Archive for crime
They say there are three versions of a violent event: the accused’s, the victim’s, and the truth.
When the violence results in the victim’s death, we are left with only two of those three—usually.
In the matter of the trial of grandmother Sandra Layne, a 911 call gave a glimpse into the victim’s version. And it was enough to convict Layne of second degree murder.
The 75-year-old Layne, from West Bloomfield, was convicted the other day in the killing of her 17-year-old grandson, Jonathan Hoffman. She shot the troubled Hoffman six times last May 18, in her home. She claimed self defense—that she was fearful for her own life.
The teen had been living with Layne and her 87-year-old husband while the kid’s parents (divorced) were in Arizona to help tend to a daughter with a brain tumor.
The jury didn’t buy Layne’s plea of self defense.
They didn’t embrace Layne, really, when she took the stand in her own defense, which is always a risky move. Layne’s defense team apparently gambled that the sight and sound of a 75-year-old woman conveying her fear of her own grandson (due to proven drug use among other things) would sway the jury into acquittal.
But Layne shot Hoffman six times. She didn’t try to call the police before she broke out her gun. Nor did she call them after she showed Hoffman the weapon, presuming her intent was to use the gun to scare her grandson.
A 911 call can be a powerful tool, both for the defense and the prosecution, depending how the events unfolded. It’s even more powerful when the dead speak, as Hoffman did for the jury.
Five words were chilling.
“I’m going to die,” Hoffman told the dispatcher in the call. “Help.”
I’m going to die. Help.
Those words from a dying teen trumped anything Layne could offer up on the stand.
Sandra Layne reacts after being convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of her 17-year-old grandson, Jonathan Hoffman
“They played the 911 tape over and over again,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton, who tried the case and interviewed jurors after the verdict. “And they arrived at second-degree murder.”
Layne wasn’t liked well enough by the jury, and after the verdict, it turns out that she wasn’t all that well-liked by her own family, either.
Layne’s son-in-law, Michael Hoffman, said, “I never liked her. She was always a thorn in my side.”
OK, that was the son-in-law. But even Layne’s own daughter, Jennifer Hoffman, said, “I know my son is in heaven, and this is a place that (Layne) will never see.” She added that instead of calling Layne mother, Hoffman would “like to call her monster.”
The case sparked some interest because of the relationship between the accused and the victim, and the extreme ages. A teen aged victim and an accused grandmother is not your garden variety case.
A Lifetime movie? Perhaps.
Layne will be sentenced on April 18. She could be in prison past her 90th birthday, given the charges.
A 17-year-old boy dead, a 75-year-old woman going to prison, where she will likely perish.
No happy ending to any of that.
His name really was Mudd.
Today is the 179th birthday of the most vilified doctor this side of Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil.
Samuel Mudd was born on December 20, 1833. Before his 32nd birthday, he was a convicted felon.
With the rebirth of Abraham Lincoln in our social consciousness (they even made a movie where Abe isn’t a vampire hunter), now is a good time to remember Dr. Mudd, who was convicted along with several others for conspiring to kill the president in 1865.
Justice moved a lot quicker in those days, for good and for bad. The president was assassinated on April 14, 1865 (he died in the wee hours of the 15th). Less than a month later, Mudd and his co-defendants were on trial. By the end of June, Mudd was convicted along with the others.
It was Mudd’s prior acquaintance with assassin John Wilkes Booth that planted the seeds of conspiracy.
Mudd first met Booth, history says, in November 1864 in a church in Bryantown, MD. Booth used a guise of a real estate hunt as an excuse to visit the town, but his real intent was to scout out an escape route in his plot to kidnap Lincoln and ransom him for the release of Confederate prisoners of war. During this first Bryantown visit, Booth allegedly met Dr. Mudd and even stayed overnight at the doctor’s farm.
Historians pretty much agree that it’s unlikely that the doctor would have knowingly participated in Booth’s kidnap plot, though a second Booth-Mudd meeting occurred in December, which included drinks at a tavern and at Mudd’s farm. The nature of the meeting is unknown.
Mudd’s farm was only five miles from Bryantown.
Co-conspirator defendant George Atzerodt claimed that Mudd knew of Booth’s plot ahead of time, which turned into one of the murder variety.
You know the rest. Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, and sought medical assistance at Dr. Mudd’s farm later that night. The doctor treated Booth’s broken leg (suffered while leaping from the balcony onto the stage after the shooting) and let Booth spend the night. It’s unclear—and this is a biggie—whether Dr. Mudd knew, at that time, that Booth had murdered Lincoln.
The doctor didn’t help his own cause. Mudd failed to contact authorities until several days after Booth left his farm, fueling speculation that Mudd was part of some sort of plot.
Mudd was also less than forthcoming about whether he had met Booth previously, once authorities were able to question the doctor. Mudd at first denied ever having met Booth, then retracted and confessed to the first meeting in Bryantown in November 1864. It wasn’t until he was in prison that Mudd confessed to the December 1864 meeting. Both denials were, obviously, big mistakes.
Mudd served less than four years in prison. It always helps to have friends in high places; Mudd’s defense attorney, Thomas Ewing Jr., was influential in then-President Andrew Johnson’s administration. This connection was a big factor in Johnson’s pardon of Mudd in February 1869. Mudd returned home in late March.
Dr. Samuel Mudd, as he appeared while in prison
Thanks to the pardon, Mudd resumed practicing medicine and in 1877 he even ran for the Maryland House of Delegates as a Democrat. He lost.
Mudd died of pneumonia on January 10, 1883. There is irony in his burial, which was in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryantown.
That’s the church where Dr. Mudd first met John Wilkes Booth.
It’s another of the talking points pushed by the gun camp, symbolically accompanied by the throwing up of hands in the air.
“If you ban guns, only criminals will have guns.”
First, I am not in favor of banning guns. I fully believe in the Second Amendment to the degree that folks should have the right to protect their castles—even if deadly force is required.
I do, however, believe that reasonable, responsible gun owners can darn well protect themselves—and their homes and their families—with weapons that aren’t designed to mow dozens of people down in minutes.
But here’s the thing. These mass shootings that are being committed nowadays aren’t being committed by criminals. In fact, many times the perpetrator has no previous criminal record. Not even a parking ticket.
Like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old monster who shot up Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
Lanza had no criminal record.
Neither did the shooter in the recent mall incident in Oregon. Same with the Aurora, CO theater shooter last summer.
The kids who committed the atrocities at Columbine weren’t criminals, either. Nor was the perp in the Virginia Tech massacre.
Loners? Yes. Troubled? Definitely. But not criminals.
Criminals aren’t committing mass shootings. Armed criminals typically rob or steal. Or trade on the black market. If they stockpile artillery, it’s to sell. They don’t acquire automatic weapons so they can shoot up a mall, a school or a movie theater.
Those are facts.
The folks who are arming themselves to the hilt, throwing on military-style vests and camouflage gear, aren’t criminals. They’re suffering from mental illness.
Until we start treating root causes rather than symptoms, we’re going nowhere in the effort to try to make what happened in Connecticut on Friday a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy.
It’s time to start educating about mental illness, which is still, in the 21st century no less, terribly misunderstood.
Look no further than the reports that Lanza may have been autistic, or afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Neither has ever been directly connected to violent behavior of any serious degree. Yet you just know that there is a segment of the population that will take the autism and Asperger’s thing and run with it. And you know that those afflicted with said disorders will now be looked at sideways.
There is so much we don’t know about mental illness. I’d say we’d better start getting a handle on it, because it ain’t going away.
If there is any common ground I can find with those on even the most extreme side of pro-guns, it’s that people are ultimately responsible for their actions. The gun provides them with the means of destruction, but not every gun owner commits mass shootings, so that should be a clue right there.
Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who was gunned down first last Friday, has been taking some posthumous heat for her decision to have guns of the magnitude that was used by her son, in the first place.
But even his own mother clearly didn’t understand the scope of Adam Lanza’s troubled state.
This is a time for experts in many arenas to sit down, together, and start hashing some stuff out. To do whatever we can to prevent another atrocity like Newtown from happening again is going to require serious, honest discussion from everyone across the gun, mental illness and law enforcement spectrum.
You’re afraid that only criminals will have access to guns?
It’s not working too well when the non-criminals get a hold of them, either.
For eight years, every Saturday, I have pumped out 1,000+ words about pastimes—kids games played by grown-up millionaires. I have mused about the merits of the Lions’ latest draft, the Tigers’ latest free agent signing, the Pistons’ latest implosion, the Red Wings’ latest Stanley Cup.
Not this Saturday.
This Saturday, there won’t be any hand-wringing over the NHL’s (latest) lockout. There won’t be any fussing about another Lions season gone wrong. No analysis about whether the Tigers should have committed $80 million to a pitcher. No unsolicited solutions to all that ails the Pistons.
What does any of that matter, when 20 precious children woke up, went to school, and ended up being carried out of their classrooms in body bags?
For many, sports is a diversion—a way to unplug, for 2-3 hours, the cord that connects us to our troubled lives. We shove our money problems, our marriage troubles, and our job worries to the back burner, so we can yell and scream at the TV and bring our sports teams’ troubles to the fore. Sometimes the logic seems ill, actually.
But it’s not real life, in the strictest definition. The drama is played out on the field, or on the ice, or on the hardwood. At the end there is a winner and there is a loser but none of it really matters.
Even Reggie Jackson, who didn’t meet a spotlight he didn’t like, once tried to put sports in perspective.
“I was reminded that when we lose and I strike out, a billion people in China don’t care,” Reggie said.
Sports is a diversion, but even that is kind of disingenuous to say. The line between sports and real life is being blurred, almost daily. The off-the-court, off-the-field, off-the ice news is capturing a larger slice of the information pie. Sports isn’t, any longer, just about hitting a curve or sacking the quarterback. It’s not just about how to defend the pick-and-roll or getting the puck out of your own zone.
They used to do a lot of killing in sports, but it was all figurative.
Kill the umpire! Kill a penalty. Kill the clock.
Lately, as we’ve seen with recent incidents involving players of the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys, they’re killing people for real.
But on this day we don’t look to sports to divert us. The games go on, but today we are glued to our TV sets, tied to the Internet, frantically searching for answers that may never come, to a one-word question.
That three-letter word starts so many of our queries.
Why did a 20-year-old young man kill his mother? Why did he then drive to the school where she reportedly worked, and gun down the principal and a school psychologist?
And, the biggest “Why?” of them all.
Why did this young man, reportedly identified as Adam Lanza, march into a classroom and start shooting grade schoolers?
Why did his mother have such powerful weapons registered in her name, to which Lanza had access? Why didn’t anyone see this coming?
After the why come the next big questions, and those all start with “How?”
How will the parents of the dead children cope? How will the parents of the surviving children ever hope to re-instill a sense of security in their kids? How will the town of Newtown, Connecticut, a small burg of about 27,000 people (not unlike the size of Madison Heights, where I live), manage to carry on after the slaughter that occurred in their town?
You want to keep sports in this discussion, in an allegorical way?
Well, here it is.
The country has hit its two-minute warning. But it needs to get the football back from the gun lobbies before it can mount a game-winning rally.
We’re out of timeouts, too.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in the wake of the news of the shootings that “today isn’t the day” to talk about gun control. Someone should remind Carney that we have no timeouts remaining.
If the day to talk about gun control isn’t the day in which 20 of our babies are shot dead, sitting at their desks in a kindergarten class, then we’ll never have that talk.
The nightmare in Connecticut has pushed us to the brink. Our backs are against the wall and all that sports rot. The gun violence keeps getting worse, backing us closer to that wall. It wasn’t bad enough after Columbine, apparently. Wasn’t bad enough after a Congresswoman was gunned down at a public appearance.
We edged closer to the wall after the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. And even closer, after the mall shooting in Oregon, just this week.
Now 20 little boys and girls are dead. If this doesn’t cause us to start kicking, clawing and scratching, trying to fight our way back from the edge of insanity, then the clock will run out and the game will be over.
For decades, the gun people have put all their chips on “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It’s a rallying cry that lacks common sense and immediately puts blinders on those who utter it.
It’s catchy, I grant you that. It’s also true in the most literal sense. A Glock or an assault rifle won’t, of course, kill someone if no one takes hold of it, aims it, and pulls the trigger. You got me there.
But people with guns kill people. Why doesn’t the gun camp think that’s as catchy?
Get ready for the argument of, “If only someone at the school was armed, then a lot of lives might have been saved.”
The old OK Corral argument. The notion that, like in the movies, a hero will draw his weapon, and pick off the bad guy with one shot, with no possible chance of collateral damage or stray bullets striking and killing others.
You think that’s really how it would go down if everyone walked around with a pistol on their hip? Or is it more likely that more people might choose to go for their weapons to “solve” problems, in a horrific moment of indiscretion?
Is the way to put out a fire, to throw more fire at it?
We’re at the two-minute warning. We have no more timeouts remaining. We need the ball back. The situation is just that dire.
We can’t put off the rally any longer. Twenty babies are dead. If that’s not a game changer, then we’re doomed.
The Sesame Street Muppets have become such a part of our social consciousness that I don’t think any of us really stop to think that the Muppets aren’t living, breathing creatures—we must remember that they’re puppets, controlled and voiced by living, breathing humans.
Humans, as in imperfect beings.
The face of Elmo, one of the more popular Muppets, was ripped off in a shocking and vile manner recently, revealing that its puppeteer, Kevin Clash, has been allegedly involved, in the past, with some hanky panky with at least one underage youth.
Two accusers came out against Clash, who is openly gay. The first recanted, saying that the relationship was consensual and legal (age-wise). But then a second accuser surfaced, and this one says that he and Clash became involved when the former was just 15 years old.
The second accuser has slapped Clash with a $5 million lawsuit, claiming he (the accuser) had only recently become aware of “adverse psychological and emotional effects.”
Kevin Clash and Elmo
Regardless of the credibility of the accusations, Clash has submitted his resignation. Elmo is in need of a new alter ego.
Sesame Workshop issued this statement regarding Clash’s resignation.
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from ‘Sesame Street.’ This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’”
To Sesame Street’s credit, they were ready to welcome Clash back into the family once the first charge was recanted. Clash’s sexual orientation, thankfully, wasn’t enough to pull the plug on him as being Elmo’s puppeteer. But when the second charge came down, along with the accompanying lawsuit, SS felt like it had no choice but to call for Clash’s resignation.
It’s hard to argue with SS and Clash’s decision. The SS brand has been a part of American households and families for about 40 years. Why should they risk any additional bad press and scuttlebutt by bringing Clash back while there is all this legal stuff going on?
Besides, the mystique and aura of Sesame Street’s Muppets are based almost solely on the anonymity of the puppeteers. Yes, folks eventually found out that guys like Frank Oz and Jim Henson operated and voiced many of the original Muppets, but for the most part we aren’t visualizing humans behind the scenes when Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy are doing their thing.
They’re not puppets, they’re Muppets, for crying out loud! They’re practically human.
The seedy story that is about to unfold about Kevin Clash (under-aged boys, meeting online, etc) is one that Sesame Street just as soon let play out somewhere else—anywhere else, other than behind Elmo’s back.
It looks to be the end of a 28-year ride for Clash as Elmo’s puppeteer, but it’s an ending that needs to happen.
The sooner the anonymity of Elmo’s puppeteer is returned, the better.
So did you hear about the Cleveland woman who had to stand on a busy street corner and hold up a sign that says “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus”?
To recap: 32-year-old Shena Hardin was caught by surveillance camera, driving her car on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus that was loading and unloading children. Her sentence, as handed down by a Municipal Court Judge, was to hold the sign for one hour each on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, in 34-degree weather and in full view of rush hour drivers.
Hardin also had her license suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250 in court costs.
Apparently, Hardin was the victim of a good old-fashioned sting, put on by the bus driver, because the incident in which she was caught by the camera was not the first time she had driven recklessly in order to avoid waiting for the kids to get on and off the school bus.
Shena Hardin serves her sentence
Whether you agree with Hardin’s “Scarlet Letter” type sentence or not, it would be hard to disagree that other offenses might merit similar sentencing from the court of public opinion, if it were left up to them.
Non-use of turn signal. This is the ultimate in arrogance. The offender is telling us, “You don’t need to know what I’m about to do, until I reveal it.” Suggested sentence: Not allowed to order own food at restaurant for next two meals out. Offender has to eat whatever the server brings, not revealed until the plate hits the table.
Rolling through/failing to stop at stop sign in residential neighborhood (where there are kids and pets about). The disrespect for those red, octagonal-shaped signs is getting ridiculous. I walk our dog daily and I see vehicles cruising through stop signs routinely. Suggested sentence: Offender must stand in the middle of a high school hallway during lunch rush, wearing a brand new, all-white outfit.
Tailgating in a residential area. Nothing grinds my gears more than being followed closely by some clod in a 25 mph residential area. I don’t like being tailgated, period, but something about cruising down a side street, usually going to or from home, with a very aggressive, very impatient dufus riding my rear is just so wrong. Suggested sentence: Offender must spend next session of opening and responding to e-mails with someone (a stranger) looming directly over his/her shoulder the entire time.
Taking two spaces in a parking lot. This one needs no trumping. Suggested sentence: Offender must watch helplessly as person ahead of them in line orders the last two pieces of cheesecake, and only eats one—throwing the second one in the trash.
Cutting across two lanes of a freeway in order to exit, last minute. This one is not only annoying but freaking dangerous. Most people know, way ahead of time, which exit they’re taking. Why you decide at the last possible moment that you suddenly need to bid farewell to the freeway is beyond me. Suggested sentence: Since this is usually a male offender, sentence is for offender to be cut in front of, at the last moment, by a counterpart who wants to use the only available urinal in a public restroom. And I do mean at the last moment.
Those sound like apt punishments, eh?
So add going to the movies as the latest in the list of perilous activities in this country.
That list includes walking down the street, filling up your gas tank, standing in line at the fast food joint, attending school, sitting at your desk at work, enjoying a picnic, driving down the freeway, and watching TV in your living room.
The tragic shooting in Colorado last night at a screening of the latest Batman movie again underscores, as if we needed it, that nowhere are we truly safe.
The examples listed in the second paragraph are, off the top of my head, activities that people were engaged in when they were shot, either in a mass shooting, a drive by, by a serial killer or something in between.
James Holmes, 24, is a former med student and he is in custody now as the alleged shooter. As I write this, 12 have perished and nearly 40 are wounded. All at the hands of one man—who was armed as if he was ready to go to war.
Maybe he was, in his twisted mind. Certainly, dressed as he was with a bullet proof vest and wearing a gas mask, one might get that idea.
Holmes is the exception, in that when these horrific crimes occur, typically the shooter doesn’t make it out alive; he either shoots himself or is killed by police.
So at least there might be some gratification in dissecting his mind to find out the answer to the only real question that matters, and the only one people want the answer to forthwith.
That is a question that doesn’t necessarily produce closure or satisfaction, even when the perpetrator is alive to answer it. You think the families of the victims of the Manson Murders feel good about what Charlie said after being apprehended?
Holmes, police and witness accounts say, released a canister apparently filled with tear gas and just started shooting, into a crowded theater. He was armed with a shotgun, a rifle, and two handguns. And his canister.
Reports were that explosives might be found in his apartment, whose building was evacuated.
So it’s another male shooter, armed to the gills, with military-like gear, turning an everyday civilian activity into a horror movie.
No, you can’t even go to the movies anymore.
The truth is, you can do whatever you want and 99.999% of the time, nothing will happen to you like what happened to those 12 poor victims last night in Colorado.
The truth is, we might feel squeamish about going to the movies for a brief period, but then forget about all that and enjoy the experience just as before.
The truth is, we really do feel safe most of the time. Until something like this happens, and we get a little nervous. But then it goes away.
Until the next time.
For crying out loud, now seven year-olds are hanging themselves.
The suspected reasons? Depression. Bullying.
Neither should apply to a second grader. The latter shouldn’t apply to anyone.
A poor 14-year-old girl in Detroit found her seven year-old brother dangling from his bunk bed. The child had managed to fasten a noose from a belt and hanged himself.
How do seven year-olds even know about hanging, much less how to do it? How does a child of that age pull this horrific act off, physically?
The mental and emotional aspects are just as chilling.
The child was, according to published reports, despondent over his parents splitting up, and there was some bullying going on at school, for good measure.
Enough of each, apparently, to cause the boy to grab a belt, climb onto his bunk bed, and do himself in.
Think back to when you were seven years old. It may be fuzzy but you ought to have memories.
To do so is also an exercise in futility, because most readers of this blog (if I have my demographics right) were likely seven years old in the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s. All decades before the Internet and before bullying became more than a shakedown for lunch money on the way to school.
So it’s an apples and oranges comparison, I know, to recall your life at age seven and the lives of kids today. Maybe not even apples and oranges. Probably apples and liver.
But I ask you to recall age seven in order to start a path to the answer to this question: Where did it go sideways? When did being seven years old become tantamount to being a corporate CEO after Black Friday?
What kind of bullying is going on among seven year-olds that could drive one to kill himself? And how does a child of that age become so mentally broken by his parents’ breakup that he figures his life is over anyway, so might as well accelerate it?
My parents separated when I was 11, got back together twice, then divorced when I was 14. That’s not an ideal age for a boy to lose a father’s influence at home, but there you go. The implications of the divorce on me as a person, I believe, didn’t manifest themselves until well into my adult years.
But at 11 and 14, suicide wasn’t even on the radar for me. There was some shame and embarrassment that my folks weren’t living together, but nothing remotely suicidal.
At half that age, this boy in Detroit hanged himself.
I know I’m asking a lot of questions in this post, but that’s always the bi-product of terrible stories like this—questions, which are plentiful. What’s in short supply are answers.
The 7 year-old hanged himself in this Detroit house
The story being reported says that the boy had been counseled by a pastor and that in addition to the bullying, he was teased constantly for being the only boy in a home with eight girls.
A knee-jerk reaction to suicides which point to bullying is to dismiss the victim as being weak emotionally and/or overreacting to what was being done/said to him.
At least lately, there seems to be more of an accounting of the tormenters. Anti-bullying campaigns have been ratcheted up in recent years. But there’s still the whispered opinion, “It can’t be THAT bad.”
Everyone has a different level of tolerance; that much is true. And, indeed, what might drive Person A bonkers might roll off Person B’s back.
But one thing is certain: if there was no bullying, levels of tolerance wouldn’t matter.
Bullying will never go away completely. But I hope it’s being reduced, thanks to the levels of awareness being raised almost daily.
Bullying, alone, didn’t cause this Detroit youngster to kill himself, according to reports. There is the recent parental split to consider as well.
Yet I have a feeling that the bullying and teasing played more of a role than the breakup.
Was it THAT bad?
Yes—for that little boy.
And if you think his case is an anomaly, consider this.
Of the 36,951 suicides recorded in the U.S. in 2009 by the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, 265 involved children ages 5-14.
Two-hundred and sixty-five. That’s five a week, and that was three years ago.
“It’s just a tragedy on so many levels,” Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said Thursday, calling the situation “unfathomable.”
Yes, but clearly one that isn’t as unusual as you might want to think.
On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine what possible gain the mysterious man named Bob could have in deliberately misleading and misrepresenting himself as the case-cracker of the Oakland County child killings from 1976-77.
On the other, there are plenty of whack jobs out there, so you never know.
I have written a few times about the killings, which took the lives of four children, ages 10 to 12. It’s a case that fascinates me, not only because I was 12 when the killing started and 13 when they ended, but because it is a high-profile cold case—possibly one of the most notorious in Michigan history.
Bob has gotten back into the headlines again, having conducted a rather bizarre round of interviews with reporters from the law office of Paul Hughes. Of course, Bob was nowhere to be found; the interviews were conducted, one-by-one, via a telephone placed on a table in Hughes’ office.
Bob suggests that he, along with some fellow investigators, have a bunch of very useful information about the killings—if someone would only give him access to certain key parts of the exhaustive investigation that’s been conducted, off and on, since 1977.
On Monday, a 65-minute audio recording was released in which Bob puts forth his theories about the killings, which includes suggestions that the killers (there were at least five people involved, he says) may have committed the crimes on pagan holidays or coinciding with the lunar calendar.
The recording was made in October 2010 as Bob spoke, via speaker phone, with Chief Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Paul Walton and Undersheriff Mike McCabe.
Bob has enthralled at least two of the victims’ families, but he has hardly impressed prosecutors and other criminal investigators.
“He’s not going to give any information because he doesn’t have any
information,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said Tuesday.
“The most bizarre and saddest thing is that anyone was buying any of this,” she added.
Bob says the bodies may have been deliberately dumped in communities whose first letters were designed to spell out some sort of acronym, if arranged chronologically.
He says a lot, actually, but whether any of it is true is highly debatable. You can listen for yourself HERE
One thing should be certain, whether Bob is credible or not: his 15 minutes are up.
He claims to not be willing to name names or delve further into his theories, because he doesn’t want to jeopardize the investigation, which is funny because he, at the same time, professes an utter distrust of the authorities who have conducted said investigation.
Bob’s involvement is a side show of a $100-million lawsuit being filed by Hughes on behalf of Deborah Jarvis, mother of victim Kristine Mihelich, 10.
No one has met Bob in person—not even Jarvis, who says she’s had “hundreds” of telephone conversations with him over the past several years.
Bob’s 15 minutes are done. He needs to pee or get off the pot, so to speak. There certainly can be some common ground found, when it comes to disseminating his purported information in a way that doesn’t jeopardize anything.
McCabe seems to be speaking common sense when he says, “It’s a pretty sad state of affairs that this thing has turned into a
circus,” he said. “And that’s a huge disservice to the families and
especially the victims.”
Enough of Bob’s games. If he has tangible evidence that can bring closure to the victims’ families, he needs to spill whatever beans he has.
If he doesn’t, Bob, in a way, is no better than those who committed the horrible crimes some 35 years ago. He might even be worse.
In the relatively short history of the office of Wayne County Executive—not even 30 years—the job hasn’t proven to be a launching pad or stepping stone to anything else, politically.
But there have only been three WCEs, anyway.
There was Bill Lucas, the first one, and he served four years (1983-87) before running for governor, and losing. Lucas, the former County Sheriff before becoming the county’s first executive, ran unsuccessfully for sheriff again in 2004.
Lucas was followed by the late Ed McNamara, and while he served for four terms, McNamara was in the twilight of his political career, though his machine continued to work long after he retired in 2003.
Now we have Bob Ficano, aka The Little Italian General (LIG).
Ficano, another former Sheriff, is the first of three WCEs to even remotely have to fight to keep his job.
Wayne County Executive has been a job of emperors. No Republican candidate could ever dream of election. And once you’re entrenched as the incumbent, you can pretty much write your own ticket—as long as you stay Wayne County Executive.
WCE is a great gig if you can get it. Just be aware that it won’t get you anywhere.
Ficano is the first of the three WCEs to be neither retiring nor having his eye on another elected office.
Not that having his eye on something else would be to his benefit.
There has been a lot of talk lately—from county commissioners to the op/ed writers in town—that suggests Wayne County would be better off with Bob Ficano’s name being written after the words “Ex-County Executive.”
That may be true. In fact, it probably is.
But Ficano isn’t close to retirement, as his predecessor and friend-turned-enemy McNamara was, nor is Ficano grooming himself for that next step in public service.
Well, not anymore, he isn’t—grooming himself, that is.
With scandal surrounding him and growing like some horror movie, it’s all Ficano can do to keep a tightwad’s grip on his own power and influence on a daily basis, let alone polishing his resume and primping his portfolio for a run at something bigger and better.
The folks calling for his resignation don’t ask the questions: Why should he? What else would he do?
Yeah, it’s a selfish thing, but it’s true.
Ficano is a lawyer—save the jokes—and could always find a practice to horn in on somewhere.
But it would be off to the private sector with him, for sure. His political career was pretty much stagnant before all the scandal erupted last fall, anyway.
It was stagnant because where would he have gone after WCE?
Governor? No one outstate really gives a crap about the Wayne County Executive, whose HQ is in Detroit. It would be like the mayor of Detroit running for governor.
State Legislature? Would any electorate in its right mind send Bob Ficano to Lansing to represent them, in light of the debacles that have occurred in the past eight months?
Another run at Sheriff? Besides the clear self-demotion aspect of such a move, let’s be serious.
Think about the absurd irony there.
So Bob Ficano, I believe, is finished as a public servant—whether he resigns or not, whether he chooses to run for another office or not. Either way, he’s finished.
And it was true before all the scandal, given the distinct dead end-ness of his current position.