Stories posted are written by National news Journalists, not by this blog. The Journalist's name and "Source" link follow each story. We add "Tags" based on facts from the article, which are used for later retrieval, if someone wants to see all stories by a tag (Click tag of choice). Tags are at the top of story.
Our Commenting Policy

Monday, October 29, 2007

WA- Killings of 2 Bellingham sex offenders may have been by vigilante, police say

This documents one (Victor Vasquez) of the two deaths that night.
8-30-2005 Washington:

BELLINGHAM — Last Friday night, a man claiming to be an FBI agent dropped in on three Level 3 sex offenders living together, supposedly to warn them of an Internet "hit list" targeting sex offenders.

The man was not an FBI agent, but he may have been enforcing a hit list of his own creation.

Two of the roommates were found dead early Saturday of gunshot wounds, and Bellingham police are investigating a crime that authorities say may be one of the nation's most serious cases of vigilantism aimed at sex offenders.

The killings also highlight a potential problem about Washington's 1990 law requiring sex offenders to register their addresses so the public can keep track of them.
Bellingham Police Chief Randall Carroll said it is too early to conclude that Hank Eisses, 49, and Victor Vasquez, 68, were killed because they were sex offenders. Police released a sketch of the suspect, who is still at large.

Note: See what Vasquez's daughter has to say about her father's murder.
But Carroll noted that their address — and descriptions of their crimes — were posted on the city's Web site, and if someone used that information to target Eisses and Vasquez, it could have a broad impact.

"Certainly if sex offenders were targeted and attacked because of their offense, the Legislature could decide they could repeal our sex-offender notification law," Carroll said.

Eisses owned the house where the killings took place, and had rented rooms for the past three years to Vasquez and James Russell, 42.

Russell was there the night the suspect showed up, but he soon left to go to work. When he returned about 3 a.m., he told police, he found his roommates dead. Based on their estimated time of death, and the fact that Russell was at work, he is not considered a suspect, according to police. Results of an autopsy are expected later this week, Carroll said.

Vasquez was convicted in 1991 of molesting several relatives. According to court documents, his victims endured regular abuse, sexual and otherwise. He was on Department of Corrections supervision at the time of the murder.

Russell was convicted in 1994 of molesting a 3-year-old girl, and released from DOC supervision about three weeks ago after serving 5 ½ years in prison.

While the public is understandably concerned about sex crimes, Kit Bail, a DOC official, said the three men have been quiet, law-abiding offenders while living together. None of the three had violated supervision conditions, she said, and none had reoffended.

"In a sense, they are a success story," said Bail, the DOC's field supervisor for Whatcom County. "These guys were doing fine. They were employed. They were living according to the conditions."

The killings, she said, should "not be the basis on which we change the laws on registration, but if it is a vigilante act, it gives one pause. It gives me concern about other Level 3 sex offenders living responsibly — or even irresponsibly — in the community. Murder is not the response anywhere."

A fake FBI agent

Eisses was sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison in 1997 for raping a 13-year-old boy at his home in Sumas, near the Canadian border. He was released from DOC supervision about two years ago, Bail said.

He bought a blue house with a white picket fence in Bellingham's Columbia neighborhood — about a half-mile from a middle school — with the help of Theodore Kingma. In a brief interview, Kingma said he met Eisses at church. "He confessed his sins, and he lived right with God and the neighbors," said Kingma. "That's all I know."

It is unclear how Eisses met Russell and Vasquez. One of Russell's relatives said Russell's sex-offender status made it difficult to find a place to live until he moved in with Eisses.

According to police, Russell said a man wearing a blue jumpsuit and a hat with an FBI logo dropped by at about 9 p.m. on Friday to warn the trio of the alleged "hit list."

There were no FBI agents in the neighborhood that day, prompting the bureau to open an investigation of impersonation, said FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs. The case does not qualify for federal hate-crime prosecution because the law does not appear to cover sex offenders, she said.

Too much information?

In response to a series of vicious sex crimes against children, Washington became the first state to require sex offenders to register their address upon release from prison. Level 3 offenders like Eisses, Vasquez and Russell, considered the most likely to commit a new crime, must register for life.

Since then, most states and the federal government have passed similar mandatory-notification laws.

A searchable, statewide database maintained by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs provides block-specific addresses for Level 2 and 3 offenders. Other municipalities — including Bellingham — go further by giving exact addresses.
That information has led some to take the law into their own hands. In 1993, Joseph Gallardo planned to move into his family's home in Lynnwood after serving about three years for the statutory rape of a 10-year-old girl.

The home was burned after neighbors heard of Gallardo's plan. He then planned to move to New Mexico but encountered fierce protests there. He returned to Lynnwood, where he still lives. He has not been convicted of another crime.
John La Fond, a lawyer who fought the notification law on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, said posting sex offenders' addresses "almost becomes a confession by the state that they cannot keep the society safe from harm, and invites society to take matters into its own hands."

In researching a 2005 book on notification laws, he found dozens of assaults and harassment against sex offenders. Eisses and Vasquez, he said, may be the first deaths.

Don Pierce, head of the police-chiefs association, said the case will renew the debate on publishing sex offenders' addresses.

"I think there are risks and this may prove to be an example of one of those risks," said Pierce. "I also think the public and Legislature have said there's a risk to the general public if they don't know with specificity where a sex offender lives." ..more.. by Mike Carter and staff researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.


Police Say Idaho Case Inspired Sex Offenders' Killer

9-7-2005 National

SEATTLE -- The man who confessed to slaying two registered sex offenders in Bellingham told police that he was outraged by the recent case of Joseph Edward Duncan III, a convicted sexual predator being held in Idaho.

Michael Anthony Mullen, 36, made a brief court appearance Tuesday in Whatcom County Superior Court, about 80 miles north of here, after turning himself in to Bellingham police Monday afternoon.

A longtime resident of Whatcom County with a history of petty crimes, Mullen faces charges in the Aug. 26 shooting deaths of Hank Eisses, 49, and Victor Vasquez, 68. Both victims were Level III sex offenders, considered the most likely to commit similar crimes again. Mullen's arrest all but ended fears that a vigilante was on the loose targeting other registered sex offenders in the Bellingham area.

"It's a relief that he's not running around anymore with who-knows-what on his mind, probably more of the same," said Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmundson, who was informed of Mullen's arrest just minutes after it happened.

According to police, Mullen called 911 from a Bellingham restaurant and confessed to the murders. He was arrested and questioned for "hours and hours," said Bellingham police Lt. Craige Ambrose.

Investigators said Mullen provided details of the crime that only the killer would know, such as the caliber of the weapon and the way in which each victim was shot: once in the head. Ambrose said that during the interview Mullen repeatedly "came back around to the Idaho incident," referring to the Duncan case.

"Let's just say he was influenced by what happened there," Ambrose said. Duncan, a 42-year-old convicted sex predator from Tacoma, Wash., is in Kootenai County, Idaho, awaiting trial for the murders of four people and the kidnapping of two children in May near Coeur D'Alene. Duncan is being investigated in the deaths of other children across four states.

Less than two weeks after Duncan's case made national headlines, police said Mullen got on a Whatcom County Website that listed the names and addresses of all Level III sex offenders in the county.

Eisses and Vasquez lived with a third sex offender in a little green house on Northwest Avenue. According to earlier reports, the suspect had entered the victims' home, just north of downtown Bellingham, impersonating an FBI agent. The suspect told the men there was a "hit list" targeting sex offenders and that he was there to warn them.

The third man left for work with the suspect still in the house. When he returned home from work, the man found his housemates dead. Eisses had been convicted of child rape, Vaquez, of child rape and molestation. Both men had committed their crimes in Whatcom County.

On Aug. 31, five days after the murders, the Bellingham Herald received a letter from someone claiming responsibility for the killings and threatening to kill all other Whatcom County sex offenders designated as Level III. The county has 31 registered Level III offenders, including four in Bellingham, which has a population of 71,000.

Police said Mullen has confessed to sending the letter, and told investigators that more letters would soon be arriving at other media outlets. Ambrose said he did not know the content of those letters.

Ambrose said Mullen, a big man standing at 6-foot-5-inches and weighing nearly 250 pounds, had no known history of violence but had an extensive history of theft and other property crimes. Mullen had no permanent address, police said.

The slayings stirred debate over the 1990 state law requiring sex offenders to register their addresses. Washington was the first state to pass such a law, which is intended to help the public keep track of dangerous sexual predators. Congress mandated that states create registers of sex offenders. Now all 50 states have their own version of Washington's Community Protection Act.

Supporters say the public has a right to know about such offenders, but opponents argue that publicizing exact addresses invites vigilantism and prevents sexual offenders from leading normal lives. ..more.. by AP


Sketchy details released on inmate death

9-15-2007 Washington

Michael Mullen, a Stafford Creek Corrections Center inmate who died in April, was determined to have died of pneumonia, but the manner of death is undetermined because “acute mild drug toxicity” is a contributing factor, according to Grays Harbor County Coroner Ed Fleming. Initially, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department indicated they believed Mullen had committed suicide.

Mullen, from Bellingham, had an extensive law enforcement history, mostly involving minor crimes. But he was at Stafford Creek for the high-profile murder of two Level Three sex offenders, whom he found on a local sex offender registry Web site. He killed the two men after showing up at their home posing as an FBI agent, a ruse he said he used to confirm that the men were indeed sex offenders and to determine if they were sincerely repentant.

Fleming said Mullen had ingested prescription drugs, but the coroner would not say which drugs. “It’s a medical privacy issue,” he said. And he would not say whether the doses were therapeutic or not.

“There was enough medication, but not enough to cause the death directly,” Fleming said.

Instead, Fleming said, the immediate cause of death was lobar pneumonia, an illness in which an infection of the lungs causes them to fill with fluid, interfering with the body’s ability to absorb oxygen.

An official at the State Patrol, which handles the toxicology tests, said they were unable to discuss test results.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office preliminarily believed Mullen, 37, had taken his own life, basing that on a lack of blunt force trauma and because of writings recovered from the dead man’s cell. Mullen was in the intensive management unit, where he did not have contact with other inmates.

Chad Lewis, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the department was still putting the pieces together to figure out what led to Mullen’s death. An investigation is still under way, and the corrections department does not comment on open investigations, Lewis said.

Mullen died on the night of April 15, two hours after being found unresponsive in his cell. The prison’s Health Care Unit gave him first aid until emergency crews arrived. ..more.. by Callie White - Daily World Writer

Maine killings raise questions about sex offender registries

This documents one (Joseph Gray) of the two deaths that occurred. The story of the other sex offender murdered (William Elliott) is HERE
4-17-2006 Maine:

CORINTH, Maine --A man who shot two sex offenders to death in Maine got their names from the state's online sex offender registry, authorities said Monday. The killings renewed fears that such lists expose ex-convicts to vigilante violence.

The gunman, Stephen A. Marshall, a 20-year-old from Canada, committed suicide Sunday night in Boston after being cornered aboard a bus by police.

Investigators were uncertain what relationship, if any, Marshall had with the two victims, who were killed Easter Sunday morning at their homes 25 miles apart.

But the two men were among 34 names in five towns that Marshall had looked up on the state Web site, said Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety. Investigators said they discovered that he visited the Web site because he typed in his name to receive extra information online, including street addresses.

The Web site, which gets 200,000 hits a month, was disabled while police searched for Marshall but was restored Monday afternoon.

"The events of the weekend will obviously reviewed, but there are no plans to change the Web site at this point," McCausland said.

All states have sex offender registries designed to let people know of child molesters and other sex offenders in their midst.

Almost all of them, like Maine, post the information online.

But the killings added to a growing unease with such Web sites. Jack King from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington said making public sex offenders' addresses can be an invitation to violence.

Harassment, vandalism, assaults and even killings of sex offenders have been reported from coast to coast.

"There are going to be crazy people out there," King said. "And there's going to be vigilantism."

After New Jersey passed a public disclosure law on sex offenders in the 1990s, the brother of an offender was nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat when he was mistaken for his brother, King said.

In New Hampshire, Lawrence Trant went to prison after pleading guilty to the attempted murder of two convicted sex offenders whose names and addresses he found on an Internet registry posted by the state.

A sex offender Web site in Washington state was cited in the slayings of two convicted child rapists last summer. Michael Anthony Mullen, 35, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to more than 44 years in prison.

In Maine, the registered sex offenders who were shot to death were Joseph Gray, 57, of Milo, and William Elliott, 24, of Corinth.

Gray's wife, Janice, said that her and her husband's dogs started barking wildly at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday. When she looked out the window, she saw a figure dressed in a black jacket at the front door. A second later, she heard two shots and saw two flashes as bullets were fired through the front window.

She called her husband's name, but she got no response. "All I know is someone came to my house and took my husband from me," she said. "He was a very loving, good man."

Gray's name was posted on a state Web site because he had moved to Maine after a Massachusetts conviction for sexual assault on a child under 14, McCausland said. Elliott was convicted of having sex with an underage girl, he said.

When he shot himself, Marshall had with him a laptop computer along with two handguns, said Dave Procopio, spokesman for the Suffolk County, Mass., District Attorney's Office.

Marshall, a 20-year-old restaurant dishwasher from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, had come to Houlton, Maine, to visit his father, authorities said.

Investigators believe he used his father's pickup during the killings. The father had not realized his son and truck were missing, McCausland said. Marshall also took two handguns and a rifle from his father, the spokesman said.

Police tracked Marshall to Boston after finding his pickup abandoned along with the rifle in Bangor and then discovering bullets hidden in the tank of a toilet in a bus stop restroom were of the same caliber as one of his father's handguns.

Investigators believe a .45-caliber handgun Marshall turned on himself was the same one used in the Maine killings, McCausland said. The rifle, along with a .22-caliber handgun, were not fired, he said.

Marshall's father, Ralph Marshall, told reporters that his son didn't appear troubled and never said he had been sexually abused. He was confident investigators would get to the bottom of the case.

"Right now, everything seems to be about speculation," he said.

Maine's sex offender registry, which went online in December 2003, has the names of more than 2,200 sex offenders. It contains such information as the offender's name, address, date of birth, identifying characteristics and place of employment, as well as a photograph. Depending on the crime, the offender is required to register either for 10 years or for life.

In Washington state, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office posts a warning on its registry under the heading "Vigilantism -- Zero Tolerance," urging people not to use the information to harass offenders.

Carlos Cuevas from the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire said more research is needed into the effectiveness of sex offender registries. "Is it effective in lowering the rates of child victimization?" he asked.

In Maine, Gray and Elliott were shot about five hours apart. Neither man appeared to have caused a stir recently.

Gray and his wife moved a couple of years ago from Massachusetts to Milo, a town of about 2,400, said Kenny Hudak, a local police sergeant. Hudak said Gray had been reclusive.

In Corinth, residents were alerted when Elliott moved into a vinyl-sided trailer in the woods. The property was covered with trash, tires and at least a dozen junked vehicles.

"I think more people were concerned about the mess than him being a sex offender," said Mary Hadley, who lives across the road. ..more.. by Glenn Adams

Inmate Killed!

4-24-2004 West Virginia:

A convicted sex offender is dead after a violent altercation inside Mount Olive Correctional Facility Wednesday night. Thirty-eight year old Kevin Deuley was struck with a blunt object and stabbed in the recreation yard Wednesday night. ..more.. WOAY-TV


Two State Inmates Face Murder Charges


FAYETTEVILLE - Two Mount Olive inmates have been indicted on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of a fellow inmate, an assistant Fayette County prosecutor said Friday.

Jeremy Brisendine, 25, of Charleston and Marcus Cockerham, 44, of Mercer County are accused of killing Kevin Deuley during a softball game in the maximum-security prison's recreation yard in April. ...continued.. by Charleston Gazette

Death of Greensville prison inmate under investigation, authorities say

2-8-2006 Virginia:

The department's Inspector General's Office is looking into the death of Roosevelt McArthur Lawson, 61, who was found slumped over in a chair in a day room about 7:25 p.m. on Feb. 3, Larry Traylor said. One of Lawson's fellow inmates complained about indifferent treatment toward Lawson by prison medical staff, according to a family member of the inmate. Traylor declined to provide additional details.

After Lawson was discovered, medical staff were called to the scene, Traylor said. Lawson was taken by ambulance to Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center in Emporia where he was pronounced dead shortly before 8:40 p.m., Traylor said.

Lawson's body has been sent to the Medical Examiner's Office in Richmond for an autopsy. Lawson was serving a seven-year sentence for a sexual assault in Charlottesville. ..more.. : by Richmond Times-Dispatch

Strangled inmate was registered sex offender

3-17-2004 Pennsylvania:

SOMERSET, Pa. — The inmate who was fatally assaulted Saturday by his cellmate at SCI-Somerset had been designated a sexual predator under Megan’s Law.

Jose L. Collazo, 51, of York, was found dead in his cell at about 3:40 a.m. after a correctional officer heard noise in his cell and then discovered cellmate Steven Ramidial, 27, Philadelphia, choking him.

Ramidial was removed from the cell and officers attempted CPR on Collazo who was unresponsive.

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller has ruled Collazo was strangled to death.

Ramidial, who is serving a four- to 10-year sentence for arson in Philadelphia, has been charged with criminal homicide and assault. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Friday before District Justice Arthur Cook of Somerset.

While being searched, Ramidial reportedly struck an officer in the eye and kicked a second officer.

Collazo was convicted of sexually molesting a preteen girl three times between August 1996 and January 1997.

He was the state’s first Megan’s Law violator to be subject to community notification by police fliers. In 1997, York officials distributed fliers with Collazo’s picture to about 50 homes and businesses within 250 feet of his home.

“The issue is that sex offenders traditionally have been at risk (in prison),” said Scott Phornsley, a criminal justice professor at Mansfield University in Tioga County, and a former director of legislative affairs for state Department of Corrections. “A lot of inmates have children. They don’t like sex offenders.”

Saturday’s homicide was the third at SCI-Somerset since it opened in 1993. Two of the murders occurred within seven months of each other in 1995.

In March of that year, inmate Ernest Evans, then 55, fatally beat his cellmate, James Bennett, in a dispute regarding Bennett’s hygiene, according to a published report.

That October, three prisoners attacked another inmate in a vestibule. Inmate Gerald Bogan, 43, struck his head on a concrete floor and died five days later at a Pittsburgh hospital.

By comparison, no murders have occurred at SCI-Laurel Highlands, a state prison in Somerset that opened in 1996 for older and infirm inmates. ..more.. Staff

Two alleged gang members suspected in death

9-26-2006 Oklahoma:

LAWTON, Okla. A man serving time in a private prison for lewd molestation may have fallen victim to two imprisoned gang members.

Lawton police investigators allege Brandon James Horne and Michael Sean Rose -- both 23 -- attacked Charles -A- Willingham in his cell on Monday. The 53-year-old died at the Southwestern Medical Center emergency room.

Detectives allege that Horne and Rose are members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a gang notorious for extorting protection money from sex offenders.

Witnesses told investigators Horne and Rose entered Willingham's cell to either extort money from him or rob him of his belongings.

The witnesses claim when Willingham refused to pay them 100 dollars, he was knocked to the ground and stomped to death.

No formal charges have been filed against the pair. ..more..


Lawyer disqualified in local murder appeal

3-27-2013 Oklahoma:

While the court could still hear arguments and testimony regarding the possibility of a new trial for a Lawton inmate serving time for murdering a convicted sex offender in 2006, a Comanche County judge ruled Tuesday that they would not be heard from the defense attorney who filed initial motions.

Comanche County District Court Judge Mark Smith ordered Gretchen Mosley, an attorney with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, disqualified from representing Brandon J. Horne, 29, on grounds her representation would be a violation of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Smith told Mosley that without a signed waiver of consent from her previous client, Michael Rose, he did not feel it would be appropriate for her to continue representing Horne.

Prison inmate beaten to death
Rose and Horne were both charged with the 2006 murder of Charles Willingham, who was beaten to death during an apparent attempt to extort money from him at the Lawton Correctional Facility. Horne and Rose were reportedly members of the Aryan Brotherhood (UAB) gang.

Mosley initially represented Rose in his murder case while G. Lynn Burch represented Horne. Both men have now contested their convictions. In November, Mosley filed a motion arguing that Burch did not interview two crucial witnesses. But before the court could address merits of the request, Smith had to hear evidence regarding Stoneman's request to have Mosley disqualified, which he filed Friday.

Stoneman made two arguments. First, he pointed out that Horne and Rose were co-defendants and that both have implicated each other. Since Mosley initially represented Rose, he said she had a conflict of interest regarding her previous client's interests and her new client's interests. Second, Stoneman argued that OIDS is statutorily prohibited from being ordered to represent defendants in post-conviction cases, a claim Mosley countered, saying she was representing Horne in a private capacity.

Stoneman argued the court's assumption that Mosley was representing Horne in her own personal capacity was "in bad faith" as OIDS investigators, who work for the state, had been contacting people involved with Horne's appeal on behalf of Mosley. The defense attorney argued she was not using state-provided resources. The judge said he would take her on her word, but pointed out it was interesting that Mosley claimed Horne had the funds to hire her to file the motion but said he was indigent after Smith ruled to disqualify her. ...continued... by Malinda Rust

Easton man murdered in prison

3-11-2006 New Jersey: UPDATED

An Easton man in a New Jersey state prison for sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl in Phillipsburg in 2002 was strangled late Thursday and found under another inmate's bunk, authorities said Friday. The dead man, Jason Schweitzer, 25, formerly of the 100 block of Northampton Street, Easton, was an inmate at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Burlington County, Department of Corrections spokesman Matthew Schulman said.

Schweitzer's death was ruled a homicide by the Burlington County Medical Examiner's Office. An autopsy completed Friday afternoon showed Schweitzer had been strangled with a rope or some other object.

Corrections officers found his body at 9 p.m. Thursday under a bed in a cell that was not his. "The cells weren't locked down at the time so the inmates were able to mill around," Schuman said. "It was during that period that they found him. "The unit was locked down, and it's still locked down as they investigate," Schuman said.

The homicide was the first officials could recall at the youth facility, located in Chesterfield Township near Bordentown, which houses about 1,300 inmates between 18 and 29 years of age.

It "emphasizes vocational, academic and social programming as well as individual and group psychotherapy, substance abuse treatment, social casework and psychiatric treatment," according to the Corrections Department's Web site.

Schweitzer was sentenced in June 2003 to 8½ to 10 years for sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl in Phillipsburg. ..more.. by by RICK HEPP, The Star-Ledger

Inmate charged in prison death
11-1-2007 New Jersey

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. | A state prison inmate is accused of strangling a fellow prisoner serving time for molesting a 2-year-old in Phillipsburg.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday charged 25-year-old Jesus J. Tamo with murder and hindering apprehension in connection with the killing of Jason Schweitzer, 25, of Easton.

Schweitzer's body was found beneath the bunk inside Tamo's cell at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Chesterfield, N.J. on March 9, 2006. An autopsy found that Schweitzer had been strangled, authorities said.

The killing took place in a cellblock occupied by 47 prisoners at a time when inmates could move around and go into and out of each other's cells, according to authorities.

Authorities allege that Tamo invited Schweitzer into his cell, then assaulted and strangled him. Schweitzer's body was found in Tamo's cell during a search started after Schweitzer failed to report for his scheduled medication call, authorities said.

Authorities have given no motive for the killing.

Schweitzer was serving a minimum term of eight and a half years for the 2002 sexual assault in Warren County. Tamo is serving a minimum term of six and three-quarters years for an aggravated assault conviction out of Middlesex County, according to state Department of Corrections records.

Tamo is being held at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

If convicted of the killing, Tamo faces an additional 30 years to life in prison, authorities said. ..more.. by MICHAEL RATCLIFFE, The Times of Trenton

Prisoner admits to slaying of fellow inmate in Burlco

6-25-2011 New Jersey:

MOUNT HOLLY — A state prisoner admitted Friday that he strangled a fellow inmate at a corrections facility in Bordentown Township.

Jesus Tamo, 28, plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter at a Superior Court hearing in Mount Holly.

Authorities said Tamo killed Jason Schweitzer, a 25-year-old sex offender, after inviting the victim into his cell at the Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in March 2006.

The inmate's body was found under Tamo's bunk after Schweitzer failed to appear for a scheduled medication call.

Schweitzer was serving a 10-year sentence after a 2003 conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Tamo received an eight-year sentence after a 2004 conviction for aggravated assault in Monmouth County.

The slaying occurred at a medium-security facility for men between the ages of 18 and 29.

Tamo initially was charged with Schweitzer's murder. Under terms of a plea agreement, he faces a recommended sentence of 20 years in state prison.

He would have to serve 17 years before becoming eligible for parole, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

Tamo is to be sentenced Sept. 23 by Superior Court Judge Michael Haas. ..Source.. by JIM WALSH

Inmate killed in Bellamy Creek was a repeat sex offender

1-19-2007 Michigan:

IONIA - Jimmy Wayne Crawford, a white male, was a career sex offender. On his 51st birthday he was killed in Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia where he was serving five to ten years for criminal sexual conduct. Department of Corrections officials would not say it was a murder, though other media sources have made that claim. Crawford died on Saturday, January 13 at Bellamy Creek.

“The Michigan State Police post in Ionia came over and processed the scene and then began their investigation,” Marlan said. “The investigation is still continuing, and we haven't charged anybody yet.”

If charges are filed, the Ionia County Prosecuting Attorney will handle the case, he added.

Crawford had two sexual conduct convictions prior to 1977, when he was charged with third degree sexual conduct in Berrien County. He was sentenced to 10 to 15 years on that occasion.

“Then he had another criminal sexual conduct conviction in 1987,” said Russ Marlan, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman. “It was for second degree sexual conduct again out of Berrien and he was sentenced two and a half to five years for that.”

He was discharged for that offense in 1992 and did not see the inside of a penitentiary until he was convicted of his final offense in July 1998. ..more.. by Ionia Sentinel-Standard

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Geoghan's death voids conviction, prosecutors say

See 2014 article on this murder.
8-27-2003 Massachuettes:

Upsetting victims of clergy sexual abuse, prosecutors who won a guilty verdict against John J. Geoghan for molesting a 10-year-old boy said yesterday his conviction will be erased because the former priest died while appealing the case.

Case law dictates that the court where Geoghan was tried will be ordered to invalidate his 2002 conviction, said Emily LaGrassa, spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney's office.

"The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that if a defendant dies while his appeal is pending, the indictments are to be remanded to the trial court with an order that they be dismissed," she said.

When he was found guilty in the 1992 indecent assault and battery case, Geoghan's conviction was seen as an enormous victory for victims of clergy sex abuse, and a vindication of claims that went unheard for decades. It was his lone conviction, although he had been accused of molesting nearly 150 children during his decades as a priest. He was awaiting trial in another child abuse case.

"The guilty verdict is a symbol which allowed many clients to regain some sort of self-esteem, dignity, and freedom from unnecessary guilt," said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represents abuse victims. "The victims of John J. Geoghan will be extremely disappointed by the conviction being invalidated. It is another strange twist to a very strange and eerie saga."

Robert Sherman, a lawyer who also represents clergy abuse victims, added: "I think that the technical quirk in the law only serves to revictimize the victims. The satisfaction they received in knowing their complaints were vindicated by a jury now gets nullified by a technicality, and that does no justice to anybody."

Geoghan, 68, was murdered Saturday in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, allegedly by Joseph L. Druce, a fellow inmate who told investigators he had plotted the killing for at least a month.

Neither Geoghan's death, nor the nullification of his conviction, will have an effect on the civil cases against the church stemming from clergy sexual abuse, said Sherman, but erasing the conviction will be a step back for some victims. The jury's guilty verdict was a first hopeful sign that the legal system was behind the victims of alleged abuse, said William Gately, one of the New England coordinators of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.

"I'm upset because victims need tangible awareness of the guilt of perpetrators," he said. "The crimes committed by John Geoghan are so profound and so damaging that they warrant a sentence of guilty. The lack of that can create for some a lack of resolution, both in an emotional and legal sense."

David Clohessy, national executive director of SNAP, as the network is called, said in one sense, the invalidation of Geoghan's conviction is "immaterial," but added it could do emotional harm to victims, particularly those yet to come forward.

"On an emotional level, I'm sure many of his victims will feel some degree of hurt and betrayal yet again," Clohessy said. "I also worry about the impact of this kind of news on the countless victims out there who have never reported their victimization to civil or criminal authorities, and who fight the pessimistic view that justice will never be done. My first thought is for some victim, sitting by the phone, deciding whether or not to call the police or prosecutors, and hearing this news and throwing up their hands and saying, `See, what's the use?' "

The conviction on the 1992 molestation, for which Middlesex Superior Court Judge Sandra Hamlin sentenced Geoghan to 9 to 10 years in a maximum-security prison, was an early sign to victims of alleged abuse that justice could be done, Clohessy said.

"It was very important because it shows that no matter how long ago the crime took place, no matter how aggressive the church's defense is, that sometimes, justice can prevail and abuse of kids can be prevented," he said. "Essentially, it helped send the message that regardless of what church leaders do or don't do, the civil authorities are finally beginning to treat abuse by clergy just like abuse by any other person."

But lawyer Eric MacLeish Jr., whose firm represents hundreds of alleged victims of clergy abuse, including some who have made accusations against Geoghan, said the victims to whom he has spoken are "appalled that this man died under these circumstances . . . but no one expressed disappointment over the fact that Geoghan's record has been erased."

"I don't think it means anything," he said. "He's dead, and it's a tragedy that he died [this way], and the Department of Correction has a great deal of explaining to do. I don't understand people who say `We're upset now that it means our allegations are not credible' because a conviction is technically invalidated."

In 1997, the Legislature tried to block the courts from clearing the records of inmates who die before their appeals are heard, after the convictions of John Salvi III were erased following his prison suicide. Salvi shot two women to death when he opened fire in two Brookline women's health clinics in 1994. The legislation, sponsored by then-Senator William R. Keating, now the Norfolk district attorney, passed in the Senate but not the House. Keating did not return phone calls yesterday. Requests for comment left at the home and office of Geoghan's attorney were not returned by last night. ..more.. by Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff


Sex abuse priest killed in prison

2-23-2004 New Jersey:

Geoghan serving sentence for molesting boy in 1991

(CNN) -- Convicted child sex abuser and defrocked Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan died Saturday after he was apparently strangled by a fellow inmate at a Massachusetts prison, according to local officials.

Joseph L. Druce, 37, will be charged with Geoghan's murder, Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte announced.

Druce was serving a life term at the Souza Baranowski Correction Facility in Shirley, Mass., where Geoghan was apparently strangled, according to preliminary indications.

Autopsy results are still pending, Conte said.

Geoghan, 68, was assaulted around noon, then taken by ambulance to nearby Leominster Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:17 p.m., according to a news release from Conte's office.

Druce is being held at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Shirley. His case is scheduled to appear before the Worcester Grand Jury in September.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections , said the suspect was "immediately identified and isolated," following the attack.

The Corrections Department is working with the Worcester County District Attorney's office in the investigation, she said.

The Boston Archdiocese responded to news of Geoghan's death with compassion.

"Upon hearing the news of the tragic death of John Geoghan, the Archdiocese of Boston offers prayers for the repose of John's soul and extends its prayers and consolation to his beloved sister Kathy at this time of personal loss," said Father Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

Last September, the Boston Archdiocese paid $10 million to settle a suit by 86 plaintiffs who said Geoghan sexually assaulted them.

A number of other lawsuits remain pending. Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 147 alleged victims of Geoghan, said at least some of the cases will go forward.

"They would have liked to rather see Father Geoghan complete his sentence in jail, would have rather seen justice served, would have rather seen him involved as a defendant in further criminal trials," Garabedian said.

He called Geoghan's death "eerie" and "unsettling."
'Sordid story'

Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby put the number of "credible accusations" that were leveled against Geoghan during the course of his priesthood at 130.

"He was clearly a troubled soul," Appleby told CNN. "This was clearly a sick man and a predator priest. An icon for the scandal that has rocked the church."

He added, "While some might say, sadly, he got what's coming to him, I think the prevailing feeling is one of sadness for what he did, for the state of his own soul."

"It's a very sordid end to a very sordid story," said Luise Dittrich, communications director of Voice of the Faithful, a lay Catholic support group for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

"It's our feeling that a violent act like this does a lot of negative things to the psyche of survivors who are trying to heal and trying to come to peace with what has happened to them. Any kind of violence like this will just stir up pain all over again."

She added, "It's just hideous all around."

Geoghan was found guilty in January 2002 of molesting a boy in a swimming pool a decade earlier and sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

More than 130 people have accused him of sexual abuse during his 30-year career in six parishes. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998.

The 2002 verdict pertained only to one case in which he was charged with indecent assault and battery against a 10-year-old boy. The boy was a college student when he testified that Geoghan reached under his swimming suit and grabbed his buttocks while the two were in a pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club in 1991. ..Source.. by CNN

Child molester killed in prison!

12-18-2003 Indiana:

PERU, Ind. -- A state prison inmate was suspected of killing another prisoner while both were being treated in the Miami County Correctional Facility's infirmary, authorities said Friday.. The victim, David L. Hensley, 64, of Wardin, Mo., suffered multiple head wounds, state police Detective Michael Tarrah said. Hensley was pronounced dead at the prison about 50 miles north of Indianapolis after being found Thursday evening. ..more.. Associated Press)

Prisoner's death raises questions!

11-13-2003 Illinois:

Linda McDowell doesn't ask you to like her brother. She doesn't ask you to pity his impoverished upbringing. She doesn't ask you to excuse his violent crimes. She doesn't ask you to shed any tears. But she does want you to question his death.

Preston McDowell, 35, died last month at a Peoria hospital from injuries suffered at Pontiac Correctional Center. The Illinois State Police are investigating the death, which followed a scuffle with prison guards.

On Oct. 18, McDowell got into a scrap with another inmate in a cell at the maximum-security prison. Guards interceded, and McDowell ended up at a Pontiac hospital. He was soon transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he died a week later. ..more.. by Phil Luciano


Sex offender, 35, battered in prison


Illinois state officials are investigating whether officers at Pontiac Correctional Center severely beat an inmate last week, the Journal Star reported.

Preston McDowell, a 35-year-old repeated sex offender, has been at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria since Saturday. The hospital would not release any information about McDowell; however, sources said his beating was severe, resulting in multiple injuries. Sergio Molina, chief spokesman for the Illinois DOC, declined to talk in detail about McDowell. However, he did say, "This case is currently under investigation."

Sources told the Journal Star that Illinois State Police have been interviewing officers at Pontiac Correctional Center all week and that criminal charges against an unspecified number of officers are possible.

Sources say McDowell threatened another prisoner, and officers soon swarmed the two inmates. McDowell, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds, was repeatedly battered. He was sent to OSF Saint James Medical Center in Pontiac, then transferred to St. Francis.
No one else was injured in the beating. No officers have been suspended.

Pontiac Correctional Center is a maximum-security prison that houses inmates disciplined for infractions while in the custody of the Corrections Department. Some inmates are kept in single cells, while others have one cellmate. All prisoners are confined to cells a minimum of 23 hours a day. Some are allowed an hour of recreation, but troublemakers are kept behind bars around the clock.

Information was unavailable Thursday about McDowell's cell status and in-prison record.

McDowell has been serving time in Pontiac for two crimes. In 1991, he was sentenced in Winnebago County to 15 years' imprisonment for criminal sexual assault with force. In 1994, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for aggravated battery with great bodily harm. That case was adjudicated in Will County, which at the time hosted two state prisons, and the battery could have occurred in prison.

The corrections web site lists his projected parole date as March 17, 2007. It also states he is on "medical furlough." McDowell's prison record also includes a six-year term for deviate sexual assault in Cook County in 1983.

Illinois State Police declined to discuss the investigation. ..Source.. by Peoria Journal Star


Inmate's death raises questions


Convict feared prisoners were going to carry out `a hit' on him because guards wanted him dead

There's no question about how Preston McDowell lived--his own family describes him as a dangerous and troubled man--but little is known about how he died at Pontiac Correctional Center in October.

The Peoria County coroner lists "lack of oxygen to the brain" as the official cause of death, but provides no other information. The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois State Police, who are investigating his death, also offer no explanation for how McDowell, an otherwise healthy man with a few years left on a rape sentence, wound up brain-dead in St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. ..Source.. by Rudolph Bush, Tribune staff reporter.


Health Care in Illinois Prisons

There are several well-documented cases of prisoners with severe psychiatric problems or mental retardation being physically abused by prison security staff. One well documented case at Pontiac in which the prisoner, Preston McDowell, was beaten to death by guards at Pontiac CC is still under investigation by the Illinois State Police three and a half years later following the determination by a Peoria County Coroner’s Jury that the death was a result of homicide by the guards.

Unless a prisoner dies as a result of a beating, however, there is no independent review of such beatings. Even in the case of another prisoner at Pontiac CC whose severe beating has been well documented by medical staff, there is no internal or independent outside investigation of the crime. ..more.. by

Inmate shot dead after taking hostage

7-14-2004 Delaware:

.A convicted serial rapist serving life in prison who took a female counselor hostage this morning was fatally shot inside the Smyrna prison, officials said. State Department of Correction spokeswoman Beth Welch said inmate Scott A. Miller, 45, of Wilmington, was shot to death at 4:55 p.m. by a corrections emergency response team member after he observed the hostage “in imminent danger.”

Welch said the woman who was taken hostage is being attended to by medical personnel. Welch said she did not know if the woman had suffered any injuries during her nearly 6-hour ordeal. ..more.. TERRI SANGINITI and PATRICK JACKSON

Ronald Herrera: Strange case of infamous criminal ends with his even stranger death

2-13-2004 California:

The strange case of Ronald Herrera, a former resident of Santa Paula who became infamous for not only his violent crime spree but for also being the first person returned to prison under the state’s sexual predator law, became even stranger with his death in Corcoran State Prison.

Herrera, 60, died in his cell. He bled to death in either an act of suicide or criminal negligence by the prison guards who did not respond to Herrera’s screams as they watched the Super Bowl game on television.

Herrera had been returned to prison under the three-strikes law after he was arrested about three years ago in Carpinteria for shoplifting lip balm, breath freshener and wine from a grocery store.

Herrera was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison; he already had 19 serious felonies under his belt

That Herrera was a dangerous criminal there is no doubt: his violent resume included a notorious 1971 home-invasion robbery and rape of a woman and her 15-year-old daughter in Ventura’s Pierpont area where Herrera and accomplices kept the vacationing family members hostage.

Later, Herrera shot a Virginia police officer in the face, a state where he committed six armed robberies after he escaped from jail in California.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa called Herrera, then 57 and living in Oxnard, one of the worst criminals to pass through his courtroom.

“He’s what the three-strikes law is all about. He’s a career criminal,” Deputy District Attorney Darryl Perlin said at the time of Herrera’s conviction.

Herrera has 30 prior convictions - more than half for serious or violent felonies – with his first serious felony, an attempted robbery, in 1965.

In December 1971 he was convicted of four counts of robbery, three of which involved the use of a gun, two counts of forcible rape, and three counts of forcible oral copulation resulting from the Pierpont rapes.

Although Herrera had also received a sentence of 50 years in prison in Virginia, a 1986 mix-up led to his release. He returned to California and was arrested and committed to state prison to serve time on his 1971 convictions.

In 1996, Herrera became eligible for parole, but was classified as a Sexually Violent Predator. After a jury trial, he remained in custody for two more years and again received a two-year sentence thereafter. He was finally released from Atascadero State Hospital in November 2001. He moved to his mother’s home in Carpinteria and in less than 90 days he was in custody for the offenses for which the Santa Barbara County jury convicted him.

Herrera had deliberately or accidently removed his diabetes shunt and covered his Corcoran State Prison cell window with blood-saturated toilet paper while the guards watched the Super Bowl. He reportedly was screaming for hours before his death.

Herrera was found Monday morning slumped over on the floor, lifeless and within days Kings County and state investigators began a probe to determine if his death resulted from criminal negligence. ..more.. by Peggy Kelly, Santa Paula News


California Prisoner's Gruesome Death Probed


Officials want to know if Corcoran guards, who were watching the Super Bowl, were negligent.

FRESNO — All through the night, the howls kept coming from the cell of inmate Ronald Herrera.

More than one guard at Corcoran State Prison thought something was terribly amiss. Herrera wouldn't stop screaming late Sunday, and he had covered his cell window in a curtain of toilet paper soaked in blood.

One guard had seen Herrera, a dialysis patient suffering from hepatitis, pull out the medical shunt from his arm, corrections officials said. But when the guard later tried to check on the inmate, his sergeant told him not to bother, they said. "He's not dead," the sergeant was quoted by officials as saying. "Just keep an eye on him."

The next morning, the howls had given way to silence. As a new shift made its checks, a guard saw what he said looked to be "raspberry Kool-Aid" streaming out from the cell. Inside, he found Herrera slumped over on the floor, lifeless.

Much of the blood had drained from his body, corrections officials said. Blood filled the toilet bowl and washed over the concrete floor of the 8-by-10-foot cell.

On Wednesday, Kings County and state investigators began a probe to determine if Herrera's death resulted from criminal negligence by prison staff too busy watching the Super Bowl.

The probe comes on the heels of state Senate hearings and other revelations that have shone an unflattering light on the state's vast prison system, challenging the new administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. On Monday, he promised to make reforms and to "clean the place up."

A coroner's autopsy of Herrera had not been completed by early Wednesday, but corrections officials said there were signs that Herrera, a 60-year-old mentally ill burglar and rapist, had been trying to staunch the bleeding with a wad of toilet paper.

It was unclear if Herrera was trying to commit suicide and then changed his mind or if something more sinister happened, corrections officials said. His desperation, they said, played out for nearly 10 hours without any intervention from staff.

Of all the horrors that have taken place at Corcoran State Prison over the last decade, one official said, the death of Herrera was particularly ghastly -- and preventable.

Fearing retaliation for breaking the prison system's pervasive code of silence, the officials requested anonymity. "Corcoran has seen a lot," one said, "but for an inmate to literally bleed out his body, it was one of the goriest crime scenes."

A media spokesman for the prison said he could not comment on the case because of an ongoing investigation.

Steve Fama of the watchdog Prison Law Office said he doubted whether the Kings County district attorney's office would hold staff accountable. He noted that Dist. Atty. Ron Calhoun had been elected in 1998 partly on the strength of financial support from the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the union representing state prison guards.

When it's this serious, you want an aggressive, independent investigation," Fama said. "I'm not sure if the district attorney in Kings County is capable of that given the significant role that the CCPOA played in his election."

Patrick Hart, Kings County's chief deputy prosecutor, acknowledged that his office had a "fairly good working relationship" with the guards union, but he said it would not hinder the independence of the probe.

"We're not satisfied with the written reports we've gotten so far from staff," he said. "One of the things we're looking at is whether staff knew he was in trouble and failed to take the proper steps."

Herrera's case is only the latest in a series of inmate deaths at Corcoran that have raised questions about the correctional system's care of mentally ill patients and its response to suicide attempts.

In December 1998, a Corcoran inmate who had been taken off suicide watch was seen hanging in a dark corner of his cell. But rather than pop open the cell door and determine if he was alive, guards remained outside for 18 minutes while 32-year-old Michael van Straaten dangled from a noose made of bedsheets and shoelaces. When officers finally did enter and cut him loose, he was dead but his body was still warm, according to prison reports.

Two years later, on Christmas Day, an inmate with three suicide attempts succeeded in killing himself in the prison's Security Housing Unit. A lawsuit filed by the family of 26-year-old Thomas Mansfield alleged that staff negligence had allowed the suicide and that guards tried to cover up the incident by doctoring the record of cell checks. Last year, the state settled the case out of court.

And just a week before Herrera's death, corrections officials said, three inmates in the Security Housing Unit entered into a suicide pact to protest what they called brutality by Corcoran guards. One inmate, "Tiny" Walton, went through with the pact and hanged himself.

"What I've found is the so-called suicide watch is a joke," said Bob Navarro, a Fresno attorney who represented Mansfield's family and has filed suit in a recent suicide at the women's prison in Chowchilla. "The cells are not being checked according to written procedure."

A detailed account of Herrera's medical condition and death was provided by two corrections officials. Herrera was taking mood-altering medication at the time, but had not been seen by a psychiatric case manager since December. They said that violates prison policy, which dictates a one-on-one clinical evaluation every 30 days. ..Source.. by Mark Arax | Times Staff Writer

Elderly inmate starved to death

3-15-2004 California:

03-15) 04:00 PDT Fresno -- For two months, guards and medical staff at a California state prison failed to provide meals or emergency care to an elderly inmate dying of malnutrition, according to inmate accounts given to a state senator.

In the days before 72-year-old Khem Singh starved to death at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran last month, fellow inmates said, they alerted guards to his grave condition and filed official complaints about his mistreatment.

But no medical help was provided, even as it became clear to inmates that Singh, a Sikh priest from India who spoke no English and was crippled, had become emaciated and intent on killing himself.

One inmate wrote a letter to state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, pleading that she intervene, but it arrived a few days after Singh's death on Feb. 16. The inmate alleged that a guard had brutalized Singh in early December, and that Singh was so afraid of a second assault that he hadn't left his cell for meals or medical appointments for nearly 60 days.

The letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times describes a frail and wheelchair-bound Singh -- whose 2001 conviction for sexual molestation in Stanislaus County brought him great shame in the Sikh community -- committing slow suicide. His weight had dropped from 110 pounds to 80.

Prison officials said Friday that they would talk to the inmates and review their letters and complaints as part of a growing investigation into Singh's death. The case coincides with increased scrutiny of California's vast prison system, which is riddled with accusations of brutality, coverups, fraud and poor medical care.

At Corcoran, Singh's condition took a turn for the worse early this year. Some guards went to the prison's medical staff to express their own concerns, according to Romero, but logbooks show that no medical technician, nurse or doctor followed up and treated him in his cell.

"Mr. Singh has not left his cell to go to eat -- not once," the inmate wrote to Romero in a Feb. 11 letter. "They do not bring him any food. None. I smuggle bread back. -- Mr. Singh is gentle, polite. I am ashamed it took me so long to speak out."

The guard who supervised the cellblock -- the same one suspected of having assaulted Singh -- is alleged to have told another inmate not to bother speaking out on behalf of the starving inmate. "Forget it; he's going to die," the inmate quoted the guard as telling him, according to Romero. ..more.. by Mark Arax, Los Angeles Times

Three Tehachapi prison inmates, including two serving time for murder, have been identified as suspects in the slaying of an inmate in February.

1-1-2003 Bakersfield, California:

Investigators believe the victim, Raymond William Maxwell, 43, was targeted because he had been convicted of a sex offense and the suspects did not want any sex offenders in their cell block, search warrant affidavits say. ..more..

CA Prison Riot Kills One, Injures 100-Plus

2-5-2006 California:

Los Angeles County detention centers remained in a lockdown Sunday, as sheriff's investigators sought to determine what led to a race-related riot at a maximum-security jail that left one inmate dead and more than 100 injured.

Investigators were interviewing hundreds of inmates and witnesses to the fighting that erupted Saturday afternoon at the North County Correctional Facility between blacks and Hispanics, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the county's Sheriff's Department, which operate the jail system.

Sheriff's officials identified the slain inmate as Wayne Robert Tiznor, 45. Tiznor, who was black, was jailed after being arrested Jan. 3 for failing to register as a sex offender, sheriff's officials said.

The motivation behind the riot appeared to be racial tension and a feud between black and Hispanic gangs, investigators said Saturday.

It was not clear whether Tiznor was singled out, however.

"They're investigating whether he was actually a target or not," Whitmore said.

Black and Hispanic inmates at the facility remained segregated Sunday.

Authorities normally can't segregate prisoners based on race or ethnicity because it is illegal, but legal advisers said it can be done in emergency situations, Sam Jones, chief custody officer of the county jail system.

About 1,800 to 2,000 inmates were involved in the rioting that lasted for 30 minutes to an hour, and about 200 inmates engaged in "serious fighting," Deputy Steve Suzuki, another sheriff's spokesman, said Saturday.

It appeared that no weapons were used, but inmates tossed mattresses and banged heads against bunk beds, officials said.

Smaller fights broke out for at least four hours after the main brawling ended, Jones said. Nonlethal pepper spray projectiles were fired into the melee.

Twenty-six inmates were treated at the facility for injuries, Suzuki said. The 20 inmates who were hospitalized did not have life threatening injuries.

No law enforcement personnel were injured in the rioting, said Inspector Ron Haralson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The fight could be connected to the stabbing two days ago of a Hispanic gang member by a black gang member at the downtown Men's Central Jail, Suzuki said.

Authorities had information that a disturbance was imminent, but they didn't know the time or location, Jones said.

Sheriff's officials showed a letter they said was from an inmate that was given to them by an informant after the rioting.

It read: "No disrespect, but if blacks come in any dorms we will fight. We do not want to go against the sheriffs! Please separate us by race for everyone's safety. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, all the inmates."

The North County Correctional Facility is a maximum security complex comprised of five jails within one facility on a 34-acre site and houses about 4,000 inmates. It's about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The county jail system, which is the largest jail system in the United States, on average has a daily population of about 21,000 inmates, according to the sheriff's department. ..more.. by Associated Press


Sheriff Blames Lack of Staff for Jail Riot
2-6-2006 California:

.As county jail administrators have struggled with a staffing shortage and funding crisis, violence among prisoners has nearly doubled in the past three years at the North County Correctional Facility, the site of a weekend riot that left one inmate dead and dozens injured. [snip]

On Sunday, investigators sought to learn why inmate Wayne Robert Tiznor, (45) a convicted sex offender who was beaten to death in the earlier riot, was housed among violent gang members in the North County facility. Tiznor had been arrested and accused of failing to register with local police as a sex offender, which he was required to do because of a prior conviction. ..more.. : by Stuart Pfeifer and Jessica Garrison, Times Staff Writers

Charges expected in slaying of inmate

9-24-2006 California:

The Monterey County District Attorney's Office is preparing to charge a cellmate with the murder of a 50-year-old prison inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, corrections officials said. The Monterey County Coroner's Office stated in a preliminary report that Willie Eagans died of strangulation. Correctional officers found him in his bed, said prison spokesman Lt. Bill Muñiz. The District Attorney's Office is "working to prepare charges" against Eagans' cellmate, Christopher Davis, 25, in connection with the slaying, Muñiz said.

Prison staff members conducted a routine security inspection early Sept. 19 and found nothing awry, Muñiz said. But when neither cellmate showed up for breakfast, two staff members went to check the cell about 7:30 a.m. They found Davis, who appeared to be in medical distress and "could not respond verbally," Muñiz said. Davis fell to the ground, he said, and officers activated an alarm carried by prison workers to summon additional help. Officers discovered that Eagans, who was lying in a lower bunk and appeared to be asleep, did not respond.

He was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:07 a.m. Muñiz said authorities immediately handled the scene as a possible homicide, which is standard procedure when an inmate with a cellmate is found dead. The time of Eagans' death was not immediately made available, and it was not clear whether Eagans was still alive when officers first inspected his cell earlier. The coroner's office said Thursday that the autopsy report was not complete and that the case was still being investigated.

Davis was taken to an area hospital, Muñiz said, and then placed in administrative segregation in a solo cell. Muñiz had no details on Davis' medical condition, but said the inmate was no longer hospitalized. Davis and Eagans were both convicted in Los Angeles County before coming to the prison in Soledad. Davis was serving a sentence of three years and eight months for second-degree robbery charges, while Eagans was sentenced to 30 years on child sex abuse charges. The death took place in B yard, which houses medium-high security Level Three inmates. Level Four is the state's highest security rating.

B yard is what is called a Sensitive Needs Yard, designated for inmates who may be at risk in the general prison population, such as gang drop-outs, men with prison drug debts and sex offenders. They are also commonly referred to as protective custody yards. Muñiz said murder is relatively rare in sensitive need yards, because inmates are carefully screened before they're transferred to the special yards. "There's a 'Don't ask about me and I won't ask about you' attitude,'' in such yards Muñiz said. Muñiz said the motive for Eagans' killing was unknown, but said that the crime is still under investigation. ..more.. : by JULIA REYNOLDS, Herald Staff Writer


9-29-2006 California



Utah man charged with death of Kingman inmate

11-14-2005 Arizona

KINGMAN - A Utah man has been charged with the death of a Kingman man at the Mohave County Jail.

Jereme Allen Cosby, 33, of West Valley City, Utah, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Peter Brian Deakin who was found dead the night of Oct. 14 in his D-pod cell.

Cosby is being held without bond.

Inmates in D-Pod cell were locked down for about 12 hours after Deakin's body was discovered, Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Trish Carter said.

An autopsy ruled that Deakin, 37, was killed by a blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxiation, Carter said.

Deakin had been in jail since Sept. 29 for felony probation violation, felony failure to register as a sex offender, misdemeanor charge of assault/domestic violence; and a misdemeanor warrant for interfering with judicial proceedings from Kingman Justice Court.

Cosby, who has a lightning-bolt “SS” tattooed on his neck, is admittedly a member of the Nazi Lowriders, a white supremacist group in California.

Cosby was extradited from Salt Lake City on Oct. 7 on a felony warrant out of Lake Havasu City for burglary, theft and trafficking in stolen property.

According to Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan, the investigation is ongoing and there is a possibility of other inmates being charged, Carter said. ..more.. by Daily News Staff

Son accused of killing father with hammer in Green Bay: Allegedly father confessed molestation!

5-7-2004 Wisconsin:

A man accused of beating his father to death with a hammer faces a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. A criminal complaint was filed in Brown County Circuit Court Thursday against Matthew Bradley, 23, in the death of his 57-year-old father, Terrance Bradley.

Police were sent to the father's apartment early Wednesday after a neighbor reported hearing a dispute and someone pleading for his life. When no one answered the door, officers forced their way inside and found the victim fatally wounded. The son was huddled in the shower, covered with blood, police said. A bloody claw hammer was found on the bathroom floor. No one else was in the apartment.

The complaint quotes Matthew Bradley, who has a young son, as saying he "freaked out" when his father told him of molesting the boy. "All I know is that he molested my son, that's all I'm going to say," he told an officer on the way to the police station, according to the complaint. Police Lt. Bill Galvin said his department was not aware of any molestation allegations against Terrance Bradley. ..more.. by Associated Press

Family member confesses to killing man who sexually abused him

4-21-2004 Wisconsin:

A family member has confessed to shooting and killing a man who allegedly sexually abused him as a child, the Kenosha County Sheriff's department said Tuesday. Raymond F. DeBack, 52, a convicted sex offender, was found floating in the Fox River Saturday morning in the town of Wheatland. A pickup truck was found partially submerged nearby.

Court records show Raymond DeBack pleaded guilty in 1996 to second-degree sexual assault of a child. He was sentenced to seven years in state prison and was released in July. Beth said the suspect accused Raymond DeBack of abusing him as a child. ..more.. by Associated Press

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sex offender and roommate slain!

Posted in Related Deaths ---- See earlier article about community protests as to Markvardsen and his fight in the courts to get Megan's Law declared unconstitutional, and taken down, but he lost that fight and was ultimately murdered (See below). (Posted in Related Deaths)
10-10-2003 Washington:

COLVILLE, Wash. -- A convicted sex offender and his roommate were shot to death at close range with a shotgun in their remote cabin in the Onion Creek area, officials said. The Stevens County Sheriff's Office on Thursday identified the victims as Russell Charles Markvardsen, 52, and Matthew Lee Raynor, 32. Both lived at the home where their bodies were found Tuesday night.

The men previously lived in a log home that was destroyed in a May 2002 fire that authorities investigated as a possible arson. At the time, the men told The Spokesman-Review newspaper they suspected arson because of possible prejudice against their homosexuality. ..more.. : by Associated Press.

Wash. man arrested in killing of gay couple

10-17-2003 Washington:

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (AP) | Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested a 32-year-old man Saturday in connection with the slayings of two men at their remote cabin in Stevens County. Richard L. Keenum was arrested at gunpoint shortly before noon as he tried to sneak away from the Valley Assembly of God Church in Spokane Valley, Cpl. Dave Reagan of the Spokane County sheriff’s office said.

Police and deputies had been observing the building after receiving information from authorities in Stevens County and Sandpoint, Idaho, about telephone calls made by Keenum from Spokane.

Stevens County authorities had said they had probable cause to arrest the man in connection with the slayings of two men four days before. Russell Charles Markvardsen, 52, and Matthew Lee Raynor, 32, were shot to death at close range with a shotgun in their cabin in the Onion Creek area.

The two men previously lived in a log home that was destroyed in a May 2002 fire that authorities investigated as a possible arson. At the time, the men told the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane that they suspected arson because of possible prejudice against their homosexuality. ..more.. ALSO: See Google Book


Washington state prosecutor Jerry Wetle sought the maximum sentence of 67 years, which was handed down last week, for Richard L. Keenum, accused of killing a gay couple in their remote cabin last fall.

COLVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Richard L. Keenum will serve at least 50 years in prison for the execution-style murders of two men in a remote cabin last October. Keenum, 32, insists he found Matthew L. Raynor, 32, and his roommate, 52-year-old Russell C. Markvardsen dead when he arrived to burglarize their home in the Onion Creek area, north of Colville. “I did not kill Russell Markvardsen, and I did not kill Matt Raynor,” Keenum said at his sentencing last week.

A jury convicted Keenum of two counts of first-degree murder earlier this month. Members of Raynor’s family joined prosecutor Jerry Wetle in calling for the maximum sentence of 67 years. Stevens County Superior Judge Rebecca Baker rejected court-appointed defense attorney Lorinda Noble’s request for a minimum sentence of 53 years.

Under state law, Keenum must serve at least 50 years. No motive was suggested for the slayings, but several witnesses said Keenum had made comments about disliking gays. Markvardsen and Raynor were partners. ..Source.. by The Express

Two bodies found are identified

3-17-2004 Texas:

Atascosa County authorities have identified the burned body of a man who was found this weekend along a local highway as 31-year-old Ronald Henry Enriquez of San Antonio.

A motorist spotted Enriquez's body on fire Saturday night in a ditch near the intersection of FM 1784 and FM 536 in northeastern Atascosa County.

David Soward, chief deputy for the Atascosa County Sheriff's Department, said Enriquez, a known Mexican Mafia member and registered sex offender, was shot in the head before being doused with a flammable liquid. Soward said investigators believe Enriquez's body was set on fire at the site where he was found.

No arrests have been made and authorities continue to investigate the shooting death.

Enriquez's body was one of two dumped along highways in the San Antonio area since Saturday.

Another man found dead in a brushy field off Cassin Road on Monday was identified today as 30-year-old Robert Gleason, of the 100 block of North San Horacio Avenue.

Gleason died of gunshot wounds to the head and chest, according to a Bexar County medical examiner's investigator. Gleason's death was ruled a homicide.

No arrests have been made in connection with his death.

Authorities have not linked the two deaths. ..more.. by Jeorge Zarazua, San Antonio Express News


See Court Decision: Frank Trinidad -v- State of Texas

Testimony Presented
The State called several witnesses to testify at trial regarding the murder allegations against Trinidad, several of which were present during or shortly after the incident in question. Christopher Anthony Vasquez (“Tony”),1 a dealer for Trinidad, was outside the residence when Enriquez arrived. Tony explained that he “waited for [Enriquez] to show up and when I was giving [the cocaine] to him he was already mad and said he didn’t want to talk to me because I was a nobody and he punched me in the face and I fell to the ground.” Tony continued that Enriquez then threw Christopher Vasquez (“Chris”), Tony’s twin brother, off the porch steps and headed inside the residence. According to Tony, Jorge Zapata came from beside the refrigerator and shot Enriquez, who was unarmed, in the back of the head and, while Enriquez “was lying face down on the ground . . . Frank shot him in the back of the head.” Tony further told the jury that Zapata, Trinidad and Chris wrapped Enriquez’s head in plastic, put him in the back of the car and before driving off, instructed Tony to clean up the mess at the house.

San Marcos man found shot to death

3-13-2006 Texas:

.A man was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home in the 4800 block of Trails End south of San Marcos about 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Police are investigating the death as a homicide. Deputies with the Hays County sheriff's department found Jack Larue Hood Jr., 49, dead after receiving a call to check on him, said deputy Pam Robinson, a department spokeswoman.

This is the first homicide case of 2006 for Hays County. Deputies did not have further details about Hood's death. Hood was a registered sex offender. Texas Department of Public Safety records show that he was serving five years of probation for possession or promotion of child pornography. ..more.. : by AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Eagle Lake man admits role in for 2006 Hays County shooting death

9-22-2008 Texas:

David Hicks, of the Eagle Lake area, contacted the Hays County Sheriff’s office Friday and made a statement about his role in the 2006 shooting death of San Marcos resident Jack Larue Hood, according to one of Hicks’ attorneys, David Sergi.

Hood, 49, was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home on March 12, 2006. Sergi said Hicks turned himself in because he did not want to live with the guilt of what he had done.

Hood was a registered sex offender serving five years probation for the possession or promotion of child pornography.

Hicks, in the Hays County jail on a $500,000 bail, comes from a good family, Sergi said.

“I will say that in his confession, he has apologized to the family and is very, very apologetic for what he did,” Sergi said.

Hicks is “extremely contrite” about his actions and is ready to face punishment for it, Sergi said. “He helped solve a cold case.”

Hays County sheriff officials say they will release details on the arrest at a press conference at 3 p.m. today. Check back here for details. ..News Source.. by Andrea Lorenz

Former resident confesses to 2006 murder

San Marcos — The arrest of a former San Marcos resident in the 2006 slaying of a registered sex offender should make local residents sleep better, Hays Sheriff Allen Bridges said at a Monday press conference.

According to attorneys for suspect David Paul Hicks, so will he.

Hicks, 32, confessed on Friday to the murder of 49-year-old Jack Larue Hood. Hood’s body was discovered on March 12, 2006 in his home in the 4800 block of Trails End. He had been shot once in the back.

Hood’s pickup was also stolen but recovered later.

Bridges would not comment on any possible motive in the case; and Hicks’ attorneys Robert Updegrove and David Sergi would not say whether he knew Hood.

They did say Hicks, whose last address was in McAllen, had lived and worked in the San Marcos area and had suffered a head injury that went untreated sometime prior to the murder.

“He was extremely remorseful. He wanted to bring closure to the family,” Sergi said. “It was very much out of character for him.”

Hood pled guilty to possession of child pornography in 2002 after an attorney general’s task force found his name on the subscriber list of an illegal Web site. He was originally indicted on 10 counts but a plea bargain agreement led to reduced charges and a sentence of five years probation.

Hood was registered as a sex offender with the San Marcos Police Department and Hays County Sheriff’s Office. He was also a former president of Quail Creek Country Club and Chamber of Commerce ambassador. Hood and his brother ran a local contracting company.

Sergi also said that Hicks had a history of mental illness after his head injury and had at one point been committed to the Austin State Hospital. “He didn’t have insurance and couldn’t get (the head injury) treated.”

He characterized his client as a man whose life had spun “out of control.”

The attorneys said Hicks came to their office on Tuesday of last week, and that they had contacted the District Attorney’s Office prior to accompanying him to the Sheriff’s Office on Friday to make the confession.

Bridges, who repeatedly said the investigation is still ongoing, said he is “satisfied we have the right suspect,” though details of the confession are still being verified. “At this point the citizens of San Marcos and Hays county can feel safe.”

Bridges said Hicks had been arrested once in Hays County since the murder on a check charge but was never considered a suspect in the homicide.

Hicks is charged with first-degree murder. Justice of the Peace Joann Prado set his bond at $500,000. ..News Source.. by Anita Miller, News Editor


Hicks sentenced in Hood murder

5-13-2010 Texas:

More than four years after a San Marcos man was found dead from a gunshot to the back, the man who confessed to murdering him was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

David Paul Hicks, 34, was sentenced on Tuesday by District Judge Gary Steel. Because there was a “deadly weapon” finding in the case, he will have to serve 20 years before becoming eligible for parole.

Hicks was taken into custody in September 2008 for the March 2006 murder of 49-year-old Jack Larue Hood, whose body was found in his home in the 4800 block of Trails End.

At the time his confession was announced, attorneys then representing him said he had been most recently living in McAllen but had lived and worked in the San Marcos area around the time of the murder.

They also said Hicks had suffered a head injury sometime prior to the murder that had gone untreated because he did not have health insurance. Hicks had also at one time been committed to the Austin State Hospital for treatment of mental illness.

They described him as a man whose life had spun “out of control,” and said he was compelled to confess out of remorse and a desire to bring closure to Hood’s family.

Hicks had met with the attorneys prior to his confession.

Hood was a registered sex offender, having pled guilty to possession of child pornography in 2002. He was originally indicted on 10 counts, though a plea bargain agreement led to reduced charges and a probated five-year sentence.

Hicks was arrested once in San Marcos on a bad check charge but was never considered a suspect in the murder, then-Sheriff Allen Bridges said at the time his confession was announced.

It was never revealed whether Hicks and Hood knew each other.

Hood’s pickup truck was missing at the time his body was found but was later recovered. ..Source.. by Anita Miller

Man's body recovered from Mississippi River!

2-28-2004 Minnesota:

Almost four months after a legally blind 73-year-old man (a registered sex offender) disappeared from his St. Paul home, his body was recovered from the Mississippi River, police reported Friday..

Kimberly Jackson, a daughter-in-law, said the family is suspicious about the death because he did not have his house keys and was found without shoes or a jacket.

Police checked the man's house after the disappearance and found nothing missing or suspicious, Schnell said. Jackson was sentenced in Hennepin County in 1981 for attempted incest with a minor and incest with a minor. He was in and out of prison for more than a decade, last getting out in the mid-1990s. (Star Tribune)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Informer's Call Reported Before Suspect's Slaying

3-19-1984 Louisiana:

An unidentified man called the authorities Friday and tried to warn them that someone might try to harm a kidnapping suspect minutes before the suspect was fatally shot by the father of the kidnapping victim, according to a sheriff's deputy.

And, Sgt. Ricky Murphy said, the same caller was apparently on the phone moments later with Gary Plauche, 39 years old, when Mr. Plauche turned and shot to death Jeffery Doucet, 25, said to be the abductor of Mr. Plauche's son.

Mr. Doucet died about noon Saturday, The charge against Mr. Plauche was changed from attempted second- degree murder to second-degree murder.

Mr. Doucet had been extradited from Los Angeles to face a kidnapping charge. The informer called the sheriff's office Friday night, about 10 minutes before Mr. Doucet stepped off a plane at the Baton Rouge airport, said Sergeant Murphy, who talked to the man. ..more.. by NY Times

Up in Arms Over Crime
4-8-1995 Louisiana:
"Revenge rather than self-defense was involved when Leon Gary Plauche, 39, stepped from a telephone booth in the Baton Rouge, La., airport a year ago and killed Jeffery Doucet, 25, with a .38-cal. pistol. Doucet, who had taken up with Plauche's estranged wife, allegedly kidnaped and sexually molested Plauche's son Jody, then eleven. "A lot of people have stated that they would have done exactly the same thing as Plauche, if it had been their son," conceded Prem Burns, chief prosecutor in the Louisiana case. Burns said Plauche has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of manslaughter." ..more.. by Ed Magnuson;Kenneth W. Banta/New York, Joseph N. Boyce/Atlanta and Jack E. White/Chicago

Man Sentenced in Killing Of Suspected Kidnapper

8-28-1985 Louisiana:

BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 27— A father who fatally shot a man suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his son was given a suspended prison term today and sentenced to five years of probation.

The man, Leon Gary Plauche, 39 years old, had pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the death of Jeffrey Doucet, 25, who was shot in the head in the Baton Rouge airport in March 1984.

The shooting occurred as deputies were returning Mr. Doucet in handcuffs from California, where he had been arrested on a charge of kidnapping Mr. Plauche's 11-year-old son.

Judge Frank Saia of State District Court sentenced Mr. Plauche to undergo treatment for substance abuse and perform 300 hours of community service work. ..Source.. by NY Times