Showing posts with label homicide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homicide. Show all posts

20 December 2019

Homicide Stays With You


by O'Neil De Noux

It was the worst of times. The nearly three years I spent as a Homicide Detective was the worst of times but it was the best work I ever did. As the lead detective of 15 murder cases, with the help of my fellow detectives, I solved every case. In Homicide, you don't work alone, which is what I do as a writer.

Homicide is a permanent assignment, as final as death. You can move on to other work – in or out of law enforcement – but you will always be a homicide detective with a different view of life. You remember the bodies, the blood, the carnage, the guy-retching feeling when you arrive at a murder scene. You remember the victims more than you remember the killers because you connect with the victim if you're any good at detective work. You become their avenging angel. You are responsible for getting the person who did this.

Family members grieve and others are shocked but you have work to do. Homicide is forever.

It is personal. I always brushed the hand of each victim at their autopsy. Let them know someone was there, someone who would catch who did this to them.

I'll share some pictures now of the men and women who I worked with at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Homicide Division in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

JPSO Christmas Party. Left to right.
Back row: Joe Morton, Eddie Beckendorf, Steve Buras, Pat Rooney, Bob Masson, Marco Nuzzolillo
Middle row: Omalee Gordon, Dennis Gordon, Susie Miller, Russell Hidding,
Front row: Tom Gorman and me


My first Homicide partner Marco Nuzzolillo on my left and our sergeant Bob Masson on my right. Marco taught me so much. He was the best detective I've ever known. Bob Masson was the best supervisor I ever worked for. We were a team. A couple Italian-Americans and a white boy. No, we never shot anyone, never beat up anyone. We killed a lot of ball point pens. Good writing brought good convictions.


At Barry Wood's wedding:
Left to right: Curtis Snow, me, Pat Rooney, Barry Wood, Steve Buras
In front: Russell "Hollywood" Hidding who was in love with his hair.


Detective Barry Wood and me during the canvass of the Shoe Town Murder, Jefferson Highway, Metairie, Louisiana, 1981. This extensive canvass produced a witness with information which led us to the murderers. I fictionalized this case in my novel NEW ORLEANS HOMICIDE. I moved it into the city because who wants to read about Metairie.


My father was a homicide detective.

On the left, O'Neil P. De Noux, Sr., at the crime scene of the Maguerite Kitchen Murder, Gretna, Louisiana, 1967. Other detectives pictured: Arthur Theode in the background, Sam Chirchirillo, Eli Lyons. My father caught the killer.


My father bending over with a speed graphic camera as he photographed a murder scene when he was a CID Agent with the US Army in South Korea, 1954. He solved that case as well.


Homicide stays with you. It doesn't haunt. It just reminds you of past evils and the way we faced them.

My youth is gone now. My health declining with age. I have had some success as a writer – not a lot.

But nothing can take away what we did those long nights and days when there was so much blood and guys like me and my partners chased down murderers. There is so much junk in this world, so much pain but damn, it's good to be alive.

Happy New Year, everyone.

21 November 2019

Cold Ads, Cold Cases


by Eve Fisher

Unfreakin' believable:  This is South Dakota's latest ad about the drug wars:

"Meth:  We're On It"

Check out the posters here!  Argus Leader

Apparently, the idea is to say that meth addiction is everywhere, and people of all ages, etc., are on meth, and we need to fight it together.  On the other hand - I know my first reaction was, "What?"  If it works, great...
but is it just another version of the 2015 ad, "South Dakota, We're Better than Mars"?


Or the memorable South Dakota ad campaign that tried to cut down winter accidents with the following slogan:


And they swore that it was all about jerking the steering wheel, not, uh, something else.

Let's just say that I have ceased to believe that any Don Drapers are here in South Dakota.  Granted, he was a true s.o.b., but the ads were good.
BTW, the State of South Dakota's total budget for anti-meth initiatives in 2020 includes $1 million for meth treatment services and more than $730,000 for school-based meth prevention programming.  But this ad campaign "Meth:  We're On It" has already cost $449,000, which could perhaps be used for more... treatment?  Or something?  
Meanwhile, a lot of the news over the last week or so has been a cold case from 1974.  Ellabeth Lodermeier disappeared on March 6, 1974 from her Sioux Falls home, and hasn't been seen since. Seven months later, three of her credit cards were found at a railway station in Manitoba, Canada, but police said this was a red herring.  Then in 1992, Lodermeier's purse and pocketbook were discovered near the Big Sioux River, but nothing came of that.

Ellabeth Mae Lodermeier
Ellabeth Lodermeier
Then, in December, 2018, the Argus Leader ran an investigation piece on her disappearance, and that led to some brand new leads.  (Read here)  So last week, a team of dogs was out searching.  The police have called the results, "promising", but nothing more.

Meanwhile, before her disappearance, Lodermeier had filed for divorce from her husband, Gene.  A lot of people - including her family - believe that he killed her.  But he died back in 2013, in prison for grand theft.  Nonetheless, he spent the rest of his life under suspicion, which he bitterly resented.

Personally, I'm in awe of cold case law enforcement.  Starting all over again, to solve a crime, to find a person, etc. - takes a certain kind of dedication, and more puzzle-solving abilities than I have.

(That's part of the reason I love New Tricks so much - they solve cold cases - along with the fact that I think they're one of the greatest team shows I've ever seen.  Each and every one of them contributes, and who finally figures it out changes with the episodes.)  
One of the big cold cases that was solved in South Dakota was back in 2014, when South Dakota police finally found the bodies of two high school students, Pamela Jackson and Cheryl Miller, who had vanished on their way to a party in 1971. For over 30 years, people believed they had been kidnapped and murdered. One man was even indicted for the charge - a convicted rapist in prison - based on a supposed confession to another inmate. Later, it was proved that the "confession" had been faked. Nonetheless, his family had to put up with a lot of harassment from law enforcement - including digging up the family farm - and neighbors.

And then, in 2013, Brule Creek water levels dropped significantly, and there were the wheels of the girls' Studebaker. "was in third gear, with the keys in the ignition and the lights on. One tire was damaged. ... Miller's purse was found, [then AG] Jackley said. Inside it was her license, notes from classmates and photographs."  (Argus Leader)  It was simply a tragic accident.

Missing girls press conference

Which is easier to deal with?  Tragic accident or horrendous crime?  If you were family or friend of someone who'd gone missing, which would be easier to live with?

I was thinking about that, and decided that, with a crime, the question would always be, "why couldn't we have seen it coming?" or "why couldn't they have caught the criminal back then?" Or simply statement:  "It isn't fair that they got away with it!"

And it isn't.  Life isn't fair - and the fact that we actually recognize it is, to me, one of the major proofs of the existence of God - and that's why I'd plump for a tragic accident.  The heart's still broken, but at least it's free of vengeance.













18 August 2019

Assisted Suicide


by Leigh Lundin
“Ferguson, you got one job, keep the damn prisoner alive. No ganging, no hanging, okay? Don’t let no miscreant get to him. That means no bad guys, see? No corrupt guards, no homicidal convicts, no vicious visitors. Also no shivs, no slit wrists, no sliced throat, no shredded sheets, no seppuku. Shouldn’t be hard, right?”
Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein
From published autopsy revelations about Jeffrey Epstein’s death, statistical probabilities alone suggest a 95% confidence of strangulation. Add in death threats and the fact he appeared facially battered and bruised at his most recent court appearance, the odds he wasn’t murdered is extremely small.

But wait. Commentators have seized upon the notion Epstein might have hanged himself with bed sheets. That’s soooo 19th century.

Some time back, a prison matron explained inmates on suicide watch aren’t given standard bedding. Penitentiaries issue hospital style paper sheets precisely so they can’t be used for hanging. Clothing resembles a tear-resistant hospital gown with velcro closures, no buttons, zippers, or ties. Footwear includes heavy socks and sort of felt slippers, rather than prison-issue flip-flops.

In Eve Fisher’s part of the country, prisoners on suicide watch are stripped naked and given a blanket, or issued a paper uniform and bed sheets. Like their East Coast counterparts, at-risk incarcerated are checked every fifteen minutes and recorded on camera 24/7. Like most who have a working knowledge of prison life, Eve says suicide while under observation is nigh impossible, but once off suicide watch, death for the determined isn’t that difficult.

The prison kitchen provides food in paper bowls without utensils, issued randomly so preparers cannot target an individual inmate. Feed is deliberately bland with virtually no seasoning.

Typically in modern prisons, the bed is poured from concrete as is a tiny seat, shelf, and 1st grader-size desktop. Epstein’s assigned cell reportedly contains a shower. Toilets are usually cold stainless steel devices with neither hinged seat nor lid.

prison toilet
cell toilet © New York Daily News
Cameras remain trained on inmates at all times, even when using the toilet. Cell checks occur about four times an hour, but not precisely at quarter-hour intervals. Reports would have us believe Epstein was not looked in upon for several hours.

In late June and early July, Jeffrey Epstein reported his life had been threatened. On 24 July, a supervisor found him mauled and barely conscious on his cell floor.

Epstein expressed fear for his life. Usually that would call for extra protection, not less.

Two guards have been suspended for dereliction. Their warden has been reassigned. A befuddled William Barr has yet to resign.

Meanwhile, Back at the Raunch

People accused – I emphasize ‘accused’, not convicted – include a number of famous men, at least three women, a senator, a governor, and Epstein’s own lawyer, celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, ironically scheduled for a child trafficking mock trial. He has claimed documents ‘prove’ his non-involvement. Whether or not he’s guilty, Dershowitz should know better. Said documents prove no such thing.

The swirling waters have been further muddied by three names linked to the White House, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and– yes, it had to happen– Hillary Clinton. The mention of Hillary is a fevered fantasy of the rabid right just as Trump involvement titillates the ludicrous left.

Despite young women being recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein at Mar-a-Lago, available evidence suggests both Clinton and Trump prefer fully-formed women, not teen girls. One president dragging another’s name into the mud epitomizes dirty politics.

And the Verdict is

Inexplicably, the Associated Press has dug in taking a position Epstein’s death is suicide. The alternative apparently appears unthinkable. Likewise, normally conspiracy-loving radio talk hosts are unexpectedly warning about unwarranted conspiracy theories, as if they fear further news will undermine some favored position.

The cleverest conclusion I’ve heard regarding Jeffrey Epstein’s death comes from my friend Darlene. Got to appreciate the irony. She calls it…
Assisted Suicide

What’s your take?