thomas was a retired 30-year veteran of the F.B.I. They arrived late, ate pizza, and retired for the evening to a guest room in the basement. According to Thomas, he awoke in the middle of the night to “loud voices and thumping.” He told his wife to stay in the basement. Thomas picked up a baseball bat and headed upstairs. He entered the couple’s bedroom to find Jason choking Molly. Thomas demanded Jason let her go, but Jason responded by saying that he was going to kill Molly. Thomas stepped forward and struck Jason in the head numerous times with the baseball bat. Upon Jason falling to the floor, Thomas immediately called 9-1-1:

Dispatcher: Davidson County 911, what is the address of the emergency?

Thomas Martens: My name is Tom Martens. I’m at 160 Panther Creek Court and we need help.

Thomas unnecessarily identified himself to the dispatcher. It was not clear why he provided this information. After providing the address, Thomas conveyed a generic plea for help without specifying whether he needed the police, fire department, or an ambulance. His opening statement failed to convey a sense of urgency.

Dispatcher: Okay, what’s going on there?

Thomas: My daughter’s husband, my son-in-law, got in a fight with my daughter. I intervened and I think – he’s in bad shape. We need help.

Thomas responded by identifying his relationship to the person who needed assistance. He provided this information twice. Repetition can often indicate stress. Plus, the information he provided was immaterial to the dispatcher. Thomas wasted time identifying himself and the victim. He continued by providing context (a fight) to the call without, again, providing anything pertaining to the actual emergency.

Thomas fought with Jason, but he described his actions as “intervening.” He continued by saying, “I think – he’s in bad shape.” Thomas, and it was later determined Molly, hit Jason multiple times with blunt instruments, including an aluminum baseball bat. Many of the blows struck Jason’s skull. For Thomas to state that he thought Jason was in bad jason4shape, significantly downplayed the urgency of the situation. He ended his response with another vague plea, “We need help.”

Dispatcher: Okay, what do you mean he’s in bad shape, he’s hurt?

Thomas: He’s bleeding all over and I may have killed him.

Based on the information Thomas initially provided, the dispatcher did not even know if Jason was injured. Thomas ended his response with, “…I may have killed him.” This statement contrasted sharply with his previous statements. Inconsistencies in message can often indicate deception as the individual attempts to manage the information conveyed.

After the dispatcher confirmed the location, she instructed Thomas and Molly on how to provide chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The dispatcher counted as Thomas and Molly administered C.P.R. on Jason. When emergency personnel arrived they quickly determined Jason was beyond help.

Jason’s death sparked a custody battle for his two children. Molly pursued custody, even though Jason’s Last Will and Testament provided for his sister, Tracey Lynch, to raise his children. The custody hearings were quite contentious with Tracey claiming Molly physically and emotionally abused the children. Over Molly’s objection, the judge granted custody of Jason’s children to Tracey Lynch.

jason8Though the police initially treated Jason’s death as a self-defense scenario, it evolved into investigators believing Thomas and Molly murdered Jason. On January 6, 2016, police arrested Thomas and Molly for murder. A different story unfolded after the arrests. Molly claimed she was in an abusive relationship with Jason. According to Molly, he had a horrible temper, which he concealed from friends and family. Jason allegedly strangled and choked her numerous times during arguments. During his police interview, Thomas claimed that the father of Jason’s first wife told him he believed Jason killed his daughter, though this assertion could not be substantiated.

Social workers interviewed Jason’s children to determine if they witnessed any abuse in the home. During one of the interviews, six-year-old Jack said, “He [my dad] would physically and verbally hurt my mom.” Though potentially damaging, it certainly did not sound like a sentence a six-year-old would use. It sounded rehearsed. When prosecutors spoke with Jack, he stated that his dad never hurt his stepmom. In the end, it was only Molly’s word regarding the abuse she purportedly endured over the years. There were no police reports, injuries, or witnesses to corroborate her assertions.

jason9To Molly, the night Jason died was a culmination of years of abuse and an almost inevitable event. She alleged that Jason became angry with her after she helped his daughter get back to sleep after a nightmare. Jason felt Molly coddled the children. According to Molly, as the fight escalated, Jason covered her mouth and then started choking her. When he stopped choking her, she screamed. Molly did not indicate why he stopped choking her. She went on to say, “The next thing I remember is my dad standing in the doorway.” Molly utilized the present tense verb is to describe past events, which can often indicate deception as the person creates the information in the present rather than remembering it. Further, Molly used the phrase “the next thing,” which conveyed the passage of time. It means she skipped details. What happened between the time she screamed and the time her father arrived in the bedroom? We do not know because she failed to explain this portion of the story.

When asked what he saw when he looked in the bedroom, Thomas responded, “It’s awful,” which was also in the present tense. According to Thomas, as he was standing in the doorway holding a baseball bat, Jason moved behind Molly and put her in a chokehold. Thomas continued, “Then he starts to edge toward the master bathroom.” Again, Thomas described the scenario in the present tense. He also utilized the word “starts” to describe the action. If an action starts then it means something stopped the action. However, Thomas failed to identify what stopped Jason’s action, which can indicate deception. Thomas then claimed that he hit Jason in the back of the head twice with the baseball bat; yet, the strikes purportedly did nothing to stop Jason from choking Molly. According to Thomas, as he swung the bat a third time, Jason caught it with his hand while choking Molly with the other. Jason pushed back on the bat and sent Thomas flying across the room. Molly also described this portion of the fight:

Jason just grabbed the bat away. It was like it was nothing. He could choke me with one hand – with one arm – and grab the bat with the other. He was just so much stronger.

Evidence in the murder trial of Jason Corbett

Evidence in the murder trial of Jason Corbett

At this point, Jason’s strength and fighting abilities seemed indestructible. Further, with Jason holding the baseball bat and Thomas on the floor, Jason possessed significant tactical advantage. Though the tide of the fight shifted strongly in Jason’s favor, this is when Thomas supposedly achieved the upper hand. According to Thomas, Jason was standing over him with a baseball bat, but Jason failed to strike him or Molly with the bat. Why not? Jason was allegedly filled with rage, but he chose not to strike them when he had the opportunity.

Thomas then purportedly grabbed the bat while lying on the floor. He and Jason struggled. While fighting for control of the bat, Thomas allegedly struck Jason with an elbow and then with his fist. Thomas stated, “And he goes down, and I’ve got the bat… and I back off.” Apparently, Thomas’ repeated blows to Jason’s head with a baseball bat had little impact, but his off-balanced punch dropped Jason to the floor, ended the fight, and killed him.

During her police interview, Molly admitted to hitting Jason in the head with a paving stone, which was located on her nightstand. Molly explained the presence of the brick-like object in the bedroom to police by saying the children planned to paint it. Thomas’ version of events did not account for Molly striking Jason in the head with the paving stone. When did this happen? Did it also have little effect on Jason? When pressed for details, Molly and Thomas’ stories exhibited inconsistencies.

During the summer of 2017, Thomas and Molly went to trial. The prosecution painted a different picture of what transpired within the couple’s bedroom. When paramedics arrived at the house, they found Jason nude on the floor. He had flaky dried blood on his face and chest and his body was cold. The condition of his body led the paramedics to believe Jason had been dead for quite some time, likely hours. While on the 9-1-1 call, Thomas and Molly supposedly performed at least two rounds of C.P.R. on Jason, but neither had blood on their hands even though Jason’s chest was covered in blood.

jason7According to the autopsy, Jason Corbett died from “blunt-force trauma to the head.” The medical examiner, Dr. Craig Nelson, testified that Jason was struck on the head at least 12 times. His skull contained extensive fractures and appeared crushed. Jason had additional blunt-force trauma to his body, to include his hands, knees, and torso. He was severely beaten and some of the injuries were likely inflicted post mortem.

Sixty-seven-year-old Thomas Martens had no visible injuries, though he claimed to have been in a life-and-death struggle with a much younger man who was six feet tall and over 260 pounds. He emerged from the fight unscathed. Molly, who Jason supposedly tried to strangle to death, also had no visible injuries. There were some red marks on her neck, but when the crime scene photographer took her picture he had to repeatedly tell her to stop rubbing her neck. Jason had smeared blood on his hands and blood underneath his fingernails. Since Jason was the only person with injuries, the blood likely transferred to his hands from him touching and covering his wounds in self-defense. The injuries depicted a completely one-sided fight.

jason5Blood covered the walls in the couple’s bedroom and bathroom. There were pools of blood on the floor. Both the baseball bat and the concrete paving brick were covered with Jason’s blood. According to blood-stain pattern expert Stuart James, many of the strikes inflicted on Jason occurred while his head was close to the floor. He based his conclusions on the fact that most of the blood spatter was low on the walls. Further, stains on the underside of Thomas’ boxer shorts and on Molly’s pajama pants indicated that the two of them were above and over Jason as they struck him.

The defense team tried to support their claim of self-defense by pointing toward a poorly processed crime scene. The defense argued that investigators never tested underneath Jason’s fingernails. However, since neither Molly nor Thomas had any injuries, investigators believed it was unnecessary. The defense’s argument only shed more light on the lack of injuries to the two defendants who claimed to be victims.

The prosecution presented several connected theories regarding motive. Molly wanted to adopt Jason’s children, but he would not allow it. She also stood to receive $600,000 from Jason’s life insurance policy. Molly, the State theorized, would collect the insurance money, and use it to raise the children. Prosecutors contended that Thomas had a deep-seated hatred of Jason, and this hostility coupled with Molly’s desire to be free, combined to create a deadly, grisly scene, which resulted in Jason’s demise.

jason2When the jury went into deliberations, on the first vote, they voted 12-0 in favor of convicting Thomas. As one juror later said, “There was no doubt in my mind [regarding Thomas’ guilt].” However, the jury initially voted 10-2 to convict Molly, but after reviewing the evidence more closely, the jury ultimately determined she had a prominent role in Jason’s murder, with one of the jurors later speculating that Molly may have killed Jason, and Thomas merely helped cover it up. After a month-long trial, it took the jury less than two hours of deliberation to convict Thomas and Molly of second degree murder. Both were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison.

Thomas was quoted as saying, “I didn’t murder my son-in-law. And I would challenge any reasonable man, much less a reasonable father, to say that this was unnecessary force.” Yet, the forensic evidence from the scene depicted two people savagely beating to death an unarmed and naked man with a baseball bat and paving stone. Twelve people found this scenario far from reasonable or necessary.

Works Cited

Finn, Jessica & Fegan, Catherine, “Inside the blood-spattered bedroom where former model and her ex-FBI agent father ‘slaughtered’ her Irish husband with a ‘baseball bat and landscaping stone,’” The Irish Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4781486/Inside-blood-spattered-bedroom-man-murdered.html, August 11, 2017.

Hewlett, Michael, “No fingerprints on baseball bat used to hit Jason Corbett,” Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com/news/crime/no-fingerprints-on-baseball-bat-used-to-hit-jason-corbett/article_361c2e42-183a-57ca-aed5-2738bf94129c.html, August 1, 2017.

Hewlett, Michael, “Closing arguments begin in murder trial of Thomas Martens, Molly Corbett,” Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.greensboro.com/news/crime/closing-arguments-begin-in-murder-trial-of-thomas-martens-molly/article_2eb91501-5fed-5911-a6da-d45799696202.html, August 8, 2017.

Leogue, Joe, “Why was Limerick man Jason Corbett killed?” Irish Examiner, http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/why-was-limerick-man-jason-corbett-killed-413544.html, August 2, 2016.

Pandav, Jillian, “Episode 33: Jason Corbett – Murder or Self-Defense?” Court Junkie Podcast, http://courtjunkie.com/ep-33-jason-corbett-murder-self-defense/, August 22, 2017.

Riegel, Ralph, “Listen: ‘He’s bleeding all over and I may have killed him’ – Full transcript of Martens’ 911 call,” Independent.ie,http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/listen-hes-bleeding-all-over-and-i-may-have-killed-him-full-transcript-of-martens-911-call-36013283.html, August 9, 2017.

Rose, Alex, & Black, Susanna, “Molly Corbett, Thomas Martens each sentenced to 20-25 years in prison,” Fox 8, http://myfox8.com/2017/08/09/molly-corbett-thomas-martens-each-sentenced-to-20-25-years-in-prison/, August 9, 2017.

Sheridan, Anne, “Prosecutors seek to dismiss Martens’ retrial bid in Jason Corbett murder,” Limerick Leader, http://www.limerickleader.ie/news/home/267242/prosecutors-seek-to-dismiss-martens-retrial-bid-in-jason-corbett-murder.html, August 27, 2017.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Autopsy, #B201502636, Jason Paul Corbett, performed by Craig Nelson M.D., August 3, 2015, report dated: August 26, 2015.

“The Last Ones Standing,” 20/20, http://abc.go.com/shows/2020/episode-guide/2017-08/11-081217-the-last-ones-standing, August 12, 2017.

Click below to view John W. Taylor’s previous intriguing posts:

How Jeffrey MacDonald’s Words Betrayed Him

Do Helena Stoeckley’s Ramblings Convey Reasonable Doubt for Jeffrey MacDonald?

Jason Young: Stone Cold Killer or Victim of Unfortunate Coincidences?

Murderer, Manipulator, or Do-Gooder? The Many Sides of James Rupard

“Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should)

The Deep Sleeper – Darlie Routier’s Plight for Innocence

Drew Peterson – A Legend in His Own Mind

Not How It Was Supposed To Go: Joanna Madonna and the Murder of Jose Perez

The Many Trials of Tim Hennis

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Darker Side of Aaron Hernandez

johntJohn W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.  John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

John is the host of the true crime podcast “Twisted,” which can be found at www.twistedpodcast.com. It is available through iTunes, Stitcher, and Libysn. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: The Darker Side of Aaron Hernandez

by John W. Taylor

Aaron Hernandez excelled in high school athletics. He has been portrayed as the best athlete to ever come out of Bristol, Connecticut. Off the field, he appeared physically older than other high schoolers, but socially far younger. In 2006, at the age of 16, his father died, and this may have exacerbated an already angry disposition lingering below the surface.

Hernandez attended the University of Florida where he played football. According to various accounts, Hernandez got into considerable trouble while in college, including allegedly failing multiple drug tests. In 2007, Hernandez was involved in an incident outside a bar where someone fired a gun into a car after an altercation. One of the victims described the shooter as “Hispanic or Hawaiian, with lot of tattoos on his arms,” which matched Hernandez. He refused to cooperate and requested an attorney. Hernandez never gave a statement. No charges were filed and his name failed to show up in any police report. Regardless, the shooting was well-known in Florida. During the same year, Hernandez also supposedly ruptured a man’s eardrum during a fight, but he managed to avoid any direct consequences associated with this incident as well. His tumultuous behavior was an open secret.

aa14On the field, Hernandez continued to outperform those around him. He was the starting tight end on Florida’s 2008 National Championship football team. In 2009, he was named first-team All-American and also received the John Mackey Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top collegiate tight end. Hernandez demonstrated the acumen necessary to warrant a first-round draft in the NFL. Unfortunately, NFL scouts knew about his off-the-field incidents and behaviors. On his pre-draft psychological report, Hernandez received the lowest possible score, one out of 10, in the category of “social maturity.” The report also noted that he enjoyed “living on the edge of acceptable behavior.” As a result, he was not selected until the fourth round of the NFL’s 2010 draft.

The Patriots selected Hernandez as the 113th pick in the draft. Hernandez was still available because the other NFL teams avoided him. They chose not to take him. The Patriots landed first-round talent in the fourth-round. Hernandez played in the NFL from 2010 through 2012. He compiled 910 yards in 2011 and 18 touchdowns over his three-year career. He was a pro bowl alternate in 2011, and helped the New England Patriots reach the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl XLVI, Hernandez scored a touchdown and led the team in receiving yardage.

Prior to the Patriot’s drafting Hernandez, he wrote them a letter offering to put his rookie salary at risk if he failed any drug tests for marijuana. When the Patriots drafted him, they tied a huge portion of his contract to him being on time, attending meetings, and generally not causing problems. Surprisingly, he avoided trouble. Then he signed a $40 million contract with a $12.5 million signing bonus, and problems ensued. Within months of signing the deal, police arrested him for murder. In response, the Patriot’s owner, Robert Kraft, was quoted as saying the organization was “duped” by Hernandez.

aa3The Patriot’s organization had a reputation for rehabbing athletes with troubled pasts. They believed they could do the same with Aaron Hernandez. Prior to his arrest for murder, Hernandez allegedly used PCP and carried a gun everywhere he went. He missed workouts and was close to getting cut from the team. The Patriots were not fooled; they believed they could manage the risk, but their calculations were wrong. They pled ignorance rather than acknowledge their significant error in judgment.

aa1On July 16, 2012, Aaron Hernandez and friends partied inside Boston’s Cure Lounge. Reportedly, an individual unknown to Hernandez bumped into him causing him to spill his drink. Hernandez felt disrespected. Hours later, multiple shots were fired from a sports utility vehicle into the vehicle where the individual who bumped into Hernandez was riding. Two of the individuals in the car, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, were killed.

aa15Hernandez’s friend, Alexander Bradley, was allegedly in the car with Hernandez when he killed de Abreu and Furtado. Whether it was to eliminate him as a witness or due to a different dispute, Hernandez supposedly shot Bradley seven months later. According to Bradley, Hernandez shot him in the face and then dumped him in an alley for dead. Bradley lived, but refused to tell police who shot him. Though he refused to cooperate with law enforcement, he filed a civil suit against Hernandez for shooting him. He wanted to be paid.

In the early morning hours of June 17, 2013, Hernandez and two of his friends, Carlos Ortiz, and Ernest Wallace Jr., rented a silver Nissan Altima. They picked up Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Aaron Hernandez’s fiancée. The group drove to a secluded field in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Lloyd seemed to know he was in trouble, as he texted his sister several times alerting her to his concern. A short time later, Odin Lloyd was dead from multiple gun shots.

A mountain of evidence led the police directly from Odin Lloyd’s murder to Aaron Hernandez. DNA, blood evidence, surveillance tapes, text messages, and eye-witness testimony provided a comprehensive timeline and sequence of events that pointed to Hernandez’s killing of Lloyd. Prosecutors postulated that Lloyd’s murder resulted from his knowledge of previous murders committed by Hernandez. Hernandez had reason to believe that Lloyd had told people about his role in the de Abreu and Furtado murders. Hernandez needed to neutralize this potential threat.

Though Hernandez and his accomplices made dozens of mistakes before, during, and after Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez also overtly attempted to destroy evidence. Before the aa6police could get a warrant to view his home security surveillance tapes, Hernandez destroyed six hours of recordings around the time of Lloyd’s murder. He also handed his cell phone to the police smashed into little pieces. In spite of his attempts, the police collected loads of additional incriminating evidence against Hernandez. On April 15, 2015, the jury found Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder and five weapon’s charges. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After convicting Hernandez of Lloyd’s murder, prosecutors re-visited the Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado murders. Witnesses saw Hernandez and his friend, Alexander Bradley, leave the club in a silver Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates, following the vehicle containing de Abreu and Furtado. After multiple shots were fired, witnesses saw the same SUV speeding away. The Toyota 4Runner turned up later in a garage of Hernandez’s uncle.

aa16According to the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office, police found the murder weapon in the trunk of a car belonging to a woman with ties to Hernandez. After prosecutors granted him immunity, Alexander Bradley testified that Aaron Hernandez fired five shots into the vehicle containing de Abreu and Furtado. According to Bradley, after Hernandez fired the shots, he uttered, “I think I got one in the head and one in the chest.” Though the evidence appeared to paint a clear and logical explanation of what happened to de Abreu and Furtado, the jury did not buy it. They found Hernandez not guilty on April 14, 2017. Though no one from the jury commented on the decision, most likely, they failed to believe the prosecution’s star witness, Alexander Bradley. The defense appeared to have successfully weakened Bradley’s credibility by presenting text messages where he mentioned concerns regarding perjuring himself.

aa8Since 2007, Aaron Hernandez has been charged with, or linked to, the shootings of six people in four incidents. Three of the victims were gruesomely murdered. After entering the NFL, Hernandez posted pictures of himself online with a gun and donning gang colors. He threatened to kill a teammate. Hernandez’s girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins, called the police after he put his fist through a window, but he was not charged with anything. When police finally arrested Hernandez for murder, the people around him and in the Patriot’s organization could only feign shock. His behavior had been building for years. Miraculously, Hernandez’s countless indiscretions and crimes had been mostly shielded from the public, but not from those close to him.

aa4Aaron Hernandez was not someone with simply an anger issue. He did not erupt immediately and impulsively in violence. He was a calculating killer who schemed and trapped his victims before brutally killing them in cold blood. Those around Hernandez claimed he suffered from paranoia, but it is not clear how that affected his violent tendencies. Drugs taken by Hernandez may have contributed to his behavior, and there has been speculation he may have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”), due to repeated football-related head trauma. However, neither possible drug use nor unsubstantiated brain injuries fully explain the barbaric and systematic aa5approach Hernandez took when disposing of his adversaries. Hernandez’s football skills, fame, and money likely delayed him from suffering the consequences of his violent crimes, but the lack of accountability only seemed to exacerbate his violent tendencies. He was a ticking time tomb. And he finally turned his rage inward.

On April 19, 2017, Aaron Hernandez killed himself, just five days after a jury acquitted him of double murder. He allegedly wrote “John 3:16” in red marker on his head and opened his Bible to the same verse. Hernandez gave no indication to those close to him that he was contemplating suicide or even depressed. Only conjecture is left to understand his final act, but it appears his conscience may have gotten the best of him.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Kevin, “The chilling story of convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, and the trial that put him away for the rest of his life,” New York Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/cold-blood-aaron-hernandez-murder-trial-article-1.2189918, April 18, 2015.

Bishop, Greg, “Hernandez Among Many Who Found Trouble at Florida in the Meyer Years,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/sports/ncaafootball/hernandez-among-many-arrested-at-florida-in-the-meyer-years.html, July 6, 2013.

Fantz, Ashley, “Aaron Hernandez charged in 2012 double homicide,” CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/15/justice/aaron-hernandez-indictment/, May 15, 2014.

Germano, Beth, “Testimony in Hernandez Murder Trial Centers on Street Sweeper,” CBS Boston, http://boston.cbslocal.com/2017/03/06/aaron-hernandez-double-murder-trial-testimony-continues/, March 6, 2017.

Solotaroff, Paul, “The Gangster in the Huddle,” Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/the-gangster-in-the-huddle, August 28, 2013.

Wilson, Ryan, “Aaron Hernandez wrote Patriots pre-draft letter about drug allegations,” CBS Sports, http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/aaron-hernandez-wrote-patriots-pre-draft-letter-about-drug-allegations/, July 8, 2013.

Wilson, Ryan, “Former Patriots adviser admits team knew Aaron Hernandez had issues,” CBS Sports, http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/former-patriots-adviser-admits-team-knew-aaron-hernandez-had-issues/, April 17, 2015.

“Aaron Hernandez Criminal Cases Timeline,” Fox Sports, http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/aaron-hernandez-murder-case-timeline-051414, May 14, 2014.

“Aaron Hernandez found with Bible verse written on forehead, reports say,” FoxNews.com, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/20/hernandezs-lawyer-says-family-looking-for-answers-after-death.html, April 20, 2017.

ESPN, NFL statistics, http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/13230/aaron-hernandez, accessed March 2017.

Click below to view John W. Taylor’s previous intriguing posts:

How Jeffrey MacDonald’s Words Betrayed Him

Do Helena Stoeckley’s Ramblings Convey Reasonable Doubt for Jeffrey MacDonald?

Jason Young: Stone Cold Killer or Victim of Unfortunate Coincidences?

Murderer, Manipulator, or Do-Gooder? The Many Sides of James Rupard

“Making a Murderer” Sparks Public Outrage (as well it should)

The Deep Sleeper – Darlie Routier’s Plight for Innocence

Drew Peterson – A Legend in His Own Mind

Not How It Was Supposed To Go: Joanna Madonna and the Murder of Jose Perez

The Many Trials of Tim Hennis

johntJohn W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.  John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively. 

John is the host of the true crime podcast “Twisted,” which can be found at www.twistedpodcast.com. It is available through iTunes, Stitcher, and Libysn. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Instafreebie Crime Fiction Group Giveaway

posted by Patrick H. Moore

Crime Fiction Giveaway Alert

Suzanne Jenkins is a dear friend of mine and an accomplished romance and crime writer. I have read several of her books and strongly recommend The Greeks of Beaubien Street, a fast-paced crime novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. Suzanne has 49 books and/or short stories on Amazon, a remarkable total. In addition to staying up all night writing, Suzanne — out of the kindness of her heart — helps indie writers of all stripes find ways to publicize their books and stories.

Suzanne is currently running an Instafreebie Crime Fiction Group Giveaway.If you click on the link, you will be transported to to the Giveaway where you’ll be able to browse through 42 different crime novels and/or stories. All you need to do is click on any of the book covers and you’ll once again be transported — this time to the Giveaway itself where you can download free samples from the books and stories.

In addition to a section of  The Greeks of Beaubien Street, Suzanne is contributing a short story called The Donut Shop Murder. Patrick H. is contributing a sample chapter of his Nick Crane crime novel, Cicero’s Dead.

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