Friday, May 28, 2004

Spanky the clown arrested on porn charges

Spanky the Clown
Thomas Allen Riccio aka "Spanky"

One more reason why we really only fear nuclear war and carneys.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Spanky, a clown with the renowned Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, has been arrested on charges stemming from a child pornography investigation, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Spanky arrested [CNN]

List of Terrorists, Terrorist Organizatons, & Narcotics Traffickers

From Office of Foreign Assets Control - Department of the Treasury:

The Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Alphabetical Listing of Blocked Persons, Specially Designated Nationals, Specially Designated Terrorists, Specially Designated Global Terrorists, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers:


Patriot Missiles to Guard G-8 meeting at Sea Island, GA

Some of the security precautions for next month's (June 8-10) G-8 Summit meeting at Sea Island, GA:

• 20,000 federal, state and local law-enforcement officers secure the area
• Shut down airspace to private planes
• Waterways will be off-limits to private boats for up to three nautical miles off the island.
• Patriot missiles deployed (from Larry Kudlow-CNBC)

Hopefully, private pilots flying in Georgia that week don't miss the restricted airspace alerts.

Threats won't affect G-8 security [AP]

Concealed Weapons Confiscated by TSA

The Transportation Security Administration has a webpage showing artfully concealed weapons found by TSA Screeners during security searches. These discoveries emphasize the need for continued vigilance at airport checkpoints across the country. Some of the items include:

• Concealed knives
• Loaded handgun stuffed inside a teddy bear
• Child's carseat used to conceal a knife
• An electronic radio device was used to attempt to get a gun on board a flight
• Sword concealed in statue
• Brass Knuckles
• Grenade Torch Lighter
• Handgun Lighter
• Lipstick Knife

Artfully Concealed Items Confiscated by TSA Screeners

No I.D., No Leads, No Justice

Jane Doe John Doe
Handsome Mystery Couple Found Murdered in South Carolina

Two handsome, affluent young adults are murdered one night on a dark country road. Who are they? In August of 1976, a woman and a man were found slain beside a dirt road in Sumter County, South Carolina. The deaths are unsolved and they still are unidentified. But they are not forgotten.

The Mystery [Crime Library]

Chlorine as a Weapon?

Strategic Forecasting speculates about the potential damage a chlorine attack may inflict. Case-in-point: the recent fire at a pool supply company in Atlanta, Georgia forced hundreds to evacuate.

Fire rages at chemical warehouse near Atlanta [MSNBC]
Chlorine as a Weapon? [Stratfor]

Juilliard Student Murder Mystery - Sarah Fox

Sarah Fox
Sarah Fox
The New York City area is stunned by the chilling murder of a promising young Juilliard School actress, 21-year-old Sarah Fox. Sarah Fox's strangled, nude body was discovered Tuesday (May 25), in a secluded wooded area of Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park. Investigators believe Fox may have been the target of a deranged killer with ritualistic tendencies. Her body appeared to have been posed and the killer may have placed yellow tulip petals and branches around the corpse. Fox vanished on May 19th after leaving her home in workout clothes, possibly for a run in nearby Inwood Hill Park.

Search For Clues In Juilliard Student Murder [1010 WINS]
Petals probed in Fox slaying [CourierPost]
New York Police Reveal New Details In The Murder Of Student [WABC-TV/, May 27, 2004]
Abductions rare, but women must be alert [Gazette-Times, May 25, 2005]
The search for clues goes on in death of S. Jersey woman [StarLedger/]

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thursday Linkage

St. Paul police take a fresh look at cold cases: St. Paul police think they know who killed officer James Sackett, who was ambushed by a sniper in 1970 as he and a partner responded to a false emergency call about a woman having a baby.

Dipping Into the Cold Cases: NPR audio report-Advances in DNA technology offer leads in more than half a million old criminal cases. But, as Frank Morris of member station KCUR in Kansas City reports, local labs, facing tight budgets and a relentless crush of new work, have only scratched the surface of this huge backlog.

DNA Evidence Pinpoints Suspects In Two Cold Cases In N. Carolina: DNA analysis of previously untested rape kits is helping to solve cold cases in North Carolina.

BTK Survivor: KAKE-TV interviewed Kevin Bright on Tuesday, May 25th. He survived an attack from the Wichita BTK Strangler over 30 years ago.
[consolidated BTK Strangler information]

Ex-Black Panther wasn't triggerman: Man arrested this week in Berkeley cop's 1970 killing will return to Fresno County jail. The individual, Don Juan Warren Graphenreed, is believed by police to be the get-away driver in the killing of Berkeley, California's first Japanese-American officer. However, the DA doesn't believe they have sufficient evidence to file formal charges.

Police heading to classes in computer forensics: Police are heading back to the classroom as a new breed of criminals turns to the Internet to prey on unsuspecting victims.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Problem Of Just-In-Time Nuclear Proliferation

Randall Parker, the ParaPundit summarizes some recent articles on nuclear proliferation. The bottomline basically, is that atoms for peace can be "a shortcut to atoms for war."

related links:
Nuclear Weapons in Iran: Plowshare or Sword? [NY Times]
Nuclear Control Institute
Searching For Ways to Roll Back Nuclear Proliferation [Arms Control Association]
Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

Still on Catastrophe's Edge

Dr. Helen Caldicott of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute was on C-span this morning. She and Robert McNamara [former Defense Secretary] wrote the provocative article, "Still on Catastrophe's Edge," for the LA Times. Some excerpts:

As we continue to grapple with the United States' vulnerability to terrorist attack, we fail to recognize the most serious danger, one that is overlooked by politicians and emergency management agencies alike. Thousands of Russian nuclear warheads are targeted on the U.S.

How can this be, after the end of the Cold War nearly 15 years ago? Unfortunately, the targeting strategy of Russia and the United States has changed little, despite a profound change in relations between these two nations...

It estimated that Soviet nuclear war plans had two one-megaton bombs aimed at each of three airports that serve New York, one aimed at each of the major bridges, two at Wall Street and two at each of four oil refineries. The major rail centers and power stations were also targeted, along with the port facilities...

And New York would not be the only devastated city. According to a report on nuclear war planning by the National Resources Defense Council, Russia aims most of its 8,200 nuclear warheads at the U.S...

Caldicott and McNamara go on to point out the Russians have a hair trigger command and control system plus a rapidly decaying early warning system. All of this is increasingly vulnerable to terrorists and hackers. We also note: in 2002 the infamous Doomsday Clock was moved two minutes closer to Doomsday (from 9 minutes to midnight to 7 minutes).

Still on Catastrophe's Edge []

Al Qaeda has 18,000 terrorists

The Institute of Strategic Studies estimates that al Qaeda's total strength exceeds 18,000 terrorists. Some Highlights:

• 1,000 al Qaeda militants estimated to be in Iraq were a minute fraction of its potential strength.
• Recruitment is accelerating due to Iraq.
• Al Qaeda's finances are intact.

Al-Qaeda has more than 18,000 fighters []
JOURNAL: An Estimate of Al Qaeda's Current Strength

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Celebrity Hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis comes in five forms: A,B,C,D, & E. Four million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, which kills as many as 10,000 yearly. There is no cure.

Recent studies have shown that the Hepatitis C virus or HCV can survive outside the body and still transmit infection for 16 hours, but not longer than 4 days. Compare this to the "fragile" HIV virus that does not survive more than a few minutes outside the body.

The following celebrities have or had Hepatitis C:

  • Pamela Anderson: "Baywatch" TV star
  • Rolf Benirschke: football player-San Diego
  • David Crosby: rock star
  • Willie Dixon: blues musician (died 1992)
  • Freddy Fender: singer
  • Allen Ginsberg: poet laureate (died 1997)
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham: WWF wrestling champion
  • Larry Hagman: "Dallas" TV star
  • Dusty Hill: ZZTop bass player
  • Stormie Jones: 1st heart+liver transplant recipient (died 1990)
  • Naomi Judd: Country singer
  • Ken Kesey: author- "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (died 2001)
  • Evel Knievel: motorcycle daredevil
  • Phil Lesh: Grateful Dead bass player
  • Lance Loud: TV actor/journalist-PBS "An American Family"
  • Linda Lovelace: "Deep Throat" porn star (died 2002)
  • Jack Kevorkian: "Doctor Death"
  • Mickey Mantle: baseball player (died 1995)
  • Benito Mussolini: Italian dictator
  • Chuck Negron: singer (Three Dog Night: "Joy to the World")
  • James Earl Ray: assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.(died 1998)
  • Frank Reynolds: ABC news anchor (died 1981)
I Have Hepatitis

Most Popular Stolen Cars

Chicago-based CCC Information Services, an insurance industry tracker of trends in theft and vehicle damage released its list of the most popular cars for thieves to steal. Vehicles made in 1997 were the most popular, followed by model years 1996, 1995, 1994 and 1998 - their report is based on thefts vs. the number of models registered. The top ten stolen cars are:

1. 1995 Saturn SL-One out of every 200 registered 1995 Saturn SLs was stolen in 2003
2. 1998 Acura Integra
3. 1994 Saturn SL
4. 1999 Acura Integra
5. 1995 Acura Integra
6. 1997 Aucra Integra
7. 1996 Acura Integra
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Mitsubishi Montero
10. 2000 Honda Civic

1995 Saturn SL is red-hot, but not in a good way [USAToday]

Monday, May 24, 2004

Monday Linkage

Condemned Prisoners Don't Lose Their Sense of Humor: The National Enquirer offers some of the famous last words of inmates on death row. One James French, executed in Oklahoma's electric chair, in 1966 said: "How about this for a headline for tomorrow's paper? French Fries."

America's Worst Serial Killer: Gary Ridgway the Green River Killer has been given this title by many media outlets after he pled guilty to killing 48 women. DNA testing finally caught him after twenty years.
River of Death [Crime Library]

FBI joins in Cisco code theft investigation: Some the most valuable software code in the world was pilfered off of Cisco's internal network.

The bones people: Clea Koff has made a career of excavating mass graves. Her memoir, The Bone Woman, was released to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide sparked by the assassination of the president of Rwanda on April 6, 1994.

The U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory: opened in 1989 in Ashland, Ore., and is the country's only full-time wildlife crime lab. Its 33 workers use several areas of science -- from morphology to genetics to computer crime -- to help solve criminal wildlife cases.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cold Case Report #2

Cold Case: 3 Murders, One Home: An unlucky house on Village Drive West in Upper Marlboro, Md. was the scene of two separate unsolved murders. The first two victims, Agnes Bowman, 61, and her son Terry, 27, were found dead on Nov. 9, 1995. They were found with gunshot wounds to the back of their heads. The house was ransacked, but there was no sign of a break in. Ten months later Ametra Bryant, 23-years old, her mother had just bought the house for her, was found stabbed to death and wrapped in a rug. Again there were no signs of a break-in.

Cold case investigation leads to conviction in 1980 murder: Robert D'Avanzo was tried and convicted of the Oct. 17, 1980 murder of his girlfriend, Patricia Lang, 21, at the Western Michigan University campus.

DNA Solves Miami Cold Case Murder: Victor Guzman, 40, a Peruvian national was charged with the Dec. 9, 2000 stabbing death of 80-year-old Severina Dolores Fernandez in her Little Havana apartment. Fernandez fought back and caused Guzman to cut himself, leaving his blood at the scene, which resulted in a DNA match. Guzman was being held in Jacksonville, FL for deportation at the time of his arrest.

Arrest made in Collin County 'cold case': The Collin County (Texas) Sheriff's office arrested David Wayne Hickman, 51, of Josephine and charged him with the murder of Gary Fisk in 1981. Hickman beat Fisk to death with a club.

Clint Walker - Frank Dennies -- Erie County, NY: The Cold Case File shows on the A&E network & CBS have inspired the Erie County (western NY) Sheriff's Office to do an Unsolved Old Case Files section on the Sheriff's Department website.

Londa Young -- Sulfur, Louisiana: The 19-year-old mother walked out of the house 18 years ago and was never seen again. A new tip re-opens the case.

Larry Barnes -- Washington, D.C.: Back on Nov. 10, 1999, about 4:00 in the afternoon, a couple of passengers killed elderly taxicab driver Larry Barnes.

Reward offered in case of officer's killing in 1970s: St. Paul police officer Jim Sackett was gunned down in 1970. He and his partner responded to a fake call about a woman having a baby.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

World SWAT Challenge

World SWAT ChallengeThe world's top S.W.A.T. teams were invited to the Blackwater training center in Moyock, North Carolina for the competition. The associated conference is being held in Virginia Beach, VA. The competition will later be televised on ESPN.

The eight events at the World SWAT Challenge are:

Friday (May 21st) Day-one events:
  • Glock Two-Gun Challenge
  • Felony High Risk Warrant Service
  • Bushmaster High Angle Hell Weapons Course
  • Original SWAT Urban Stress Course
Saturday (May 22nd) Day-two events:
  • Leupold Sniper Surprise
  • Scott Masked Entry Problem
  • Zodiac Water Hostage Rescue
  • Blackwater Range Run
Some event sponsors:
Original SWAT Footwear
On Target Communications
Scott Health & Safety
Leupold & Stevens
Police & Security News
5.11 Tactical Series
Second Chance

World SWAT Challenge Offers Teams Education, Competition

Friday, May 21, 2004

Terror Watch

U.S. Issues Anti-Terror Regulations for Rail Systems: The Department of Homeland Security issued the first federal security directive for the nation's commuter and subway systems on Thursday.

• Coincidentally there have been multiple reports of suspicious activity along the New York-Philadelphia-Washington rail link.

...New Jersey attorney general's office is investigating at least seven instances in the last week of suspected surveillance along New Jersey Transit commuter lines leading into Philadelphia, Trenton and New York City...

...the discovery of a wireless transmitter that seemed to be carefully hidden in the gravel under some tracks in Philadelphia...spray-painted black and tucked neatly in the trackside ballast...

Rail terrorism suspected in U.S. northeast [Washington Times, 21-May]
Train Probe [WPVI-TV Philidelphia, 20-May]

Two trains en route to Washington searched by Amtrak police: Amtrak officials would not comment on why two Acela Express high-speed trains were stopped and searched Thursday night. Both were bound for Washington, D.C., from New York.

FBI warns of suicide bombers: A lightly classified FBI intelligence bulletin circulated yesterday warns law enforcement agencies to be on the alert for attempted strikes by suicide bombers.
FBI Issues Homeland Suicide Bomber Warning [, 20-May]

We are not ready for the next attack: Newsday columnist Marie Cocco says, "the 9/11 Commission reminds us the war was here and could come again. We are not prepared for the next battle."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Scam Report:

scamming the scammer: Engadget reports on an eBay user pulling a great counter-scam on a European rip-off artist who had created an elaborate plan to steal his Apple P-P-P-Powerbook computer. This time the good guy wins and the Euro-trash is out hundreds of dollars.

'Phishing' Scam Reports Jump: Phishing is the fastest growing scam on the Internet. Criminals are sending out millions of "urgent" e-mails trying to get unsuspecting consumers to divulge personal information such as their Social Security numbers or the passwords for online accounts. They then use that information to raid the users accounts.

Phishing Alert: Fake E-Mails Are Latest Internet Con
Identity thieves 'phishing'

Beware of Scams as Medicare Discount Drug Cards Become Available: Using the drug discount card program as a hook, crooks are trying to pry personal information out of seniors to commit identity theft or credit card fraud. According to federal and state officials, Medicare beneficiaries could also be sold bogus discount cards or be persuaded that a certain drug card is approved by the government when it is not.

BBB Warns of Drug Card Scams
Scams stalk drug discount cards

Web eases adoption, but watch for scams: Adoption is a loosely regulated $2B business. Misleading information on overseas adoptions is a problem prospective parents have to be made aware of.

Company Promising Free Gas Scams Consumers: Crooks based in Nevada are calling consumers all over the country offering free gas, free cable, free long distance service for a one time charge of just over a dollar... Don't do it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Did the Albanian Mafia Murder Zef Vulevic?

Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with his murder in 2008 2nd update: A jury in Danbury, CT found Marash Gojcaj guilty on Nov. 5, 2010, of murdering his uncle, Zef Vulevic, in 2004.

1st update:
Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with the murder of the popular chef and restaurateur. He was taken into custody on August 19th, 2008 after his release from the Westchester County Correctional Center where he was being held on a drunken driving conviction. This was over four years after the April 2004 murder.

On September 4, 2008 in Danbury Superior Court a
57-page arrest warrant charging Marash Gojcaj, 32, with the murder of his uncle was made public. The warrant was based on testimony from several anonymous witnesses, including restaurant employees and an alleged organized crime informant.


Did the Albanian Mafia Murder Zef Vulevic?Was the Albanian Mafia responsible for the brutal murder of Danbury restaurateur/chef Zef Vulevic (aka Zef Vulaj and Joe Vuli)? Let's examine some background about the Albanian Mafia and the case specifics:

Frank J. Cilluffo & George Salmoiraghi wrote a very good article for Washington Quarterly describing the origins and rise to power of the Albanian Mafia:
Smuggling is the Albanian mafia's core competency, and over the past decade the Albanians have steadily come to dominate smuggling to and within Europe, even overshadowing their erstwhile mentors, the Italian mafia. Smugglers are smugglers, and the commodity on any given day shifts with demand, whether it is narcotics, weapons, fuel, stolen goods — or people. And the current conflict opened the floodgates of people seeking to leave Kosovo for safety. That in turn generated a smuggling boom so great that the Albanian clans had to turn desperate customers away...

The Albanians and the Italians simultaneously have a symbiotic and competitive relationship. The fares take business from the mafia, but they also provide invaluable services...
Albanian clans or "fares" run multinational operations. They have or could possibly take control of the entire Albanian government.

Leading French criminologist Xavier Raufer has written the book: "The Albanian Mafia" - he says Albanian guerrillas and the local mafia are indistinguishable.

Rudolph Giuliani [former mayor of New York] was confronted with Albanian Mafia threats in New York back in the 1980's as a Federal prosecutor.
Albanians who take to crime have created new and unique problems for some law-enforcement officers around the country. Language and a code of silence have protected the Albanian-American crime factions from outside penetration. "They are real secretive" says a detective...
Andy Thibault, columnist, of the Law Tribune Newspapers, wrote that Joe V. (aka Zef Vulevic) learned to borrow money when he worked at Mario's on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. He started his culinary career there 20 years ago. Thibault goes on to say:
"Joe V rubbed elbows with a lot of tough guys," a cop told me. "They're pretty tough guys. Some of them have racketeering involvements."

Big donors to Connecticut Public Television might remember Joe V from his appearance two years ago at the Bond Hotel in Hartford, where he served buffalo tenderloin and buffalo sausage at a fundraising party.

His customers, Joe V told Hartford Courant feature writer Pat Seremet, aka Party Patty, "go for the heavier meats."
M. Bozinovich of wrote an excellent summary of some of the current information about how dangerous and widespread the Muslim Albanian Mafia has become. He calls them "The New Islamic Mafia." He recounts some history, for example, when two Albanian mobsters killed two employees who crossed them at the famous New York City strip club - Scores:
A 1996 murder of a waiter, Jonathon Segal, and a bouncer, Michael Greco, in New York's Scores restaurant illustrates the indifference and haste with which Albanian assassins kill: two ethnic Albanians employed as Gambino family assassins opened fire on the waiter and bouncer after instigating an argument over quality of service they got in the restaurant.
Given the following list of circumstantial evidence:
  1. Zef Vulevic's Albanian heritage - he is from a first generation Albanian family. His legal name: Vulevic is Serbo-Croatian, however, his family name: Vulaj is Albanian.
  2. Vulevic was having significant financial and legal problems. And perhaps had a need to use a mob loan shark.
  3. He had a feisty and abrasive personality.
  4. He had a habit of borrowing money.
  5. He frequently "rubbed elbows" with mob types.
  6. The murder was extremely brutal. His body was cut into seven pieces. There was no serious attempt to hide the body, perhaps to "send a message."
  7. There have been no apparent investigative leads in the month since his body was found.
  8. There are indications that more than one person was involved in the crime.
  9. Ethnic 'code of silence' in effect?
Combine all of this with the high visibility of the Vulevic/Vulaj family and Zef Vulevic in the Albanian community and New York metro area with their multiple high profile Italian restaurants.

The overlap between Vulevic's career and the Albanian mob looms significant. Therefore, based on the weight of the circumstantial evidence it looks like the mob and most likely the Albanian Mafia had a hand in the murder of Zef Vulevic. No other scenario fits this crime and the facts we have at this time.

And the Winner is...The Albanian Mafia(PDF) [Washington Quarterly]
Albanian mob invades Italy []

Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #6 [May 3, 2004]
Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #5 [May 3, 2004]
Albanian Mafia: Zef Vulevic Murder Update [Aug. 21, 2004]
The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia [Nov. 1, 2004]
Albanian Mafia Boss Denied Bail [Dec. 10, 2004]

Update Jan. 12, 2006:
Alex Rudaj - Albanian Mafia - Convicted in Racketeering Trial [TJN, Jan. 5, 2006]

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Crime Blotter:

The investigation of the murder of Danbury restaurateur/chef Zef Vulevic (aka Zef Vulaj and Joe Vuli) is growing cold. There has been no new news reports about the case since May 8th. Our speculation of this being a mob (Albanian Mafia?) hit looks more likely as time goes by.

Psyche's Knot has some interesting insights into the ongoing Scott/Laci Peterson case and BTK case.

The Vidocq Society takes up the murder of 21-year-old Patti Allen on Oct. 3, 1995 in West Yakima, Washington. That night somebody crept through the window into her apartment as she slept - then stabbed her once in the heart with a knife from her kitchen.

Named after legendary 18th century French detective Eugéne François Vidocq, the exclusive and somewhat secretive organization is reputed to have solved dozens of cold cases from around the country since its founding a decade ago.
Sleuth Group Will Take On Unsolved Murder [YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC]
The Vidocq Society [website]
The Vidocq Society [Crime Library]
Watching the detectives: the Vidocq Society's... [Harper's Magazine]

Canada has serial killers too. Toronto-Star reports on the aftermath of the suspected serial killer Douglas Donald Moore case.

The Wichita BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler case: the alleged May 5th BTK letter is still churning the media with speculation as far away as Boston.


John Robb's Global Guerrillas blog has been analyzing the implications of a terrorist attack against the "King" of Saudi Arabian oil fields: GHAWAR. Would oil prices soar to $160 per barrel?

The Murder of Emmett Till

Emmett Till
The U.S. Department of Justice is re-opening the investigation of the murder of Emmett Louis Till in 1955. This racist killing was a catalyst for the start of the civil rights movement.

In August 1955, Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was in Mississippi visiting relatives, allegedly whistled at the wife of a white man, Roy Bryant. Four days later, Bryant and his half-brother, J. W. Milam, yanked Emmett from his bed in the dead of night, threw him in the back of their truck, and beat him beyond recognition with a Colt .45 before tying a metal fan to his neck, shooting him, and throwing his body in a river.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were acquitted of the murder by an all-white jury. The jury deliberated for one hour and seven minutes, including a "soda break."

J.W. Milam, Roy Bryant and their wives exulted in the verdict. [image]

Bryant and Milam confessed the killing to a Look magazine reporter, William Bradford Huie.

50,000 people viewed the open casket funeral of Emmett Tills. His mother wanted the world to see what had happened to her son in Mississippi. The mutilated body of Emmett Tills- [graphic image]

Two documentary movies about the case surmised that Bryant and Milam did not act alone.
• "The Murder of Emmett Till" by Stanley Nelson
• "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" by Keith A. Beauchamp

Feds reopen 1955 racial slaying case [USAToday]

update May 23, 2004: The agents for justice-Newsday profiles movie makers Keith A. Beauchamp and Stanley Nelson [case resources]

update Jan. 24, 2005: More information about the Emmett Till murder-

Filmmaker looks for justice (Keith Beauchamp) [The Ithacan, Jan. 20, 2005]
Emmett Till []
The Murder of Emmett Till []
Justice, Delayed But Not Denied [60 Minutes, CBS News, Oct. 21, 2004]
The Murder of Emmett Till [American Experience Documentary, PBS]

Monday, May 17, 2004

White House Planning: Nightmare Scenario

Washington Whispers:

White House officials say they've got a "working premise" about terrorism and the presidential election: It's going to happen. "We assume," says a top administration official, "an attack will happen leading up to the election." And, he added, "it will happen here." There are two worst-case scenarios, the official says. The first posits an attack on Washington, possibly the Capitol, which was believed to be the target of the 9/11 jet that crashed in Pennsylvania. Theory 2: smaller but more frequent attacks in Washington and other major cities leading up to the election. To prepare, the administration has been holding secret antiterrorism drills to make sure top officials know what to do...


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Cold Case Report

• The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the Chicago Cold-Case Squad:

...A "cold case" is defined as an unsolved murder older than a year.

Since about half of all homicides are unsolved -- and there are hundreds of killings a year in Chicago -- there is a mountain of cold cases for detectives to sift through.

So far, the cold-case squad has solved 101 killings, the oldest one involving a man who shot his wife in 1975.

A lot of work

It's not the squad you may have seen on TV's "Cold Case."

On the Hollywood show, it takes hours for detectives to get back laboratory results. In real life, it can take months.

And the actors playing detectives typically find their witnesses on the first knock on the door. In reality, witnesses move a lot. Sometimes they're living out of town. Or they're dead.

In short, cold-case investigations require tedious legwork -- and waiting.

"It takes approximately six months to solve one of these cases, on average"...

Cold-case detectives scour past for fresh leads [Chicago Sun-Times, 16-May-04]

• CBS 48 Hours reports on the Seattle Cold Case Squad's work on two infamous cases in that city:

In Seattle, there are more than 300 unsolved murders. Yet in the last three years, the Cold Case Squad has cracked almost 20 of them, a remarkable record.

But now, the detectives face their greatest challenge yet, as they try to solve two of this city’s most notorious killings -- beginning with the murder of Mia Zapata. It’s a case that’s been cold for more than a decade...

Mia Zapata was a 27-year-old up-and-coming rock star who was savagely raped and strangled and left laying in the middle of a street (in 1993)...

the detectives have another case to solve -- the brutal murder of 13-year-old Kristen Sumstad -- and they are raising troubling questions about the boy who lived next door...

The case involves a 14-year-old boy, John Athan, who Gagnon and Mixsell believe committed the shocking murder.

Athan is now a 36-year-old married business owner with no record of a serious crime. But for the past 22 years, he may have gotten away with murder...

Both the Zapata and Sumstad cold cases get taken to trial with DNA evidence serving as the key to unlocking these mysteries.

Who Murdered The Rock Star? [CBS 48 Hours, 14-May-04]
New Trick By Cops Closes Old Case [CBS News, 30-May-03]

• In Anchorage, Alaska police link a man to a 12 year-old homicide using DNA:

Earl Len Voyles, 37, has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault in the 1992 rape and strangulation of Yvette Briggs, 24.

Charging documents filed by prosecutors say Voyles was linked to the decade-old slaying through DNA...

Suspect may have killed 2 [Anchorage Daily News, 15-May-04]

• KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Nevada reports on efforts to solve the 23-year-old murder of Jamey Walker:

18-year-old Jamey Walker was about as close to a model teen as you could get -- cheerleader, honor student, prom queen, and close to her family...

In the early morning hours of May 9 1981, someone entered the Walker home and took Jamey away. Police believe at least two men were involved and that a young woman may have helped them gain access to the house. One of the male kidnappers called Jamey's father to demand a $75,000 ransom. Many hours later, the kidnappers called back to say Jamey would be released. The next day, her battered body was found under a bridge on North Shore Road near Lake Mead...

Cold Case Update: Who Killed Jamey? [KLAS-TV, 16-May-04]

• The Opelousas Daily World of Louisiana reports about a mysterious death case from 1992 being reopened:

LAWTELL - Twelve years ago, Lawtell native Paul Lawrence Duresseaux stormed out of his house in Lake Charles after a disagreement with his wife. He never came back.

Eight months later, children trying to retrieve a lost ball found his skeletal remains on the roof of their school.

Last week, officers with the Lake Charles Cold Case Homicide Division exhumed his body...

Case reopened [Opelousas Daily World, 14-May-04]

• The Manitou Springs Police Department in Colorado is trying to re-energize the investigation into the murder of Detective Sergeant Donald Laabs. He is their only police officer ever killed in the line of duty. KKTV Crime Stoppers reporter Jeannette Hynes has more on this cold case from December 18, 1975.

Cold Case: Detective Sergeant Donald Laabs [KKTV]

• KGO-TV in California reports on the solving of a 18-year-old cold case. Angela Bledsoe, 25, had been brutally murdered sometime after January 8th, 1986:

The break in the case comes from a DNA connection...

Tests led investigators to 39-year-old Richard Dean Wilson. He was already serving a sentence of 26 years to life for the October 1986 stabbing death of 33-year-old Chester Ballard, a caretaker at a San Leandro automobile dealership...

DNA Helps Solve Decades-Old Hayward Murder [KGO-TV, 13-May-04]

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Top Ten Modern Day Cold Case Murder Mysteries

Here are the ten modern day murder mysteries that have the most interest based on Google page count. These are murders where the killer(s) may still be alive. Historical cases like "Jack the Ripper" were not considered. They are ranked in order of Google prominence:

Jimmy Hoffa - On July 30, 1975, former Teamsters President, Jimmy Hoffa disappears after a 2pm visit to the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The suspects are known, and their motives are well documented. The question is: Where? What exactly did they do to Jimmy Hoffa, and where did they dispose of his body? More info.

Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls - Gangsta rapper Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at about 12:40 a.m. on March 9, 1997. Wallace, 24, was leaving a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum celebrating the Friday night's Soul Train Music Awards when a car pulled alongside his Chevrolet Suburban and multiple shots were fired. More info.

JonBenet Ramsey - On December 26, 1996, JonBenet's mother, Patricia Ramsey, finds a three-page ransom note downstairs in the family's Boulder, Colorado, home. The parents discover she is missing and call police. Later, they find JonBenet's body in a basement room.
Update: JonBenet Ramsey Cold Case Heats up [TJN, Dec. 17, 2004]

Chandra Levy - a former federal intern in Washington, was last seen April 30, 2001, at a Washington health club. Her remains were found in DC park on May 22, 2002.

Tupac Shakur - Gangsta rapper shot four times on September 7, 1996 in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died of his wounds on September 13, 1996 in Las Vegas. More info.

Anthrax Killer - Seven anthrax-laced letters were mailed in September and October 2001 from New Jersey. 23 people contracted anthrax and 5 people were killed as a result of those letters. More info.

Zodiac Killer - The Zodiac Killer stalked Northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s when he killed 5 people beginning in 1968 and claiming responsibility for 17 murders in the San Francisco area in the late 1960s. More info.

Rubin Hurricane Carter/Paterson, NJ triple slaying - On June 17, 1966, gunshots were fired at the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, NJ and three people were dead. Rubin Carter was twice convicted of the triple murder. Carter was in jail from 1967 until 1988, when acting prosecutor John Goceljak elected not to pursue a third trial following the reversal of the 1976 retrial by the Federal District Court, a decision ultimately affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is considered innocent by many people, based on the 1999 movie "Hurricane" and the Bob Dylan song "Hurricane." Not everyone agrees and many think Carter is the murderer.

Wichita BTK ("Bind, Torture, & Kill") Strangler - serial killer who committed eight confirmed murders between January 15, 1974 and September 16, 1986. He was never captured. Recently resurfaced by sending a letter to Wichita newspaper on March 19, 2004 and a suspected letter to KAKE-TV on May 5, 2004. Our summary of BTK case information.

Olof Palme - On February 28, 1986 Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down on a Stockholm street, as he was walking home from a cinema with his wife. While there are various theories about who could have been behind the murder, the identity of the culprit remains a mystery. More info.

Notes: The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman would top this list if anyone really believed O.J. Simpson was innocent and that the real murderer was still at large. The Laci Peterson murder will top this list if Scott Peterson is acquitted of the murder and for some surprise reason there is a huge shift in public opinion such that he is presumed innocent.

History’s greatest unsolved crimes []

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Radioactive Boy Scout

The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor.

On June 26, 1995 the people of Golf Manor, Michigan returned from work to find a federal EPA crew dismantling a potting shed in Patty Hahn's back yard. In subsequent days, the crew, wearing protective suits, carted away the refuse in sealed barrels emblazoned with radiation symbols. The EPA workers refused to disclose what was happening, only offering vague reassurance that everything was ok. Ken Silverstein shows that things in Golf Manor were not, in fact, ok. David Hahn, a 17-year-old aspiring Eagle Scout, had constructed the rudiments of a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard and had contaminated himself and the immediate area with potentially deadly radioactive material.

The Radioactive Boy Scout []

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Land of the Incarcerated

US home to 25% of world prison populationThe United States is now home to 25% of the world's prison population. Currently there are over two million inmates in US prisons. That’s more people than the entire population of Delaware or Montana, or South Dakota.

Last August the Christian Science Monitor reported that 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a report by the Justice Department. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world.

If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.

Perhaps this is why running background checks on individuals has become big business.

US notches world's highest incarceration rate [Christian Science Monitor, 18-Aug-03]
Anger grows as US jails its two millionth inmate [Guardian, UK]

Business Travel: Danger Everywhere

Providing security for U.S. firms such as movie studios working overseas has become a profitable but tricky business. NY Times reports about Aon/Albert G. Ruben, an insurance broker for the entertainment industry:

The opening credits of "Man on Fire," which centers on a kidnapping plot in Mexico City, state that a kidnapping takes place every 60 minutes in Latin America and that 70 percent of the victims do not survive. According to Mr. Palmer, 10 to 20 kidnappings occur each day in Mexico City alone, making it second only to Medellín, the drug center in Colombia, as the kidnapping capital of the world.

...the U.S. media only covers about 1 percent of what is happening around the world in terms of terrorism, crime and organized crime...

• Johannesburg, South Africa: highest car-jacking rate in the world, in part leading to the second-highest murder rate

• Eastern Europe, Russia & Commonwealth of Independent States: rampant organized crime and official corruption

• Brazil: There is an extreme crime risk for filmmakers in major cities throughout the country

• Chechnya: The kidnap and ransom risk is extreme

Aon/Albert G. Ruben Releases Global Risks in Filmmaking Map [Insurance Journal]
Making the World Safer, One Client at a Time [NY Times, 11-May]
Map [Aon/Albert G. Ruben-Global Risk as of Jan-04]

Monday, May 10, 2004

Cracking al Qaeda's code

There are hundreds of Islamic Web sites, dozens of which are related to al-Qaeda. Last December, Lia Brynjar, an analyst at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI), found a 42-page document on the Global Islamic Media Web site entitled "Jihad Iraq: Hopes and Dangers."

The document was the outline of al-Qaeda's strategy to break up the U.S.-led Iraq coalition primarily by directing "painful strikes" against Spain. Here is some of FFI's summary:

Poland, for example, is unlikely to withdraw from the coalition because there is political consensus on foreign policy, and the country has a very high tolerance for human casualties.

Britain is easier to force out of Iraq, because the popular opposition to the war and the occupation is so high. However, the author estimates that Britain will only withdraw from Iraq in one of two cases: either if Britain suffers significant human casualties in Iraq or if Spain and Italy withdraws first...

The author devotes 6 out of 42 pages to a review of the domestic political situation in Spain...

Spain on the other hand is very vulnerable to attacks on its forces, primarily because public opposition to the war is almost total, and the government is virtually on its own on this issue. The author identifies Spain as the weakest link in the coalition...

The lack of direct influence of the Iraq events on life in Spain...

We think that the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three, blows after which it will have to withdraw as a result of popular pressure...If its troops still remain in Iraq after these blows, then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured, and the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral program.

This forecast came true. After the Madrid train bombings in March the Spanish voted in the Socialist Party. They began removing their forces from Iraq in April.

The document also discusses uniting Sunni and Shiites in Iraq. Finding and interpreting these types of documents is another challenge for Western security agencies.

FFI explains al-Qaida document [Norwegian Defense Research Establishment(FFI)]
Cracking al Qaeda's code [US News]

L.A. Armored Car Bandits

Here is one of the 11,0000 unsolved murders on the books of the Los Angeles Police Department. This one has a $175,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects responsible for the death of Mr. Suarez.

Suspects getaway vehicle - a white cargo van, unknown license, has unknown logo on its right and rear sides.
Suspects getaway vehicle is described as a white cargo van, unknown license. The vehicle has unknown logo on its right and rear sides.

On March 1, 2004, at about 10:50 a.m. at least eight male and female suspects armed with assault type weapons shot and killed Mr. Suarez. As Mr. Suarez unloaded money from the armored truck, several suspects opened fire on him and he was struck multiple times. The suspects left with an undisclosed amount of money in a white van with an unknown type logo on the side. Mr. Suarez was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

The seven male suspects are Black and between the ages of 18 and 25. The crime occured at 8701 Western Ave.

$175,000 Reward Offered For Murder Suspects L.A.P.D.

Watching the Detectives

This interesting article in the NY Times Magazine profiles Michael Connelly who "writes successful crime novels because he succeeds at getting inside the heads of L.A.P.D. investigators."

What may distinguish him most is his interest in the psyche toll of police work: not how a cop works a case, 'but how a case works a cop.'

...recent technology has turned police work upside down. Once it was the job of detectives to identify a suspect and then take fingerprints and blood samples from him to compare with evidence at the scene. Criminalists, that is, forensic experts, played a subservient role. Now, Detective Lambkin says, with the establishment of data banks for fingerprints, ballistics and DNA, "the criminalists can come to us and say, 'This is your guy.' So you can't do the job anymore like we used to."

...there are nearly 11,000 unsolved murders since 1960 on the books in Los Angeles, and the seven detectives on the cold-case squad are sifting through them to decide which ones might benefit from the application of techniques that were unavailable when the crimes were committed...
Books by Michael Connelly:
The Narrows (May, 2004)
Lost Light
Chasing the Dime

Watching the Detectives [NY Times Magazine, 9-May-04]
Michael Connelly/“The Narrows” [Digital Nation]
Michael Connelly website

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Black Dawn

NATO just went through a doomsday scenario planning drill they called "Black Dawn"

The premise of the scenario was that al-Qaeda had secured some enriched uranium from a civil nuclear research centre in Europe and had managed to build a home-made nuclear bomb.

In the scenario, al-Qaeda operatives explode their bomb at NATO headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium, killing 40,000 people immediately and injuring another 300,000.

The participants in the exercise recommended a series of priority actions:

These included the need to secure stocks of nuclear material, speed up the dismantling of tactical nuclear weapons and to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation regimes.

"We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe," said former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn who was a participant.

NATO Simulates Al Qaeda Nuclear Attack [FoxNews, 4-May]
NATO nuclear attack simulation [TheAustralian, 5-May]

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Radiation Pager

Radiation Pager/Detector

These pagers cost about $1,500 to $2,500 each and start vibrating when the wearer is getting doused with radiation. Wired News reports:

Since 9/11, they've become a routine piece of equipment for thousands of Customs and Border Protection officers, along with an unknown number of cops, firefighters and other "first responders," including police who patrolled at least one Super Bowl.

If they work properly, the radiation pagers may reveal the silent and invisible presence of a "dirty" bomb. "If you've got a lethal dose of gamma rays, it tells you to back the heck out,"
After the Beep, Exit the Premises [Wired News, 6-May]
(via engadget)

Friday, May 7, 2004

Doomsday Planning: Steeling the Soul & Ungluing the Tube

Capitol Building-Washington, D.C.
Last month the U.S. House of Representatives passed a "Doomsday Bill" as it planned for the contingency of its being wiped out. The legislation is designed to speed the replacement of the lawmakers in case of a devastating loss. The bill passed April 22, 2004 on a 306-97 vote. It would require special elections within 45 days if the House lost more than 100 of its 435 members. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine just ran the front page headline: "Could We Lose The War On Terror?" The lead article was subtitled "Lesser Evils" by Michael Ignatieff. It starts by saying:

Consider the consequences of a second major attack on the mainland United States -- the detonation of a radiological or dirty bomb, perhaps, or a low-yield nuclear device or a chemical strike in a subway. Any of these events could cause death, devastation and panic on a scale that would make 9/11 seem like a pale prelude. After such an attack, a pall of mourning, melancholy, anger and fear would hang over our public life for a generation.

An attack of this sort is already in the realm of possibility. The recipes for making ultimate weapons are on the Internet, and the materiel required is available for the right price. Democracies live by free markets, but a free market in everything -- enriched uranium, ricin, anthrax -- will mean the death of democracy. Armageddon is being privatized, and unless we shut down these markets, doomsday will be for sale. Sept. 11, for all its horror, was a conventional attack. We have the best of reasons to fear the fire next time.
The idea of a second devastating terror attack is now conventional wisdom. The government is planning for it. Strategic thinkers and writers are writing about it. However, is the American public really mentally prepared for the possibility of a more horrific attack. The 9-11 attack sent a shock wave through the country that resulted in a month long economic paralysis that kick started a multi-year recession. A recession that we are just coming out of.

Can the U.S. afford to have the next attack put the economy into another deep recession. Everyone would of course say no. How then to you prepare the country to go about its business in the aftermath of a devastating terrorist attack? The news media would focus all of its energies on bringing the "news" of the attack into every home on a 24x7 schedule. The collective anxiety level and blood pressure of 300 million citizens is jacked up. How do you keep the nation's productivity up and the economy perking when the media is working so hard to glue people to the television tube and paralyze them?

It seems impossible. Freedom of the press would prevent any restrictions on the coverage of such an event. Telling people to just go about their daily lives would be like trying to persuade a backup of motorists not to rubberneck at an especially ugly auto accident. Human nature takes over, everyone slows down and looks to see what happened. Magnify this on a nationwide scale over weeks and the "slow down" is economically significant. "Macro" rubbernecking would be a good name for this phenomena.

How then does a democracy prevent itself from going into an economic tailspin? This is a serious issue that the government and strategic planners should be considering.

U.S. House Approves 9/11-Inspired Doomsday Bill [Reuters, 22-Apr]
Lesser Evils [NY Times, 2-May]
updated: 8-May-04

APDS deployed in San Fran

APDS-Autonomous Pathogen Detection System
The Autonomous Pathogen Detection System (APDS) is capable of continuous, automated, 24-hour monitoring for pathogens, with results reported every 30 minutes.

John Gilmore spotted this device deployed at the San Francisco Airport in March. The government would "prefer to keep their deployment secret."

APDS [Science & Technology Review]

Thursday, May 6, 2004

The New Europe-After Madrid

Who Own's This Bag - Anti-Terrorism Campaign

Police in London are appealing to passengers to be pro-active in reporting anything suspicious.

If you think you have seen a person acting suspiciously, or if you see a vehicle, unattended package or bag which might be a threat, immediately move away and call 999.

The terrorist threat remains real and there is no room for complacency. The public should remain alert and aware of their surrounding at all times. If something strikes you as suspicious and out of place then trust your instincts and call the police.

Anti-Terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321

If you suspect it, report it
- Police renew call for vigilance against terrorists
London Prepared - government website showing how London is prepared for terrorist threats

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Texan Gets 11 years for Chemical Bomb Making

An East Texas man was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for possessing a sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing everyone inside a basketball arena. Reuters reported:

William Krar, 63, was sentenced at a federal court in Tyler, Texas, to 135 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in November to possessing a chemical weapon. His common-law wife Judith Bruey was sentenced on the same day to just over four years for conspiring to possess illegal weapons.

In April 2003 Federal agents raided a storage shed in the east Texas town of Noonday where Krar had a weapons cache and found among other things enough sodium cyanide and components to turn it into a gas bomb.

According to information from prosecutors in court, Krar accumulated a large quantity of sodium cyanide and chemicals such as hydrochloric, nitric and acetic acids. Prosecutors said when sodium cyanide is mixed with acids such as those in Krar's possession, the combination can produce a lethal gas.

Sodium cyanide is used in mining to extract gold and silver from other rock. If sniffed, ingested or absorbed through the skin, it attacks the nervous system and can cause suffocation.

Some investigators believe that Krar, who has paid no federal income taxes since 1988, made his living as a traveling arms salesman who pedaled illicit bomb components and other weapons to violent underground anti-government groups across the country.

Texan Sentenced to 11 Years for Chemical Weapons [Reuters]
CBS 11 Investigates Poison Gas Plot [TV-11 Dallas]

Internet Blackmail Con Game

Win XP News describes a new scam. Crooks that send you an email "threatening to steal your data, wipe your hard disk or plant pornography on your (work) computer if you don't pay up."

The pseudo-hackers are sending this out as spam hoping to find the small percentage of people who will give into their demands. Obviously if you get one of these messages don't pay. Use it as a reminder to check your security settings, etc.

Internet Blackmail Con Game [WinXP News]

DNA Swabbing to find the BTK Strangler

The Wichita Police are out swabbing a retired ex-cop turned fiction writer to find the BTK Strangler:

You think you've had some weird stuff happen to you in your lifetime? Let me tell you about weird:

Try being at work when, from out of nowhere, you are approached by two Wichita police detectives. They inform you that because someone has phoned in a tip to the BTK hot line, they'd like you to submit your DNA for comparison. No particular reason -- just someone apparently thinks you're strange enough that you ought to be checked.

What are you gonna do? Refuse? Sure. It's definitely your right to not cooperate and to refuse testing. But how does that look to the detectives? And if you know you haven't done anything, then no problem, right?

I was told that the person who called me in figured I was weird enough because I publish a quarterly horror and sci-fi magazine and have a Web site connected with it, on which I occasionally post my own "creepy" stories.

Well, get a life! They're just stories. Better swab Stephen King, Gene Roddenberry and a few hundred other writers while we're at it.

Anyway, I gave the swabs, and soon I'll be cleared from the suspect list. Those who think me weird can perhaps rest a little easier.

In the meantime, maybe I'll form a support group for BTK ex-suspects.


Kenneth James Crist is a retired police officer living in Wichita, KS and the owner/editor of Black Petals, a Horror/Science Fiction print magazine. He began writing in 1994 and has had about 50 short stories and poems published. He has also placed four novels with an agent and is working on two more.

Reader's Views [, 3-May-04]
"God's Canyon" by Kenneth James Crist
BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info & Voice Recording [consolidated information- Johnsville News]

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Arnold Please Sue Us!

Here's a business that wants Arnold Schwarzenegger to sue them:

This book's title is aimed at California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as his attorney, Martin D. Singer. Recently Singer threatened to sue Todd Bosley, the maker of a bobble-head caricature of the governor, for infringing on Schwarzenegger's "publicity" rights. Yes, you read that right: Singer and Schwarzenegger feel that the California governor is the first politician in history to be immune from caricature.

Additionally, Martin Singer even claims a copyright on the letter he sent to Bosley. In other words, not only is it forbidden to criticize the governor via caricature, but also one is not even allowed to expose the vicious tone of the threat letters Governor Schwarzenegger employs to enforce that moratorium...

Sue Me, Asshole [Fair Use Press]

New School Capitalism
Old School Leadership?

Stop snoops & thieves in their tracks

Security has become a huge industry. Here's a case where it's branching out into the dirty underware business. Shomer-Tec is selling undies with a "skid mark" as a cash stash:

The "Brief Safe" is an innovative new diversion safe that can secure your cash, documents, and other small valuables from inquisitive eyes and thieving hands,The "Brief Safe" is an innovative new diversion safe that can secure your cash, documents, and other small valuables from inquisitive eyes and thieving hands...

Leave the "Brief Safe" in plain view in your laundry basket or washing machine at home, or in your suitcase in a hotel room - even the most hardened burgler or most curious snoop will "skid" to a screeching halt as soon as they see them.


Monday, May 3, 2004

Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #6

Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with his murderupdate:
Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with the murder of the popular chef and restaurateur. He was taken into custody on August 19th, 2008 after his release from the Westchester County Correctional Center where he was being held on a drunken driving conviction. This was over four years after the April 2004 murder.

On September 4, 2008 in Danbury Superior Court a
57-page arrest warrant charging Marash Gojcaj, 32, with the murder of his uncle was made public. The warrant was based on testimony from several anonymous witnesses, including restaurant employees and an alleged organized crime informant.


The murder of chef/restaurateur Zef Vulevic (aka Zef Vulaj, Joe Vuli) looks like a mob hit. This is just our speculation based on the current facts and state of the investigation.

First, compare the murder of Zef Vulevic to the recent murder of the well known New York restaurant manager Timothy Moore.

Newsday reported an arrest in the Moore case:
NEW YORK -- A Bronx man who works at a trendy Manhattan restaurant was arrested Sunday in the brutal beating death of its manager, police said.

Lerome Hilson, 28, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of robbery in the killing of Timothy Moore, 50, police Chief Thomas Fahey announced Sunday.

Employees discovered Moore on Saturday morning lying in a pool of his own blood in the basement of the East Village restaurant Pop. He appeared to have been bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher, police said.

Police said they did not have a motive in the slaying.

Besides Pop, Moore managed Pop Burger, in the Meatpacking District. Both restaurants are owned by Roy Liebenthal.

Moore previously managed Cafe Tabac, another Liebenthal restaurant that attracted such celebrities as Christopher Reeve, Naomi Campbell, Steven Van Zandt, Taylor Dayne and Mick Jagger.
The police solved the Moore murder within one day. It was committed by a restaurant employee. If an employee or co-worker of Vulevic killed him they should also have been identified very quickly in the police investigation. It is currently nine days since the body was found.

Reports indicated Zef Vulevic was a tough boss who antagonized employees with his fiery temper. Vulevic's temper also got him in trouble with someone other than a bus boy, cook, or waiter - more likely a "wise guy" or Tony Soprano wanna-be. Certainly in his career (20+ years) of running "upscale" Italian restaurants in Manhattan, Westchester County, and Connecticut Zef Vulevic had crossed paths with the mob. There is something organic about the Mafia and "upscale" Italian restaurants. It is also very possible the mob that is involved is the Albanian mob, not the Italian mob, given Vulevic's Albanian heritage. The last two decades of chaos in the Balkans has spawned a vicious and brutal Albanian Mafia that even the Italian Mafia fears.

Was Zef Vulevic broke? Was Vulevic into a mob loan shark? He had declared bankruptcy five times-four times in the last four years. A second home mortgage had been taken out to support the restaurants. He had lost his house in Norwalk to foreclosure. His wife had filed for divorce. He had two young daughters to support. He had moved into an apartment he shared with his 27-year-old nephew. His arrest record was growing-there was an outstanding arrest warrant out for him. His legal expenses were also growing. The 9-11 attack and Wall Street woes had depressed the restaurant business in the New York area for the last several years. Zef Vulevic was certainly not the type of credit risk a standard financial institution would like to assume. Who, then is your lender of last resort?

If Vulevic was into the mob for a loan and if he some how lost his temper and "disrespected" the wrong loan officer then his murder was a done deal. Perhaps he simply didn't have the money to settle his debt and time ran out. Even if he wasn't on the hook for a loan - some previous act of civil "disrespect" to the wrong person could have warranted a death penalty. It is hard to imagine just one person committing this crime. The execution style killing and way the body was mutilated and transported makes it likely more than one person was involved.

Once Vulevic was murdered and cut into seven pieces the killer(s) didn't spend a great deal of time or energy hiding the body. Having it eventually found was part of their plan. A "warning" is no good unless people know about it. The body was left on a dead end road off exit 4 from Interstate 684 in Westchester County. This is the main road from Danbury, CT back to New York City.

The killer(s) were watching Vulevic and used the highly public argument in front of his "Gusto" Restaurant on the night of April 4 as their opportunity to strike and also confuse investigators. They abducted him as he walked home. Drove him around-then back to the restaurant late after closing. (It would be interesting to know where his restaurant key was found) They killed him there and used the meat cutting machine at the restaurant to chop up his body. Thus throwing all the suspicion on to Vulevic's co-workers. But, the crime went far beyond what any disgruntled employee might be motivated to do (see Moore case again).

Perhaps the Vulevic family's reluctance to be forthcoming on this case is due to their bumping into an other "family" that plays rougher than they do. It is very interesting that Martin Vulaj (Zef's younger brother) was telling the NY Times on Saturday that he suspected a disgruntled employee. This is a week after the body was found and almost a month after Zef disappeared. The Vulevic family would like to see the investigation move in that direction instead of into the financial aspects of their on-going family restaurant business, which is perhaps where the police have started to focus.

If our premise is correct then this case will not be solved unless a conspirator comes forward.

related links Moore case:
Employee arrested in Manhattan restaurant slaying [Newsday, May 3, 2004]
Restaurant Porter Admits Killing His Boss: Cops [NY Post, May 3, 2004]

Johnsville coverage:
Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #5 [May 3, 2004]
Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #4 [Apr. 30, 2004]
Danbury Murder Mystery-update [Apr. 29, 2004]
Was Gusto Ristorante Chef Chop Shop? [Apr. 28, 2004]
Danbury Murder Mystery [Apr 27, 2004]
update: above post last updated 19-May

Danbury Murder Mystery-Update #5

Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with his murder in 2008update Sept. 2008:
Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with the murder of the popular chef and restaurateur. He was taken into custody on August 19th, 2008 after his release from the Westchester County Correctional Center where he was being held on a drunken driving conviction. This was over four years after the April 2004 murder.

On September 4, 2008 in Danbury Superior Court a
57-page arrest warrant charging Marash Gojcaj, 32, with the murder of his uncle was made public. The warrant was based on testimony from several anonymous witnesses, including restaurant employees and an alleged organized crime informant.


The Murder of Chef Zef Vulevic

Vulevic's Family and Business connections:

Zef Vulevic is from a first generation Albanian Family.

Albanian culture, has a centuries-old code of law known as the Kanun. This "law" would require Vulevic's family to avenge his death by killing any male member of the family of the person responsible for his death. The Kanun sounds like the Albanian version of the Italian vendetta.

Vendetta: A feud between two families or clans that arises out of a slaying and is perpetuated by retaliatory acts of revenge; a blood feud.

The Family:
Four Brothers of Zef Vulevic (aka Zef Vulaj and Joe Vuli and "Gusto") :
Nick Vulaj (older brother-reported him missing on 10-Apr)
Paul Vulaj (older brother-owned Fino Restaurant with Zef since 1985)
Martin Vulaj (younger brother, 39)
Pjeter Vulaj

Two sisters:
Mary - son: Marash Gojcaj

Serbo-Croatian: Vulevic
Albanian: Vulaj

One brother works at the Fino Wall Street Restaurant:Pietro Vuli has over thirty years experience in building successful restaurants in New York City"

Vulevic Family Restaurants:
  • Gusto Ristorante (opened April 26, 2003)
    Vulevic's business partner and nephew- Marash Gojcau
    275 Main Street
    Danbury, CT
    tel: 203-798-7233

  • Fortuna Ristorante
    1 Baltic Place
    Croton-on-Hudson, NY
    tel: 914-271-2600

  • Baci Ristorante
    154 Larchmont Avenue
    Larchmont, NY
    tel: 914-833-3399

  • Vuli (revolving restaurant atop Stamford Marriott Hotel-opened summer of 2000 with brother Paul)
    2 Stamford Forum
    Stamford, CT
    tel: 203-323-5300

  • Fino Restaurant, Manhattan (Zef Vulevic owned with his brother Paul since 1985)
    4 East 36th St, New York, NY
    tel: 212-689-8040

  • Fino Wall Street Ristorante Italiano-lower Manhattan
    1 Wall Street Court, New York, NY
    tel: 212-825-1924

  • Vuli Restaurant, Manhattan- lost its lease last month and closed
    134 E 48th St, New York, NY
The Journal News reports:

Opinion of several observers of this case: brutal method in which Vulevic's body was disposed of looked like a mob killing
Frances Trix, an associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University in Michigan and author of the book, "Albanians in Michigan," agreed.

"I have never heard of a dismemberment in the Albanian community," she said. "It sounds more like a mob killing. Dismemberment is dishonorable and Albanians treat bodies with great respect."
NY Times reports:

Martin Vulaj (Zef Vulevic's younger brother) thinks the police should be looking at former employees of his brother. His brother was a tough boss who antagonized employees with his fiery temper.
Mr. Gojcaj, the business partner, told the police that Mr. Vulevic had left the restaurant alone that night, the police have said. Mr. Vulaj said yesterday that an employee had corroborated Mr. Gojcaj's account....

The two business partners were extremely close, Mr. Vulaj said.

"Marash has really had a bad run," Mr. Vulaj said. "His father died of cancer 10 days before Joe, who was a second father to him, disappeared."...
additionally last Monday:
a part-time bartender at Gusto's, whom they declined to identify, was hospitalized after being struck by a car...the employee had been run over five times by the car, which then dragged him 50 feet.
Chef's slaying highlights gap [TheJournalNews, May 2, 2004]
Slain Chef's Temper Angered Many Workers, Brother Says [NY Times, May 1, 2004]
For a Family of Albanians in America, an Immigrant Dream Dies With a Brother [NY Times, May 8, 2004]

New School Capitalism

Arnold Schwarzenegger bobbing head doll
Arnold Schwarzenegger bobbing head doll $19.99
Collectors box included. This bobber stands about 8 inches tall.

Arnold's Lawyers- Lavely & Singer have some issues with Bosley Bobbers:

Re: Oak Productions, Inc. v. Ohio Discount Merchandise, Inc: Todd D. Bosley: Bosley Bobbing Head Doll Co.: Toady Bose Fun Products, et al.

Dear Mr. Bosley:

Our law firm is litigation counsel for Oak Productions, Inc. the owner of all publicity rights of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in connection with its substantial claims against Ohio Discount Merchandise, Inc., the Bosley Bobbing Head Doll Co., Toady Bose Fun Products, and all those associated with them (collectively herein, "you") for the unauthorized commercial exploitation of Mr. Schwarzenegger's name, photograph and likeness.

It as come to our attention that you are currently selling a bobbing head doll which features the name and likeness of Mr. Schwarzenegger, along with a "Collectors box" which features the name and numerous, prominent photographs of Mr. Schwarzenegger (collectively, the "Product"). Neither Oak Productions Inc., nor Mr. Schwarzenegger, have ever given you any consent to use his name, photograph or likeness on or in connection with the Product, or any other products or services. Accordingly your outrageous, malicious and tortious actions constitute and unauthorized commercial exploitation of my client's publicity rights, giving rise to numerous legal claims against you and exposing you to substantial liability...

Schwarzenegger bobbing head doll []
Schwarzenegger threatening lawsuit over bobblehead doll []

Old School Leadership?

Arnold Schwarzenegger George S. Patton Benito Mussolini

Sunday, May 2, 2004

GPS Tracking of Police Suspects

The GPS ID-Sniper scope story(posted Friday) was a clever hoax. However, law enforcement is testing the legal theory that they can walk up to anyone's car and hide a magnetic GPS transmitter on the car's undercarriage. Is this a violation of a person's privacy rights or is this legal if the car is parked on a public road?

Richard D. Lacey
Richard D. Lacey

From Long Island, NY comes this test case:

On a summer night in 2002, a Nassau police detective secretly planted an electronic tracking device on the undercarriage of a car driven by a Lawrence man suspected of a string of burglaries.

For nearly a month, every car trip taken by Richard D. Lacey, 27, a security guard, was recorded by the tracking device -- a global positioning system commonly known as GPS.

Lacey didn't have a clue.

However, in a case that has broad implications for law enforcement, Lacey's lawyer is challenging the police department's high-tech tactics. In fact, in what is believed to be the first challenge of its kind in the state -- and one of only a handful in the nation -- defense attorney Bruce A. Barket of Garden City is asking a Nassau County Court judge to suppress evidence police gathered with the GPS, saying Lacey's privacy rights were violated.

At the heart of Barket's objection is whether police should have been allowed to tag Lacey's black, 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse, which had Tennessee license plates, with the GPS without first obtaining a court order.
• Current Newsday Poll: Should police be able to install GPS devices on suspect's cars without court permission?
• Yes - 39.0%
• No - 58.6%
• Undecided - 2.4%

Secret Weapon Robber caught by GPS [Newsday, May 1, 2004]

Judge: Police Need Warrant to Use GPS [, May 7, 2004]

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