Pickton’s Piggy Palace and the Green River Hogs

Growing up, my summers were spent in rural Georgia. Some of my earliest memories are those of my cousins and me being told to go out and, “slop the hogs.” Yes this chore was just as fun as it sounds. Slopping the hogs can be best defined as taking buckets of leftover food from the prior day’s meals and pouring them into the feeding trough out in the pig pen.

My grandparents made what can be called a “modest,” living at best, from farming. I could never imagine the term multi-millionaire being used to describe someone in this line of work. To my surprise I came across Robert Pickton. Robert Pickton was actually a multi-millionaire pig farmer in Port Coquitlam, a city in British Columbia, Canada. He and his brother David owned a family run operation in the area. The multi-millions came not so much from pig farming operations; they actually neglected that end of the business. It was the land itself that netted the Pickton’s millions. The farmland, purchased for $18,000 by Leonard Pickton and his wife, Helen Louise, in 1963, was worth $300,000 in 1993. By 1994 it was valued at $7.2 million. In the fall of 1994, they sold a part of their farm for $1.7 million to Eternal Holdings, a townhouse development company. That same year the city of Port Coquitlam also bought a chunk of their land, for $1.2 million, and turned it into a park. In 1995, Port Coquitlam’s school district bought a piece of the pig farm for $2.3 million, and built Blakeburn Elementary School on the site.

In 1995, soon after the Pickton’s financial windfall, area residents noticed that women began to come up missing. David Pickton took his earnings and moved up the road and begun a non-profit organization, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society. The organization would sponsor parties and social gatherings for other organizations throughout the area. The regular clientele were those that partook in the seedier side of life. Bikers, drug dealers and users and prostitutes comprised the palace’s day to day crowd. David Pickton’s organization became so popular that attendance would regularly top 2000 guests. At times the guests would stop by Richard’s converted slaughterhouse to visit, buy meat etc. Farm employee, Bill Hiscox began to notice that some guests of the farm, particularly women; had begun to come up missing. Hiscox reported his suspicions to the authorities and on February 6, 2002, police executed a search warrant for illegal firearms at the property. While in custody authorities issued a second search warrant as part of the ongoing investigation of the missing women. The following day Robert Pickton was charged with various charges included possessing and storing firearms without a license. He was later released and was kept under police surveillance.

Unbeknownst to Pickton, the police had discovered key clues concerning the disappearance of area women during the search of his property. Vancouver police had uncovered several personal items belonging to missing women such as identification cards, prescription medicine etc. On February 22, Pickton was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson. On April 2, three more charges were added for the murders of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. A sixth charge for the murder of Andrea Joesbury was laid on April 9, followed shortly by a seventh for Brenda Wolfe. On September 20, four more charges were added for the slayings of Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Helen Hallmark and Jennifer Furminger. Four more charges for the murders of Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall were laid on October 3, bringing the total to fifteen, making the investigation the largest of any serial killer in Canadian history. On May 26, 2005, 12 more charges were laid against him for the killings of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Debra Lynne Jones, Marnie Frey, Tiffany Drew, Kerry Koski, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Wendy Crawford, Diana Melnick, and Jane Doe (unidentified woman) bringing the total number of first-degree murder charges to 27.

During a preliminary inquiry held in 2003, investigators found that long before the murders began, Robert Pickton was involved in an attempted murder of a sex worker in 1997. Prostitute, Wendy Lynn Eistetter testified at the inquiry that after he had driven her to the Port Coquitlam farm and had sex with her, Pickton slapped a handcuff on her left hand and stabbed her in the abdomen. During the melee that ensued, Eistetter stabbed Pickton in self-defense. Later, both she and Pickton were treated at the same hospital, where staff used a key they found in Pickton’s pocket to remove the handcuffs from the woman’s wrist. Ironically, the attempted murder charge was stayed by the Canadian courts citing the Wendy Lynn was a known drug addict. Prosecution deemed her testimony was too unstable to hinge their case upon.  Also during the inquiry it was discovered that the police had received several tips concerning the disappearance of women. Vancouver police detective constable Lori Shenher received a tip in 1998 stating that Pickton should be investigated in the case of the disappearances. Another call in 1999 informed Canadian police that Pickton had a freezer filled with human flesh on his farm. Investigators interviewed Pickton, even received permission to search his property; however police never actually made the search.

Pickton’s trial began on January 30, 2006 in New Westminster presided by Justice James Williams. Pickton pled not guilty to 27 charges of first-degree murder in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The voir dire phase of the trial took most of the year to determine what evidence might be admitted before the jury. On March 2, one of the 27 counts was rejected by Justice James Williams for lack of evidence.

On August 9, Justice Williams severed the charges, splitting them into one group of six counts and another group of twenty counts. The trial proceeded on the group of six counts. The remaining 20 counts could have been heard in a separate trial, but ultimately were stayed on August 4, 2010.Because of the publication ban, full details of the decision are not publicly available; but the judge has explained that trying all 26 charges at once would put an unreasonable burden on the jury, as the trial could last up to two years, and have an increased chance for a mistrial. The judge also added that the six counts he chose had “materially different” evidence from the other 20.

Though initially set to start January 8, 2007, Pickton faced first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Frey, Abotsway, Papin, Joesbury, Wolfe and Wilson on January 22. On that date, the media ban that was put in place at the beginning of the trial was lifted and for the first time Canadians as well as the rest of the world would hear the gruesome details of what was found during the search of the Pickton property.

The jury and court would hear testimony from investigators that found skulls cut in half with hands and feet stuffed inside. The remains of another victim were stuffed in a garbage bag in the bottom of a trash can and her blood-stained clothing was found in the trailer in which Pickton lived. Part of one victim’s jawbone and teeth were found in the ground beside the slaughterhouse, and a .22 caliber revolver with an attached dildo containing both his and a victim’s DNA was in his laundry room. In a videotaped recording played for the jury, Pickton claimed to have attached the dildo to his weapon as a makeshift silencer. A loaded .22 revolver with a big, spiky black, Hindu made dildo over the barrel and one round fired, boxes of .357 Magnum handgun ammunition, night-vision goggles, two pairs of faux fur-lined handcuffs, a syringe with three milliliters of blue liquid inside, and “Spanish fly” aphrodisiac.

More incriminating videotapes were found, a tape of Pickton’s friend Scott Chubb saying Pickton had told him a good way to kill a female heroin addict was to inject her with windshield-washer fluid. A second tape was played for Pickton, in which an associate named Andrew Bellwood said Pickton mentioned killing prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs. Yes feeding them to the pigs!

The horror of what was found on the farms; the dismembered corpses, the feet, teeth, bones, the wood chipper, and the freezers paled in comparison to the thoughts of the area residents. I will explain. Robert Pickton supplied meat to a great many in the immediate and not so immediate area. Piggy’s Palace sported a reputation of serving a very raunchy crowd. Biker’s, prostitutes and drug addicts comprised the primary customer base. However, most of the residents of the area had patronized Piggy’s Palace at one point or another.  Two mayors, several city council members, local business and civic leaders, ice hockey moms, high school and elementary school students–they all came for functions, dances, concerts and other recreations at Piggy’s Palace. To be brief, he bought the pigs, fattened them, and sold the meat to friends, or roasted them for the bikers, prostitutes, mayors, and Little Leaguers who partied at Piggy’s Palace. The entire city of Port Coquitlam (pop. 53,000), it seemed, was feeding on pigs that had been fed by the suspected serial killer Robert Pickton. Thousands of people had been to the palace and had enjoyed some roasted pork, pork from Robert Pickton’s farm. Let me help you here; Pickton kills victims, Pickton feeds victims to pigs, people eat pigs; therefore people eat victims.

The unusable remains of the pigs Robert slaughtered and served to his friends and neighbors–pig entrails, brains, bones, nerve tissue, and gore–were taken by truck to a rendering plant. Many are certain that the partial remains of the murdered sex workers were also hauled in those trucks. The plant turns animal bones, guts, fish, blood, pig entrails, used restaurant grease, and, now many believe, the remains of sex workers into a number of consumer products, like lipstick base, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. These commodities that improve human appearance are shipped all over the world. The fact is that we may all have bathed in the remains of victims.

Women began disappearing from Vancouver in the 1980’s. At approximately the same time women began disappearing from the streets of Seattle and Sea Tac, WA. In both cases the women were known to be sex workers, drug addicted and or homeless; the type of people described in my book, The Darker Side of Evil, as throw away people. One difference in the two cases is that the women that were vanishing from the streets of Seattle and surrounding areas were being found; at least the remains of the victims were turning up. The remains of many of the missing Seattle women resurfaced in the wild areas around the airport, beside the freeways, and, most infamously, along the banks of the Green River. In Vancouver the victims just seemed to disappear. It is assumed that this is the reason that Vancouver authorities appeared to approach their missing persons’ issues in a seemingly lackadaisical manner. Without any evidence of a crime being committed there was simply no reason to assume that these women had been victims of any type of crime. In stark contrast, it was obvious that the women of Seattle and Sea Tac had been murdered and frightened communities demanded action. It was that call to action that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the monster known as The Green River Killer.

As stated earlier Justice James Williams decided to split the counts against Pickton citing undue stress being placed upon jurors. On December 9, 2007 the jury returned with a verdict that Pickton is not guilty on 6 counts of first-degree murder, but is guilty on 6 counts of second-degree murder. On December 11, 2007 Justice Williams read 18 impact statements from victim’s families; he then sentenced Robert Pickton to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years; the maximum punishment for second-degree murder and equal to the sentence which would have been imposed for a first-degree murder conviction. Also noted earlier was the fact that the decision to try Pickton for the other 20 murders was set aside. Prosecution had taken into account the fact that any additional convictions could not result in any increase to the sentence that Mr. Pickton has already received. Despite numerous appeals, Robert Pickton’s sentence was upheld.

Robert Pickton was accused of the murder of 27 women, however in a conversation between him and an undercover police officer posing as his cellmate Pickton confessed to the murder of 49 women. He went on to tell the officer that he had planned to kill 50 women then stop and that the only reason he was caught was due to getting, “sloppy.” The scary part about this is that it may be true. Initial attempts to have Robert Pickton investigated were all but ignored by authorities. Had a proper investigation been performed when he was accused of the attempted murder of Wendy Lynn Eistetter was committed a great many lives may have been saved. Not only was that not the case, the charges against Pickton was dropped thereby giving him an even greater air of invincibility.

How many Robert Picktons are in the world today? Every major city on this continent has its area known as, “skid row”; urine scented blocks littered with bloodstains, crack vials and dirty condoms.  Within these areas sexual predators stalk their prey. Each day, prostitutes are beaten, raped, robbed, tied up, held down, doused, burned and not to mention….murdered. Most of these incidents never make the local news unless the media, our gateway to the world; choses to notify the public of such occurrences. Unfortunately, by then, it is usually too late for a great many victims and their families. How do we solve these problems? I have never been a fan of the Jerry Springer program but I think he sums it up at the end of each show. As he closes out each taping he looks at the camera as says these simple words, “Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.”  Let’s try that for starters.

 

Accused Serial Killer: Darren Deon Vann

Let me apologize for my absence, I’ve been spending time filming the hit show CHICAGO PD, starring a great, up and coming actor named LaRoyce Hawkins; as well as the upcoming Fox series EMPIRE with acclaimed stunt performer Eddie J. Fernandez and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard. My participation in these productions can be considered minimal at best but hopefully won’t end on the cutting room floor. However minute my role; it was a pleasure to be in the company of these talented actors. Unfortunately, news out of nearby Hammond, Indiana brought me back to earth and returned me to my original calling.

The body of 19 year old Afrikka Hardy was found at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana on October 17th. Friends of Ms. Hardy had begun to text her after her disappearance and became apprehensive when they received suspicious text responses believing that they were from the suspect. Evidence collected from the crime scene led to of 43 year old Darren Deon Vann being considered a suspect. After obtaining a search warrant, authorities arrested Vann near his Gary, Indiana home.

Darren Deon Vann

Darren Deon Vann

Once in custody, Vann began a horrific tale of the internet, prostitution and murder. Vann’s confession led authorities to the discovery of 6 additional bodies in the Northwestern Indiana area. Vann told interrogators how he arranged a rendezvous with Ms. Hardy who posted her “services” on an internet site. While in custody Vann confessed to the murders of Anith Jones, Teaira Batey and four other women from the Hammond/ Gary area. The current number of Northwestern Indiana murder victims in which Vann may be responsible is now at 7. Statements made during the course of his confession lead authorities to believe that the overall death toll may be much higher and his spree may extend back over 20 years.

Darren Vann, the suspect in these serial murders is no stranger to law enforcement. A convicted sex offender from Austin, Texas, Vann pleaded guilty to rape in 2009. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The victim in the 2009 case told police that in 2007 she went to Vann’s apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her. Sentenced to 5 years Vann received 15 months credit for the time he was in jail awaiting trial and was released in 2013. Despite both incidents, Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. In a recent interview, Vann’s ex-wife, who asked not to be named, cited that she had not known Vann to be violent. The woman that happens to be 29 years older than Vann went on to add that she knew a different kind of man, one who was friendly, protective and not abusive. However her adult son had a different view of Darren Vann. Vann’s ex-wife’s son says he was “creepy” and “strange.

Afrikka Hardy

Afrikka Hardy

Vann, who is housed in Lake County Jail, located in Crown Point, IN is being charged with one murder however, other charges are said to be forthcoming. Lake County Jail is the pre-trial detention facility for those awaiting trial but unable to make bail arrangements. Gary and Hammond, Indiana are the cities in which the women’s bodies were located, and both fall within Lake County boundaries. A reliable source within the jail indicates that there had been a buzz among the female residents of the jail in recent months about the disappearance of several area women as well as to whom the culpability may fall. Through the pods and cells of the women’s jail, ladies would speak of missing relatives and friends many of whom had chosen prostitution as a means of survival.

Since his arrest, Darren Vann had been cooperating with authorities. During his interrogation Vann told investigators of the locations of victim’s bodies throughout the abandoned buildings in Gary.  However, Vann’s cooperation ended recently at a magistrate hearing at Lake County Jail. Vann stood stone-faced and refused to acknowledge Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan as she asked the defendant basic questions regarding his name and his ability to understand his

Anith Jones

Anith Jones

charges. In response the accused stood stoically, non-respondent to the questions posed to him by the judge. Sullivan then addressed Vann’s public defender, Matthew Fech, urging him to “tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place.” Ultimately, Vann was held in contempt and the hearing rescheduled for the following week

As we mentioned earlier there had been talk among area residents concerning several disappearances. In The Darker Side of Evil, we use the term, “throwaway people.” Individuals that society cares not to look at therefore are hardly missed if they disappear. The accused, Darren Deon Vann; took advantage of law enforcement’s lackadaisical approach to following up on missing person’s reports. We have human beings vanish from the face of the earth and no one willing to take the time and effort to look at the evidence in front of them to find them. We’ve seen this time and time again. Andre Crawford terrorized Chicago’s Englewood area in the 1990’s. In addition to similar M.O.’s and circumstances, the killer also made use of abandoned residences.

On the other hand we cannot place the blame totally upon law enforcement. In a blink of an eye mothers, daughters, sisters and wives all gone; never to be heard from

Teaira Batey

Teaira Batey

again. If we take time to take an interest in the lives of one another this sort of crime would be impossible. Tupac Shakur once said, “How can the devil take a brother if he is close to me?” Some of these victim’s remains were mummified and skeletal meaning that they had been deceased for several months. People, let’s take time to reconnect with that estranged family member, distant cousin or long lost friend. Let them know that even though you may or may not agree with the way they are living their life; you still care. Inquire about that person you haven’t seen in a while. If we actively and aggressively keep tabs on people in our lives it reduces the likelihood of tragedies such as this occurring. Any information concerning people that we haven’t seen in a while should be forwarded to law enforcement.  Let’s assist these families in receiving closure for their missing loved ones.

 

 

 

The Clairemont Killer-Cleophus Prince Jr.

****WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES****

 

“It’s interesting when people die,” Don Henley, DIRTY LAUNDRY 1982. That phrase sums up America’s obsession with death. Whether its gang violence, serial killing or mass murder; each night we position ourselves in front of the television to receive our nightly fix, fed to us by the media. The focus of “The Darker Side of Evil,” was not only to bring to light the existence of Black serial killers in the U.S; the book also addresses the media’s ability to lessen the body count of these monsters through information and exposure. These predators, Black or White, normally operate within familiar circles and hide in plain sight, normally victimizing women within their own race, yet having no personal ties to. Female prostitutes and drug addicts comprise the target prey of most serial murderers. The disappearance of these individuals from the community go unnoticed a great deal of the time, enabling the perpetrator to continue to kill, virtually unnoticed

Occasionally, serial killers operate outside of the norm. Many choose young males as their choice of quarry. As in the case of Israel Keyes, some operate in multiple geographical areas. A select few choose to cross racial lines in their bloodlust. Such was the case of Cleophus Prince Jr., “The Clairemont Killer”. Prince terrorized the Clairemont community of San Diego County, California from January through September 1990. Though he chose to victimize women as most serial murderers do, his preference was to stalk rape and murder White women while he himself is African-American.

Cleophus Prince Jr. was born in Alabama on July 24, 1967 to Dorothy and Cleophus Prince Sr. Unlike the childhood experiences of most other serial killers, Prince Jr. Had not been abused in his youth and grew up in an environment that, described by his sister Tesa, was gentle and loving. However, Prince did not have a totally violence free upbringing. His father, Cleophus Prince Sr.; spent over 11 years in prison for murder.

As an adolescent, Prince never got into drugs, gangs or any other of the known pitfalls of youth. Growing up he never had any brushes with the law and became a role mode to his 7 younger siblings. After graduating high school in 1987 Cleophus Prince Jr. enlisted in the US Navy. In December 1989, not long after his stint in the service, Prince and his girlfriend Charla Lewis moved into the Buena Vista Gardens; an apartment complex in the Clairemont section of San Diego. Unfortunately, in January 1990, a 21-year-old Tiffany Schultz met her new neighbor.

On January 12, 1990 Prince spotted Tiffany Schultz sunbathing in a bikini just inside the door of her apartment. He then requested a hanger from the building manager; his reason was that he had locked his keys in his automobile. After receiving the hanger, Prince went back to the apartment building instead of heading to the parking lot. Moments later, neighbors that lived in the apartments below Ms. Schultz claimed that they heard noises and running water from her apartment. They described the noise as the sound of someone being beaten.

Neighbors noticed later that no one had seen Tiffany leave her apartment. Phone calls to her home went unanswered. It would be her roommate that endured the horror of discovering Tiffany’s lifeless body in her bedroom, lying face-up, clad only in bikini bottoms. Extending under the bed was her left leg and her right leg was posed at a 60-degree angle. A pathologist would later count 47 separate stab wounds around her left chest area, nearly half of which clustered around her breast. The murders were committed with so much rage that many of the punctures went all the way through the body. The other two areas that had sustained an attack were her neck and upper right thigh.

After an examination it was deemed that Tiffany had not been raped. Her boyfriend was immediately questioned and released by authorities. Tiffany worked part-time as an exotic dancer. Investigators thought that this was an isolated incident of one of her customers following her home and causing her untimely demise. They were dead wrong.

On February 16th, Janene Weinhold dropped her roommate off at work at about 9a.m. The two women were also residents of the Buena Vista apartment complex. Later that day the roommate waited patiently for Janene to pick her up from work. Oddly, the normally dependable 21 year-old was not only late but was not answering the phone. At approximately 8p.m., the roommate finally made it home. The young lady was horrified to find the body of the deceased Janene Weinhold.

The corpse lay on the bedroom floor wearing nothing but a bra. Similar to the first murder, her legs had been left open and she bore a concentration of stab wounds over the right breast. Not similar to the first, this woman had been raped. The frightened roommate soon found the phone and called police.

During the investigation police interviewed neighbors. The neighbor directly below Janene told authorities that earlier, at approximately 11:30 a.m. she saw a Black man sitting on the stairs; head in hands and with a saddened expression on his face. Moments later she heard noise coming from the apartment upstairs, the neighbor thought to call upstairs but just as quickly as they had begun, the noises stopped so she went on with her day.

The following month Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie, another second floor tenant of the Buena Vista apartment complex left her apartment heading to the corner store. On her way she noticed a Black man waiting at the bus stop. Returning from the store she noticed that the man was gone, assuming that he had caught the bus. The next time she would see this man he looked as if he was coming directly toward her in an aggressive manner. Surprisingly the man went right past Anna. Badly shaken, Anna hurried frantically to the door of her apartment. As she fumbled with the keys she heard footsteps coming up the stairs approaching her. Suddenly Anna had an epiphany, the man had never caught the bus, he had been stalking her since the time she saw him at the bus stop. Miraculously she found the right key, ducked into the apartment and locked the door before he made it up the stairs. Panic-stricken she listened with her ear against the door until she was sure he was gone. Anna Cotalessa-Ritchie had escaped the wrath of the Buena Vista Gardens murderer. Unfortunately, the next woman wouldn’t be nearly as lucky.

Eighteen year old Holly Tarr chose to visit her big brother, a Buena Vista Gardens apartment complex tenant, for spring break from her Michigan high school. She decided to bring along her best friend Tammy and both of the high school seniors were looking to enjoy a California spring break. On the morning of April 3rd the two young ladies enjoyed playing tennis in the rec area. The girls then headed to the pool to do some sunbathing and noticed a Black man in the weight room area watching them. Leaving Tammy poolside, Holly returned to the apartment to take a shower. Ten minutes later Tammy followed suit and headed to the apartment. As she approached she heard Holly scream. She ran to the door yelling her friend’s name but received no response. Eventually Tammy’s yelling and knocking at the door drew the attention of a member of the maintenance staff, who opened the door.

Tammy gained entry to the apartment just in time to see the same man that was watching them from the weight room scramble out of the bedroom. The man, holding a cloth to his face and a knife in his hand fell, got up and ran out of the apartment. Tammy ran into the bedroom and saw Holly, wearing only panties and bra, lying on the floor, barely alive. She had been stabbed once through the heart and like the others, her legs had been left spread apart. Tammy cried as she watched her friend gurgle blood and struggle for breath yet slowly expire. EMTs, though expeditious, could not save the dying teenager. As they removed the body, Tammy noticed that the opal ring Holly wore was missing.

As officers closed off the crime scene and searched for evidence they noticed several key clues. A Nike Air Jordan shoeprint was found near the door. The print did not match any shoes in Holly’s brother’s closet. Holly’s blood soaked T-shirt as well as a blood stained knife was found in the parking lot. Tammy told authorities of the Black man that watched them from the weight room. As officers checked the sign in sheet, there was only one name that they weren’t familiar with; a C. Prince. After further investigation it was found that C. Prince was Cleophus Prince Jr., a tenant in the building.

Officers tracked Prince down the following day and questioned him concerning his whereabouts on the day of Holly’s murder. During the interview he refused to be fingerprinted, answered the detective’s questions with a flippant tone and immediately asked if he could leave. Simply working out was not illegal and since the officers had no evidence to the contrary, his request was granted and Prince was allowed to leave without being charged.

The relationship that brought Prince to the Buena Vista apartments had ended earlier that spring. He now shared an apartment with Robert and Robin Romo. He confided to them that during a recent date he had that he in fact had raped his date multiple times during their night out. Not long after the police interview Prince moved out of the apartment complex.

In late May, Prince burglarized the home of Elissa Keller. The 38-year-old Keller shared an apartment with her 18-year-old daughter in the Top of the Hill apartment complex. On May 21st Keller had not reported to work nor was she answering phone calls. Co-workers thought this odd and contacted her about Elissa’s absence. Her daughter, who was away at the time, called and also got no answer. Worried she informed the police of her concerns. The daughter cut her trip short and returned to their apartment late that evening. She was horrified to find the dead body of her mother on the bedroom floor. Identical to the Buena Vista murders, the victim had a cluster of stab wounds to her chest. Elissa had also been beaten in the face, as well as choked. Next to her lifeless body lay her blood soaked underwear turned inside out. Devastated as she spoke with detectives, the daughter informed them that a gold nugget ring her mother wore at all times was missing from her finger.

Investigators walked the crime scene and soon deduced that the perpetrator entered through a window that had been left partially open.  Detectives also noticed a familiar shoe print on the floor nearby. They also noticed a peculiar honeycomb pattern in the blood that was found at the other murder scenes.

On the morning of September 13th, neighbors of the Clark family heard 18-year-old Amber Clark, arguing with a male. Suddenly they heard Amber cry out then silence. Not long after, Pamela Clark returned home from her morning workout. Pamela, who was due to be at work in the afternoon, never arrived to her office. Phone calls made by her colleagues went unanswered. Curious, Pamela’s friend from work stopped by the Clark home and was shocked to find the body of Pamela lying in the doorway of the home. Pamela was on her back, nude, with her arms spread out at 90-degree angles to her body. She had been repeatedly stabbed, with eleven deep wounds to the upper left chest area. From blood trails on the floor, it appeared that she had been stabbed elsewhere and dragged to this location. Near her head lay a bloody knife.

After regaining her composure the friend called the police, however unbeknownst to her, the horror wasn’t over. As she walked through the home she found Amber dead on the bedroom floor. Though she was partially clothed, her breasts were exposed. Like her mother, she too had eleven stab wounds in a cluster on her chest. Another bloody knife was found in the bathroom nearby.

Examining the horrific scene, officers found that money had been taken from the women’s purses. Also missing was Pamela’s wedding rings and other small items. Officers located a torn dining room window screen and identified the window as the point of entry. They also found footprints made by an athletic shoe near the window.

Law enforcement compiled all of the similarities of the recent murders and drew the conclusion that this was the work of a serial killer. The county of San Diego was in an uproar and citizens put great pressure on law enforcement to solve these murders. A city councilman whose district included Clairemont told reporters he was fielding some 300 to 400 calls a day from concerned citizens. He went to meet with some people and found that they were in a state of terror. A task force was assembled to work these cases day and night. The task force consisted of twenty-seven detectives, five sergeants, one lieutenant, and a police captain. The murders were highlighted on America’s Most Wanted to gather any information that the public may have.

Ironically, during the same time frame, San Diego was being plagued by a series of burglaries. The burglar wore socks on his hands to so not to leave fingerprints. The perpetrator of the burglaries was no big secret though, except to law enforcement. Cleophus Prince Jr. bragged to trusted friends at work of the loot he had come across by burglarizing homes, even offering his foreman at Nacomm Communications several pieces of jewelry.  A consummate talker, Prince now began to brag about women he was dating. Prince told friends he was dating an older white woman, a massage therapist. He had a wedding ring he said was hers, and he added that he was having sex with the woman’s daughter as well.

Eventually boasts from Prince’s mouth got to the ears of law enforcement. Neighbors from the various burglaries remembered the older model bluish-gray vehicle with a noisy muffler being present at the scene of burglaries. A BOLO, (Be on the Look Out) was placed on the car description. Soon officers got a tip that a member of the Family Fitness Center on Miramar Road (the same gym that Pamela Clark belonged to) drove such a vehicle. On February 4, 1991, an employee called police and reported that a man had just driven a 1982 Chevy Cavalier through the parking lot. The driver, Prince, was sitting there in his car when officers arrived fifteen minutes later. Though he had been a member of the club, Prince’s membership had been cancelled making him a trespasser and subject to arrest.

During the search of Prince’s vehicle officers found black leather gloves and wool gloves, along with a knife with an eight-inch blade, a steak knife, and two folding knives of different sizes. Though the items were suspicious, none were illegal. Prince could not be held for long on the trespassing charge so after being fingerprinted and having a blood sample taken he was released. Prince immediately left town and headed to his native Birmingham, Alabama.

Prince’s samples were sent to Maryland for testing along with samples from each of the murder scenes. Three weeks later, the police learned that there was a match between Prince and the semen samples from the Weinhold rape and murder. Police also learned that for each of the similar murders, Prince resided in the immediate area. Dispatched to his most recent address officers found that Prince no longer was in the area. However, during the search of his old apartment officers did find an opal ring that matched the description of the one removed from Holly Tarr when she was stabbed.

The police got a tip as to where Prince had gone and were elated to find that he had been arrested in Birmingham for burglary. The down side is that he had made bond and been released. After finding out the nature of San Diego’s interest in him his bondsman was contacted to find out where he was. Prince was then alerted to turn himself in. The following day, accompanied by his parents, he turned himself in to Birmingham authorities.

Initially on five murders had been linked to Prince until searches turned up another item that had belonged to a victim: a unique ring that matched the one missing from Elissa Keller. She was added to the victim list. Among the evidence against Prince was DNA matching several crimes. The Air Jordan shoes owned by Prince left footprints at several crime scenes also. The victims all fit a similar type: white, attractive brunettes that were physically fit. All except Holly Tarr had received the cluster type stab wounds. Her friend Tammy had interrupted her murder.

On July 13, 1993 Prince was convicted of murdering six women – Tiffany Schultz, 20; Janene Weinhold, 21, who was also raped; Holly Tarr, 18; Elissa Keller, 38; and Pamela Clark, 42, and her daughter, Amber, 18 – who were stabbed to death in their homes in Clairemont, University City and East San Diego. He was also convicted of 20 burglaries that occurred at the same time. Cleophus Prince Jr. was sentenced to die by lethal injection. Due to numerous appeals Prince currently resides on death row in San Quentin, as of this posting no death date has been set.Cleophus Prince 3

Normally I refrain from providing commentary on my posts, but I must get this out. Prince was sentenced to death in 1993 however, due to a vast number of appeals he is still alive 21 years later. These cowards find it so easy to prey on unsuspecting women, raping and murdering them without a second thought. But once they are caught, they make deals, file appeals, do any and everything imaginable to either avoid the death penalty or squeeze as many years as they can out of the state in which they are incarcerated. How many times have we seen the perpetrator agree to enter a guilty plea in order to take the death penalty; “off of the table?” Over and over again we have seen the defendant flee to Canada or some other sympathetic country to receive asylum from the death penalty when they gave no sympathy to their victims, brutally murdering just for the sport of it.

In every photo of Cleophus Prince Jr. he is shown smiling. The look on his face illustrates the arrogance and narcissistic demeanor of this individual. Each picture pisses me off more and more especially when I read that this punk is trolling for pen pals. In short, on behalf of the families of his victims and real men everywhere, I would love the opportunity to wipe that goofy ass grin off of his face and give him exactly what he is looking for; an old fashion ass kicking.

Cleophus Prince Crime Scenes

Cleophus Prince Crime Scenes

 

The Personification of Evil……….Carl Panzram

The true crime genre has given me insight on some of the most wicked people to walk the face of the earth. At times I sit in utter amazement as well as in true disgust as I read and research the atrocities committed by the men and women.  The most frightening thought is that these people look exactly like anyone else. There is no visible indicator that would identify any of the people as inherently evil or dangers to humanity, yet as we read we realize that we share this planet with individuals that give no regard to human life.

After hundreds of hours of reading, interviewing and film, I thought that I had reached a point of numbness in respect to the depravity of these crimes. I felt that by constantly being exposed to these crimes I would develop a mental callousness to these people and their exploits and honestly in a way….I had. However, my next subject made me realize that I’m not quite as tough as I thought I was.

In 39 short years on earth, Carl Panzram would murder at least 22 people and sodomize 1000’s of males. Panzram was born on June 28, 1891 in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  The last of 8 children, Panzram was a mischievous child; when he was eight he was convicted of drunk & disorderly conduct behavior. Carl broke into a neighbor’s home when he was 11. He stole anything he could get his hands on, including a handgun. He was quickly found out by his brothers, who beat him unconscious. Panzram received beatings from his brothers regularly and for any reason, no matter how insignificant. Carl was later arrested for the burglary.  In 1903, at the age of 12, he was sent to the Minnesota State Training School. During his two year stay, Panzram was repeatedly raped, beaten, and tortured by staff members. In retaliation, young Carl burned down the school’s warehouse.  By the time he was released in 1905, Carl was a teenage alcoholic filled with hatred and rage. Panzram developed a propensity for running away from home. When he was 14 he ran away and was reportedly gang raped by a group of hobos.

As he entered adulthood, Panzram became a proficient thief and burglar. He went through varied periods of incarceration until he joined the United States Army in 1907. While serving his country Panzram was convicted of larceny and served a prison sentence from 1908 to 1910 at Fort Leavenworth. During his time in prison, Panzram tallied numerous violations of prison rules, each carrying its own punishment, usually merciless beatings from prison guards. Upon his release from Leavenworth in 1910, Panzram realized that he was virtually homeless. Having spent most of his life behind bars, Carl Panzram had become irreversibly and totally evil, void of any level of kindness.

To call Carl Panzram a rapist would be like calling the North Pole “chilly.” From the time he was released from prison, Panzram robbed and raped his way around the country. He rode the trains over vast distances and spent time in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, cutting a path of destruction across the country in a methodical, relentless way that kept police hot on his trail but a step behind. He raped without mercy, rarely passing up an opportunity to take on a new victim.  In his autobiography

Carl Panzram

Carl Panzram

Panzram stated, “Whenever I met one that wasn’t too rusty looking I would make him raise his hands and drop his pants. I wasn’t very particular either. I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human beings.”  Panzram also had an affinity for fires also. In his own words he states, “I burned down old barns, sheds, fences, snow sheds or anything I could, and when I couldn’t burn anything else I would set fire to the grass on the prairies, or the woods, anything and everything.”

In the summer of 1911, Panzram went about the business robbing and burglarizing. He would make his escapes by hopping boxcars and rolling to the next town. He jumped a freight train heading northwest and brought along some stolen guns that he had buried outside town before he got arrested. While he was in a boxcar with two other bums, he saw another opportunity for rape. Just as he was about to make his move a railroad cop appeared.  Panzram got the drop on the officer, raised his pistol and robbed the cop of his watch and whatever money he had. Then, while the other two men watched, he raped the officer at gunpoint. He then forced the other two men to do the same.

Carl continued his travels around the country using various assumed names. On June 1, 1915, Panzram burgled a house in Astoria, Oregon. and was arrested soon after while attempting to sell some of the stolen items. Law enforcement promised Panzram a light sentence if he revealed the whereabouts of the rest of the stolen goods. Though he complied, Panzram was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Feeling double-crossed, he broke out of his cell and burnt down the jail. Panzram was immediately transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary. Once at the prison, Panzram got into trouble almost immediately for rule violations, and punishment became routine; as did his escapes from prison. On May 12, 1918, Carl escaped from the Oregon Prison for good. He sawed through the window bars using a hacksaw blade and jumped down off the prison walls. As frantic guards fired hundreds of rounds at the fleeing convict, Panzram made it into the woods and disappeared from sight. He later hopped a freight train heading east and left the Pacific Northwest forever.

In the summer of 1920, Panzram ended up in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He found an old three-story colonial located at 113 Whitney Avenue. Once inside, Panzram found a large amount of jewelry, bonds and a .45 caliber automatic handgun. The name on the bonds was William Howard Taft; yes the 27th President of the United States. Panzram had burglarized the home of ex-president Taft.  Taft’s Colt .45 caliber handgun would go on to be used in several murders. After stealing everything he could carry, Panzram escaped through the same window that he entered and hit the streets carrying a large bag of loot.

In 1920, Carl Panzram crossed from thief and rapist to serial murderer. He traveled to the lower east side of Manhattan and sold most of the stolen jewelry and bonds. Using some of the money he gained from the burglary, Carl bought a yacht named the Akista. He sailed the boat up the East River, eastward through the Long Island Sound past the south shore of the Bronx, the City of New Rochelle, and Rye and onto the rocky coast of Connecticut. As he traveled he would burglarize several boats, he would steal booze, guns, supplies and anything else that he could make a buck from. He docked the Akista at the New Haven yacht club; it was there that the seed of a murderous future was planted.

While at the yacht club, Panzram noticed the constant flow of sailors. He realized many of them were looking for work on outgoing freighters or local boats. Panzram concocted a scheme to hire sailors as deckhands for his ship then rob rape and kill them. From his confession Carl admits, “Every day or two I would go to New York and hang around 25 South Street and size up the sailors. We would wine and dine and when they were drunk enough they would go to bed. When they were asleep I would get my .45 Colt automatic, this I stole from Mr. Taft’s home, and blow their brains out.” He would then tie a heavy rock to the body and toss the deceased sailor overboard. Panzram murdered at least 10 sailors in this fashion. Local residents became suspicious when he would dock to buy supplies; regularly carrying a different crew. Upon realizing that he was arousing the curiosity of the locals, Carl sailed down the coast of New Jersey with his last two passengers until he reached Long Beach Island, where he intended to kill them both. In late August 1920, a huge gale hit and the Akista smashed to pieces against the rocks. The three men swam to shore and parted ways.

In 1921, Panzram served six months in jail in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for burglary and possession of a loaded handgun. When released he stowed away on a ship and landed in Angola, a Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa. Panzram landed a job with the Sinclair Oil Company as a foreman on an oil-drilling rig. The company was involved in searching for new sources of oil in Africa. Once there Panzram raped and murdered an 11 year old African boy. He gives the account in chilling detail, “A little nigger boy about 11 or 12 years old came bumming around,” he said. Panzram lured the boy back to the Sinclair Oil Company grounds where he sexually assaulted and killed him by bashing his head in with a rock. “I left him there, but first I committed sodomy on him and then I killed him,” Panzram wrote in his confession. “His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader.”

Panzram then moved to an area called Lobito Way and lived in a fishing village. The locals suspected him of murder but had no proof. He eventually hired six natives to assist him in the lucrative but dangerous occupation of crocodile hunting. While in the jungle the six men demanded a share of the profits. In return, Panzram shot each native in the back of the head then fed the bodies to the hungry crocodiles; he then rowed back to Lobito Bay. Realizing that many people saw him leave with the men and come back alone, he knew he had to relocate.

Panzram then headed north up the Congo River toward a place called Point Banana and then made his way to the Gold Coast. Robbing local village farmers along the way, he eventually got enough money to buy a fare to the Canary Islands. From there he stowed away on a ship to Lisbon, Portugal. Upon his arrival, he soon discovered that the local government knew about his crime spree in Africa and cops were on the lookout for him. Fortunately for Panzram he found another ship headed for America. Stowing away on the ship he soon found himself back in the United States by the summer of 1922.

Soon after he arrived in the U.S. Panzram renewed his captain’s license and retrieved the papers for his yacht, the Akista. His plan now was to steal another boat and register it with his yacht’s name. On July 18, 1922, while searching unsuccessfully for a similar boat to steal, Carl came across a 12 year old boy walking alone on the west side of Salem, Massachusetts. The boy’s name was George Henry McMahon who lived at 65 Boston Street in Salem. He had spent most of the day in a neighbor’s restaurant until the owner, Mrs. Margaret Lyons, asked George to run an errand. Panzram kept the boy for 3 hours where he reportedly sodomized the child six times before bashing his head in with a large rock. During the rape, Panzram stuffed magazine pages down the child’s throat and after the murder; the boy was left covered up with tree branches.

In haste, Panzram rushed to separate himself from the crime scene. As he fled the wooded area where he left McMahon’s body; two Salem residents passed by. The pair noticed how nervous and fidgety Panzram seemed, but they continued on their way. Though young George Henry’s body would be found three days later, the crime would go unsolved until 1928.

Panzram continued his search for a replacement boat and early in the summer of 1923 he stole a ship out of a Providence, Rhode Island marina. Panzram sailed the boat up the Hudson River to Yonkers. In Yonkers Carl met 15 year old George Walsoin. Panzram used the teen’s infatuation with sailing to lure him into his clutches. Promising that he would allow the boy to work with him on his trip upriver, Panzram waited til late in the night and sodomized the child.

Arriving in Kingston, a small bay off the Hudson, Panzram met a young man that seemed interested in purchasing the boat.  Panzram took the buyer out to the yacht on the night of June 27 where they had a few drinks together. Unbeknownst to Panzram, the young man had no intention of purchasing the boat but to simply rob Carl of all he possessed. Realizing the true objective of his guest, Panzram shot the man, tied a metal weight onto the body and threw the man overboard; young George Walsoin stared in utter shock.

The next morning, Panzram and Walsoin, sailed into Poughkeepsie, NY.  Panzram went on shore and stole a quantity of fishing nets worth more than $1,000. They set sail again and cruised across the river to Newburgh.  After the boat dropped anchor, George jumped ship and swam to shore. He eventually made his way back to Yonkers the next day and told the police about being sexually assaulted by Panzram.

Area police were on the lookout for Panzram and his ship. After staking out the marina all night, Panzram docked and on the morning of June 29, 1923, the officers boarded the yacht and arrested Panzram. Using his sailing name, “Captain John O’Leary,” Panzram answered questions from the investigating detectives who charged him with sodomy, burglary and robbery. The next day he was placed in the Yonkers City jail awaiting court appearance. Panzram used his boat as collateral to hire an attorney. In turn, the lawyer arranged bail for Panzram, who immediately skipped. The lawyer, attempting to verify his property, was alerted by authorities that the boat was stolen and must be immediately confiscated. The attorney was left with nothing for his services.

On August 26, 1923, Panzram broke into the Larchmont train depot on Chatsworth Avenue. While rifling through passenger luggage he was confronted by a Larchmont cop, Officer Richard Grube, who was making his rounds. After wrestling with and disarming Panzram, he placed him under arrest. Still using the name John O’Leery, Panzram confessed to three additional burglaries. In village court the next morning, Judge Shafer set bail at $5,000 and remanded Panzram to county jail pending grand jury action. While in the village jail, Panzram told cops he was an escaped prisoner from Oregon where he was serving a 17-year sentence for shooting a police officer.

Larchmont police sent telegrams to Oregon. On August 29th, they received a reply citing that “Jeff Baldwin,” was a wanted man in Oregon. Telegrams came from various regions of the United States, each with various names but all describing the same man, verifying that indeed this man is wanted with several bounties on his head. Panzram even tried to claim a $500 bounty on himself using the logic that since he confessed, he should receive the reward.

Larchmont sentenced Panzram to prison for a five year term. He was taken to Dannemora, just 10 miles from the Canadian border, in October 1923. During an escape attempt, he climbed one of the prison walls and immediately fell 30 feet below onto a concrete step.  He broke both legs and ankles. His spine was also badly injured. He received no medical attention for his injuries. He was carried into a cell and dropped on the floor. In July 1928, after serving five long, hard years, Panzram was discharged from Dannemora. Permanently crippled by lack of medical attention and certifiably insane, Carl Panzram was free again.

Consumed with revenge, the six foot 200 lb. Panzram set to put in motion the killing spree he had concocted while incarcerated.  Within two weeks, he committed a dozen burglaries and killed at least one man during a robbery in Baltimore. Fortunately for the citizens of Washington DC, Panzram was arrested for burglary. It was during this period of incarceration that Carl would meet his one and only friend. Through this friendship the world would become aware of the true evil that coursed through the veins of Carl Panzram.

A naïve 26-year-old rookie guard named Henry Lesser had recently been hired to the jail in Washington DC. As Panzram was processed into the jail, an inquisitive Lesser asked Carl why he was here. In response Panzram said with a wry smile, “What I do is reform people.” The young guard monitored Panzram over the next few weeks. Unbeknownst to Lesser, Panzram wasn’t planning to hang around much longer. He had gradually been chipping away at the concrete surrounding the bars in the window of his cell so that he could eventually escape. His plans were thwarted by an overzealous inmate that informed the warden of his plans. As punishment Panzram was handcuffed to a pole and beaten mercilessly by guards. Lesser pitied Panzram and expressed his compassion by giving him a dollar to buy cigarettes and extra food. In a life filled with pain, this was the only act of kindness that was ever expressed to Carl Panzram. The two men became friends and confided in one another. Soon, Panzram agreed to write his life story for Lesser. And so, over the next few weeks, while Lesser supplied pencil and paper, Panzram wrote down the details of his twisted life of hate, depravity and murder.

Panzram wrote a 20,000 word confession. Within this journal of his life, Carl detailed the murders of at least 22 murders, over 1000 rapes and countless robberies and arsons; all eventually verified by the authorities of the various municipalities in which they occurred. As Panzram enlightened society to the true nature of his crimes, he felt obligated to divulge a trick used by criminals of his day to avoid capture. Criminals were frequently able to avoid arrest warrants by changing names. Panzram committed his transgressions against society under several names including, Jefferson Baldwin, Jeffrey Rhodes, John King and John O’Leery.

The document not only gave accounts of crimes but also contained Panzram’s opinions of the criminal justice system of the day. He gave graphic testimony of abuses he suffered while in prison. Prisons at that time were little more than hell holes, castles of pain designed to break unruly inmates; mentally and physically.  Wardens served as the kings of these castles of pain and used the guards to carry out their orders, often utilizing physical torture to ensure obedience. The purpose of prison was strictly punishment and detention with little to no emphasis placed on rehabilitation. Panzram’s descriptions of his treatment during his periods of incarceration led to major changes in corrections in prisons nationwide.

Void of guilt or remorse, Panzram wrote of his tyrannical exploits occurring around the globe. He proudly admitted being the perpetrator of these crimes and gave vivid accounts of each offense, given with disturbing detail. Panzram however, adamantly blamed the commission of these acts on the criminal justice system. He blamed his crimes, not on himself but on society and the prison system, which he said perpetuates itself by producing more criminals.

On November 12, 1928, his trial for burglary began. Acting in his own defense, Panzram was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 25 years. Panzram was promptly transferred to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. While in Leavenworth, Carl was assigned to work in the laundry facilities. Having told the warden that he would kill the first man to bother him, on June 20, 1929 he killed Robert Warnke, foreman of the prison laundry, battering him to death with an iron bar.  During the trial for this murder, the jury took just 45 minutes to arrive at a verdict. Carl Panzram was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

Panzram refused to file any appeals, threatening to kill human rights activists that attempted to appeal on his behalf. On September 5, 1930 Carl Panzram was hung at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner’s face and declared, “I wish the entire human race had one neck, and I had my hands around it!” When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Panzram barked, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”

Such was the end of arguably the most evil man in American history. In his own words, Carl Panzram describes his life, “I am 36 years old and I have been a criminal all of my life. I have 11 felony convictions against me. I have served 20 years of my life in Jails, Reform Schools and prisons. I know why I am a criminal. Others may have different theories as to my life but I have no theory about it. I know the facts. If any man ever was a habitual criminal. I am one. In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both Man and God. If either had made more, I should cheerfully have broken them also. The mere fact that I have done these things is quite sufficient for the average person. Very few people ever consider it worthwhile to wonder why I am what I am and do what I do. All that they think it is necessary to do is to catch me, try me convict me and send me to prison for a few years, make life miserable for me while in prison and then turn me loose again. That is the system that is in practice today in this country. The consequences are that such that any one and every one can see crime and lots of it. Those who are sincere in their desire to put down crime are to be pitied for all of their efforts which accomplish so little in the desired direction. They are the ones who are deceived by their own ignorance and by the trickery and greed of others who profit the most by crime. If you or anyone else will take the trouble and have the intelligence and patience to follow and examine every one of my crimes and actions you will find that I have consistently followed one idea thru all my life. I preyed upon the weak the harmless or unsuspecting. Those I have harmed were all either weaklings either mentally or physically. Those who were strong in either mind or body I first lied to and led into a trap where they were either asleep or drunk or helpless in some way. I always had all the best of it, because I knew ahead of time just what to expect and the others did not. I therefore was strong in my knowledge and stronger in body than those preyed upon. This lesson I was taught by others. Might makes right.”

 

 

 

Charlie and The Brandt Family Secret

As we continue our journey into the twisted minds of those that commit the heinous crime of matricide, we happen across the name Carl “Charlie” Brandt. Born at some point in 1957, Charlie Brandt exhibited no psychotic traits in his youth, resulting in a basically normal childhood.  Normal, that is until January 3, 1971.

Charlie Brandt

Charlie Brandt

On that date, Charlie Brandt shocked his small Fort Wayne, Indiana community. Brandt, only 13 at the time, retrieved a handgun from his parents’ bedroom and shot them as they prepared for bed. Both parents were in the bathroom at the time. Brandt’s mother, 8 months pregnant, was shot several times as she took a bath, her injuries were fatal. Brandt’s father, who survived the shooting, was shot point blank in the back.  Next in young Charlie’s sights was his fifteen year old sister, Angela Brandt.  After finding Angela, Charlie raised the gun, pointed, aimed and……..click; nothing happened. He pulled the trigger several times more but the gun never fired. Angela calmed her younger brother down and ran to the neighbors to call the authorities.

During questioning, Charlie’s father, Herbert Brandt, told authorities that it was his son that had committed these heinous acts. Police didn’t know what to do with their 13-year-old killer. Charlie was too young to be held criminally responsible for his crimes; therefore he never was charged with murder. Indiana courts ordered that Charlie undergo three separate psychological evaluations. The evaluations were proved all but useless. Psychiatrist Ronald Pancner along with two colleagues labeled Charlie a mystery.  The child showed no signs of serious mental illness. After talking with Charlie about his friends, his family and his interests, Dr. Pancner reported to the courts that Charlie showed no evidence of diminished mental ability or capacity. The reports found that the child did well in school and loved a family that loved him; in other words, there was nothing to diagnose.

The State of Indiana saw fit to place Charlie in a psychiatric hospital, where he stayed just over a year — only until his forgiving father could win his release. Upon his discharge, Herbert Brandt moved the entire family, including Charlie, to Florida. Mr. Brandt forced Angela and Charlie to swear to never speak of this matter. Even Charlie’s two baby sisters, too young to remember, were never told the truth about their mother’s death. The incident is never spoken of again.

Fast forward to September 2004, the impending threat of Hurricane Ivan has Floridians evacuating their homes. Now married, Charlie Brandt is urged by his niece, Michelle Jones, to move him and his wife Teri into her home in Maitland, Florida in lieu of the approaching hurricane. Michelle, a successful television executive, was excited about having her aunt and uncle as guests and invited friends over regularly to socialize. On the evening of September 13, the good times would come to a tragic end.

Due to incessant bickering between Charlie and Teri, Michelle had warded off all would be visitors that evening.  Expected guests were told by phone that the evening’s festivities would be cancelled. In the background the drunken bantering of the Brands was clearly audible. Eventually however, the phone calls were no longer being answered at Michelle’s home which worried several relatives and friends, including Michelle’s mother, Mary Lou Jones.

On September 15, Mary Lou convinced Debbie Knight, a mutual friend of her and her daughter, to stop by Michelle’s home.  While on the phone with Mary Lou Debbie knocked on the doors and windows but got no answer. Looking for entrance, Debbie noticed the garage door. Once inside, Debbie was horrified to find Charlie Brandt’s body hanging from the rafters. Due to sweltering temperatures and the length of time since his death, Brandt’s body was in a state of decomposition. Ms. Knight then contacted Maitland police. The officers found Teri Brandt lying on the couch dead, she had been stabbed seven times in the chest.  Nothing could prepare officers for what they would find next.  In the master bedroom, the body of Michelle Jones was found decapitated. She had been disemboweled with her heart removed. On the bed next to her laid her head. It was obvious to the authorities that Charlie Brandt had murdered the women then taken his own life.

What seemed like the end of the investigation was only the beginning. Mary Lou Jones was livid to find out about the 1971 murder of Charlie’s mother and the facts surrounding the case. Angela had revealed to investigators the gruesome events of that evening. Even more shocking was the shrine Charlie had built in his own home. The truth was that Charlie Brandt had been infatuated with Michelle for years. Along with a graphic poster detailing the female anatomy, hundreds of pictures of Michelle had been collected by Brandt. Combined with lingerie photos, it was clear why Brandt called Michelle his,”Victoria’s Secret.”

After investigating the life of Charlie Brandt, law enforcement officials began looking at cold cases. Profilers were positive that Michelle was not the first person he murdered in that fashion. Upon closer inspection, and with DNA evidence, it was found that at least three murders can be attributed to Carl “Charlie” Brandt. Officials admit, off the record, that considering the travels of Brandt and the similarities in murder style; Brandt’s body count over a thirty year period may be astronomical.

 

 

Horror at Lake Ng

When researching topics to be used as subject matter for my books & blogs, I seek out illustrations of man’s disregard for human life. In my book, “The Darker Side of Evil,” we take a look at 10 African-American murderers who operated in complete anonymity while destroying communities from the inside out and how the media helped them do it. In each blog post, I’ve examined the lives of serial murderers throughout American history and their crimes against humanity.

There are several adjectives that I may use to describe my personal feelings for these perpetrators and their acts of depravity. Anger, hatred and disgust are a few that immediately come to mind. Three days ago I began researching the exploits of Leonard Lake and Charles Ng; at the end, there was only one word to describe my feelings for the last 72 hours; sheer and utter horror.

Born in Hong Kong on December 24, 1960, Charles Chi-Tat Ng, (Charles Ng) was born to a wealthy corporate executive and his wife.  Throughout his childhood Charles exhibited a compulsion for theft which led to his constant expulsion from various schools throughout his youth and into his teenage years. After moving to the United States as a young man, Ng was involved in a hit and run. To avoid consequences and with the help of a recruiting sergeant that provided falsified documents, Ng; who was not a U.S. citizen, joined the Marine Corp in 1980. After serving less than a year, Ng was charged with,   escape from confinement, attempted desertion andtheft of heavy weaponry. Sentenced to 14 years, Ng’s sentence was commuted and he was dishonorably discharged and released in 1982.

The story of Leonard Lake begins in San Francisco. Born on October 29th of that year young Leonard would be raised by his grandparents from the age of six due to his parents separation. From his youth, Lake exhibited a preoccupation with pornography from a young age, often taking nude photos of his sisters. Encouraged by his grandmother, Lake was said to have participated in sex with his elder sisters regularly until he enlisted into the Marine Corps in 1965.

Lake endured two tours of duty in Vietnam. It was during his time in the service that he was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder and given a medical discharge in 1971. Obsessed with the “hippie,” lifestyle, Lake lived on communes of such that practiced the ideology of free love throughout the seventies.  During his hippy years Lake would often produce, direct and star in his own porno movies. He also developed the desire to “possess,” slaves. Lake would often make bondage and other deviant sexual behavior an aspect of his self-produced films.  Toward the end of the decade, Lake would eventually be charged and convicted for grand theft. Released from custody in 1980, he soon married Claralyn Balasz, a woman he had met back in 1977. Not long after that he met Charles Ng.

Charles Ng & Leonard Lake

Charles Ng & Leonard Lake

Having the Marine Corp in common the two men developed other shared interests, such as firearms. They began collecting automatic weapons from illegal sources, and a team of federal agents raided their ranch in April 1982, arresting Lake and Ng for firearms violations. Due to his past charge of escape, Ng was denied bail. Lake, however, was granted a $6,000 bond which he posted and skipped on immediately. Lake, using the name Charles Gunnar, floated around northern California. Claralyn Balasz divorced Lake during this time though they remained friends.

Ng would be sentenced and confined at Leavenworth federal penitentiary. Paroled after 18 months, Ng soon resumed his relationship with Lake and moved with him to a cabin owned by the family of Claralyn Balasz in Wilseyville, California. Next to the cabin, Lake constructed a bunker, similar to a dungeon. Within the fortified walls of this dungeon the men kept video equipment and illegal weapons. The men also kept instruments of torture. On this unassuming property, atrocities were committed that would shock society to its core. The actual number of people that these men abducted, tortured, raped and murdered remain unknown still today.

Initially, Lake and then Ng once released; begin killing the neighbors and their families. Lake had already murdered his own brother Donald, who had stopped by for a visit. Acquaintances such as Charles Gunnar had been killed for his money and identity. Rural neighbors Lonnie Bond, his girlfriend Brenda O’Connor and their infant son, Lonnie Jr. had been murdered as well as Harvey and Deborah Dubs and their young son, Sean. In these instances, the men and children were killed immediately. The women were held hostage while being raped and tortured repeatedly.

On June 2, 1985, Ng was spotted shoplifting by a local hardware store clerk. The clerk immediately notified authorities, however, when they arrived, Ng had left the premises. The clerk informed the responding officer that the white Honda Prelude that the thief had arrived in still remained in the lot. In the car sat Leonard Lake and when confronted by the officers, Lake identified himself to them as Robin Stapley and had a driver’s license in that name. The initial search of the vehicle turned up the vise Ng had stolen as well as a .22 caliber revolver with a silencer. The officers ran the car to find that it was registered to a Paul Costner. Both Robin Stapley and Paul Costner had been previously reported missing. Lake was placed under arrest and transported to the police station.

At the station, Lake confessed his real name and that he was a wanted fugitive. He also told authorities that the name of the shoplifter was Charles Ng. After requesting a cup of water Lake was found convulsing and foaming from the mouth. It was found later that Lake swallowed a cyanide pill that had been taped to his shirt lapel.

During the search of the vehicle police noticed several blood stains throughout the car. Noticed also were several shell casings as well as a bullet hole in the interior of the vehicle. Within the glove box several ID’s and credit cards in different names were found along with utility bills for the cabin in Wilseyville in name of Claralyn Balasz.

Police contacted Claralyn Balasz about the discovery and questioned her concerning Ng. After some prodding, she eventually admitted taking Ng to run various errands and dropping Ng. off at the airport. Balasz also agreed to take officers to the cabin in Wilseyville.

The following day, Balasz accompanied by Lake’s mother, Gloria Eberling at a grocery store located on Highway 88 a short distance from the cabin. The ladies led the officers up Blue Mountain road to the cabin. As they approached the officers felt an ominous presence come over them as they gazed upon the structure comprised of cement blocks next to the small cabin. The cabin consisted simply of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Upon entering, the officers immediately noticed a blood-like spray on the wall. Spotted next was a small caliber bullet hole in the wall and one in the floor of the kitchen. The master bedroom held a four-poster bed that had electrical cords tied to each of its posts. Bolted through the floor at each corner of the bed were heavy eyebolts and above it, a 250-watt floodlight had been fastened to the wall.

The officers then found lingerie of assorted sizes and types; all with blood stains. Throughout the house was video equipment, all registered to a person named Harvey Dubs. Unbeknownst to the officer at that time, Dubs, his wife and child; had been missing since July 24, 1984. They had been last seen at the cabin by neighbors.

The law enforcement officials immediately left to obtain a search warrant for the rest of the property. As they waited on the warrant, officers returned to the property and conducted a brief interview with Balasz and Eberling. Fearing possible implication, the women stubbornly refused to answer any of the officers questions. Aware that a tremendous evil had been committed on this property the officers asked Balasz for permission to open the bunker. Her advice to them was to take it up with Mr. Ng.

The following day, Tuesday, June 4, 1985, a full search of the property was authorized. A task force comprised of several officers was assembled to conduct the search. San Francisco police chief, Cornelius Murphy, authorized a twelve-man unit and Sheriff Ballard of Calaveras County assembled a team of five men and placed Lieutenant Bob Bunning in charge. Deputy Chief of Inspectors Joseph Lordan was placed in charge of the San Francisco detachment. As they began the search around the bunker officers noticed a trench which seemed to contain clothing coming from underground, all with a top coat of lye.

Noticing that a nearby house seemed abandoned, officers contacted the landlord of the property, Bo Carter. During an interview Mr. Carter told officers that when he had recently come to collect rent from his tenants he was greeted by a man claiming his name was Charles Gunnar. The man explained to Carter that the tenants, Lonnie Bond, his partner Brenda O’Connor, their infant son Lonnie Jr. and another man named Robin Stapley had abruptly moved ten days prior. Carter also informed officers that an eroded bank near the boundary between the two properties had been recently dug up.

The officers entered the bunker. The main room was a twenty-foot by twelve-foot workshop area with a range of hand tools and power saws hanging on a plywood wall next to a workbench. The tools were found to be encrusted with a dried brownish substance, possibly blood. They soon found that the plywood tool rack was in fact a door leading to a smaller room. Inside were a double bed, a side table, books and a reading lamp. On one wall was a wooden plaque with the legend “Operation Miranda” carved into it. The room also contained military equipment including uniforms, boots and a vast array of weapons, including assault rifles, shotguns and machine guns. On the floor, police found a work shirt and a baseball cap with the words “Dennis Moving Service” embroidered on them. Forensic technicians recovered several fingerprints from the weapons and tools, prints that were later positively identified as belonging to Ng and Lake.

Outside investigators recovered two bones beside the driveway. Initially unsure if they were human, the question would soon be answered as a deputy found a human foot protruding from the ground. The grounds of the ranch were dug up and 12 corpses were uncovered in shallow graves. With the help of sheriff’s canine dogs they uprooted some fifty pounds of human skeletons and fragmented bones, teeth and partial remains of missing men, women and children. Among these victims were two families: Harvey Dubs and his wife, Deborah, and baby son, Sean; and Lonnie Bond and Brenda O’Connor and their baby son, Lonnie Bond Jr. The women had been sexually abused and killed after their husbands and infants were disposed of. Five of the bodies were of men lured to the ranch to be robbed and killed including Robin Stapley and Paul Cosner.   Another corpse was identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, who knew Ng because her boyfriend had once been his cellmate in prison. Investigators continued to uncover one horror after another as more skeletons were sorted out of scattered fragments.

Police also found an incinerator with thick fireproof walls that were capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. Within this apparatus were charred fragments of human bones (in excess of 45 pounds in total), but they were unable to determine the identity of the victims or their number. Additionally, the state attorney urged the public to help identify 15 bodies that had been uprooted on the ranch grounds.

Later, a sealed five gallon bucket was uncovered which contained a check book in the name of Robin Scott Stapley, jewelry, credit cards, driver’s licenses, wallets and two videotapes without labels and a third marked “M. Ladies Kathy/Brenda.”  The first two videos were later viewed, the first showing Lake and Balasz at a Thanksgiving dinner.  On the second, Lake had been filmed discussing his greatest fantasy – kidnapping a woman and enslaving her.  The third video was the most disturbing; it showed a young woman, identified as 18-year-old Kathleen Allen, chained to a chair and later forced to perform a striptease while being taunted by Lake and Ng.  In another part of the video, Ng could be seen clearly cavorting on a bed with Kathy while Lake took still photographs. The tape also included footage of Brenda O’Connor begging for information regarding her baby.  In answer, Lake tells her “Your baby is sound asleep, like a rock.”  Eventually, when the constant barrage of taunts and threats breaks her resolve, Brenda agrees to cooperate.  Later in the tape she can be heard taking a shower with both men. On tape, Lake was heard to say, “By cooperating with us, that means you will stay here as a prisoner, you will work for us, you will wash for us, you will fuck for us. Or you can say no, in which case we’ll tie you to the bed, we’ll rape you, and then we’ll take you outside and shoot you. Your choice!”

Inside the cabin, between blood soaked mattresses officers found a diary written by Leonard Lake that described in chilling detail how he and Ng had selected, raped, and murdered numerous victims. His diary was crammed with sexual fantasies involving sex slaves he planned to keep in his bunker after a nuclear holocaust. He wrote: “God meant woman for cooking, cleaning house and sex. And when they are not in use, they should be locked up.” On another page he scribbled, “If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it.” No one knows how many people Lake killed during his lifetime, but it is thought that his first victim was his brother, Donald.

Leonard Lake escaped prosecution, having died by ingesting the cyanide pill. Ng caught a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago; from there his whereabouts were unknown. His location remained a mystery until July 6, 1985. On that date Ng was arrested while shoplifting food from a market in Calgary, Alberta.  On November 29, 1988, a Canadian judge ruled that Ng should be extradited to California for trial. Legal maneuvers stalled his extradition until 1991. By firing and hiring court appointed attorneys, Ng was able to delay the commencement of his trial until August 21, 1998. In the longest and most expensive trial in California history, Charles Ng was convicted of 12 counts of murder in February 1999. On May 3, 1999 Charles Ng was sentenced to death and currently resides on death row at San Quentin State Prison. To date there is no actual count of the victims of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake.

 

 

In The Beginning, There Was …………. Ed Gein

Most of us are familiar with the movie, “Silence of The Lambs,” and the character, killer Buffalo Bill. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and similar horror movie characters, have scared us into a box office frenzy. During the prologue and epilogue of the horror classic, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” we see the phrase, “based on actual events.” The mere idea that any of these occurrences may have actually taken place is enough to shake the average person to their core. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it; there was not a family of cannibals in Texas that used human meat in their chili recipes.  However, all of these stories do have something in common. These as well as most modern slasher flicks were created based loosely on the life and acts of one man, Ed Gein.

Ed Gein

Ed Gein

Born August 27, 1906, researching Ed Gein was a true excursion into the macabre. Raised on a farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin, Ed experienced a peculiar relationship with his mother Augusta. Augusta Gein taught her two boys, Edward and Henry that all women (except herself) were naturally prostitutes and instruments of the devil; similar to the mother/son relationship depicted in the motion picture franchise, “Psycho.” During their youth, the Gein boys were allowed to leave the farm for the sole purpose of attending school as she demanded their presence, (especially that of Ed) constantly. Augusta, a strict and overbearing woman, openly and regularly belittled her husband George in the presence of Ed and Henry. George Gein was an alcoholic and seldom remained employed for any considerable amount of time. Augusta hated her husband and felt that her children were destined to follow in his footsteps.

In May of 1944, Henry and Ed were burning trash. As the two men worked the fire got out of control and drew the immediate attention of the local fire department. Working feverishly, the firemen soon extinguish the blaze. After all the smoke is cleared, Ed finds that his brother Henry is now missing. With the assistance of several sheriffs’ deputies, a search is begun for the missing Henry Gein. Late that evening his body is found face down in the brush. Initially, due to the lack of any visible injuries, it was thought that Henry died due to heart failure and paperwork was officially documented death from natural causes. However, though it was never publicized, bruises were later found on Henry’s head leading some investigators to believe that Ed had actually killed Henry.  This would not be the last time Ed Gein was suspected of murder.

After the passing of Henry, the relationship between Ed and Augusta become more and more strange. Ed also develops an interest in the occult. He began purchasing books, items and relics relating to death cults, cannibalism and Nazis. In 1945 Augusta has a stroke, soon followed by a second; on December 29, 1945, Augusta Gein died. It was at this time that Ed Gein would depart on a one way journey into depravity.

Between 1947 and 1957 several disappearances occurred in and around Plainfield. Witnesses also claim that Ed Gein was seen countless times visiting various cemeteries in the area. The mystery surrounding the activities of Ed Gein would come to light with the 1957 disappearance of Plainfield hardware store owner Bernice Worden. Worden’s son told investigators that Gein was the last person in the store the evening before the disappearance, saying he would return the next morning for a gallon of anti-freeze. A register receipt confirmed that Gein indeed return for the anti-freeze in the morning and Worden had not been seen since.

After obtaining a warrant to search Gein’s property, investigators found Worden’s decapitated body in a shed, hung upside down by ropes at her wrists, with a crossbar at her ankles. She had been gutted like an animal that had been hunted.  Officers then searched the home of Ed Gein; below is a list of what was found:

  • Four noses
  • Whole human bones and fragments
  • Nine masks of human skin
  • Bowls made from human skulls
  • Ten female heads with the tops sawn off
  • Human skin covering several chair seats
  • Mary Hogan’s head in a paper bag
  • Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack
  • Nine vulvae in a shoe box
  • A belt made from female human nipples
  • Skulls on his bedposts
  • A pair of lips on a drawstring for a window shade
  • A lampshade made from the skin of a human face
  • Shrunken heads human facial skins, carefully peeled from corpses and used by Gein as masks

During questioning Gein told investigators that since his mother’s death, he had decided that he wanted to be a woman. He then struck upon the idea of creating a woman suit out of the skin of female carcasses. He confessed to digging up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother. Gein would rob the graves, take the bodies home, skin and tan the hides to create his suit. Of the disappearances, Gein would admit to the murders of Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan only. Investigators site the reason for his admission to these murders as due to their heads being found in his possession.

On November 21, 1957 the trial of Ed Gein began. He was found at the time to be legally insane and unfit to stand trial. Gein was sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane until 1968 when was determined he was sane enough to stand trial. He was found guilty of one count of first degree murder but also diagnosed as legally insane due to schizophrenia and spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory failure at the Mendota Mental Health Institute.