Monday, 26 December 2011

$150 million Predator Drone helps arrest $6,000 cow theives

When the Brossart family prepared for the Sheriff to storm their property, due to charges of refusing to return stray livestock, they scanned the surrounding trees and fields.

They should have been looking up.

As an armed standoff escalated, Sheriff Janke borrowed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator Drone for surveillance of the 3,000 acre property. The unarmed plane was used to track suspects and confirm they had laid down their arms before SWAT teams moved in to make the arrest. The incident, which occurred in the summer, was the first known case of a drone being used to assist in the arrest American citizens on American soil. However, the department has borrowed the Predator Drones several times since.

Congress approved the purchase of the Predators in 2005 for the Customs and Border Protection to look for smugglers and illegal immigrants. Although charges have been made that there has been no public debate and Congress has not approved the use of the drones for civilian police forces, officials in the Customs and Border Protection point to tacit approval given by Congress during budget requests. In those requests, "interior law enforcement support" was cited as part of their mission.

The Supreme Court has long ago given approval of aerial surveillance, stating that anything that could be viewed from the air was legal without a warrant. However, whether the lawmakers had in mind a silent plane that could stay in the air for 20 hours is a question being asked by many privacy advocates.

However, drones are becoming more popular with local law enforcement due to budgetary constraints. Although a Predator Drone can cost $150 million dollars, smaller cheaper aircraft can be had for as little as $5,000 to several hundred thousand. And with an hourly operating cost at $30 an hour, it certainly looks attractive compared to a helicopter’s $500 an hour operating cost.

Of course, with the lower price tags come less capabilities. These are not high tech stealth planes capable of sneaking up on someone. As a Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman said, the planes sound like flying lawn mowers.

Meanwhile, privacy advocates are not the only interested parties in this debate. Pilots are concerned as more drones fill the airspace with no clear regulations. Pilots and safety organizations want to see the drones fall under the same regulations as all other planes.

Regardless of the pending debates, the reality is that drones are here and their prices and capabilities mean they will continue to be used.

So next time you see that scene in the movie where the bad guy parts the curtain to check the parking lot for cops, maybe he should be looking up too.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Trivia

Continuing my departure from my usual topics of blood, gore, murder and mayhem, I offer some Christmas trivia. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with serial killers.

OK, well, maybe question 30 and the bonus question.

Good luck and I promise to be back with more kills, thrills and chills on Boxing Day.

 1) How many times does Santa check his list?

2) The Grinch is as cuddly as a ______?

3) It would of been a laugh to see Mommy doing what last night?

4) One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say what?

5) Good tidings to you, and all of your what?

6) Who was seated next to me a day or two ago in the song Jingle Bells?

7) Why do I want my two front teeth for Christmas?

8) What did Frosty The Snowman do when they placed the magic hat on his head?

9) What does Alvin want for Christmas in The Chipmunk Song?

10) On the eleventh day of Christmas, what did my true love send to me?

11) I'm dreaming of a White Christmas with what?

12) What do Janice and Jen want for Christmas in the song It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas?

13) In The Polar Express movie, what is "The First Gift of Christmas?"

14) In The Polar Express movie, what word does the conductor punch into the ticket of "the young man with all the questions"?

15) In The Polar Express movie, what sort of "liquid refreshment" is dispensed to the children during their trip?

16) What is the name of the rabbit in the magic hat in Frosty the Snowman?

17) What was the little girl in Frosty the Snowman's name?

18) In Frosty the Snowman, what was the name of the magician with the "Magic Hat"?

19) How much did Lucy charge for a psyciatric session in the classic Christmas TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas?

20) What was "the most likely" reason that The Grinch hated Christmas?

21) Who narrated the original 1966 TV show How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

22) What was Dr. Seuss' real name?

23) In the Christmas Classic, It's A Wonderful Life, what happened every time a bell rang?

24) The name of Scrooge's deceased business partner in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was?

25) What is the name of Tiny Tim's father in the story, "A Christmas Carol"?

26) What did Frosty The Snowman have for a nose?

27) How many gifts would you receive if you received all of the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas"?

28) In the song "Winter Wonderland", who do we pretend the snowman is?

29) "Miracle on 34th Street"-a man on trial claiming to be Santa Claus. What convinces the judge he is Santa Claus?

30) What early slasher film was John Carpenter's Halloween originally to be a sequel to, according to lore?

What Serial Killer was featured on a German Advent calendar for children?

Answers below:
answers coming....

answers coming....

answers coming....



1) Twice!
2) Cactus!
3)  Kissing Santa Claus!
Rudolf With Your Nose So Bright,
Won't You Guide My Sleigh Tonight?
5) Kin!
6) Miss Fanny Bright!
7) So I could wish you Merry Christmas!
8) He began to dance around!
9) A Hula Hoop!
10) Eleven Pipers Piping!
11) Every Christmas card I write!
12) Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk!
13) A bell from Santa's sleigh!
15) Hot Chocolate!
16) Hocus Pocus!
17) Karen!
18) Professor Hinkle!
19) Five cents please!
20) His heart was two sizes too small!
21) Boris Karloff!
22) Theodor Geisel!
23) An Angel Got His Wings!
24) Jacob Marley!
25) Bob Cratchit!
26) A button!
27) 364 presents!
28) Parson Brown!
29) The US Postal Service delivers mail to him.
30) The Canadian movie Black Christmas.
Bonus) Fritz Haarmann, who murdered 24 young men and boys in the 1920s.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


Given my usual topics, you likely think this is some short form for Rabidly Mad Killer.
OK, geez, maybe that would be a cool thing.

I can see it now, the killer signs all his letters in blood, frothing at the mouth….

But wait, it’s Yule today, a time of celebration in our household when the candle burns all night to mark the suns return toward the cold north. Happy Times. So, this time around, I’m going to talk about something uplifting.

Sorry, no murder and mayhem but that will be back next week.

Instead, let’s talk about giving back.

I was brought up to believe it is more important to give than to receive, That charity should be part of your life. To be thankful for what you have and to share that bounty with others less fortunate. This is something my wife and I have tried to instill in our children as well and I am proud to say we have succeeded in this generation of me first and you whenever.

In that spirit, I have celebrated this Yule by signing up with RABMAD, author R.S. Guthrie’s brainchild.

RABMAD stands for “Read A Book, Make A Difference”.

It is a group of excellent authors who want to give something back. Most of them are Indie authors such as myself who care about their world and want to donate a percentage of the proceeds from their books to worthy causes.

I chose the Terry Fox Run, an incredible charity that supports Cancer research in Canada. The Foundation is named after Terry Fox, a Canadian hero and amazing human being.

So please check out the authors in RABMAD. Not only will you read some incredible books, you have the pleasure knowing that you are giving something back just by reading their books.

I want to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season -- a safe and joyous time for all my readers.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Long Island Serial Killer - 10 victims, 1 Killer say police

As with many writers, I am often asked where I get my inspiration.

In the case of the two sequels I have planned for Two Graves, my inspiration came from the Long Island Serial Killer.

I was in New York, attending a writing conference, not long after they found the first bodies. Naturally, it was in all the news. The first bodies had been found while police searched for a missing woman, Shannan Gilbert, along Ocean Parkway in Long Island. She has still not been found. Instead, police have found 10 bodies – eight women, a young Asian male and a toddler.

Initially the Suffolk County Police department had considered the possibility that there was more than one killer. It was even speculation that one could be a former police officer. The consensus now seems to be a single killer and he has likely been killing for as long as 15 years. However, they do not suspect Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance is related to the Long Island Killer.
Police have only been able to identify five women: Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Amber Lynn Costello, 27, Megan Waterman, 22, Maureen Brainer-Barnes, 25 and Jessica Taylor, 20. All of these women worked as escorts, advertising on Craigslist.
Jessica’s head and forearm were found the Gilgo Beach area while her torso had previously been discovered in 2003, in Manorville, over 40 miles away. This seems to be a common MO with this killer, in order to hinder the identification of the victims, police suspect. The killer has even gone as far as surgically removing a tattoo of one victim.
The fact that he has dumped the remains around Long Island suggests he is familiar with the area. Not likely he would be driving around asking for directions with a torso in the trunk.

The addition of Asian male, who died five to ten years ago, is not totally inconsistent with the other victims. A man of small build, he was dressed in women’s clothing, suggesting he might have been involved in the sex trade.

Likewise, the toddler has been linked through DNA to one of the other victims although they were buried four miles apart.

So for a writer of deviant serial killers, what isn’t to be inspired by?

Will you recognize the Long Island Serial Killer when you read Too Many Graves? Not likely but you will know that he inspired me and set the gears in motion.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Population of Sacramento was Murdered Last Year!

The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) has released the 2011 Global Study on Homicide.

It is 127 pages long and full of frightening statistics.

Worldwide the UNODC estimates 468,000 homicides in 2010. Tough number to wrap your head around.

Think of it this way…

That is about the population of Sacramento, California – the entire population gone in one year.

That means, worldwide, the global average is 6.9 murders per 100,000 people.

And where are they occurring? Africa alone accounts for over one third (36%), the Americas another 31% and Asia grabs 27%. Europe only claims 5% and 1% in Oceania.

But one must adjust for population. Africa still tops out at 17 per 100,000 and the Americas 16 per 100,000. That is over double the world average. Asia, for their large 27% of the murders are actually below average at 3 murders per 100,000.

The good news…

The rates have actually declined in Asia, Europe and North America.

The bad news…

Rates are skyrocketing in other places like Central America and the Caribbean.

And the loser is…

Honduras currently holds the infamous distinction of being the most violent country in the world with 82.1 murders per 100,000. For our Asian, European and Oceania friends, that means a visit to Honduras would mean increasing the likelihood of being murdered by twenty-seven times.

I guess we won’t be seeing that on the tourism posters any time soon.

Stay tuned for more interesting facts about the state of crime in the world and your back yard.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Reality of CSI

The scene is too familiar.

The crime scene is fresh, blood still dripping from the victim. The hotel room is scoured by the CSI technicians while they continue their witty banter, looking incredibly sexy in their CSI t-shirts. Sunglasses come off at the precise moment. Little flashlights pick out the smallest piece of evidence.

There are always hair samples, skin samples, sweat, semen, saliva from cigarette butts and wine glasses.

The place is just lousy with DNA, fingerprints and fibers…but not many actual police detectives, just lab rats scurrying around the room.

And of course, every piece of evidence has been collected, catalogued, processed and compared to existing databases before the end of the second round of commercials by these superhuman (and did I mention sexy) denizens of the laboratory.

In two days, the killer is caught, confesses because of the overwhelming forensic evidence and before the credits roll, it’s orange jumpsuit, don’t drop the soap in the shower, meet your cell mate Billy Bob, time

Flash to real life and you are sitting in the jury box listening to the defense mention that there is no forensic evidence proving that his client was even at the murder scene.

Obviously innocent. I mean, there is ALWAYS forensic evidence at the scene, right?

Reality check.

Since the arrival of TV shows like CSI, police are often accused of not doing their job properly if they don’t come up with boxfuls of forensic evidence from crime scenes. However, the reality is that there is often very little forensic evidence. And since most victims know their killers (and often live with them), of course they find evidence of the suspected killer at the crime scene. However, it is rare they can say “when” the forensic sample was left. It is not often they find a particular dust on a strand of hair from a particular farm that the killer visited hours before the murder.

As for DNA, with backed up labs and the lengthy processing, the results usually take weeks or months, not hours.

Authors, screenwriters, etc. (I raise a guilty hand) have to keep the story moving and can’t let a little realty get in the way. But, if you find yourself on a jury or just discussing a prominent case in the news, remember that television (regardless the increase in “Reality” TV) is just entertainment.

More crimes are solved by the hard work, brain power and the dedication of the police than by the work done in the lab.

DNA might ensure a conviction but remember the police still need to sleuth out whose DNA needs to be tested.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Boys and Their Dolls

In the debate on whether boys should be allowed to play with dolls, I have to come out in the Against column when the boy is Anatoly Moskvin.

Last week, Russian police finally solved the "numerous blasphemous acts against the graves and the dead bodies" around Nizhny Novgorod, a large city about 250 miles east of Moscow. Graves had been dug up and bodies removed for the past two years.

When police searched the apartment of Anatoly Moskvin, they found the mummified corpses and skeletons of 29 women that Moskvin had dug up and transported home. The bodies of the women (all between 15 to 25 years old when they died) were dressed as dolls.

Police video of the apartment make it look like an episode of Hoarders with dolls, clothes, newspapers, and corpses all over the cramped apartment.

Moskvin, described by neighbors as a genius, speaks 13 languages, has published several academic books (including histories of cemeteries in Russia) and is a well-known historian specializing in Celtic studies. In newspaper articles promoting his books, Moskvin had stated that he has visited 752 cemeteries in Russia.

Some of the corpses had items put in the rib cage including one “doll” that would play a children’s song when you touched its stomach. Another was dressed up like a teddy bear.

Authorities now face the task of determining the identity of the corpses, not even knowing if each corpse is complete or if Moskvin mixed and matched parts.

Moskvin faces charges of desecrating dead bodies and their burial sites. He could face up to three months in jail or a year of correctional labor.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Serial Killer Hides Behind Pseudonym

The issues regarding convicted serial killer Charles Kembo continue to mount up.

Let’s start with some of the facts about Kembo, the serial killer.

A refugee from Malawi, Kembo lived in Richmond, British Columbia. Sorry to say, another Canadian serial killer. In this case, a killer for profit.

Kembo killed his wife, Margaret, in October 2002. At least, that is when she went missing. Her body was never found.

Then, after taking out an $800,000 insurance policy on his business partner, Arden Samuel, Kembo strangled him in November 2003. He also cut off his penis and stuffed it in his pocket, leaving racist notes to try and turn the investigation toward a racially motivated crime.

The body of Kembo’s former girlfriend, Siu Yin Ma, was discovered in November 2004, eight months before he murdered his 21-year-old stepdaughter, Rita Yeung, in July 2005.

The murders were part of an elaborate plan to steal identities and set up false bank accounts for fraudulent schemes. Kembo’s trial began in January of 2010 and he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail without parole in June 2010.

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story for this serial killer.

Now there is Kembo the author.

Kembo, who had various identities while not in jail, continues to hide behind at least one further identity…children’s author J. D. Bauer, according to The Province. Bauer’s book, about superhero kids who help save the planet’s water supply, is still available on Amazon. The book became available at the same time that Kembo began his murder trial.

There is also a Facebook page for SuperKidds that lists the author as a 41-year-old female who enjoys “spending time outside writing new chapters to my adventure series”. I guess the exercise yard qualifies as outdoors.

As someone who has considered using a pen name (until my ego wouldn’t let someone else get credit for my work), I can’t argue against using an alter ego for your writing.

Does he have the right to sell his book under a pseudonym?

Of course. Kembo is not profiting from his crimes, the book has nothing to do with his murders.

Do we have the right to be pissed off about it?

You bet.

And we can do the same thing that we do when we are upset about any other company. Boycott and get the word out through social media.

He only profits if anyone buys the book. Don't support him and make sure everyone else knows not to buy the book!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Suspected Gacy Victim Found Alive in Florida

While Sherry Marino awaits the exhumation of the body she was told was her son, a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, another suspected victim has been found alive in Florida.

Harold Wayne Lovell disappeared when he was 19. Looking for work in construction, the tall, skinny teen was exactly Gacy’s ‘type’. Young Harold did cross paths with the “Killer Clown” but he had never gone to his house. Instead, he went to South Florida, escaping a family where he “never felt wanted”.

His family, not knowing what happened, always suspected that Harold (who now goes by Wayne) was a victim of Gacy. With the recent exhumation of the eight unidentified victims, Lovell’s family assumed they would discover the worst and were prepared to submit for DNA testing.

Instead, a family member, Harry Hasselberg, did a search in and found a hit in 2006 for Harold Wayne Lovell for a marijuana charge. A little more sleuthing and a few phone calls and Lovell was on his way on a ten hour drive from Tampa to Alabama.

Suddenly, a family’s fear and uncertainty turned to joy. After three decades, Lovell was reunited with his siblings and is working hard on how this will change his life. Lovell is excited at being reunited with his family but says he needs some rest. Catching up on 33 years in two days can be tiring.

The result might not be as good for eight other families as Cook County Sheriff’s Office begins DNA testing on the unidentified victims recently exhumed.

However, Tim Lovell, who is thrilled to have his big brother back has advice for others searching for missing family members. “Don’t quit looking.”

Monday, 24 October 2011

Are You Sure You Didn't Leave Finterprints?

You didn’t plan to kill her but no denying that is her body on the floor. She just pissed you off, teasing you and then saying no. You grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back, her head hit the counter and end of story.

You back out the way you came, a rag in your hand to wipe down the place. You didn’t touch much so it is easy to erase your fingerprints. One last look and you leave, sure you didn’t leave any fingerprints.

Guess again.

Thanks to the work of forensic experts at the University of Abertay Dundee and the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), you might just have left enough evidence to put you behind bars.

The group is pioneering a new technic using vacuum metal deposition (VMD) that uses gold and zinc to recover the fingerprint marks left on fabric. The fabric is put in a vacuum chamber. Gold is heated to evaporate it and it spreads in a fine film over the material. They then heat zinc in a similar fashion but zinc only attaches to the gold wear there is no fingerprint.

The success is still spotty (no pun intended) but the process has other forensic uses than just identification. Finding a palm print on the back of a “suicide” victim might indicate they were pushed. And since DNA is deposited along with the fingerprints, it can give forensic specialists a better indication of where to collect DNA.

The experts are making it harder and harder for criminals…and writers who still need the perfect crime.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Think you got away with murder -- think again!

You know you did it – but nobody else does, right?

The perfect murder. It was years ago – 2003, 1978, maybe even as far back as 1969. But you’ve never had that knock on the door. Years ago you dealt with the fear and now you have all but forgotten it. You are relaxed and happy.

The perfect murder.

Or was it?

One person thought they had got away with murder on December 14, 1969 in Houston Texas. A single mother, Diane Jackson, was grabbed as she exited her car on her way to work. Her killer dragged her into a nearby shack where he raped, strangled and stabbed her to death. At the time, despite latent prints left on the car, the Houston PD identified no suspects.

But her perpetrator didn’t reckon on a brother’s determination.

David Maxwell, gave up his thoughts of a law degree and joined the Texas State Highway Patrol and then later the famed Texas Rangers. In 1989, David requested the cold case files and publicity renewed interest in the case. Houston PD began to compare the latent prints to their files and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (TDPS) Automated Fingerprint Identification System with no success.

In 2003, Jill Kinkade, a TDPS Latent Print Technician, entered the prints into the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). IAFIS is a national fingerprint system that also includes criminal histories of the suspects. The number one hit was James Ray Davis, a repeat offender who had just finished a prison term nine days before the murder.

Davis was quickly located and he received that knock on the door that he likely thought would never happen. Houston PD Sergeant James Ramsey confronted the suspect with the fingerprint evidence and photographs of the crime. Davis admitted to the crimes and on November 24, 2003, 34 years after the crime, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Both James Ramsey and Jill Kinkade were honored by the FBI with the 2011 “Latent Hit of the Year” Award.

So if you are relaxed, confident that your Perfect Murder will never be solved, maybe you should just start looking over your shoulder again and worrying about that next knock on the door.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Self-proclaimed "Beast of British Columbia" succumbs to Cancer

As a Canadian, in a land not as heavily touched by violent crime as our neighbors to the south, Clifford Olson has always been a particularly disgusting blight on our landscape. And for the record, our landscape is not always covered with snow. But some would feel that the country was covered with shame because of the handling of both the investigation of Olson and the aftermath of his arrest.

I can begin by saying that Olson, 71, has succumbed to cancer and died. Not normally a judgmental person, I will say that this is no loss to humanity.

For those who have not heard of Clifford Olson, the British Columbia resident was convicted of killing eight girls and three boys (aged 9 to 18) during a nine-month period in 1980-81. Supposedly, Olson committed five of those eleven murders while under surveillance by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s Federal law enforcement agency.

Allegations of a botched investigation would haunt the RCMP but Olson had more shame to heap upon the country. Olson, a habitual offender and frequent police informant had knowledge of police investigations as well as the multiple jurisdictions shared by municipal police and RCMP in British Columbia. By murdering his victims in various jurisdictions, Olson relied on the poor communications between police departments to help remain undetected. Likewise, his knowledge also helped him negotiate $100,000 in return for revealing the locations of the bodies. Though subject of a court battle by the families of the victims, the payment was allowed and it went to Olson’s wife and son.

Olson kept himself in the news by his repeated parole attempts, frivolous law suits and letters and phone calls to his victim’s families. He even gave himself the moniker of the "Beast of British Columbia".

Luckily, some good can come out of even so much evil.

Canada enacted several laws as a direct result of Olson’s crimes and his actions while in jail. After abolishing the death penalty, Canada put the “faint hope” clause into effect allowing murderers to apply for parole after 15 years served of the minimum 25-year sentence. Victim’s Rights groups are responsible for excluding serial killers from that right. In 2011, the faint hope clause was abolished completely. The government also disallowed federal prisoners from receiving old age security payments. At the time the law was enacted, Olson had been receiving payments for five years.

One can only hope that with Olson’s death, families of his victims can have some closure and peace.


For those that have read my blog on the Michael Marino exhumation case, Michael's mother has won the court case. The hope is the body will be exhumed within a month so DNA testing can be completed. Originally the suit requested that the county pay the $10,000 cost but that was later removed. Lawyers for Sherry Marino are confident that the cost can be raised from the public. The court order was signed almost 35 years to the day that Michael disappeared.

I will keep you informed as developments continue.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bodies in the Woods

The elderly man is stooped over, carefully examining the decomposing body on the ground in the middle of a wooded area near the University of Tennessee. When he stands, he can see another body, and another, and another.

Is this the dumping ground for a despotic, third-world leader or the world's most prolific serial killer?
 Neither. This is the Body Farm.

Technically, the proper name is the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility but it has been known as the Body Farm since Dr. William M. Bass created the facility in 1981. Consisting of two and a half acres of wooded terrain surrounded by razor wire, the Body Farm always has several bodies at various stages of decomposition. Although the facility began by using unclaimed bodies of homeless men, the Farm now gets over 100 bodies a year donated. The facility has been contacted by many people who want to put the donation of their body in their wills.

What possible reason would there be to have bodies subjected to the indignity of decomposing in the woods?

The answer lies in the very distinguished career of Dr. Bass. He began his career at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC identifying Native American skeletons. Identifying bones led to a cattle-rustling case where he was asked to estimate how long a cow had been dead just from its skeleton. With no frame of reference, Bass suggested they kill a cow and study the decomposition. Although nobody took him up on this, the thought of this research was always in the back of his mind.

According to the lore surrounding the Body Farm,  following his relocation to Tennessee, Bass was called in on a case of a body unearthed in 1971. He was asked to ascertain the age of skeletal remains. He estimated the skeleton had been in the ground for about a year. Dr. Bass was later horrified to discover that he was about 110 years off the mark. 

Now, the Body Farm helps answer one of the most important questions in any murder investigation -- when was this person killed and how long has the body been at this location? Sometimes, the research will recreate the exact conditions of a body's discovery to estimate a time of death. More often, the experiments simply gather data that is applied to existing and future cases.

Dr. Bass, now in his 80s and no longer is doing research at the Body Farm, is still active lecturing and consulting. Along with his friend and co-author, Jon Jefferson, Bass has written six novels under the pen name Jefferson Bass. Currently, there are an additional four facilities doing similar research. The largest one consists of seven acres of cadavers in Texas.

If you are interested in donating your body to this research, contact the University of Tennessee. Who knows, for those armchair detectives out there, you could finally help solve a real murder!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gacy back in the news as mother goes to court for answers about her son.

Seventeen years after his execution, serial killer John Wayne Gacy continues to be in the news as the mother of one of his victims hopes to put haunting questions about the fate of her son to rest.

For those unfamiliar with John Wayne Gacy, he was a serial killer who raped, tortured and killed 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. Dubbed the "Killer Clown" because he would entertain as "Pogo the Clown" at various charitable events and parades, Gacy would entice his victims to his home using various methods including offers of employment (he owned a construction firm), money and drugs. He then tortured, raped and killed his victims. When he was finally caught and arrested in 1978, investigators found 26 of his victims buried in a crawl space below his home and three more victims buried around his property. The later victims where disposed of in a river and only one of those was recovered. Gacy confessed to the crimes although he gave varying accounts of the deaths, claiming they deaths were accidental or that employees at his firm killed and buried the bodies under his home while he was traveling on business.

Michael Marino, a 14-year old boy, was identified as one of Gacy's victims. However, for more than 30 years, Michael's mother, Sherry Marino, has had doubts about the identification of her son. Despite having dental and medical records, it took investigators two years to identify the remains as Michael, the youngest of John Wayne Gacy's victims. Sherry is requesting to have the body, buried in the grave she visits regularly, exhumed and DNA tested to confirm once and for all that it is her son buried in that grave.

Sherry's doubts come from many of the facts surrounding her son's discovery and autopsy. The clothes he was wearing do not fit the recollection she has of what her son was wearing when he disappeared. More striking are inconsistencies in the autopsy and Michael's known medical history. The remains found showed a broken collar bone which had healed. Although the collar bone break could have occurred during Gacy's tortures, he never kept his victims alive long enough for a break to have healed. Michael had never broken his collar bone. Also, the remains had a molar that dental x-rays from two months before he went missing did not show.

Sherry Marino will be in court on October 6th to request the body be exhumed and tested. This will either put Sherry's mind to rest and she can continue to visit the graveside of her murdered son. Or, it may create an even more difficult question, what did happen to Michael Marino?


For those that have read my blog on the Michael Marino exhumation case, Michael's mother has won the court case. The hope is the body will be exhumed within a month so DNA testing can be completed. Originally the suit requested that the county pay the $10,000 cost but that was later removed. Lawyers for Sherry Marino are confident that the cost can be raised from the public. The court order was signed almost 35 years to the day that Michael disappeared.

I will keep you informed as developments continue.