DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Who Killed Theresa?: 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Navigating the Gun Control Waters

Gun Sense and Nonsense
(New York Times)

Published: February 27, 2009

The Supreme Court brushed past flimsy arguments by the gun lobby this week to uphold an important restriction on gun ownership that protects public safety.

The 7-to-2 decision upheld a broad reading of a 1996 federal law written by Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, that bars people convicted of crimes involving domestic violence from owning guns. A narrow interpretation of the law, excluding domestic abusers convicted of a generic charge of battery, would have rearmed thousands of dangerous people.

The ruling was the court’s first on guns since last year’s landmark decision striking down the District of Columbia’s ban on possessing handguns in the home. It was an encouraging sign that the court sees no blanket constitutional barrier to common-sense regulation of firearms. It is notable that not even the two dissenters in the case — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia — asserted that depriving domestic abusers of guns raises a Second Amendment issue.

Unfortunately, the same good sense on gun violence did not prevail in Congress. On Thursday, the Senate voted, 61-to-37, to end a longstanding affront to democracy by giving residents of Washington a voting representative in Congress. In a classic bit of political horse trading, the measure would actually enlarge the House by two seats: one for the overwhelmingly Democratic District of Columbia, and one for Utah, whose population growth justifies a seat that would likely go to the Republicans.

But this overdue step came with a dreadful caveat — an amendment from Senator John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, that would override the judgment of District of Columbia officials and create serious threats to public safety and homeland security in the capital.

Among other things, the amendment’s wacky provisions would make it much harder for police to trace crime guns by repealing all registration requirements. The amendment also would bar Washington from enacting laws or regulations that may discourage private gun ownership or use, including by children or felons. It would lift a ban on gun possession by anyone voluntarily committed to a mental institution in the last five years and end a ban on .50 caliber sniper rifles and military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. All of this under the phony guise of complying with last year’s Supreme Court ruling.

Passage of the amendment, the result of fearful bipartisan pandering to the National Rifle Association, has grievously marred an overdue victory for Washington to have a vote in Congress. It is up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to makes sure that the measure that passes her chamber and eventually emerges from conference with the Senate advances democracy without setting back prudent and constitutional gun control.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chandra Levy - The end of a disgraceful journey

Eight years ago I embarked on a personal journey to discover what led to the death of my sister Theresa. At the same time, in the national arena, the murder of Chandra Levy was playing out in sensational fashion. Recall that congressman Condit was the early prime suspect in this investigation. The theory that Condit was responsible for Levy's murder made for good press, and fit the general public's notion of murder as portrayed in novels, television and the cinema.

In reality this primetime theory was a most unlikely scenario. When possibilities and probabilities were analysed against known, acquaintance and stranger encounters; given the circumstances of the crimes (location, etc...) it was always the case that a stranger encounter was the most likely explanation.

Happily the Condit family is now fully exonerated. Sadly, it took eight years to get here, at a tremendous waste to taxpayers.

(with a nod, as always, to my favorite criminologist)


Police may be close to arrest in Chandra Levy case

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Police are close to making an arrest in the Chandra Levy murder case, one of Washington's most infamous cold cases, CNN affiliate KGO reported Saturday.

Police are reportedly close to making an arrest in the Chandra Levy murder case.

Police contacted Levy's parents Friday informing them the arrest was imminent, the San Francisco, California, television station reported.

KGO also quoted a Washington television report that said police were pursuing an arrest warrant for Ingmar Guandique, an inmate in the D.C. prison system.

Washington police did not return calls to CNN seeking comment.

"We appreciate all the hard work they did," Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, told another CNN affiliate KXTV. "You want justice. You want the person incarcerated. It is still painful no matter what. Your child is dead and gone. But we are glad the police are doing something and making a difference."

Levy, a California native, went missing on April 30, 2001. Her remains were found May 22, 2002, by a man walking his dog in a remote area of Washington's Rock Creek Park.

Police questioned Condit several times in connection with the murder, but never named him a suspect.

Guandique was mentioned in a Washington Post investigation into the unsolved murder published in 2008.

The newspaper quoted former investigators in the case who said Guandique assaulted two other women in the park where Levy's body was found.

Guandique admitted seeing Levy in the park, the newspaper reported.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Plains of Abraham Reenactment Quashed

Plans to Reenact French Defeat at Plains of Abraham Upsets Quebecois

No, Really? Ya think the sight of armed English running around in British uniforms with guns might provoke some trouble in Quebec City?  I can't imagine what the fuss is all about?  While we're at it, let's re-hang Louis Riel in effigy, let's re-stage the Richard riot at the Forum.  Hell, why not go for broke, let's have an historic reenactment of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gaston Gazette on Andrew Dalzell Arrest

Interesting comments from Andrew Dalzell's mother: Let's see... Daslzell couldn't keep his room clean therefore he couldn't be a killer? Ya, that makes sense.

And no, I do not feel any guilt for writing about Dalzell for all these years, and in some sense "outing" him. I didn't ask for him to be inserted in my life, that just sort of happened one day when the police came knocking on my door.

Frequent WKT commenter Bill "Wildman" Widman is featured near the end:

Did Gastonia man charged with Internet sex crime get away with murder?
Kevin Ellis

For the past several years Andrew Douglas Dalzell has stayed under the radar living first in Stanley and then in Gastonia with his wife on East Eighth Avenue.

But the 32-year-old man's arrest Tuesday in Buncombe County on a charge of soliciting sex over the Internet with a child not only brought that incident to light, but also a past that includes a suspicion of murder.

Police have suspected Dalzell in the slaying of Deborah Leigh Key ever since she disappeared from outside a Carrboro pool hall on Dec. 1, 1997. Witnesses report that Dalzell was the last person to see Key in the early morning hours after the bar had closed.

"Certainly, without a doubt," answered Carrboro Lt. John Lau when asked if he still feels Dalzell killed Key. "He confessed."

But a judge threw out that 2004 confession after finding out Carrboro police tricked Dalzell into thinking he'd already been charged with murder in Key's death. In fact, the warrant and a letter from the former Orange County prosecutor were fake, and Dalzell only faced a theft charge.

Lau was the lead detective in the case and was present when Dalzell confessed to the crime. The prosecutor would dismiss charges in 2005, saying the confession was his primary evidence in the case.

Dalzell maintains that Carrboro police threatened him into confessing to a killing he did not commit.

A man who answered Dalzell's home telephone Wednesday and identified himself as the man's father-in-law declined to comment. He also said his daughter would not comment.

But Dalzell's mother, Juanita Mullen of Pittsboro, remembers those days when her son was under suspicion for murder for years before he was formally charged.

Dalzell was a 20-year-old high school dropout who suffered from attention deficit disorder and other learning disabilities, although he would get his GED, said Mullen, who adopted her son at 10 weeks old.

Police still have not found Key's body nor any physical evidence linking Dalzell to her, said his mother.

"The boy couldn't keep his room cleaned, much less his car, and those police went through his car and didn't find anything," Mullen said.

"I can't defend this latest stunt, but the way he was treated in Orange County and the wrong information they used against him wrecked his life," she said.

Dalzell didn't work and relied on financial support from his mother and wife, Mullen said.

"He can't get a job because of the publicity," Mullen said. "The minute someone goes online and looks up his name he doesn't have a chance."

Buncombe County Sheriff's investigators say Dalzell had been conversing over the Internet for the past several months with someone he thought was an 11-year-old girl. On Tuesday, Dalzell left Gastonia to drive to a house in Buncombe County, where he thought he would meet up with the girl for sex.

Instead, Dalzell met a detective. He was booked into Buncombe County Jail in Asheville under a $70,000 bond.

"It upsets me and appalls me," said his mother. "I've been wondering for some time if he has a borderline personality disorder."

Dalzell also faces Internet sex charges involving a child at the time of his arrest in the Key killing. Those charges also would be dismissed.

"People who do this generally don't stop until they're forced to stop," Lt. Lau said.

At this point, Carrboro police have no plans to interview Dalzell again about the Key slaying.

"The case is still open," Lau said.

Bill Widman was a friend of Key and maintains a Web site devoted to keeping attention on her unsolved slaying.

Key was "happy-go-lucky" and a "free spirit" who had many wonderful qualities, Widman said, but she also tended to drink too much.

"She thought everybody was good. She didn't think anybody would ever hurt her," Widman said.

Widman also thinks Dalzell has so far gotten away with murder, and while he should have been trying to stay out of trouble he couldn't help himself.

"This guy is kind of dumb and kind of smart," Widman said. "Smart enough not to get caught and dumb enough to put himself in situations like this."


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lennoxville Town Council - 1981

Finally, I found this photo of the Lennoxville Town Council from 1981. These would have essentially been the same players in place when Theresa's case went FUBAR in 1979. Pictured left to right are Andrew S. Johnson, Robert N. Passmore, F. Duncan Bruce, Mayor C.W. Dougherty, Secretary-Treasurer Jules Gervais, Pierre H Masse, Robert W. Nichol, and Henri Ruel.

If then Lennoxville police chief Leo Hamel is to be believed, the story goes that in 1978-79 he went to these men and asked for more resources to combat the increasing number of sexual assaults on the Champlain campus, and to seek additional funding to investigate Theresa's disappearance. They refused.

I don't know what is true, what to be believed. So much time has passed... who cares?

But it still leaves me with a deep sense of unease that these eight prosperous white guys where at the helm of power in Lennoxville when the situation was so precarious.


Bullet Bill and the Genuine Article

Last week my Facebook page gained some controversy when I posted the message, "John needs a Bullet Bill". I was in fact referring to the Nintendo Wii device used in Mario Kart to give you a boost of acceleration. I was NOT courting controversy in reference to the piece of legislation currently floating around North Carolina that would ban convicted criminals from obtaining ammunition in the state (this is also known as the "bullet bill").

A Bullet Bill / The Bullet Bill

For what it's worth, I am not in favor of state public policy that in effect tosses problems over the wall to neighboring states. This has always been the problem with Washington's "ban on guns"; criminals just cross the border into Maryland or Virginia to buy what they need. The same is true for the bullet bill. Even worse, if offenders can't buy bullets legally, watch for a whole slew of underground bullet manufacturing operations to spring up across the state.  Better to have a National policy and strategy on guns where the laws are consistent for everyone (so they can run across the border into Canada and obtain a pea-shooter).


Andrew Dalzell: It was only a matter of time

It is bad policing to chase suspects, but one of the reasons so many of us insisted police check out Andrew Dalzell for the murders of Stephanie Bennett and Irina "Ira" Yarmolenko was that we were all so sure he was an habitual offender, and if he killed Debbie Key then social deviance would lead him to offend again.

That is the reason it is no surprise to learn of his arrest last week in an underage sex sting. Dalzell's behavior fits the pattern of a serial offender, and his age is right for those offenses to accelerate. That he is now behind bars brings a temporary sense of relief.


Reelin In The Years - Profile of Criminologist David Kennedy

I got a couple of things rattling around my noggin this morning.

First, do you know David Kennedy, the criminologist? Few are on the frontier of ethnographical research and American gangs like Kennedy. For years he has argued against the persistent image of gang-leaders as rich pimp-daddies rolling the high-life in their BMWs. Kennedy's proof comes from the fact that he's actually "lived" with gang members in cities like Boston, Houston and Los Angeles. He's seen proof that gang-bangers are struggle day-to-day just to make ends meet, often living with their parents, and would rather drop out of the drug culture if only given the opportunity to do something else. In an experiment in High Point, North Carolina in cooperation with the local police Kennedy did just that, allowing gang members to retool with good jobs in society. The result was a 57% drop in violent crime in that area. 

Kennedy working the streets (but I could have sworn it was Walter Becker)

Kennedy is one of a few Gonzo-criminologists in America. He has no PhD, was left alone for years to do research at the Kennedy School of Government - because they knew he was brilliant -  and now "teaches" Criminal Justice at New York's John Jay College (really what he does is run around the country helping urban police forces who are eager to work with him.). There's a nice profile of Kennedy in Tuesday's Newsweek.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Andrew Dalzell arrested in Child Sex Sting

For those of you new to this blog, Andrew Dalzell is no stranger to me. Where there's a will, Social Deviance will find a way

"Do you mind if I ask this question: What were you thinking?"

Murder Suspect Caught in Internet Sex Sting

Posted: Today at 10:28 a.m.
Updated: Today at 11:09 a.m.

BUNCOMBE COUNTY — Andrew Dalzell, 32, a suspect in the 1997 disappearance of Debbie Key, was arrested in Asheville Tuesday for soliciting a child online.

According to Buncombe County authorities, Dalzell, of Gastonia, initiated a conversation in an Internet chat room with an undercover officer posing as an 11-year-old girl and began discussing sexual acts.

Dalzell traveled to Asheville to meet the young girl, but was met instead by investigators from the sheriff's office and State Bureau of Investigation.

He is being held under a $70,000 bond.

NC WANTED interviewed Dalzell last year about the disappearance of Debbie Key, a 35-year-old Chapel Hill woman, who left a bar with Dalzell 11 years ago and has never been seen or heard from since. To learn more, read the story below or browse the links in the gray sidebar at right.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Canadian Parole System Stirs Passions

(you had me at "you diddling peice of crap")

No Canadian justice issue gets tempers flairing quite like parole. That's because with Canadian justice - and its restorative bent, quite unique compared to the punitive absolutism of the American system - the stakes are so high. 

Dolly Prioriello

Canadian victim activists Carolyn Gardner and the family of Dolly Prioriello have started a Facebook petition to amend the Crinimal Code of Canada and Corrections and Conditional Release Act to stipulate that convicted murders should only have parole hearings every 5 years as opposed to the current 2 years.

Yesterday I learned that a Quebec offender released after serving 25 years of a life sentence for murder - a man who appeared to be on the right track and claimed to only what to get on with his life -  had his parole revoked for his recent involvement with drugs and prostitution (I can't mention his name for personal reasons, but you can check out the details here).  He and Jean "Johnny" Charland were convicted of the 1978 Lennoxville murders of Raymond Grimard and Manon Bergeron.

Now comes the strange and heated battle over Eric Norman Fish (aka Eric Norman Lafontaine), a B.C. offender given early parole in 2004, who promptly went out and murdered  75-year-old Vernon resident Bill Abramenko. I blogged about the case in the Summer of 2004, and how then Federal Conservative justice critic, Vic Toews was critical of the case, saying it exemplified everything that was wrong with the Canadian parole system.

Well it turns out that blog post has developed into a battle ground between family members of Fish / Lafontaine who in the course of 8 posted comments continue to cast missives at Fish's stepfather and Fish himself (it doesn't help that the step-father was an apparent child molester). If you want a glimpse of how truly hot and personal these matters can be, take a look at the volleys which have been going on for some 4 years now.


Yer Mourning Newz 02/01/09


The Gazette invokes the "you think things are crappy now?" excuse:


Yow mural defaced on N.C. State campus

I am a Kay Yow fan, but the media has overkilled this story. From the tribute to the funeral to the burial, now this. Enough already!


I have obtained the shortlist:

1.   No mowing between the hours of 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.
2.   Bring back Prison Break,  Flip That House and Stargate Atlantis.
3.   If you can't say something nice say nothing at all.
3.   We need more downtown parking.



Timbits and a Duchie for Everyone!

Lotto winner Jorma Hogbacka's vow to share not just coffee talk