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LONDON’S UNDER-REPORTED UNDERWORLD: PART THREE, THE DOUBLE MURDER WHICH THE PRESS IGNORED
Every day there is news of stabbings and shootings in London linked to gang crime. But few newspapers seek to find out what exactly is going on in the streets of London. Totalcrime seeks to shed light on the violence.
By Chris Summers 16 July 2021
A double murder trial would have once merited front page coverage in British newspapers but nowadays the media is more discerning and when both victims are ethnic Albanians the eyes of most news editors tend to glaze over.
The perfect murder victim, when it comes to news coverage, is an attractive white middle class woman.
I am not saying the media is institutionally racist but when the victim is a black, Asian or East European man then it is unlikely the murder trial will garner much coverage.
Having said all that, it is pretty amazing that I was the only journalist who covered the trial in Court 14 of the Old Bailey.
Three men went on trial for the murder of Shkelqim Paja, 36, and his cousin, Arber Fesko, 30.
Paja had been living in England since 1997 and had a wife and three children. Fesko had only recently moved to London from Luxembourg.
Both men were stabbed to death on the pavement outside a primary school in Mill Hill, north London one night a few days before Christmas 2019.
Fesko was stabbed 14 times and Paja had 28 wounds.
But the bodies were not found at the scene of the crime. Paja’s corpse was dumped in undergrowth in Hog Lane, near Elstree, Hertfordshire while Fesko’s body turned up in the boot of a Mercedes car half a mile from where he was attacked.
That is where the police got their first break.
Kaziku Tuwizana – known to friends and associates as Paris – was in the driver’s seat of the Mercedes.
He had been stabbed in the arm and he staggered into the Sophe Lounge Persian restaurant in Scratchwood on the night of 19 December 2019 because he feared he was going to bleed to death.
Paris was patched up in hospital and then interrogated by detectives, who did not believe a word of the story he told them.
He claimed he had been out “driving” with two cousins when he saw a group of men fighting in Courtland Avenue. He claimed he got out to help but was then knocked unconscious and bundled into the Mercedes.
Paris was from south London and his “cousins” lived in east London so what were they doing in an obscure side road in north-west London?
The murder squad detectives were soon on the trail of Besnik Berisha, an Albanian drug dealer and gangster.
Paja’s wife Rezata told the police her husband had agreed to meet Berisha in Courtland Avenue in order to pay back a debt.
But she said he believed Berisha was planning something behind his back and was “very worried.”
It would then become clear Tuwizana and Berisha knew each other and had both travelled to Courtland Avenue from Stratford in east London on the night of the murders. Not only that but they picked up three other men – Bobby Rogers, Kye Abrahams and Andrew Fofie – en route.
During the trial Tuwizana – who was ably defended by barrister James Scobie QC – would change his story.
He admitted he knew Berisha but claimed they were involved in a gang which carried out “surveillance burglaries” – robbing the premises of rival drug dealers after scoping out the properties.
Tuwizana said they went to meet Paja because he was part of the same gang and they were all going to scope out a new target.
He said he was suddenly stabbed and knocked out by Fesko and, when he came round, he jumped into the Mercedes – which belonged to Paja – and sped off, hoping to get to his girlfriend’s flat in Colchester, Essex. But four minutes later he was forced to pull over because of his injury.
Berisha, who had a notorious reputation in the London underworld, would also pluck an equally unlikely tale out of the air.
He claimed he walked up to Paja, exchanged a few good-natured words in Albanian and was then suddenly struck over the head by Fesko.
Berisha claimed he meekly returned to his van and sat there while a melee broke out on the pavement, during which Paja and Fesko must have received their fatal injuries.
Prosecutor Jane Bickerstaff QC claimed his version of events was “unrealistic nonsense.”
Cross examining him she said: “You have been telling this jury about this criminal empire you are involved in. You are a ruthless character and there is no way you would just accept it and meekly walk away like a coward.”
“I never said I was brave,” replied Berisha.
“So you want the jury to believe you behaved like a coward?”
“Yes,” he replied.
The third defendant, Bobby Rogers, said he stayed in the back of the van during the whole incident and had not stabbed anyone. He was acquitted.
The trial was told Abrahams and Fofie had both given “no comment” answers to police during police interviews but “no further action” had been taken against them because of a lack of forensic and mobile phone evidence to place them at the scene.
While it was not technically a cut throat defence because none of the three blamed their co-defendants, the effect was similar as Berisha and Tuwizana both feigned innocence and suggested someone else must have been responsible for the horrific injuries sustained by Paja and Fesko.
On 16 July Berisha was jailed for life with a minimum term of 33 years and Tuwizana was told he must serve at least 31 years behind bars.
Judge John Hillen QC, told them: “The quiet streets of this country are not to be used for the lawless exacting of revenge for criminals. Neither of you have shown one jot of remorse or compassion, obsessed with trying to save your own skin.”
Detective Sergeant Pete Walker, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “Throughout this investigation, the two defendants have refused to say why they carried out this brutal attack on Shkelqim Paja and Arber Fesko. However, the weight of evidence my team has gathered has spoken for itself and provided irrefutable evidence that both of these men were involved in carrying out two brutal murders.
Nobody will ever know what really happened that night in Courtland Avenue or what was Berisha’s original plan.
But the jury was convinced that Berisha and Tuwizana were lying, and lying for a reason – because they were jointly responsible for the murders.
The trial also heard that another man, Mirjan Ismaili, is being sought by police in connection with the case but has fled the country. Ismaili, who was related to Paja’s wife, was a friend of Berisha.
The pair will be sentenced later. The detectives will be lucky if the case merits a paragraph in the newspapers.
LONDON’S UNDER-REPORTED UNDERWORLD: PART TWO, THE TEFLON TEENAGER
By Chris Summers 16 June 2021
Most people get through their whole lives without being accused of a serious crime so to be accused of murder twice before reaching the age of 19 might to be quite an achievement.
And to beat the rap twice is even more extraordinary.
But that is what has happened to Kaleel Nyeila, who was this week acquitted of the murder of Leon Maxwell.
It came 26 months after he was acquitted of murdering Jason Isaacs (pictured).
So who is Nyeila and what does his story tell us about gang crime in London?
At his second murder trial Nyeila went into the witness box and testified about his life and his descent into crime.
He lived in Orchard Gate, a peaceful road a stone’s throw from Sudbury Town tube station in north-west London, where semi-detached houses sell for up to £540,000.
But by the age of 15 he was working as a “runner” for a gang in nearby Rayners Lane.
Nyeila said he earned around £200 a week taking cannabis to customers.
Asked by prosecutor Catherine Pattison QC why he did it, he replied: “I was foolish and I wanted to earn money.”
He said he later moved up to become a dealer and would earn up to £400 a week.
The Rayners Lane gang developed a bitter rivalry with youths in neighbouring Northolt, who have become known as the N-Gang.
It is not clear if Jason Isaacs, 18, was an N-Gang member but in November 2016 he travelled from his home in Northolt to King’s Road, Harrow – Rayners Lane gang territory – and took a selfie on Instagram in which he wrote: “Lurk round a K tryna leave mans head on the curb.”
That selfie, seen by the Rayners Lane gang as provocation, signed Jason’s death warrant.
In November 2017 he was attacked as he walked home from a friend’s house later at night.
Four men on two mopeds chased Jason up an alley in Northolt and stabbed him. He collapsed in the front garden of a house and died in hospital three days later.
It was later alleged that Nyeila was one of the four men involved in the attack.
But in late 2017 Nyeila had “problems” with older members of the Rayners Lane gang after a dispute about some drugs.
Instead of quitting the drugs game altogether, he upped sticks and began dealing cannabis in Wealdstone, where he somehow hooked up with the Greyset Gang.
By the spring of 2018 he was thick as thieves with the gang’s leader, Saharded Hassan, who was 27, and other Greyset members who were closer to his age – Irwin Constable, Rajae Heslop, Abdi Karama, Armani Ogilvie-Pitt, and Samuel Agyeman.
The Greyset Gang had a “beef” with the Queensbury Boys, whose turf was a mile or so to the east, near the quaint-sounding Honeypot Lane.
Nyeila posted a video of himself and a friend driving around Queensbury and it was alleged this had been an attempt to goad the Queensbury Boys.
At his trial he denied he was aware of any gang rivalry and said: “My generation are always taking video and posting it on social media. I know it looks pointless.”
At 9.02pm on 1 May 2018 Leon Maxwell, a 38-year-old with ties to the Queensbury Boys, was shot dead outside Queensbury tube station. The killer was a pillion passenger on a moped.
Maxwell (pictured above) was a 20-stone bodybuilder known by the street names Sykes or 2Swift.
In 2004 Maxwell had been convicted of killing Patrick Fitzharris, 22, after an argument about £75 worth of drugs.
He was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 12 years.
Detectives did not believe Maxwell himself was the target. The Greyset Gang simply wanted to kill any Queensbury Boys member to send out a message.
A few months later Nyeila was arrested by detectives investigating the Jason Isaacs murder.
He went on trial at the Old Bailey along with a former friend in the Rayners Lane gang, Joel Amade.
Amade was convicted of murder in April 2019 and jailed for life but Nyeila was found not guilty.
But a few months later Nyeila was arrested again and this time charged with the murder of Maxwell, along with Hassan, Constable, Heslop, Karama, Ogilvie-Pitt, and Agyeman, who was at the time still 17 and could not be named until he turned 18.
The Leon Maxwell murder trial was severed with the shooter, Constable, the moped rider, Heslop, and the gang leader and prime organiser, Hassan, put on trial first.
In March 2021 they were all found guilty of murder and jailed for life, although news of their sentencing was hidden by reporting restrictions intended to prevent the jury at the second trial from being prejudiced.
It can now be reported that Hassan was given a minimum term of 32 years, Heslop was given a tariff of 28 years and Constable got 24 years.
In 2021 Nyeila, Karama, Ogilvie-Pitt and Agyeman then went on trial.
They were also accused of murder, on the grounds of joint enterprise, although their roles were lesser and involved providing the stolen moped used in the crime and disposing of it along with the clothes and the weapon.
On 16 June 2021 Nyeila, Karama, Ogilvie-Pitt and Agyeman were acquitted of the murder of Maxwell.
Nyeila is now a free man again.
Because he was never convicted the police have never released his mugshot, so there is no available photo of him.
At one point in his trial the prosecutor, Ms Pattison, read out a list of names and Nyeila confirmed they were friends of his who had been murdered – Che Labastide-Wellington, 17, also known as Grimz, who was killed in 2015, Hussein Ahmed, 19, who had the street name Sparts, stabbed to death in November 2016, and Quamari Barnes aka Q-Dotz, 15, stabbed in January 2017.
It remains to be seen what lessons Nyeila will learn from his experience.
But his family will no doubt hope he wakes up and smells the coffee.
The coronavirus pandemic naturally takes up a lot of room in our newspapers and on our TV channels but why are only some crimes – like the murder of Sarah Everard – given extensive coverage? Totalcrime is going to give you a glimpse into London’s underworld in the 21st century.
LONDON’S UNDER-REPORTED UNDERWORLD: PART ONE, THE MONSTER LINE MURDERS
by Chris Summers 26 May 2021
Drug addicts and their dealers live among us but they almost exist in another dimension.
While most of us are preoccupied by worries about jobs, children, health, finances and relationships, the addicts and their dealers are far more focused.
Junkies need to find the drugs to feed their habit – and often go to extreme ends to achieve that aim – while the dealers want to make as much money as possible and spend their time worrying about being ripped off, robbed or arrested.
This was never more clear than in the case of the deaths of William Algar (pictured above) – who was known as Blaise – and Ebrima “Brim” Cham, who were killed within a few days of each other in December 2019.
A trial at the Old Bailey, which ended on 26 May 2021, heard the dealers and the addicts got in touch by mobile phone and the dealer’s phone number never changed, even if the dealer who owned the phone did.
Originally Blaise was supplying heroin and crack on behalf of a Turkish dealer called Monster.
But in the summer of 2019 that dealer sold “the Monster line” to a Somali youth called Drippa.
When Monster handed over the phone he was effectively handing over dozens or hundreds of customers, and because they were addicts they were very regular customers.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told the trial jury: “The drug-dealing world is one of rivalries, robberies and turf wars. And when drug dealers fall out, they do not take their problems to the police. Instead, they take things into their own hands – usually with violence and often ending in either death or serious injury.”
William Algar, 53, was an accomplished jazz trumpeter who was widely respected in musical circles but he had fallen on hard times after becoming hooked on Class A drugs.
Algar, or Blaise as he was better known, was a gentle soul and he lived in Nowell Road, Barnes, about 100 yards from Hammersmith Bridge in west London.
His home had been turned into a hub for supplying heroin and crack to addicts and other buyers.
Originally Blaise would be supplying drugs on behalf of Monster but later he effectively became an employee of Drippa, whose real name was Idris Mohammed.
Ebrima “Brim” Cham, 35, moved in the same sordid circles but he was a very different character.
While Blaise was a bottom-feeder in the food chain, Cham was a predator. He was what is known in the underworld as a “standover man”, a criminal who specialises in robbing drug dealers, knowing they are not in a position to report the crime to the police.
The most famous standover man of all time was possibly Mark “Chopper” Read, an Australian gangster who is depicted by Eric Bana in the movie Chopper, which came out in 2000.
But being a standover man is a high-risk career. It makes you a marked man and eventually Ebrima Cham’s luck ran out.
Cham had robbed some of Drippa’s dealers and this had enraged 19-year-old Emeka Dawodu-Wodu, Simon Emmons (pictured above, right), 40, and Zimele Dube (above, left), 33, who all worked for Drippa.
On 19 December 2019 Cham was tracked down to a flat in Hounslow, west London, by the trio.
They set about him with a variety of weapons and caused horrific injuries (see image below).
Dawoda-Wodu was accused by police of stabbing Blaise to death some time in early December 2019.
The trial heard he confided in a friend that he had killed Blaise because he had stolen drugs from the stash he was supposed to be selling for him.
Mr Aylett claimed that on the night of 17/18 December 2019 Dawoda-Wodu and Emmons had dismembered Blaise’s corpse and transported body parts in a suitcase by taxi to Hounslow Heath, where they had buried them.
Parts of Blaise’s body were found in his house in early January 2020, other remains were dug up on Hounslow Heath but some sections, including his genitals, have never been found.
But Dawoda-Wodu was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.
Emmons however, and another man, Jayano Lucima, were convicted of perverting the course of justice. Lucima had helped clean up the blood with bleach and J-cloths.
At their trial Dawoda-Wodu, Emmons and Dube all gave conflicting accounts of what had happened to Cham and Akz insisted he had nothing to do with Blaise’s death.
The jury convicted Emmons, Dube and Dawoda-Wodu of Cham’s murder but the latter was acquitted of killing Blaise.
All four, along with a fifth man Marc Harding (pictured above, right, with Lucima) – who admitted perverting the course of justice – will be sentenced in July.
The trial barely merited a mention in the newspapers and, if it had not been for the fact that Blaise was a jazz trumpeter it probably would not have even been reported.
ALEK MINASSIAN: WHY DID HE KILL TEN SHOPPERS AND WAS DEFENCE TEAM OUT OF ORDER TO BLAME HIS AUTISM?
By Chris Summers 4 January 2021
On 24 April 2018 shoppers were browsing and dawdling in downtown Toronto when a white van appeared, mounting the pavement and mowing down people.
The van hit 26 people in Yonge Street, killing of them, and it was initially feared the attacker was a Muslim copycat attacker, mimicking the chaos achieved by similar assaults in Nice, Berlin, London, Barcelona and Stockholm.
But when Alek Minassian was arrested and interrogated it turned out he was not a Muslim and his motivation stemmed from a burning rage against women, especially attractive women who he perceived had rejected him.
Minassian, 28, went on trial on 10 November 2020, charged with 10 counts of premeditated murder and 16 attempted murders.
The ten people who died were Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Munir Najjar, 85, Chul Min Kang – known as Eddie, 45, Betty Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83 and Ji Hun Kim, 22.
There was no dispute Minassian had been the driver of the van, which he had rented from Ryder – one of North America’s biggest vehicle hire firms – just a few moments before.
The only question was – why?
Minassian’s mother said he had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism which impaired his ability to communicate.
At his trial Minassian’s lawyer, Boris Bytensky, called Dr Alexander Westphal as his main witness but the psychiatrist’s evidence caused outrage.
Dr Westphal attributed Minassian’s actions to “his autistic way of thinking”, which he said was “severely distorted similar to psychosis.”
Autism Canada took the exceptional step of making a statement during Minassian’s trial in which they said they wanted to “publicly denounce the egregious claims” made by Dr Westphal.
Autism Canada said: “These claims are wholly unsubstantiated, merely speculative, and made carelessly without any published evidence proving autism, on its own, is a risk factor for becoming violent against other people.”
Dr. Peter Szatmari, from Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said: “There is no psychosis in ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and no tendency to anti-social behaviour any more than in the general population. You would not get any serious objection from the academic community on that account.”
The chair of Autism Canada’s board, Dermot Cleary, said: “We ask that all parties be mindful of the potential for unwarranted and negative perceptions which can impact on over half a million Canadians living with ASD.”
Sohom Das, a British forensic psychiatrist, said recently: “It is really important to understand that criminal responsibility is a completely separate entity from the diagnosis of mental illness, even though the diagnosis can cause a lapse of criminal responsibility.”
On his Psych For Sore Minds podcast, Dr Das said: “A person can have a very severe mental illness, whether that’s depression, autism, psychosis such as hearing voices, or personality disorder, and yet still have criminal responsibility.”
He said to prove someone was not guilty by reason of insanity, the evidentiary threshold was usually high in most countries.
Minassian’s trial also heard he was described as a “high-functioning” autistic, with an above-average IQ.
So if Minassian (pictured, right) was criminally responsible, why did he do it?
Minassian self-identified as an incel, an involuntary celibate, and praised Elliot Rodger, who had shot and stabbed six people in Isla Vista, California in 2014 before turning his gun on himself.
Rodger, 22, had earlier posted a “retribution” video on YouTube and emailed a lengthy autobiographical document to more than 30 acquaintances.
The online community of incels soon latched onto the document.
Just before embarking on his own murderous attack Minassian went on the message board 4Chan and posted a “manifesto.”
It began: “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
During his police interrogation Minassian said he had been motivated by his hatred of women, which was linked to his intense sexual frustration and his frequent rejection by females.
He said he joined the online incel community and shared their ideology, which espouses a hatred of “Chads” (handsome, muscular and charming men) and “Stacys” (beautiful, sexy and unattainable women).
Minassian and Rodger (pictured) are seen by some incels as “heroes.”
In May 2020 a teenage incel was charged with terrorism after he killed Ashley Noell Arzaga, 24, with a machete at a Toronto massage parlour.
It would appear the incel threat is not over and it may be only a matter of time before one of them mounts an attack in Britain or mainland Europe.
On 3 March 2021 Justice Anne Molloy ruled that the defence had failed to prove that Minassian was not criminally responsible due to his ASD. She found him guilty on all 26 counts and said she would sentence him on 18 March.
WHY SUPERMARKETS HAVE FALLEN PREY TO THE FOULEST FORM OF EXTORTION OVER THE YEARS
By Chris Summers 1 December 2020
Some crimes make instant headlines – terrorist outrages, the murder of children, mass shootings and attacks on celebrities, while others are slow burners.
Some crimes – like blackmail and kidnap – never even make it into the public domain, because to do so would often mean the criminal has succeeded.
In southern Italy, and some other parts of the world, extortion rackets are organised on a massive scale with retailers, restaurateurs and other businesses knowing that if they fail to pay the fee – known as pizzo in Sicily – the mafia will burn down their stores or trash their restaurants.
But in Britain and the United States retail extortion is far rarer and tends to involve an individual or small group who deliberately target a supermarket or pharmacy chain.
The first case of its kind was in the late 1980s and involved Rodney Whitchelo (pictured), who was a detective in the Regional Crime Squad when he spiked jars of Heinz baby food with caustic acid and broken razor blades.
Detectives found one jar of Heinz contained enough poison to kill 27 children.
Whitchelo tried to extort £4m from Heinz but got away with only £32,000.
In 1990 Whitchelo was jailed for 17 years, although he only served nine.
Judge Nina Lowry told him: “Your blackmail letters show the evil side of your nature.”
A few years later Edgar Pearce tried a variation on the theme.
Instead of tampering with goods on the shelves, he sent bombs to Sainsbury’s supermarket and also Barclays Bank.
Nicknamed the Mardi Gra bomber, he was jailed for 21 years after an extortion campaign which lasted from 1994 to 1998.
Not put off by Pearce’s failure, Robert Dyer started sending letter bombs to Tesco supermarkets in 2000 in an attempt to extort money.
Dyer got the idea after reading an article called “How to catch a blackmailer” in a copy of Reader’s Digest he read in a dentist’s waiting room.
Dyer, 51, was caught and in 2001 was jailed for 16 years.
In 2018 a new perpetrator appeared, but this time he had gone back to Whitchelo’s modus operandi, with a 21st century twist.
This new operator, calling himself Guy Brush, sent dozens of letters and emails to Tesco, Heinz and Cow & Gate, between May 2018 and February 2020 and demanded to be paid £1m in cryptocurrency, which would have been almost impossible to trace.
Guy Brush, who said he represented a syndicate of angry farmers called the Dairy Pirates, said he had put shards of metal into tins of baby food on shelves in several supermarkets.
In one of the letters he wrote to Tesco, Guy Brush wrote: “Imagine a baby’s mouth cut open and blood pouring out, or the inside of their bellies cut and bleeding. You pay, you save them.”
This was no idle threat.
A young mother, Morven Smith, bought a jar of baby food in a Tesco supermarket in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. She said: “I gave my son a couple of spoonfuls and noticed something shiny. It was horrendous. I felt sick I was so shocked.”
Another woman, Harpreet Kaur, noticed bits of metal in tins of baby food she had bought in a supermarket in Rochdale, near Manchester.
Tesco was forced to withdraw 42,000 tins of baby food and detectives trawled through hundreds of CCTV footage from inside both the Rochdale and Lockerbie supermarkets.
After many days of trawling they spotted a man who appeared to be placing one of the contaminated jars on the shelf of the Lockerbie supermarket.
The Operation Hancock team eventually tracked down Guy Brush and realised he was in fact Nigel Wright, a farmer from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.
He was a loner who did not represent the Dairy Pirates or any other sinister syndicate.
Wright went on trial and claimed he was acting under duress following threats from a group of gypsies.
The jury did not believe him and he was found guilty of three counts of blackmail and two charges of contaminating goods. He was jailed for a total of 14 years.
After he was jailed, Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson said: “Wright is a dangerous offender who gave no thought to the babies he could have harmed during his callous pursuit of money. He concocted an elaborate tale to try and cover his tracks, claiming he was being forced to carry out his crimes. The jury saw through his lies and found him guilty of all charges.”
Britain also seems to have exported this crime abroad.
An Englishman, David Dickinson, threatened to poison baby food on the shelves of the US supermarket chain Ralphs if he did not receive $180,000.
Dickinson, who was from Middlesbrough but was living in Venice, California, sent a package containing a jar of baby food with glass shards, an infant juice drink laced with hydraulic fluid and a jar of horseradish contaminated with boric acid, with a note warning: “This is a blackmail demand pass to persons able to deal with such matter. Keep out.”
Dickinson, 43, was caught and jailed for five years in 2005.
BREAKING BAD: THE HORRIFIC CASE WHICH MADE TV DRAMA PLOT LOOK LIKE A CHILDREN’S PICNIC
by Chris Summers 1 November 2020
The hit TV drama Breaking Bad – which starred Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as methamphetamine manufacturers – was set in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It ended in 2013 after a series of grisly plotlines but the series creator, Vincent Gilligan, could never have dreamed up the real-life drama which played out in the broiling hot summer of 2016.
It was Victoria Martens’ 10th birthday on 23 August 2016.
But instead of opening presents, eating festive cake and being showered with love by adoring parents, her birthday was horrific but what exactly happened and why remains, to a degree, a mystery.
When police, responding to a 911 call, arrived at 4.30am at her mother’s apartment in Albuquerque they found Victoria’s dismembered remains wrapped in a smoking blanket in the bathtub.
Detectives arrested her mother – Michelle Martens, 35, her 31-year-old boyfriend Fabian Gonzales and her cousin Jessica Kelley, 31. All three were addicts whose mugshots showed the physical damage wrought by years of use of methamphetamines, known as meth.
When interrogated by police Michelle came out with an extraordinary confession – she said she had watched as Victoria was injected with meth, sexually assaulted by Gonzales, strangled and then stabbed to death by Gonzales and Kelley and dismembered.
Michelle said she enjoyed watching her daughter being raped and had sex with Gonzales 20 minutes later. She said she had only met Gonzales – on the online dating site Plentyoffish – a month earlier.
But the case was turned on its head in July 2018 by the result of tests on DNA found on Victoria’s body.
It was from an unknown male and when Michelle Martens and her cousin were further questioned they revealed a totally different story to what had happened to Victoria.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez revealed Michelle and Gonzalez were not even in the apartment when Victoria was killed.
Kelley revealed in court what had really happened on the fateful night.
She said she had been left to babysit Victoria while her cousin and Gonzales went out around 7pm.
Kelley, who admitted she had been high on meth, said a smartly-dressed man had come to the door and she had simply let him in, unaware of his intentions.
Detectives said they now believed the man sexually assaulted and killed Victoria to get back at Gonzales, who had threatened to kill a woman after being beaten up at a barbecue.
Kelley said she remembered the smartly-dressed man had asked for Gonzales, a member of the Thugs Causing Kaos (TCK) gang, using his street name – Favo – before he entered the apartment.
When Gonzales and Michelle returned around 9pm and discovered Victoria’s body they decided to dismember her.
Why Michelle chose to embroider the story by saying her boyfriend had raped Victoria remains a mystery but an autopsy showed the little girl had human papillomavirus (HPV) at the time of her death, suggesting she had been sexually abused by someone in the months before her death.
In the summer of 2018 Michelle Martens made a plea bargain, admitting one count of child abuse resulting in death and receiving a jail sentence of 12-15 years.
Torrez then announced nine of the charges against Fabian Gonzales including second-degree murder and criminal sexual penetration were dropped.
In January 2019 Kelley pleaded no contest to child abuse recklessly caused resulting in death, tampering with evidence and aggravated assault and was jailed for 50 years
In November 2019 Gonzales – who was still awaiting trial for child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence – was even released on bail.
As of 1 November 2020 Gonzales is still awaiting a trial, which has been delayed pending a ruling by the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Prosecutors are still hunting the unidentified man – dubbed ‘John Doe’ – for killing Victoria.
GUNMAN JAILED FOR LIFE AFTER BEING CONVICTED AT HIS FIFTH TRIAL OF DOUBLE MURDER
In September 2016 the front pages of several British newspapers featured the murder of a 53-year-old woman and her nephew.
It was a case of mistaken identity and a sign of how lawless London had become, said the mainstream media.
Four years later the case had been largely forgotten, except by the family of Besala Ekofo and her nephew Bervil, 21, (pictured) who had been gunned down in a flat in East Finchley, north London, just before dawn on 15 September 2016.
But detectives and those prosecuting the case certainly had not forgotten it.
The killer, Obina Ezeoke, was put on trial five times.
His first trial collapsed in April 2017 when Judge Stephen Kramer QC suffered agonising back pain and was forced to retire from the legal profession as a result.
A second and a third trial at the Old Bailey both ended with juries unable to reach a verdict. The fourth trial was brought to an end in March 2020 by the coronavirus crisis, which meant the jury was unable to sit in court to hear the evidence.
In July 2020 the fifth trial began and on 9 September, after eight days of deliberation, the jury finally returned a majority 11-1 verdict – Guilty.
On 1 October he was jailed for life and told he would not be eligible for parole for until 2060.
So who was Obina Ezeoke, who is now 27, and why did he carry out such a wanton act of violence?
All five trials heard the intended target was Mrs Ekofo’s son, Ryan Efey, who often spent nights at the flat and was involved in a long-running feud with Ezeoke.
Ezeoke – who was defended by James Scobie QC, one of the best defence lawyers in the country – reportedly wanted to kill Efey after footage of Ezeoke being attacked was shared on Snapchat.
Mrs Ekofo, who was known to her family as Annie, had come to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo – then known as Zaire – in 1991 along with her husband Osman Jean Efey.
The couple had nine children together and four of the youngest were still living with their parents at the time of the murders.
Because of Ryan’s feud the Ekofo family were moved from their home in Mill Hill after shots were fired at it, and Barnet Council had warned Mrs Ekofo not to let Ryan stay at the flat.
But he was her son and her maternal feelings and soft-heartedness were to lead directly to her death.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said Ezeoke (pictured) drove to the flat in Elmshurst Crescent in the early hours of the morning.
He told the jury: “He went there quite deliberately, with a gun and of course sufficient ammunition to use it, to attack and kill one of the young men of the family. That was part of what you will hear was a vendetta of violence, tit-for-tat violence.”
The front door had been left unlocked after another member of the family crept out around 5am to go to work.
Ezeoke pushed the door open and spotted a young man sleeping on the couch in the front room.
Mr Heywood said: “For the killer, this was as good a target as he could expect, a young man of the house of just the right age. He crept forward, gun in hand. He raised the muzzle and placed it almost against the back of the sleeping dreadlocked head, and then, with a deliberation and purpose that was as much cowardly as it was murderous, he pulled the trigger.”
But the slumberer was not Ryan Efey. It was Mrs Ekofo’s nephew, Bervil, a psychology student at the University of Westminster whose random decision to stay the night would cost him his life.
As Ezeoke fled a young girl – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – woke up and discovered Mrs Ekofo covered in blood.
She cried out: “There’s something wrong with Grandma.”
When detectives launched the murder inquiry they soon realised Ryan Efey was probably the intended target and that the killing could be linked back to his enemies on the Grahame Park estate (pictured, above).
They scanned hours of CCTV footage and spotted a black Vauxhall Meriva which was seen arriving near the crime scene just before the murders and departing moments later. When the car was discovered, it was found to have gunshot residue particles on the seat.
The evidence showed Ezeoke had bought and insured the car under a false name but he claimed it was often used by others and he insisted he was not driving it on the morning of 15 September 2016.
Ezeoke admitted he made his living as a drug dealer but he insisted he was not a killer.
After four years and five trials he has finally been proved to be a liar.
Ezeoke faces a mandatory life sentence when he is sentenced on 1 October.
The Grahame Park estate is currently being regenerated – with the existing flats demolished and replaced with a mixed tenure of social and private homes – with the work due to be completed by 2032.
WHY ONE MAN’S JEALOUS RAGE LED TO A HORRIFIC MURDER IN SUBURBIA IN THE ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’
By Chris Summers 18 July 2020
The murder of Kelly Fauvrelle – who was eight months pregnant – may have been sparked by something as trivial as an email invoice for clothes bought from the online shopping company Boohoo.
Three hours before he stabbed Kelly to death at her home in south London on 29 June 2019 – inadvertently stopping the oxygen supply to her baby Riley for a crucial 20 minutes and therefore causing his death too – Aaron McKenzie had been trawling through her emails on his mobile phone.
The Old Bailey jury was told McKenzie knew his ex-girlfriend’s gmail password and digital forensic analysis of his phone showed he was accessing her e-mails between 11.04pm and 12.27am.
Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, said: “One e-mail which might have drawn his attention was an e-mail generated by an internet order dated 22 June 2019 placed with boohooman.com. It was paid for using Kelly’s Paypal account but it was delivered to a Rolander Chigwada at an address elsewhere in Thornton Heath.”
To McKenzie, 25, it was the evidence which proved his suspicions – the mother of his unborn child had lost her heart to another man….and she was about to be punished in the most brutal way imaginable.
Kelly and McKenzie – who was known to her family as Ty – had been boyfriend and girlfriend for a couple of years and had lived together at her mother’s home in Raymead Avenue, Thornton Heath and before that in Upper Norwood.
Kelly, who was 26, worked for the Royal Mail and one of her colleagues and friends was Rolander Chigwada, who was known as Ro.
In December 2018 Kelly collapsed while at work and was taken to hospital, where she discovered she was pregnant.
But Kelly’s relationship with McKenzie was already in trouble – she would describe it as “toxic” – and on 10 February 2019 she broke up with him and told him she wanted to raise their child by herself, although she reassured him he would be able to play a role as its father.
Aaron, who had autistic spectrum disorder and had suffered with depression in the past, struggled to cope with being dumped.
He repeatedly sent Kelly messages on WhatsApp and on 20 March he asked if they could meet up and get something to eat.
She replied: “I rather we didn’t to be honest…I’ve finally gotten my life together and I’m finally happy again…and being around u doesn’t make me happy and I can’t do that…I want u to be part of ours kid’s life as much as u can…and I want us to be able to communicate with each other in regards to the baby…and I promise I will never deny you your child…but anything else…is over.”
But in the late spring and early summer of 2019 Kelly, although heavily pregnant by another man, was falling in love with Ro Chigwada, who she called ‘King’.
She was secretive about the relationship, possibly feeling it was inappropriate in the circumstances.
But a week before she died her sister Melissa noticed she was wearing a bracelet with the word Queen on it, which matched Ro’s nickname.
In fact in the days before Kelly died she was in a good mood because things were looking up.
Not only was the relationship with Ro going well – he was due to be introduced to her family on 1 July – but she was hopeful of getting a new job with the Communication Workers’ Union, who represented Royal Mail staff.
On the evening of Friday 28 June Kelly had spent the evening at home with her mother, her sister, her little nephew and their brothers Steven and Stephan.
Kelly and her sister had bedrooms on the ground floor while her mother and brothers slept upstairs.
At 8pm Kelly said goodnight to her sister and mother, who were watching a film, and retired to her own bedroom.
At 3.15am all hell broke loose.
Melissa and her mother, Mary, were woken by Kelly’s screams. Her mother thought she had gone into labour early but the truth was very different.
Mr Penny told the jury: “An intruder broke into her bedroom through patio doors at the rear. That intruder proceeded to launch a vicious and cowardly attack. He inflicted 21 stab wounds. In the process the intruder not only murdered Kelly Fauvrelle but also killed inflicted fatal injuries on Riley, her unborn child. That intruder was this defendant.”
Kelly suffered “catastrophic” injuries and paramedics who arrived at the scene decided to carry out an emergency Caesarean in a bid to save Riley’s life. But four days later he died in hospital as a result of brain damage.
When Melissa entered her sister’s room she described a scene of utter carnage.
The killer had already left and Melissa was so bewildered by her sister’s injuries, the blood and the open door that she initially thought she had been attacked by a fox which had come in from the garden.
McKenzie was caught on CCTV in the area as he arrived and left on foot before getting back on his motorbike and riding back to a friend’s house nearby.
At 7am his driving instructor texted to see if he was still on for a driving lesson at 8.30am that Saturday morning and he replied: “All good.”
The driving instructor later told police he acted normally and “seemed really happy” during the lesson.
Later that afternoon police called on McKenzie to break the news of Kelly’s death but he showed no emotion.
He was told his son was fighting for his life in intensive care but instead of going straight to the hospital McKenzie went back to his friend’s house and disposed of some evidence. He eventually arrived at the hospital around midnight.
McKenzie’s odd behaviour triggered the suspicions of detectives, who brought him in for interview.
He told a string of “lies” before he finally confessed.
McKenzie told police: “I wish it never happened…It was definitely not planned…I’ve done wrong and need to face the consequences. My biggest regret now is that I can’t get anything back.”
But McKenzie’s confession was self-serving and riddled with inconsistencies.
He admitted taking a knife to the house but claimed: “I don’t know what my intention was at that time.”
McKenzie knew Kelly’s room was on the ground floor and that she often left her patio doors open on warm summer nights.
He said when she woke up and saw a figure standing over her she “panicked and screamed”.
McKenzie said: “I had not done anything when she screamed but at that point, I think now, that I just thought ‘I am here now. I’ve just got to finish it off.’
He admitted stabbing her but claimed “I had no anger towards her” and also denied being aware she had a new boyfriend.
McKenzie said: “Afterwards nothing has sunk in. It didn’t seem real. As if it was never me. It had nothing to do with me. As if it was someone else. I was genuinely upset that Kelly and then my baby had both been killed…It is a weird feeling. I can’t explain more.”
But when it came to his trial, McKenzie retracted his confession and claimed he was not the knifeman.
He gave evidence that Kelly owed money to a “baccy man” – a tobacco merchant – called Mike and that it was him who killed her.
It was such a preposterous story, and so out of whack with the mountain of evidence against McKenzie, that it took the jury only a few hours to find him guilty.
On 17 July McKenzie was jailed for life and was told he would have to serve a minimum of 35 years behind bars.
Detective Chief Inspector Mick Norman said: “This is justice, but in no way will it compensate for the devastation that McKenzie’s actions have caused to this family.”
Kelly’s sister Melissa said: “This was an act of pure evil” and Kelly’s father Jean Fauvrelle said: “Aaron McKenzie’s evil act has devastated our lives. My heart physically aches, but those words do not feel sufficient.”
Judge Mark Lucraft QC told him: “It’s clear from all the evidence this was the most vicious and deliberate killing.”
McKenzie gave the judge a thumbs up as he was sent down.
TWO OF HER LOVERS WERE KILLED AND HER EX-HUSBAND WAS A SERIAL KILLER
By Chris Summers 24 August 2019
Roselane Driza has lived an extraordinary life.
She was born in Brazil but left the country in 1998 after one of her boyfriends was murdered in an attack on a police station.
She arrived in London, where she married a man who would later turn out to be a serial killer.
Her next boyfriend would also be murdered, and after being embroiled in a bizarre court case with two judges she eventually returned to Brazil.
Roselane, now 50, told Totalcrime: “I have no luck with lovers.”
The drama began in 1995 when a young and pretty Roselane was dating Paulo Jorge Souza, 47, an investigator who worked for the Brazilian police in the north of the country.
Jorge was killed when two gangsters carried out a machine gun attack on Para police station in Ananindeua, a town near the city of Belem.
Terrified by the random, often drug-fuelled violence in Brazil she decided to come to England to study.
In February 1998, Roselane came to London and the following year she met Mane Driza, a handsome, charming and mysterious Albanian, who had come to Britain claiming to be Sokol Drenova, a teenage refugee from the conflict in Kosovo.
She married him after a whirlwind romance but within days of the wedding he began acting strange, staying out all night with his friends and snubbing her.
Roselane split up with Mane and by December 1999 he had fled to Italy after murdering a man in London.
In January 2000 she began a relationship with Florian Ndoja (pictured, with her, left), who sometimes used the surname Delia.
But in November 2000 tragedy struck again.
Florian was stabbed to death at a house in Ilford, east London by several fellow Albanians who were supposed to be his friends.
Roselane said: “I was with Florian for nine months and we were very, very happy. He had asked me to marry him. And then he was killed.”
Two brothers – Pjerin Cefa and his brother Taulant – fled the country as detectives sought to piece together what had happened.
Eventually, in March 2002, Pjerin, then aged 28, pleaded guilty to murdering Florian at a court in the Albanian city of Shkoder but was assessed as not responsible for his actions and was sent to a psychiatric institution for treatment.
He is believed to have since been released.
His brother Taulant was never charged with the crime and is believed to be still living in Albania.
Roselane tried to mend her broken heart and moved on.
In 2005 she was still living in London but her student visa had run out and she was working as a cleaner.
One of her customers was Judge Ilyas Khan, a 60-year-old immigration judge, and the pair eventually became unlikely lovers.
“He wanted to marry me and adopt children,” recalls Roselane.
But then fate intervened.
The full circumstances cannot be revealed for legal reasons but suddenly Roselane was charged with the theft of a number of sex videos from Judge Khan and of blackmailing a female judge.
The case naturally hit the media in London and was a sensation, with lurid headlines in the press and coverage on national television news.
Journalists salivated over details like the emails sent by Judge Khan to his young lover, in which he referred to her as “chilli hot stuff”.
Roselane was convicted of blackmail and theft but later cleared on appeal.
But her immigration status had been revealed and she was later removed from the country and sent back to Brazil.
“I was removed, not deported,” she highlights, proud of the distinction.
Her name and face were largely forgotten in Britain, until earlier this year when her ex-husband, Mane Driza (pictured, left), was extradited back to London from Italy to face trial for the murder of Stefan Bledar Mone, another Albanian, in Sudbury, north-west London, in June 1999.
He killed Bledar Mone after a row over accusing him of stealing his wedding ring.
But at the trial Mane tried to claim Bledar Mone was friends with a man he had killed in Albania two years before and was trying to avenge that murder.
In total Mane Driza has killed five men, leading some papers to call him a serial killer.
Mane, who was nicknamed Tony Montana after Al Pacino’s character in Scarface, had killed two men in Albania before he even came to the UK in the 1990s and then, after killing Bledar Mone, he killed another pair of Albanians in a bar in Sicily in 2000.
After he was found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey in London in April this year a judge sentenced the 41-year-old to life in prison with a minimum of 20 years but said he would be sent back to Italy to complete a term of imprisonment there, before being brought back to England in 2026 to serve out his sentence.
Detective Inspector Garry Moncrieff, of Scotland Yard, said: “Driza has proven himself to be an extremely violent individual who has no hesitation in dealing with any issue or problem he encounters in life by killing. He has freely admitted all the murders he has committed but never shown remorse.
Now back in Brazil, Roselane (pictured left) makes a living as an inventor and as a television producer although she claims one of her best documentary ideas was stolen by a Brazilian TV channel and she did not receive a penny for it.
THE WICKED STEPMOTHER WHO STARVED CHILD TO DEATH AND KEPT SILENT AT TRIAL
By Chris Summers 30 April 2019
Tiffany Moss has been convicted of murdering her 10-year-old stepdaughter Emani Moss after a short but gripping trial in the United States. On 30 April 2019 she was sentenced to death by a jury in Atlanta, Georgia.
After Emani Moss’s teacher, Lisa Neal, gave evidence at the recent murder trial she burst into tears and ended up hugging the 10-year-old girl’s grandmother in the courtroom.
It was just one of a number of episodes which illustrated why the youngster’s death was so tragic and avoidable.
The trial heard how Emani had wasted away because her stepmother Tiffany Moss had stopped feeding her and repeatedly beat her.
Emani’s father, Eman Moss, cut a pathetic figure when he gave evidence against his wife at the trial.
Eman, who had cut a plea bargain with the authorities and agreed to testified in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, arrived in his green prison uniform and recalled the horrific circumstances of his daughter’s death in a bland, emotionless voice.
He said Tiffany had sent him WhatsApp messages – as his daughter lay dying of starvation – bragging about how she had cooked lasagne for him and their two children.
“Look, I cooked,” Tiffany told her husband on 29 October 2013.
Emani died the following day and the couple put her body in the computer room of their house in Gwinnett County and Tiffany went out trick or treating with their children on Halloween.
Tiffany, who spent most of her time watching TV, was an avid fan of crime series and when her stepdaughter died she told her husband they would dispose of her with ideas she had seen on the TV show Criminal Minds.
But by the time they finally decided to get rid of her body they found rigor mortis had set in and they had to “break” her body to get her into a metal trashcan.
They drove out into the countryside with Emani’s body in the trashcan and the two other children in the car.
They then set fire to Emani’s body but returned home with the charred remains in the trashcan.
Eman went to work the next day and eventually called 911 the next day, but initially told police his daughter had died after accidentally drinking a “chemical”.
Grilled by detectives, Eman eventually admitted he was covering up for his wife.
The child’s grandmother, Robin Moss, said Tiffany repeatedly refused to let her see her granddaughter and Emani’s aunt, Sharoniece, said she feared for her niece and even contacted Georgia Children’s Services when she heard the girl had been taken out of school to be “home schooled” because she knew Emani would receive brutality, not education, at home.
At her trial Tiffany defended herself – having fired her attorneys – but she did not give any evidence or cross examine any witnesses, including her husband.
Her defence was so passive that standby counsel tried to intervene and persuade the judge she needed to be represented by an attorney.
But the judge refused, accepting Tiffany’s argument that it was up to her how she defended herself. Tiffany has said her fate “lay in God’s hands”.
District Attorney Danny Porter argued her silence in court was a deliberate strategy to “sway jurors not to put her to death”.
He said she was hoping her silence made her look “outgunned and overpowered” and sympathetic jurors would choose to spare her life.
In his closing speech, Mr Porter said: “As a parent, your job is to protect your child from the evils of this world at all costs. At all costs. But Emani Moss, this child, she lived with the evils of this world.”
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Jones held up a photograph of the little girl as she made an impassioned closing speech.
“To this defendant Emani was nothing. She was hated. She was disposable. She was trash. But she wasn’t. She was loved. She was Emani. And she mattered. She mattered!” roared Ms Jones as the teacher, Mrs Neal, wept.
HAVE MANCHESTER GANGS SETTLED A FEUD WHICH COST TWO LIVES AND INJURED A LITTLE BOY?
By Chris Summers 24 March 2019
When gangsters fall out the consequences can be quite messy.
So it was when villains in Salford, a tough part of Manchester, fell out in 2015.
The first casualty was Paul Massey, a veteran criminal who had once been dubbed “Mr Big” and three years later John Kinsella (pictured, centre, in glasses), a gangland enforcer from Liverpool who had been one of Massey’s pallbearers, was also gunned down as he walked his dog with his girlfriend.
Mark Fellows, 38, was convicted of both murders in January 2019 and given a whole life sentence after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court which heard of the intense animosity between two rival gangs in the North West of England.
One gang – known as The A Team – was led by Stephen Britton, who saw Massey, 55, as his underworld mentor.
The other firm – sometimes known as The Anti A Team or Double A Team – was led by Michael Carroll.
Paul Greaney, QC, prosecuting, told the trial a “rupture” had developed between the two factions.
At one point graffiti in industrial language appeared in the Manchester area calling Carroll a “rat”, “snitch” and “faggot”and urging him to come back to England from Spain to fight the war with Britton’s faction.
Fellows, (pictured), was the gunman who shot Massey with 19 rounds from an Uzi sub-machine gun on July 26, 2015.
His close friend Steven Boyle, 36, was his driver and all-round gopher. He was convicted only of the Kinsella murder and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 33 years.
A witness, Matthew Jones, described hearing heavy gunfire as Massey was mowed down as he tried to hide behind dustbins at the front of his house.
In October 2015 the A Team attempted to hit back, targeting Christian Hickey at his home in Eccles.
But when a hit squad knocked on his door it was opened by his wife Jayne, 30, and son Christian, junior, aged just seven. Unperturbed the gang opened fire with a Heckler & Koch M7 9mm semi-automatic.
Little Christian (pictured, below) was hit in the thigh and his mother suffered gunshot wounds to both legs but they survived after being rushed to hospital and undergoing surgery.
On 21 March 2019 four members of the A Team were cleared of conspiracy to murder.
Carne Thomasson, 28, Aldaire Warmington, 32, and Chris Hall, 49, were convicted of conspiracy to cause GBH and face long jail sentences.
Carne’s father, John Thomasson, 50, was acquitted of all charges.
Aldaire’s twin brother Lincoln was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by attempting to dispose of the getaway car.
John Kent, 54, was convicted of conspiracy to cause GBH to Jamie Rothwell, a key member of The Anti A Team, who was shot at a car wash in Salford.
In 2018 one of Paul Massey’s pallbearers, Kinsella, was killed by Fellows as he walked his dog with his girlfriend Wendy Owen on a woodland path not far from the M62 at Rainhill in Merseyside.
Ms Owen, who was shot at, ran off and survived.
She told police the killer was “cool” and focused on targeting Kinsella, 53, and clearly “wanted to finish the job”.
In fact the prosecution even referred to Fellows as “The Iceman” during the trial, trying to give him a nickname which might send a shiver down the jurors’ necks.
The trial heard Fellows a GPS-enabled Garmin watch found at his home after the Kinsella killing showed he had travelled to the area, probably on a bicycle, before gunning down Massey.
Kinsella had been an underworld fixer who once stopped a gangster threatening former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, now the manager of Glasgow Rangers.
Boyle’s QC, Peter Wright, claimed his client was just a “useful idiot” who was blissfully unaware of what Fellows had planned.
Mr Wright pointed out that when he was arrested in June 2018 Boyle offered to help the detectives.
“I haven’t murdered anyone but I probably know more things about it than I should. If I say anything though my family would need protection,” said Boyle, who clammed up when the offer of witness protection was not offered.
Mr Wright also pointed out that in November 2015 a “threat to life” notice was issued to Boyle following an anonymous tip-off but the leader of The A Team, Stephen Britton, then called the police and said he had no problem with Boyle.
Fellows’ defence QC, Nick Johnson, claimed Boyle was responsible for what he called a “cut-throat ambush defence”.
He says Fellows decided not to give evidence before he knew Boyle would implicate him in the murder of Kinsella.
Mr Johnson said both the prosecution and the defence accepted Kinsella was a “Merseyside-based career criminal”,“regarded by the authorities as a gangland enforcer” and that after he was killed £10,000 in cash was found under the sink in his kitchen.
He then read out some of the agreed facts.
“The police had information as part of their investigation into the background of John Kinsella: that he had criminal connections with people in the Netherlands; that he was, as of May 2018, criminally active; that at the time of his death he had significant debts in connection with criminal activity; that he was involved in an assault on Stephen Lydiate at the funeral of Paul Massey, when he, Lydiate, was attacked with acid; that he had a separate mobile phone dedicated for criminal use,” said Mr Johnson.
“As in the case of Paul Massey, the police had information that John Kinsella had been killed as the result of his criminal activity and the police received intelligence that he had a number of enemies that wanted him dead,” he added.
The jury ultimately concluded Fellows and Boyle killed Kinsella, but Fellows alone had taken out Massey.
Whether they were acting at the behest of Mr Carroll – who is believed to be in Thailand – will remain a matter of speculation.
But the Manchester Evening News reported in March 2019 that the feud is now over.
It published a photograph (left) of Stephen Britton (pictured, wearing a baseball cap) and Jamie Rothwell letting bygones be bygones over a pizza.
Rothwell has reportedly taken over the Double AA Team faction from Carroll and he has apparently forgiven Britton for trying to have him killed.
Have the gangsters chosen peace and profits before war?
HALF A CENTURY AFTER HIS LAST VICTIM, WHO WAS LONDON’S FORGOTTEN SERIAL KILLER?
By Chris Summers 12 September 2018
In September 1963 Gwynneth Rees, 22, a Welsh-born prostitute, was strangled and dumped, naked, on a rubbish dump in Mortlake, not far from the river Thames in south west London.
When more sex workers went missing and were found murdered and naked in February and April of the following year it became obvious to the police, to the press and to the average newspaper reader that a serial killer was on the loose.
An American journalist coined the nickname Jack The Stripper.
Robin Jarossi, author of The Hunt For The 60s Ripper, told Totalcrime: “The victims were all prostitutes. It was a big story but it did not engender the same level of fear of something like the Yorkshire Ripper. If you look at the papers of the time there was not a lot of sympathy for the victims. The press focused on the seedy side. The shadowy world of London and there was little said about the victims as people.”
Most of the victims had moved down to London from Scotland or the North of England and soon found the streets of the capital were not paved with gold.
They had gone on the game and ended up playing a deadly game of roulette every night, mostly in the Hammersmith area of west London.
Hannah Tailford (pictured), 31, who was originally from Northumberland, was found drowned in the Thames near Hammersmith in February 1964.
Irene Lockwood, a 25-year-old sex worker who had moved to London from Nottinghamshire, was found strangled at Corney Reach in Chiswick on 8 April 1964. She was pregnant at the time.
Two weeks later Helen Barthelemy, a 22-year-old Scot, was found in an alley off the Boston Manor Road in Brentford. On her body were tiny flecks of paint, probably from a workshop.
In July 1964 Scottish-born Mary Fleming, 30, was dumped in a residential road in Chiswick. Paint was also found on her body.
In October 1964 Frances Brown, a 23-year-old Glaswegian, vanished after getting into a punter’s car. She was dumped in Kensington in November. Brown had known Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies and gave evidence for the defense in the trial of Stephen Ward, at the height of the Profumo scandal.
In February 1965 Dubliner Bridget O’Hara, 28, was found in a storage shed on the Heron Trading Estate in Acton.
Her body had flecks of paint on it, which were identical to that found on a nearby electrical transformer. It appears the killer had probably stored all the victims at this location.
In May 1965 John du Rose, the detective in charge of the case, decided the killer had committed suicide and in his memoirs he claimed the murderer had taken his own life because the police were closing in.
“But it’s not really true. I suspect it was just face-saving by DuRose, who was known as Four Day Johnny by the media because he closed cases so quick, but this was a high profile failure for him,” Mr Jarossi told Totalcrime.
Mr Jarossi also discounted another suspect, often bandied around by the press – former world middleweight boxing champion Freddie Mills (pictured) who shot himself in 1965 – and said he believed the most likely suspect was actually Harold Jones.
“As a 15-year-old Jones had killed two little girls in the 1920s. They were sex murders. He was released in 1942 and joined the armed forces. After the war he moved to Fulham and then ended up living in Hammersmith. He lived in a street near two of the victims. The police interviewed 7,000 suspects but never knew that he was living right there,” Mr Jarossi told Totalcrime.
In fact Jones may have claimed another victim earlier.
Elizabeth Figg, 21, was strangled in Duke’s Meadows, Chiswick, in June 1959 and may have been Jack The Stripper’s first victim.
This autumn the BBC is broadcasting a documentary, Dark Son, featuring criminologist Dr David Wilson, which will further examine the case.
But why did the police not catch the killer at the time?
Mr Jarossi believes it was because they did not realise they were dealing with a serial killer – a term which had not yet been coined.
“They had no CCTV or DNA or any forensics at all, really. They convinced themselves it was someone who knew all the victims and they spent months trying to find connections between all the victims. They had not got their heads around the fact that he was a serial killer who was looking for a certain type of woman,” Mr Jarossi told Totalcrime.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE WORLD SCARIER THAN A “KILLER ON THE LOOSE”?
by Chris Summers 2 August 2018
Even before Jack The Ripper – probably still the most famous of his kind – serial killers were in our midst, luring victims and creating ripples of fear in polite society.
Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt were all plagued by the phenomenon with poisoning one of the most common ways of dispatching victims and in the 15th century a French knight, Gilles de Rais, was hanged for torturing, raping and murdering more than 140 children.
The first female serial killer was Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Bathory, the so-called Blood Countess, who tortured a number of servant girls to death in her home – Čachtice Castle in what is now Slovakia – before being caught in 1610.
In the 19th century Jack The Ripper’s crimes filled the pages of British newspapers while on the other side of the Atlantic the public were mesmerised by murders carried out by Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as HH Holmes.
Holmes, who was executed in 1896, had committed many of his crimes at a hotel in Chicago which he bought and transformed into a “Murder Castle”, complete with soundproofed rooms, secret passages and a maze of hallways and staircases.
The term “serial killer” was coined in the 1970s by the FBI’s Robert Ressler, the father of “offender profiling”, and it caught on quickly.
By then there had been many notorious serial killers in the US – the Boston Strangler, Zodiac Killer in California – and many others around the world – John Christie in London, the Moors Murderers in Manchester, Bible John in Scotland and Peter Kürten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf, in Germany.
Ressler spoke to dozens of serial killers during his FBI career and in 1993 wrote a book, Whoever Fights Monsters, in which he described what he had learned by studying them.
But he almost did not survive to write the book after an encounter with California serial killer and cannibal Ed Kemper.
Ressler was locked in a cell with Kemper, who was six feet nine inches tall and weighed almost 18 stone (250 pounds) and had been jailed for life for murdering and decapitating ten victims in California.
When the interview was over Ressler pressed the buzzer to be let out but no guard appeared.
“If I went apeshit in here, you’d be in a lot of trouble, wouldn’t you? I could screw your head off and place on the table to greet the guard,” Kemper told him, getting up to tower over him as if to emphasise the point.
But Kemper, who had an IQ of 145, was only playing with him and Ressler lived to tell the tale.
In his book Ressler described the differences between “organised” and “disorganised” serial killers.
The first category would be intelligent, socially skilled, sexually competent, usually lived with a partner, targeted strangers and showed anti-social and psychopathic personality traits.
Classic examples include Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, Fred West and also Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer in Kansas, who sent taunting messages to the police (pictured, left).
They would plan their killings in advance and usually hide the bodies or hide any evidence that could be traced back to them.
Disorganised killers were the polar opposite – usually of low intelligence, socially and sexually inept, loners who showed signs of severe mental illness and had often been physically or sexually abused as a child.
Examples would include the US serial killers Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas (pictured, below).
While serial killers have not changed a great deal since the 1970s or 80s the police’s forensic armoury has improved.
There is now DNA, CCTV footage, mobile phone cellsite evidence and a range of other weapons which the police can unleash against serial killers.
But that does not make the “killer on the loose” any less frightening.
In November 2006 women began vanishing off the streets of the English town of Ipswich.
They were prostitutes and often drug addicts and their bodies would turn up in streams or fields a few miles from where they were last seen.
As a journalist I arrived in Ipswich just as the body of the third victim, Anneli Alderton, 24, was discovered in a field at Nacton.
I remember interviewing women in the town centre and they were terrified.
Although they were not prostitutes, nobody felt safe and few women were venturing out after dark.
Two weeks later Steve Wright, a fork-lift truck driver whose girlfriend worked nightshifts, was arrested and charged with the murder of all five women.
He was later jailed for life and Ipswich’s streets were safe to walk again.
RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN’S DEATH JUST GOT EVEN MURKIER
When Russian businessman Alexander Perepilicihnyy died in 2012 it was not long before the British media leapt to the conclusion that he had been poisoned by dark forces with links to the Kremlin.
But when the inquest resumed recently after a long hiatus the mystery became even more bafflying.
Journalists had been intrigued by one theory – that Perepilichnyy (pictured, left) had been poisoned with gelsemium elegans, a rare plant toxin from a Chinese plant known as “heartbreak grass”, possibly in a portion of traditional Russian sorrel soup which he had consumed shortly before his death.
At the inquest – held at Court 2 of the Central Criminal Court in front of Old Bailey Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC – this theory was soon blown apart and several other suspects emerged.
What had not been reported before was that Perepilichnyy – who was married – was having a secret affair with a young Ukrainian fashion designer, Elmira Medynska.
Medynska, who had been tracked down by a journalist with Buzzfeed, was persuaded to give evidence by videolink from Paris, where she now lives.
She said she met Mr. Perepilichnyy in March 2012, when she was 23, through a dating website but had no idea the 44-year-old was married or had children.
Medynska said he flew to meet her in Kiev in May 2012 and switched hotels within hours of arriving in the Ukrainian capital.
They met again for a “romantic holiday” in the south of France in the summer of 2012 and stayed at the luxurious Negresco Hotel in Nice.
Their final tryst was in Paris only days before his death on November 10, 2012 and she revealed that he had fell ill after eating in a restaurant and had vomited several times, only hours before his death.
Miss Medynska (pictured, left) told the inquest how he wined and dined her in some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants and bought her expensive gifts — a Prada handbag and Louboutin shoes.
After he died she received three phonecalls from someone with an English accent who claimed to be from the hospital or ambulance service and claimed Mr. Perepilichnyy had been in a car accident.
She said the caller refused to give her any details about his condition and she decided it must have been a “bad joke”.
Several months after he died she received an email from Perepilichnyy’s email address which told her she “was going to die soon” from AIDS.
She said she concluded it had probably been sent by Mr. Perepilichnyy’s widow Tatiana.
Professor Monique Simmonds, a botanist and Deputy Director of Science at Kew Gardens, said she had found no traces of scopolamine, a toxin found in gelsemium and also in deadly nightshade (belladonna).
Bob Moxon Browne QC, a lawyer representing for Legal & General, the life assurance company who insured Mr. Perepilichnyy’s life, tried to get her to admit that an “unknown ion” which was found in the dead man’s body could have been a sign of gelsemium but she was not biting.
Perepilichnyy died outside his £3 million home in St George’s Hill, a luxurious gated community in Weybridge, Surrey.
According to the original press stories his death was linked to a huge fraud committed against Hermitage Capital Management, a hedge fund run by US businessman Bill Browder.
But the inquest heard suggestions that Browder might be a CIA agent, which were quickly dismissed by Judge Hilliard.
The inquest heard Perepilichnyy was also being sued by Dzhirsa, a firm which allegedly was founded by Dmitry Kovtun.
A high court judge in London had ruled that Mr Kovtun — along with Andrei Lugovoi — had been responsible for murdering Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium in 2010.
The inquest also heard evidence about how Surrey Police used an untrained civilian to translate the contents of Perepilichnyy’s computer and then managed to lose the hard drive.
THE EVIL UNCLE WHO WAS DRIVEN TO KILL BY ONLINE SEX FANTASIES
A builder has been jailed for life for kidnapping, raping and murdering his 20-year-old niece and sexually assaulting a second woman.
Mujahid Arshid, 33, left the body of 20-year-old Celine Dookhran in a chest freeezer at a house in Kingston-upon-Thames, south west London.
Giving evidence Arshid tried to blame the survivor – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – and claimed she killed Celine (pictured, left) after becoming jealous after he had consensual sex with both women.
Arshid ran a building firm and had been hired by the owner of the house, Mohammed Ismail, to convert it into luxury flats.
But it is doubtful now whether anybody will ever want to live at 53 Coombe Lane West.
On July 19 last year Arshid took advantage of a family row to explore his deepest sexual fantasies.
Celine’s mother – who was the sister of Arshid’s wife Aisha – disapproved of Celine’s boyfriend, Omar Khmag, partly because he was from Libya and not India or Pakistan.
Celine had been staying at Arshid’s home in Mitcham, south London, because of the tension but there had been a huge row on the night of July 18 and Celine had threatened to run away.
The following morning Arshid, wearing a ski mask and gloves and armed with a Taser he had bought on eBay kidnapped Celine and the other woman and took them to the house in Kingston.
The survivor, a woman in her 20s, said Arshid raped Celine and then ordered her to climb into the freezer, but then let her out before killing her upstairs.
She said he also tried to get her to get into the freezer, but she refused.
She texted her boyfriend at one point: “Don’t message or call. Or reply. I have been kid booed [sic]. Kidnapped.”
Later she texted her mother: “He’s going to kill me. Don’t reply.”
The survivor said he raped her and Celine, slashing the 20-year-old’s throat in the bath before dragging her body downstairs and dumping it in a chest freezer he had brought to the house two days later specifically for the purpose.
“All I could see was her legs sticking out. I had to act like it was not affecting me,” the survivor told the court.
She said she then managed to talk Arshid out of killing her, saying she loved him and convincing him they could live together once her injuries had healed.
Arshid (pictured) padlocked the freezer before returning home briefly to collect his passport and Pakistan identity card.
The girl escaped and eventually alerted the police.
The killer left his blue Nissan Navara pick-up truck near New Malden station in south west London before catching a train to Dover.
When he was arrested in his hotel room in the early hours of the morning detectives found a mass of evidence, including Celine’s iPhone, the other victim’s Michael Kors wallet and a key which fitted the padlock on the freezer.
When it came to his trial in January and February 2018 Arshid, faced with a mountain of forensic evidence and the testimony of the survivor, was forced to concoct one of the most preposterous defenses ever mounted in a British court.
But his tissue of lies was exposed with brutal professionalism by the prosecutor, Crispin Aylett QC.
Back in 2014 Arshid had been questioned by detectives after an undercover police officer posing as a pedophile chatted with him online about his fantasies of raping the second victim, who was then a teenager. He also sent the undercover officer a photograph of the second victim.
Arshid was never charged because he told officers the chatlog was the work of a laborer, Zahid, who had taken advantage of his generosity when Arshid had given him his internet router password.
Arshid had claimed he had later confronted Zahid, who had admitted writing the chatlog, but by the time the police came to see him he had lost touch with Zahid after falling out with him.
The trial jury heard Arshid assaulted one of the women with a vibrator which he had brought to the house in Kingston, along with condoms and Mr. Aylett probed the similarities with the online sex fantasies.
“So your disgruntled ex-employee, Zahid, apparently had that same fantasy about using a vibrator on (the second victim)?” Mr. Aylett asked Arshid, as he gave evidence in the
“That chatlog is a load of rubbish,” replied Arshid.
“You’re not getting off on this are you Mr. Arshid? Saying as many revolting things as you can about (the second victim)?” added Mr. Aylett.
“No. It’s not that I like saying revolting things. I feel a lot of regret about those injuries she got but I was fighting for my life,” said Arshid, who claimed he had to defend himself when the second victim attacked him with a knife after she killed Celine.
Later Arshid was asked why he had sex – which he claimed was consensual – with the second victim in the house in Coombe Lane West.
“Can I be honest?” Arshid replied, “A man is a man innit. When the prospect of sex comes along a man would drop his pants to do what he has to do. Any man in this court would do that,” he added.
Earlier Arshid claimed he decided to take Celine and the other woman to the house in Kingston so they could “have a nice day out.”
He said he wanted Celine to “calm down” and stop talking about running away.
“She loved my car so it was just a distraction. It was just time out of the house, having a laugh and a joke and forgetting the drama of the night before,” claimed Arshid.
Mr. Aylett (pictured) asked him why they had left in such a rush that Celine did not call her work to explain her absence and was still in her pyjamas when she got in the car.
Arshid claimed it was “no big deal” and said she had brought her clothes with her.
Mr. Aylett then asked him about how he showed the two women how to bypass the electricity meter at the house in Coombe Lane West.
“Did Celine cheer up after you showed her how to bypass the electricity meter?” asked Mr. Aylett, gently mocking the defendant.
“I know it’s not the most exciting thing to do but yes, at that moment were listening to music and having a laugh,” Arshid claimed before he went off on a major rant about the electricity companies without realizing how tactless and damaging it was to his own case.
“All those energy companies steal money from people every day. They commit murder every day. They put their prices up every winter. Old age pensioners die because they don’t have the money. Nobody wants to hold the electricity companies to account. So what’s the problem if somebody wants to take a bit back off them?” ranted Arshid.
Arshid claimed he had consensual sex with the second victim and then, when she went downstairs, and then had intercourse with Celine, but again insisted she gave her consent.
He claimed the second woman then “burst into the room” and “was going crazy.”
“I left them to it and went outside to my truck,” said Arshid, who claimed he returned shortly after to find Celine dead in the bath and the second woman staying over her looking “like a moron”.
The police were alerted about Celine’s disappearance just before 5pm and the trial was told of text messages which Arshid exchanged with his wife Aisha over the next few hours.
At 7.22pm she texted him to say: “You’re not getting away with this.”
“With what?” he replied.
“You f***ing psycho,” wrote Aisha.
At 7.45pm she wrote: “You’ve proved everyone right.”
“Whatever I am you made me. You and those bitches,” replied Arshid.
A minute later, as Aisha pressed him for details of what he had done to Celine, he texted her: “I begged you to let me leave so many times.”
“So you attacked them. And killed Celine” texted Aisha.
“They attacked me,” Arshid replied.
“You just watch,” Aisha warned him.
“A darkness came over me,” Arshid replied.
“Where is Celine…we need to find her. Tell us,” his wife asked him.
Aisha then drove to Kingston but was unable to find the house in Kingston.
At 8.02pm she texted him to ask for the address of the house but he changed the subject and claimed Celine had run away.
At 8.06pm he texted her: “I’ll call you from Pakistan.”
She replied: “Don’t…You’re dead to me.”
“So is Celine apparently?” texted Arshid.
“If only you had let me go when I asked you over and over,” he added.
At around 9.30pm he boarded the train at New Malden and by 11pm he was at the Holiday Inn in Folkestone, not far from the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and the port of Dover.
But his mobile phone was traced by police to a Holiday Inn not far from Dover, where he was arrested.
He was convicted in February 2018 after a trial at the Old Bailey in London and jailed for life, with a minimum of 40 years.
FORGET VIDEO GAMES, RUSSIA’S GRAND THEFT AUTO GANG CAUSED REAL MAYHEM
Suddenly all hell broke loose.
They began struggling, trying to overpower the officers and one of them managed to kick the stop button in the lift as it descended from the courtroom. One of the officers screamed into his police radio, alerting all of his colleagues in the building. A video released two days later by the Russian authorities showed what happened next.
SOCIAL MEDIA ‘DETECTIVES’ TRY TO SOLVE MYSTERY OF FREEZER GIRL’S DEATH
It is a place where nothing much happens.
But in the last few weeks it has been the talk of the internet.
In the early hours of September 10, the body of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found in a walk-in freezer in a kitchen on the ninth floor of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center.
An autopsy later that day failed to identify the cause of death but almost immediately Facebook, Twitter and Instagram lit up as conspiracy theories and rumours started circulating about the pretty teenager’s demise.
Many of these were circulated by Jenkins’ friends and some went into great detail about who was involved in her rape and murder.
A Facebook Live video – which had been taken on the night of the party – also shed an eerie light on the case.
It featured Irene Roberts, a woman who has been accused of being at the center of the case, singing to music while wearing sunglasses in a hotel room.
Throughout the six-minute video, two men’s voices can be heard and what sounds like a woman crying.
A few days later Rosemont’s Mayor Brad Stephens criticized people for trying the case on social media and said: “It’s unfortunate that some of that stuff is convoluting the investigation because all those leads have got to be followed up on.”
Twelve people were said to be “involved in some way” in the incident and one of the rumours doing the rounds was that Kenneka had been lured to her death by a friend, who was allegedly paid just $200 to get her drunk enough to be targeted.
But video has since emerged which showed Kenneka wandering alone in the corridors and kitchen of the hotel, apparently the worse for wear.
So what do we know for definite?
Well, on September 8 Kenneka was invited to a party on the ninth floor of the hotel with her friends.
One friend, Monifah Shelton, said she left her mobile phone in the room as the group was leaving. They went back to get it and when they returned to the hallway she had disappeared.
Kenneka’s mother, Teresa Martin, arrived at the hotel at 5am on September 9 but hotel staff refused to look at surveillance footage from inside the hotel until a missing person report was filed.
Eventually, at 10pm that day, they agreed to look at the footage and spotted Kenneka “staggering drunk” by the front desk shortly after she went missing.
But the freezer is reportedly very hard to open, as it has two large doors, and social media speculators said there was no way she could have accidentally wandered in there on her own.
Roberts handed herself in to police, has been interviewed and released.
Kenneka was buried on Saturday, September 30.
Nobody has been charged and activists protested in Rosemont, calling for the FBI to be called in.
On October 23 the police released “graphic and disturbing” photographs showing Kenneka Jenkins’ body as they claimed it was found in the freezer.
Sam Adam Jr, a lawyer for Jenkins’ mother Tereasa Martin, said the questions posed more questions than they asked. But the Rosemont police declared the case closed.
Few believe that is the last we have heard of Kenneka Jenkins.
THE SERIAL KILLER WHO STRUCK TERROR THROUGH AMERICA’S OLDEST DISTRICT…AND THEN JUST VANISHED
Blaine Pardoe, a New York Times best-selling author, and his daughter Victoria Hester share a love of true crime and they have collaborated together for the first time with a new book, A Special Kind Of Evil, which tells the story of a serial killer in Virginia who has never been caught.
Victoria told Totalcrime: “Even as a little kid I was interested in true crime.”
“I wouldn’t have won any Father of The Year awards because I used to take her to notorious crime scenes when she was a girl,” joked Blaine.
Although he was born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1962 he had moved to Michigan by the time the Colonial Parkway Killer had claimed his first victim in 1986, and Victoria had not even been born.
So why did they choose this case to write a book about together?
“It’s a very historic area. Williamsburg and Jamestown were the first colonies in America (and nearby Yorktown is where the British surrendered in 1781) and it’s only a few hours away from where we live,” said Blaine.
Blaine said: “Cold cases are always interesting. It’s a sub-genre of true crime. People like to be given all the facts and everyone can come to different conclusions.”
Victoria said: “There have been lots of books about Jack The Ripper or The Zodiac Killer but there is no other book about the Colonial Parkway Killer. It’s an old case and it’s almost forgotten.”
As they researched the crimes and wrote the book Blair found himself describing the era to his daughter.
“The 1970s and 80s were my decade. It was my music, my era. But things were different. People hitch-hiked, there was no internet or cellphones and attitudes were very different,” said Blair.
The Colonial Parkway Killer killed eight people – four couples – between 1986 and 1989.
The murders were very different but they all took place in the Colonial Parkway area, a scenic route (pictured, left) which in summer is popular with tourists visiting historic Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.
Their bodies were found on October 12, 1986, in Thomas’s Honda Civic car. They had been strangled, their throats slashed and an attempt had been made to set fire to the car. There was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault.
“They were a lesbian couple but in those days gay people were persecuted and were forced to endure a closeted lifestyle,” said Blair.
Thomas had graduated from a US military academy but quit the Navy shortly before the murder, disillusioned because women at the time were not allowed on combat vessels. She quit and became a stockbroker.
Thomas and Dowski are believed to have been “making out” in the car, which was parked in a lovers’ lane just off the Colonial Parkway.
All of the killers’ victims were attacked in cars in lovers’ lanes.
Almost a year after Thomas and Dowski were murdered, with the police clueless about who had been responsible, the killer struck again.
On September 22, 1987, David Knobling, 20, and 14-year-old Robin Edwards were shot dead. His pick-up truck had been found at the Ragged Island wildlife refuge and three days later the bodies discovered on a riverbank.
But few people made the link between the first and second murders.
It was only after the third attack that the story really hit the headlines.
On April 9, 1988, Keith Call, 20, a student, and Cassandra Hailey, 18, went missing. Call’s red Toyota Celica was found the next day near the Colonial Parkway but neither body has ever been found.
“Local news covered it extensively after the third murder. The state police put together a taskforce and the FBI became involved,” said Blaine.
But the police and FBI had drawn a blank when, on October 19, 1989, the bodies of Daniel Lauer, 21, and his brother’s girlfriend Annamaria Phelps, 18, were found by hunters just off Interstate 64.
That was the last killing ascribed to the Colonial Parkway Killer and nobody has ever been charged with the crimes.
“At one of the scenes the killer hung a roach clip from the window (pictured, left) and police felt it was a taunt,” said Blaine.
“The investigators believed if they solved one it would solve all of them, but it didn’t work and the families have suffered so much angst over the years,” said Blaine.
Several suspects have been identified over the years, including Michael Nicholaou, who committed suicide after killing his wife Aileen and stepdaughter Taryn Bowman in Florida in 2005.
He was living in Virginia at the time of the murders and reportedly had bondage items, whips, chains, and hard-core porn tapes, including scenes of bestiality, at his pawn shop but there is very little hard evidence to link him to the crimes.
The other suspect, Fred Atwell, a police officer, only emerged in 2009 when he claimed crime scene photographs from the Colonial Parkway case had been inappropriately taken from the FBI’s office.
He was later convicted of a felony related to fraudulent fundraising and remains in jail.
But Blaine says: “Everything we have looked at with Fred Atwell has ended up as a dead-end. He inserted himself into the case and drew interest from the FBI. But when you expose the failings of the FBI you incur their wrath.”
Blaine and Victoria spoke to seven of the eight families involved.
“They just want closure. They have gone through years of not knowing what happened. We are hoping the book will help. Hopefully somebody saw something and will come forward,” said Blaine.
A Special Kind Of Evil is out now.
BULLET AND THE TAMIL GANGSTERS THAT BROUGHT VIOLENT CULTURE WITH THEM FROM SRI LANKA
by Chris Summers 15 June 2017
There have been many waves of immigration to Britain from Asia but few groups have spawned as much violence as young Sri Lankan Tamil men, many of them born into a horrific civil war.
As a gangster called “Bullet” starts a life sentence, what lies behind the violence?
Between 2000 and 2003 violence between Tamil gangs in London spiked, with 10 murders and a series of other bloody incidents. The gangs took their names from towns and villages back in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
The most prominent were Mannar, Ariyalai, Urundari and Valvettithurai, known as VVT. But Scotland Yard swooped on them and after a series of trials most of the killers were jailed and the violence died down.
In May 2009, the civil war in Sri Lanka came to a bloody end when the Tamil Tigers (pictured, left) were surrounded and killed in their jungle hideout by the Sri Lankan Army.
The death of the Tigers’ legendary leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran and their total rout by soldiers from the island’s Sinhalese majority came as a body blow to many Sri Lankan Tamils, who had dreamed of a homeland called Eelam.
Back in London many members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora had protested in Parliament Square, urging the British government to do something to protect the civilians who became caught up in the violence in the spring of 2009.
Many more Sri Lankan Tamil refugees came to live in Britain, many of them psychologically damaged from what they had witnessed. New gangs began to emerge on the streets of London — the Jaffna Boys, Tooting Tamils, the Harrow Gang and the notorious DMX, from Wembley.
Within the Tooting Tamils were two groups of friends who would fall out with each other because of disputes over money from cash machine frauds they were involved in.
Just after 7pm one of the gangs, armed with axes, swords and machetes, started chasing the other group.
Justin Neel Croos, 26 (pictured), was cornered and attacked with an axe.
Another man, Rajendren Mahindaskaran, had three fingers almost severed when he put his hand up to shield his head from a weapon. Mahindaskaran was a promising semi-professional cricketer but his sporting career was ended by the attack.
A third victim suffered a fractured skull.
The leader of the attackers, Prashad Sothalingham — known by the street name “Bullet” — fled to Portsmouth and then Essex, where he was arrested.
Another defendant fled to Yorkshire while one murder suspect, Inkaran Balasingham, fled the country entirely and is believed to still be abroad, possibly in India or Sri Lanka. Eight men were charged with Mr. Croos’s murder and this week the last in a series of trials ended with one being convicted of murder and several others convicted of violent disorder.
Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls, QC, told the Old Bailey it had been a “vicious attack” by men with a “complex history of grievances and violence.”
This week Sothalingam, 25, was jailed for life for the murder of Croos.
Sothalingham (pictured) came to Britain, as an illegal immigrant, at the age of 15 and lied about his past – claiming both his parents died in the 2004 tsunami – in order to stay in the UK.
“Your reaction in the witness box was to state that the feuding of Tamil gangs was based on respect. But where is the slightest respect for the country which has taken you in and supported you?” the judge told him.
“Those who come to this country for a better life or to escape a war-torn country, as Sri Lanka was at the time, are not expected to be grateful. But they cannot simply carry on as before, with feuding criminal gangs using swords, axes and machetes. It will not be tolerated,” the judge added.
A witness had told the jury he saw Sothalingham armed with an axe and saw him hit Mr. Croos on the head with it.
Sugan Selvarajan was found not guilty of murder.
Two other men — Aranventhan Puventhiran, 21, and Sivakaran Ockersz, 18, were cleared of murder by a jury last year but Puventhiran was jailed for 33 months for violent disorder.
Selvarajan, Ockersz and Dayaparan were convicted of wounding and violent disorder and jailed on Wednesday.
35 YEARS AFTER THE DIRTY WAR WILL THE VICTIMS FINALLY GET JUSTICE?
HOW MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND CASUAL SEX MADE FOR A DEADLY COCKTAIL
The cases of Stephen Port, Stefano Brizzi and Ben Bamford were all very different but they all highlighted the vulnerability of promiscuous gay men who cannot resist the thrill of illicit sex.
Port, a serial killer who would have carried on claiming lives if he had not been arrested, has been given a whole life tariff for the murder of four young men at his flat in Barking, east London.
His preference was for skinny young men – known in the gay community as “twinks” – and his four victims all met up with him willingly.
What Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, and Anthony Walgate, 23, did not know was that Port had a fetish for raping unconscious young men.
He dosed them up with the drug GHB – commonly used for gay sex – but went too far, killing all of them.
Port (pictured, below) dumped their bodies outside his flat or in a churchyard nearby and due to an inadequate police response managed to get away with it for months.
In the same week that Port was convicted, Ben Bamford, 18, was jailed for life for murdering Paul Jefferies, 52, a senior civil servant who advised the government on tax policy.
He sought out sordid gay sex encounters on Grindr and it was there he found Bamford.
But the teenager was in debt to a drug dealer and when he got back in contact with Jefferies he had a hidden agenda – he wanted money.
When Jefferies refused to give him the money he needed he stabbed him with three knives and beat him to death with a candlestick before fleeing in his Audi TT car.
Bamford had been injured in the struggle and was pictured (below) smirking and holding up his middle finger in a selfie taken in his hospital bed.
Brizzi was very different.
Unlike the confident Port or the arrogant Bamford, he was a broken man when he appeared in court, nervous and highly strung, constantly on the verge of tears as he gave evidence.
He had hooked up on Grindr with Gordon Semple, a police officer who was cheating on his live-in boyfriend with a Friday afternoon rendezvous with Brizzi.
Brizzi, an Italian investment banker who had lost his job after becoming addicted to crystal methamphetamine, was into BDSM, as was Semple.
But things went too far and Semple ended up dead.
Brizzi (pictured, below) tried to claim it was all a terrible accident but his actions after Semple’s death – failing to raise the alarm, cutting up the body, cooking part of it in his oven and dis
posing of it – led to him being convicted of murder.
What also counted against him was that he had changed his story.
When he was first arrested he told detectives: “I killed him last week. I met him on Grindr and I killed him. Satan told me to.”
But he later dropped the “voices from Satan” defence and claimed instead that he panicked when he went through Semple’s belongings and found his police ID.
After he was sentenced to spend at least 24 years in prison, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London Baljit Ubhey said: “An evil and calculating man, Brizzi lied to the police and then to the court, claiming that Mr Semple’s tragic death was caused when a sex game went horribly wrong.”
But they also show just how dangerous it is. The stranger could turn out to be a killer.
Of course there were similar killings long before Grindr.
In the 1980s Dennis Nilsen was convicted of murdering 12 men at his home in north London. He famously “killed for company” and would often have sex with his victims’ dead bodies. He was caught when the flesh of his victims clogged up the drains.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Jeffrey Dahmer committed very similar crimes in the 1990s in Milwaukee. He was later murdered in a prison shower after being jailed for life.
And then there was Colin Ireland.
Ireland was a homophobic serial killer. Known as the “Gay Slayer”, he murdered five men in the space of a few months in 1993, all of whom were picked up in gay pubs.
Scotland Yard put out an urgent appeal to catch him (pictured, below).
Ireland, who claimed not to have a grudge against gay men but just chose them because they were easy targets, was eventually jailed for life and died in Wakefield prison in 2012.
Brizzi was found dead in his cell at Belmarsh prison in south-east London on 6 February 2017.
by Chris Summers 5 September 2016
Buller grew up in Toronto but spent summers as a child with relatives from the Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan, and some of her childhood friends became victims.
Buller knows the inquiry will be a painful process for many First Nations people and said this week: “We don’t want to hurt you, and we’ll be respectful. It’s very important to remember in all of this that there are real people and we can never lose sight of that.”
“We need to identify the causes of those disparities and take action now to end them.”
“We know that the inquiry cannot undo the injustices that indigenous peoples have suffered over decades but we can review what has happened in the past, reflect on our present circumstances and chart a path moving forward.”
“I DIDN’T WORRY ABOUT HIM. HE SAID HE WAS ON HIS WAY HOME” – MUM RECALLS HOT SUMMER NIGHT WHEN HER SON WAS MURDERED
by Chris Summers 1 August 2016
Curran, who had been armed with a beer bottle, was jailed for 18 months for her part in the attack and for covering up for Paraschakis after he fled the country. Spouse, who was 28, was cleared of grievous bodily harm with intent and wounding with intent and walked free from court. Sentencing Paraschakis, Judge Giles Forrester said: “The carrying of knives in public places is a menace which blights out streets and makes law abiding citizens fearful. “The streets become dangerous places when young men carry and use knives as you did. “Julian Knight was aged 16 years and his untimely death has had a devastating effect on his family.” That is never more true than today, 10 years after his death. Mrs Jeacock said: “I think about him every day. He was taken away so suddenly.” She said she, and her youngest son – who was 12 at the time – had undergone counselling. “It was devastating for him to lose his older brother. They used to do everything together. He had no-one to look up to and take guidance from. Buster would have been a good role model. It was very difficult for him,” she said. Mrs Jeacock has set up a football team – the JB Knights – in memory of Buster, who loved the sport and was a big Arsenal fan. It started off as a memorial match that his friends organised but nine years later they are still playing in division one of a local league in south east London. The team’s shirts (pictured) are emblazoned with an anti-knife crime message.
WHY DID A VISIT TO A HAIR SALON END IN DEATH FOR SIX YOUNG WOMEN?
by Chris Summers 9 July 2016
It started out as a robbery. It soon went wrong. And by the end of the night it had turned into a tragedy.
Six young women died when fire destroyed Campus Trendz, a clothing boutique and hairdressing salon in Bridgetown, the capital of the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados.
The victims were Pearl Cornelius, 19, Shanna Griffith, 22, Kelly-Ann Welch, 20, Kellishaw Olivierre, 23, Nikita Belgrave, 24, and Tiffany Harding, 21.
Three of the girls worked in the shop while the others were friends.
They had stopped by, waiting for their friends to finish work so they could hang out together.
Renaldo Alleyne and his hapless Jamar Bynoe really had not thought through their crime.
They arrived around 6.45pm on the night of September 3, 2010 armed not with knives or guns but with Molotov cocktails.
They were planning to rob the owner of the shop, Bibi Ally.
The girls panicked and locked themselves in a storeroom at the back of the shop.
Alleyne and Bynoe grabbed some cash from the till and as they left the bungled raid they tossed the petrol bombs into the shop and started a deadly inferno and the six trapped women died from asphyxiation after breathing in the deadly smoke.
Alleyne was recognised by local people as he fled, many of whom had gone to school with him.
Police also found a CCTV tape of the entire robbery which left no doubt as to what had happened.
Alleyne was arrested almost immediately, pleaded guilty in 2011 and was jailed for life.
But Bynoe denied his guilt.
He said: “I did not in any way plan or was part of any plan to rob that store, Campus Trendz, or setting fire to anyone there. I know nothing whatsoever about these crimes different [from] being here charged and that’s the gospel truth.”
Pearl, who was originally from Guyana and was sometimes known as Amanda, worked part-time at the salon.
Her friend told a Guyanese newspaper: “I knew Amanda was in there but there is nothing we could’a do because the fire was so big. I think when the fire start get hot, they get confuse and ran to the back of the place to hide and could not get out.”
Her mother, Nichola Marshall, told Bynoe’s trial she was in a beauty parlour nearby when she heard there was a fire.
She called her daughter’s mobile phone but there was no answer.
Her mother, Nichola Marshall, told Bynoe’s trial she was in a beauty parlour nearby when she heard there was a fire.
She called her daughter’s mobile phone but there was no answer.
She ran towards the fire and realised with horror that the flames were coming from the building containing the salon.
Mrs Marshall told the court: “Campus Trendz was on fire…I asked for my daughter…I stood outside of the building praying and hoping for my daughter to come out. She never did. I was there from after 6 til 10 or 11 at night. She still didn’t come out. I went home.”
At 3am she was called back to the salon and was asked to identify the lifeless body of her beloved daughter.
Judge Kentish told Alleyne: “You took the lives of six very young women, in one fell swoop, in an act of callousness and utter lack of thought that defied understanding.”
She said Alleyne had devastated the families of the six women and traumatised an entire society.
The judge accepted he was too dim-witted to realise the possible consequences of their actions.
The first trial of Bynoe (left) collapsed on a technicality and it was only this month, after a retrial, he was convicted of murder. The jury took only 51 minutes to reach their verdict.
But Barbados has not executed anyone since 1984 and in 2014 the Barbadian government announced plans to abolish its mandatory death penalty.
Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite said he expected strong opposition to the plan, as many on the island believed the death penalty was an appropriate punishment.
The island has recently suffered a crime wave, with an increase in robberies, burglaries and murders, which may lead the government to shelve its plans to abolish the death penalty.
But it seems doubtful Bynoe will ever make it to the gallows or Pearl, Shanna Griffith, Kelly-Ann, Kellishaw, Nikita and Tiffany will ever get the justice their families believe they deserve.
HOW THE ‘BALKAN LIAM NEESON’ ENDED UP IN A BRITISH JAIL CELL
By Chris Summers 3 April 2016
“Me and my sister have seen the film Taken and we commented on how much the Liam Neeson character is like our dad,” says 18-year-old Jensila Avdyli.
Avdyli (pictured left, with Jensila) was jailed for 14 years this week for the manslaughter of Asim “Zeni” Marku in the Dolce Vita restaurant in Walthamstow, north east London in April last year.
The killing was caught on CCTV footage and in it Avdyli marches in purposefully, confronts Marku and others at his table, punches him and a few seconds later pulls out a large kitchen knife from his back pocket and stabs him once in the heart.
Earlier in the day Avdyli had been beaten up in the garden of a nearby café by Marku and six others after he tried to stop them abusing his childhood friend, Skender, the owner of the café.
Jensila told totalcrime: “He was always sticking up for people even if it wasn’t his position. He didn’t like to see people bullied.”
Avdyli’s trial at the Old Bailey heard claims that Marku was a bodyguard who worked for Albert Doda. The court heard that Albert and his brother Florin were involved in drug dealing and human trafficking.
Avdyli said that after they beat him they threatened that if they saw him again they would kill him.
He reported the attack to the police but they did not even photograph his injuries and asked HIM if he could obtain CCTV footage from the café.
Later that evening Avdyli walked into the Dolce Vita. He said later he was told Skender was in there and was hoping to get the CCTV footage from him.
But he suddenly found himself face to face with his attackers.
Avdyli claims Marku told him: “This time you’re going to go back in your mother’s pussy.”
He punched Marku and said he only stabbed him because he thought he saw him reaching for a knife.
At 4am he began texting Jensila, saying he was going to prison for “murder” and wanted her to know he loved her.
Jensila told totalcrime: “I saw the texts when I woke up and I thought he was just drunk and it was all bulls***. But then I heard on the radio that a 44-year-old man had been arrested.”
Avdyli, a bear of a man with an angular face, had been a policeman in the town of Tropoje in northern Albania but in 1998 he came to the UK.
Jensila explains: “There was a lot of corruption. My dad’s family was in conflict with the government and a lot of my dad’s cousins had been killed by the government. That is why he left.”
Jensila arrived as a baby, along with her mother, and the family set up home in Crouch Hill, north London.
Avdyli got indefinite leave to remain and began working as a carpenter.
For 10 years things were good. He earned good money and they went on regular family holidays to places like Egypt and Spain.
But when the recession hit in 2009 he lost his job with a construction firm.
Unemployed and bored, he began hanging around Albanian cafes and got addicted to gambling, spending a fortune on fruit machines and roulette tables.
There were frequent rows with his wife and later incidents of domestic violence.
Eventually they got divorced and he moved out.
But he remained a good dad.
Jensila says: “We were very close. It was not really like a father/daughter relationship. It was more like a friend. Now it’s like I have lost a father and a friend. He held the whole family together.”
But another girl has lost her father, and not just temporarily.
“Sadly for both Klea and I our worlds changed on this day.
“Zeni was our provider and protector, and now that man had been taken from Klea and I. He is a husband who I will never grow old with, and Klea cannot remember her father’s hugs or kisses.
“I will have to explain to her how her father was killed. How do I tell her this? What impact is this going to have on her and me for the rest of our lives? None of us know. All we know is that a loving husband and doting father has been taken from us needlessly.”
Jensila and her younger sister plan to visit her dad in prison and she said: “He is disappointed. He claimed he acted in self-defence but the jury decided it was not reasonable self-defence. He feels let down by the system. It’s frustrating because I have seen the killers of completely innocent people get far less.”
She also said her father was worried that his elderly parents, who live in Albania, might die before he is released.
GUNS, BOMBS AND BOLLYWOOD: THE MURKY UNDERBELLY OF MUMBAI
Dawood Ibrahim is not your ordinary gangster and his gang, the D-Company, is not a simply organised crime syndicate.
But that is exactly what Ibrahim (pictured, left) and his sidekick Tiger Memon did on 12 March 1993.
The bombs hit iconic targets like the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Air India building, the Sea Rock hotel and The Plaza cinema and killed 257 people.
The headquarters of the Hindu extremist Shiv Sena party was also a target.
The bombings were said to be revenge for Hindu extremists demolishing the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and then killing Muslims in riots between December 1992 and January 1993.
Mumbai is a city with a large Muslim community and Ibrahim drew his support from them.
But from a business point of view the bombings (pictured, left) were a disaster.
Last year India executed Yakub Memon, another member of D-Company who was accused of financing the bombings.
Ibrahim remains in hiding but D-Company still controls large parts of the Mumbai underworld and is said to launder much of its money by investing in Bollywood movies.
Ibrahim was named a “global terrorist” in October 2003 and three years later then US President George W Bush labelled him a “foreign narcotics trafficker”.
He is said to traffic drugs all over the world, using Mumbai as the hub.
One of Ibrahim’s biggest underworld enemies is Chhota Rajan. The pair fell out after the Mumbai bombings and in 2000 one of Ibrahim’s acolytes, Chhota Shakeel (chhota just means young or junior) tried to kill Rajan in a Bangkok hotel room.
Rajan (pictured left) stayed on the run for years but in October last year he was arrested in Bali and finally extradited back to India where he is wanted for numerous murders.
Shakeel, who is said to be heir to Ibrahim’s crime empire, was interviewed recently by an Indian newspaper.
He said of Rajan: “Today or tomorrow, we will kill him. We missed him in Bangkok and in Australia he escaped before we could attack him. In Bali, we could not get the weapon in time. It was not a failure – he escaped before we could attack him.”
The violence and the back-stabbing in the Mumbai underworld is by no means over.
It is like a Bollywood movie, without the dance numbers, and with a lot more bloodshed.
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUNG GIRL HAVING FUN IN AMERICA?
Kortne Stouffer was just a young girl having fun.
They came round to drink beer at her apartment in the small town of Palmyra, Pennsylvania, and were planning to go to a bar in the centre of nearby Harrisburg later.
At 9.05pm the police were called because neighbours suspected that some of the drinkers were under-age.
They were right. There were seven people in the apartment and everyone was breath-tested.
Only Michael Burdge, 19, and Corey Bowman, 18, tested positive so they were the charged with under-age drinking and taken away.
But Kortne’s boyfriend, Brad Herr, was also arrested, because he was on probation for drink driving.
When the cops left Kortne and her friends tried to laugh it off.
They headed into Harrisburg and had a good night, although there is a suggestion she had a row with another girl and was thrown out of the bar.
A police officer was called again after neighbours complained about Kortne’s dog barking.
The cop spoke to Kortne and left about 3.45am.
Half an hour later the cop came back after neighbours complained about banging noises.
This time nobody answered the door.
But the man who spent the night at her apartment told her father he did not see or hear anything and when he woke up at 7.30am she was gone.
She did not show up for work the next day.
When her mother, Wendy, went to her apartment she found the door unlocked, her wallet and cellphone inside and her car parked outside. But Kortne was nowhere.
Friends mounted several searches on foot, with dogs and on horseback.
Wendy and her husband Scott (pictured left) held “Come Home” vigils to spread awareness of the case, posted up 5,000 flyers and raised $40,000 towards reward money.
But like the character in the book and film Gone Girl, she has vanished.
Unlike Gone Girl though, her friends and relatives are pretty sure she has been murdered.
Pruett obviously became the prime suspect. But he has taken a lie detector test and passed with flying colours.
Police also searched a car owned by Milton Rodriguez, one of the men Kortne went into Harrisburg with, and they also checked out his house.
He is said to have wrapped her body in a carpet and a large plastic bag, taken her from the apartment in a silver van, dismembered her in it and then disposed of the remains in a lake.
Burdge then supposedly cleaned it at the car wash where he worked.
Sadly Burdge (pictured left) died in a car crash in June 2013 and took his secrets to the grave.
There is also a suggestion that Kortne may have been pregnant and that was the reason why she was killed.
Other rumours – discounted by the family – suggest Kortne and her boyfriend, Brad Herr, may have been involved in drug dealing and this led to her death.
But Scott Stouffer is not giving up and is determined to find answers to what happened to his daughter.
He said recently: “In a sense, not having closure is hope for me. Having the hope that she might show up one day. With closure comes reality.”
WILL MILLION DOLLAR REWARDS HELP SOLVE MURDERS OF 18 CHILDREN?
Earlier this month a man was charged with the murder of two-year-old Khandalyce Pearce, whose body was found beside a road in South Australia a few months ago. But the murders of 18 other children in the same state – some as far back as 1966 – have remained unsolved. Will huge new rewards help?
Crimestoppers was founded in New Mexico in 1976 in a bid to solve the murder of a young gas station attendant during an armed robbery.
There are now 1,700 Crimestoppers organisations around the world and they have helped to catch a million criminals.
They enable people to give crucial information anonymously. It is passed on to the police but the informant can stay out of it.
They also help to raise rewards to offer in tough cases which are hard to crack.
South Australia is bigger than Britain, France and Germany put together but it has a population which is less than half that of the Republic of Ireland.
But for some reason there are 13 unsolved child murder cases in South Australia involving 18 children. Crimestoppers, in association with the police and the state authorities, have now offered A$1m rewards in each case.
They vary from the little-known to some of the most notorious in Australian criminal history.
One of the most famous cases is the disappearance of Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4 (pictured, with Joanne on the left) who vanished during an Aussie Rules football match in August 1973.
Joanne was at the game with her parents and little Kirste was there with her grandmother, who regularly sat near the Ratcliffes and knew the family well.
When Kirste wanted to go to the toilet during the match, Joanne agreed to take her.
The toilets were on the other side of the stadium, the Adelaide Oval. But when the girls failed to return 20 minutes later Joanne’s mother asked for the alarm to be raised.
Another famous case is that of the Beaumont children, Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4, (pictured left) who vanished from Glenelg Beach in January 1966. It may seem odd nowadays in an era where we are so safety-conscious and neurotic about paedophiles, but their parents had allowed Jane to take the younger children to the beach on their own.
Announcing the A$1m rewards the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, said: “These families deserve justice and they have been deprived of that all these years.
“Even the smallest piece of information can lead to a chain of inquiry which can lead to an arrest of a perpetrator.
“It would not only be an important relief to the family but an important sense of relief for the whole South Australian community if these people could be brought to justice or if we could know just a little bit more about the final resting place of these victims.”
The other killings are:
– Patricia Schmidt, 16, whose body was found off a dirt track at Hallett Cove on December 18, 1971, hours after she was last seen;
– Marilyn Qualmann, 14, who disappeared From her Moorook home on September 21, 1975;
– Alan Barnes, 17, whose body was found under the South Para Bridge near Williamstown on June 24, 1979, less than a week after he disappeared;
– Peter Stogneff, 14, whose remains were found on June 23, 1982, at a Two Wells property, almost 10 months after he disappeared;
– Michaela Godau, 15, who disappeared from her Elizabeth Field home overnight on December 19-20, 1982;
– Richard Kelvin, 15, whose body was found near an airstrip at Kersbrook on July 24, 1983, 19 days after he was abducted from North Adelaide;
– The Pearce family murders – the bodies of Meredith Pearce and her three children Adam, 11, Travis, 9, and Kerry, 2, were found in the ruins of a fire at a Parafield house on January 6, 1991;
– Juan Morgan, 15, who disappeared some time in 1992;
– Rhianna Barreau, 12, (pictured, left) last seen at her Morphett Vale home on October 7, 1992;
– Heather Turner, 16, whose body was found on January 31, 1998, partly submerged in a Port Gawler creek, about two weeks after she was last seen;
– Melissa Brown, aka Trussell, 15, last seen on May 13, 2000, leaving a Blair Athol address with her mother Rosemary Brown, whose body was found at Garden Island on July 2, 2000.
The murders are featured heavily in What Is Crimestoppers by former Toronto crime journalist Cal Millar, which is available on Amazon.
You can contact South Australia Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 in Australia or online: https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/crime-stoppers-information-report
HOW AN INNOCENT JOKE LED TO THE DEATH OF TWO YOUNG WOMEN
Mr Osahon (pictured below, left) said the driver of a bus going to Luton was angry and waiting to leave, and local hotel rooms were fully booked.
Asked why he did it, he said: “It was just to motivate people to leave. I would say nobody was making a move towards the door. There was just the same amount of people on the dance floor.”
He said he thought people would know he was joking and added: “I’m well-known on the university scene, I put on an African accent as a comedic persona. I understood that people would see it as a joke and not something very, very serious.”
But his joking triggered a stampede.
People began having trouble breathing and as people pushed from the back some girls fell to the floor, with others piling on top of them.
Revellers began having trouble breathing and, after people in the crowd pushed from the back, some girls fell to the floor with people piling on top of them.
Nabila, a leisure and tourism student who lived in Northampton, died on the night while Laurene-Danielle, a student from Wembley, died three weeks later in Leicester Glenfield Hospital.
Head doorman Chris Edwards gave a statement to police that the club had a capacity of 1,600 and for this Wickedest, Wickedest event 900 tickets had been pre-sold and up to 700 had been bought on the door on the night. He said according to the devices used to count people in and out of the club 1,519 people had gone in and only 60 had come out by the time of the incident.
Fire Officer Steven Swan said there were up to 300 people “packed like sardines on the staircase” and another firefighter described it as being like a “mini Hillsborough”.
The foreman of the jury said Mr Osahon’s announcements telling people to leave was “the most significant factor” in the two deaths.
The foreman said: “We believe the safe exit from the club was not adequately considered by the promoters and the club. We believe the most significant factor that caused the overcrowding in the vestibule and the crush on the stairs was the DJ announcements in that 14 were made in the space of 30 minutes.’
The foreman added that lack of management in the cloakroom and crowd’s attitude and behaviour was also a factor.
He said: “I feel very strongly that there must be a clearer understanding of accountability from this tragedy.”
THE FAMILY LUNCH WHICH ENDED IN MURDER
“Then the phone cut off, I didn’t hear anything else, just a car skid.”
Earlier Michael Magarian QC, representing Mikey Bagnall, suggested Bayne had “a desire to prove yourself” and added: “That’s why you did what you did that day.” The events of 23 November 2014 created a brutal fracture in the previously solid and united Bayne/Bagnall family. Mikey threatened Andrew Bayne in Belmarsh prison, while Andrew and Anthony clearly loathed Mikey. They blamed each other for what had happened.
The trial was told that Mikey had forged a letter claiming to be from Andrew’s girlfriend, Nicky, in which she told him she was dumping him, had been seeing someone else while he was in prison and told him to hang himself. This week Mikey Bagnall and Andrew Bayne were convicted of murder.Bagnall was jailed for life with a minimum of 28 years while Bayne got a 30 year tariff.
His uncle Anthony Bayne was convicted of affray.
ARE POLICE COVERING UP MURDER IN GOA?
by Chris Summers 2 November 2015
Goa is an idyllic, tropical paradise where millions of people go on holiday every year.
But when Felix Dahl was found dead on a road in Goa in January this year his family were to discover the woeful shortcomings of the local police.
Felix was a 22 year old economics student from Finland who decided to travel to India in October last year.
Ms Pirhonen has now set up a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/felix.dahl.info/ – and has offered a reward of 1 lakh (1,400 euros or £1,000) in a bid to get information about his death.
His father and brother game to visit him in Goa.
His Finnish girlfriend then came to stay with him for three weeks. She left on January 8 and at the time Felix had 700 euros in cash but had lost his Visa card.
His mother said: “This money was supposed to be enough as he was coming home a few weeks later. “
Ms Pirhonen said: “Something happened during the January 24-25 weekend. I think Felix’s money was stolen or finished this weekend. I suspect that Felix was warned that somebody wants to kill him that weekend, because his behaviour changed. He was afraid and nervous and he started to sleep on the beach.”
On the Monday – January 26 – his mother received a disturbing phone call from Felix.
She said: “He told me that I am not to blame for anything, I have raised him in the best possible way and it is not my fault. I could not understand what he talked about. He did not explain it. “
He also said that in the summer of 2011 he had some contacts with criminals, but this does not be true. Probably he wanted his mother to remember that he mentioned criminals, in case something would happen to him. However, he assured her that everything was okay and he was happy in Goa.
She expected him to call back later that week for a longer chat.
That evening Felix went into the town of Patnem and ended up in a fight with two men on the beach.
Ms Pirhonen said there were various accounts of what happened that night: “According to police in Goa, Felix was involved in looking for a bag of a tourist on the beach. The dogs had taken the bag that contained passport and other documents of that person, and Felix helped to look for that bag when the dogs attacked him.
“While he was fighting with the dogs, locals came to rescue the dogs and for a while there was a complete chaos on the beach. During this chaos Felix was beaten by the locals.”
Whatever happened what is known is that Felix was badly beaten by the men and was taken back to Agonda by the police. No-one was arrested.
The next day Felix appeared paranoid to acquaintances and he told a Norwegian photographer that his life was in danger and he needed help to get out of Goa.
He asked: “Do you think I will be alive tomorrow?”
The Norwegian promised to help him but Felix left with a Goan acquaintance, Lenslood Fernandes, who had borrowed a car and took him to the home of a doctor, Dr Tavares.
Ms Pirhonen said she had spoken to Dr Tavares who confirms he gave Felix a tetanus shot, put some iodine on his wounds and gave him a prescription for antibiotics.
He described Felix as depressed, nervous and afraid but not intoxicated.
At around 9 pm they went to a restaurant in Patnem but Mr Fernandes said Felix left while he was in the toilet.
Felix’s body was found in the morning down a lonely road (pictured) that led into a forest.
A woman who lives nearby and had been hosting a dinner party saw a shirtless man – possibly Felix – walking towards the forest at around 1.30am.
She warned him the road was a dead end and he turned around and started walking in the opposite direction, towards the place where he was later found.
Felix had suffered a fatal wound to the back of his head and a small wound over his one eye.
But nobody knew who the dead man was for several hours because he had no phone or identity documents on him.
Ms Pirhonen said the area where Felix found was never treated like a crime scene and any forensic evidence was trampled on.
Police Sub-Inspector Prashal Desai told The Goan newspaper: “The post mortem report also don’t show any major injury which can convert the case as murder case…Cause of death is due to the head injury as specified in the report of government hospital. But the injuries are an irregular shape and it can happen with the fall.”
But Felix’s head injuries could not be caused by falling along a road according to two forensic doctors.
Felix’s friend, who identified Felix based on pictures taken by the police, told Finnish journalists: “You could see that he had a wound in the back of his head, as if someone hit him from behind. I think someone killed him.
But the Goan police did not admit a crime had been committed.
Ms Pirhonen (pictured, hugging a young Felix) says of the police in Goa: “They should have investigated the crime, instead of trying to cover it up. The uninvestigated crimes against tourists and locals alike in Goa are human rights violations. The task of the local police seems to be to cover up the crimes against tourists so that no negative news is spreading of Goa as a dangerous holiday destination. They should remember that even the news about uninvestigated crimes brings negative publicity. It would be better for the tourism in the long run to investigate the crimes properly and bring the criminals to the justice.”
If you know more about this case contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
MUM TURNS SLEUTH IN BID TO PROVE SON WAS MURDERED
by Chris Summers 16 October 2015
A plucky mum has turned Miss Marple in a bid to prove her son was murdered in north London.
Ambrose Ball, a father-of-two, went missing in January this year but his body was only found three months later, in the River Lea in Tottenham.
His mum, Ruth Lovell, was told by police that her son had crashed his BMW car before disappearing.
Ms Lovell said she was shown a body at Haringey mortuary but she does not believe it was her son. She pointed out that a recent tattoo of a Mexican lady on one side of his torso had vanished.
An inquest into Ambrose’s death which was due to open in August has now been delayed until the New Year as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigates the actions of police officers after he was reported missing.
She is demanding a fresh, independent autopsy on her son’s body.
Ms Lovell believes her son was “set up” by a friend and then ambushed and stabbed to death in front of a crowd of people, many of whom were filming events on their mobile phones.
She said she was only shown CCTV footage from the pub seven months after her son’s death and she said it was riddled with inconsistencies.
Ms Lovell said she believes he was killed 24 hours before the police claimed and she also said the footage showed her son, having been attacked by several men, take off his shirt and then run towards a group of police officers.
The police claim Ambrose (pictured, with one of his children) then got into his car and drove off. But she said the man in the film getting into a car was not her son because Ambrose had a pronounced limp from a car accident.
Ms Lovell said her son worked as a car sprayer and doted on his two children but his relationship with their mother, Zoe, broke up in 2014 and he was forced to move into a flat with a friend, Alpesh Mistry.
She said her son was trying to save up for a deposit on a flat and became involved in a hydroponic cannabis operation.
The crop was harvested in December and Ms Lovell said friction developed with Ambrose’s partners suspecting him of ripping them off.
Ms Lovell said: “My son was not a drug dealer or a gang member and he had not ripped anyone off but he was being threatened two weeks before he died.”
On Wednesday 21 January Ambrose came to see his mother and she said: “He was frightened of something and I couldn’t help him. He said ‘I love you, mum’ and left.”
But Ambrose’s mother never saw him again.
On the morning of Saturday 24 January Mr Mistry came to her house “looking like a ghost” and said they had gone to The Fox on the Friday night, Ambrose had got into a fight and then had driven off and crashed his car before walking off.
Ms Lovell went out to the area in Tottenham Marshes where Ambrose had reportedly crashed and she found one of the car’s wheels and some debris.
A few days later another friend, Jason Wright – who goes by the street name of “Feak” – said he had found Ambrose’s jacket.
It later transpired that the police had towed away Ambrose’s BMW (pictured, left) and taken it to a forensic examination centre in Perivale, west London.
But his body was only found by chance three months later, in the water.
The police later claimed they carried out a three-day fingertip search of the area.
In August the police showed Ms Lovell CCTV footage from The Fox in Palmers Green which they claim had been taken on the Thursday night.
In it Ambrose can be seen fighting with several men while a crowd gathers around and films events on their phones.
She says she knows who attacked him and she believes she knows who killed him and who “set him up”. She believes some of those involved are possibly police informers.
But she says the police remain convinced Ambrose died in an accident.
On the eve of the inquest the IPCC launched an investigation and the coroner, Andrew Walker, has now delayed proceedings until the outcome of that probe.
Ms Lovell said: “The police tried to section me (in a mental hospital) at one point. But there is nothing wrong with me. I’m not delusional. I just know my son has been killed and I’m going to prove it.”
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “Following concerns raised by Ambrose Ball’s family, the Met made a referral to the IPCC on 15 July. The IPCC are now carrying out an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ambrose’s death.”
If you know what happened to Ambrose Ball or if you were in The Fox pub in Palmers Green on the night he was attacked contact me on email@example.com
I DON’T WANT MY SISTER’S KILLER BACK IN MY CITY
By Chris Summers 2 October 2015
The brother of a woman stabbed and thrown out of a 12th storey flat in Nottingham is outraged to hear that her killer has been released from prison and is living in a hostel on the outskirts of the city.
Susan Hooton, 36, a mother of three, was attacked by Paul “Scruff” Hufton, 41, in December 1997.
Her brother Kevin takes up the story: “She went out for a few drinks on the night of 30 December 1997 and after going to a few pubs in the St Ann’s area ended up back at my uncle Fred’s flat in Sneinton.”
Burrows Court, the block of flats where Fred Hooton lived – he has since died – now lies derelict and is due for demolition. Ironically Kevin Hooton can still see it out of his bedroom window.
But Kevin Hooton and his family have never had an answer to the mystery of how exactly his sister met her death.
“She had a boyfriend and three children and she was a very likeable and popular person. She was free-willed and she liked a good night out. She was probably too friendly and trusting for her own good,” said Kevin.
He said: “She had been drinking and at some point she left my uncle’s flat and said she was going home. But a while later there was a knock on the door and there was Scruff, who said: ‘Susan’s jumped out the window’.”
Kevin, who is now 43, told totalcrime: “Fred called an ambulance and ran all the way down 12 floors, he was in such a state he couldn’t wait for the lift so he just ran down.”
Kevin said: “The first I heard of it was when I had a call from my mother and she was in tears. I’d never heard her cry in my whole life. She said ‘Susan’s dead’.”
Detectives soon realised Hufton’s story about her jumping was nonsense. The window was not easy to open and fall out of and the autopsy soon revealed that she had been stabbed six times prior to the fall.
There were no CCTV cameras covering the 12th floor but police did find footage of Hufton going to a rubbish chute and putting her handbag and some clothes down it.
He had also cleaned his flat and his kitchen stank of bleach. But forensics officers were able to find traces of blood in the kitchen.
“We don’t know whether he dragged her into his flat or whether he was being friendly and talked her into coming in. But he must have picked her body up and thrown out the window like garbage,” said Kevin.
Hufton was tall and well-built while Susan had been “stick thin”, according to her brother.
Police had enough evidence to charge Hufton with murder and, at a plea and directions hearing, his lawyer came up to Susan’s mother and said: “I’m sorry for your loss but my client is going to plead guilty today.”
In 1998 Hufton was jailed for life for murder and was given an 18 year tariff by the judge, but this was later reduced to 12 years.
Kevin said: “We made a victim impact statement at the time and the Victim Support and probation people kept us in the picture about him. I wanted to say that he should never be allowed out but they told me I shouldn’t say that and it wouldn’t affect whether or not he gets parole anyway.”
Susan’s mother died of lung cancer in July 2012 and Kevin says: “She was so happy as she lay dying because she knew she’d be reunited with Susan.”
In 2013 they were told Hufton was being moved to an open prison – as happened recently to notorious gangster and M25 killer Kenneth Noye – to prepare him for his release.
At one point Hufton was sent back to a Category C prison but the following year he was again brought to an open prison.
As his parole board hearing approached Kevin was asked for another victim impact statement and he wrote in it that he did not want Hufton to be allowed to come and live in Nottingham again.
“They put an exclusion zone around Nottingham, including her grave. I didn’t want him going there in case he had a guilt trip,” said Kevin.
“I found out he was released in July and is now in a hostel on the outskirts of Nottingham. I was very upset,” said Kevin, “How disrespectful to even come back.”
Kevin said: “I told the probation service that he has never given any explanation for why he did it. They wouldn’t tell me whether he had ever said anything about it while he was in prison.”
He said Hufton was now 56 and he said: “What happens if he goes out for a drink? We have all done silly things when we’ve had a few beers but Hufton is a killer and he killed after drinking heavily. He’s a danger to society.”
Kevin said he will not stop until he finds Hufton and he fears what he could do if he came face to face with him.
“He stabbed my sister. He murdered my sister. I will not forgive him. I would like to confront him and see what he has to say for himself. But he has had 15 years to make something up. Whatever he says would it be believable?” says Kevin.
INQUEST LIFTS LID ON WORLD OF STREETRACING
By Chris Summers 14 September 2015
A coroner this week asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider prosecutions after sensationally suspending an inquest which shed light into the dark and secret world of streetracing on Britain’s roads.
Three men died in the early hours of 23 December 2013 after a crash which could have been a scene from a Fast & Furious film. Their car – a high-performance Subaru Impreza (pictured) – collided with another vehicle, flew into the air and smashed head-on into a lorry on the North Circular Road in Bounds Green, north London.
This week an inquest heard the Subaru – a model which has appeared in several Fast & Furious movies – was reported by witnesses “racing” three other cars at the time of the accident. At least one of the cars is believed to have had a special nitrous oxide kit and all four had been souped-up to make them go faster.
The inquest heard the cars were believed to have been at a midnight gathering of high-performance car enthusiasts at a McDonald’s near the A10 in Enfield shortly before the crash.
PC Paul Tydeman, a senior forensic collision investigator, told the inquest: “It’s a problem that occurs in a lot of places in and around London. It’s an unofficial meet. It’s not sanctioned by any body and it tends to move around so it’s difficult to police.
”They are organised on social media and by word of mouth and if the police turn up they just move to another location.”
Witnesses said the four cars were driving at between 70 and 80mph in a 30mph zone, weaving in and out and cutting in front of each other.
Motorist Thomas Mangold told police the four cars appeared like “bats out of hell” from a slip road and described their driving behaviour as “very dangerous”. The drivers of the three surviving cars all gave evidence at the inquest.
A passenger in one of the cars, Ramzi Saba, gave police a statement
Ali Hassan, who was driving a high-performance Vauxhall Astra, claimed he was driving at 35-37mph; Bader Nokhas, who was driving a black VW Golf, said he was doing 40mph and Abdul Hussain, another Golf driver, admitting only to driving at 40-50mph, although he admitted he had not been insured.
All three men denied they had been racing and said they had simply been driving home.
Coroner Andrew Walker suspended the inquest and said he would be writing to the CPS and asking them to reconsider whether they wished to prosecute in the light of evidence which had emerged at the inquest.
One of Jawad Qureshi’s brothers, Seyjad, welcomed the coroner’s action and told the inquest: “It’s quite clear to us that there are a lot of lies going on. I can safely say that we would like further action to be taken.”
Detective Sergeant Helen Lambert told the inquest there were no speed cameras along that stretch of road and there was no CCTV footage of the accident.
Earlier Mr Walker asked the police officer if streetracing itself was illegal and she said: “There are potential offences of speeding and careless driving but we were unable to find evidence of careless driving.”
The inquest heard from eyewitness, Anil Makwana, who said two blue flames shot out of the back of one of the Golfs and it suddenly crossed from the inside lane to the outside lane, causing Mr Hassan’s Vauxhall Astra to brake suddenly.
Mr Qureshi’s Subaru clipped the back of the Astra, flipped into the air, crossed the central reservation and hit a Warburton’s bakery lorry.
Lorry driver Bambos Kyriacou broke down as he was asked about the crash. He said he had been driving his 13 ton DAF lorry back tothe depot after delivering bread to supermarkets when he saw a vehicle flying across the central reservation towards him.
“It happened so quick,” said Mr Kyriacou who paused and had to take a sip of water as he was overwhelmed by a flashback of the incident.
He was unable to go on but the coroner read from his statement in which he described a “massive exploision” and said his lorry veered to the left and ended up colliding with a bus stop.
PC Tydeman told the inquest both the Golf cars had been examined and only Mr Nokhas’s had two exhaust pipes.
Mr Walker said: “Key evidence has emerged which has identified the driver of the black Golf which moved in front of the Astra, causing it to brake and thus causing the collision.”
Jawad Qureshi, who lived in Headstone Drive, Harrow, managed a car park at Heathrow; Haider Qureshi(known as Hadz or T) was from Westfield Close, Kingsbury and was married with a four-year-old son, and Mr Rubani was from Litchfield Gardens, Willesden and wasmarried with two children.
Streetracing is more common in the United States. Earlier this month Julio Lopez, 46, died in Pomona, California, after a souped-up Mustang crashed into his silver Nissan Altima at an intersection. The Mustang driver had been racing a friend, who was also driving a high-performance Mustang. Two men have been arrested.
If you are involved in streetracing and would be willing to speak on the basis of anonymity, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0776 9657063.
by Chris Summers 1 September 2015
The murders of elderly people can sometimes be overlooked and that was very nearly the case with serial killer Stephen Akinmurele. He is thought to have killed at least three pensioners in Blackpool and the Isle of Man before he happened upon Eric Boardman, 76, and his wife Joan, 74, (pictured below) in October 1998. Former Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell was head of Blackpool CID at the time and he recalls: “Akinmurele was quite a handy lad but there was something missing from his eyes.
“I’ve never seen a great white shark but they say they have dead eyes. He was like that. There was no remorse or understanding.”
by Chris Summers 11 August 2015
When Margaret Livesey died 15 years ago her will contained an extraordinary clause: it instructed her solicitors to fight to clear her name of murder.
She had been convicted of murdering her 14 year old son Alan in 1979 in the small town of Bamber Bridge, Lancashire.
The main evidence against her was a confession which she had made and then recanted.
Dan McCauley, a criminology lecturer in nearby Blackburn, is fascinated with the case and last year he finally forced Lancashire Police to release witness statements under the Freedom Of Information Act.
As a young woman Mr McCauley’s mother Ruth had lived four doors down from the Liveseys in a road called The Crescent and was friends with Leslie Matthews, who had found the body.
He said: “When you read the statements the police’s version of events just does not add up.”
On the night of 22nd February 1979 Alan’s father Bob was working a night shift at the nearby British Leyland lorry factory and his mother had gone to the pub for a drink with friends Frank Bamber and Marion Walker.
She returned to The Crescent around 11pm and called in on her friend, Eileen Matthews, after spotting her son Andrew hanging around in the street.
The police would later claim that between being dropped off and going to the Matthews home – which was at the other end of The Crescent – she had returned home, murdered her son, cleaned herself and completely regained her composure.
The “window of opportunity” was no more than 11 minutes.
Mr McCauley says: “It just doesn’t add up and there are so many unanswered questions. Why was Alan wearing his cadet uniform when he didn’t even have cadets that night? Why had a scarf been tied around his neck and then he been stabbed through it? And what about the cigarette packet?”
Mr and Mrs Livesey smoked Dunhill cigarettes while Alan, despite his age, often smoked Player’s Number 6 but an unopened packet of a third brand, Benson & Hedges, was found in the house and no explanation was ever given for who it belonged to. It was not mentioned at the murder trial.
Peter Knightingale, an autistic boy who lived next door, told the police he had seen a boy leaving the Livesey house around 10pm and next door neighbour Susan Warren said she had heard shouting coming from the house around the same time, when Mrs Livesey was in a pub more than a mile away.
An investigation by the BBC’s Rough Justice programme in 1982 suggested the killer was a young man and the motivation could have been some form of “homosexual torture”.
Mr McCauley said of Mrs Livesey’s confession: “The police’s story was that Alan had stolen a car and had been misbehaving and she was sick of him but when they said to her ‘You’ve done it, haven’t you?” she replied: “If you are telling me I have done it then I must have done.”
He said the police led her through the events and she just went along with it.
But she recanted her confession a few days later and maintained her innocence for the next 22 years.
Mrs Livesey was freed from prison in 1989 after 10 years but her appeals failed and she died, aged 64, in February 2001, of throat cancer, without having cleared her name.
In 2009, the Lancashire Evening Post ran a series of articles on the 30th anniversary of the case. Alan’s father remained convinced of her guilt, as did the officer in charge of the case, Detective Superintendent Ian Hunter, but Alan’s brother Derek, who had been serving with the British Army in Germany at the time, remained convinced of her innocence.
Mr McCauley says: “If a case like this came to court today with this sort of evidence it would be thrown out before it even started. But things were very different in the 1970s.”
As for the real killer he says: “It could have been that it was a one-off, maybe they panicked and moved away and he has felt no reason to admit to it since. We may never know.”
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IS JOINT ENTERPRISE JUST A DRAGNET FOR CRIMINALS?
by Chris Summers 16 July 2015
If you were looking for a poster boy for miscarriage of justice you would not choose Joe Tingle.
He was a drug dealer who sold heroin to addicts on a poverty-stricken estate on Teesside, in the north of England.
But he was no killer and his case illustrates the problem with the law of joint enterprise.
As his wife, Natalie, told totalcrime: “It’s a massive dragnet which targets working class people. We can’t fight against it. None of those involved in Joint Enterprise are rich and most can’t can’t fight against their convictions without legal aid, which has been cut back and is extremely hard to get.”
Billingham, near Middlesbrough, is a town which has been in decline for decades.
As jobs in the shipyards and at the massive ICI Chemicals factory nearby have dried up, the area has suffered from high unemployment for years.
Joe Tingle supplied drugs to junkies on Billingham’s Low Grange estate.
On March 24, 2007 one of his dealers, Mark Fairweather, was robbed of £80 worth of heroin by an addict, 34-year-old Richard Petty.
The following morning Petty was stabbed to death.
But Tingle, who was 23 at the time, did not deliver the blow and was not even in the room when it happened.
He claims he did not even realise his friend, Mark “Peo” Pearson, 28, had been carrying a knife when he went to confront Petty.
Natalie takes up the story: “The witness statements are a joke but what is clear is that they went to the flat where Petty lived, which had a concierge, and Joe made no attempt to conceal his identity, which surely he would have done if he was planning on killing someone.
She says: “Joe deserved to go to jail for drug dealing but not for a murder that he did not commit.”
In September 2007 Tingle and Pearson were both jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 18 years for the murder of Petty.
So Joe, now 31, will not be eligible for parole until at least 2025.
Natalie (pictured below) says: “We got married earlier this year and he has taken on the father role role for my daughter Tillie, who is four. He draws her pictures and speaks to her on the phone.
“My life is on hold but that’s alright, that’s my choice. But when he gets out he’ll be quite an old dad if we want to have more children.”
She says he has changed in prison. He regrets the drug dealing and has thrown himself into education – completing his English and Maths GCSEs which he neglected at school – and she says: “He has tried to make the best out of what he can.”
He wants to do an NVQ qualification in cooking but has to wait until he is moved to a Category C prison.
Jan Cunliffe, from the pressure group Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA), says: “Joint Enterprise allows prosecutors to build a case on speculation and possible foresight that a crime may occur instead of real physical evidence.
“The public are unaware that they can go to prison for life for the actions of another. When it comes to murder there is no need for the prosecution to prove that death or really serious harm was intended.
“The burden of proof in a JE case so low we are all at risk. When prosecutors are calling crimes a joint enterprise even in spontaneous unplanned situations we all need to show our concerns.”
At the General Election earlier this year both Labour and the Liberal Democrats called in their manifestos for joint enterprise to be reformed.
But the overwhelming Conservative victory has destroyed JE campaigners hopes of dismissing a law which they believe is intrinsically unfair.
If you have been involved in a Joint Enterprise case or have a view on it email firstname.lastname@example.org or share this article on Twitter or Facebook.
HOW WAS KILLER ALLOWED TO GO MISSING AND KILL AGAIN?
by Chris Summers 23 June 2015
As Britain heads towards a referendum on leaving the European Union the spotlight will increasingly be focused on keeping out dangerous foreign criminals.
But it is a two-way street as the case of Sean Heiss proved.
Imagine the uproar if a foreigner – who was the prime suspect for a murder in his own country – was allowed into the UK and then killed an innocent British woman.
Well that is exactly what happened, in reverse, to Clementina Naura Liscano, killed by a rogue British citizen in Spain.
Earlier this month Heiss, 30, (pictured left) was jailed for life for murdering his mother, Margaret Sheehy, in the London suburb of Kingston-upon-Thames in June 2012.
But it emerged during his trial at the Old Bailey that after the murder he had disappeared off the radar, spending months travelling across Europe before killing a second woman, almost beheading her, in a horrific attack in Barcelona, Spain.
Heiss, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was found guilty of murder by a jury who rejected his plea of guilty to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
While there is little doubt he suffered from mental illness Heiss’s actions were clearly those of a cunning criminal who was trying to evade justice.
After strangling his mother he stole her debit cards, travelled to Paris on the Eurostar and withdrew money from her account before heading to Spain.
The Metropolitan Police were 99% certain Heiss had killed his mother and issued a European arrest warrant.
But the wheels of bureaucracy turned too slowly and when Heiss was detained by Spanish police in San Sebastian on 23 June after threatening a hotel receptionist with a knife they were not aware he was wanted in Britain and he was released on bail.
He vanished for most of that summer and is believed to have been living rough in northern Spain.
On 29 September Heiss, who had been sleeping in an ATM foyer, attacked Clementina Naura Liscano, punching and kicking her before stabbing her in the throat and almost cutting her head off.
This time he did not try to get away and was arrested on the spot.
Heiss claimed Ms Liscano told him: “You stink, you are stupid.”
He said, in his typically self-pitying way: “This is the story of my life. I keep getting disrespected by people I don’t even know.”
Heiss was convicted of Ms Liscano’s murder in Spain last year but the Spanish authorities agreed to extradite him to Britain on condition that he be returned to serve the rest of his sentence at the end of the trial.
On 4 June Judge Gerald Gordon sentenced him to life with a minimum tariff of 27 years. Four days later he was flown back to Spain to serve the rest of his 22 year sentence for Ms Liscano’s murder.
At the conclusion of that sentence it is expected he will be sent back to Britain to begin his life sentence for his mother’s murder.
The trial heard that Heiss had quit his job as a supermarket worker and was relying on unemployment benefits at the time of the killings. He had his own flat in Surbiton but would often spend evenings at his mother’s flat in Kingston.
Heiss told police his benefits had been cut off and he had run out of food. He was £200 overdrawn. He claimed his mother refused to feed him and he was turned away from a local food bank. He even suggested she was trying to poison him.
The prosecutor Sarah Plaschkes QC, told the trial Mrs Sheehy, a telemarketing executive (pictured above), had been planning to sell her flat and live mortgage-free in Bournemouth or Spain.
She had considered paying off some of Heiss’s debts but then changed her mind and decided to stay in her flat and continue working after all.
The judge rejected Mrs Plaschkes’ claim that Heiss was motivated by money, saying: “In my view the cause of the killing that night was anger, not greed.”
But he said nothing about the failures of the authorities to detain Heiss before he carried out a second murder three months later.
WHEN DOES CRIME JOURNALISM BECOME A CRIME?
By Chris Summers 1 June 2015
Last month The Sun’s crime reporter Anthony France was given a suspended jail sentence following an investigation by Scotland Yard’s Operation Elveden, which looked into payments by journalists to police officers.
His conviction came as a surprise to me and many other crime reporters because it came only two months after The Sun’s chief reporter John Kay, 71, royal editor Duncan Larcombe, 39, executive editor Fergus Shanahan, 60, and deputy editor Geoff Webster, 55, were all cleared of wrongdoing in a very similar case.
Kay, Shanahan and Webster had been charged with paying a Ministry of Defence official, Bettina Jordan-Barber, around £100,000 for a series of stories which she leaked to the paper.
Jordan-Barber, 42, was jailed for 12 months but the journalists’ defence was that they were “acting in the public interest” by exposing stories about army failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, disciplinary proceedings and sexual misconduct among officers.
Jordan-Barber was known as Kay’s “number one military contact”.
So what was different in France’s case?
He too had a “Deep Throat” source within the police – PC Timothy Edwards, who worked at Heathrow airport.
PC Edwards, who received £22,000 in payments from The Sun for tip-offs, admitted his role and was jailed for two years.
But why was France’s public interest defence rejected by the jury?
Was it simply because some of the stories he ran were considered not important enough?
The trial heard that one occasion The Sun ran a story under the headline “Sexual Heeling” about a British Airways engineer who had a fetish for high heels.
BA installed secret cameras at the airport to discover why some of their ceiling tiles were being damaged. The cameras revealed the man – who I will not name to spare him further embarrassment – prancing around in a bodice and stilettos on a home-made catwalk made out of tiles.
The police were called in but no charges were brought. The man resigned from BA but did not tell his wife the reasons why he had left.
A year later PC Edwards – who had arrested the man – recalled the story and tipped off France about it.
France (pictured above when he exposed lapses in parliamentary security) confronted the man, who had three children, and his wife found out for the first time what he had been up to.
At the trial Zoe Johnson QC, prosecuting, asked France: “Was that story in the public interest or was it just ‘of interest to the public’?”
France insisted it was a story with a legitimate public interest because the man had security clearance at the airport and could have laid himself open to blackmail.
The jury evidently disagreed.
In sentencing him, Mr Justice Pontius, said the “Sexual Heeling” story and another article, about airport staff making lewd comments about a colleague after she used on of their security body scanners, were the “worst examples” of unwarranted invasions of privacy.
The judge said: “The Heathrow ‘body scanner’ story is an example, intended to titillate and published regardless of the private life of the woman concerned – herself already the victim of disgraceful behaviour by a colleague – to the inexcusable extent of revealing her name and printing her picture. The apology, a couple of centimetres square and tucked away at the bottom of a page deep inside the paper, regrettably did not appear until about 18 months after the original article.”
France was supported in court by The Sun’s crime editor Mike Sullivan and former News of the World reporter Lucy Panton, who comforted his tearful mother when he was finally released from the dock.
Many people reading about France’s conviction might consider it good news and a sign that “corrupt journalism” is being rooted out.
There are cases – like the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan – where the relationship between some journalists and police officers has been extremely unhealthy.
But is there not a danger that some crime stories will simply go unreported?
The judge said much of France’s reporting was genuinely in the public interest and added: “Obvious specific examples are those stories which concerned airline safety, such as drunken pilots and the smuggling by crews of drugs, the importation from the United States of vicious ‘X-men’ style weapons and the movement in and out of this country of British Islamic extremists.”
This case may well be a deterrent to officers like PC Edwards who may be tempted to reply to the “We Pay Cash for Stories” teasers so often carried by The Sun.
Mr Justice Pontius said: “It is a practice which is certainly not improper, still less is it to be condemned, least of all by me, as long as it does not involve – as it did in this case – encouragement by a journalist to anyone holding public office to abuse their trusted position, for payment, by providing confidential information obtained in the course of their work in order that it might be used to feed the public’s appetite for news which sometimes amounts to no more than titillating gossip.”
It would be a good thing if ordinary people’s privacy is not invaded in future.
But crime reporting is under siege as news desks cut down on journalists leaving the office to go to court or meet contacts in the police or criminal underworld.
So there is a danger that the Edwards/France case will further discourage police officers from tipping off journalists about matters of genuine public interest.
For the record totalcrime does not pay for stories but we are happy to follow up tip-offs from anyone in law enforcement or the underworld and expose issues to the public. Email email@example.com
WHEN LIVE FOOTBALL TURNED INTO A DEADLY HORROR
By Chris Summers 18 May 2015
May 1985 was probably the nadir of English football.
That month saw three terrible tragedies which highlighted how dangerous the game had become off the pitch.
On 11 May 56 people died when flames tore through the old wooden main stand at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground during a game with Lincoln.
On the same day – in an incident which was eclipsed by the Bradford fire – a 15-year-old boy was killed at Birmingham City’s St Andrews ground during a huge brawl between Birmingham and Leeds United fans.
As a 17-year-old who was on the fringes of the “casuals” scene at the time, it was both an exciting and terrifying time.
I remember watching on TV as the third tragedy unfolded on the night of 29 May.
It was the European Cup Final in Brussels, between Liverpool and Juventus.
Liverpool, the English champions, had in their team great players like Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and Alan Hansen while the Turin team included Italian legends Marco Tardelli and Paolo Rossi aswell as Poland’s Zbigniew Boniek and Frenchman Michel Platini, one of the best players of his generation.
But as the pundits discussed the game beforehand it was clear that trouble was brewing on the crumbling terraces of the old Heysel stadium.
Segregation was poor and antagonism between the two sets of fans suddenly triggered an invasion of a section involving Juventus fans by Liverpool supporters, many of whom had been drinking all day.
As the Italians fled a crush was caused at one end of the terrace and 39 people died, mostly Italians.
The tragedy played out live on television with commentators struggling to put into words what was happening in front of their eyes.
The game should have been postponed but officials feared there would be more trouble if they did so, so after a delay of more than an hour it finally kicked off and Juventus won 1-0, with a Platini penalty. But the score was almost irrelevant amid the death toll and Platini’s ashen face suggested it was a hollow victory.
Thirty years later Francesco Caremani, the author of a new book on the tragedy, told totalcrime: “Heysel was the worst massacre in the history of world football, because there was nothing random or accidental in what happened.
“Hooliganism was well known in England and widely underestimated in Europe. After Heysel the whole world realised how serious hooliganism had become, but the British did nothing to combat it.”
English clubs were banned from European competition for several years – ironically Liverpool’s great rivals Everton were the biggest losers – but Mr Caremani says nothing was done to reform football in England until after the Hillsborough disaster four years later.
In that case the victims were ironically Liverpool fans.
Mr Caremani said: “I’m convinced that Hillsborough is the son of the failure of memory of Heysel.”
When Liverpool played Juventus for the first time since Heysel some unforgiving Italian fans raised placards which suggested the deaths at Hillsborough were some sort of payback for the actions of Liverpool fans at Heysel.
After Heysel some Liverpool fans claimed they were provoked by stones being thrown from the Juventus section.
Mr Caremani says there is no truth in this claim and added: “The English (were) trying to invent excuses for a shame that they will never erase.”
Fourteen Liverpool fans were convicted for their part in the violence at Heysel.
In 2005 one of them, Terry Wilson, visited Arezzo in Italy to try and apologise to Otello Lorentini, who lost his only son at Heysel.
As well as the deaths, 600 Juventus fans were injured, some of whom were permanently disabled. One, Carla Gonnelli, went into a coma. When she eventually woke up she discovered that her father, who had taken her to the match with her, had died.
The Heysel stadium was later renovated and renamed the King Baudouin stadium but there are persistent rumours that it will be demolished and replaced with houses.
This year Juventus have made it to the final of the European Cup again and many fans of the “Old Lady” of Italian football hope they will win the trophy on 6 June to honour the 39 dead at Heysel.
If you were at Heysel on 29 May 1985 please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW ‘MICHELANGELO OF BUTT INJECTIONS’ BECAME A KILLER
by Lashayla Mensah 1 April 2015
Earlier this year Padge Windslowe (pictured) was convicted of the murder of Claudia Aderotimi (pictured, below).
Windslowe, known as the “Michelangelo of butt injections”, had no shortage of customers.
No American hip-hop music video is complete without gratuitous close-ups of the generous backsides of various scantily clad dancers and models.
The pinnacle – or low point, depending on your point of view – of the genre was the 2014 Anaconda video by Nicki Minaj which featured semi-pornographic shots of the singer’s derriere and the catchy chorus: “Oh My God, look at her butt.”
The fashion for “big butts” has taken off in a big way on both sides of the Atlantic and nowhere more so than in Philadelphia, where Windslowe – aka The “Black Madam” – plied her trade.
She was actually born male but identified as transgender and reportedly had sex change surgery in Latin America.
The Black Madam was the name she used when she made her own music video in 2010 for a song called “Come On In My Kitchen”.
The tune sank without trace and Windslowe realised her hip-hop career was not going to take off, so she reverted to her career as a black market cosmetic surgeon.
She held “pumping parties” where young women would pay to have their buttocks injected with silicone (pictured, below).
Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said: “What they didn’t know was that this was not medical-grade silicone but silicone for machines, for use on tanks by the military and to lubricate car engines…it was poison.”
Stephanie Matos, a 32-year-old hotel desk clerk from New York, paid Windslowe $1,000 to inject her.
Windslowe even claimed to have operated on celebrities, such as Amber Rose, the model and former girlfriend of singer Kanye West.
But in February 2011 she made the fateful decision to operate on Claudia, a 20-year-old Nigerian student who lived in London.
Aderotimi aspired to be a dancer, actress and choreographer but as talent scout Tee Ali told the Daily Mail: “The problem was she didn’t have no butt, and she wanted a butt.”
He said she went to one audition wearing fake booty pants but when it was discovered that her bottom was not naturally large she was sent packing.
Claudia, desperate to break into the hip-hop world, decided to fly to America and visit the “Michelangelo of butt operations”.
She booked into a cheap hotel in South Philly (pictured, above) and had the operation the following day.
But the silicone got into her bloodstream and eventually moved to her lungs, before stopping her heart.
When Aderotimi began having chest pains Windslowe – who claimed she had medical training – “put her hand on this young lady’s chest as if she were doing an exam,” said Assistant District Attorney Bridget Kirn, “but there was no exam.”
Aderotimi suffered a cardiac arrest and as an ambulance took her to hospital Windslowe fled.
When police raided her apartment they found 22,000 syringes, 55 gallons of industrial strength silicone and a quantity of Krazy Glue, which was used to suture the incisions.
Windslowe (pictured, left) was eventually captured a year later and in February, this year, finally went on trial.
The jury heard she had an affair with a married gastroenterologist, James Taterka, back in 1993 but he denied he had ever taught her how to inject silicone or bought supplies for her.
Windslowe was convicted of third degree murder and could face up to 40 years in jail when she is sentenced.
Sadly the world of buttock augmentation surgery claimed another victim in October when Joy Williams, 23, from Thamesmead, south-eastLondon, died after a botched operation in a back-street clinic in Bangkok.
DOES MURDER CONVICTION FROM SUBURBAN MASSACRE STAND UP TO SCRUTINY?
by Sven Kristensen 3 March 2015
The murder of three men in a house in a quiet Hertfordshire town in the summer of 2007 made headline news.
Keith Cowell, 52, and his 17-year-old son Matthew (pictured below), and their friend Tony Dulieu were gunned down with an Ingram Mac-10 sub-machine gun in Bishop’s Stortford.
The killers then stabbed two women, Christine Jennings and Claire Evans, who were upstairs, and shot the Cowells’ dog, a puppy called Gorgeous. Ms Evans’ four-year-old daughter was unhurt.
Miraculously both survived and a harrowing 999 call made by Ian Jennings – who came back into the house after the gunmen left – was later played to a murder trial jury.
Asked by the operator who carried out the shooting and why, he simply repeats: “No.”
Stuart Trimmer QC, prosecuting, admitted at the trial that Jennings had been shady: “Some part of what he says is clearly not a full account, you need to remember that Ian Jennings was involved in a drugs deal. It’s perfectly plain, the Crown say, that he was not, at this stage, prepared to be completely forthright.”
It seems hard to believe that so much violence was as a result of a dispute involving a few thousand pounds. The trial heard Jennings, Cowell and his son made only £500 out of a deal involving £15,000 worth of cocaine.
The trial was told that Miran “Mikey” Thakrar, 24, was the instigator and chief gunman. He was dealing in cocaine and had got into a row with the Cowells over the quality of some drugs they had sold him.
Miran (pictured below) thought he was buying a high quality drug called Shine, but was in fact sold low quality Repress.
But while the evidence against Miran remains strong, the guilt of his little brother, Kevan, remains heavily in doubt.
After the murders Miran Thakrar fled to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, thinking he could not be extradited, and the police made much of the fact that Kevan was arrested as he prepared to fly out to join him.
But Kevan says he was simply going to find out why his brother had fled, as he heard his life was in danger.
One of the most unusual aspects of the trial was that powerful hearsay evidence was allowed in court, which came from several Turkish Cypriots who had claimed they were unable to come to England to testify in person at St Albans Crown Court. They claimed Miran Thakrar had confessed to his role in the murders.
It transpired that some of these witnesses could not speak English and Miran Thakrar certainly could not speak Turkish.
The prosecution, and the Turkish Cypriot police, suggested Miran had confessed using sign language.
But one of the witnesses, Selcuk Moran, said: “Mikey said he had taken drugs and that his head was not well, that he later took his brother to the house where people were going to meet them.
“While Mikey was speaking to these people he was swearing inside, saying to himself, planning things like I am going to kill him first and then I am going to kill him.”
Kevan insists he has never been to Bishop’s Stortford except for one occasion, when he was a child, to attend a swimming gala.
His supporters point to the absence of DNA, fingerprint, ballistics, mobile phone or other forensic evidence placing him at the scene.
Eyewitnesses did not identify him and one described the gunman’s accomplice as “shorter than five feet six with a balding shaven head…unhealthily skinny.”
Kevan (pictured, left) is almost six feet tall, was 12 stone at the time of the murders and was sporting a French crop hairstyle.
Mystery also surrounds Christine Jennings’ son, Ian, who was at the heart of the case, according to the prosecution.
Jennings – whose uncle was Keith Cowell – was in the kitchen when Miran Thakrar arrived and escaped the massacre by hiding in the back garden.
He later received a seven year sentence for drug dealing and is thought to have made his way into the witness protection scheme.
Jennings identified Kevan in an identity parade but he also picked a second man, who was an entirely innocent volunteer.
He later told the trial: “My head was up my arse. I just picked any two numbers.”
Asked to identify the killers in court Jennings told the jury: “The two men are sitting at the back. Those two there done all the shooting. The one on the right (Miran) had the gun.”
Ms Evans did not pick out Kevan in an ID parade.
Kevan, who comes from Stevenage, claims the police focused their case on what Jennings told them, without checking to corroborate it.
He claims a friend who could have given him an alibi for the night in question – because they were together in Enfield, north London – was threatened by police he would spend 10 years in jail if he told the truth.
Whereas Miran’s actions after the murders were extremely suspicious, his brother acted completely innocently – going shopping in Tesco, using his own credit card and trying to fly to Cyprus on his own passport.
After his arrest Kevan claims a police officer told him: “We know you didn’t do it but if you don’t help us we will make sure you serve 50 years.”
Kevan’s solicitors have criticised the judge for not removing a juror who was a friend of one of the police officers involved.
Another juror – who was the foreman – was discharged from jury service after five days of deliberation, because he needed to be with his ill wife. But before he left he apparently pleaded with the other jurors to convict both men.
They have also criticised the judge for allowing a knife and a gun to be brought into court although there was no evidence either weapon was used in the crime.
There is a legal and psychological phenomenon called Wigmore’s Horse which suggests that if a man is on trial for stealing a horse and a horse is brought into the courtroom a juror will automatically assume it is the horse referred to in the indictment.
The Thakrars were eventually convicted, by a 10-1 majority.
In August 2008 Miran Thakrar was jailed for life with a minimum of tariff of 42 years. Two months later Kevan was jailed for a minimum of 35 years.
Last year Kevan was accused of throwing excrement in the face of a female prison officer and he was recently moved north, from Woodhill prison to Full Sutton in North Yorkshire, after being accused of intimidating a witness who was due to give evidence against him.
He is awaiting a trial for those alleged offences, which he claims he is also innocent of. Supporters say he has been beaten up in prison recently.
If you have any information about this case contact email@example.com
THE FIERY HORROR WHICH GAVE BIRTH TO CHARLIE HEBDO
By Cedric Saulmier 1 February 2015
Last month the world’s attention focused on an obscure French magazine which was the target of a hideous massacre by Islamist zealots.
But Charlie Hebdo was born in 1970, out of the ashes of another satirical magazine which was perceived as having committed an outrageous slur against the French President, Charles de Gaulle, who had died a few days earlier.
The story began on the night of 1 November 1970 when a fire broke out in a rural nightclub near Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, in which 146 young people died.
It was a horrific incident and the tragedy of the Club Cinq-Sept fire struck a chord across France.
A few days later President de Gaulle died, aged 79, at his home in the town of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.
Eight days later the satirical magazine Hara-Kiri plastered its front page with the banner headline Bal Tragique a Colombey…1 Mort (Tragic prom in Colombey…One Dead).
It was not only incredibly tasteless, it was also mortally offensive to the establishment of the Fifth Republic, to whom de Gaulle was an iconic figure.
He had led the Free French forces against the Germans in the Second World War and had led the nation during its darkest moment, in the late 1950s and early 1960s when it was being torn apart by rebellion and eventual independence in Algeria, which was violently opposed by the French settlers, known as the Pied Noirs.
Hara-Kiri had committed ritual suicide and was banned by the French government.
It got around the ban by bringing out a new title, called Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) and named after the popular cartoon strip character Charlie Brown.
The tragedy which later befell Charlie Hebdo and its legendary cartoonists is now notorious, but what happened at the Cinq-Sept (Club 5-7) is much less well known.
The club, two miles from the town of Saint Laurent du Pont was only opened in April 1970 – five months before the fire – and was housed a large, open-plan windowless building, made of cheap breezeblocks and a corrugated iron roof.
Entry was through full-height turnstile, similar to what was used to enter football stadiums.
Despite its unprepossessing exterior, the club became popular with bored local youths from the town of Chambery and even the city of Grenoble, 20 miles away.
On 31 October 1970 a rock band from Paris, Storm, were booked to play at the club and at 1.40am in the early hours of 1 November around 180 people were still there, after the band had left.
Someone sitting on a sofa downstairs lit a cigarette and threw it away. It caught light and a blaze broke out.
Soon the entire building was engulfed and those in the upstairs portion were unable to escape down the single spiral staircase.
Only 30 people managed to escape and six of the survivors, who were badly burned and taken to a hospital in Lyon, later died.
The finally death tally was 146.
It was of course an accident.
But the owner of the club, Gilbert Bas, was culpable for the club’s bad design, lack of a fire escape and also for locking various fire exit doors because he feared people would be able to get in without paying.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter in French law is 20 years but in 1971 Bas, amazingly escaped with only a suspended sentence.
The case also set legal history in France as the trial was the first time in which a victim could claim compensation after an illegal act.
On 13 June 1976 a memorial was unveiled to the dead on the site of the Club Cinq-Sept and a ceremony is held there every year in honour of the dead.
WHEN DEATH CAME KNOCKING ON THE 15TH FLOOR
By Deborah Chang 2 January 2015
Death for Chris Mohan and Ed Schellenberg was a cliché.
They were “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
It was their bad luck to be in a tower block in the city of Surrey, British Columbia when a gang of killers came calling.
Surrey is a city of almost half a million people but few people outside of Canada have ever heard of it.
It is an urban sprawl separated from Vancouver by the Fraser river and reaching down as far as the US border.
Around 48% of the population are of Asian origin and between 2007 and 2011 it was at the epicentre of a brutal gang war.
The conflict pitted the Red Scorpions against the United Nations gang.
Both gangs drew from youths of various ethnic origin and their feud became especially toxic after Jamie Bacon, and his brothers Jonathan and Jarrod, defected from the UN gang and allied themselves with the Red Scorpions.
On 19 October 2007 several members of the Red Scorpions turned up on the 15th floor of an apartment block in Surrey looking to take out rival drug dealer Corey Lal.
They executed Lal, 21, his brother Michael, 26, and their friends Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, and Eddie Narong, 22.
But they also killed neighbour Chris Mohan, 22, and fireplace maintenance man Ed Schellenberg, 55.
The pair were leaving Chris’s apartment when they almost bumped into the killers, who were leaving a flat on the other side of the corridor after killing their four rivals.
They stood no chance.
Last month two of the killers, Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston, both 29, were jailed for life, with no parole for 25 years.
Mr Schellenberg’s daughter Rachel wept and hugged Corey and Michael Lal’s sister Jourdane.
Two other men have already been convicted of the murders – Quang Vinh Thang Le, aka Michael Le, 29, and Dennis Karbanovec, 27. But the man thought to have led the gang that day, Jamie Bacon, is due to go on trial in May.
Sophon Sek, a poker champion, is also awaiting trial for manslaughter. He is said to have been a Trojan horse who gained entry for the gang.
He won C$364,000 in a poker tournament in 2009 but his prize has been frozen, pending the outcome of his trial.
Chris Mohan’s mother Eileen (pictured) submitted a victim impact statement in which she said: “My life was destroyed with the bullet that pierced my son. The bullet that killed Christopher also took a part of his father, his sister and his cousins.”
Mrs Mohan said she still felt enormous guilt because her son was only at the apartment that day because he had offered to wait for the fireplace maintenance man so that she did not have to miss a day at work.
Addressing Haevischer and Johnston directly, Mrs Mohan said: “You pulled my terrified innocent son from the hallway as he was leaving for his basketball game.”
Both refused to meet her gaze.
She thanked the judge, Justice Catherine Wedge, “for giving Christopher the justice he deserves.”
Mrs Mohan said: “I am truly and tremendously grateful and I am really relieved and happy.”
Asked if she was surprised that neither man gave evidence, she added: “I don’t think they are man enough to do that. They are full of guilt. They know what they did and they know how they killed my son.”
Judge Wedge said the Red Scorpions’ plot “exploded into a horrific display of wanton violence in which six people died.”
“The carnage has left in its wake numerous surviving victims. They are the families and loved ones of the six murdered men,” she added.
Prosecutor Mark Levitz told reporters: “The Surrey Six murders were probably one of the most horrific crimes committed in this province and among the most horrific crimes committed in the country.”
But the so-called Surrey Six killings were not the end of the bloodshed, but only the beginning.
The gang war rumbled on until 2011 and embroiled several other groups, including the Vancouver chapter of the Hells Angels.
In August 2011 Jonathan Bacon was shot dead as he sat in a Porsche Cayenne SUV outside the Delta Grand Hotel in Kelowna, British Columbia. Larry Amero, a full-patch member of the Hells Angels, was critically injured in the attack.
A beautiful young woman, Leah-Hadden Watts, who was also in the car, survived but was paralysed. Her uncle is a Hells Angel.
Sergeant Shinder Kirk of the Mounties’ Lower Mainland gang task force told reporters: “The paradigm has shifted. [Women] are no longer off-limits. They’re now potential targets.”
It is thought Bacon was in the process of forming a new criminal alliance, known as The Wolfpack, including Hells Angels, former Red Scorpions and members of the Independent Soldiers gang.
Hours before the killing the victims were seen on Okanagan Lake in a powerboat called Steroids & Silicone.
Three men – Jason McBride, Jujhar Khun-Khun and Michael Kerry Hunter Jones – have been charged with Bacon’s murder and are due to go on trial in 2016.
CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR QUIZ December 2014
This was the bonus question: In September an off-duty police officer was beaten to death outside the Spark ATT nightclub after a huge brawl between gang members. The chief suspect – who was said to have delivered the fatal blows – was a member of the Heavenly Dragon chapter of the United Bamboo Gang. But in what country did the incident happen?
The answer was Taiwan. Many of you emailed in with the correct answer but the winner – chosen at random – was Mick Macauley from Dorset.
SIX THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN PRISONS
by Victoria Floyd 17 November 2014
In 2007 Shaun Attwood, a former stockbroker from Widnes, Cheshire, was deported from the US after spending five years in jail on drug charges.
Attwood’s latest tale of life behind bars in Arizona, Prison Time, was published earlier this year.
It is in turns amusing, poignant and terrifying.
Despite being by his own admission a fairly weedy figure, Attwood survived serious injury – or rape – by a mixture of cunning, guile, humour, playing the system and most importantly of all forging alliances with key prison figures such as Long Island and Two Tonys (pictured, left).
Here are six things you may not know about Arizona prisons.
1 – People have to stick to their race groups (whites, blacks, Hispanics) no matter if they don’t have a racist bone in their bodies.
At one point in the book Shaun Attwood befriends a black convict called T-Bone, who has an interest in English history, and is accused of racial betrayal and of being T-Bone’s lover.
2 – Prison food is (not surprisingly) not great. But vending machines in the visitation area sell various candies and other goodies.
Inmates can also buy food and other groceries from the commissary, which is run by a company called Keefe. They almost have a monopoly on prison food and groceries in prisons across the US.
Keefe Group are owned by St Louis-based Centric Group, who have annual turnover of $750m.
3 – The only way to get better food is to change your religion. Many inmates claim to be Jewish because the menu for Jewish inmates is better. As a result there are black Jews, Mexican Jews and even more bizarrely Jews who are members of the white supremacist gang Aryan Brotherhood and have Heil Hitler tattoos.
Attwood himself had to sign up as a Hindu in order to get vegetarian food.
4 – The Arizona State Prison complex at Buckeye (where most of Prison Time is set) saw the longest stand-off in US prison history.
In early 2004, the Morey Unit of the Lewis complex was the site of the longest standoff between inmates and law enforcement officers in United States history. It began on January 18 and ended on February 2.
The inmates were originally trying to escape, but their plan went awry, and the escape event turned into a hostage situation.
Two officers were taken hostage, one male and one female, by two inmates, Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy. The woman, Lois Fraley, was repeatedly raped but later waived her right to anonymity.Wassenaar was later convicted of 19 charges relating to the siege and was given 16 life sentences. When he was convicted she said: “It is a beautiful day. Justice has been served. He is out of my mind. He is not holding me hostage anymore.”
5 – Pre-op transsexuals who offer sexual services in the Arizona prison system are known as cheetolins or cheetos. Most are Mexican-American or Native American. In Shaun Attwood’s book they have luxurious names like She-Ra and Mochalicious
6 – Tattoos are hugely popular in prison. Usually they are made by a home-made tattoo gun (often using parts of a pen). But beware those who have a teardrop under their eye…it is supposed to signify they have murdered someone.
But according to Urban Dictionary there are many explanations for the tattoo. One suggests that the murder idea was a fake story put out by prisoners when they came out of prison. According to this explanation, the teardrop signifies that they were owned (or protected) by another prisoner, again for sexual favours. It is quite common for vulnerable prisoners to have an esposo (Spanish for spouse) – a prison “husband” or sexual partner who will protect a newbie (known as a fish) in return for sexual favours.
DID MY MOTHER-IN-LAW KILL MY SON?
by Sven Kristiansen 20 September 2014
In 2010 Christopher Erick had the world at his feet. The 21-year-old high school graduate had just qualified as a massage therapist and was blessed with Hollywood good looks.
Two years later he was dead…from cyanide poisoning.
Initially the local police in the small Texas town of Midlothian said there were no signs of foul play and it appeared Chris had died naturally. The medical examiner had ruled Chris’ death natural by “heart disease” but his mother, Kim Erick Smith, insists he was murdered.
And she has pointed the finger of suspicion at her “controlling” former mother-in-law.
Christopher (pictured above) had spent the last few months of his life living with his “Grandma Pat” and after he died she responded to a text message from Kim asking: “How did Chris die?” by replying: “Naturally and peacefully”.
It struck Kim as an odd response, especially considering what she has since learnt.
Kim points out that death by cyanide is usually an extremely painful process and people do not just “die in their sleep”.
It is no secret that there was no love lost between Kim and her mother-in-law (pictured below, with Chris).
Kim separated from Chris’s father, Steven, in 1993 and they later divorced. She was awarded sole custody of Chris.
But when he was six years old his father used a faked custody order and “abducted” him from school and he vanished for six months.
Kim recalls: “It was sheer terror. I didn’t know if he was OK. We had never been away from each other for that long and I was concerned for his wellbeing mentally.”
Chris’s father and his second wife had moved to a new city and re-enrolled him in a new school but Kim eventually tracked him down and began a prolonged custody battle.
The years passed in an uneasy peace until Chris reached the age of 16 and, according to Kim, he was “kidnapped” by his grandmother and locked him into a “behaviour modification centre” in Conroe, Texas – a two-hour drive to the south.
Kim says: “It was a school for kids who were out of control and he couldn’t understand why he was there. He was nearly 18 before they would let him go.”
She broke down with emotion when she told totalcrime: “He came and found me. It was amazing, like he was never gone…”
He went to college and qualified as a massage therapist.
But the mind games were not over.
Patsy Erick set her grandson up in an apartment, which she paid for, and she gave him a credit card, describing it as an “early inheritance”.
Kim: “It was a form of control, through money. He was doing so well up until that point. He started partying and then he was prescribed Adderall, which is basically like speed.”
Kim says he developed terrible side effects, including auditory hallucinations and depression.
She says one of his friends had been “bugging him” to sell him some of his Adderall.
Eventually he agreed but it was a set-up.
He was arrested in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart supermarket and charged with supplying drugs.
He faced up to 20 years in prison.
Kim recalls him joking: “I’m too good-looking to go to prison” but she says the whole family was terribly worried.
Then in March 2012 the authorities agreed to drop the charges in a plea bargain – he would face no prison time but would have to go to a rehabilitation centre to treat his Adderall addiction.
Kim says Grandma Pat told her: “I will see Chris dead before I see him in one of those hospitals.”
She shudders at the memory of those words.
By June 2012 Chris (pictured left, with his mother) had been detoxed and was free of Adderall. But he moved in with his grandmother and his condition worsened.
“Chris began talking about the angel of death coming to get him and he would make it sound as if he was supposed to sacrifice himself as some sort of obligation in which he had no control. He was so confused,” says Kim.
In October 2012 he wrote on his Facebook page: “I know God has told me that my end is coming this year. And there is nothing I can do to change it. However the Gods appointed to oversee the task of this harvest have yet to expose (sic) an exact date or time at this point.”
Later that summer his girlfriend, Rachel, told Kim he was back on the Adderall.
Then on 23 October his grandmother told Kim he had tried to buy cyanide on her credit card but she had spotted it and cancelled it.
Three days later a parcel of cyanide did arrive at the house.
The police have told Kim her son bought the cyanide.
But she does not believe them.
She says on 29 October she discussed with Grandma Pat buying some paint for Chris for Christmas as he was an enthusiastic artist.
But her reply in hindsight sounds sinister.
“She told me to hold off and let’s wait and see how where he is nearer to Christmas,” says Kim.
A few days later Kim’s mother-in-law stopped answering the phone.
She messaged him on Facebook and asked him if he wanted to come to one of his cousins’ weddings. He did not reply.
On 10 November, as Kim and her daughter Megan drove to her niece’s wedding, they received a phone call from the police.
“They said he had been found deceased and it appeared he had died in his sleep,” she said.
Kim (pictured below with Chris and his sister Megan) says the next few days passed in a blur and on the day of the funeral she felt they were rushing to cremate him.
She says she asked the police: “Are you sure you have got everything from Chris’s body to test for poison?”
They said they had and were sure it was not foul play.
Chris’s body was cremated without him being tested for poison and all they had left to test was a vial of his blood. Without a body it was no longer possible for test for long-term poisoning since no hair or tissue had been secured by the police. But the medical examiner agreed to test the vial for cyanide and the test came back positive.
The police immediately sought to rule it a suicide. Two years later, without any obvious signs of an investigation, they were eventually forced to take it to a grand jury after a “public outcry”.
But last month the grand jury declined to indict anybody for the death of Chris Erick.
Midlothian Police Department were unavailable for comment.
But Kim has not given up and continues to press for the case to be reopened.
She is convinced her son was murdered.
Watch this space.
WHY IS MY MUM’S KILLER’S FILE SECRET UNTIL 2056?
by Sven Kristiansen 1 September 2014
In 1971 Shirley Griffiths discovered the body of her mother, murdered, in her home in north London. Shirley was only 17. She has since discovered that her mother’s killer has been freed early twice for killing people.
When Terry Bewley was jailed for the murder of Shirley Griffiths’ mother a detective, angered by the lenience shown by the judge, told her: “He’ll only serve 12 years and he’ll commit another murder.”
Sadly his words came true.
But amazingly Bewley was then released early from his second life sentence and is now believe to be a free man and his file is secret, closed for scrutiny until 2056.
Shirley wants to know why.
Her story begins on a Monday in November 1971 when she came home at lunchtime from her job as a trainee hairdresser to discover the body of her mother, Lilian Shapero, on the floor in the dining room.
Mrs Shapero had suffered a stroke six years earlier – paralysing her down the left side – and her daughter thought she may have succumbed to another stroke.
But after she gave a statement at the police station detectives broke the news to her that her mother had been strangled.
Lilian (pictured left, with her husband) worked as a credit collector in Tottenham, north London, and one of her clients was Bewley, a trainee ambulance driver who was forever getting in debt.
Bewley, then 21, had been asking suspicious questions of her mother on the previous Friday and Shirley’s father, Alfred, had warned her not to let him in the house in Kirkstall Avenue, Tottenham.
“He must have talked his way in or forced the door,” says Shirley, who is now 60 and lives in South Africa, “he probably thought she had a lot of money in the house. But she’d banked it already and he only got away with £30.”
Bewley was immediately arrested and her mother’s bag – emptied of money – was found in the boot of his car. He was banged to rights but insisted that although he had hit her he had not killed her.
Shirley was due to be a prosecution witness at Bewley’s trial at the Old Bailey in the spring of 1972 but she was never called.
Bewley was found guilty by a unanimous verdict and was given a life sentence with a 15 year tariff for murder and a consecutive sentence of five years for burglary.
But both the police and family felt the judge was too lenient and Shirley remembers: “Bewley was smirking and laughing during the sentencing.”
The smirk might have been wiped off his face when his young wife divorced him but it was no justice for the Shapero family.
“It broke my dad. He died in 1987, aged 75, but he was never the same. He was a broken man,” said Shirley.
She tried to get on with her life, married a Yorkshireman, Peter Griffiths, moved to Leeds and retrained as a nurse.
In the early 1980s, with Britain in the grip of a recession, the couple decided to emigrate to South Africa where Peter found work as a systems analyst.
She had a daughter, Amanda, in 1984 and life moved on.
Bewley was almost forgotten.
Until one day in 1993.
“My mother-in-law was staying with us and we had Sky News on and suddenly an image of Bewley flashed up and something about him committing another murder,” she recalls.
From her home near Cape Town, Shirley tracked down a copy of the British Express – an expat paper in South Africa – and found out he had been convicted of another murder in Surrey.
“That was a huge shock. The police were supposed to let us know which prison he moved to and when he was released. Apparently he’d been released in 1981!” she remembers.
After his release from prison Bewley moved to Ruislip in Middlesex, settled down with a woman and began working as a chauffeur.
A few years later his partner died of cancer and in 1989 he began a relationship with a blonde called Sandra, who was by all accounts something of a nymphomaniac.
Sandra Wignall resumed her sexual relationship with Bewley, unbeknown to her kind and nature-loving husband, who continued to dote on her.
The trial heard she told friends: “He’s so kind, considerate and thoughtful it’s boring. He is always making me tea and asking if I am okay. It’s boring.”
Her neighbour Christine Willis told the trial: ‘Sandra needed a lot of it (sex) in her life. It was very important to her. I don’t think her initial relationship with Terry involved anything else.”
The trial even heard she had indulged in group sex with Bewley and two of his friends.
Bewley may have been an exciting lover but his obsession was money and he harassed her with demands for cash. Eventually, in an attempt to keep him, Mrs Wignall, 48, decided to have her husband killed and give the £21,000 life insurance money and the proceeds of her house sale to her greedy lover.
On the evening of 5 September 1992 – a pleasant summer’s evening – she suggested they went for a walk in the woods behind their home in Addlestone to see if they could see any fox cubs.
Her husband, who loved wildlife, agreed and when they got to the woodland glade she offered to perform oral sex on him.
Suddenly Bewley and his friend Harold Moult jumped out of the bushes and attacked Mr Wignall, stabbing and beating him to death.
Mrs Wignall claimed to police they had been attacked by robbers.
But police became suspicious after she put in an insurance claim 11 days after his death – even before his funeral.
The jury too saw through her ruse and in November 1993 she was jailed for life.
Bewley – who was already out on licence from his first murder – was jailed for life again, with a minimum tariff of 30 years.
And that was that….for a while.
Shirley, who got divorced in 2006, takes up the story: “About 18 months ago something in my head told me to go and look on the internet. I Googled his mother’s name and saw a notice on the National Archives website about closing his file. I think I opened a can of worms.
“I had to fill in a form. My brother, my cousin and my daughter also filled one in. It took eight weeks to come back. They had decided to close his file because it was too sensitive.
“The file would not be opened until 2056.”
She also learned that he had been released in 2012, after serving only 19 years.
Now 62, Bewley has vanished again and is living somewhere in England.
A man who has killed twice and been freed early both times.
And why has file been deemed too sensitive to be opened before 2056 – 83 years after his trial – when many of those interested in the case may well be dead.
A spokesman for the National Archives told totalcrime: “The file 8746/71 on Terence Bewley has been closed because it contains sensitive personal information which would distress or endanger a living person or his descendants.”
So was Bewley a police informant?
Was he released early so he could do a dirty job for the police?
Speaking from her home in Blouberg, near Cape Town, Shirley Griffiths wants to know: “I don’t know why they’re covering it up but I know he is walking free.”
She says: “I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing it for my mother’s honour.”
Shirley (pictured left) said she had also considered contacting Mr Wignall’s children, Debbie, Denise and Dean, who she imagines would be equally outraged at what has happened to Bewley.
She discovered that eight other files relating to people convicted of murder or manslaughter were also sealed at the same time, in November 2012.
She has contacted Baroness Lawrence – whose son Stephen was murdered and who has faced similar problems with secret files – and numerous lawyers and even handed in a letter to 10 Downing Street.
“Every time I try to get help from the legal system I go round and round in circles. I want that file opened. That’s my life sentence,” she says.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed to Shirley in 2016 that Bewley had in fact died in prison.
Anyone with information about Bewley can contact Shirley via Totalcrime by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH OF THE BORDER: ADVENTURES IN NARCOLAND
by Catalina Diaz 6 August 2014
At dawn on 22 February this year the world’s most wanted drug baron, Joaquin Guzman Loera (pictured), was arrested by Mexican Navy officers in a dramatic swoop on his beachfront retreat in Mazatlan in his home state of Sinaloa.
The arrest of “El Chapo” (Shorty) – who escaped from jail in 2001 – has been portrayed as a turning point for Mexico and a bright sign of the new government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was elected in 2012.
The last decade has been a particularly bloody one south of the Rio Grande.
Massacres – such as that at Cadereyta Jiménez in May 2012, when 49 headless bodies were dumped on a highway near Monterrey – have become frighteningly frequent as innocent people are caught up in violent feuds between the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and the notorious Zetas.
So El Chapo’s arrest seemed to be a good sign.
But cynics, and followers of the narcocracy that is Mexico, will wait a few more years before passing judgement on whether it really is a significant moment.
Anyone who has read Narcoland, the superb book by journalist Anabel Hernandez, will know that presidents come and go, drug cartel bosses come and go, and yet politics in Mexico remains poisoned by the stench of drugs money.
Take for example businessman Jaime Camil Garza, who was often seen hanging out with El Chapo in Acapulco while the Sinaloa Cartel boss was on the lam.
In one notorious photograph taken on El Chapo’s yacht you can clearly make out Maru Hernandez.
Who was she?
Only a close aide of Marta Sahagun, the wife of former President Vicente Fox.
Garza cultivated Fox and his predecessor, Ernesto Zedillo, and worryingly, before the 2012 election, he became quite friendly with Senor Pena Nieto.
Hernandez chronicles a depressing catalogue of corruption which includes pretty much every president of the modern era – Miguel de la Madrid (1982-88); Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994); Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000); Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderon (2006-2012).
She also makes it clear that things are not always as they seem.
In December 2000 the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was ousted from power, which it had held since 1929, and was replaced by the right-wing PAN party’s candidate, Fox.
Fox, a former President of Coca-Cola Mexico who sported a cowboy hat, promised to change Mexico and root out corruption.
But nothing changed.
In fact a month later El Chapo was sprung from Puente Grande, a supposedly high-security prison, with the connivance of senior prison officials and even civil servants.
Hernandez points the finger at Jorge Enrique Tello Peon, who was an under secretary in the Department of the Interior who was in charge of prisons.
She suggests he was implicated in El Chapo’s escape and its subsequent cover-up.
But Tello Peon, who resigned for “personal reasons” a month after El Chapo’s escape, bounced back.
After a spell as an executive with a cement company he was invited back to become a state security minister in 2006 by President Calderon, who was embarking on his infamous “war on drugs”.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Narcoland is the way Hernandez chronicles the involvement of the United States.
In the early 1980s Colombian cartels were in charge of the US drugs market.
But this gradually changed, partly as a result of the actions of President Ronald Reagan and his fanatically anti-communist cabal.
Reagan was so obsessed with the communist threat in Nicaragua that he siphoned off money from illegal arms sales to Iran to fund the Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government.
But he also encouraged the CIA to develop links with Mexican and Colombian gangsters, who made their own payments to the Contras in order to curry favour with the US authorities and give themselves a “Get Out of Jail Free Card”.
One of those the CIA protected was Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, head of the Pacific or Guadalajara Cartel.
Gallardo fell from grace in 1985 after his underlings killed a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Enrique Camarena.
Gallardo went to jail and his empire was split between the Arellano Felix brothers, who controlled Tijuana; Amado Carrillo Fuentes, aka The Lord Of The Skies, who ran Ciudad Juarez; and El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel.
In recent years these cartels have been at war with the sinister Los Zetas, a gang of former Mexican special forces soldiers who defected to the dark side a decade ago.
Some of Los Zetas – such as Daniel “El Loco” (The Crazy One) Ramirez (pictured, above) have carried out horrendous massacres, such as the one in Cadereyta Jiménez, to create fear and terror in the population.
Hernandez suggests the Mexican government, under Fox and Calderon, supported the Sinaloa cartel in this war, enraging Los Zetas and causing them to become even more brutal.
We don’t know yet but perhaps El Chapo’s arrest simply indicates that Pena Nieto’s government is backing a different gang, or maybe one of his friends within the Sinaloa Cartel has betrayed him so that he can take over.
Even if El Chapo’s criminal career really is over now, there will be a lot of other drug bosses ready to take over, including his old buddy Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who may well have taken over the day-to-day running of the Sinaloa Cartel.
And with so much drugs money still sloshing around in Mexico, it is far too early to say that Mexican politics is clean.
Watch this space.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS OR INNOCENT VICTIMS?
By Morgan Carr III 10 July 2014
A fraud case involving churchgoers in a sleepy Colorado town is not the sort of case you would normally associate with totalcrime.co.uk, but bear with us for this is a fascinating tale.
One day in 2005 more than 20 FBI agents raided the Colorado Springs offices of IRP (Investigative Resource Planning), an IT company who were marketing a special crime-fighting software which would be used by New York Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI itself.
Six IRP executives (pictured) – Gary Walker, David Banks, Demetrius Harper, Kendrick Barnes, Clinton Stewart and David Zirpolo – were convicted in 2011 in a federal court and jailed for between 7-11 years for wire fraud.
They were accused of siphoning millions of dollars from recruitment companies for staff working on their CILC (Case Investigative Life Cycle) software.
Their case has become an alleged miscarriage of justice and they have become known as the IRP6. They are serving their sentences in Florence Correctional Complex in Colorado, close to the infamous supermax prison.
Clinton Stewart’s brother Cliff told totalcrime: “We have since learned that 200 pages of trial transcript is missing. It includes a part of the trial where the judge told one of their defendants that unless one of them took the stand, their defence would be closed and their case would be over. That was a breach of their Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination.”
Judge Christine Arguello has always denied saying such a thing but the missing transcript has meant the matter cannot be cleared up.
The pressure group A Just Cause has been running a petition demanding an investigation by Attorney General Eric Holder – https://www.change.org/petitions/attorney-general-eric-holder-investigate-federal-case-of-irp6-200-pages-of-court-transcript-missing#
Retired federal judge, H Lee Sarokin, writing about the IRP6 case in the Huffington Post, says: “The Court of Appeals certainly has enough evidence to conclude that the right against self-incrimination indeed was, violated by the trial court.” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/irp6/1
Sam Thurman, president of the pressure group A Just Cause, says: “All of them were IT professionals. Mr Walker (pictured left) was the chief architect of the software and was a genius. Several of them had military backgrounds and had top secret clearance.”
IRP, which was run by a small group of African American businessmen, was a minnow in the IT industry and was up against giant corporations like IBM, SAIC and Lockheed Martin.
They were accused of defrauding the recruitment companies out of $5.1m.
Initially, in their subpoena, the FBI claimed CILC did not even exist and was part of a huge scam.
Later, in court, the FBI were forced to admitted it did exist but continued to insist the men were criminals.
Mr Stewart says: “Why, if these men are running a scam and have no product and are going around to defraud companies, why would you contact law enforcement agencies?”
He says: “CLIC had 18 modules, the most important of which was confidential informant management.”
After the raid the FBI went to a forensic analysis company, Califorensics, and asked them to look at the software and they reported back that CLIC would do everything the IRP6 had claimed it could do.
Mr Stewart says: “The authorities refused to let that report be used in the trial and claimed CLIC was just ‘smoke and mirrors’.”
He adds: “How can you have a fraud if you have a viable product? Where’s the fraud?”
Mr Thurman, who used to work for IRP, says: “Gary, David, Clinton and I went to (Washington) DC and we were reaching out to law enforcement agencies but the Department of Homeland Security contacted us – not the other way round – and said ‘We understand you are working on something that we need to see’.
“Gary and David went there and did a presentation and they hit it out of the park.”
He says the DHS were particularly interested in the confidential informant (CI) management module because the 9/11 Commission had stated that agencies needed to work better when managing CIs.
Mr Thurman says: “The Department of Homeland Security asked them to make a little more robust (before they bought it) and to make that happen they needed to bring in additional talent to get it done quickly. So they reached out to professional staffing companies to find software programmers.”
Mr Thurman says: “Gary and David were very up-front with the staffing companies about at what stage they would get paid. The contract with the Department of Homeland Security was potentially worth $100m and the staffing companies looked at it as an opportunity. When IRP closes this deal it’s going to be good for their business.”
But IRP went into arrears with one of the recruitment companies and they called into the authorities, suspecting they had been the victims of a scam.
Andrew Albarelle, an executive with Denver-based recruitment firm Remy Corporation, wrote a letter to the US Attorney’s Office in July 2011 explaining that what IRP had done was not fraudulent and at least a dozen other Colorado companies were operating exactly the same business practice.
But he was never permitted to testify at the trial.
And Gary Hillberry, a retired special agent with the US Customs Service who confirmed CLIC was a “viable law enforcement product”, was not given the chance to tell the jury what he had said in his affidavit.
Mr Stewart says he believes the verdict in his brother’s trial was “perverse” but he says: “We’ve spoken to a couple of jurors and they said they were waiting for the defendants to present their evidence. There was Albarelle, Hillberry and Califorensics but the judge stopped us from using it.”
Stewart, Zirpolo and Harper (pictured left, with his family) were jailed for 121 months; Barnes was incarcerated for 87 months but the stiffest sentences were reserved for Banks and Walker who both got 135 months.
Mr Stewart talks of darker conspiracy theories which may have led to the IRP6 case but, for legal reasons, I am unable to publish the details.
But he adds: “These men are patriots, churchgoing Christian family men. They were not committing any crime and this case should have never come to court.”
THE AMERICAN WHO TOOK ON THE YAKUZA
By Kenichiro Sasaki 15 June 2014
Reading between the lines of his book Tokyo Vice, Jake Adelstein’s wife Sunao must have put up with a lot.
Adelstein is an oddity.
A skinny Jewish kid from Missouri who became obsessed with Japan, moving there, learning Japanese and immersing himself in Nipponese culture.
He got a job on the prestigious Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in 1993 – not the English-language version but the proper Japanese title which sells 10m copies a day – and began to specialise in crime reporting.
Before long he was investigating Japan’s infamous organised crime syndicates, the yakuza.
There are several large syndicates – Sumiyoshi-Rengo, Inagawa-kai and Matsuba-kai – but the Big Daddy of them all is the Yamaguchi-gumi, which has an estimated 40,000 members.
The Yamaguchi-gumi, which has its roots in the Kansai region (Osaka/Kobe), is made up of several smaller gangs, one of which the Goto-gumi, became Adelstein’s bête noire.
The eponymous godfather was Tadamasa Goto, a character who villainy is imbued with a darkness redolent of some of the sicker manga comics.
At the heart of Tokyo Vice is the story of how Goto obtained a liver transplant in the US after a murky deal with the FBI.
Standing this story up – as they say in journalism – almost got Adelstein killed.
As he got deeper and deeper into the Tokyo underworld Adelstein had to spend more and more time hanging out in hostess clubs and brothels – “pink salons” – in Kabukicho and Roppongi, mixing with prostitutes, pimps and strippers.
Having to endure nubile young ladies grinding their lithe, young bodies against your groin may not sound like a bad gig.
But the job, which involved ridiculously long hours and virtually constant sake hangovers, clearly took a toll on his relationship with his long-suffering wife Sunao.
Adelstein hints at womanising and is also coy about his relationship with a Australian hooker “with a heart of gold”, called Helena, who plied her trade in Tokyo.
Some might say he also put the life of his wife and two children in danger at times as he strove to get the “perfect story”.
But what is refreshing is that Adelstein does not shrink from self-criticism, especially regarding his own role in the fate of Helena.
At one point in the book he reports a chilling encounter with a yakuza dubbed Cyclops, who berates him at length for encouraging Helena to go sniffing about for information about a human trafficking network run by Goto.
Adelstein could easily have played that down or even omitted it altogether.
But he chose not to and basically confesses to his own flaws as a journalist, a friend and a husband.
Which brings us back to Sunao.
I would have liked to have heard more about her.
She is clearly no shrinking violet, no passive old-style Japanese wife.
At one point she puts her foot down and insists he come back to the US with the rest of the family rather than attending the funeral of a Japanese cop friend, forcing Adelstein to break a
promise he had made to the dying man.
All in all, Tokyo Vice is a rip-roaring read and is written with such flavour that I could almost taste the sushi and sake.
For more on the Yakuza, click here and scroll down to Japan: https://totalcrime.co.uk/category/organised-crime/
CATCH 22: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
by April Summers 26 May 2014
Reports about the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, triggered the age-old debate regarding the validity of capital punishment.
Sentenced to death in 1999, Lockett’s execution was set for this year.
During the lethal injection operation he reportedly “did not fall unconscious for 10 minutes. Three minutes after he was declared unconscious, he lurched forward against his restraints, writhing and attempting to speak. He strained and struggled violently, his body twisting and his head reaching up from the gurney.”
His vein burst and he eventually died of a massive heart attack. The incident reinstated the controversial discourse that has existed ever since the death sentence was established.
Those in favour of capital punishment often argue it prevents re-offending and provides closure for the victim’s family – relatives can rest easy, knowing they will never have to come into contact with the killer again.
The counter arguments, however, focus primarily on the concept of capital punishment as a form of vengeance. One person killing another is the definition of murder, so, protesters would argue, how can an agent of the law administer death upon another human being, without in turn becoming a murderer?
There is also the question of killing an innocent person, an issue which, both terrifying and unjust as it is, has occurred a worrying amount of times in the US.
The case of Texan father Cameron Todd Willingham (pictured below) in 2004 is one of the most well known wrongful executions to date.
Willingham was charged with the murder of his three daughters, a crime seen as worthy of the death penalty by US law enforcers. The primary evidence in this case was the findings of an arson investigator which determined that judging by specific burn patterns and laboratory tests, the fire appeared to have been deliberately ignited with the help of a liquid accelerant.
After his death at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville on 16th February 2004, further evidence was put forward by the Texas Forensic Science Commission panel.
By 2009, due to advances in fire science and arson investigations, Willingham’s case was re-evaluated and it was determined that the original arson investigators used “flawed science.”
Is one person’s testimony reliable enough to justify taking a potentially innocent human being’s life? And in cases like Willingham’s, the death of his three children would be torturous enough, without being accused of causing it and then in turn, murdered for it.
Deciding that a person deserves to experience death by lethal injection, surely in turn means taking responsibility for the administering of that death?
How can any law-abiding citizen put aside their emotions and honestly believe thaty murdering another human is what is right for the good of mankind?
A lot of the liberal newspaper coverage of the event failed to discuss some poignant information, such as the horrifying details of the crime committed by Lockett: abducting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman, raping her friend before shooting her and burying her alive.
Leaving out the details of the crime in which Lockett received the death sentence for resulted in a soft news story which generated sympathy and human emotion from the general public.
When considering Lockett’s fate in light of his behaviour, his death on the execution table seems almost justified.
But the BBC Three series Life and Death Row, aired earlier this year, provided a fresh new perspective into the lives of young people waiting to be executed in the USA.
This three part series successfully portrayed the lives of several criminals and their repentance and rehabilitation in jail.
Not only this, but the filmmakers also successfully provided an accurate insight into the lives of those affected by these criminals, and a lot of them (the mentioned being mainly religious) did not necessarily believe the crime was worthy of death.
I think it is safe to say that when reading about the horrifying details of a criminal act in a news story it is easy to deem a person worthy of the death sentence.
However, I believe after much consideration and more recently due to the BBC Life and Death Row series, life sentences in America are lengthy enough and mean that death sentences appear to be simply unjustifiable and unnecessary.
THE GANGSTERS WHO GO TO WAR ON THE PAGES OF THEIR MEMOIRS
by Stevie McCulloch 1 May 2014
Reading the Scottish newspapers is like stepping back in time, to an era when crime reporters were kings.
From the 1950s through until the 80s readers south of the border followed with interest the careers of gangsters like the Kray twins, the Richardsons, the Great Train Robbers and Ronnie Knight; and other serious criminals like the Yorkshire Ripper, the Black Panther (Donald Neilson) and The Fox (Malcolm Fairley).
But nowadays London-based tabloids have eschewed crime reporting and front page splashes are more likely to be celebrity-led “kiss and tells” involving soap actors or reality TV stars.
The Scottish press however remains in the thrall of gangsters with nicknames like The Iceman, The Licensee and The Gerbil.
Scottish gangsters know this and are aware of their market value.
They often publish memoirs and, because they have fallen out over the years, there is inevitably sniping between them when their accounts differ over key events.
Such is the case with William Lobban (pictured, left), whose recent book The Glasgow Curse, was immediately criticised by his erstwhile underworld pal Paul Ferris.
Ferris’s own memoirs, The Ferris Conspiracy and Vendetta, came out a decade ago and was penned by the late Reg McKay.
Several police officers have got in on the act as well, including former detective Gerard Gallagher who wrote Gangsters, Killers and Me.
Ironically – and it is an irony not lost on Ferris’s enemies – a film based on his memoirs, The Wee Man, was a box office flop last year after criminals pirated the DVD.
Lobban and Ferris fell out over one of the most notorious murders in Glasgow underworld history.
On 31 August 1991 Arthur “Fat Boy” Thompson, 31, was fatally wounded outside his parents’ barracks-like home, nicknamed The Ponderosa, in Glasgow’s Springboig district.
He was on weekend leave from Noranside prison, where he was serving a sentence for drug dealing.
Thompson was the eldest son, and heir, of Glasgow gangland legend Arthur Thompson senior, who drove him to the hospital at speed in a vain attempt to save his son’s life.
Ferris, who was seeking to take over from Thompson as the king of Glasgow’s criminals, was soon arrested and charged with murder. His accomplices were believed to be Joe “Bananas” Hanlon and Bobby Glover.
But on 18 September 1991 Glover and Hanlon were shot and their bodies left in a car close to Ferris’s favourite watering hole, The Cottage Bar in Shettleston.
This time the finger of suspicion was pointed at Lobban.
In his autobiography Ferris referred to Lobban as “Judas” and claimed he had been paid £10,000 to set up Glover and Hanlon.
He also described him as an “ungrateful moaner”.
Ferris (below), who had incriminated Lobban during his trial, was later sensationally acquitted of murdering Fat Boy.
But Lobban was never charged with any of the murders, which remain unsolved.
He insists he is innocent and he and Ferris continue to throw mud at each other in their books and in the Scottish papers.
In The Glasgow Curse, Lobban writes: “The bottom line is that 22 years later the case remains as much of a mystery today as it was all those years ago.
“Ferris has been blaming me for years, saying that I was behind not just Hanlon and Glover’s demise, but all three killings, but he does have a tendency to change his tune.
“Let’s not forget, during his 54-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow in 1992 he accused me of being the person who shot and killed Arthur Thompson Junior, only for him to change his story and then accuse someone he refers to as “the Apprentice” instead.
“The two others, accused to Ferris, with whom I’m supposed to have shot Hanlon and Glover – my own uncle Billy and Paul Hamilton….are now dead and gone and cannot now defend themselves.
“Where does Ferris get this information? He never discloses his sources. He only ever points the finger.”
But aside from sniping at other gangsters, Lobban’s book is an entertaining, evocative and riveting tale of a childhood growing up with an alcoholic, impoverished single mother and two equally sozzled grandparents in one of Glasgow’s roughest neighbourhoods.
Lobban was kith and kin of the notorious Manson family – no, not the California hippy killer variety, but the Glaswegian gangsters – who are woven into Scottish criminal folklore like tartan thread.
His uncle Billy Manson died of an overdose of painkillers in 1997 but there have been claims that he was murdered.
The book also contains tales of violence and rioting in various prisons, most notably Shotts and Peterhead in Scotland, and Full Sutton in England.
It also gives an insight into the paranoid vicious circle which the young Billy Lobban got into while behind bars.
The Glasgow Curse ends in 1998, when Lobban was released after a decade in Scottish and English jails, and the highest praise I can give it is to say that it whetted my appetite for the sequel, which will apparently tell the tale of his post-prison life of crime in Holland, Spain and Morocco.
Although Lobban insists that he has now retired from a life of crime and is living the quiet life.
GUNS FOR VOTES – HOW JAMAICAN POLITICIANS CREATED A CRIMEWAVE
By Carlos Mathurin 10 March 2014
In the spring of 1978 Jamaica’s most famous son, reggae singer Bob Marley, pulled off a major political coup.
At the One Love Peace concert in Kingston, Marley persuaded Prime Minister Michael Manley and his deadly rival Edward Seaga to come on stage and shake hands.
The image became enshrined in the legend of Bob Marley, a man who would be accorded a full state funeral three years later, as a messianic figure who could bring peace where previously there had been conflict.
Sadly the truth is quite different.
The handshake and the apparent bonhomie between the two politicians disguised a deep hatred and the brief ceasefire between Manley’s People’s National Party (PNP) and Seaga’s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) soon collapsed with bloodshed enveloping the island in the run up to the 1980 general election.
In 1980 a total of 889 people were killed during battles between the PNP and JLP.
The warfare on the streets was set amid the context of the Cold War – Manley’s PNP was a socialist party in the 1970s with close links with Fidel Castro’s Cuba, while Seaga’s JLP were rabidly anti-communist and tacitly supported by the US.
Both sides brought weapons to the island during the late 1960s, which stoked up the violence which worsened throughout the 70s.
Three months before the One Peace Love concert five gangsters from the JLP stronghold of Southside had been gunned down at a firing range at Green Bay, just outside Kingston, after being lured there on false pretences by a group of soldiers who supported the PNP.
The soldiers planned to claim that they had shot the men dead after being ambushed in the evening.
But their plan was undermined by the testimony of five others who survived either by running into the sea or the thorn bushes nearby.
They would later recount what really happened and were backed up by photographs which emerged and showed soldiers’ long shadows over the five bodies, making it clear the killings had occurred in the morning.
The Green Bay massacre created pressure to do something about the politically-inspired violence in Jamaica.
In the spring of 1978, around the time of the One Peace Love concert, Manley and Seaga reluctantly agreed to a truce which had been brokered on the streets of Kingston but gang bosses like Claudie Massop and Bucky Marshall.
But before the end of the 1978 the truce was over and peacemakers like Massop (pictured below in a Kington mural) were betrayed. In February 1979 Massop, by now out of his favour with his JLP overlords, was gunned down by the police on his way back to Tivoli Gardens after a football match.
Seaga won the 1980 election and the Cuba-inspired socialism of Manley’s PNP was replaced with the conservative, free market capitalism of the JLP, enthusiastically supported by US President Ronald Reagan.But the 1980s also saw a massive sea-change in Jamaica’s drugs culture.
As a character called Lyrics says in Laurie Gunst’s marvellous book, Born Fi’ Dead: “Seems like the 70s belonged to Manley and to ganja but the 80s belong to cocaine.”
Seaga’s government burnt marijuana plantations or sprayed it with chemicals, while turning a blind eye to the trans-shipment of cocaine from Colombia.
Crack cocaine emerged in Jamaica and then hit US cities like New York, with Brooklyn in particular suffering an epidemic linked to Jamaican drug gangs like the notorious Shower Posse.
Gunst’s book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand Jamaica’s underworld.
Her research was peerless and she explained to outsiders dozens of deadly anachronisms – for example the fact that Red Stripe beer was forbidden in JLP territory because red was a PNP colour (they are now orange, rather than red) and Heineken was likewise taboo in PNP neighbourhoods because green was and is the JLP colour.
Fast forward 30 years and the tribalism remains the same and the links between Jamaican politicians and gangs would seem to be as close as ever.
In May 2010 the US demanded the extradition from the island of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a major drug smuggler, the leader of the Shower Posse and a gangster who ran the Tivoli Gardens ghetto in West Kingston.
But Tivoli Gardens was solid JLP territory and Dudus was closely aligned with several JLP politicians.
Cue mayhem – 73 people died during days of clashes between gangsters and policemen searching for Dudus.
Dudus (pictured below) was eventually extradited to the US and jailed for 23 years but the whole episode deeply undermined Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who resigned the following year. His JLP lost the 2011 general election to the PNP.
Coke’s father Lester – better known as “Jim Brown” – was rumoured to be the gunman who shot and wounded Bob Marley back in 1976.
Jim Brown – the nickname came from his passing resemblance to the US gridiron star – died suspiciously in 1992 after a fire in his prison cell, after apparently falling out with his patron, Seaga.
Another of Lester Coke’s sons, Anthony – known as Jah T, was shot dead by a PNP gunman in 2005.
Seaga himself joined 20,000 people who attended Jah T’s funeral.
Jah T’s “babymother”, Deborah “Foxy Brown” Golding wore an eye-catching black dress at the funeral. In 2012 she tried to get elected as an independent councillor for Tivoli Gardens, after being rejected as a JLP candidate.
In the past year 120 people have been killed in Jamaica and, although it may way down on 1980 levels, there is every sign that the Jamaican politicians have failed to gain control of the crimewave they started back in the 1960s.
Manley died in 1997, while Seaga is now 84, and still an eminence grise in the JLP.
THE NIGHT THE WORLD CAUGHT FIRE
by Sam Christopher 29 January 2014
An unremarkable hillside in northern Kentucky contains a dark secret.
It was here 37 years ago that a horrific blaze broke out, killing 169 people – four of them unborn babies.
Many disasters have large, impressive memorials.
But the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire has only a neat green plaque on a signpost beside the road, erected by the Kentucky Historical Society in 2007.
Trucks thunder past without stopping to read about what happened here on a hill overlooking the city of Cincinatti, on the other side of the Ohio river.
On the night of 28 May 1977 flames destroyed the glitzy Beverly Hills Supper Club as singer John Davidson – a big name in the 1970s – was preparing to entertain 2,000 people with hits like I’ll Always Remember.
For years the cause of the fire was a mystery, with Kentuckians seemingly happy to forget about the whole tragic night.
But a new book, based on four years of research by Robert Webster and a team of local historians in Kenton County, has unearthed a shattering discovery – that the fire was almost certainly arson and the 169 dead were therefore murder victims.
Webster claims in his book that the fire in May 1977 was set by arsonists posing as air conditioning maintenance men.
There is even the suggestion that a group of men and women posed as cleaners during the day of the blaze and brushed the walls with a special inflammable lubricant – liquid graphite – which would explain the remarkable “burning down” patterns found at the scene.
Numerous witnesses saw the maintenance men and the cleaners and assumed they were working for the Schilling family, who owned the club.
But they were not and the the author points the finger unambiguously in the direction of the Cleveland mafia, a notoriously brutal outfit which had once been run by gangland legend Moe Dalitz.
But to understand the events of that night fully you need to be aware of the historical and geographical context.
Kentucky – “the bluegrass state” – is a largely rural place, home to dozens of horse breeders and trainers, the Kentucky Derby and Jim Beam whiskey.
But tucked away in the northern corner of the state, in a bend in the Ohio river, are the towns of Newport, Covington and Southgate.
Nowadays they are humdrum dormitory suburbs of Cincinatti, but the area – and Newport in particular – has a colourful past as “sin city” where booze, gambling and sex were peddled for years.
Newport in particular was a hub of brothels, speakeasies and illegal casinos in the Prohibition era and it was only in 1961 that a clampdown by Governor Bert Coombs and US Attorney General Robert Kennedy curbed these excesses.
Kennedy was assisted in this campaign by George Ratterman, the new Sheriff of Campbell County, a former Cleveland Browns quarterback, who was elected with a promise to clean up northern Kentucky.
But Ratterman’s election campaign was almost derailed when he was drugged with chloral hydrate, tucked up in bed with stripper April Flowers and photographed in a bid to blackmail him into bowing out of the race.
Ratterman managed to prove he had chloral hydrate in his bloodstream and Flowers confessed to her part in the scam.
During the 1960s the Mob began moving their investments from Kentucky to Las Vegas, which soon became the US’s gambling mecca.
Newport began a slow spiral of decline, with its population falling by 25% over the next few decades.
But while prostitution and gambling may have disappeared, there were still a few venues where crowds would travel from miles around for rather more wholesome entertainment.
One of these was the Beverly Hills Supper Club, which was taken over in 1969 and relaunched by local tycoon Dick Schilling.
Before he could even open it, the club was gutted by a fire in 1970 started, almost certainly, by extortionists from the Cleveland mafia.
Over the next few years the club went from strength with stars such as Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carol Channing and The Four Seasons coming to perform, but the Cleveland mobsters continued to harass Schilling and tried to intimidate him into selling it to them.
On the day of the fire receptionist Eileen Druckman received a chilling phone call from a mystery man who simply asked her: “When was it that the Beverly Hills burnt down before?”
Flustered and extremely busy as guests began to arrive, she brushed him off, but not before he told her: “It burned down on June 21, 1970.”
She put the phone call and thought no more about it, until the blaze broke out later in the evening.
Webster’s book is superbly researched and he has found witness accounts from scores of guests.
What is amazing is that many of them reported heat and smoke up to two hours before the fire brigade was called.
It appears the fire was smouldering for up several hours – from as early as 5pm – before it finally broke into the open at around 9pm and thick black smoke alerted people to the impending disaster.
Hundreds managed to escape but a bottleneck developed in the Cabaret Room, which is where 99 of the bodies were found.
Webster also uncovers evidence that timers were found in the debris, several of which were set for 5pm.
He speculates that the arsonists may have simply made a mistake: instead of starting the fire at 5am – when the club would have been empty – they may have set it off at 5pm.
Kentucky State Police, under pressure from Governor Julian Carroll, were guilty of a “rush to judgement”, wanting to blame the Schillings and rule out arson.
The governor ordered the club be demolished with unseemly haste so it was impossible to prove how it started.
There was an in-built “expectation bias” which sought to portray Dick Schilling and his family as the culprits.
It has since emerged that not only were the Schillings innocent of most of the code infringements they were accused of but Governor Carroll had been a guest at a party in Christmas 1976 hosted by Sam Schraeder, the Cleveland mafia’s man in northern Kentucky.
Did he later cover up for the mafia, possibly under duress?
Perhaps the most chilling clue as to the real motive was found by Margie Schilling, Dick’s wife, when she finally returned home in the early hours of the Sunday morning, feeling utterly devastated by the loss of life at their club.
There on the doormat was a note, with letters cuts from newsprint in the style of a ransom note, saying: “WE BURNED YOU BEFORE, WE’LL BURN YOU AGAIN. YOU KEEP BUILDING, WE’LL KEEP BURNING.”
The Beverly Hills Supper Club was never rebuilt and the site – in view of the Interstate 471 highway – remains morbidly vacant, a testament to that tragic night.
THE BIGGEST PHARMACEUTICAL MURDER MYSTERY OF THEM ALL
by Sven Kristiansen December 2013
More than 30 years after seven people were killed when cyanide was place inside painkiller capsules in the US, a new theory is suggesting the police and FBI were looking in the wrong place for the killer.In the autumn – or, as they say, in Chicago, the fall – of 1982 seven people, including a 12-year-old girl swallowed a Tylenol Extra Strength capsule….and dropped dead.The acetaminophen powder – what we call paracetamol in the UK – inside had been replaced with cyanide.Tylenol was – in fact, still is – one of the most popular over-the-counter painkillers on sale in the US. At the time it had a 37% share of the market.So the seven deaths became headline news across the nation, even though they were limited to the Chicago area.The police and FBI jumped to the conclusion that the killer was taking bottles of Tylenol off the shelves, unscrewing the capsules, replacing the acetaminophen with cyanide and then placing them back on sale.But a new book suggests that theory was wrong and the police and FBI spent years looking for the “Tymurs” killer in the wrong place.The author of The Tylenol Mafia, Scott Bartz, certainly should know what he is talking about.He spent a decade working as a sales manager for Johnson & Johnson, the giant consumer products firm which owns McNeil, the firm who make Tylenol.Bartz left the company under a cloud after he tried to expose fraud in Medicaid, the programme which funds medicines for the poor in the US.His book – which is an immensely readable page-turner – is sweet revenge.It claims – with a considerable body of evidence behind it – that the theory of the “madman in the store” not only does not make sense but was deliberately put forward by J&J to steer the authorities away from the real culprit because it might lead them with a hefty lawsuit.Without going into detail – and there is a heck of a lot of detail about batch numbers, “rack jobbers” and distribution networks – Bartz claims the killer worked in a repackaging warehouse in the Chicago area.Key to his argument is the case of Lynn Reiner (pictured above), who had recently given birth and died after taking a Tylenol capsule she had been given by the hospital pharmacy.Bartz argues that the hospital pharmacy was secure and a random killer could not have wandered in and tampered with the Tylenol bottles.He says the killer must have tampered with the capsules before they even reached the pharmacies and convenience stores where they were purchased.Lynn’s daughter Michelle Rosen says she believes Bartz and she told the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper: “We’ve been on such a dead road for 29 years, is this not worth looking into?”“It would be irresponsible of them not to legitimately look deep into this. What facts do they currently have? The only evidence that authorities have ever given us to their theories is, ‘People bought Tylenol and died.’ Well, that isn’t enough anymore.”A central character in the Tylenol story is James Lewis, an eccentric individual who became the FBI’s prime suspect after he – in a fit of pique at an employer who had gone bust and failed to pay his wife her wages – sent an extortion letter to the authorities, demanding $8,000 be paid into a bank account in order for the poisonings to stop.The bank account belonged to his wife’s former employer who he held a grudge against, and he had no access to it.But despite that Lewis was convicted of extortion and spent many years in jail.In fact he was behind bars in 1986 when an almost incident killed another woman in New York after she swallowed Tylenol which had been replaced with cyanide.By then J&J had introduced tamper resistant packaging. But they were still persevering with capsules, which are easy to tamper with.Only after the 1986 murder did they phase out capsules and replace them with caplets (pictured left), which are sealed and cannot be tampered with.Lewis has remained the prime suspect for the FBI and DuPage County police, despite the fact that at the time of the Chicago poisonings he was thousands of miles away in New York city.Even as recently as 2009 Lewis and his long-suffering wife LeAnn were arrested at their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts by federal agents looking in vain for a “smoking gun” which they could use to pin the crime on Lewis.capletsBartz speculates that the reason for the arrest and the publicity surrounding it was not because the authorities actually believed Lewis was the killer, but because it allowed them to refuse to release vital documents about the case because they could claim it was still an “ongoing investigation”.The reality is that nobody really has a clue who the Tylenol killer was.His motive was never made clear. For all we know it could have been carried out by one of their business rivals in order to destroy Tylenol as a brand.Tylenol did however recover, despite the 1986 hiccup, and in fact rose to 56% in 2009.But since then a series of manufacturing faults have led to the recall of millions of bottles of Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin, all made by McNeil.Tylenol’s market share has now fallen to 24% and in 2011 McNeil closed its factory at Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, after a damning report by the Food and Drug Administration.Bartz’s book suggests J&J deliberately masked the origin of the 1982 poisonings because if it turned out the perpetrator was in the distribution network they could be held legally liable, whereas if the “madman in the stores” theory was true they were not liable.Johnson & Johnson gave a statement recently, saying: “We believe the premise in Mr. Bartz’s book has no merit. The facts of this case have been shared with the appropriate authorities over the years, and we defer any comment on the investigation of these poisonings to the appropriate legal authorities.”