Mon, 3 September 2018
In this episode of the podcast, we will be covering the mass killer, Texas native, and wannabe country star Paul Dennis Reid.
If you look up some famous serial killers from Tennessee, Paul Dennis Reid will 100% turn up on that list.
I used research from the book When Nashville Bled by author Judith A. Yates to bring you the first in a three-part true crime series about the Tennessee serial killer.
Paul Dennis Reid was convicted of the murders of seven fast food workers in the 1990s and is known infamously as the "Fast Food Killer."
He spent over a decade on Death Row in Tennessee before dying in 2013. This series of episodes attempts to focus on the crimes and the victims, rather than following the serial killer from start to finish.
As mentioned in the show, here are the links to join the newsletters for both my books and the podcast. I'm trying to make one of the best true crime podcasts of 2018, and I need your help. Be sure to rate and review on iTunes and join the Uncertain Nation:
If you would like to contact me or the podcast, feel free to at the following locations:
This episode will be the first in a series about a serial killer many in the community have overlooked. I'm looking forward to the discussions over it. Thanks for your support!
Wed, 25 July 2018
PUPodcast, Episode 262: Bradford Bishop
Mar. 2, 1976. 12:40 pm. About 5 mi. south of Columbia, NC, which lies in the far eastern stretches of the state, out near the coast. A NC forest ranger on Highway 94 named Wilma Swain observes smoke in the distance and calls in authorities to help locate and contain the fire. Thinking it to be no more than a disposal fire, Ranger Ron Brickhouse goes in search of it.
Initially, he finds a pile of dirt, a shovel, and a red gas can, as if someone had started a fire and just left it to burn. However, in the hole near the implements, Brickhouse finds an arm, a leg, and shoes visible amidst the flames.
It looks as though there is a human body in the fiery pit. As investigators extinguish the flames and begin to extract the body, they find another body underneath. And then another. And so on. They keep going until they reach the bottom, and by then, they have pulled five human beings from the fiery wreckage. The state medical examiner finds the cause of death for the family members to be “blunt trauma to the head.”
No one can immediately identify the victims, and without a driver’s license or some other form of ID, the authorities struggle, at first, to get the investigation going. Judging by the ladies’ hairstyles — which do not match the ‘dos of the rural population — the investigators (correctly) assume they are from a more urban area. The only item that have anything to go on is a shovel left at the scene. At the base of the shovel, down near the blade, is a sticker with partial name for a hardware store on it.
The only letters visible on the handle are OCH[space]HD, which meant it was a hardware store whose name ended in OCH. This partial name was the only actual clue they gather to identify either the killer or the victims, and so they begin there.
Off to a bad start. Unhelpfully, not a single hardware store in NC ended in OCH, so Agent Lewis Young and another agent, travel up the NC coast into Virginia, looking for hardware stores matching the name from the abandoned shovel.
Mar. 7, 1976. Agent Young approaches the Metro Police in Washington, DC., and they are able to identify a store in Potomac, Maryland named Poch [like 2Pac] Hardware. They post a flyer of four of the victims in the hardware store (one of the victims was too badly damaged) and then, having no sufficient leads, eventually return to NC.
March 8, 1976. Bethesda, Maryland. The Bishop family — a mild-mannered “DC” family consisting of William Bradford, who is a foreign service agent, his wife Annette, Bradford’s mother Lobelia, and three sons Brad, Brenton, and Geoffrey — hasn’t been seen in days, and neighbors become suspicious after the front lawn piles up with newspapers.
Montgomery County MD Mike McNally receives a call to basically do a welfare check for a family living on Lilly Stone Drive in Bethesda, Maryland. Officer McNally gets inside the residence and finds a scene nothing short of horrendous.
Not a single member of the extended family is present in the home, but the excessive amount of blood speaks to the obvious presence of foul play. There is blood on the front porch, blood inside the home, blood leading up the stairs to the second floor, and gouts of blood cover the walls in the kids’ bedrooms.
Meanwhile, dental records from the crime scene are used down in North Carolina confirm the identities of the bodies in the fire pit. The five victims are the members of the Bishop family, which brings up two important questions: where is the husband, William Bradford Bishop, and how did the bodies end up on the coast of North Carolina?
A little background on Bradford Bishop. Though on the surface his life appears to be perfect — a Yale graduate with multiple degrees, a prestigious job, and a beautiful and caring family — the cracks beneath the facade reveal a much different picture.
While it is true that Bishop was a foreign service agent, with multiple posts across the world, it seemed as though his light was dimming. He’d recently been brought home from his most recent post and was being reassigned to a desk job, ostensibly ending the glamorous, jet-setting career he had been fostering since the mid-1960s. Living abroad, the Bishops had been able to live for free on the government’s dime, with limos and chartered cars spiriting them to all their destinations. That all came to a crashing halt when the family returned to America. Bishop’s $26,000 salary — along with the fact that Annette, Bradford’s wife, was barred from working — was not enough to make ends meet. They even had to take some money from Lobelia, Bradford’s mother, in order to buy their home in Bethesda.
The relationship, too, seemed to be under enormous strain at the time of the murders. Bradford had engaged in two extramarital affairs, and the difficult personality he brought to his coworkers in the State Department rose into prominence at home, and he and Annette began to have extreme disagreements over their quickly separating lives. It was yet another piece to add to the puzzle of what would come on that horrific night in March of 1976.
Lastly, the final piece that seems to send Bishop into deadly action: On the day of the murders, Bishop finds out he is not to receive a much-envied promotion — one that would seemingly put him back in the game — and he ducks out of work early as a result. On the way out, he meets a colleague who commiserates with him about not receiving a promotion, and that man would later testified that Bishop appeared fraught and nervous about his current circumstances.
After leaving work on March 1, sulking from his lost promotion, Bradford Bishop withdraws $400 from the family’s checking account, effectively zeroing it out, and goes home. He takes the family’s station wagon to a nearby SEARS and purchases a short-handled sledgehammer and a two gallon red gas can. He drives the car to a Texaco station and fills both the car and the can up.
My research is a little unclear on this point, but I’m pretty sure he then travels to a spot called Poch’s Hardware and buys a pointed shovel and a pitchfork. He then returns home and arrives at around 9 pm. The family has already eaten dinner and begun the process of winding down for the night.
Bradford’s mother, Lobelia, puts a leash on the family dog, a retriever named Leo, and heads out for a late-evening walk. A neighbor sees her walking up Lilly Stone drive around 9:30 pm, so we can be assured the time frame of the attack occurs sometime in this window.
Back at the Bishop residence, Bradford begins a step-by-step bludgeoning of his family. He descends to the basement family room, where he strikes his wife repeatedly in the head with the mini-sledgehammer. She has been studying art for a class she’s been taking and is unaware of the attack until it’s actually happening.
As he reached the ground floor, his mother Lobelia returns with Leo the Retriever. She seems something — maybe the blood on her son or the hammer dangling from his grasp — but she sprints for the bathroom and locks herself inside. He manages to get the door open and kill his mother right there in the bathroom. Afterwards, he treks upstairs and visits the same indescribable violence upon his three children.
He goes first to his eldest son’s room — this is Brad III — and bashes in his head while he sleeps. Bradford Bishop then moves across the hall to the bunkbeds where his two youngest children — Brenton (10) and Geoffrey, just 5 years old — and kills them too. Here is a quote directly from the book A Killer in the Family:
In what must have been a blind rage, Brad so violently attacked Brent, 10, in the top bunk that the coroner not only noted “multiple fractures” of Brent’s skull but “pulpefication of brain.” The furious backswing left scrape marks in the ceiling just above Brent’s head.
Little Geoff, 5, lay below in the bottom bunk. Asleep in his football-player pajamas he cannot have known what hit him; the coroner said any single blow of the hammer could have been fatal. Geoff’s blood ran into a blue pillowcase with white stars on it.
With the worst of the deed done, Bradford Bishop disposes of his bloody clothes and likely takes a shower. He then carries each of the five bodies — on different floors of the multi-level home — out to his Chevy Malibu station wagon and loads them in there, covering them with blankets when he is done. It should also be noted that besides himself, the only other living creature in the car is Leo, the family dog. Inexplicably, he’s left the family pet alive after this macabre and violent act.
Then, in the middle of the night, Brad Bishop drives away, setting forth on a 300-plus mile journey that will take down a good stretch of the eastern seaboard, through DC and down I-95 down into North Carolina. He reaches the town of Columbia at around 9 the next morning and veers off the beaten path onto State Road 1103, where this grim and senseless crime will become very public very quickly.
He digs for nearly three hours, giving up around noon, after he’s created a hole just under three feet in depth. He decides this is good enough and begins the process of dragging the bodies to the pit, beginning first with the smallest child, Geoff, and working his way up through the children, his wife, and then finally his mother, Lobelia, whom he places on the top of the pile. He pours nearly a gallon of gas on the bodies and throws a match on top.
It’s unclear how long Bradford Bishop stands there, watching his family burn, but by the time the forest rangers respond to the call, he is long gone.
He stops at a shop called Outdoor Sports in Jacksonville, North Carolina, just outside Camp Lejeune and buys a pair of Converse sneakers. What’s weird about this financial transaction is that the owner, John Wheatley, also reports having seen a woman with Bishop, whom he later describes as “about five-six, medium heavy-set” and “Caribbean.”
After that, he goes off the grid until March 18, 17 days after the murders.
On the 18th, Bishop’s Malibu is discovered at a campsite on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, just outside Gatlinburg. According to locals, the car had been there for nearly two weeks. In the car, they find some dog biscuits -- presumably for Leo -- maps of the US, including brochures advertising hikes, and lots and lots of blood. The trunk area had been soaked through in the stuff.
Three Credible Sightings
Here is a quote from A Killer in the Family:
Did Brad want the bodies to be found? Did he want the world to know that he had killed them? A tree falling in the woods is an unknown event. “He could have covered them up, thrown some branches on them, and it would have been years before they were discovered,” said Montgomery Co. Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Sean Songco. “He wanted them found.”
A Michigan forensic psychologist, Richard Walter, agrees. “It doesn’t count unless somebody sees them,” he told the CNN television show The Hunt with John Walsh.
Podcast Twitter: @pupodcast
Direct download: Ep_262_Brad_Bishop.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:29pm CDT
Tue, 17 July 2018
I'm back! The hiatus for the Principled Uncertainty Podcast is OVER! Time to get back to work. There will be an episode in the coming days, so get ready for some true crime!
Sun, 9 July 2017
Hey, folks! I talked at length about the 'Boogie House' giveaway going on on my site right now, and I promised I would provide the link to it so you can get in on all the free giveaway action! The giveaway ends July 30, so enter today for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of the first Rolson McKane Book.
Now, on to the episode.
From 2012-2014, Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III texted each other thousands of times. They met, as it were, through absolute happenstance. In 2012, both families were vacationing in Florida, when Carter and Roy met. Turns out, they lived less than an hour away in their hometowns in Massachusetts.
Still, being high school students, they rarely saw each other, and instead fell into an intense online relationship, trading FaceBook and text messages.
Roy’s parents separated and then divorced. Roy fell into a deep despair and then tried to commit suicide. It was Carter who helped him through these difficult times.
Carter encouraged Roy to receive treatment for his depression. His past battles resulted in four failed suicide attempts. Carter herself struggled with emotional issues. She fought depression, too, as well as eating disorders and extreme insecurities. She often cut herself when she was overly distraught. She craved the attention of more popular girls in school and became despondent over their lack of personal attention.
Then, after a time of being Roy’s sort of personal sounding board, in which she kept him from veering to the dark side of his mentality, she then took up the cause of convincing him to kill himself.
Why, exactly, she shifted is up for speculation. However, the evidence points to a perceived complex on Carter’s part regarding her insecurities of being unpopular. This is where the story gets a little bizarre, so bear with me while we delve into it.
Of all the thousands and thousands of messages passed along between Carter and Roy, several happen to relate very closely to the TV show Glee, which ran from 2009-2015 and followed the exploits of high school students with a propensity for leaping into song.
Okay, a little backstory: So, one of the show’s stars, Cory Monteith, died of a drug overdose in 2013. He was dating co-star Lea Michele at the time. The show, to give Monteith a proper memorial, filmed an episode devoted to the young star. The episode, entitled “The Quarterback,” aired on October 10, 2013.
In the wake of Roy’s death, Carter communicated with several friends, and a few of the text messages have an eerie closeness to the script from “The Quarterback” episode of Glee.
Here’s one example. It’s a text message to friend Samantha Boardman six days after the death of Roy.
I had it all planned out. He was gonna graduate Fitchburg and then when I graduated the college I'm going to, we would live happily ever after on the ocean somewhere, with our son Conrad the 4th. He knew too I didn't have to tell him. Now it's gonna be something different, maybe something better, but I just don't think that that's possible. He was my person.
And another text the next day, this time to a different friend, but the wording and message is ostensibly the same.
I just had it all planned out with Conrad. Now I have to do something different, maybe something better, I just don't think that that's possible. He was my person you know?
Now, here’s the script from Glee.
Rachel: I had it all planned out. I was gonna make it big on Broadway and maybe make a Woody Allen movie. And then when we were ready, I would just come back and he'd be teaching here and I'd walk through those doors and I would just say "I'm home" and then we would live happily ever after.
Will: That's a good plan. Did you tell him?
Rachel: I didn't have to. He knew.
Will: And now what?
Rachel: I don't know, something different.
Will: Maybe something better.
Rachel: I just — I don't think that's possible. He was my person.
Play the video:
Here’s another one. In a text to Boardman mere days after Roy’s death, Carter said:
He was the greatest man I ever knew and I literally lived every day feeling like the luckiest girl in the world when I had him.
In a December 2013 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Michele had this to say about Monteith:
I was so happy. He’s such a private person, and I literally lived every day of my life feeling like the luckiest girl in the whole world. I just thought he was the greatest man.
A final example. In the same conversation with Boardman, Carter writes:
One of the hardest parts is feeling like I'm gonna forget everything. And I don't want to. I can still hear his voice so clearly.
And the corresponding lines in Glee. Rachel says to Will:
I can still see his face and I can hear his voice so clearly. Do you think that I'll ever forget it? Because I'm afraid that one day I will.
Though a few others deal tangentially with Glee, the vast majority of text messages, especially the ones on the days of July 13 and 14, are harrowing for completely different reasons.
July 12, 2014
He parked his truck in a KMart parking lot.
Conrad Roy III got out of the truck, trying to back out of the suicide attempt, when Michelle Carter -- an hour away at the time -- told him to get back in and finish the job. This moment, the judge concluded, is what made Michelle Carter’s actions a crime.
The trial took a week. Carter waived the right to a jury trial.
The defense argued that Carter’s reaction to antidepressants had affected her to a dangerous extent. Dr. Peter Breggin, who testified for the defense, “said Ms. Carter was ‘intoxicated’ by antidepressants, which she first started taking at 14, causing her to become unhinged at times and to show intense anxiety, irritability and psychoses.”
Carter, 20, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and will be sentenced August 3. She faces up to 20 years in prison. The defense team is suspected to appeal the decision to a higher court.
The ACLU argues that words alone cannot be responsible for someone else’s actions.
Wed, 14 June 2017
The Manson Family had one last horrific day in the spotlight in September 1975, with the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, CA.
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme walked up to President Ford at an event where he was scheduled to give a speech and pointed a Colt .45 at him. I won't reveal the ending of that story, but you probably can guess, since Ford died in 2006. (Spoiler!)
Charles Manson spent most of his adult life preaching about a revolution, though his was mostly about racial hatred and professional jealousy -- Manson wanted to be a rock star -- and yet this random event would be the closest he or any of his members would get to creating a watershed in American politics.
Squeaky Fromme was one of the earliest and most ardent supporters of Charles Manson and the Manson Family. During the trial over the Tate-Labianca murders, Fromme set up media appearances and interviews for the Manson Family and its members. She and other Family members camped outside the trial, where Charles Manson and the other girls made a complete mockery of the justice system.
Squeaky Fromme would later go on to write a 600-page unpublished manuscript about her time with the Manson Family. She was paroled in 2009 for her attempt at President Gerald Ford's life, the first in two assassination attempts that September in 1975.
This episode corresponds with the shooting today in Washington, DC that injured Rep. Steve Scalise and three others, as members of Congress practicing for an annual baseball game. A lone gunman upset about the election of Donald Trump opened fire on the senators and congresspeople with what appears to be an assault weapon.
The gunman was shot and killed, and the four victims shot by the assailant are, at present moment, alive and doing well. I hope this event does not become typical, and I also hope it does not prevent our elected representatives from doing their jobs.
Plug! My third novel, Dirt Merchant, on sale now!
Sun, 4 June 2017
A grand majority of this true crime podcast episode comes from the Michael Capuzzo book, Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916. It is a wonderful resource about not just these specific shark attacks but the overall history of shark attacks in American and elsewhere, as well. The more you read, the more you will realize that the events in New Jersey act as a precursor and an inspiration for Peter Benchleys novel, Jaws, and the subsequent Steven Spielberg movie by the same name.
I'm providing, rather than a comprehensive list of sources for this episode, the notes I took in preparation for the recording. Feel free to read below about the stories of the various victims and near-victims of the New Jersey shark attacks: Charles Vansant, whose parents watched in horror as he was dragged under water; long-distance swimmers Robert Dowling and Leonard Hill, who barely escaped with their lives; Charles Bruder, a Swiss captain whose hubris ended up getting him killed; and Lester Stillwell and the other Matawan Creek victims.
There is so much to uncover here, I feel like I could have done a whole series on the different locations, people, and misconceptions which allow these events to occur. Feel free to check out Capuzzo's book. It's a masterful bit of reporting, and I couldn't recommend it more vigorously.
This story begins off the southern coast of New Jersey, just beyond the front door of the majestic Engleside Hotel. It was 1916, and the U.S. hadn’t quite stepped into WWI. In fact, Woodrow Wilson was running for re-election based on his promise to keep America out of the Great War.
The Engleside was well north of the more famous Asbury Park, but it was also no slouch, either. Americans had begun to discover the idea of leisure. The Victorian era was over, and people sought to be in the sunshine for more than mere backbreaking work. People in the upper middle and middle classes “vacationed” in the summer, and the Engleside was a nice place to do so. The 1915 summer season led the owners of the hotel to believe 1916 would be record-breaking.
Off the shore, a horror was brewing. A female great white shark had been knocked off its course and ended up near the shores of New Jersey. And even with the fervor of Victorian scientists like Charles Darwin, little was known about carcharodon carcharias. Sharks, in general, were not considered the man-eaters of today.
On July 1, a 25-year-old man named Charles Vansant was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, alongside his dog. His parents -- his father a doctor -- watched from the shore. Onlookers were horrified to see a giant beat leap into the air and drag the younger Vansant under the water.
**Not knowing what to do with shark attacks back then
**Died on the operating table -- literally a door
**Beaches stayed open. People weren’t overly alarmed.
**Ex-Pres. William Howard Taft
Hated giving speeches as much as being president
Gave a speech at the Essex and Sussex
Not too long later, there was a commotion down by the ocean about potential sharks
**Locals tried to dispel the idea that a shark had even killed Vansant. There were lots of rumors going around, and some even believed he had drowned, or that the newspapers had grossly overestimated his death. In other words, no one was aware of the dangers of sharks.
**Robert Dowling and Leonard Hill
Two long-distance swimmers
Leonard Hill was a druggist on vacation with his family
Robert Dowling, the real estate scion, was a long-distance swimmer
He was the first man to swim around Manhattan Island
They came within dozens of feet from the shark.
They swam through the feeding zone of the shark.
No one quite knows why the shark ignored them, but it did
Both vowed to never step foot in that ocean again
“Never again,” Dowling said. “At least not here.”
**45 mi. North. Charles Bruder. Spring Lake, NJ. Swiss Bell Captain.
He was eager to reclaim his reputation after the unexpected exploits of Downing and Hill
He did not fear sharks. Did not think they were dangerous.
Bit him in the stomach / legs. Severed them.
He was pulled into a boat. Bled to death.
**Boston Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, SF Chronicle
All put the second shark attack on the front headline
**Sunbathing decreased by 75%, and cancellations caused $250,000 in lost revenue at resorts
American Museum of Natural History: Press Conf. feat. scientists Frederic Augustus Lucas, John Treadwell Nichols, Robert Cushman Murphy
Stressed a third shark attack was unlikely
Nichols, an ichthyologist, warned bathers to stay close to the shore
**The US House of Reps. appropriates $5K to stop the shark problem
**Pres. Woodrow Wilson meets with his cabinet over the attacks
The basic point is, the shark attacks are national news, at this point
**July 12 Attacks
**Matawan Creek (30 mi. N. of Spring Lake)
**Thomas Cottrell, local sea captain, spotted the shark in the creek
People dismissed him
**Lester Stilwell and other boys were playing
Before he could get out, Stilwell was pulled under
**The kids ran to town. Watson Stanley Fisher, local businessman, also bitten.
They were afraid to touch the wounds, because they thought that shark bites were poisonous, at that time.
Fisher claimed to have wrestled Stilwell’s corpse from the fish’s mouth.
He died while on the operating table from massive blood loss.
**30 mins later. Joseph Dunn. Bitten. Survived. Rel. Sept. 1916.
**John Nichols became involved.
He drove down to the coast and looked for the shark.
Though he had been initially skeptical that sharks were man-eaters, the new attacks all but confirmed it.
He expected a Killer Whale.
The creek was too small for a KW.
Witnesses contradicted him.
**A group of shotgun-wielding locals load up on dynamite in order to kill the shark. They run a cage across the river and overreact to sightings of any fish.
They foolishly think they can blast the shark and cause it to float.
Little do they know, a shark doesn’t work that way.
This is highly reminiscent of the scene from Jaws.
A storm broke out, and men kept throwing dynamite into the water.
Nichols tried to convince them that bullets would not affect the shark.
About the time that they decided to give up, the body of Lester Stilwell floated ashore.
He was barely noticeable. One ankle had been chewed off. His stomach ripped open, his right side chewed away.
**James Fairman Fielder was besieged by requests to have the shark killed.
He requested every major town to construct shark nets.
**Woodrow Wilson even had a meeting about the shark attacks at this point.
Treasury Secretary William Gibbs McAdoo, in a press conference
Declared war on sharks
Said the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries
July 14. Barnum & Bailey Lion Tamer and one of the foremost taxidermists in the nation, Michael Schleisser and his friend, were attacked by the shark. The shark leaped onto the back of the boat, Jaws-style, and attempted to rip the boat to shreds to attack them. They managed to beat the shark to death with an oar.
Tue, 9 May 2017
This week's episode features a massacre, though not necessarily the kind you would expect from this particular show. It relates indirectly to the presidency of one Donald Trump, but that's about as political as I would like for it to be.
President Richard Nixon managed to avoid impeachment by resigning just before the articles of impeachment made their way through the House of Representatives into the U.S. Senate.
The basic story is this: President Nixon wanted to prevent some damning audio tapes from being introduced into the investigation into the Watergate break-in and cover-up, so he tried to coerce his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
The resulting scandal is known as the Saturday Night Massacre. A lot of people are making connections between Nixon firing Archibald Cox and President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey, so I thought I would give a primer on the case.
Here's a brief re-telling of that situation: Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox asked for several of Richard Nixon's dictabelt recordings in lieu of the investigation.
Nixon turned down Cox's request for tapes featuring John W. Dean, citing "executive privilege" because he didn't think it was anybody's damn business.
Richard Nixon, at first, tried to get AG Richardson to get Archibald Cox under control. Alexander Haig, Chief of Staff, met with AG Richardson to try to influence him to calm down Archibald Cox.
At the same time, there was an investigation into VP Agnew regarding taking cash payouts. After a meeting on the subject, Nixon basically said to Elliot Richardson, "Now we have to get rid of Archibald Cox."
Judge Sirica ordered for all of the subpoenaed tapes to be turned over. Nixon really wanted to get rid of Cox after that. He had his lawyer, Fred Buzhardt, to meet with AG Richardson and present a two-pronged plan:
1. Nixon would listen to the tapes and oversee transcripts being turned over.
2. Cox would have to be fired.
Attorney General Richardson said he would rather resign than fire Archibald Cox. The compromise failed, and yet President Nixon attempted to persuade Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson ended up resigning and so did the acting Attorney General, William Ruckleshaus. The third-in-command, Robert Bork, ended up doing the dirty deed.
The result ended up being called the Saturday Night Massacre. The Saturday Night Massacre was notable in and of itself, but it also signaled just how corrupted President Richard Nixon would be.
If you're interested in checking out my books, please do. You can pick up a signed copy of my third novel, Dirt Merchant, at my personal Selz page or the local bookstore that's treated me SO well, Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN.
Fri, 28 April 2017
The curious, lurid, shocking case of billionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein is not the normal brand of true crime normally covered in the Principled Uncertainty Podcast, but it is both true and full of crime.
Jeffrey Epstein's net worth allowed him the kind of life one could only hope and dream for. He owned his own private island and private jet. He rubbed elbows with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, and Prince Andrew.
It also afforded him the ability to prey on dozens (or maybe hundreds) of underage girls under the auspices of hiring them for "massages." It worked like this: he'd hire a teenager to come to his palatial estate on Brillo Way in Palm Beach, Florida. Then, once Epstein had scandalized that one young woman, he'd offer a "finder's fee" to that girl to recruit other girls so that he could receive a "massage."
Jeffrey Epstein 's troubles began when a few of his former victims became police informants after minor run-ins with the law. The West Palm Beach police force secretly began building an airtight case against the billionaire financier as Epstein continued his manifold exploits in Florida.
He was convicted of soliciting sex from a minor in 2008 and served a paltry eighteen-month sentence, after which he continued his hobnobbing, despite having to register as sex offender. The fact that he was a serial molester / sexual predator had nothing to do with the fact that he had lots of money. Lots and lots of money. It allowed him the kind of defense team that only billionaires could get away with, and as a result, he received the equivalent of a slap on the wrists.
This episode of the Principled Uncertainty Podcast is a little different from most, in that it deals with crime but not murder. Still, it's a fascinating tale of deception and horror, even if no one was killed. And to think: Jeffrey Epstein is still walking the streets after only serving thirteen months in jail.
Mon, 17 April 2017
Few guitarists can hold a joint to Dimebag Darrell, Pantera's insanely talented axe man from Pantego, Texas. He was a singularly talented human being, and if you've heard of Pantera, you've no doubt considered giving up a normal life's pursuits in order to be more like one Darrell Abbott.
I spent my teenage years emulating Dimebag Darrell, but I never got beyond chugging along to the riffs from 'Far Beyond Driven.' I was a bit of a metal-head, and along with Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Dimebag was my hero. If you're not astounded by this dude's guitar playing, you and I can never be blood brothers.
When Dimebag Darrell was murdered on December 8, 2004, I literally punched a tree down in my backyard. It was inconceivable that someone so full of life and joy be struck down at such a young age. (He was 38.) Despite the band's dark themes and messages, Pantera was a band that focused on joy. Pure, raucous, hellacious joy. Dimebag Darrell represented youthful love of metal, and his death was an augur of a different age for me.
It's one of the strangest and most bizarre true crime scenarios to play out in a public setting, especially where a heavy metal band is concernded.
A crazed fan named Nathan Gale ended Dimebag Darrell's life at a Damageplan show in Columbus, Ohio in 2004. He was angry over the band breaking up and possibly by Pantera lead singer Philip Anselmo's fiery words in an interview mere weeks before. Due to that and some degeneration in his mental capacity, he jumped the fence at the Alrosa Villa Club and rushed the stage, pulling a 9mm Beretta in the process.
He shot Dimebag Darrell in the head at point-blank range. He fired into the crowd and tried desperately to find Dimebag's brother, Vinnie Paul, in order to end his life as well. It was a local cop who ended the horror by shooting Nathan Gale with a police-issue shotgun.
Despite the horrific circumstances of his death, 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott's legacy lives on in the wonderful music he created with his friends Rex Brown and Phillip Anselmo, and his brother, Vinnie Paul. You can find Pantera's albums anywhere you steal music. Check out the Pantera Behind the Music for more information.
Sat, 8 April 2017
On April 8, 1994, an electrician looking to install a security system at Kurt Cobain's Seattle, WA residence saw what he thought was a mannequin through a greenhouse window. Upon further inspection, he came to regard the figure as a human being, and a few minutes later, unknowingly made one of the most profoundly disturbing discoveries in rock-n-roll history.
Kurt Cobain, the heralded lead singer and creative force behind Nirvana, was dead. He was found in his greenhouse with a shotgun and a stash of heroin nearby, so Cobain's death was initially ruled a suicide.
Immediately, the news of Kurt Cobain's death set off shockwaves in the music world. He was very often considered a premiere voice in the Grunge movement, and Nirvana was one of the cornerstones of the Seattle sound (along with Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice-in-Chains). There were public outpourings of emotion in Seattle, and several copycat suicides occurred in the days following news of Cobain's death.
In the midst of all this, Cobain's wife, Courtney Love, had hired a PI named Tom Grant to track down her husband, who had fled from drug rehab in LA several days before. After news of Cobain's death reached him, Grant gradually became convinced that Cobain had not, in fact, killed himself but had been murdered. He was concerned with several details that didn't seem to add up, and so he began a decades-long push to get Kurt Cobain's death to be re-investigated.
A few pieces of evidence are always cited when presenting Cobain's death as a potential murder. First of all, there's the fact that one of Kurt Cobain's credit cards was used in the hours following his death, before his body was discovered. Then there's the amount of heroin in his system. (He had nearly three times a normal fatal dose in his system.) There's the lack of fingerprints on any item in the greenhouse. There's the weird shenanigans involving Courtney, Dylan Carlson, and a guy named Cali in the days leading up to Cobain's death.
Building a case from all of the disparate pieces of evidence, though, always struck me as bizarre. Nothing ever plays out like a TV show. Even in clear-cut suicide cases, some threads never quite get tied up, so how can you tie them all together, if you're only doing so to prop up your already-reached conclusion.
This podcast episode explores the issue from the inside out. First, I start with the proposition that, Okay, Kurt Cobain was murdered. Why? Who benefits? For me, the issue becomes transparent when you take all of these issues at face value. Hope you enjoy, and I'll be back with a new one soon.