WEIRD CRIMES: Missouri Man Arrested After Licking Walmart Products

Not everyone is taking the novel coronavirus outbreak seriously. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has notified thru-hikers to stay away from the trail because the AT has become the “opposite of social distancing.” This is because day hikers have flooded the trail in historic numbers after becoming bored at home. College kids on Spring Break refused to leave Florida beaches despite the likelihood of transmitting the coronavirus in high numbers.

And then there are the people who lick grocery products to say to the world, “I’m not scared of you, COVID-19!”

Thankfully, they get arrested for being imbeciles.

Cody Lee Pfister used social media to distribute a video of him licking various Walmart products. He can be heard asking, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?” The video quickly went viral for all the right reasons, and Pfister was arrested and charged. Even citizens of other countries called the Warrenton Police Department to report Pfister’s callous actions toward the rest of society. He was charged with making a terrorist threat — because police are taking incidents like these very seriously.

Lieutenant Justin Unger of the Warrenton Police Department said, “We take this incident very seriously, especially with this infection disease and the state that the country is in. We take these things seriously to protect our community.

One criminal complaint alleged that Pfister “knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed.”

Criminal defense attorney Patrick J. Coyne defended Pfister’s actions by reminding the public that the World Health Organization had yet to classify the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic at the time the video was recorded. He said, “Public conduct that was immature on March 10 looks completely differently through the lens of today.”

Others have been arrested and charged for making coronavirus-related terrorist threats as well. One New Jersey man purposely coughed on a grocery store employee after the two had a minor confrontation. George Falcone, the criminal cougher, laughed in the worker’s face. Falcone said he was infected with the virus. 

We can expect more incidents such as these, in large part because the president and the media continue to compare the novel coronavirus to the seasonal flu, which is actually a much less fatal and much less infectious illness. Were the coronavirus outbreak to be left to its own devices, millions would likely perish, and the economy would be ruined — which is why Trump’s desire to let the coronavirus run amuck so he can reopen the economy makes very little sense.

TRUMP ACQUITTED: But Mitt Romney Breaks Ranks With Republicans To Convict

The impeachment trial of the century has turned out the way everyone expected. Straight down party lines. Every Democrat voted to convict President Donald Trump on abuse of power. Surprisingly, however, one brave Republican senator decided to break from the rank and file and side with Democrats: Mitt Romney. Not so surprisingly, Senate Republicans quickly moved to censure him.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “Sometimes we don’t like his style, but it’s hard to overlook the successes that he’s had.” Herbert voted against censuring Romney. Of course, the idea that we can censure someone simply for voting their conscience is objectionable to say the least. What happened to the idea of a country before a political party?

Romney said of the decision to convict Trump: “This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process. But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.” 

“The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” he said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution — and one’s oath — that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

Much of the argument over whether or not Trump’s actions were impeachable came down to interpretation over the Constitutional phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t actually mean crimes the way we traditionally think of them. When the Founding Fathers wrote this into the Constitution, it was meant to describe a public officer who had broken the trust of the people. Which is exactly what the discussion should have been about.

But as they so often do, Republicans twisted the discussion with misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding Obama doing the exact same thing when he was in office or the government of Ukraine trying to get Hillary elected. Neither are true, but that’s how Trump got away with ripping the Constitution to shreds, time and time again.

Romney admitted that he had read Alexander Hamilton’s thoughts on impeachment (and the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors) in Federalist No. 65. This was how Romney determined that the president was guilty of the crime and should be removed from office immediately. His Republican colleagues instead decided to put party first, and protect the president — thereby increasing their own chances for reelection in a country whose Republicans strongly support him.

One Week Into The Trial Of President Donald J. Trump

We’re one week into the trial of our current president, and the Democrats have wrapped up their impassioned cries for rational thought during a highly partisan process. Adam Schiff weaved the various elements of Trump’s corrupt dealings with Ukraine much better than expected. But will a great speech or two make a big difference in the outcome? Not a chance. This is a president whose supporters are more than willing to go down with the sinking ship, no matter what history will them of them.

Schiff hasn’t been kind to his Republican colleagues, either. He went so far as to say that they might expect history to mount their heads “on a pike” for voting alongside the president after the trial is complete. 

But he knows that’s exactly what will happen.

The Democrats have used every fact at their disposal — and there are a lot of them — while the Republicans are expected to continue their gradeschool logic: the president of Ukraine says there was no pressure and he didn’t know the aid was withheld during a July phone call, plus Trump didn’t actually commit a crime. (But he actually did violate the Impoundment Control Act by withholding congressionally appointed funds, soooo…)

Jonathan Turley wrote for The Hill: “Murkowski, who is being courted by both sides, could again find herself aggrieved by an argument from counsel if, as widely expected, the White House frames its case around a widely discredited theory that impeachment requires a criminal allegation.”

We know that the Founding Fathers did not agree with that statement, which is why Turley describes further: “In both the Clinton and Trump impeachment inquiries, I addressed that theory as historically and constitutionally unsupportable. Yet Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz will make the argument as the core of the defense. It is a particularly baffling decision given not only Attorney General William Barr’s rejection of the theory but also the Democratic and many of the Republican senators. So the White House is making an argument that the vast majority of senators in the jury have already rejected, including Republican senators coming forward this week.”

But then again, that helps define our point: When you can’t argue against a long list of facts, you form arguments that are based on long-ago debunked or discredited ideas. “High crimes and misdemeanors,” in case you were wondering, were used by the writers of the U.S. constitution to describe acts by public officials that violated the public trust — not actual crimes. The definition has changed over time, of course, allowing the corrupt to form arguments that are not, in actuality, based on any fact at all.

So far, it seems to be working quite well for the defense.

Donald J. Trump Poised To Become Third United States President Impeached

Whether or not you agree with the allegations levied against President Donald J. Trump, he will almost certainly be impeached today — which makes him only the third sitting U.S. president to be disgraced in such a way. Almost equally certain is the fact that any subsequent trial conducted by the Congressional Senate will be inevitably described by the annals of history as rapid and superficial, at best. 

Senate Republicans have been entirely too clear on their impartiality when it comes to getting proceedings over with. But that doesn’t mean that the Senate “trial” won’t go down in history as one of the most important of all time.

Yesterday, Trump wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an interesting letter about the actions of Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee: “The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”

During his years in office, Trump has gained a reputation for turning allegations of corruption or wrongdoing back toward those who made them, which is why it should come as little surprise that he lambasts Adam Schiff and others in the same letter, describing their “criminal” activities.

He wrote: “Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me. His shameless lies and deceptions, dating all the way back to the Russia Hoax, is one of the main reasons we are here today.”

Senate Republicans who defend Trump have been hard-pressed on the facts, but some have continued to give credit toward a long-ago debunked conspiracy theory that suggests Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to swing the whole thing for Hillary Clinton. Again, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since this is what Trump does. We should have known full well as soon as we uncovered a Russian scheme to turn our election in Trump’s favor that Trump would eventually allege the exact same thing about his political opponent.

And of course Trump propped himself up, once again claiming he was the only one who could have possibly endured the alleged personal attacks. 

He continued to write: “There are not many people who could have taken the punishment inflicted during this period of time, and yet done so much for the success of America and its citizens. But instead of putting our country first, you have decided to disgrace our country still further. You completely failed with the Mueller report because there was nothing to find, so you decided to take the next hoax that came along, the phone call with Ukraine—even though it was a perfect call.”

Part I: Who Are The Most Famous Copycat Killers?

This website is dedicated to the murderous psychopaths who have captured the national (and sometimes international) spotlight, for better or for worse. But sometimes, as bad as those criminals are, there are even crazier individuals who are captivated in exactly the wrong way. These lunatics turn into copycat killers. Once in a blue moon, the copycats are worthy successors to the original murderers. Here are the most famous copycat killers!

Daniel Bartlam. This guy is one of those really special killers who give politicians sufficient ammo when blaming violent video games for violent acts (because he liked them). He smashed Jacqueline Bartlam, his mother, in the head with a hammer, then set her on fire along with the rest of the house. But don’t worry — he helped the family and the dog escape their burning home.

He told investigators that a crook did the dirty deed. Unfortunately it took them all of two seconds to uncover the truth, thanks in large part due to the 14-year-old’s internet history. He had performed an online search on how to get away with the aforementioned crime. To make matters more transparent, he had also downloaded a number of videos of John Stape, a fictional character in the TV series Coronation Street

How did Stape kill his victims? Yep, he used his trusty ol’ hammer. The reclusively boyish Bartram was named the Coronation Killer for this peculiar obsession. He was sentenced to life in prison in February 2012. Potentially, he could be released after serving only sixteen years. 

Mark Twitchell. This nutcase is another guy who really liked TV psychopaths. The producers of popular dark dramedy Dexter probably never envisioned that the fictional/murderous protagonist would inspire any real-world murders, but alas — Dexter Morgan did exactly that. Although Twitchell had found his serial killing idol, he would never live up to the name. Twitchell only managed to commit a single murder before he was caught.

Twitchell wasn’t one for shame, either. He made a fake profile on a dating site in order to pose as a woman and lure a couple men to his kill room, where coincidentally he had already been making an actual movie about a serial killer. One of those men escaped.

He was another moron who left way too much obvious evidence behind. Like, don’t these guys even watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? One would think it’d be the first item on their list. Twitchell had a document called “SKConfessions” on his laptop. It read: “This story is based on true events. The names and events were altered slightly to protect the guilty. This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer.”

Before he was found guilty on a 1st degree murder charge, he tried to build a defense based on “blame the media.” He was put away for at least 25 years.

Stay tuned for “Part II” of the Looney Tunes.

Weird Crimes: Margaret “Bill” Allen Bludgeons Nancy Ellen Chadwick on August 28, 1948

The early 1900s were hardly a good time to be gay, much less transgender, but Margaret Allen was living such a life when it was almost unheard of to be doing so. He was 42 years old at the time of his death, went by the name of Bill, and almost always dressed in men’s clothing. Not surprisingly for the time, his family had disowned him for his “choices” in life. He was in poor health, chain smoking and suffering from depression brought about from his mother’s death in 1943.

Because of his lot in life, he had a great deal of difficulty finding work. 

Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that he turned to violence and that his life ended in the same. On August 28th, 1948, his neighbor Nancy Ellen Chadwick visited him hoping to borrow some sugar. The two were not fond of one another. The decision cost Nancy her life — reports from the time period indicate that Bill bludgeoned Nancy to death with a nearby coal hammer. Shockingly, he dragged the body down to the cellar before going out to enjoy a few drinks with his friend, Annie Cook.

That night, Bill had difficulty sleeping. He went back down to the cellar, removed the body, and dragged it out to the road. He wasn’t the brightest criminal on record. Someone found Nancy’s body the very next day, and police immediately opened an investigation. 

Bill was arrested on September 2nd, 1948 — his last birthday alive.

Detective Chief Inspector Stevens of Scotland Yard had interviewed him only one day before. Police discovered blood stains all along the inside wall near the front door.

After Bill’s arrest, he confessed quickly: “I didn’t do it for money, I was in one of my funny moods. I just happened to look around and saw the hammer in the kitchen. Then, on the spur of the moment, I hit her with it. She gave a loud shout and that seemed to start me off more, and so I hit her a few times more, I don’t know how many.”

Even today, transgender individuals who are imprisoned face significant challenges that other prisoners don’t. Being born in 1906 certainly didn’t help Bill when faced with a judge and jury. His lawyer, William Gormann K.C. argued that Bill was criminally insane. The jury deliberated for fifteen minutes, finding him guilty of murder after the prosecution argued that Bill had intended to rob Nancy. Perhaps his fate was sealed when he wore a suit to the trial.

Strangeways Prison officials in Manchester, England did not allow Bill to wear man’s clothing to his own execution. He was provided with a prison dress, brought to the gallows, and hanged until he was dead.

Strangeways chaplain Reverend Arthur Walker later argued that no woman should be hanged and that the execution had left he and other bystanders in worse health than before.

Serial Killers: Edward J. Adams OR William J. Wallace, Depending On Who You Ask

William J. Wallace was born in 1887. He lived on the family farm in Hutchinson, Kanson with his mother and father. When his father died and his mother remarried, he was at constant odds with his new stepfather. On top of that, he was growing more and more exhausted by the constant physical strain of daily farmwork. That’s likely why he decided to set off for Wichita, where he learned how to be a barber.

Unfortunately, it also set him on a dark path: in Wichita he met John Callahan, who taught him how to steal professionally. Before long, Wallace was caught up in bootlegging and theft scandals. He married, but his wife took off when she became weary of his infidelity. While Prohibition was still in effect, he became well known for starting a successful gang and committing a string of bank robberies in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.

Eventually he was caught and sentenced to life in prison.

Not long thereafter, he escaped custody in transport. Amusingly he was caught only a few days later when he began another string of robberies, and then sentenced to 10-30 years in Kansas. Ever the escape artist, he managed to flee from imprisonment only months later. 

Thus started a massive game of cat and mouse that left seven people dead — three of them police officers. Wallace (who at some point changed his name to Eddie Adams) pistol-whipped  an 82-year-old man during the commission of a bank robbery in Haysville. The man died. In the course of the manhunt, Adams came upon Patrolman A.L. Young, and shot him dead. According to witnesses, Young and Adams had been in love with the same woman. For some reason she chose the lawman over the outlaw.

The police caught up with Adams once again on November 20, 1921. In the course of pulling over his vehicle, the police were abruptly shot at, and an officer named Robert Fitzpatrick was killed. Fleeing to Cowley County, Adams and the men he was with ran out of gas near a farm, where they tried to steal George Oldham’s vehicle. Adams killed the man when he fought back.

Adams tried to flee one final time by using an officer’s funeral as cover for the escape. When trying to rent a car, the garage owner recognized Adams and called the police. When three police officers arrived, Adams managed to kill one and wound another before D.C. Stuckey shot him three times. He died on the scene. 

Thousands of people came to view his body, which was happily put on display to celebrate the man’s end.

This Year Marks The 100-Year Anniversary Of The Epic Black Sox Scandal

Few people who are alive today would remember the Black Sox Scandal that erupted after a group of eight Chicago White Sox players allegedly lost the 1919 World Series due to organized crime. They let the Cincinnati Reds defeat them after being promised a large cash payout by Arnold Rothstein, whose gambling syndicate was gaining power and wealth before the time of the incident.

Tension was boiling behind the scenes in the years leading up to the scandal. Many of the players detested White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who had previously played the sport but was widely known as a cheapskate when negotiating salaries for his own players. Even in the clubhouse there were two distinct factions of players. From the outside looking in, it may have seemed like a battle between good and evil, or honor and greed.

It was later reported that a meeting took place between many players on the team, some already ready to lose games in exchange for the payment, and others simply open to the possibility. Even before the White Sox threw the requisite games, rumors in the gambling world were circulating that it was a possibility.

A grand jury wasn’t called to investigate the crime until late 1920, at which time one player confessed his part in the scandal. All hell broke loose from there. The players allegedly involved were all suspended in the midst of a strong season they had the potential to win, which left them in second place for the year.

Eight players were indicted, as well as five gamblers allegedly a part of the syndicate that paid them off. The “Clean Sox” who were not implicated in the crime were given bonus checks.

The outcome of the trial seemed to waver back and forth, being injected with new scandal at every turn — signed confessions and other evidence went missing while new testimonies were promised. Even though the testimony presented at trial seemed to clearly indicate the guilt of the players, each and every one of them were found not guilty by a jury of their peers. 

They didn’t get away with the scandal without consequence, though: all eight were banned from ever playing in the league again.

Baseball has always been known as a purely American sport here in the United States — even though it originally evolved from a European sport called “rounders” — and it should come as no surprise that the American psyche in the sports world was thoroughly trampled as a result of the alleged crime and subsequent trial. It would be a long time before the integrity of the game was fully restored.

Have you been falsely accused of a crime in or around Miami? You need the best defense attorney money can buy — and one is waiting at our Valiente Law offices.

The Trial Of Captain Thomas Preston After The Boston Massacre

Sometimes service to the king doesn’t pay. That was the case on March 5, 1770 when Private Hugh White ran into trouble when trying to protect the local Custom House treasury funds on King Street in the colonial city of Boston. The story goes that a number of colonists began to antagonize and assault White without cause, after which he eventually called for backup while prostrate on the ground. When Captain Thomas Preston and some of his troops surrounded the Custom House, it seemed only a matter of time before blood would be spilled.

Such was the case.

Colonists physically assaulted the soldiers — according to various accounts, none of which seem to say the same thing — and one of the soldiers apparently fired his weapon either intentionally or unintentionally. We’ll never know for sure, and it doesn’t really matter. It was only the first shot, then followed by many more. Five colonists were killed in the resulting chaos. Six others were injured.

This event was one of the sparks that caused the American Revolution. Preston and those serving under his command were arrested shortly after the bloodshed. It would be future president John Adams who would actually argue in defense of Preston and his men — not because he had any love for the British, but because he believed anyone accused of a crime should have the right to a fair trial. Adams even convinced the judge overseeing the trial to find a jury of out-of-towners to make sure the eventual ruling was as impartial as possible.

Adams argued well. 

He said that conflicting stories left reasonable doubt as to the men’s guilt, and that they should be found not guilty of murder. All were. Two of the soldiers were, however, found guilty on a lesser charge of manslaughter and penalized with branding.

Some time after the event, Preston commented on the chaotic nonsense that had led them astray: “None of them was a hero. The victims were troublemakers who got more than they deserved. The soldiers were professionals…who shouldn’t have panicked. The whole thing shouldn’t have happened.”

No one can argue against that.

Even so, events continued to escalate in Boston: the historic Boston Tea Party cemented the feelings of ill will between colonists and redcoats, which led to the First Continental Congress and even more skirmishes before all-out war finally broke out. The rest is history.

The Ancient Roman Master Of Poisons: Locusta

When you think of a poison expert, what first springs to mind? A person meddling in the dark arts? Or someone adept at finding antidotes to common poisons? In Ancient Rome, the best expert you might find would be skilled at making poisons. A number of Roman historians, including Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, described the notorious Locusta’s elicit career and her equally elicit end. Modern poisoners like Linda Stratmann and William Palmer may have taken cues from their predecessors.

In Ancient Rome, if you made your career in killing, you were just as likely to be killed yourself whether you were following orders or not. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself thrown backward through time.

Locusta’s storied history started the moment she decided to serve as a poisons expert for Agrippina the Younger, a Roman empress described as ruthless, violent, and power-hungry. By 54 AD Locusta had already been formally charged and imprisoned on poisoning charges. This was before the work she did under Agrippina.

What did she do?

Locusta provided her employer with a poison that was then sprinkled on mushrooms given to Agrippina’s husband, Emperor Claudius. The best way to poison an emperor? Make sure the food taster is on your side. Even though Agrippina made sure to have Claudius’s food taster hand the poisoned mushroom to the emperor himself, the poison still wasn’t enough to get the job done. Instead, the pair of villains moved onto their next plot. They provided Claudius’s doctor with a poisoned feather, which was then thrust down his throat in order to induce vomiting (most likely after health problems from the mushrooms developed, because that’s just the way these stories go).

Even though she was still locked away, Locusta’s career was not over.

Agrippina’s son was the Emperor Nero, and he would eventually call on Locusta in 55 AD to murder Claudius’s son. After all, if you murder the father, you can’t let his spawn escape. He’s likely to come after you someday! It’s logic.

Anyway, Locusta’s poison failed to eliminate its target as quickly as Nero desired. After he beat her and threatened her life, she opted to provide him with a poison of the faster-acting variety. The death of Claudius’s son left Nero in such a state of jubilation that he decided to provide Locusta with a pardon for any and all crimes she may have committed. He even gave her land and wealth. Convinced that she had secrets worth knowing, Nero sent students to Locusta’s new home so that they might learn the art of poisoning themselves.

It’s always best to have more than one murderer in your employ, after all.

When Nero fled Rome in 68 AD and eventually committed suicide, Locusta’s own prosperity was in jeopardy. The new emperor chained her alongside a number of Nero’s other pets, including Patrobius, Narcissus, and Helius. He had them dragged through the city so that all might see what happens when you follow the orders of a crazy leader, and then executed the lot of them. It never pays to poison.