Thursday, January 28, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
In Mormonism, blood atonement was a controversial doctrine which taught that some crimes such as murder are so heinous that the atonement of Jesus does not apply. Thus, to atone for these sins the perpetrators must have their blood shed upon the ground as a sacrificial offering. One version of blood atonement is spoken of in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 5:5. The concept was originally taught by Brigham Young, though it appears to be an expansion of the previous teachings of Joseph Smith. This doctrine is no longer accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The doctrine originated during the Mormon Reformation, when Brigham Young governed the Utah Territory as a near-theocracy. Young and the other members of his First Presidency taught that the doctrine was ideally to be a voluntary choice by the sinner, carried out with love and compassion. Young considered it more charitable to sacrifice a life than to see them endure eternal torment in the afterlife. In a full Mormon theocracy, the practice would be implemented by the state as a penal measure. The blood atonement doctrine was the impetus behind laws in the territory and state of Utah allowing capital punishment by firing squad or decapitation. Though people in Utah were executed by firing squad for capital crimes under the assumption that this would aid their salvation, there is no clear evidence that Young or other top theocratic Mormon leaders enforced blood atonement for apostasy or non-capital crimes like miscegenation. There is, however, some evidence that the doctrine was enforced a few times at the local church level without regard to secular judicial procedure. The rhetoric of blood atonement may have contributed to a culture of violence leading to the Mountain Meadows massacre. Blood atonement remains an important doctrine within Mormon fundamentalism. Within mainstream Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has informally opined, since 1978, that the doctrine is no longer in force. LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie, claiming to reflect the view of church leadership, wrote in 1978 that while he still believed that certain sins are beyond the atoning power of the blood of Christ, the doctrine of blood atonement is only applicable in a theocracy. Nevertheless, given its long history, the doctrine still plays a role in some Utah death penalty trials. Historical and doctrinal background: Mormonism was in its early days a Restorationist faith, and leaders such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young frequently discussed efforts to re-introduce social, legal, and religious practices described in the Bible, such as temple building, polygamy, and a patriarchal, theocratic governing structure. The term "blood atonement" does not appear in Mormon scripture. However, in the Book of Mormon there are verses clearly detailing that "the law of Moses" requires capital punishment for the crime of murder. The concept of blood atonement for adultery was less clearly articulated in LDS scripture. In Doctrine and Covenants 132, Joseph Smith wrote that people who break the "New and Everlasting Covenant" (Celestial marriage) would be "destroyed in the flesh" and be punished until they received their exaltation at the Last Judgment. The requirement of bloodshed for capital crimes grew into the idea that salvation would be blocked unless this penalty was adhered to, as the "law" would remain "unfulfilled." The belief of the necessity of spilled blood and death to make restitution for adultery and murder was aided by a generally favorable view toward capital punishment, the idea that spilled blood "cries out" for retribution, the "blood for blood" doctrine that says crimes of bloodshed should be punished by the spilling of blood, and the concept that repentance requires restitution. Although the scriptures in Alma 34 of the Book of Mormon speak of the "requirement" in terms of a legal obligation, Brigham Young described blood atonement-worthy crimes as actually negating the salvation offered by Jesus, stating that a sinner's crimes "will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires."
Friday, January 22, 2016
Jason Keel Sweeney was a teenage construction worker from Fishtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who at the age of 16 was murdered by four teenagers for his paycheck on May 30, 2003. The perpetrators included a girl he was dating and his best friend since childhood. Due to the manner in which Sweeney was murdered, the age of the teens involved, and the seeming indifference of the perpetrators, the crime received national media coverage. Murder: Jason Sweeney had left school and was working for his father, a contractor, on a building project in Philadelphia. He had recently met a girl he liked, 15-year-old Justina Morley, with whom he had a date on the evening of Friday, May 30, 2003. Unbeknownst to Sweeney, Morley was regularly engaging in sexual relations with two other 16-year-olds, Nicholas Coia and Edward Batzig Jr. Batzig was Sweeney's best friend since the fourth grade. Nicholas Coia and his 17-year-old brother, Domenic Coia, had also been friendly with Sweeney, but the brothers later ended the friendship. With the promise of sex, Morley lured Sweeney to "the trails," a wooded area of Fishtown near the Delaware River, where Batzig and the Coia brothers were lying in wait. Batzig took the first blow, striking Sweeney in the head 4 to 5 times. Batzig and the Coia brothers then pummeled Sweeney, primarily on his head and face, with a hatchet, a hammer and a rock until he was dead. Batzig later told a detective how he hit Sweeney with the hatchet face four or five times. Batzig said, "Jason started begging for his life, but we just kept hitting him." Batzig also said that Sweeney looked at him during the beating and said "Please stop, I'm bleeding," after which Batzig hit Sweeney again with the axe. They finished by dropping a boulder rock on the right side of his head. Sweeney's head was crushed and the only bone left undamaged was his left cheekbone. Following Sweeney's murder, the three assailants stole the $500 cash he had earned from work. After leaving the crime scene, the Coias, Batzig and Morley shared a group hug, split the money, used it to buy jewelry and illegal drugs—heroin, marijuana and Xanax—and then partied together. Domenic Coia confessed in a court hearing that they were all involved in the murder of Sweeney. The police said the murder was planned days before. Part of the preparation of the murder was listening to the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" over forty times, prompting later news coverage to draw a parallel to the Manson family murders. Joshua Staab, 18, a friend of Domenic Coia, said that the group had bragged about their plan to kill Sweeney by using Justina Morley as "bait". Staab also said that Batzig knew that Sweeney would have his paycheck earnings on him on the day of the murder. The prosecutor asked Staab about the teens' demeanor after the killing. Staab said: "They seemed pretty fine." "In a way, happy." Although all four teens involved in the murder were drug addicts, they were not high before they murdered Sweeney. In response to a detective's question about whether they were high during the killing, Dominic Coia answered, "No, I was as sober as I am now. It is sick, isn't it?" A detective involved in the case and a forensic psychologist later opined that the killers' motivation went beyond robbery and stemmed from envy and resentment of Sweeney's relative success in life. Justina Morley: Justina Morley claimed that she started smoking marijuana at the age of 10, and shortly thereafter started taking prescription pills and snorting cocaine. April Frederick, Morley's mother, said her daughter started cutting her wrists at the age of 10. Morley had been hospitalized for threatening suicide and self-mutilation in 2002. She was once admitted to Friends Hospital for cutting her wrists, knees and thighs, taking pills and displaying a suicide poem, which she had penned, on her door. Morley told her mother that she would commit suicide if her mother did not take her out of the hospital; her mother then took her out against the hospital's advice. Morley had also been expelled from public school in the eighth grade, which she then repeated at the private Holy Name of Jesus Catholic school in Fishtown. A psychiatrist hired by the defense team, William Russell, said the reason Morley began sexual activity at an early age "was an attempt at validation of self-worth". Morley testified that she had sex with both Nicholas Coia and Batzig in exchange for heroin just a few days before they murdered Sweeney. Trial: Justina Morley's attorneys explained to the judge that the girl had suffered through depression, suicide attempts and substance abuse in order to get her a juvenile court trial. Psychiatrist William Russell explained to the court how Morley attempted suicide twice by overdosing on pills only the year before the killing. Morley's attorney argued she was the least culpable and if tried as a juvenile, she could get treatment and live a productive life. The Assistant District Attorney argued that Morley was an important part of the plot in Sweeney's murder and she had treatment before, to no avail. If tried in a juvenile court, Morley could have been free of court supervision by the age of 21. The judge agreed with the prosecution and ordered her to be tried as an adult for murder. At that point, Morley pled guilty to third-degree murder in exchange for her testimony against other defendants, and was sentenced to 17 1/2 to 35 years in prison. Domenic Coia, Nicholas Coia and Edward Batzig Jr. were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy, robbery and possessing an instrument of crime. All were tried together as adults. In 2004, prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty against Batzig and Nicholas Coia, but planned to seek it against Domenic Coia. However, during the trial, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that defendants under the age of 18 could not be executed. As a result, Domenic Coia, who was 14 days away from his 18th birthday at the time of the crime, could not receive the death penalty. Therefore, the Coia brothers and Batzig all faced mandatory life sentences without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Jailhouse letters of the defendants were read during the trial to understand their behavior and to determine who, if anyone, was the most culpable. Defense counsel for the Coias and Batzig argued that Morley was the instigator and led the boys to commit the murder of Sweeney. In one of her writings to Domenic Coia, she wrote: "So you say I'm manipulative, and yes, I believe I am in ways. I'm persuasively manipulative, and I think I'm pretty good at it, too. I enjoy dragging people along." She went on to say: ". . . Tell me you don't enjoy these gullible humans. It's funny how easy it is to persuade them into lies." She also wrote to Dominic Coia, "I'm a cold-blooded expletive death-worshiping bitch who survives by feeding off the weak and lonely. I lure them, and then I crush them." Expressing no remorse at all in one letter, she stated: "I am guilty. But I still don't feel guilty for anything. . . . I still enjoy my flashbacks. They give me comfort. I love them." However, Morley testified that she did feel remorse for the slaying of Sweeney and that she only wrote such things so that she would be accepted by the Coias and Batzig. The prosecution, while acknowledging that Morley's letters showed her to be "a cold-blooded killer", nevertheless used her letters to demonstrate the depravity of the group. The defense attorneys for the Coias and Batzig also contended that their clients, being drug addicts, lacked the intent to kill needed to support a first-degree murder conviction, and at most had committed the lesser crime of third-degree murder. However, this strategy was undermined by the confessions of the three defendants. Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy read part of Dominic Coia's confession in court: "We just kept hitting and hitting him. . . . We took Sweeney's wallet and split up the money, and we partied beyond redemption." Domenic Coia had also told a detective: "It was like we were all happy with what we did." Verdict and sentencing: The Coia brothers and Batzig were convicted on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy, robbery and possession of an instrument of crime. In May 2005, each one was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole for murder, plus 22 1/2 to 45 years for conspiracy, robbery and possessing an instrument of crime. None of the teens showed any remorse or apologized for the murder. Paul Sweeney, the victim's father, addressed Dominic Coia and challenged him to "look at me, Dominic, with your evil eyes". Domenic Coia responded, "I never thought I had evil eyes, but I guess I do. And I'm cool." The judge, in denying defense counsel's motion for a sentence that could allow for parole, said: "There is a level of inhumanity that exists in these facts. This was a totally depraved act." Resentencing: In 2012, the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles under 18, holding that the court must consider the individual circumstances of each juvenile defendant in determining sentence — which might still be life without parole if, in the court's judgment, the circumstances warrant it. The Supreme Court left open the question of whether Miller applied retroactively to trigger resentencing of all juveniles who had already been sentenced, leaving this to the decision of individual state courts and legislatures. In Pennsylvania, where the Coias and Batzig were sentenced, the state supreme court ruled in 2013 not to apply Miller retroactively, thus upholding the mandatory life sentences of juveniles whose sentences were already final at the time of the Supreme Court ruling. However, the state supreme court also ruled (in a different case) that juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole whose sentences were not yet final at the time of Miller were entitled to a resentencing hearing considering their individual circumstances, at which they could receive a sentence of life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole after a minimum term. Batzig and Nicholas Coia, who both had appeals pending at the time of Miller, were granted such resentencing hearings. At Nicholas Coia's resentencing hearing on February 19, 2015, Common Pleas Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd sentenced him once again to life in prison without the possibility of parole, upholding the original 2005 sentence. Byrd noted, "This is an uncommon case, there are no factors which remove the defendant from the punishment of life in prison without parole," Byrd said. "Not only did he plan the assault, but he participated in the assault which was so violent that Jason Sweeney had to be identified with dental records." Memorial foundation: Paul and Dawn Sweeney, Jason Sweeney's parents, set up the Jason Keel Sweeney Foundation, in memory of their son, to fund a full scholarship for the Valley Forge Military School, the school of their son's dreams. Jason Sweeney had wanted to attend the military school to become a Navy SEAL. He had been accepted into the school, but could not afford the tuition. In popular culture: A 2003 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation entitled "Coming of Rage" (Season 4, Episode 10) is loosely based on the crime. The crime inspired comic artist Kevin Colden's 2008 graphic novel Fishtown, which was nominated for an Eisner Award. A 2012 episode of the Lifetime Movie Network series Killer Kids entitled "Foul Ball and Framed" detailed the murder, including actual footage from the crime scene, in the second segment of the episode ("Framed").
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
The murder of Jennifer Cave occurred in the West Campus area of Austin, Texas. On August 18, 2005, Cave's body was discovered. Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman said that it was the "most infamous West Campus crime". As of 2009, as the appeals process occurred, the case still made headlines in newspapers. Victim: Jennifer Rae Cave originated from Corpus Christi, Texas. She was one of five girls in her family. She attended school in Bishop, Texas before moving to Corpus Christi in 2000. In 2002 she graduated from Mary Carroll High School in Corpus Christi and in August of that year she traveled to San Marcos, Texas to attend Texas State University as a finance major. She dropped out after one semester and worked at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, while briefly attending Austin Community College, Riverside Campus. She often used recreational drugs. Before her murder, she began to work for a law firm. as a legal assistant. Perpetrator and accomplice: Colton Aaron Pitonyak was a finance major at the University of Texas at Austin, originating from Bryant, Arkansas in Greater Little Rock. Prior to coming to Austin, Pitonyak attended Christ the King School and Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a National Merit Scholar, In the year 2000 Pitonyak was one of seven senior finalists at his high school and one of 166 senior finalists in the state. Pitonyak had high grades and earned a scholarship to attend UT Austin. Pitonyak had also once entered a rehabilitation program for drugs. In 2004 police found cocaine, prescription sleeping pills that he had unlawfully obtained, and anxiety medication in his apartment. He was arrested for possession of illegal drugs. Pitonyak had no previous record of violent crime. Authorities said that Cave and Pitonyak had no previous discord prior to the murder. Laura Ashley Hall was a University of Texas at Austin student who at one time had been Pitonyak's girlfriend. Prior to Hall's re-imprisonment beginning in 2010, she lived in the area around Bandera, Texas with her parents. She had plans to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) so she could become a lawyer. Murder: On August 16, 2005, Cave and Pitonyak went to Sixth Street in Downtown Austin to celebrate Cave's new job. Cave and Pitonyak went to dinner before Cave was murdered. Jennifer Cave died in Pitonyak's apartment at the Orange Tree Condominiums, at 2529 Rio Grande Street in West Campus, Austin, Texas. Bill Bishop, a prosecutor in the Travis County, Texas government, said "As far as murders go, this is a very clean murder. He shot her through the arm, bullet traveled into the chest, through the heart pretty much killing her instantly. It was the post-murder behavior that made it so grotesque. The mutilation was anger… it wasn't any effort to hide the body or get rid of the body. It was just playing with it, like it was toy." Upon discovery, Cave's body had been partially dismembered and had many stab wounds. A hacksaw had been placed on her abdomen. After her death, she had been shot in the head once. Toxicology tests concluded that during her death, Cave had alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine in her system. Discovery of the body: On the morning of August 17, 2005, the law firm where Cave worked called Cave's family to say that she did not show up for work. Sharon Sedwick, Cave's mother, and Jim Sedwick, her stepfather, discovered that she had been with Colton Pitonyak. Pitonyak told Sedwick that Cave was not around and asked them to leave him alone. On August 18 the Sedwicks traveled to Austin and found Cave's car at Pitonyak's apartment. Jim Sedwick called 9-1-1. The police said they could not search the apartment without a warrant. Jim Sedwick broke into the apartment after the police departed. After he discovered Jennifer Cave's body, Jim Sedwick called 9-1-1 again. Escape and capture: On the day that Cave's body had been discovered, Colton Pitonyak and Laura Hall escaped from the United States, using Hall's automobile. Authorities found that the two had crossed into Mexico on August 18, 2005. The two were in Mexico for five days. A Mexican SWAT team discovered the two in a Holiday Inn in Piedras Negras, a city on the Mexico-United States border across from Eagle Pass, Texas, on August 23, 2005. The Mexican law enforcement drove the two to the Mexico-United States border. There, U.S. Marshals arrested Pitonyak. Hall was allowed to leave by herself. Legal outcome: On August 23, 2005, Colton Pitonyak was charged with murder. Laura Hall was arrested in September 2005. On Monday January 29, 2007 Pitonyak, then 24, was convicted of murder. On the same day, the jury panel recommended a 55-year prison sentence for Pitonyak. Pitonyak received a 55-year sentence. Pitonyak will be eligible for parole when half of his sentence was served, when he is age 51. Outside of court, Jim Sedwick said, as paraphrased by Harriet Ryan of Court TV that "there was only a two-and-a-half-year functional difference between the jury's sentence and the life term. In Texas, those sentenced to life are eligible for parole in 30 years." In 2007 Hall was convicted of tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension of Pitonyak. The former charge originates from the dismemberment of Cave's body. She was sentenced to five years for the tampering and one year for the hindering, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle said "The relatively light sentence, after an emotional appeal from Hall's father, suggests that the delay in reaching a verdict reflected some division in the jurors' judgment of Hall's culpability. But Hall's trial, like Pitonyak's, in the end produced little understanding either of what really happened to young Jennifer Cave or, most especially, why her supposed friends ended her life with such brutal, emotionless, and unthinking cruelty." On February 19, 2009 the Texas Third Court of Appeals canceled her sentence. The court stated that her sentencing hearing was not fair. Hall was released on bond. In 2010 a jury in Travis County, Texas sentenced Hall to the maximum possible sentence, including prison and $14,000 ($15192.13 when adjusted for inflation) in fines. The sentences, to be served concurrently, include ten years for tampering with evidence and one year for hindering apprehension. She would get credit for two years that she had already spent in confinement prior to the sentencing. On Monday February 8, 2010, Hall was placed in county custody prior to her new sentencing hearing. On August 3, 2010, Hall was taken into the custody of the state prison system, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). She was initially assigned to the Plane State Jail. On October 28, 2011, the state denied parole to Laura Hall. She became eligible again in November 2012. As of 2013, Colton Pitonyak, TDCJ#01413729 and State ID (SID)#07004898, is incarcerated in the Robertson Unit. As of August 2014 The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected another request to release Laura Hall from prison.The parole board will review Hall's case again next July. As of 2016 Laura Hall, TDCJ#01654372 and SID#07572662 is incarcerated in the Lockhart Unit. Legacy: Cave's visitation was held at the Seaside Funeral Home on Monday August 22, 2005 and the funeral was held at the All Saints Episcopal Church on Tuesday August 23. Cave was buried in a private ceremony. Kathryn Casey wrote the book A Descent into Hell: The True Story of an Altar Boy, a Cheerleader, and a Twisted Texas Murder (ISBN 13: 9780061230875) about the crime. HarperCollins Publishers published the book.
Angus Munn Cannon was an early Latter Day Saint leader and Mormon pioneer. Early life: Cannon was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. His Manx parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1840, being baptized by his uncle John Taylor. In 1842, the Cannon family went to Nauvoo, Illinois, United States. By 1849, they were in Utah Territory. Cannon was the younger brother of George Q. Cannon and their lives followed very similar paths up until their arrival in Utah. Church service: In 1854, Cannon went on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to the Eastern United States, where he assisted John Taylor in publishing a periodical entitled The Mormon. He also preached and baptized in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Cannon returned to Utah Territory due to the troubles connected with the Utah War. In 1864, Cannon helped establish Call's Landing on the Colorado River, later known as Callville, Nevada. Callville was submerged when Lake Mead was filled. In 1869 and 1870, Cannon served a second mission in the Eastern United States. In April 1876, Cannon became president of the Salt Lake Stake of the LDS Church. He served in this position until April 1, 1904. After his time as stake president, Cannon served as a patriarch in the church. Politics: Cannon was the mayor of St. George, Utah Territory in 1861 and 1862. In 1896, after Utah had become a U.S. state, he stood for election as the Republican Party candidate for a state senate seat in Salt Lake County. He was defeated by one of his wives, Martha Hughes Cannon, who was the Democratic Party candidate. Polygamy prosecution: Like many early members of the LDS Church, Cannon practiced plural marriage. Cannon was the appellant in the case of Cannon v. United States, which was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1885. Cannon had been convicted under the Edmunds Act of unlawful cohabitation with more than one wife and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a $900 fine. Cannon appealed his conviction on the grounds that he had immediately ceased having sexual relations with the two wives he was accused of cohabiting with after polygamy was criminalized. The Court rejected Cannon's argument, holding that "compacts for sexual non-intercourse, easily made and easily broken, when the prior marriage relations continue to exist, with the occupation of the same house and table and the keeping up of the same family unity, is not a lawful substitute for the monogamous family which alone the statute tolerates." Cannon was pardoned in 1894 by U.S. President Grover Cleveland. Death: Cannon died of "apoplexy" in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Randall Brent "Randy" Woodfield is an American serial killer who was dubbed The I-5 Killer or The I-5 Bandit by law enforcement due to the crimes he committed along the Interstate 5 corridor running through Washington, Oregon, and California. Before his capture, the I-5 Killer was suspected of multiple sexual assaults and murders. A native of Oregon, Woodfield was convicted of three murders and is suspected of killing up to 44 people. He is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary. In 2011, Woodfield was the subject of a Lifetime television movie Hunt for the I-5 Killer. The movie was based on the book The I-5 Killer by crime author Ann Rule. Early life: Born in Salem, Oregon, Woodfield came from a middle class family with no signs of dysfunction. He was popular among his peers, and was a football star at Newport High School and at Portland State University. Beginning in adolescence, however, Woodfield began to exhibit antisocial sexual behaviors, primarily a penchant for indecent exposure. Upon his first arrest for the crime in high school, his football coaches hushed it up so that he wouldn't be kicked off the team. Three arrests in the early 1970s for petty crimes such as vandalism and public indecency did not prevent Woodfield from being selected in the 1974 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers as a wide receiver, in the 17th round (428th pick). Woodfield tried to establish himself with the Packers during Coach and General Manager Dan Devine's last season but he could not shake his problems with a trip across the country. He signed a contract in February 1974 but was cut during training camp, failing to make the team's final roster. After being cut by the Packers, Woodfield played the 1974 season with the semi-pro Manitowoc Chiefs and worked for Oshkosh Truck. A similar arrest, in Portland, earned him more suspended time in June 1973. In 1974, after a dozen "flashing" incidents called unwelcome attention to Randy, the Packers gave up and sent him home. Crime spree: In early 1975, several Portland women were accosted by a knife-wielding man, forced to perform oral sex and then robbed of their handbags. Law enforcement reacted by having female police officers act as decoys. On March 3, 1975, Woodfield was arrested after being caught with marked money from one of the undercover officers. In April 1975, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree robbery. Woodfield was sentenced to ten years in prison, but was freed on parole in July, 1979. On October 9, 1980, Cherie Ayers, a former classmate of Woodfield, was raped and murdered in Portland, Oregon. Ayers had been bludgeoned and stabbed repeatedly in the neck. Woodfield was questioned but refused to sit for a polygraph. Homicide detectives found his answers generally "evasive and deceptive" but, because his blood type did not match semen found in the victim's body, no charges were filed. One month later Darci Fix and Doug Altic were shot to death execution-style, in Altic's Portland apartment. A .32-caliber revolver was missing from the scene. While Fix had once been involved with one of Woodfield's closest friends, police did not connect Woodfield to the crime. On December 9, 1980, a robber wearing a fake beard held up a gas station in Vancouver, Washington. In Eugene, Oregon four nights later, a man matching the same description raided an ice cream parlor; on December 14, a robber matching the previous two descriptions robbed a drive-in restaurant in Albany. A week later in Seattle, a waitress was trapped in the restroom of a chicken restaurant by a gunman wearing a false beard; the gunman forced her to masturbate him. Shortly afterward, a gunman matching the same description of the man in all the previous crimes robbed a Seattle-area ice cream parlor. By January 1981, law enforcement had dubbed the robber "The I-5 Bandit," given his apparent preference for committing crimes along the Interstate 5 corridor. On January 8, he held up the same Vancouver gas station he had robbed in December, this time forcing a female attendant to expose her breasts after he emptied the cash register. Three days later, on January 11, he robbed a market in Eugene. The next day, January 12, he shot and wounded a female grocery clerk at a store in Sutherlin, Oregon. On January 14, a man matching the description of the I-5 bandit and wearing a false beard invaded a home occupied by two sisters, aged eight and ten; he forced the girls to disrobe and sexually assaulted them. Four days later, in Salem, a man matching the same description entered an office building and sexually abused two women, Shari Hull and Beth Wilmot, after which he killed Hull and wounded Wilmot, leaving her for dead. On January 26 and 29, he traveled to southern Oregon and committed robberies in Eugene, Medford and Grants Pass. In the latter location, two females, a clerk and customer, were assaulted by the robber. On February 3, 1981, the bodies of Donna Eckard, 37, and her 14-year-old daughter were found together in a bed in their home at Mountain Gate, California, north of Redding. Each had been shot several times in the head. Forensic tests showed that the girl had also been sodomized. The same day in Redding, a female store clerk was kidnapped, raped and sodomized in a holdup. An identical crime was reported in Yreka on February 4, with the same man robbing an Ashland, Oregon motel that night. Five days later in Corvallis, a man matching the I-5 Bandit's description held up a fabric store, molesting the clerk and her customer before he left. On February 12, 1981, robberies committed by a man matching the now infamous I-5 Bandit's description occurred in Vancouver, Olympia, and Bellevue, Washington; the Olympia and Bellevue incidents included three sexual assaults. On February 15, Julie Reitz was shot and killed at her home in Beaverton, Oregon. Interrogation, search, and arrest: By February 28, the investigation was now focused on Woodfield, but by then the I-5 Bandit had struck three more times: in Eugene on February 18 and 21, and with another sexual assault in Corvallis on February 25. On March 3, 1981, Woodfield was brought into the Salem Police Department for an interrogation. His apartment was searched two days later by warrant. Detectives said they were looking for someone who was familiar and comfortable with the I-5 freeway, as well as someone who used false beards and moustaches as a disguise. Another portion of the killer's modus operandi was using tape to bind his victims; the type of tape found on the victims and tape found at Woodfield's house matched. On March 7, Woodfield was taken into custody after being positively identified by several of the I-5 Bandit's victims during a police lineup. By March 16, indictments for murder, rape, sodomy, attempted kidnapping, armed robbery, and illegal possession of firearms were coming in from various jurisdictions in Washington and Oregon. In Salem, Woodfield went to trial for murder, attempted murder, and two counts of sodomy. Convicted on every count on June 26, 1981, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 90 years. By December, after conviction of sodomy and weapons charges in Benton County, Oregon, 35 more years were added to Woodfield's sentence. Retracing Woodfield's trail along Interstate 5, law enforcement eventually found other victims. During the spring of 1980, 19-year-old Marsha Weatter and 18-year-old Kathy Allen had vanished while hitch-hiking. Their bodies were found in May 1981 following the first eruption of Mount Saint Helens; suspected serial killer Martin Lee Sanders was later connected to their murders, but as of 2015 the case remains officially unsolved. Despite the apparent links with countless other crimes and at least 13 more homicides, Woodfield would not be prosecuted for the majority of the crimes he was believed to have committed. Unable to afford an endless string of trials, the State of Oregon was satisfied with Woodfield's existing life sentence. In October 1981, Woodfield was tried in Salem for the murder of Shari Hull, as well as charges of sodomy and attempted murder. Chris Van Dyke, son of actor Dick Van Dyke, was the Marion County, Oregon District Attorney at the time and prosecuted the case. Woodfield was convicted of Hull's murder and sentenced to life in prison as well and sentenced to an additional 165 years for convictions of the other crimes. Prior to a trial held later in 1981, Woodfield’s counsel attempted to move the trial from Willamette Valley; he felt that, owing to the publicity the case received, Woodfield would not get a fair trial there. The judge in the case denied counsel's request, along with a request to hypnotize a prosecution witness in an effort to determine if that witness had been influenced by the media coverage. Currently, Woodfield is serving his sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. While he was charged with four murders, it is estimated that Woodfield committed as many as 44 murders, as well as upwards of 60 sexual assaults. After conviction: In October 1983, Woodfield was injured by an Oregon State Penetentiary inmate during a prison disturbance. In April 1987, Woodfield filed a $12 million libel suit against author Ann Rule, the true crime author who had written The I-5 Killer. The account of Woodfield's life and crime spree became a best-selling book in 1984. The Federal Court in Oregon dismissed the lawsuit in January 1988, citing that the statute of limitations on such a lawsuit had been exhausted. By 1990, after the discovery of more victims, Woodfield was suspected in at least 44 homicides. In 2001 and 2006, DNA testing linked Woodfield to two additional murders in Oregon that occurred from 1980 and 1981. During his time at the penitentiary, Woodfield has married three times and divorced twice. Some letters he wrote from prison were eventually sold online as a collection titled, The Serial Killer Letters and published by The Charles Press. Woodfield wrote the following on his MySpace account in 2006: "I'm Randy, I'm 55. I spend the remainder of my days in prison because I have committed a murder along with many other crimes. I once tried out for the Green Bay Packers. The only reason I didn't make it is because the skills I had to offer they didn't need at the time." Inmates do not have Internet access in prison, but have friends or family open social media accounts for them, posting as if the inmate were doing it. In May 2012, he was linked by DNA to three more cold cases (namely, Darci Fix and Doug Altic in 11/80 and Julie Reitz 2/81).
Friday, January 15, 2016
Bryan Charles Kocis, also known as Bryan Phillips, was a director of gay pornographic films and founder of Cobra Video, a gay porn film studio. Kocis was murdered at his Dallas Township, Pennsylvania home on January 24, 2007; arson was used in an attempt to disguise the circumstances of his death. Two escorts, Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes, were charged and convicted for Kocis' murder and subsequently given a sentence of life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. Early life: Bryan Charles Kocis was born and raised in Larksville, Pennsylvania. He attended Wyoming Valley West High School winning several scholarships, graduating in 1980. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, after which he worked as a medical photographer for a local eye doctor. Career: After he left the medical photography business, he tried several business ventures, all of which failed. In 2001, he was involved in a cellular phone venture. After being charged with sexual assault on a 15-year-old boy, he was removed as a partner in that venture, and established Cobra Video, also in 2001. Later that year, Kocis filed for bankruptcy in federal court. Kocis created two legal entities with the name "Cobra Video LLC": one in Pennsylvania in 2002, the other in Delaware in 2005. Cobra competed in the market niche of low-budget, Barely Legal-style bareback films. The company was dedicated to "Capturing the Erotic Essence of Youth" by producing pornographic movies of young men who looked as if they could be adolescents having sex without condoms. In the five years after, between his bankruptcy and his death, Kocis' Cobra Video did very well financially. At the time of his death, Kocis had amassed personal possessions which included a Maserati convertible, a BMW sport utility vehicle and an Aston Martin car. In addition to his Dallas Township home, Kocis owned two adjacent Rice Township parcels of land, valued at over $400,000, with no mortgages. Controversies- Allegations of sexual abuse of a child: In 2002, police found a videotape of Bryan Kocis, then 39, and a 15-year-old male in his home. Kocis pled guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a child. He was charged with child pornography, and transportation of a minor for sexual purposes. Since the boy had lied about his age Kocis was given a probation sentence. In 2006 a judge, Michael Conahan, signed paperwork changing Kocis' charge from sex assault to corruption of minors. Kocis' former attorney, Al Flora, said the change was made because the original charge of sexual assault of a child was a mistake and that, "We didn't realize there was an error until 2006." As a result of that change, Kocis was not required to be registered as a Megan's Law offender. Conahan later pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges in relation to the infamous "Kids for Cash" scandal, and is serving 17.5 years in prison. Brent Corrigan: Beginning in early 2004, Kocis cast Sean Lockhart, in Cobra's Every Poolboy's Dream under the stage name "Brent Corrigan". He starred in several more films in that year, notably Schoolboy Crush in 2004, in Bareboned Twinks and Casting Couch 4 in 2005, and other releases in 2006. On September 13, 2005, Corrigan's attorney announced that Corrigan was underaged when he filmed scenes for Cobra Video, and had used a fake ID to participate in those scenes. Cobra denied that it was ever aware of such allegations and publicly stated that it had copies of Corrigan's identity documents claiming a birth year of 1985. A civil lawsuit between the two parties began soon after. Kocis denied the allegations and began a counter-suit for copyright infringement, for the unauthorized use of Cobra’s “Brent Corrigan” name. A final hearing in the matter was scheduled for February 21, 2007. In 2005 and 2006, Cobra removed six of the titles which featured Lockhart from store shelves, although they cited no reason for the removal. Death: Kocis was found dead on January 24, 2007 at the age of 44, after a fire at his Dallas Township, Pennsylvania home. According to the investigating coroner, Kocis was stabbed 28 times and his throat was cut, nearly decapitating him. His body was left in the house before it was set on fire. Officials had to use dental records to identify Kocis because his body was burned beyond recognition. On May 15, 2007, two Virginia Beach escorts, Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes, were arrested and charged with Kocis' murder. Police arrested the pair after discovering evidence on Kocis' computer, which had survived the fire. On December 8, 2008, Kerekes pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, theft, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and criminal conspiracy, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Cuadra pled not guilty and went to trial on February 24, 2009. On March 16, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. On April 7, 2009, Cuadra appealed his life sentence. Popular culture: Bryan Kocis' lawsuit against Sean Lockhart and the claim by Luzerne County (Pennsylvania) prosecutors during Harlow Cuadra's murder trial that Lockhart was "contractually bound" to perform sex acts for money for Bryan Kocis' Cobra Video company led to on-going public discussion about the legality of adult industry contracts and revealed why the adult entertainment industry in North America is concentrated in the State of California. Cobra Killer: Gay Porn Murder, was written by authors Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway, was about Bryan Kocis' murder, and the trials of Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. Cobra Killer was published by Magnus Books on June 19, 2012.
Ethan Anthony Couch (born April 11, 1997) is an American teenager given 10 years probation in juvenile court, on four counts of intoxication manslaughter, for recklessly driving drunk on June 15, 2013, in Burleson, Texas. He was illegally driving on a restricted license and speeding, lost control, plowed into a group of people standing near a disabled SUV and struck a parked vehicle, which was there to assist. Four people were killed in the collision; two passengers in Couch's truck suffered serious bodily injury and a total of nine people were injured. In December 2013, Judge Jean Hudson Boyd sentenced Couch to ten years of probation and subsequently ordered him to therapy at a long-term, in-patient facility, after his attorneys argued that the teen had "affluenza" and needed rehabilitation instead of prison. Boyd then retired as judge the following December. Couch's sentence set off what the New York Times called "an emotional, angry debate that has stretched far beyond the North Texas suburbs". Couch became the subject of a manhunt and was listed in the National Fugitive Database on December 11, 2015, after his probation officer was unable to contact him. On December 28, 2015, authorities detained Couch and his mother in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Early life: Couch's parents were married in Johnson County, Texas in 1996, and divorced in 2007. He grew up in Burleson and previously attended Anderson Private School. Couch drove himself to school at the age of thirteen. When the head of the school questioned that practice, his father threatened to buy the school. Couch withdrew from Anderson and began attending a co-op based in Watauga, Texas. At 15 he stopped attending that program. Before the incident he was enrolled in a community college. At the age of fifteen, Couch was cited for "minor in consumption of alcohol" and "minor in possession of alcohol," after he was caught in a parked pick-up truck with a naked, passed out 14-year-old girl. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation, a compulsory alcohol awareness class, and 12 hours of community service. Family history: His parents have each had their own run-ins with the law, publicized retrospectively in the media following their son's conviction. Fred Couch has been charged with criminal mischief, theft by check, and assault, but the charges were dismissed. On August 19, 2014, he was arrested for impersonating a police officer, allegedly displaying a fake badge during a disturbance call. In 2013, Tonya Couch was sentenced to a $500 fine and a six-month community supervision order for reckless driving when she used her vehicle to force another motorist off the road. Crash: On Saturday evening June 15, 2013, according to authorities and trial testimony, Couch was witnessed on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a Walmart store, driving with seven passengers in his father's red 2012 Ford F-350 pickup truck, and speeding (70 miles per hour (110 km/h) in a designated 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) zone). Three hours after the incident, he had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit for adult drivers in Texas, and tested positive for Valium. Approximately an hour after the beer theft, Couch was driving his father's truck at 70 MPH on rural, two-lane Burleson-Retta Road where motorist Breanna Mitchell's sport utility vehicle had stalled. Hollie Boyles and her daughter Shelby, who lived nearby, had come out to help her, as had passing youth minister Brian Jennings. Couch's truck swerved off the road and into Mitchell's SUV, then plowed into Jennings' parked car, which in turn hit an oncoming Volkswagen Beetle. The truck then flipped over and hit a tree. Mitchell, Jennings, and both Hollie and Shelby Boyles were killed, while Couch and his seven teen passengers (none wearing seat belts) survived, as did the two children in Jennings' car and the two people in the Volkswagen. Trial and sentencing: Couch was charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault. Tarrant County prosecutors were seeking a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment for Couch. G. Dick Miller, a psychologist hired as an expert by the defense, testified in court that the teen was a product of "affluenza" and was unable to link his bad behavior with consequences because of his parents teaching him that wealth buys privilege. It was initially reported that, as part of his sentencing, their son would be sent for teen substance abuse and mental health rehabilitation to Newport Academy, an upscale residential treatment center in Newport Beach, California with costs upwards of $450,000 annually. The facility offers a 90-day treatment program that includes horseback riding, mixed martial arts, massage and cookery, a swimming pool, basketball and six acres of land. Following a court hearing closed to the public, Judge Boyd instead sentenced Couch to an unspecified lock down rehabilitation facility where his parents will pay; the time Couch will have to stay there was also unspecified. Couch was ordered to stay away from drugs, alcohol and driving. A hearing on April 11, 2014, revealed that on February 19, 2014, Couch began treatment "at the North Texas State Hospital, a state-owned in-patient mental health facility" in Vernon, Texas. Although the daily rate for the treatment facility is $715, Couch's parents were ordered to pay $1,170 per month for his stay there, based on the state's sliding-scale payment schedule. The amount ordered is the maximum allowed on the payment schedule. Couch's parents promised in court to pay the requested fee for their son's treatment. At least one relative of the crash victims has complained of the lightness of Couch's sentence and that Couch had expressed no remorse. Reaction: Following the probation sentence, the Tarrant County District Attorney's office has asked a juvenile judge to incarcerate Couch, on two counts of intoxication assault, saying there had been no verdict formally entered for those charges and "every case deserves a verdict." One psychologist who disagreed with Couch's sentence—Dr. Suniya S. Luthar, who specializes in "the costs of affluence in suburban communities"—maintains that research shows feelings of entitlement among affluent youth is a social problem, and that "we are setting a double standard for the rich and poor". Luthar asked, "What is the likelihood if this was an African-American, inner-city kid that grew up in a violent neighborhood to a single mother who is addicted to crack and he was caught two or three times ... what is the likelihood that the judge would excuse his behavior and let him off because of how he was raised?" Writing in The Guardian, Texas student Jessica Luther points out that Couch's family's ability to pay for private therapy, i.e. their wealth, was intrinsic to the judge's reasoning for giving Couch a light sentence. An offender without their means would end up in the overcrowded, publicly supported Texas juvenile justice system where (the judge noted) Couch "might not get the kind of intensive therapy in a state-run program that he could receive at the California facility suggested by his attorneys". Another psychologist—Robin S. Rosenberg—has argued Miller's defense makes no sense because Couch could have learned that bad behavior has consequences in other areas of his life, and that a sentence to a luxurious rehabilitation home reinforces the message "that his wealth and privilege can obviate the negative consequences of his criminal behavior". Critics have also complained that the presiding judge—District Judge Jean Boyd—gave a much harsher sentence to another 16-year-old intoxicated driver 10 years earlier. In February 2004, Boyd sentenced Eric Bradlee Miller to 20 years, telling him, "the court is aware you had a sad childhood ... I hope you will take advantage of the services [offered by the Texas Youth Commission] and turn your life around." Miller had killed one victim, not four, and had a much lower blood alcohol level (0.11 compared to Couch's 0.24) but was from a much poorer family. However, Miller had a previous criminal record and was driving a stolen vehicle at the time of his crash. However, according to the New York Times, it is unclear if Couch's family's wealth played a part in his sentence. "It is not uncommon for minors involved in serious drunken-driving cases and other crimes to receive probation instead of prison time", and the sentence may be part of "a growing trend of giving a young person a second chance through rehabilitation instead of trying him as an adult". Judge Boyd also has a prior history of attempting to place youths in rehabilitation rather than jail. The leading Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2014 Texas gubernatorial election, respectively Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, commented on the sentence. Davis referred to it as a "disgrace" and Abbott, Texas's attorney general, stated that his office was looking to appeal the case. At a February 5, 2014 hearing, Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed in the crash, said "Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different." On October 16, 2015, 20/20 aired previously unseen tapes of Couch's deposition and court hearings. Lawsuits: Five civil lawsuits were filed by families of the four victims and two of the passengers between September and November 2013, against Couch, his family, and Cleburne Metal Works (doing business as Cleburne Sheet Metal, as the truck's registered owner). An additional lawsuit was filed in December 2013, by the family of Isaiah McLaughlin, a passenger in Jennings' vehicle. The lawsuits were filed by: -Eric and Marguerite Boyles, husband and daughter of victim Hollie Boyles and father and sister to victim Shelby Boyles -Marla Mitchell, mother of victim Breanna Mitchell -Shaunna Jennings, wife of victim Brian Jennings -Maria Lemus and Jesus Molina, parents of passenger Sergio Molina -Kevin and Alesia McConnell, parents of Lucas McConnell, who was a passenger in Jennings' vehicle -Timothy and Priscilla McLaughlin, parents of Isaiah McLaughlin, who was another passenger in Jennings' vehicle The first lawsuit was filed by Maria Lemus and Sergio Molina on behalf of their son Sergio E. Molina, who was riding in the bed of Couch's truck and suffered a traumatic brain injury and remains hospitalized. According to the suit petition, Molina's medical expenses exceeded an estimated $600,000 at the time and could top $10 million if he needs round-the-clock care. Five of the six suits (all those except the McLaughlin suit) were consolidated in January 2014 to save court costs. The McLaughlin and Mitchell suits were settled out-of-court by March 2014, and Sergio Molina's family reached an out-of-court settlement in May 2014. By November 2014, all of the suits had been settled with the exception of the McConnell suit, who had requested a jury trial. In the McConnell suit, lawyers for the defendants filed a writ of mandamus in July 2014 to prevent access to the records of Dr. Miller; the emergency stay was granted by the Texas Court of Appeals in August, but mandamus was subsequently denied in September. The McConnell suit was settled in October 2015. Fugitive status and capture: In late 2015, authorities began investigating a claim made on Twitter on December 2, 2015. The user posted a video along with a caption stating that Couch was in violation of his probation. The video shows several young people playing beer pong at a party, one of whom appears to be Couch. This conduct would be in direct violation of Couch's 10-year probation if any alcohol consumption were involved. Consequences might include a re-sentencing, which could mean a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, according to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office. A warrant was issued for Couch on December 11, 2015, after his probation officer could not reach him. On December 18, 2015, Couch and his mother were reported as missing, and as having not been reached after failing to make contact with Couch's probation officer. The fugitive hunt for Couch became a federal matter in December 2015 with the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, and other agencies joining the hunt for the suspect who was believed to have fled the country. A $5,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts or arrest of Ethan Couch was offered. Couch and his mother were discovered and arrested in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on December 28, 2015. Mexican authorities transported the pair to immigration offices in Guadalajara for deportation to the United States. Ethan Couch won a delay in his deportation, based on a constitutional appeal in Mexico, and was transported to a detention facility in Mexico City. On December 31, Tonya Couch was returned aboard a commercial flight to Los Angeles International Airport and was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department on a felony charge of hindering apprehension of a felon. She was initially being held on $1 million bail, but after her transfer back to Tarrant County, a judge dropped her bail to $75,000 and she was released from jail January 12, having posted bond.
The Provo Third Ward Chapel is a historic building located in Provo, Utah. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 2, 1979. Construction: Under the direction of Bishop Thomas N. Taylor, the Provo 3rd Ward chapel was completed in 1903, exemplifying one of the first English Parish Gothic churches in Utah. The building was designed by architect Richard C. Watkins, native of Provo. The cornerstone was laid in a ceremony on April 25, 1901. An adjoining amusement hall was built in 1913, and the entire interior was redone in the late 1930s under the direction of architect Fred L. Markham. History: In 1901 the recently formed Provo Third Ward of the Utah Stake was responsible for the construction of a new chapel. Using primarily local materials and locally employed workers, Bishop Thomas N. Taylor, also the mayor of Provo, and his building committee composed of Arthur Dixon, Edgar Perry, and H. J. Maiben, undertook the project. The cost of the new building was $11,000 and it was completed in 1903. The chapel received an organ that had been used in the Provo Tabernacle in 1907. The adjoining amusement hall was added in 1913, but only the top floow was finished at an additional cost of $15,000. In 1926 the lower floor of the amusement hall was completed for an additional $5,600. The Provo Third Ward Chapel and Amusement Hall served not only as a chapel for worship, but also provided the Saints with a place to interact socially in forms of dance, musicals, sports, etc. During World War II the amusement hall was transformed to serve as army barracks for Army Specialized Training Units associated with Brigham Young University. Current use and ownership: The building was eventually vacated by the LDS Church in the year 1979 and sold. Subsequently it has been used for various purposes including serving as the "Ivy Tower" dance club which was a tri-level club playing 3 different genres of music between 1989 and 1992. Head DJ Michael (MIDIhead) Babbitt was one of the club's more outgoing performers who went on to produce music and subsequently win The American Synthpop Award in 2001. Other occupants included Scampi's restaurant and private academies. Since 1992 it has been owned and operated by the Discovery Academy a private school for trouble youth. The Provo 3rd Ward Chapel was designated to the historic Provo Landmark register on April 28, 1995. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Francis Gladden Bishop was a minor leader in the Latter Day Saint movement after the 1844 succession crisis. Bishop claimed to be the rightful successor to Joseph Smith; from the 1850s until his death, Bishop led a succession of small groups of Latter Day Saints and converts. His followings have been identified informally by later writers as the Gladdenites and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Gladdenite), though the name of a late following is formally The Church of Jesus Christ of the New Jerusalem. In the 1850s, many of Bishop's followers abandoned him and joined the movement that would later become the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Early life: Bishop was born in Livonia, Livingston County, New York, the third of nine children born to devout Methodists Isaac Gates Bishop and Mary Hyde. According to some reports, Mary Hyde Bishop "was a religious enthusiast and previous to [Gladden's] birth had predicted that she would bear a son who would some day gladden the hearts of the people and would be the flying roll which Zacharias [sic] saw with his prophetic eye" (see Zechariah 5:1-4). Other than serving as a missionary, Bishop's adult occupation is unknown. He was identified in various contemporary documents as a silversmith and as a pocket watch repairer. Latter Day Saint: In July 1832, Bishop was baptized by Latter Day Saint missionaries at Olean, New York and became a member of the Church of Christ, which had been founded two years earlier by Joseph Smith. Bishop also became an elder of the church and for a brief period of time in 1833 was president of the congregation of Latter Day Saints at Westfield, New York. At some point Bishop was also ordained to the priesthood office of seventy. In 1838 and 1839 Bishop was a missionary for the church in North Carolina, Virginia (including present-day West Virginia), Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, and Upper Canada. During his mission, Bishop published a short history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Apostasies: On August 7, 1835, Bishop was disfellowshipped from the church by a high council of the church at Bradford, Massachusetts because "it was proved that he had erred in spirit and in doctrine, and was considerably inclined to enthusiasm, and much lifted up". On September 28, the Presiding High Council at Kirtland, Ohio reinstated Bishop and warned him against "advancing heretical doctrines which were derogatory to the character of the Church of the Latter Day Saints". However, one contemporary commentator stated that "Gladden gave Joseph [Smith] much trouble; was cut off from the church and taken back and rebaptized nine times".
The Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee is a Christian denomination associated with the Holiness Movement as originally a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Wesleyan Methodist Church was formed in 1843 as a voice of opposition to slavery views held by the Methodist Episcopal Church. However, over time, the Wesleyan Methodist Church also began to make changes that prompted a further separation by those who chose to call themselves the Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee. The Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee today aligns itself in many ways with the Conservative Holiness Movement. History 1968-1987- Formation of the Connection: The Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee was formed over what many believed was a liberalization of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. "Holiness as a doctrine still adorned the pages of its Book of Discipline, but holiness in practice and true holiness standards became a very rare thing."1 Also there was disagreement concerning the organization of the denomination. Those who sided with the Wesleyan Methodist Church wished to have a strong, centralized government while those who eventually broke away and formed the Tennessee connection favored a loose "connection" of like minded churches. D.P. Denton and his conservative sympathizers met in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1966 to discuss the formation of a new connection with more individual church autonomy. "The new group would continue the use of Wesleyan Methodist Discipline...with the exception that each church would be completely autonomous." 2 "When the General Leaders of the Wesleyan Methodist Church entered into a number of lawsuits against Conferences and Local Churches of their own denomination, the Tennessee Conference (chartered by the State of Tennessee) had no choice but to withdraw its fellowship from the denomination."3 Following a series of Conference Meetings, the reorganization became final on May 4, 1968. The officers of the reorganized Connection were: D.P. Denton, President W.G. Harwell, Vice President Mary Jane Biddle, Secretary Carl Johnson, Treasurer "The Board of Managers was so composed that each section of the Connection had representation and no one group could become dominant." 1987- In March 1987, after 35 years as President, D.P. Denton resigned to form a small group called the Bible Methodist Fellowship. and Earl Newton became president. When Earl Newton resigned, the Presidency has been held for shorter time periods by Gerald Wright, Leroy Archibald4 and Richard Midkiff. Doctrine: The Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee would be characterized as a conservative evangelical denomination holding to the Wesleyan-Arminian persuasion and believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. They believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, and affirm their faith in the "literal creation of man by the immediate creative act of God." They affirm their faith in the doctrine of regeneration, or the "new birth" by which the sinner becomes a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. A key affirmation of faith is their belief in the doctrine of entire sanctification by which work of grace the heart is cleansed by the Holy Spirit from all inbred sin through faith in Jesus when the believer presents himself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God and is enabled through grace to love God with all his heart and to walk in His heart and to walk In His heart and to walk in His holy commandments blameless. By the act of cleansing it is to be interpreted and taught by the ministry and teachers that is not a “suppression” or a “counteraction” of “liberated sin” so as to “make it imperative”, but to “destroy” or “to eradicate” from the heart so that the believer not only has a right to heaven, but is so conformed to God’s nature that he will enjoy God and heaven forever. These terms are what we hold that that cleansing from all sin implies Missions and Camps: Bible Methodist Missions have been primarily supported in New Mexico and Mexico. In 1983, Dine Mission was founded in Gallup, New Mexico. The Connection has actively supported this mission since its founding. The annual camp and conference are held in Knoxville, Tennessee at the official Connection camp. Another Bible Methodist Camp—Salisbury Bible Methodist Camp--has also been held for many years in Salisbury, North Carolina. Commonly Mistaken Identity: The Bible Methodist Connection of Tennessee is commonly mistaken to be part of or associated with the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches. However, although they share many similar characteristics, the two groups have never had any mutual association. Both groups separated from the Wesleyan Methodist Connection as individual entities. Growth of the Connection: There are currently twenty-one churches in seven states (Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.)
The Girl of the Uchter Moor also known as Moora is the name given to the female Iron Age bog body remains, discovered in 2000 in the marshland near Uchte, Germany. The remains include vertebrae, hair and skull pieces. The studies of the body began in 2005. The radiocarbon dating performed at the University of Kiel showed that Moora had died between 764 and 515 B.C. Despite common Iron Age burial practices, the body was not cremated. All of the body parts are estimated to have been found except for one scapula. Before DNA analysis, the body was initially believed to be that of a sixteen-year-old girl, Elke Kerll, who had disappeared in 1969 after going to a dance club. Analysis: Moora was determined to be between 17 and 19 years old at the time of her death. She was left-handed. It is thought that Moora experienced intense physical labour and likely repeatedly carried heavy loads, like water jugs, while roaming through the marshland. According to Saring Dennis from the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Moora sustained at least two partial skull fractures that gradually healed themselves. Moora also suffered long periods of sickness associated with the hardships of long winters. The bone growth lines showed that during her childhood and adolescence, Moora suffered from chronic malnutrition. Moora was also diagnosed to have a benign tumor at the base of her skull, which led to the spine curvature and chronic inflammation in the leg bones. However Moora's cause of death is unknown. It was only determined that Moora was naked at the time she was deposited into the bog. Facial reconstructions: Moora's face has been reconstructed four times, two of which were digital. The two that were created in the traditional way had been created by molding material over a plastic replica of the skull. The artist had to estimate the shape of the girl's lips, hair color and skin tones, similar to the process of the Yde Girl. The digital reconstructions were created by Ursela Wittwer-Backofen.
Reverend Henry Weston Smith (Preacher Smith) was an early resident of Deadwood, South Dakota. Unlike most of the residents of the time, he was not interested in material riches; instead, he was the first preacher in the Black Hills gold rush camps of any denomination. Birth and early years: Smith was born to Joshua Weston and Percey or Persey (Galpin) Smith of Berlin, Connecticut. In 1847 he married Ruth Yeomans, but his wife and infant son died a year later. At the age of 23, Smith became a Methodist preacher. On February 23, 1858, while still in Connecticut, he married Lydia Ann Joselyn or Joslin, with whom he had four children. He subsequently moved to Massachusetts and, during the American Civil War, served with the Massachusetts 52nd Infantry, after which he became a doctor. Move to Deadwood: In 1876, although not being appointed to do so by the church, Smith felt a calling to minister to the Black Hills gold rush, and that spring he accompanied a wagon train from Cheyenne, Wyoming to the Black Hills, travelling on foot. According to George V. Ayres, later a prominent merchant in the area, "Reverend Smith held the first church service in the Hills" at Custer City, on May 7, 1876, with 30 men and five women in attendance. Smith preached in Custer again the next Sunday, then offered $5 to Captain C.V. Gardner to accompany his wagon train to Deadwood, a three day walk; as a Methodist himself, Gardner allowed Smith to come along without charge. In Deadwood, Smith became a street preacher, working at odd jobs during the week and perhaps prospecting, preaching on Main Street on Sundays. John S. McClintock's memoirs describe Smith preaching near the corner of Main and Gold Streets, to a mixture of curiosity and respect. As described by Gardner: "In the years past I have noted in the press many statements regarding incidents connected with the man known as Preacher Smith. Most of them are pure romance. … how he used to go into the saloons and pray are pure fiction. I never saw him in a saloon, and I am sure he never was. He preached frequently in Deadwood, generally in front of Bent and Deetken’s drug store or in front of my store. … in those days the town had 3,000 to 4,000 people, located mostly on one street, and he had no trouble in securing an audience. He was a man about 6 feet tall, with a fine physique and I should say 40 years old. He was very quiet and unassuming in manner. I know nothing of his past life, as he never volunteered to tell me and it was not wise in those days to inquire too closely into a man’s antecedents." Death: On Sunday August 20, 1876, Smith left a note on his cabin door after his Deadwood service, saying "Gone to Crook City to preach, and if God is willing, will be back at three o’clock." Friends concerned about the danger of Indians or thieves had warned Smith against walking alone and unarmed, but he is remembered as replying, "The Bible is my protection. It has never failed me yet." Unfortunately, Smith was murdered as he walked to Crook City, his body found alongside the road by a local resident, the exact location no longer remembered. He had not been robbed, causing his death to be generally attributed to Indians, although some still believed he was killed by thieves. Another theory, however, held that he was murdered by a person or persons representing the saloons, brothels, casinos, and other 'vice dens' of Deadwood, who feared that his preaching would cut into their income. Similar rumors had circulated after the murder of Wild Bill Hickok. Seth Bullock described Smith’s death in an August 21, 1876 letter to Reverend J. S. Chadwick: "It becomes my painful duty to inform you that Rev. H. Weston Smith was killed by the Indians yesterday (Sunday) a short distance from this place. He had an appointment to preach here in the afternoon, and was on his way from Crook City when a band of Indians overtook him and shot him. His body was not mutilated in any way, and was found in the road a short time after the hellish deed had been done. His death was instantaneous as he was shot through the heart. His funeral occurred today from his home in this town. Everything was done by kind hands, that was possible under the circumstances, and a Christian burial given him. I was not personally acquainted with Mr. Smith, but knew him by reputation, as an earnest worker in his Master’s Vineyard. He has preached here on several occasions, and was the only minister in the Hills. He died in the harness and his memory will be always with those who knew him. A letter from you which I found in his home causes me to convey this sad intelligence to you." Smith's body was buried in a hillside cemetery in Deadwood, the service conducted by C. E. Hawley, a member of Smith’s flock, in the absence of other clergy. The casket was later moved to Mount Moriah Cemetery, with a life-sized statue marking his grave. Memorial: In 1914 the Society of Black Hills Pioneers erected a monument on the road between Deadwood and Spearfish, South Dakota, in the approximate area where Smith’s body had been found. In 1994, Highway 85 north of Deadwood, along with the Preacher Smith Monument, was relocated by construction of a four-lane road. A copper time capsule that had been buried in 1914 was opened, providing some period artifacts, such as newspapers; after examination, they, along with additional contemporary items, were returned to the capsule and reburied under the new monument, three miles south of Deadwood on the rebuilt Highway 85. The new monument was rededicated on August 20, 1995, on the 119th anniversary of Smith's murder. The highlight of the ceremony was a reading by local resident, historian, and lawyer Reed Richards of the sermon Preacher Smith had planned to deliver at Crook City that fateful day, 119 years delayed. In popular culture: Smith was portrayed in the American television series Deadwood by Ray McKinnon. The letter written by the character of Seth Bullock in the third season episode "Unauthorized Cinnamon" is similar to the August 21, 1876 letter to Reverend J. S. Chadwick written by the real Seth Bullock. The circumstances of his fictional demise were changed to a gradual decay due to a brain tumor and was later given euthanasia by Al Swearengen.
Channon Gail Christian, 21, and Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, were an unmarried couple from Knoxville, Tennessee. They were kidnapped the evening of January 6, 2007 when Christian's vehicle was carjacked, and taken to a rental house, where they were raped, tortured, and murdered. Five people were arrested and charged in the case. The grand jury indicted four of the suspects on counts of capital murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape, and theft, while a fifth was indicted on federal charges of carjacking. Of the four charged at the state level, three (Letalvis D. Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, and George Thomas) had multiple prior felony convictions. After a jury trial, Lemaricus Davidson was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Vanessa Coleman was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison for facilitating the crimes, and Eric Dewayne Boyd was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for being an accessory after the fact to carjacking. The state convictions were all initially set aside because of misconduct by the presiding judge, who has since been disbarred. Retrials were originally slated for the summer and fall of 2012. The orders for retrials of Davidson and Cobbins were subsequently overturned by the Tennessee State Supreme Court, and their convictions and sentences stand. The Coleman and Thomas retrials resulted in convictions, but with reduced sentences. Coleman's sentence was reduced to 35 years, and Thomas' sentence was reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Victims: Christian moved from Louisiana to Tennessee with her family in 1997. She was a graduate of Farragut High School and a senior majoring in sociology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Newsom grew up in Knoxville, where he was a former baseball player for the Halls High School Red Devils, graduating in 2002. Crime: Christian and Newsom were leaving an apartment together on the evening of January 6, 2007 to go to a friend's party when they were abducted via her car from the apartment complex parking lot. Worried about not hearing from their daughter, Christian's parents sought help from her mobile phone provider. They found her abandoned Toyota 4-Runner on Monday, January 8. Police recovered an envelope from the vehicle that yielded fingerprint evidence leading them to Lemaricus Davidson of 2316 Chipman Street, an address two blocks from Christian's car. When police went to the address on Tuesday, January 9, they found the house unoccupied and Christian's body in a bin in the kitchen. Newsom's body was discovered near a set of nearby railroad tracks. He had been bound, blindfolded, gagged, and stripped naked from the waist down. He had been shot in the back of the head, neck, and back, and his body had been set on fire. According to the testimony of the Knox County Acting Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan at the trial of Eric Boyd, Newsom was sodomized with an object and raped by a person. Police believe these actions took place at the house and his body was later wrapped and abandoned. The medical examiner said that Channon died after hours of torture, suffering injuries to her vagina, anus, and mouth in repeated sexual assaults. Bleach was poured down her throat and used to scrub her body while she was alive in an attempt by her attackers to remove DNA evidence. She was bound with curtains and strips of bedding, her face covered with a trash bag, and her body stashed in five large trash bags. These were placed inside a residential waste disposal unit and covered with sheets. The medical examiner said there was evidence that Channon slowly suffocated to death. Suspects and indictments- The four indicted by Tennessee prosecutors were: -George Geovonni "Detroit" Thomas (born January 23, 1983), 24, who faced a total of 46 charges. Thomas was indicted on 16 counts of felony murder related to the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 2 counts of premeditated murder, 2 counts of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. -Letalvis Darnell "Rome" Cobbins (born December 20, 1982), 24, faced the same 46 charges as Thomas. He was also charged with assaulting a correctional officer while incarcerated pending trial. In 2003, Cobbins had been convicted of third-degree attempted robbery in New York. He and Davidson are brothers. -Lemaricus Devall "Slim" Davidson (born June 13, 1981), 25, who faced the same 46 charges as Thomas. Previously Davidson had just, on August 5, 2006, completed a five-year sentence in Tennessee on a previous felony conviction for carjacking and aggravated robbery. -Vanessa Coleman (born June 29, 1988), 18, was arrested by the Lebanon Police Department in Lebanon, Kentucky. She faced 40 Tennessee state charges. Coleman was indicted on 12 counts of felony murder related to the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 1 count of premeditated murder (of Christian only), 1 count of especially aggravated robbery (of Newsom only), 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. In each indictment, the numerous rape counts were included to provide a range of options for prosecutors, not to reflect the number of rapes that occurred. In addition, one suspect was separately indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Tennessee: Eric DeWayne "E" Boyd, 34, was arrested in connection with the fatal carjacking; he was not indicted by the Knox County grand jury. Boyd faced federal charges as an accessory after the fact for helping the suspects evade the police. Later, Boyd was accused by Thomas and Cobbins of the rape and murder of Newsom, and a search warrant was obtained for his DNA. The accusations by Thomas and Cobbins did not result in state charges against Boyd. First trials: The four suspects indicted in Knox County were scheduled to be tried separately, at trials scheduled between May and August 2008. In February 2008, the trial date for the subjects indicted in Knox County was moved to 2009. Judge Richard Baumgartner allowed Thomas and Cobbins to be tried by juries from Nashville, Davidson County. In an apparent attempt to force the prosecution to try the case with the least forensic evidence first, the attorneys for Thomas filed a motion for a speedy trial, arguing there was no forensic link between their client and the crime scene. Thomas was granted the motion and was scheduled to go on trial on August 11, 2008. Judge Baumgartner ruled that Thomas' phone calls made from the jailhouse to his acquaintances were admissible as evidence. District Attorney Randy Nichols announced that the state would seek the death penalty for both Cobbins (the first to go to trial) and Coleman if convicted. Davidson was also indicted for a second robbery which was committed after the murders. The publicity against the accused led the defense to argue that a change of venue was required in order to ensure a fair trial. The state argued that an impartial jury could be found during voir dire, and the presiding judge subsequently denied the motion as "premature". Judge Baumgartner threatened to ban the Newsom family from the courtroom after they called Davidson's attorney, Doug Trant, a "jerk" after he interrupted their discussion. Verdicts from the first trials: On April 16, 2008, Eric Boyd was found guilty in Federal court of being an accessory to a fatal carjacking and for failing to report the location of a known fugitive. Boyd's was the first case to go to trial, and he was the only suspect not charged with murder. He was sentenced to the maximum of 18 years in Federal prison. He is incarcerated at Beckley FCI. On August 25, 2009, Letalvis D. Cobbins was found guilty of the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Cobbins faced the possibility of the death penalty because he was convicted of first degree felony murder in the case of Christian. He was found guilty of facilitation of murder for Newsom but he was acquitted of Newsom's rape. The jurors worked about 10 hours Monday and on Tuesday morning before reaching a verdict. On August 26, Cobbins was sentenced to life without parole. On October 28, 2009, Lemaricus Devall Davidson was found guilty on all counts. He was found not guilty on three counts of the aggravated rape of Christopher Newsom but was found guilty of the lesser included charges of facilitation of rape. The jury sentenced Lemaricus Davidson to death on 4 of the conviction counts. On December 8, 2009, George Thomas was found guilty on multiple counts, including the ones for which the other defendants were acquitted. The jury returned a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on each of the 4 capital convictions. The convictions of Boyd, Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas left Vanessa Coleman as the last defendant to face trial. She was granted immunity by federal authorities for testimony in the federal case on the car-jacking, but the state courts ruled that the federal grant of immunity could not extend to the state charges on murder and rape. On May 13, 2010, Coleman was acquitted of first degree murder but found guilty on lesser charges. On July 30, 2010, she was sentenced to 53 years behind bars. Appeals and retrials: The defendants in the state cases (excluding Eric Boyd, who was convicted at the federal level) all appealed their convictions. During this time, the sentencing judge, Richard Baumgartner, one of Knox County's three Criminal Court judges, was forced to resign from the bench in March 2011. He had admitted to being addicted to drugs and to having sex and purchasing pills from convicts during breaks in court sessions. These actions were held to have impaired his ability to conduct trials during his final two years on the bench and compromised all trials he held during this time, including the initial trials of the above defendants. Baumgartner was later disbarred as a direct result of his actions. On December 1, 2011, seven weeks after Baumgartner's disbarment became final, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted new trials to all four state defendants after a TBI investigation outlined evidence that Baumgartner was likely impaired while presiding over those trials. (Other criminal cases heard during the time period were also overturned for retrial.) Jurors expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, noting that it was they – not Baumgartner, who allegedly favored the defense during the trial – who convicted the killers. Blackwood tentatively set retrials for between June and November 2012, pending state appeals of the decisions, and set bail at $1 million USD for Coleman, the only defendant whose sentence had the possibility of parole. Separately, Blackwood denied a change of venue, but allowed for potential jurors to be brought in from outside Knox County. Because of double jeopardy, the defendants faced at maximum the sentences they had already received, and thus only Davidson was eligible for capital punishment. The decision to hold retrials for Cobbins, Davidson, and Thomas (the decision to retry Coleman was not appealed) was affirmed in a split decision by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on April 13. But, in May 2012, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned Blackwood's ruling ordering new trials for Cobbins, Davidson, and Thomas, commenting that its "order should not be construed as condoning or excusing" Baumgartner's misconduct. In June 2012, prosecutors filed to have Judge Blackwood recused from the case after he invoked the "13th juror rule" to reverse himself and decline to grant new trials for Cobbins and Davidson (the motion for recusal also applies to Thomas' case, although he is still set to have a retrial). The motion cites Blackwood's emotional involvement in the case as potentially interfering with a fair trial. Following Blackwood's recusal, Senior Judge Walter Kurtz was named to oversee the retrials and the decisions to grant them. Ultimately, retrials were denied for Cobbins and Davidson, but a retrial was granted for Thomas. (Coleman's retrial was unaffected by the motions.) Verdicts from the retrials: Facing the same charges as in her first trial, on November 20, 2012, Vanessa Coleman was convicted by a jury of facilitation of aggravated kidnapping, facilitation of rape, and the facilitation of the murder of Channon Christian, but not of Christopher Newsom. These convictions were on lesser charges than her initial convictions. While the retrial was conducted in Knoxville, the jury for the retrial was selected from Jackson in western Tennessee, more than 300 miles west of Knoxville on I-40. Judge Blackwood sentenced Coleman to 35 years in prison on February 1, 2013, minus credit for time already served. Coleman will be eligible for parole in early 2019. On May 17, 2013, the retrial of George Thomas (with a jury empaneled in Nashville) ended in a verdict of guilty on all counts with a lesser charge on count 17. He was re-sentenced to life in prison by the jury, but with the possibility of parole after 51 years. On June 4, 2013, Senior Judge Walter Kurtz. gave George Thomas two life sentences (consecutive) for the murders and 25 years (multiple concurrent) for the rapes. Incarceration status: Vanessa Coleman, the only female charged and convicted in the crimes, is held at the Tennessee Prison for Women. Serving a sentence of 35 years, Coleman is eligible for parole in 2017 and her sentence is to end no later than 2042. In August 2014 the families of the victims were notified that with good behavior, Coleman's sentence is being reduced by 16 days per month of incarceration, making her eligible for parole consideration in October 2014. The parole hearing was rescheduled from October to December. At the December 2014 hearing, Coleman was denied parole and her next parole consideration date was set for December 2020. Cobbins and Thomas were originally incarcerated at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. After the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex opened in 2012, they were transferred to that facility. Cobbins is serving a life sentence without parole, and Thomas is serving 123 years to life. Davidson was sentenced to death and was housed at Riverbend, the prison location of the state's death row. He was sentenced to death on October 30, 2009. Eric Boyd, who was convicted on federal charges, is serving his sentence of 18 years at FCI Beckley, a medium-security prison in West Virginia. With time off for good behavior (there is no parole in the federal prison system), Boyd is eligible for release in early October 2022. Reaction and racism: According to the Associated Press, bloggers and media critics complained that the story was ignored by the national media because the victims were white and all five of the suspects were black. Most news reports came from local media and online news sites. Erroneous early reporting made claims of dismemberment and mutilation of Christian's body. The District Attorney denied most of the original reports containing misinformation (the source was a federal deputy US Marshal after the suspects' arrest in Kentucky). The president of Criminal Justice Journalists, an association of crime, court and prison writers, editors and producers, said, "I can't say that this one would have had any more coverage if five whites had been accused of doing these things to two blacks, absent a blatant racial motive... as bad as this crime is, the apparent absence of any interest group involvement or any other 'angle' might also explain the lack of coverage." Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said that there was no indication the crimes were racially motivated and that the murders and assault "appears to have been a random violent act." "There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime," said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Atty. Randy Nichols. "We know from our investigation that the people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialized with white people, dated white people. So not only is there no evidence of any racial animus, there's evidence to the contrary." Some commentators continued to disagree, claiming that such a crime represented motives of racial hatred. Conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin repeated this opinion on her blog and on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor program. Prior to the DA's statement, Newsom's mother sympathized with the "hate crime" position stating, "It may have started out as a carjacking, but what it developed into was blacks hating whites." Christian's father (addressing those whom he believes used his daughter's death to further their own agenda) stated "the crime ain't about you." The case also attracted the attention of white supremacists. On May 27, 2007, around 30 white supremacists led by Alex Linder rallied in downtown Knoxville in protest of the murders. They were met by counter-protesters, many dressed as clowns (parodying the Ku Klux Klan). After the protest, columnist Leonard Pitts dismissed claims that the crime was under reported. He cited a 2001 report that found "Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in news media as victims of crime and significantly overrepresented as perpetrators." Pitts added that he was "unkindly disposed toward the crackpots, incendiaries and flat-out racists who have chosen this tragedy upon which to take an obscene and ludicrous stand" and that they and any other white Americans who felt victimized by the perceived under reporting could "cry me a river." The house at 2316 Chipman Street was bought by Waste Connections, a national garbage collection company that had a depot on the next lot. Waste Connections demolished the house in October 2008, with a spokesman stating that the company's intent is to replace the house with a memorial dedicated to Newsom and Christian. Legacy: -In 2008, a Golf Tournament and Memorial Foundation were established in Channon Christian's memory to provide a scholarship for a Farragut High School Senior to attend the University of Tennessee. -A little-league baseball tournament in Newsom's honor was held at the Halls Community Park in 2008 and 2009. A memorial scholarship is given annually in his name to a graduating Halls High School baseball player.
The standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) are the four books that currently constitute its open scriptural canon. (The scriptural canon is "open" due to the LDS belief in continuous revelation. Additions can be made to the scriptural canon with the "common consent" of the church's membership.) The four books of the standard works are: -The Holy Bible (King James version) (the LDS Church uses the King James Version (KJV) in English-speaking countries; other versions are used in non-English speaking countries) -The Book of Mormon, subtitled since 1981 "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" -The Doctrine and Covenants of the LDS Church -The Pearl of Great Price (containing the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith—Matthew, Joseph Smith—History, and the Articles of Faith) The standard works are printed and distributed by the LDS Church both in a single binding called a quadruple combination and as a set of two books, with the Bible in one binding, and the other three books in a second binding called a triple combination. Current editions of the standard works include a number of non-canonical study aids, including a Bible dictionary, photographs, maps and gazetteer, topical guide, index, footnotes, cross references, and excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST). Continuing revelation: Under the LDS Church's doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe in the principle of revelation from God to his children. Individual members are entitled to divine revelation for confirmation of truths, gaining knowledge or wisdom, meeting personal challenges, and so forth. Parents are entitled to revelation for raising their families. Divine revelation for the direction of the entire church comes from God to the President of the Church, who is considered to be a prophet by Latter-day Saints in the same sense as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, and other biblical leaders. When prophets and general authorities of the church speak as "moved upon by the Holy Ghost", it "shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." Members are encouraged to ponder these revelations and pray to determine for themselves the truthfulness of doctrine. Adding to the canon of scripture: The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that "all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church."(D&C 28:13). This applies to adding new scripture. LDS Church president Harold B. Lee taught "The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church." There are six recorded instances of this happening in the LDS Church: -April 6, 1830: When the church was organized, the Bible and Book of Mormon were unanimously accepted as scripture. -August 17, 1835: Select revelations from Joseph Smith were unanimously accepted as scripture. These were later printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. -October 10, 1880: The Pearl of Great Price was unanimously accepted as scripture. Also at that time, other revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants – which had not been accepted as scripture in 1835 because they were received after that date – were unanimously accepted as scripture. -October 6, 1890: Official Declaration 1 was accepted unanimously as scripture. It later began to be published in the Doctrine and Covenants. -April 3, 1976: Two visions (one received by Joseph Smith and the other by Joseph F. Smith) were accepted as scripture and added to the Pearl of Great Price. (The two visions were later moved to the Doctrine and Covenants as sections 137 and 138.) -September 30, 1978: Official Declaration 2 was accepted unanimously as scripture. It immediately was added to the Doctrine and Covenants. When a doctrine undergoes this procedure, the LDS Church treats it as the word of God, and it is used as a standard to compare other doctrines. Lee taught: It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they speak and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea!" And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works (I think that is why we call them "standard"—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false; regardless of the position of the man who says it. The Bible: English-speaking Latter-day Saints typically study the LDS Church-published edition of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV), which includes LDS-oriented chapter headings, footnotes referencing books in the Standard Works, and select passages from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Though the KJV was always commonly used, it was officially adopted in the 1950s when J. Reuben Clark, of the church's First Presidency, argued extensively that newer translations, such as Revised Standard Version of 1952, were of lower quality and less compatible with LDS tradition. After publishing its own edition in 1979, the First Presidency announced in 1992 that the KJV was the church's official English Bible, stating "while other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations." In 2010 this was written into the church's Handbook, which directs official church policy and programs. A Spanish version, with a similar format and using a slightly revised version of the 1909 Reina-Valera translation, was published in 2009. Latter-day Saints in other non-English speaking areas may use other versions of the Bible. Though the Bible is part of the LDS canon and members believe it to be the word of God, they believe that omissions and mistranslations are present in even the earliest known manuscripts. They claim that the errors in the Bible have led to incorrect interpretations of certain passages. Thus, as church founder Joseph Smith explained, the church believes the Bible to be the word of God "as far as it is translated correctly." The church teaches that "the most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations". The manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible state that "the Song of Solomon is not inspired scripture," and therefore it is not included in LDS canon and rarely studied by members of the LDS Church. However, it is still printed in every version of the King James Bible published by the church. The Apocrypha: Although the Apocrypha was part of the 1611 edition of the KJV, the LDS Church does not currently use the Apocrypha as part of its canon. Joseph Smith taught that while the contemporary edition of the Apocrypha was not to be relied on for doctrine, it was potentially useful when read with a spirit of discernment. Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible: Joseph Smith translated selected verses of the Bible, working by subject. Smith did not complete the entire text of the Bible during his lifetime. However, his incomplete work is known as the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, or the Inspired Version. Although this selected translation is not generally quoted by church members, the English Bible issued by the church and commonly used by Latter-day Saints contains cross references to the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), as well as an appendix containing major excerpts from it. However, with the exceptions of Smith's translation of portions of the Book of Genesis (renamed Selections from the Book of Moses) and the translation of Matthew (called Joseph Smith–Matthew), no portions of the JST have been officially canonized by the LDS Church. The Book of Mormon: Latter-day Saints consider The Book of Mormon a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It contains a record of God’s dealings with the prophets and ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The introduction to the book asserts that it "contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon." Segments of the Book of Mormon provide an account of the culture, religious teachings and civilizations of groups who immigrated to the New World. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, identified in the book as the Nephites and the Lamanites. Some years after their arrival, the Nephites met with a similar group, the Mulekites who left the Middle East during the same period. An older group arrived in America much earlier, when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites and their story is condensed in the Book of Ether. The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of Jesus Christ among Nephites soon after his resurrection. This account presents the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and offers men peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come. The latter segments of the Book of Mormon details the destruction of these civilizations, as all were destroyed except the Lamanites. The book asserts that the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. According to his record, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by gift and power of God through the Urim and Thummim. Eleven witnesses signed testimonies of its authenticity, which are now included in the preface to the Book of Mormon. The Three Witnesses testified to having seen an angel present the gold plates, and to having heard God bear witness to its truth. Eight others stated that Joseph Smith showed them the plates and that they handled and examined them. The Doctrine and Covenants: The LDS Church's Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of revelations, policies, letters, and statements given to the modern church by past church presidents. This record contains points of church doctrine and direction on church government. The book has existed in numerous forms, with varying content, throughout the history of the church and has also been published in differing formats by the various Latter Day Saint denominations. When the church chooses to canonize new material, it is typically added to the Doctrine and Covenants; the most recent changes were made in 1981. The Pearl of Great Price: The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of material produced by Joseph Smith and deals with many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of the church. Many of these materials were initially published in church periodicals in the early days of church. The Pearl of Great Price contains five sections: -Selections from the Book of Moses: portions of the Book of Genesis from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. -The Book of Abraham: a translation from papyri acquired by Smith in 1835, dealing with Abraham's journeys in Egypt. The work contains many distinctive Mormon doctrines such as exaltation. -Joseph Smith—Matthew: portions of the Gospel of Matthew from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. -Joseph Smith—History: a first-person narrative of Smith's life before the founding of the church. The material is taken from Documentary History of the Church and is based on a history written by Smith in 1838. -The Articles of Faith: concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism composed by Smith in 1842. Church instruction: Historically, in the LDS Church's Sunday School and Church Educational System (CES) classes, the standard works have been studied and taught in a four-year rotation: -Year One : Old Testament (also includes some coverage of related topics in the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price) -Year Two : New Testament -Year Three: Book of Mormon -Year Four: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History However, church leaders have emphasized that Latter-day Saints should not restrict their study of the standard works to the particular book being currently studied in Sunday School or other religious courses. Specifically, church president Ezra Taft Benson taught: At present, the Book of Mormon is studied in our Sunday School and seminary classes every fourth year. This four-year pattern, however, must not be followed by Church members in their personal and family study. We need to read daily from the pages of [that] book .... In November 2014, the church announced changes in the curriculum to be used within CES, including the church's four institutions of higher education, such as Brigham Young University. The church's seminary program will retain the current four-year rotation of study. Beginning in the fall of 2015, incoming institute of religion and CES higher education students will be required to take four new cornerstone courses: -Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel -Foundations of the Restoration -The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon -The Eternal Family The church's intent is to further integrate the teachings found in the Standard Works with that of church leaders and other current sources.