Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs #70...Uh, I Mean 69.

By Installments:

Installment #1: Denial

No problem. Carnival of the True Crime Blogs. I can handle that. It’ll be fun. I haven’t done it in a while. Just means I have to post to my blog on Monday. I can handle that.

Monday. Work from 7:30am to 6pm. Usually I get a few minutes to see what’s good on the blogs. That’ll give me a head start on the carnival. What’s everyone talking about at work? The guy who shot the high school kid, because his wife, a teacher was having an affair with him, what? Their names are really Eric and Erin??

Power blogger Anne-Marie Nichols has the scoop at Teacher Smackdown, exposing teachers who betray the public trust, one student at a time: Eric McLean Appears on the TODAY Show. Why haven’t I heard of this lady before?

Installment #2: Avoidance

Monday. Is it 5:30 already? If I miss the 5:57 bus it will be really late by the time I get home. Well, I just have to take care of a few last minute calls. Maybe I can check out another blog before my bus. What’s Harding up to this week? He’s always good for a read. Not only short, but powerful. Go read it: Longing for Justice of the Gods.

Installment #3: More Avoidance

Monday night. Drag back into my wonderful apartment. Boy I’m happy that I moved into this place. I have windows now and the park is just coming into bloom. Good to have something to eat, you know I’m not sure I had lunch today. Every had one of those days? Well I would sure love to work on my movies that I am now featuring at live video. I do enjoy working on my Old Time Radio Collection which is now featured on my podcast. My novel is gathering dust in the corner. I’ve barely even broken 70,000 words.

No, I’ve got to post to Slabtown tonight. Tomorrow night's the Carnival. Wait, what’s this DVD. The Swimming Pool with Charlotte Rampling. I’ve never seen that. By the way, it’s great if you haven’t seen it. One of those movies that you think you get, but the last shot leaves you in doubt. Maybe I’ll have to see that one again.

Thank God! The first submission to the carnival has arrived. It’s a ripping yarn from Great Britain. Aren’t we international this week? True Crime Blog UK is doing a great job across the pond. This week a tale of savagery Hyenas in Human Form.

Installment #4: Pain

Monday night late. Well, I have to post to Slabtown tonight, but what will I write? Haven’t heard of any interesting recent crimes. The whole Dave Hughes/Gary George case is still bubbling, but I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I’d love to dip into the files and write up a juicy old crime, but it’s almost midnight. I’ve got to be back at work at 8:30. There was something in yesterday’s paper, though… Forgotten Man Remembered.

Installment #5: Embarrassment

Tuesday morning, back at work. A cup of coffee and fifteen minutes before my first appointment. What’s going on at the True Crime Bloggers Group? OH, no! I got the number wrong for the blog carnival. How did I get Carnival #70? Harding can prove it’s #69. Love those graphics, Harding.

Home, only two more entries in by deadline. Did I confuse everyone too much? It must be early dementia, if it gets worse please let my Doctor know. Maybe they’re all mad at me and they’re boycotting the Carnival this week because I’m the host.

Sorry everybody. Here is the cream from the contributors last week who didn’t submit this week.

Trench is providing continuing thorough coverage of the Platte Canyon High School shooting.

Lilo continues to cover the crimes of pedophiles and child abusers. I know why she gets so angry, but sometimes it’s hard to read about. This one breaks my heart: Three Years.

Trish blogs about missing and murdered children usually. She strays slightly from her turf this week with the story of Holden Gothia. You won’t believe this one.

Imahologram continues the horrifying story of Chloe Davis. Nice sneaky historical work, Ima.

Bonny at My Life of Crime brings us a sad update out of Georgia. Christopher Barrios

A week at the Carnival would not be complete with a visit Home, Sweet Home. This week Sweet brings us a brutal tale of a children’s slumber party, isn’t that nice?

Installment #6: Exhaustion

JD Chandler’s Picks of the Week. You guys is drafted.

Laura James Clews

The Year ‘Round

Crime Scene Blog

Crime Rant

Huff’s Crime Blog (Now with History!)

We're running a little late, so good night everybody. See you next week.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Forgotten Man Remembered

Robert “R.J.” Anheier, 63, collapsed and died on the sidewalk a few blocks from his home in downtown Portland back in January. Assuming he was homeless, State officials made a half-hearted attempt to identify his next of kin. They contacted someone in California who had the same last name. Although the Californian denied being related to RJ, the Medical Examiner’s office felt they had fulfilled their legal obligation.

RJ was declared “unclaimed” and scheduled for cremation. State law says that unclaimed bodies must first be offered to Oregon Health Sciences University for research before they can be disposed of. OHSU paid $37.50 for RJ’s body.

Little did the Medical Examiner know, because he didn’t go to the address that was in RJ’s wallet, Anheier had an apartment about four blocks from where he died. At the apartment they would have found the name of RJ’s best friend, in Aloha (a Portland suburb) and his sister in Florida. Anheier had lived at the Biltmore in Northwest Portland for eight years. He was a well-known figure in the neighborhood and worked as a waiter at the nearby Sisters of the Road Café.

Diane Anheier, of Florida, didn’t know her brother very well. They had seen each other only once, since he left home as a teenager. Two years ago, RJ, tracked down his sister and visited her. She found out about his death last week and had his dissected body retrieved from the Medical School. They are having a memorial Friday in Old Town for RJ.

Sad story. Not really a crime, though, because nobody broke any laws. Maybe some laws need to change. I read this story yesterday and I hadn’t really intended to write about it here. When I looked a little deeper, I knew that this story belongs in Slabtown. Robert “RJ” Anheier was a victim of murder.

No. No one killed RJ, but he was a victim of murder none the less. RJ Anheier’s father was murdered in Buffalo, New York in 1951, when RJ was seven. RJ’s life illustrates clearly how violent death echoes in the life of its survivors. None of us are ever the same after a loved one is murdered.

RJ’s life was affected in an extreme way. RJ was still grieving for his father when his mother remarried. According to the Oregonian, his stepfather beat him regularly and RJ ran away the first time when he was 10. At the age of 18 he left home for good and started the life of a hobo.

Traveling by freight train RJ traveled the country living the best he could. In 1981 Anheier befriended a young homeless man in Saint Louis. Anheier was an experienced “professional” hobo at the age of 42. Matthew Barrett was a teenager new to life on the street. RJ taught the young man to survive as a hobo and the two became fast friends.

“We didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, but we had a lot to leave behind,” Barrett told the Oregonian. The two hobos traveled the country for nearly a decade, finally landing in Portland in 1994. Barrett was the first to get off the street. Because of ill health he was able to get an apartment in Old Town. Anheier remained on the street until he was able to get an apartment at the Biltmore in 1999. The Biltmore is an old hotel that has been remodeled for low income housing.

Anheier paid his rent by waiting tables at Sisters of the Road, a non-profit restaurant in Old Town designed to be the one safe place in Portland for anyone. He also eked out his living by collecting cans and bottles and sold Street Roots, an alternative newspaper. He earned extra money holding places in line for people who wanted to buy concert tickets at the popular nightclubs in Old Town.

“RJ spent his life trying to find his place in the world,” Matthew Barrett told the Oregonian, “He had found that place. He had people who loved him. Yet people assumed he didn’t.” I just hope I don’t look like I’m homeless when I die.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sin of the Father

Asia Bell was 23 when she died in a volley of gunfire that blinded her 26-year old husband, Tyrone James, on the front porch of her house in North Portland. The shooting took place on November 20, 2002 three days after the fatal shooting of Demingo “Bingo” Lee Gonzales in front of an “after-hours” club on NE Lombard and 22nd.

Police have believed since Bell’s shooting that there were witnesses who could come forward and identify the killer. Nearly five years after the shooting, Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case Unit made four arrests this weekend. The suspects, Alexander Daniel Klein, 28, Deprince Romey Hale, 29, Sonja Hutchins and Rico Gonzales, are considered to be members or associates of the Rolling 60 Crips, just like Demingo Gonzales.

Klein and Rico Gonzales are brothers of Demingo Gonzales. While Rico has not been charged in the killings yet, he is being held on federal drug distribution charges and police believe they will soon have evidence that he was part of a murder conspiracy.

Asia Bell, the mother of four small children, was not affiliated with any gang. She and her husband Tyrone were health care workers trying to build a better life for themselves and get away from the violence that swirled around their family. They had recently bought there first home on North Mississippi Ave. It was the house that brought about Asia’s death.

Police now believe that the shooting that killed Bell was in retaliation for the shooting of Demingo Gonzales. Gonzales’ murder, which seems to still be unsolved, may have been over a dog fight and trouble between the Rolling 60s Crips and an older set known as the Hoover Crips.

Asia Bell’s father, who remains mysteriously unnamed in the Oregonian’s reporting, raised pit bulls in Washington and had a cousin who was a member of the Hoover Crips. Bell’s father supplied dogs for an illegal dogfight organized between the Hoover Crips and the Rolling 60s. A meeting to organize the dog fight took place at the Bell’s house. Asia was most likely not at the meeting and was probably not even aware of it.

The dogfight broke up over allegations of cheating and foul play. This started a feud between the Rolling 60s and the Hoovers. A few days later Demingo Gonzales was shot down in front of the after hours club.

Three nights later as Asia Bell, her husband Tyrone and a guest celebrated Tyrone’s birthday on the front porch of their home. Two men walked by the house and sprayed at least 17 shots at the small gathering. Bell was killed immediately. Tyrone was blinded and their friend was slightly wounded.

Police believe the gunmen, allegedly Alexander Klein and Deprince Hale, targeted the home because the meeting with the Hoover Crips took place there. In the most real sense Asia Bell was an innocent bystander.

Asia Bell’s family has been a focus of violence and drug addiction for at least three generations (see my earlier post It’s a Family Affair). Her mother Perlia Bell, has become an outspoken activist against the violence of North Portland and she is credited by Portland Police for keeping her daughter’s case alive and helping them finally solve it.

Bell and Tyrone James are both active in Families Affected By Violence, a community organizing group. They have been outspoken against the G-code (for Gangsta) that keeps most witnesses of gang murders silent. While they can hardly be celebrating the latest development, they must at least be feeling that there is a chance for justice.

Good job Cold Case Squad! Since being formed nearly three years ago the detectives of the Cold Case Unit have solved several old killings. Investigators said that they had made Asia Bell’s murder a priority since last summer and it took cooperation from more than 50 officers in several police divisions to bring about the arrests this weekend. Keep up the good work there are only about 270 unsolved cold cases to go.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Too Many Questions Still Unanswered

David Earl Hughes was shot to death by the police in November of 2006 in southwest Portland. Hughes pled no contest to burglary, possession of an illegal firearm and arson and was scheduled to be sentenced on November 7. Out on bail in the days before his sentencing, Hughes told his neighbors that he would run rather than face up to five years in prison. He said he would rather die.

2006 was a year with several high-profile police shootings in Portland and the surrounding area. Several times this year we have had major press coverage and public review hearings on police shootings. In the case of David Hughes we had two Oregonian articles and mostly silence from official sources.

The charges that Hughes was to be sentenced on stemmed from an argument involving his ex-wife Treva Richardson and Gary George. The argument involved a car and a dog. Some new information that has come to light makes the argument even more bizarre – the car that Treva and George were fighting over belonged to David Hughes.

According to an old friend of David’s, who spoke with him shortly after the confrontation in March 2006, Treva had been out of David’s life for several years, but somehow they met up again at a vulnerable time for David. He had recently been divorced and then his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Drug abuse seems to be the main thread running through this whole story. David had been a drug user before marrying his second wife in the 1980s. After getting clean from drugs David continued to abuse alcohol. During their separation Treva had become addicted to methamphetamine and both of their children had become addicts as well. David and Mary Hughes saw David’s son through rehab in 2002.

Treva also seems to have gotten herself into a dangerous situation. She was now living in a “biker compound” on NE 42nd. This was the house of Gary George. The Oregonian says that Treva was George’s girlfriend.

Treva allegedly stole the car from David. Gary George put his own name on the title and David stole it back. The only other crime that David was accused of was a forgery charge, for putting his name back onto the title of his own car. This started the fight over the car.

David began using methamphetamine and isolated himself into a small group of drug addicts that called themselves the “happy family.” One rumor says that David had suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with congestive heart-failure. The rumor is that he decided at that point he would live his life as he wanted to, regardless of who he hurt.

David’s ex-wife says that he was always fascinated by weapons. One rumor is that he began buying drugs and weapons from the Russian mafia in Vancouver. I’m pretty sure that the Russian mafia has a presence in both Vancouver and Portland, I’m not so sure that David was involved with them. I think there was a dangerous crime organization that was much more convenient.

This brings us back to Gary George. Who was he? And who killed him?

I guess we have an answer to the second question. Bobby Donald Barnes is in jail charged with aggravated murder and associated crimes. Barnes, a registered sex offender on parole for prostitution and rape, was arrested on April 24, 2006 on a warrant for a parole violation. He was picked up at a house in northeast Portland a couple of miles from George’s home.

While Barnes was in custody detectives were called to George’s home. They found Gary George in a pool of blood, beaten to death. Guns, a laptop computer and knives were stolen from the home. Two unnamed people claim to have driven Barnes to George’s house before the killing. Police also say they have DNA evidence linking Barnes to the killing. If they have all this evidence, why has Barnes not been convicted?

Because he hasn’t been brought to trial. Chief Deputy District Attorney Norm Frink says it is “unclear if there will be a trial.” He said that in December. Since then he hasn’t said anything. The only way I know about the information in the last paragraph is from a tiny little story in the Oregonian that I managed to find because I have become obsessed with this case.

So that’s what the police want us to think is the answer to who killed Gary George. Maybe they’re right. The only way we’ll know is when a jury decides. Until then, let’s see what we can do with the first question: Who was Gary George?

His family is quiet. One relative, a niece I think, was married on the same day Gary died. She has her grief to deal with and she is not saying anything about her uncle or his activities. The detectives told her that Gary was killed because of a “drug deal gone bad.” I was almost ready to believe that, until I found the story in the wrap-up of Portland murders in 2006. The police give a whole list of things stolen from George’s home, but drugs are not mentioned.

Some people think David Hughes was getting drugs and weapons from Gary, but David Hughes apparently believed that Gary George was a cop. Could Gary George have been working undercover?

I don’t know the answer to that and maybe I don’t really want to know. There are some suspicious circumstances though. Gary George had a minor record, a charge of 4th degree assault that was dropped in 1998. George was armed and he was not shy about defending himself, evidenced by the confrontation between Gary, David and Treva in March. Eight times between 1998 and 2005 police were called to Gary’s house because he had been the victim of some kind of crime.

After the confrontation in March, David and Treva were able to drive only two or three blocks before being apprehended by the police. Gary lived in an industrial district that is pretty empty day or night. His house was the only residence within blocks. Gary George got very fast and efficient police response in a pretty isolated area.

This certainly isn’t evidence that Gary George was an undercover cop. David Hughes had become very paranoid from isolation and drug use, so what he believed is highly questionable. Yet a cloud of mystery still hangs over the whole story. Things are not happening in the usual way and everyone is very reluctant to talk about it. Too many questions are still unanswered.

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