Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs #77

Once again it is my pleasure to present the best of the True Crime Blogs this week. I have to say that submissions were very light this week. That means more work for me, so if you’re a true crime blogger, get your submissions in. If you’re not a true crime blogger then you’re excused.

Only two of this week’s entries are about actual crimes, so I’ll start with those:

Bonnie of My Life of Crime brings us the lonely death of volunteer Police Constable Robert Lee Bailey in Lincolnville, S.C. Bailey made a traffic stop that turned into every cop’s nightmare. Missing Cop’s Body Found and Identified.

jd chandler of the slabtown chronicle brings us more of an enigma than a story in Z on the Run.

That’s it for the crime stories submitted this week. But wait, there’s more…

Harding of TO Crime seems to be taking a break from crime writing at the moment, fortunately he’s still writing and this week he brings us an interesting story about keeping the peace at a soccer game – Policing the Trenches. Personally I’m not much of a sport’s fan, but what’s up with these Canadians anyway. It’s like they’re from a different country or something.

From Britain we are proud to welcome Gracchi from Westminster Wisdom. This is a blog about politics, but with a broad scope. The submission this week deals with a pet issue of our own Laura James of Clews – True Crime Writing; Is it Worth It? OK, I know that this is a British blog from academia, but does that mean you have to use such long paragraphs, Gracchi?

That’s it for the submissions this week. Come on guys, where are you? I don’t think it’s enough, so here are jd chandler’s picks of the week:

Laura James of CLEWS is one of my favorite crime bloggers and I love the focus she has on historical crime. She seems to be focusing her writing more on book reviews and author interviews than historical crimes these days (tsk, tsk), but I have two picks from her blog:

First the post that inspired our British friend Gracchi -- Who Makes Money Off Murder?

Second a guest blog by Kevin Sullivan which is a historical true crime story and it's creepy – The Valley Drive-in Murders

From the Netherlands, Nene Adams of The Year Round brings us an interesting look at drug addiction in the Victorian Era – The Demon From the Orient: An American's Palace-joint.

Last, but not least, Steve Huff of Crimeblog.us brings us an interview with the Mother of all True Crime Writers Ann Rule -- Ann Rule on Too Late to Say Goodbye

That’s it for this week’s carnival. I had fun and I hope you did too. If you would like to find older carnivals or submit a story for the next one then go here.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Z on the Run

Sometimes the most interesting stories start with a tiny little newspaper article that leaves more questions than answers. That happened to me last week. I ran across a five paragraph news brief in the Oregonian that left me wondering.

The headline said, Police seek man in Roommate’s slaying. It is the story of the death of 51 year-old Frank Clarence Johnson in his north Portland apartment. Johnson was killed by a blow to the head, probably during a fight with his roommate David Wayne French, 48.

Simple story. Not unusual, it seems. So why are there so many questions? Johnson was killed on May 4, but a warrant wasn’t issued for French’s arrest for nearly two weeks. The police say that French probably jumped out of a three story window as they were coming in the front door of the apartment, immediately after the killing. Why did it take them so long to issue a warrant for his arrest?

Here’s a quote from the Oregonian: “Police said that Johnson was trying to change his living situation with French.” The only thing I could think when I read this was, what are they not saying? The next paragraph tells us that David French is known to use the alias Zalia Crizta, or just the initial Z. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds and has long brown hair.

First thing I thought was, no wonder the Police can’t find him. I bet he could pass for a woman. Well, I didn’t learn it from the Oregonian, but French is a transgender “performer”. Here’s a good question: why didn’t I learn it from the Oregonian?

The next line raises even more questions: “Until recently, French had an Internet business and contacts across the West.” First question is what does this mean? Second question is why is the Oregonian being so cryptic? I haven’t been able to figure out the second question. All of the other media is reporting on the transgender angle, why does the Oregonian ignore it?

I can make a guess at what Z’s internet business was, but so far I haven’t found a trace of it. I’m still looking and I am hoping some of my more web savvy readers might give me a little help on that.

A man is dead. A killer is on the run. The police seem to be at a loss. Detective Molly Daul (503-823-0991) and Detective Barry Renna (503-823-0255) are asking for anyone who knows anything to call them. The Oregonian is writing the story in code. Somewhere there is an interesting story in this. I’m still working on it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

You might have heard the big news out of Portland this weekend is the “random” hammer attack at the Beaverton Fred Meyer. Sharon Weil, 56, of Cedar Mill was struck in the head with a hammer while buying groceries. The Oregonian tells us all about her plans to prepare a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. Her attacker Eric Osterholme is turning out to be a real piece of work.

Osterholme, who fractured Weil’s skull in Aisle 10 of the grocery store, turns out to have a violent past. Big surprise, huh? In 2002 he cursed at a 6-year-old boy in the parking lot of his apartment complex and then judo chopped the child in the throat. The little boy had been playing nearby and approached the neighbor to say, “Hi.” He should have listened when mom told him not to talk to strangers.

Osterholme proved himself to be a selfish and mean person during his arraignment on attempted murder charges. Asked by Judge Timothy Alexander if he had seen the charges against him, Osterholme complained about the food at the Washington County jail, saying, “I’m being force-fed meals that will cause a heart attack. I’m pre-diabetic.”

I can understand his health concerns. I probably wouldn’t want to eat the food in the Washington County Jail either, but then I wouldn’t hit anyone in the head with a hammer either.

The arraignment degenerated from there as Osterholme refused to respond or even listen until he was given better food. His next hearing will be on Monday when he will probably be indicted on charges of attempted murder, first degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon. Osterholme deserves to have the book thrown at him. In the 2002 case he was convicted of harassment and fined $300. He obviously didn’t take that very seriously.

Maybe he’s crazy, but it seems to me that he might just be a very selfish and mean man who needs to be locked up to keep his neighbors safe.

According to KGW-TV Fred Meyer officials say that nothing like this has ever happened before, but that’s not exactly true. There has been at least one murder in a Fred Meyer over the past few years. Even the random attack is not unprecedented. In fact it reminds me of an attack that took place in 1946.

On August 26, 1946 22-year-old Marine veteran William Kilpock was struck in the head with a hatchet while standing on the sidewalk in front of the Orpheum Theater on SW Park Ave. His attacker, Lenny Lloyd Brown, 40, was an ex-mental patient who was convicted of attempted murder. Kilpock was quoted in the Oregonian, “War is safer than standing in a Portland street.”

I feel safer knowing that “customer service remains [Fred Meyer’s] number one concern,” according to spokesperson Melinda Merrill. Fortunately Sharon Weil, a partner in a well-know property management firm with a reputation as a good cook, is recovering well. Her mother is still looking forward to having “a fabulous strawberry French toast brunch” with her daughter soon.

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