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Young killers

The case of Clara Schwartz - The Bizarre Murder of Robert Schwartz

Monday, December 17, 2012

The case of Clara Schwartz - The Bizarre Murder of Robert Schwartz
Clara Schwartz and Mike Pfohl
Robert Schwartz, 57, was nationally renowned in the field of biometrics and DNA research. The Associated Press's Matthew Barakat reports that Schwartz had been working for the past 15 years on DNA sequencing analysis at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Virginia. Ironically, while the discovery of DNA identification in the 1980s revolutionized crime investigation, especially for extreme crimes such as rape and murder, Schwartz himself fell victim to one such incident.

On Monday, December 10, 2001, Schwartz did not show up for work. His coworkers phoned a neighbor to check on him. He had lived alone since his wife had died and was usually quite punctual, so they were worried. They had good reason to be. His corpse was found facedown in his log-and-slate farmhouse, situated near Hamilton, which was around 40 miles west of Washington, D.C. He had been stabbed repeatedly (one report said 30 times, another 45) with a sharp knife-like implement some time on December 8, two days earlier, and left where he had died. Investigators who arrived at the scene could clearly see an 'X' carved into the skin on the back of Schwartz's neck, according to the Bloodbank newsletter. This mark seemed to indicate that the murder was ritualistic, although the clue wasn't clear.

But Schwartz's neighbors were helpful. They had seen three teenagers, two boys and a girl, arrive at the farm during the time in which the murder was estimated to have occurred. The kids had gotten stuck in the mud and had called a tow truck. Giving their names and addresses made it easier for authorities to find them. Within days, the police had arrested three friends of Schwartz's college-age daughter, Clara: Kyle Hulbert, 18; Michael Paul Pfohl, 21; and Katherine Inglis, 19. After the three started talking, there was little doubt that Hulbert had killed the victim, but his bizarre confession and the reasons he gave initially pushed investigators in the wrong direction.

Court records released the day after Christmas and noted in the Washington Post indicated that the police had seized several knives, swords, and documents about human sacrifice from the home of Inglis and Pfohl. The "X" was thus surmised to be an occult symbol. In addition, they had seized a computer and two black cloaks from the Haymarket home, and also took a computer from Hulbert's home. It wasn't long before they had pieced together a strange and deadly game.

This murder was included in a special report about the apparent bad luck that had befallen scientists during a brief period of time, suggesting an odd association between violence and those employed in the pursuit of biological research.


In January, less than a month after Robert Schwartz was found murdered, Paul Sieveking, writing for the Sunday Telegraph in London (in the "strange but true" section), included the case in a feature about the harm that had recently befallen scientists.

On Halloween, Vietnamese immigrant Kathy Nguyen, a hospital technician, inhaled anthrax and died in Manhattan. She had no known connection with the spores, and no bacteria were found in any place where she had been during the previous week. On November 12, Dr. Benito Que, a biologist, was attacked by four men wielding a baseball bat at the Miami Medical School. Then Harvard microbiologist Don Wiley, who was investigating immune disorders, vanished. His car was found abandoned on a bridge over the Mississippi River. His family insisted that he would not have committed suicide, yet his body was found three hundred miles downriver. While investigators were still searching for him, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, a microbiologist who worked with biological weapons in the former Soviet Union, died of a stroke, and on December 14, microbiologist Set Van Nguyen suffocated in an Australian storage area full of gas.

It seemed odd that so many scientists had died within a month of one another, and Schwartz was added to this list. As a murder victim, his case was among the most dramatic. Sieveking ended the article on a suggestive note: "It is possible that nothing connects this string of events; but as with the deaths between 1982 and 1988 of 25 scientists connected with the defense industry — many of which were bizarre or mysterious — it offers ample fodder for the conspiracy theorist or thriller writer."

Indeed, the Schwartz murder case would have some sordid twists, and the real story came out with the arrest of Clara Schwartz, the victim's daughter. The police had interviewed her for five hours on December 12, two days after the murder, and she had said then that she did not think that Hulbert, a recent acquaintance, would do such a thing. But she also admitted that in her "heart of hearts" she knew he would. They let her go but did not forget her. Soon they had reason to turn the investigative spotlight back on her. Apparently she had failed to tell them, when notified about her father's death, that Hulbert had told her on December 9 that he had committed the murder the day before. She had also failed to inform them about the "role-playing game."

Katherine Inglis helpfully connected the dots. Sondra London recounts her statement in True Vampires. She claimed to have had some idea of what was about to occur on December 8 when she and her boyfriend, Michael Pfohl, gave Hulbert a ride to the Schwartz home to "do a job." When they let him out and went to turn around to wait for him, they got stuck in the mud. Hulbert returned and they asked him to go use the Schwartz phone to call for assistance. He was hesitant. "He told us very seriously," Inglis wrote, "that nobody was in the home twice and I did the math." Then he placed a sword in the car that she saw was smeared with red liquid. "I couldn't be sure that Mr. Schwartz was dead," she added. "I hoped he wasn't. But in the back of my mind, I knew he was."

They discussed an alibi among them, deciding to say that they had gone to the area to get something for Clara, but no one had been home. On the morning the body was discovered, Clara called to tell them that the police had their names and addresses. She had been questioned but not arrested. She told them she was going to go stay with her grandparents.

Inglis ended her statement with the naïve hope that she and Mike could go on with their lives after turning Hulbert in. She agreed to testify against him if necessary, but she seemed to have no comprehension of what she had done. Had she genuinely been morally alarmed by what had occurred, she would not have participated in the construction of an alibi, but would have called the police herself. She did not. Neither did Clara.

Domestic Homicide

Clara Jane Schwartz, 21, was arrested on February 1, 2002, at her dorm on the James Madison University campus where she was a sophomore. A computer was also removed from her room, and she was charged as the fourth person in the conspiracy to murder Robert Schwartz. Documents found during a legal search indicated that she had helped to plan her father's murder with the other three suspects. Although her grandfather denied to reporters that she'd had any such contact with the suspects, she was taken before a magistrate in Loudoun County, Virginia and then to the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center. There she remained until her trial.

The dorm monitor, Mark Pinnow, who did not know her well, offered an observation to reporters about her relationship with her father when Robert Schwartz brought Clara to school to drop her off: "They seemed to have that kind of father-daughter relationship where they were both different and knew it." Pinnow thought Clara was friendly. In fact, she was a good student, and she was avidly interested in history and Civil War battlefields. Those who knew the computer-science major, who owned her own horse, thought of her as smart and on her way to being quite accomplished.

Yet some also knew her as brooding and rebellious. According to the Washington Post, she liked to dress in the gothic look, sported dark clothing and liked to listen to heavy metal music. She tended to hang out with people who preferred an alternative lifestyle — "alts," as they liked to refer to themselves, to mark their boundaries as outsiders. She had also moved into a single room in a dorm that was a converted Howard Johnson's motel situated behind a gas station — a place for students who desired seclusion. Her grandfather, speaking to reporters, acknowledged that she was drawn toward a "fringe" group of young people, and attributed that to having to deal with her mother's death from cancer four years earlier. Other relatives said that in recent years she had been distant from the family.

"She was very, very close to her mother," the grandfather told the Washington Post, "and I think it was a rather serious thing for her. And my son worked overtime trying to help her. She certainly had a lot of emotional problems that were fairly apparent."

Reporters sought out an attorney whom Clara had retained directly after the murder when the police first started asking questions, but he indicated that he was no longer in her employ. When questioned about the arrest, the police would not offer a motive. Relatives insisted that Schwartz had been a devoted father who talked often of his three college-age children.

Yet when the news of Clara's arrest was reported, the Associated Press included an interesting item: Inglis allegedly had admitted to investigators that Clara had told her and the other two that her father had been violent with her and had tried to poison her "at least 11 times." Such things do happen, and children involved in roleplaying and occult activities may overdramatize the possibility. But family members denied it, and the police had no record of having to go to the home to intervene in any situations. At any rate, Inglis further stated that Hulbert had gone into the farmhouse alone with a 27-inch sword hidden under his coat and had used it to slash and stab the scientist. She and her boyfriend, Paul Pfohl, had waited for him in the car. They'd had nothing to do with the murder, she said, adding that Hulbert had believed he was doing something good for Clara. Yet he hardly even knew her.

The Vampire

Hulbert had a history of mental disorders, including a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder. His family had found him too difficult to handle, so he had been in several psychiatric institutions. It also turned out that he was deeply involved in roleplaying games that involved vampire imagery. While such games do not cause someone to become violent, and the majority of participants in the Live Action Role Playing groups (LARP) are just in it for fun and creative outlets, LARPs can attract mentally unstable people, who find encouragement for their delusions within them. Hulbert apparently did. He also had a fascination with medieval wizardry and weaponry, and eventually offered a rather chilling seven-page confession.

Sondra London included this case and his confession in her discussion of dissociation in True Vampires. She indicates that when a killer claims to have become someone else (as Hulbert vaguely suggested), he may be acknowledging a "criminal alter" that can take over a host body and get him to commit crimes. She went on to talk about the Hulbert/Schwartz incident, adding multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder) to his psychiatric portfolio, although no professional had diagnosed him with the disorder. (Inglis mentioned this in her confession, so it could be the source of London 's ideas.) London also said that Clara had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and the condition had gone untreated, although this is probably untrue. That, too, was taken from Inglis' statement, and her knowledge was based only on things that Clara had said. No record of such a diagnosis was produced for court.

At any rate, in the confession taken in December, Kyle Hulbert told a magistrate that he alone was responsible for the killing. It was not premeditated, and Inglis and Pfohl did not know about it before it occurred. After Schwartz was dead, he said, he had called Clara to tell her that he had "done the job." He believed that Schwartz had been trying to poison his daughter with various chemicals that he placed into her food. Hulbert said that Clara once had handed over some cooked pork to him and insisted that her father had poisoned it. Hulbert had taken a bite and spit it back out. "I could tell," he wrote, "it had been tampered with, both by taste and by smell." He indicated that Clara had said that her father had cooked it separately from the other food.

Hulbert had met the man three times on prior occasions and had felt Schwartz's animosity toward him. Then, when Clara told him about an impending family trip to the Virgin Island, Hulbert believed that her father would attempt to kill her there. According to Hulbert, he had to do something to stop the man, especially as his visions of what Mr. Schwartz would do to Clara grew overwhelming. He claimed to have once seen Schwartz yell at his daughter and make her cry, and he indicated that "I could not bear the sight of that."

One newspaper story stated that Hulbert claimed to be a vampire, but that he heard the voices of entities named Sabba, Nicodemus, and Ordog instructing him to kill only for a "just cause." Thus, saving Clara became his driving purpose. He had seen Schwartz actually serve a pork chop and lemons to her on a prior visit, so those had become symbols to him of the way the man was poisoning her. Hulbert also indicated that he planned to say that demons had told him to do the killing. That way, Clara would be spared, should the plan be discovered.

So on December 8, Hulbert knocked on the door to the Schwartz home. In his confession, he described exactly what had taken place. Robert Schwartz answered the door and Hulbert asked if Clara was there. When told she wasn't, he asked if he could get her number. Schwartz invited him in. Hulbert used the bathroom and then followed the 57-year-old to the dining room and confronted him. Hulbert accused him of abusing his daughter and he believed he saw guilt in the man's eyes that amounted to a confession. The man had smiled, he said, and then had "backhanded" him, which cut him over the left eye. That had triggered the attack. Hulbert said that he did not remember carving an "X" on Schwartz, and investigators concluded that it was probably an incidental slash mark rather than something ritualistic.

But Hulbert insisted that if he had not seen the clear evidence of the man's guilt on his face, he would have allowed Schwartz to live. Using the sword to slash and stab, he brought Schwartz to his knees, although the dying man continued to try to defend himself. "Somewhere in the back of my mind, someone laughed at a fool who would grab an attacker's blade," Hulbert said. Hulbert stabbed Schwartz and felt his grip loosen: "I told him to back off and let me pass." He claims that Schwartz just grinned at him. Schwartz came at him again and he got some of the man's blood in his mouth. "It drove me into a frenzy," he said. He just kept stabbing and stabbing the man in the back. Hulbert then described Schwartz's last moments, saying that Schwartz had looked up at Hulbert and asked, "What did I ever do to you?" With that, Hulbert had delivered the final blow, killing him.

"When I returned to the state of mindfulness and sanity," Hulbert wrote, "I was drawing the sword from his back." He rinsed the weapon off, turned off most of the lights in the home, and went to find his friends. One of his voices instructed him to leave quickly, he wrote, because the victim's soul had already departed. Hulbert closed his confession with the belief that he had saved Clara and "whatever happens to us, we will survive." Then he had signed it with "Demon" and offered an apology to the Schwartz family, asking their forgiveness.

When attorneys were assigned, they told the press that whatever Hulbert may have said was unreliable, due to his mental illness. Hulbert's father echoed that, insisting that Kyle had viewed the incident as part of the game. He apparently had stopped taking his medication due to money problems just a few days before the murder.


Clara Jane was arraigned on February 5, 2002, as her older brother and sister watched in grief and horror. In a quiet voice, she requested a court-appointed lawyer to defend her against the charge of first-degree murder. Her arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation that included an analysis of coded e-mails and instant messages among the four friends regarding Clara's alleged domestic situation. (Clara had kept them in a file labeled "UW People," for Underworld, in her dorm room.) The investigation had also involved interviews with all four of them, and written statements from three.

As the details came out, it seemed that Clara had told the others that her father had tried to poison her, and she thought her life would be better if he were eliminated. When Clara wanted to talk about murder in these messages, she used the word, "tay," and she referred to her father as OG — "Old Guy." In other words, her premeditation was fairly elaborate, although she told reporters that she thought Hulbert was "just joking" when he said he would do it. Yet she also admitted that she had believed that he actually would, and in one message, as reported in AP, she said that "all I ask is that it not trace back to me."

In March 2002, a grand jury reconvened to consider the case. They indicted Clara on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation to commit murder. One of these latter charges focused on time periods from June to November and November to December, which involved two different people whose identities were made clear during her trial. Clara's attorneys, who insisted that it was not possible to enter into a conspiracy with someone who would be considered insane, were frustrated that the prosecutors had no unified theory about the incident, and said so to reporters. The Loudoun Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney, Owen D. Basham, hinted otherwise, but would not give a specific comment.

The other three defendants had been indicted as well on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Only Inglis was being considered for a deal, because she seemed the least involved and she was willing to testify against the others.

According to the Washington Post at the end of March, 2002, Clara had been searching for several months for someone to kill her father. She met Kyle Hulbert in October at a Renaissance festival in Crownsville, MD, and managed to convince him to do the "noble thing" for a "damsel in distress." They developed a close relationship (which he affirmed in his confession) that inspired him to feel protective of her, as a brother to a sister.

Clara sent Hulbert a check for $60 on the night before the murder, via overnight delivery. She apparently told detectives it was for Hulbert to be able to pay for gas to get to the farmhouse, gloves to prevent him from leaving fingerprints, a cap ("do-rag") to prevent him from shedding hair that might be found and link him to the scene, and rags to clean up any potential trace evidence. He was also to purchase a phone card so he could call her without the call being traced to his phone.

Clara's Trial

Katherine Inglis made her deal with prosecutors to testify in return for having the first-degree murder charge dropped. Yet she still faced other accessory charges. Her case would not be settled until the other three were concluded.

Clara's trial was first, followed by Hulbert's. Pretrial hearings indicated that Clara now claimed to have been sexually abused by her father. Her defense attorneys hoped to portray her as a kid dealing with troubling issues who found escape in fantasy and thus did not realize that the young man she had urged to kill her father might actually go through with it. In her fantasy play, she took on roles of people who needed protecting. "In the fall of 2001," defense attorney James Connell said, according to court records, "the silly dark world of Clara Schwartz collided with the dark and dangerous world of Kyle Hulbert."

However, prosecutors had a surprise: They had located another young man whom Clara had approached for the same purpose. That took some of the starch out of the defense's argument, though not all of it.

The trial began in October 2002, ten months after the murder. Clara wore a blue sweater and a long skirt for the first day of testimony. In an opening statement, prosecutor Jennifer Wexton said that Clara had initially asked a man named Patrick House, 21, to kill her father. He had participated in her roleplaying fantasy game in the role of an assassin, but he said when he had realized that Clara was serious about committing a violent act, he quickly distanced himself from the others. He said that she hated her father and wanted her considerable inheritance.

While parricide is a fairly rare crime that is overwhelmingly committed by boys, writes Charles Patrick Ewing in Fatal Families, there are occasional cases of girls either killing or engaging someone else to kill their father. Mostly such murders are triggered by abuse, but some are done out of greed. One case that Ewing cites occurred in Texas in 1994. Jennifer Nicole Yesconis, 20, was invited to dinner to celebrate her father's fifth anniversary to her stepmother. She did not show up, but her boyfriend and another boy did, and they shot and killed Mr. and Mrs. Yesconis. According to the killers, Nicole had masterminded the killings to collect on her father's insurance policy. She went to trial saying that she had been sexually abused, but another witness recalled her saying that she would pay $30,000 to someone to kill her father. She was convicted of capital murder.

The case of Clara Schwartz was similar but a bit more elaborate. Patrick House had briefly dated her prior to the killing of her father. He described the fantasy game called "Underworld" that Clara had invented. She had played a character called Lord Chaos, and he had been an assassin. Clara referred to the victim in the game as Old Guy, her "evil father." She ordered House to kill him as part of the game, but eventually he found a way to put her off until he could extricate himself from the role. That's when she turned to Kyle Hulbert, whom she met shortly thereafter. He was called on to testify, but invoked his right against self-incrimination and did not take the stand. Nevertheless, his written confession was allowed in as evidence. In addition, a document found in Clara's room, dated December 8, appeared to thank her cohorts in coded language for their part in the act.

The defense attorneys jumped into action. They tried to make House appear as out of touch with reality as Hulbert was, hoping to show that both young men had misunderstood what she had said. One attorney got House to admit to his belief that dragons were real and had lived during the times of King Arthur. He also indicated that he believed in casting spells. He had cast one to protect himself "against other people's magic," using salt, sanctified water, and a candle. The jury was now exposed to a boy one who had some pretty strange beliefs of his own.

Defense attorneys also used school psychologist Kathleen Aux to shore up their argument. She addressed the psychological problems that Hulbert had in a way that affirmed that he could have misinterpreted what Clara actually wanted.

Yet the prosecution had another witness as well: a friend of Clara's who said that Clara had mentioned on several occasions that she wanted her father dead. Katherine Inglis, too, added that she had witnessed a conversation in which Clara had angrily described her father's abuse.

On October 15, after a week of testimony and only four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Clara of first-degree murder. The prosecutor asked for a stiff sentence, but the defense cited mitigating factors in light of Clara's testimony about abuse. The jurors recommended a 48-year prison sentence. The defense attorneys said they would appeal on the grounds that the jury had not given enough consideration to the evidence, especially with regard to the psychological issues suffered by Hulbert, the killer.

Judge Thomas Horne scheduled the formal sentencing for January 21. The defense tried to delay it, pending a psychological report on Hulbert, but this motion was denied. Nevertheless, sentencing was delayed into February so the judge could examine the defense's notion that the prosecution had not turned over evidence they possessed of actual abuse of Clara Schwartz. The defense also wanted to file a motion, based on an interview with one of Clara's high-school teachers, that her father had verbally abused her. The teacher thought that Schwartz had more or less abandoned the girl, and that the two had often engaged in serious arguments. Clara's sister acknowledged that the two had had a stormy relationship, especially when they lived together alone in the home during Clara's senior year. In a last-ditch effort, the defense attorneys argued that Clara's actions were the result of hyperthyroidism. They wanted the sentence to be reduced to 30 years.

On February 10, after the judge decided that the defense's motion issue about abuse would have had no effect on the verdict, he sentenced Clara Schwartz to 48 years in prison, meaning she would be released when she was 68 (with a possible reduction to age 61). Judge Horne told her in a fatherly manner that she was responsible for her actions. In an AP article, Heather Greenfield wrote that Clara showed no emotion as she left the courtroom. She also did not look at any of her relatives, some of whom had testified against her.

Next up was Kyle Hulbert.

Hulbert's Decision

On December 20, Michael Paul Pfohl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, admitting that he had assisted two friends with the murder of Robert Schwartz a year earlier. He had agreed, he said, to drive Hulbert to the home where the murder took place, and he felt ashamed about his part in the crime. He faced a maximum of 21 years and four months in prison. In a written statement, Pfohl admitted that he and his girlfriend, Katherine Inglis, drove to the Springfield mall on the night of December 8. They met friends there, and Pfohl told someone that he was scared to take Hulbert where he wanted to go. He was aware that Hulbert was going to kill someone and he did not want to be an accessory to murder. Having called his involvement a "big oopsy" on the day he was arrested, he admitted that he vaguely realized what he was getting into. In a written apology, he asked Robert Schwartz to give him some "sign" that he was "well." He also excused Hulbert on the basis that Hulbert believed he was right to do what he did. Nevertheless, Pfohl seemed to think he had betrayed Hulbert, and seemed to be sorrier about that than about his role in the murder.

Hulbert had been charged with first-degree murder. People speculated that he would pursue an insanity defense, i.e., prove that he had a mental disorder that kept him from understanding that what he had done was wrong or had caused him to have an irresistible impulse to commit the crime. But on February 27, 2003, newspapers noted that he was not going to do that. His attorneys had a deadline to inform the court of their intent and did not do so. Because of the evidence of premeditation, as well as the admissions made afterward, an insanity defense would be difficult to pursue, despite Hulbert's clear history of mental instability. His trial was scheduled for March 17 in Loudoun County Circuit Court. In his defense, he stated, "I have always told Clara I would protect her. I could not kill him [Schwartz] without just cause. If I was not defending myself or someone I loved, I could not kill."

On March 10, 2003, at a 15-minute hearing a week before Hulbert's scheduled trial, he declared himself a murderer in court. He had decided that making a plea rather than going to trial was the right thing to do. Admitting regret for his actions and for ever having met Clara Schwartz, he said that she had manipulated him into doing what he had done. "I allowed myself to be poisoned," he was quoted as saying in the Washington Post, "Not a day goes by that I don't think about what I did."

Psychiatrist Howard Glick testified before sentencing that Hulbert had made up imaginary friends such as vampires and dragons to make him feel as if he had a sense of family. He had connected strongly with Clara, who also felt like an outsider and claimed that she'd been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and that had given him an even greater sense of family. She was now his sister, and he had to protect her. When she needed help, he got the chance to act on his fantasies of heroism and nobility. It was as simple as that, and as tragic.

Judge Horne acknowledged Hulbert's difficult life in and out of institutions and foster care, but said to him what he said to Clara: You are responsible for your actions. For the murder, Hulbert was sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole, and another 10 years was added concurrently for conspiracy charges.

Last to be sentenced was Katherine Inglis. Schwartz and Pfohl, on the advice of their attorneys, offered nothing to implicate her, so her case came to an end. There were no other leads to investigate to prove her part in the murder, aside from helping to cover it up. On November 14, 2003, she received a sentence of 12 months. At that time, the Washington Post noted, she had six more days to serve.
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Mass Shootings: After 19 In Five Years - No Answers

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mass Shootings: After 19 In Five Years - No Answers
On Friday, Dec. 14, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire on students and teachers, killing at least 26 and wounding others.

Though the victims were younger -- some of the 20 children killed on Friday were in kindergarten -- the massacre drew comparisons to the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead and 17 others wounded in the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. Hundreds more have died in shootings during the five years that have passed since that devastating marker.

There is no official definition of a "mass shooting," but FBI classifications describe the term as any incident in which a perpetrator kills four or more people, not including him or herself. Under that definition, 19 mass shootings have taken place since April 16, 2007, the date of the Virginia Tech massacre. That's a rate of more than one every four months -- only considering these most brutal examples. Other devastating shootings go largely unnoticed on the national stage.

When mass shootings prompt a presidential response -- and they often don't -- the White House tends to focus on investigating the shooter's motives and encouraging people to pray or mourn for the victims. The question of how easy it is for certain individuals to buy guns is often left off the table entirely.

The tendency to approach the issue with an abundance of caution was on display on Friday, when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave the administration's first official comments on the incident, saying that it wasn't the day to discuss gun control policy.

It would appear that it never is.

President Barack Obama unsurprisingly left politics and policy out of his brief address on the matter Friday. He did make a promising plea for "meaningful action." Time will tell whether he can -- or will even attempt to -- translate these words into specific policy change.

Five Years, 19 Mass Shootings, No Action

Below, a list of the 19 mass shootings over the past 5-plus years, alongside the political responses, if any, to the incidents:

  • December 14, 2012 - Newtown, Conn. - 27 dead (including gunman)
  • december 12, 2012 - Portland, Oregon - 2 dead (including gunman)
  • September 27, 2012 - Minneapolis, Minn. - 7 dead (including gunman), 2 injured
  • August 5, 2012 - Oak Creek, Wis. - 7 dead (including gunman), 4 injured
  • May 31, 2012 - Seattle, Wash. - 6 dead (including gunman)
  • July 20, 2012 - Aurora, Colo. - 12 dead, 59 injured
  • February 22, 2012 - Norcross, Ga. - 5 dead (including gunman)
  • October 12, 2011 - Seal Beach, Calif. - 8 dead, 1 injured
  • January 8, 2011 - Tucson, Ariz. - 6 dead, 14 injured
  • August 3, 2010 - Manchester, Conn. - 9 dead (including gunman), 2 injured
  • November 29, 2009 - Parkland, Wash. - 5 dead (including gunman)
  • November 5, 2009 - Fort Hood, Texas - 13 dead, 30 injured (including gunman)
  • April 3, 2009 - Binghamton, N.Y. - 14 dead (including gunman), 4 injured
  • March 10, 2009 - Geneva County, Ala. -- 11 dead (including gunman), 6 injured
  • March 29, 2009 -- Carthage, N.C. - 8 dead, 3 injured (including gunman)
  • June 25, 2008 - Henderson, Ky. - 6 dead (including gunman), 1 injured
  • April 16, 2007 - Virginia Tech campus, Blacksburg, Va. - 33 dead (including gunman), 23 injured
  • February 7, 2008 - Kirkwood, Mo. - 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured
  • December 5, 2007 - Omaha, Neb. - 9 dead (including gunman)
  • October 7, 2007 - Crandon, Wis. - 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured
  • February 14, 2008 - DeKalb, Ill. - 6 dead (including gunman, 21 injured)
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Mass Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School

Mass Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting: Newtown, Connecticut Administrators, Students Among Victims, Reports Say

There is something very wrong at the heart of the USA that these sorts of events happen frequently.

Authorities in Connecticut responded to a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday morning, the local NBC station reports.

Police reported 27 deaths, including 20 children, six adults and the shooter, according to the Associated Press.

Following hours of uncertainty during which many media outlets reported the shooter's identity as Ryan Lanza, an official identified the suspected gunman as Adam Lanza, Ryan's 20 year old brother, according to the Associated Press. Ryan Lanza, 24, is being questioned by police in New Jersey.

Reports say that the gunman carried four weapons, and wore black clothing as well as a bullet proof vest. He died on the scene.

Unconfirmed reports say that principal Dawn Hochsprung and a school psychologist were killed, according to a parent who claimed to witness part of the attack, CNN reported.

Danbury Hospital's emergency room staff has readied its wing for the arrival of an unknown number of victims, a spokeswoman for Western Connecticut Health Network told News Times.

Reports say that the alleged shooter appeared in the building's main office at about 9:40 a.m., approximately 30 minutes after the school day began.

The initial 911 call said that students were trapped in a classroom with the adult shooter who had two guns, according to WABC.

Students were led single file from the schoolhouse to a nearby fire station. Parents alerted to the catastrophe by text messages and emails sent by the school district arrived hoping to find their children safe.

There are approximately 626 students enrolled in kindergarten through 4th grade classes at Sandy Hook Elementary, with another 46 faculty members, Newtown Patch reported.

More from the Associated Press:

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, The Associated Press

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A man opened fire inside the Connecticut elementary school where his mother worked Friday, killing 26 people, including 18 children, and forcing students to cower in classrooms and then flee with the help of teachers and police.

The death toll – 26 victims plus the gunman – was given to The Associated Press by an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.

The shooting appeared to be the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, which left 32 people and the gunman dead.

Parents flooded to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children in the wake of the shooting. Students were told to close their eyes by police as they were led from the building.

A photo taken by The Newtown Bee newspaper showed a group of young students – some crying, others looking visibly frightened – being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other's shoulders.

Students and staff were among the victims, state police Lt. Paul Vance said a brief news conference. He also said the gunman was dead inside the school, but he refused to say how many people were killed.

A law enforcement official briefed on the shooting said the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that one of the victims was the man's mother, a teacher. The official wasn't authorized to speak about the investigation.

A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker was a 20-year-old man armed with a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that police were searching a location in New Jersey in connection with the shootings. That official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.

"That's when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door," he said. "He was very brave. He waited for his friends."

He said the shooter didn't say a word.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

"It's alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America," he said.

Danbury Hospital was the only hospital to take in victims from the shootings, admitting three patients. Doctors said at a news conference they cleared four trauma rooms to treat shooting victims.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

"Everyone was just traumatized," he said.

Richard Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, is in the second grade at the school. His son told him that he heard a noise that "sounded like what he described as cans falling."

The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived.

"There's no words," Wilford said. "It's sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him."

Melissa Makris, 43, said her 10-year-old son, Philip, was in the school gym.

"He said he heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming. Then the gym teachers immediately gathered the children in a corner and kept them safe in a corner," Makris said.

The fourth-grader told his mother that the students stayed huddled until police came in the gym. He also told her that he saw what looked like a body under a blanket as he fled the school.

"He said the policeman came in and helped them get out of the building and told them to run," Makris said. "And they ran to the firehouse."

The White House said Barack Obama was notified of the shooting and his spokesman Jay Carney said the president had "enormous sympathy for families that are affected."

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The Dennis Rader - BTK Serial killer Confessions

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Dennis Rader - BTK Serial killer Confessions

After pleading guilty to ten murders on June 27, 2005, Wichita serial killer Dennis Rader gave a chilling account of his murders in court. Appearing unmoved by the cruelty of the acts he was describing, Rader systematically described how he killed the entire Otero family and six women. He described how he followed his victims — he called them ‘projects’ — around town before finally going in for the kill. About the murder of Shirley Vian, Rader says, “I told Mrs. – Miss Vian that I had a problem with sexual fantasies, that I was going to tie her up, and that – and I might have to tie the kids up…I proceeded to tie the kids up, and they started crying and got real upset. So I said oh, this is not gonna work, so we moved ‘em to the bathroom. She helped me…then I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. Got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit, and then went ahead and tied her up and then put [a bag] over her head and strangled her.” Videos and a full transcript of the confession can be seen below.

BTK Confession, Part 1 - the Otero Family Murders

BTK Confession Part 2 - Kathryn Bright

BTK Confession Part 3 Shirley Vian

BTK Confession Part 4 - Nancy Fox

BTK Confession Part 5 - Marine Hedge, Vicki Wegerle

BTK Confession Part 6 - Dolores Davis

BTK Confessions

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Israel Keyes, Alaska Serial Killer, Researched Ted Bundy, Other Mass Murderers

Israel Keyes, Alaska Serial Killer, Researched Ted Bundy, Other Mass Murderers
An Alaska man who confessed to killing at least eight people across the country had researched Ted Bundy and other serial killers, saying he recognized himself in them, investigators said Monday.

But Israel Keyes told Anchorage authorities his ideas were his own. And most of all, he never called himself a serial killer, Anchorage homicide Detective Monique Doll said.

"In fact, that was one of those things that he wanted very much, as this investigation progressed, to keep from being identified as," she said.

Those details were among information Anchorage police and FBI investigators released about Keyes, who authorities said never showed any remorse, but spoke of getting a rush out of hunting for victims and killing them. He also tortured animals as a child, investigators said.

Keyes, 34, was found dead in his jail cell Dec. 2 after slitting a wrist and strangling himself with a rolled up bedsheet. Bloody, illegible notes found in his cell have been sent to the FBI lab at Quantico, Va.

Keyes was set for a March trial in the February slaying of Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig, who was abducted from the coffee stand where she worked. Investigators say the 18-year-old was raped and strangled, her body left in a shed outside Keyes' Anchorage home for two weeks while he went on a cruise.

Investigators said Monday that Keyes told them he was losing control and that his time between killings was getting shorter, which could explain why he broke his own rule of traveling long distances to find his targets.

"Israel Keyes didn't kidnap and kill people because he was crazy. He didn't kidnap and kill people because his deity told him to or because he had a bad childhood," Doll said. "Israel Keyes did this because he got an immense amount of enjoyment out of it, much like an addict gets an immense amount of enjoyment out of drugs. In a way, he was an addict, and he was addicted to the feeling that he got when he was doing this."

Before he killed Koenig, he had targeted others in Alaska. In a close call in April or May last year, he set his sights on two people at an Anchorage park to try out a silencer he had put on a rifle that would soon be put to use in Vermont. In the Anchorage case, a police officer arrived and told the intended targets the park was closed. Keyes told investigators in an audio recording released Monday that he almost pulled the trigger on all three, but another officer arrived.

"That could have got ugly," Keyes said matter of factly before chuckling. "Fortunately for the cop guy, his backup showed up."

After that, Keyes obtained a police scanner, which he used in the Koenig abduction.

Keyes was arrested in Lufkin, Texas, in March after he used Koenig's debit card. Using the debit card while eluding authorities was part of a fantasy Keyes long had, police said, and so was a $30,000 ransom note Keyes placed at an Anchorage dog park, texting directions to Koenig's boyfriend. Koenig's family could manage to pay only a fraction of that amount.

Three weeks after Keyes was arrested, Koenig's dismembered body was found in a frozen lake north of Anchorage. Keyes told authorities he had disposed of the remains there after cutting a hole in the ice with a chainsaw.

Keyes also confessed to two murders in Vermont, four in Washington state, and one on the East Coast with the body disposed of in New York in the past decade. Investigators said there also could be three other victims, for a total of 11 murders.

The only other known victims are Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vt. Their bodies have not been found since their disappearance in June 2011. Keyes told authorities he sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier and shot her husband at an abandoned home, which was demolished and taken to a landfill.

Asked if it's possible Keyes exaggerated the number of victims, investigators said they believed what he told them, and they never caught him in any lies.

Investigators said Keyes enjoyed the media attention his crimes received, tracking stories on the Curriers on his computer. But he quit speaking with investigators for two months between late July and September when he learned his name had been linked to the Curriers by unconfirmed news reports.

"He enjoyed seeing media coverage of his crimes as long as he wasn't connected to those crimes," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said. "He didn't want to see media coverage of himself."

Keyes told investigators the first violent crime he committed was a sexual assault in Oregon between 1996 and 1998 in which he let the victim go. The FBI is seeking more information on that crime.
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Serial killer in Anchorage case 'enjoyed telling us details'

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Serial killer in Anchorage case 'enjoyed telling us details'
A house in Constable, N.Y., searched by the FBI in October in conjunction with the Israel Keyes case. The cabin is on 10 heavily wooded acres that Keyes had owned since 1997. (For The Times, Chana O'Leary / December 7, 2012)

For months, authorities shared bagels and coffee with Israel Keyes, who promised to tell them everything about his crimes. 'It was chilling,' one officer says.

As they talked with him in a conference room at the federal courthouse in Anchorage, agents already were confident they had Samantha Koenig's abductor.

They had surveillance footage of Israel Keyes' truck parked outside of the lonely coffee stand where Koenig was working when she was kidnapped one frozen night in Anchorage. They had the ATM withdrawals the 34-year-old construction worker had made with her bank card. They had a ski mask found in the trunk of his vehicle. It wasn't long before he confessed.

It was the way Keyes confessed to the killing that day in March that turned the agents' confidence to alarm: The adrenaline was almost visible as he described how overwhelmingly powerful he felt as he pointed a gun at Koenig's ribs.

"His demeanor, the level of detail, the lack of remorse, the enjoyment he was getting out of telling certain details," recalled Kevin Feldis, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska.

Feldis felt a growing suspicion: "This was not the first time he killed somebody."

Over the last few months, Feldis and a team of detectives in Anchorage have been sharing jokes, bagels and coffee with the often-talkative but cagey suspect who had promised to tell them everything about his crimes.

By November, Keyes had admitted to eight slayings and hinted there were more, laying out a trail of killings, arson, robbery and sexual assault that spanned the width of the country. His death in a jailhouse suicide last week left law enforcement authorities scrambling to identify all eight victims and figure out how many others may have fallen prey to a man they now believe was a meticulous and prolific serial killer.

The FBI has banked Keyes' DNA and asked police and the public across the country to come forward with unsolved deaths, disappearances and possible sightings in an attempt to learn who his other victims may have been. A photo surfaced this week of someone who could have been Keyes robbing a bank in New York. Agents are pushing especially hard here in Washington state, where Keyes lived before moving to Alaska, and where, he told authorities, he had killed four people between 2001 and 2006.

"The investigators are going over everything. There might be more they can extract from what he already told them that they didn't think about before — maybe if they put it in a different context, it could provide something important," said Ayn Dietrich, FBI spokeswoman in Seattle.

Keyes appears to have spent many of his teenage years in the wooded hills of eastern Washington, north of Colville. He's the second-youngest of 10 siblings, many with Biblical names like Charity and Hosanna, who were instructed in homesteading skills such as carpentry and making goat milk soap. The family moved to the outskirts of an Amish community in Maine when Keyes' father grew concerned that their upbringing was not rigorous enough.

"Around the age of 11 and 12, my heart turned in rebellion toward my parents: My two older sisters and I were in a kind of revolt against them. We had friends they did not like, we secretly listened to music they forbade, and we got away with as much as we could," Keyes' sister, Autumnrose, wrote in a recent testimonial about her faith on her church's website. "I've thanked God many times for my earthly father, who was a strict man. When my sins came to light by God's mercy, he pulled me away from my circumstances and moved the family to an Amish community."

Keyes joined the Army in 1998 and was posted at the former Ft. Lewis base near Tacoma, Wash., at the time of his discharge in 2001. From there, he got a job doing maintenance and light construction in the remote Native American tribal community of Neah Bay, Wash. He had a daughter with a local woman and sought to win partial custody after they broke up.

"He seemed totally normal. He was quiet; he was more reserved, I guess, but you never would have picked him out for doing something like this.... In no sense of the word was he in any way weird," said David Kanters, who worked with one of Keyes' girlfriends.

"He would tell me about his days in the armed services and the parties they had. He would lovingly talk about his daughter, or tell me when he'd been up late because she was sick," said Jim Thompson, a volunteer who sometimes helped Keyes clean up community areas around Neah Bay.

About 2007, Keyes followed a girlfriend to Anchorage, where he started a construction company under his own name.

He was "reliable, unfailingly polite and responsive — you called, he called you back," said Paul Adelman, who had hired Keyes to do projects. "I completely trusted him with his work. If he gave me a bill, I always paid, no questions asked."

In March, shortly after he had killed Koenig, Keyes took his daughter to visit his mother and four sisters in Texas, where after Keyes' father died they had become members of the Church of Wells, which preaches strict spiritual separation from mainstream churches.

One of his sisters was marrying another member of the church. Pastor Jake Gardner later told a Texas television station that Keyes professed to be an atheist, and argued with church elders who tried to bring him into the faith.

"Even at the wedding the Lord pled with him and pled with him and in the midst of it all he wept and broke down weeping, bawling, even wailing, but he would not repent," Gardner said. "He said … to one of the pastors in the church, 'Not everybody has your morals,' with an undertone of hate and murder in his heart."

Keyes' frequent trips across the country were opportunities to stash weapons, ammunition and other material used in his fatal assaults, FBI agents said.

Keyes was perhaps 18 years old when he committed his first sexual crime, which he described as a violent assault on a teenage girl he encountered on the Deschutes River in Oregon. The attack was apparently never reported. "He intended to kill her, but decided to let her go," said Agent Jolene Goeden, who spent much of the summer debriefing Keyes whenever he was in the mood to talk.

Agents heard horrific details of Keyes' killing of Bill and Lorraine Currier in June 2011. Keyes cut the phone line to their house in Essex, Vt., broke in through the garage and tied them up in their bedroom. He took the couple to an old barn nearby, where he shot Bill Currier, then raped and strangled his wife.

"By all accounts they were friendly, peaceful, good people who encountered a force of pure evil acting at random," said Tristram Coffin, U.S. attorney for Vermont.

Keyes told detectives he would wander around isolated places like trail heads and boat docks, looking for victims.

"Back when I was smart, I would let them come to me … kind of go to a remote area that's not anywhere near where you live, but that other people go to as well," he said, in one of the interview snippets federal authorities have released. "Not as much to choose from, in a manner of speaking, but there's also no witness, really. There's no one else around."

He told the agents about robbing a bank in Tupper Lake, N.Y., in April 2009, and another one in Azle, Texas, in February. Only last week, they said, he provided a few details about two of the four killings he reported committing in Washington state.

"I think he was conflicted on telling us and not telling us. When he was telling us details, he enjoyed telling us details. It was chilling to listen to him, to watch him," said Anchorage Police Officer Jeff Bell, who worked with the FBI on the case.

Koenig was abducted at gunpoint Feb. 1 from the coffee stand where she worked, and was taken to a shed outside Keyes' home, where he raped and strangled her. Keyes took a photo of Koenig's body to make it appear she was still alive and sent it with a ransom demand. Her family raised the money through community donations, and police kept track as Keyes withdrew the cash at ATMs across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, where he was arrested March 13.

Keyes used Google Earth to show detectives where he'd deposited Koenig's body under the ice of a lake northwest of Anchorage, allowing them to find her. Parts of the gun used to kill the Curriers were recovered from a reservoir at Parishville, N.Y., and a cache containing a shovel and two large bottles of Drano was discovered north of Anchorage.

Keyes was keenly interested in how his crimes played out in public, searching the Web for stories about his Vermont victims before his arrest. Detectives played on that in an effort to keep him talking, giving him copies of articles about his case, and letting him know when a new development was imminent.

Feldis, of the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska, said it was clear that Keyes was motivated to talk not by any wish to help victims' families, but rather to control his own narrative. He told detectives they were wasting their time if they tried to pursue leads without his help.

"There is no one who knows me — or who has ever known me — who knows anything about me, really," Keyes told his questioners in one of the video excerpts released. "They're going to tell you something that does not line up with anything I tell you, because I'm two different people, basically. And the only person who knows about what I'm telling you — the kind of things I'm telling you — is me."
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Police videos show Chiefs' Jovan Belcher hours before his death

Police videos show Chiefs' Jovan Belcher hours before his death
Kansas City police released videos Friday evening documenting the final hours of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's life.

Footage taken from a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police cruiser shows three officers speaking with Belcher after they responded to a 911 call of a suspicious person sleeping in a black Bentley outside an apartment building on East Armour Boulevard at 3:05 a.m. CT on Dec. 1, less than five hours before he would fatally shoot his girlfriend and then himself.

Belcher cooperated with officers and told them he was heading inside to see a woman who lived in an apartment on the corner of East Armour and Holmes St. When officers determined Belcher would not be driving, he was allowed to go inside.

Belcher was not arrested nor cited, though a police spokesman told USA TODAY Sports earlier this week that officers determined Belcher had been drinking.

"You know you've got a lot riding on this," an officer told Belcher. "You know you've got a lot to lose."

Belcher thanked the officers and said, "I really appreciate it," before he went inside the building.

Police say Belcher killed his longtime girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, later that morning after an argument in their home, and then committed suicide in the parking lot of the Chiefs practice facility just after 8 a.m.

The dashboard video adds to the timeline of Belcher's final hours, in which he was out partying in the Power and Light District with a woman who was not Perkins.

Police did not name that woman, though the New York Post identified her as Brittni Glass. She is not visible on the video.

While approaching Belcher's car — the Bentley's taillights seem to be on in the video — officers first shined their flashlights inside the windows and eventually knocked on the driver's side window to awaken Belcher, whom police earlier this week said had been sleeping.

On the audio from the police cruiser, officers are heard asking Belcher where he was headed. Belcher's response is inaudible, but the officer confirmed with Belcher that he would not be driving.

"You just need to go upstairs, dude," one officer said. "We're trying to cut you a break here."

Belcher, wearing jeans, a gray shirt, a black jacket and white shoes, got out of the car and spoke to officers for several minutes. Several times he is heard mentioning that he was not driving his car when police found him.

Police also released the dashboard video and dispatch audio from officers responding to Arrowhead Stadium after receiving a call that a man was in the parking lot with a gun. Before officers even arrived, they had confirmation that the shooter at Crysler Avenue was Belcher.

"Who is Belcher? I don't know him. Is he white, black?" an officer is heard saying as a cruiser approached the stadium.

An officer sped through the parking lot around the stadium before stopping outside the Chiefs practice facility. After parking, the officer ordered other police vehicles to silence their sirens as the officer approached the parking lot on foot. The officer said he had a visual of Belcher and others who were negotiating with him outside of one of the building's entrances.

A dispatcher said Belcher was outside of the player's entrance.

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Israel Keyes, Admitted Alaska Serial Killer Found Dead, Linked To 7 Slayings

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Israel Keyes
This undated handout photo provided by the Anchorage
 Police Department shows Israel Keyes. Keyes, 
charged in the death of an Alaska barista, has 
killed himself, and authorities say he was linked to at
 least seven other possible slayings in three other states. 
Keyes was found dead in his Anchorage jail cell Sunday, 
Dec. 2, 2012. Officials say it was a suicide.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Israel Keyes, in jail for the killing of an Alaska barista, gradually began confessing to investigators that he had killed others: a couple in Vermont, four people in Washington state, someone in New York.

But he was slow to come forward with details, warning investigators he would stop talking if his name was released publicly.

"He was very, very, very sensitive to his reputation, as odd at that sounds," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said. "We had to keep things extra quiet in order to keep him talking with us."

Keyes committed suicide in an Alaska jailhouse Sunday, leaving behind an incomplete picture of a loner who traveled the country for more than a decade, picking victims at random and methodically killing them. Officials believe there are more victims in other states, but they may never know who they are.

Authorities wouldn't say how Keyes killed himself, only that he was alone in his cell. They also did not say whether he left a note.

"We're going to continue to run down leads and continue our efforts to identify his victims so we can bring some closure to the families," said Mary Rook, the FBI supervisor in Alaska.

While under arrest in connection with the disappearance of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, Keyes confessed to the deaths of Bill and Lorraine Currier, of Essex, Vt., who disappeared in June 2011, authorities said. Keyes confessed to other killings without identifying the victims or saying where their remains were located.

The FBI said Monday that Keyes is believed to have committed multiple kidnappings and murders across the country between 2001 and his arrest in March, often flying to an airport, then driving hundreds of miles before targeting victims.

In interviews with investigators, Keyes detailed extensive planning, including burying caches of weapons at various points across the United States. The FBI says it recovered weapons and items used to dispose of bodies from hiding places just north of Anchorage and Blakes Falls Reservoir in New York.

Keyes told investigators he scoped out potential victims at remote locations including campgrounds and cemeteries. He said few of his earlier cases received media attention until the Currier case, telling investigators that one victim had been found but incorrectly labeled as accidental. The FBI says it does not have a name or location in this case.

Keyes also told authorities he robbed several banks to pay for his travel, using money he made as a general contractor as well.

"There's no indication that he was lying," FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said, adding that Keyes' DNA has been put in an FBI database available for other law enforcement agencies to use in their own investigations.

Also on Monday, officials at a news conference in Vermont said Keyes described details of the Curriers killings that had not been released publicly.

Authorities said Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago, then drove to Vermont and picked the Curriers, a couple in their 50s.

He broke into their home and, in their bedroom, Keyes told police, he bound them with zip ties, forced them into their car and drove them to an abandoned house, where he shot Bill Currier with a gun he brought from Alaska, and then sexually assaulted and strangled Lorraine Currier.

Keyes told investigators he chose the Curriers' home because it had an attached garage, no evidence of children or a dog, and the style of the house clued him in to the probable location of the master bedroom.

Keyes previously lived in Washington state before moving to Alaska in 2007 to start a construction business. He also owned property in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.

Ayn Dietrich, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, said agents are reviewing unsolved murders across the state to determine whether Keyes might have been responsible.

The FBI has consulted with behavior specialists to develop insight into Keyes' personality.

Their analysis is incomplete, but they know he was a loner who didn't have a clear pattern in selecting victims, who varied in gender and age.

Keyes told investigators that he was "two different people."

"The only person who knows about what I'm telling you, the kind of things I'm telling you, is me," he said, according to a March 30 police recording released by the FBI Monday.

Authorities described Keyes as methodical, in the Currier case taking days to find the perfect victim. He was also thorough in disposing of victims' bodies. Only Koenig's body has been recovered.

The FBI contends Keyes killed Koenig less than a day after she was kidnapped. Her body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of Anchorage. Her disappearance gripped the city for weeks.

A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading her away from the coffee stand. Koenig's friends and relatives set up a reward fund and plastered the city with fliers.

Prosecutors said Keyes stole the debit card from a vehicle she shared that was parked near her home, obtained the personal identification number and scratched the number into the card.

After killing Koenig, Keyes used her phone to send text messages to conceal the abduction. He flew to Texas and returned Feb. 17 to Anchorage, where he sent another text message demanding ransom and directing it to the account connected to the stolen debit card, according to prosecutors.

Keyes made withdrawals from automated teller machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, according to prosecutors. He was charged with kidnapping resulting in Koenig's death. Keyes could have faced the death penalty in her case.

Koenig's family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teenager and Keyes. Reached by phone Sunday, Koenig's father, James Koenig, declined to comment on Keyes' death.

Marilyn Chates, Bill Currier's mother, said police contacted her some time ago to tell her about Keyes' confession and to tell her that they believed the couple's killing was random. Authorities called Chates on Sunday to tell her of Keyes' suicide.

"After some thinking, our family has been saved the long road ahead – trials, possible plea agreements and possible appeals – and perhaps this was the best thing that could have happened," she said.
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The Cathouse Murders

Saturday, November 24, 2012

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009, Oklahoma City's 911 emergency dispatch center received a call reporting a house fire on the 1500 block of Southwest 56th Street.
Firefighters on roof of burning house
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009, Oklahoma City's 911 emergency dispatch center received a call reporting a house fire on the 1500 block of Southwest 56th Street. The caller, a neighbor down the street from the blaze, was calm as she described the scene to the 911 operator from her home.

"It's a house on fire," she said. "It's coming out of the over the front porch and out the roof."

"Does anyone live there?" asked the operator.

"Uh, yeah, they do."

Within minutes, firefighters from the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) were on site attempting to extinguish the blaze that illuminated the early morning sky in that part of the city. Upon their arrival, firefighters made efforts to determine whether anyone was inside the burning single level brick house, and located one body which they managed to remove. Information about the fire was slow in coming at first, and was eventually coordinated through the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD).

After extinguishing the fire, which gutted much of the inside of the house as well as the roof, investigators located three additional bodies inside the residence. The bodies were taken to the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office where definitive autopsies were conducted on each. Local television reported the finding that three women and one man died in the fire. The fire remained under investigation for some time, but it was soon revealed that the fire had been deliberately set.

Although homicide investigators, including OCPD Detective Ryan Porter, were making every effort to maintain control of the case and were revealing details to media outlets in an orderly fashion to avoid compromising their case, it was clear from the outsetespecially with four people dead inside a house that had been deliberately set aflamethat some form of homicide was involved. Despite this obvious conclusion, police officials did not immediately confirm that they were working the case as a homicide investigation, stating instead that they wanted to wait and see the results of the autopsies. Although local reporters had stated that two of the four victims had been identified, the OCPD would not release any names until family members were first notifiedprotocol in such a case.
"We believe we know [the victims' identities], but we certainly want to make sure and err on the side of caution," OCPD Master Sergeant. Gary Knight said.

One of the victims, according to Sgt. Chris Miller, had apparent lacerations to her stomach, face and neck, while the other three victims were burned beyond recognition.

Police investigators also said that they had reason to believe that at least one other person had been inside the house but had left before firefighters arrived. Although they would not say how they had come to that belief, they did indicate that they wanted to speak with the person.

"[Investigators] have not spoken to this person, and obviously they want a chance to do that," said Sgt. Knight.

Police officials neither confirmed nor denied that the person was a suspect, but a television news station reported that the person of interest may have been the renter of the house.

Although police officials had not immediately released any of the victims' names, it was not long before someone placed a makeshift memorial, including a large teddy bear, on the front lawn of the burned-out home in honor of one Jennifer Ermey. The name led to a MySpace tribute page that included a message that stated: "Jennifer Ermey has gone onto heaven R.I.P. 11-09-09." The MySpace message appeared the same day as the fire.


Brooke Phillips - The Cathouse Murders
Brooke Phillips
The autopsies showed that all four victims had been shot and that the gunshots had resulted in their deaths. Two of the female victims had also been pregnantbringing the death toll to six.
"If a woman is pregnant and she is the victim of a homicide, typically that is counted as two homicides," Knight said.

Because the gunshots had been the cause of the victims' deaths, it now appeared that the fire had been set to conceal the crime of murder.

The victims were eventually identified as Brooke Phillips, 22; her unborn baby; Milagros Barrera, 22, also known as Millie; her unborn baby; Jennifer Ermey, 25; and Casey Barrientos, 32.

According to partial autopsy reports, Phillips' cause of death was determined to be a "perforating gunshot wound" to her head, specifically to the right temple. The autopsy report also showed that Phillips' throat had been slit, and she had been stabbed in her abdomen. She also had suffered gunshots to her left arm, left index finger, and right leg, and had cuts to her hands and a wrist. The presence of a petroleum odor was also noted. Barrera's cause of death was said to be "perforating gunshot wounds" to her back and head. Barrera had also been shot in the thigh.

According to charge documents filed in Oklahoma County District Court, all of the victims had sustained stabbing and gunshot wounds.

Although Phillips' body was burned nearly beyond recognition, the postmortem examination revealed a profane tattoo on the inside of her lower lip. Her relatives later told the police she would pull her lip down and expose the tattoo to those with whom she became upset.

According to a friend, Phillips had been shot six times. A relative, said the friend, identified Phillips' badly-burned corpse by the tattoos on her body.

As he continued working the case with his colleagues, Detective Porter indicated in an affidavit and application for an arrest warrant that he had been able to locate and interview an eyewitness who had been present inside the house when the shootings occurred. According to the witness, a person referred to as "Hooligan" had been arguing with one of the victims when the shooting began. Although "Hooligan" told the witness that his problem was not with the witness, the witness nonetheless ran from the house and escaped.

Porter and his colleagues also learned from a neighbor that a car had been heard leaving the house approximately 20 minutes before anyone noticed that the house was on fire.

A short time later, Porter identified "Hooligan" as David Allen Tyner, 28. His whereabouts were unknown.

Search warrant

Following the execution of a search warrant at the crime scene, investigators confiscated eight spent casings from two separate firearms, a folding knife, two box knives, a white Bic lighter, a digital scale, sandwich-sized Ziploc bags, and large garbage bags. They also seized plastic bags containing marijuana, varying in weight from .60 grams to 5.77 grams. It appeared to some investigators that the house may have been the site of a possible drug-dealing operation. Small amounts of currency were also found, along with debit cards belonging to Phillips and other identification, several cell phones, and a pill bottle containing antibiotics that had been prescribed to Phillips. There were also a number of live rounds of ammunition found inside a sock.

In the aftermath of the horrific crime, investigators set up a tip line, and placed a sign with the tip line telephone number outside the crime scene. They also devoted a room on the third floor of the OCPD headquarters building for investigators to examine evidence retrieved from the burnt-out house, utilizing computers and dry-erase boards to document and develop the case.

"There's a tremendous amount of evidence, a tremendous amount of information that they're processing," Sgt. Knight told reporters. "This is something we are taking very seriously, especially when we're talking about a homicide with six victims in one event."

The evening news three days later announced that Phillips had worked as a prostitute at the Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel in Mound House, Nev., not far from Carson City and Reno. The Moonlite BunnyRanch is a legal, licensed brothelprostitution is legal in much of Nevada, with the notable exception of Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.

Brooke Phillips

Brooke Phillips, while working as a prostitute in Nevada, had been featured on the HBO reality TV series, Cathouse.
As the additional information about the case surfaced, it was learned that Brooke Phillips, while working as a prostitute in Nevada, had been featured on the HBO reality TV series, Cathouse. The television program, a documentary of sorts, depicted the lives of those working at the brothel.

Phillips used the pseudonym Hayden Brooks. A native of Moore, Okla., part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, she had gained a certain amount of celebrity or notoriety, depending upon one's point of view, from her work on the show. Moonlite BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof, a frequent customer who had purchased the establishment in 1993 for $1 million, confirmed that Phillips had worked at his establishment for the past couple of years, and characterized her as a "good girl" who had recently returned to Oklahoma after becoming pregnant.

"Give us a little bit of closure and then go ahead and apprehend the criminal that killed this girl and the other people," Hof said shortly after learning of the crime.

According to Hof, Phillips contacted him about two years before her death expressing a desire to work at the Moonlite BunnyRanch. The month prior to her death, she had reportedly told Hof of her pregnancy, her desire to have the baby and her desire to return to work after having the child. Hof said that "the Bunnies were...planning to throw her a baby shower." He said that she had not known who the father was, and had not appeared to care. Three months pregnant at the time of her death, the baby had been due in late spring 2010.

Hof told that Phillips had been a pro when it came to stripper pole moves, which she had loved to use to accentuate her beautiful body. She had always been on the pole at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, Hof said, because "she loved it."

"We are replacing the pole...with a brand new one," Hof added. He said the new pole would be inscribed the "Hayden Brooks Memorial Pole." Hof said that they would also place a plaque on the ceiling with a photo of Phillips and the inscription "You'll always be on the pole." Hof described Phillips as having had a great personality, and said that she had been the Miss Congeniality of the brothel.

According to published reports, Phillips was the mother of a six-year-old daughter to whom she had given birth when she was 15. The child reportedly lived with a relative in Oklahoma. The girl's father, Phillips' ex-boyfriend, reportedly had been involved in a custody dispute with Phillips at the time of her death, and learned of Phillips' death through media reports.

The other victims

A possible motive for the multiple murders surfaced as police began to learn more about the other victims of the early morning carnage. Barrientos, the only male victim in the case, had apparently been in and out of prison for drug convictions beginning in 1997. He had also reportedly been involved in a drive-by shooting. Barrientos, who had been released from prison in July 2009, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, had devil's horns tattooed on his forehead and was fond of wearing jewelrylots of it. Theories that a possible drug-dealing dispute may have led to the murders began to emerge, but it remained to be seen whether the cops could build a case around that theory.

Victims from left to right: Jennifer Ermey, Milagros "Millie" Barrera and Casey Barrientos

Not much was known about Barrera. Born in Peru in 1987, she had graduated from Moore High School in 2007, and had worked in retail cellular telephone sales until her death. She was described by family and friends as a "beautiful, loving, and caring person" who had loved life and tried to enjoy it to the fullest.

"She was an amazing person," a friend said. "She was the happiest person."

Similarly, Jennifer Ermey was remembered as a beautiful woman, full of inspiration.

"She was an amazing, sweet person who will be greatly missed by all that knew her," a friend wrote on a MySpace page that had been set up as a memorial. "She had a smile that could light up a room. Her life was cut way too short, but she touched a lot of lives in her short time in this world."

Another friend, who had met Ermey in the eighth grade, characterized her as a good person.

"I don't know anyone who could have a problem with her," the friend said. "She was just an amazing person, a good spirit. I love her. I just feel maybe she was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Investigators noted that the last entry on Ermey's MySpace page read: "Throwing on my dress and going to pick up Millie."

It was also revealed that investigators had stepped up their efforts to find David Allen Tyner who, according to sources in the prosecutor's office, had closer ties to Barrientos than originally known. It appeared that Tyner, a veteran of the war in Iraq, had worked as a bodyguard for Barrientos. Tyner, a former marine, was also a cage fighter, participating in mixed martial arts full-contact bouts inside a cage.

David Allen Tyner

David Allen Tyner
David Allen Tyner
Aware that he was being hunted as a suspect for six murders, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, a week after the slayings, David Allen Tyner surrendered to authorities in Mayes County, northeast of Tulsa, near the Missouri and Arkansas borders. He was taken into custody without incident, and was brought back to the Oklahoma County Jail where he was held pending charges. Detectives indicated that they did not believe he had acted alone, and acknowledged that they had identified a second suspect but were not yet ready to release his name.

"We don't believe [Tyner] acted alone," Knight said. "We've identified the one suspect, but that doesn't yet tell us what his motive is for doing this....Often times these investigations are like a big puzzle to solve, and certainly that can present a challenge, but not a challenge that we can't overcome."

A major reason that detectives did not believe that Tyner had acted alone was the fact that bullet casings from two different guns had been found at the crime scene, typically indicating that at least two shooters had been involved.

There was also speculation that Tyner, for reasons not yet ascertained by police, may have been gunning for Barrientos and that the others had been taken out because they had been witnesses who could identify Tyner to the police if allowed to live.

Investigators learned that Tyner, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was a member of a gang known as the Indian Brotherhood. According to Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetzel, a number of altercations at three prisons between American Indian and Hispanic inmates had followed Tyner's arrest, and Whetzel and others in Oklahoma law enforcement believed these had been deliberately coordinated and were related somehow to Tyner and to Barrientos, who had been Hispanic. A number of inmates from the correctional facilities affected were hospitalized with stab wounds before corrections officials tightened security and stopped the violent outbursts. No reasons were given as to why authorities believed the violence had been deliberately coordinated.

Tyner had been an All-American wrestler in high school, and it was reported that he had wrestled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga prior to joining the Marines. He was characterized by his high school coach, Johnny Cook, as having been a "good kid" and that the charges against him did not fit his character.

"He obviously had a strong work ethic and a strong will to succeed, being a two-time All-American and a state runner-up," Cook said in an interview with the Cherokee Phoenix. "But he was very kind-hearted, too. If someone was being bullied or picked on in school, he would take up for that individual. That's the David I knew...he would give you the shirt off his back."

Tyner was subsequently charged with six counts of murder, but investigators still did not propose a definite motive for the killings, although they continued to theorize that the murders may have been motivated by a drug operation or drug deal gone bad. Tyner has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bolstering the potential drug operation theory, in addition to the drugs, paraphernalia, and money found inside the house after the fire had been extinguished, was the fact that Casey Barrientos had felt the need for a bodyguard. Barrientos had also been known to wear a great deal of jewelry, had been present at a location where it appeared that drug deals had been conducted, and an estimated $10,000 in jewelry that Barrientos was believed to have been wearing was mostly missing when his body was found. According to published reports, police believed the shooters had stolen the jewelry: a white gold cross necklace with diamonds, matching white gold and diamond earrings, and a white gold bracelet adorned with diamonds.

A friend of Brooke Phillips maintained that Brooke was not involved with drugs directly and that she had likely been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Brooke never used drugs," her friend said. "She barely even drank. But she did date a drug dealer on and off."

Denny Edward Phillips

Denny Edward Phillips
Denny Edward Phillips
On Monday, April 26, 2010, Denny Edward Phillips, 32, the previously unnamed person of interest in the case, was being sought for the burglary of a Tulsa police detective's home in which guns, a Tulsa police uniform, badges, and other items were stolen. When cornered by Tulsa police officers outside a motel, Phillips, reportedly no relation to Brooke Phillips, allegedly pointed a gun at them and was shot three times, once in the chest and twice in the abdomen. He was hospitalized in critical condition, but survived his injuries.

"He has a history of committing crimes, with a long criminal record behind him, and was a cage fighter like the other guy they already arrested," Gary Gardner, Barrera's stepfather, told "My daughter and her unborn baby, along with the other victims, deserve justice."

According to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Denny Phillips had been identified as a person of interest in the investigation into the six homicides of November 9, 2009, early in the case. Prater stated in an e-mail to his employees issued prior to the police shootout with Phillips that Phillips was "a very dangerous person who ordered the hits on six people in south Oklahoma City," and that Phillips had reason "to target some associates" in the Oklahoma City area. Prater said that he had issued the warning to his employees because of concerns that Phillips might use the stolen uniform and badges in order to pose as a Tulsa police officer, presumably because of the items stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home.

A subsequent search of the motel room where Phillips had been staying turned up two guns that had been reported stolen from the Tulsa police detective's home. Phillips was not initially charged in the burglary of the detective's home, but the investigation was continuing.

Phillips had spent much of his adult life incarceratedhe was 18 when he was first sent to prison. Phillips' criminal history included 1996 convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and other crimes, including a jail escape. In the assault conviction, he stabbed a male in the shoulder with a belt-buckle knife and pleaded guilty to the charge. He was released in May 2007 after spending nearly 11 years in prison.

Following his release from prison, Phillips took up cage fighting. In January 2010, he was arrested in Mayes County, Okla., during a traffic stop in which officers reportedly found a stolen .40-caliber handgun, along with ingredients that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine. After the traffic stop, an officer reported that Phillips had received text messages on his cell phone in which someone wrote, "need a half, will pay you Monday." Phillips admitted possessing a handgun at the time because, he claimed, he had been threatened by someone.

He was charged in January 2010 in Mayes County District Court as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of his parole. Related to the shootout with police in April, Phillips was charged on Thursday, May 20, 2010, with possession of a firearm and of feloniously pointing a firearm at police officer in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

Bound for trial

At a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, the state court count of possessing a firearm as a felon was dismissed at the request of prosecutors due to Phillips' recent indictment in U.S. District Court. A Tulsa County judge ordered him bound over for trial on a charge of feloniously pointing a firearm at the Tulsa police officers who had tracked him to the motel where the shootout occurred.

Prosecutors also alleged that Phillips was the leader of the Indian Brotherhood gang, of which Tyner was also reputedly a member, and contended that Phillips was a flight risk, filing a motion to raise his bail to $750,000 in the Tulsa case.

Phillips has not yet entered a plea to the charges that have so far been laid. Phillips also has not been charged with the Oklahoma City slayings, but police are continuing their investigation to determine what part, if any, he may have had in that case

As they had from the case's outset, OCPD detectives remained cautious and continued to hold their cards close to the chest, releasing very little information. As of July 2010, the motive for the killings on November 9, 2009, remained unclear, and Tyner had proclaimed his innocence to a relative as well as pleading not guilty in court. Tyner apparently had a number of people rooting for him, including a close friend who had stated that he believed Tyner may have suffered post traumatic stress syndrome following his tour of duty in Iraq. It has been reported that Tyner does not appear to have a prior criminal history, but, so far, Tyner was the only person who had been charged in the Oklahoma City slayings. Police investigation continues, but the events of that fatal night remain to be fully explained.

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