Monday, February 29, 2016
Lyle Stevik was the alias used by an unidentified man who committed suicide by hanging in 2001, in a motel in Amanda Park, Washington. As of 2016, his actual name has not been discovered. The man was seen alive prior to his death, including at the hotel where he died. He had checked into his room as Lyle Stevik, presumably using the name of a character from Joyce Carol Oates' novel You Must Remember This (1987). Circumstances: Stevik checked into a motel in Amanda Park after arriving in the area by bus. The clerk stated the man may have possibly been Canadian, as he was described as speaking in a similar accent. When registering for his room, he wrote the alias and the address of a different hotel, a Best Western establishment in Meridian, Idaho. The hotel was located, however, none of the staff members recognized the decedent. He was also seen walking back and forth at the side of a highway near the motel, but it is uncertain if it was before or after he paid for his room. He requested and received a second room after complaining about noise from outside. He may have used the name of a character from the novel You Must Remember This, authored by Joyce Carol Oates. In the story, the character who bore the same name, spelled as "Stevick," tried to commit suicide. Death: His body was discovered the day after he had checked into the building. However, an initial report stated that it had been more than one day. He had used his belt to hang himself inside of the closet; the belt secured by the bar used to hang clothing. The man had also left money to pay for the night he stayed and also another note reading "suicide." Upon the discovery of the body, it was noted that the man had closed the blinds in the room and had also lined the closet, in which he hanged himself, with pillows. At the bedside table, he had left a note that contained $160 in $20 bills with the words "for the room." It is speculated that he may have committed suicide due to depression, or to quicken the pace of a fatal disease, although there were no signs of one. It is also possible that the man was native to a non-English speaking country. An investigator stated that it appeared as if the man was "seeing if he could spell" the word "suicide," as a piece of paper was located in a trash bin. He carried no luggage but had only a toothbrush and toothpaste. He wore a blue shirt in a plaid design, a gray tee shirt underneath, blue jeans, and black boots. He paid at the desk for one night's lodging, but stated he planned to stay for "a few more days". Post-mortem examination: Stevik was light-skinned but may have been of Native American or Hispanic heritage, as he had black hair and hazel eyes. It has also been stated by the local coroner's office that he may have been of an African admixture. He did have some dental work in his life, as his teeth showed evidence of previous treatment with braces. He had an old scar of a removed appendix. On his face, a mole on his chin was noted along with the fact that he had attached earlobes. The examination also indicated that he had lost a large amount of weight, up to 40 pounds (18 kg). This was estimated after the examiner noted that the size of the man's jeans were fairly large in comparison to his body. His age was estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old, placing an estimated birth date from 1971 to 1981. He may have been up to 35 years old, however, which would increase this estimation to as early as 1966. Investigation: Because Stevik was deceased for only a short time before his body was found, his fingerprints, dental characteristics, and DNA were easy for examiners to obtain. These identifying markers were placed in international databases, including CODIS, however, no matches have ever been made. It is believed that he came to the area from Port Angeles or Aberdeen, which had buses arrive in Amanda Park the same day. However, he was not recognized by either of the people who drove the vehicles. Two men who are currently missing, Alexander Craig and Steven Needham, have been ruled out as possible identities of Stevik. In April 2007, Stevik was listed as the profile of the month for "Missing from the Circle," a public service initiative launched by Lamar Associates, a law enforcement advisory organization based in Washington, D.C., to help solve cases involving missing or unidentified Native Americans.
The West Mesa Murders refer to the remains of 11 women found buried in 2009 in the desert on the West Mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico. No suspects have been identified in the case and a serial killer is believed to be responsible. Discovery: On February 2, 2009, a woman walking a dog found a human bone on the West Mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico metropolitan area, and reported it to police. As a result of the subsequent police investigation, authorities discovered the remains of 11 women and a fetus buried in the area. All the women were young; most were Hispanic, and most were involved with drugs and prostitution. Victims: The remains discovered in 2009 were identified as those of the following women, all of whom disappeared between 2001 and 2005: According to satellite photos the last victim was buried in 2005. -Jamie Barela, 15 -Monica Candelaria, 22 -Victoria Chavez, 26 -Virginia Cloven, 24 -Syllania Edwards, 15 -Cinnamon Elks, 32 -Doreen Marquez, 24 -Julie Nieto, 24 -Veronica Romero, 28 -Evelyn Salazar, 27 -Michelle Valdez, 22 Syllania Edwards, a 13 year-old runaway from Lawton, Oklahoma, was the only African American, and the only victim from out-of-state. Michelle Valdez was four months pregnant at the time of her death. On December 9, 2010, Albuquerque police released six photos of seven unidentified women who may also be linked to West Mesa. Some of the women appear to be unconscious, and many share the same physical characteristics as the original 11 victims. The following day the police released an additional photograph of another woman; this woman was subsequently identified by family members, who reported that she had died of natural causes several years ago. On December 13, 2010, police reported that two of the women in the photos had been identified as alive, and could have valuable information if they can be located. Police would not say how or where they had obtained the photos. Suspects: Police suspect that the bodies were all buried by the same person or persons, and may be the work of a serial killer sometimes referred to as the West Mesa Bone Collector. Authorities also believe that the murders are closely linked to the annual state fair, which attracts large numbers of prostitutes to the area in the fall. Two men who initially attracted police attention in connection with the murders were Fred Reynolds and Lorenzo Montoya. Reynolds was a pimp who knew one of the missing women and reportedly had photos of missing prostitutes; he died of natural causes in January 2009. Lorenzo Montoya lived less than two miles from the burial site; in 2006 there were reportedly tire tracks leading from his trailer to the site. In December 2006, Montoya strangled a teenager at his trailer; he was shot to death by the teen's boyfriend. In August 2010, police searched several properties in Joplin, Missouri associated with a local photographer and businessman in connection with the West Mesa cases. They confiscated "tens of thousands" of photos from the man, who reportedly used to visit the state fair in Albuquerque. In December 2010, convicted Colorado serial killer Scott Lee Kimball stated that he was being investigated for the West Mesa murders; he denies killing the women. No official suspects have ever been named in connection with the murders. A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Another suspect police are considering is Joseph Blea. Blea has been dubbed the "Mid-School Rapist" for his activities in the 1980s; police say he would often break into the homes of 13-15 year old girls who lived near McKinley Middle School in Albuquerque and rape them. In one case, there was a DNA sample but the rape test kit wasn't re-run until 2010, eventually linking Blea to the rape. Blea is also suspected by police of killing a prostitute; his DNA sample was located on the inner waistband and belt of a prostitute found dead on Central Ave (a notorious street for prostitution in the eastern part of the city). In addition, a tree tag from a nursery was found in the area where the West Mesa victims' bodies were buried; it was tracked to a nursery Blea once frequented. Blea, in the Mid-School rape case, was sentenced to 36 years in June 2015. This means Blea, who was 58 years old at the time of sentencing, will likely serve the rest of his life in prison.
The murder of Marcy Renee Conrad was perpetrated by Anthony Jacques Broussard, a 16-year-old American high school student. Conrad's death gained national attention due to the age of her killer, forcing a re-evaluation of California statutes regarding juvenile sentencing for violent crimes. The case triggered widespread media coverage, as a stark example of social disaffection among suburban youth. The murder of Marcy Renee Conrad, and subsequent events, were the inspiration for the screenplay of the Tim Hunter film, River's Edge. Murder: Marcy Renee Conrad, 14, was killed on November 3, 1981 in Milpitas, California by 16-year-old Anthony Jacques Broussard. Her body was transported in Broussard's pickup truck into nearby hills and dumped in a ravine. An autopsy confirmed that Conrad had been raped and then murdered by strangulation. After the murder, Broussard invited friends from Milpitas High School to view Conrad's corpse. Reports indicate that Broussard bragged about her death at school, and showed the body to at least 10 people. After two days, two students finally broke ranks with the others and notified police. When the other Milpitas students were asked why they had not alerted police, they responded that they "did not want to get in trouble." Broussard pled guilty and was sentenced to 25 years to life. He was denied a new trial in 1985, and has repeatedly been denied parole. As of April 2013 Broussard is still incarcerated at California's Folsom State Prison.
Rachel Ann Nunes (born May 7, 1966) is a United States best-selling and award-winning author born in Provo, Utah. She has authored dozens of novels, including the popular Autumn Rain series, the Ariana series, and the Huntington Family series. Nunes also published two picture books, Daughter of a King and The Secret of the King. She has also written under the name Teyla Branton. Early life: Rachel Ann Nunes was born in Provo on May 7, 1966 to Kenneth Ralph Tarr and Katherine Louise Schmidt. She is the second of eight children and the first of six daughters. Nunes was taught to read by her mother when she was four, beginning a lifetime fascination with the written word. She avidly devoured books and won many reading contests in school. Her father was a French professor at Brigham Young University during much of her young life, and he often corrected her grammar and that of her siblings. Education: Rachel Ann Nunes attended Kindergarten at Sunset Elementary in Provo, Utah, and for 1st to 4th grades she went to American Heritage, a private school, then located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. During her years at American Heritage, she lived with her family in Highland, Utah. After 4th grade, she returned to public school, but part of her fifth and sixth grade years, she spent in France with her family where her father was sent for six months in conjunction with Brigham Young University's Semester Abroad Program. There she read books about Marie Antoinette and roamed Paris with her older brother, having many experiences which would later appear in her early novels, most notably the Ariana series. After returning from France, the family moved to back to Provo. Nunes attended Dixon Junior High in Provo and graduated from Provo High School in May 1984. Personal: Nunes married Antonio Joao (TJ) Nunes in March 1989. They are the parents of seven children, three boys and four girls and make their home in Utah. According to her website, Nunes loves camping with her family, traveling and meeting new people, and, of course, writing. Awards: Nunes's novel Before I Say Goodbye won the 2011 Whitney Award for General Fiction. Her novels The Independence Club (2007), Fields of Home (2008) and Imprints, An Autumn Rain Novel (2010) were chosen as Whitney Award finalists. Her picture book Daughter of a King was voted best children’s book of the year in 2003 by the Association of Independent LDS Booksellers, and her picture book The Secret of the King was chosen in Utah by the Governor's Commission on Literacy to be awarded to all Utah grade schools as part of the Read With A Child For 20 Minutes Per Day program. Her favorite novels as a youth were science fiction and fantasy. She began writing her own short stories in the seventh grade and her first novel at seventeen. Plagiarism suit: In August 2014, Nunes filed a suit in a federal Utah court against school teacher Tiffanie Rushton for "plagiariz[ing]" her book. Nunes book, "Love to the Highest Bidder", was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1998. Rushton's book is titled A Bid for Love and copies had been sold after it was published online in early 2014. The suit stated, "In converting Ms. Nunes's work into The Auction Deal, (Rushton) added several graphic sex scenes and other adult content to what was originally a Christian novel." Nunes contacted Rushton about the story. Rushton offered multiple conflicting explanations to Nunes and others including one claim that the book "was developed in a writing group and that she wouldn't pursue publication". Nunes is suing Rushton for plagiarism, defamation, and harassment- seeking at least $150,000 in damages.
Skateboarding was popularized by the 1986 skateboarding cult classic Thrashin'. Directed by David Winters and starring Josh Brolin, it features appearances from many famous skaters such as Tony Alva, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi and Steve Caballero. Thrashin' also had a direct impact on Lords of Dogtown, as Catherine Hardwicke, who directed Lords of Dogtown, was hired by Winters to work on Thrashin' as a production designer where she met, worked with and befriended many famous skaters including the real Tony Alva, Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi and Steve Caballero. Skateboarding was, at first, tied to the culture of surfing. As skateboarding spread across the United States to places unfamiliar with surfing or surfing culture, it developed an image of its own. For example, the classic film short Video Days (1991) portrayed skateboarders as reckless rebels. California duo Jan and Dean recorded the song "Sidewalk Surfin'" in 1964, which is the Beach Boys song "Catch a Wave" with new lyrics associated with skateboarding. The image of the skateboarder as a rebellious, non-conforming youth has faded in recent years. Certain cities still oppose the building of skateparks in their neighborhoods, for fear of increased crime and drugs in the area. The rift between the old image of skateboarding and a newer one is quite visible: magazines such as Thrasher portray skateboarding as dirty, rebellious, and still firmly tied to punk, while other publications, Transworld Skateboarding as an example, paint a more diverse and controlled picture of skateboarding. Furthermore, as more professional skaters use hip hop, reggae, or hard rock music accompaniment in their videos, many urban youths, hip-hop fans, reggae fans, and hard rock fans are also drawn to skateboarding, further diluting the sport's punk image. Films such as the 1986 Thrashin', Grind and Lords of Dogtown, have helped improve the reputation of skateboarding youth, depicting individuals of this subculture as having a positive outlook on life, prone to poking harmless fun at each other, and engaging in healthy sportsman's competition. According to the film, lack of respect, egotism and hostility towards fellow skateboarders is generally frowned upon, albeit each of the characters (and as such, proxies of the "stereotypical" skateboarder) have a firm disrespect for authority and for rules in general. Group spirit is supposed to heavily influence the members of this community. In presentations of this sort, showcasing of criminal tendencies is absent, and no attempt is made to tie extreme sports to any kind of illegal activity. Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 movie starring Christian Slater as a skateboarding teen investigating the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother, was somewhat of an iconic landmark to the skateboarding genre of the era. Many well-known skaters had cameos in the film, including Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, where Mullen served as Slater's stunt double. The increasing availability of technology is apparent within the skateboarding community. Many skateboarders record and edit videos of themselves and friends skateboarding. However, part of this culture is to not merely replicate but to innovate; emphasis is placed on finding new places and landing new tricks. Skateboarding video games have also become very popular in skateboarding culture. Some of the most popular are the Tony Hawk series and Skate series for various consoles (including hand-held) and personal computer.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Ezra Taft Benson (commonly referred to as Ezra T. Benson to distinguish him from his great-grandson of the same name) was an apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Early life: Benson was born in Mendon, Massachusetts, the son of John Benson and Chloe Taft. His father moved to a farm in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, in 1817 where he lived for at least 16 of the next 18 years. Benson married Pamelia Andrus of Northbridge on January 1, 1832, at Uxbridge. They lived at Uxbridge for the next three years, between 1832 and 1835. Benson also had lived in Northbridge, on his sister's farm in 1830 and 1831. He and Pamelia had children, one of whom died at Uxbridge in 1833. Benson managed a hotel in the center of Uxbridge and made a considerable sum of money which he invested in a cotton mill at Holland, Massachusetts, before moving West. Conversion to Mormonism and church leadership: Benson and his wife were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on July 19, 1840, in Quincy, Illinois. He had moved to Quincy previously, and first met members of the church when they came there at the time they were driven out of Missouri. In April 1841, the Bensons moved to Nauvoo. Benson was ordained to the office of apostle on July 16, 1846. He replaced John E. Page in the Quorum of the Twelve. Benson arrived in the Salt Lake Valley as one of the first 148 Mormon settlers with the vanguard company of 1847, also known as the Brigham Young Pioneer Company. The company left Winter Quarters, Nebraska, on April 16, 1847, and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley between July 21 and July 24, 1847. Missionary service: Benson served as a church missionary in the United States and in the Sandwich Islands. Benson's first mission in the 1840s took him to his birthplace of Mendon, Massachusetts. On this journey he also preached in Chambersburg, Illinois. During his second mission, Benson was in New Jersey, serving with John Pack, when they received news of Joseph Smith's murder. From December 1844 to May 1845, Benson served a mission to New England, during which he served as president of the Boston Conference. Political career: Benson served in the Utah Territorial Legislature. Family: Like many early Latter Day Saints, Benson practiced plural marriage. On April 27, 1844, Benson married his first plural wife, Adeline Brooks Andrus, the sister of Pamelia. After moving to Utah, Benson married Adeline Brooks Andrus, Desdemona Fullmer (a widow of Joseph Smith), Eliza Ann Perry, Lucinda West, Elizabeth Gollaher, Olive Mary Knight, and Mary Larsen. Benson had eight wives and 35 children. Benson's great-grandson, also named Ezra Taft Benson, also became an apostle of the LDS Church; the younger Benson served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s and president of the LDS Church from 1985 to 1994. Another of Benson's descendants, John Dehlin, was excommunicated by the LDS Church in 2015. Death and burial: Benson died suddenly from a heart attack on September 3, 1869, while in Ogden, Utah Territory. He is buried in the Logan City Cemetery in Logan, Utah.
The Mormon colonies in Mexico are settlements located near the Sierra Madre mountains in northern Mexico which were established by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints beginning in 1885. Many of the original colonists came to Mexico due to federal attempts to curb and prosecute polygamy in the United States. The towns making up the colonies were originally situated in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora, and were all within roughly 200 miles of the US border. By the early 20th century, many of these were relatively prosperous. However, in the summer of 1912, the colonies were evacuated due to anti-American sentiment during the Mexican Revolution and many of their citizens left for the United States and never returned. Some colonists did eventually return to their settlements, but today only Colonia Juárez and Colonia Dublan in the Casas Grandes river valley remain active. The Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Temple, built in 1999, is located in Colonia Juárez, and is currently the smallest temple the LDS Church operates. Early colonization: As early as 1874, Brigham Young, President of the LDS Church, called for a mission to Mexico. In 1875, settlers set out with the dual purpose of proselytizing and finding prospective locations for Mormon settlements. The missionaries returned with positive reports the next year and another group was sent in October 1876. In 1877, Young discussed the idea of colonizing parts of northern Mexico, but it was considered unwise due to the considerable danger from Apache raiders in the area. Young died later that year and leadership of the church fell to John Taylor as the president of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. John Taylor was ordained as prophet in 1880. Taylor continued Young's policy of missionary work in Mexico, and through the early 1880s colonization was considered on several occasions without effort to begin the process. However, in 1882 the Edmunds Act was passed by the United States Congress. This was part of the by then 20 year struggle by the US government to curb the LDS practice of plural marriage in Utah Territory and other locations in the American West. Among other things, the law felonized the practice of polygamy and disenfranchised polygamists. As a result, over a thousand Latter-day Saint men and women were eventually fined and jailed. Some were sent as far away as Michigan to fulfill their terms. In 1885 President John Taylor purchased 100,000 acres of land in Mexico. This act allowed over 350 Latter-day Saint families who practiced polygamy from Utah and Arizona to settle land in Mexico. This was a very strenuous task, but it allowed the men the opportunity to keep their multiple wives without being fined and jailed. These people started their own farming colonies and established their settlements in Chihuahua and Sonora, where they focused their labors on sheep, cattle, wheat, row crops, and fruit orchards. The anti-foreign sentiment of The Mexican Revolution in 1910 made life there for the Latter-day Saint colonists difficult with many threats; the colonists returned to the United States. When it was decided it was safe, less than one-quarter of the previous population re-settled to Mexico; most of the refugees returned to their Utah and Arizona colonies of origin. The Mexican Latter-day Saints' colonies did not return to their previous success due to the poor living conditions and farming land. Only two colonies remain: Colonia Dublán and Colonia Juárez. Members of the Pratt-Romney family have roots in these colonies, including Marion G. Romney and George W. Romney having been born there. Other areas: Many Mormon settlements in the United States are in areas that at one time belonged to Mexico, but nearly all of these were already part of the United States at the time of settlement. The exception is Salt Lake City itself, which was settled in the spring of 1847 in what was at the time legally a remote part of Alta California; however the ongoing territorial disputes incident to the Mexican–American War brought the area officially under US control in 1848 as part of the Mexican Cession. Book: Mormon Colonies in Mexico is also the title of a 1938 book by Thomas Cottam Romney. The book details the story of Mormons who sought refuge in Mexico after fleeing from US authorities for polygamy. The book is published by the University of Utah Press.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man, including the authority to perform ordinances and to act as a leader in the church. A body of priesthood holders is referred to as a quorum. Priesthood denotes elements of both power and authority. The priesthood includes the power Jesus gave his apostles to perform miracles such as the casting out of devils and the healing of sick (Luke 9:1). Latter Day Saints believe that the Biblical miracles performed by prophets and apostles were performed by the power of priesthood, including the miracles of Jesus, who holds all of the keys of the priesthood. The priesthood is formally known as the "Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God", but to avoid the too frequent use of the name of deity, the priesthood is referred to as the Melchizedek priesthood (Melchizedek being the high priest to whom Abraham paid tithes). As an authority, priesthood is the authority by which a bearer may perform ecclesiastical acts of service in the name of God. Latter Day Saints believe that acts (and in particular, ordinances) performed by one with priesthood authority are recognized by God and are binding in heaven, on earth, and in the afterlife. In addition, Latter Day Saints believe that leadership positions within the church are legitimized by the priesthood authority. For most of the history of the Latter Day Saint movement, only men have been ordained to specific offices in the priesthood. The first exception to this policy was within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), a faction founded by James J. Strang that flourished between 1844 and 1856 (though a diminutive remnant still exists today). In Strang's church, women were—and still are—permitted to hold the offices of priest and teacher (but not any other offices) from as early as 1856. In 1984, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ), the second largest denomination of the movement, began ordaining women to all of its priesthood offices. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest church in the movement, still restricts its priesthood to men, as do most of the other Latter Day Saint denominations. Mormon feminist Kate Kelly was excommunicated for campaigning to allow women's ordination in the LDS Church. However, an apostle of the LDS Church has taught that "men have no greater claim than women upon the blessings that issue from the Priesthood and accompany its possession." Orders of priesthood: Latter Day Saint theology has recognized at least three orders of priesthood: (1) the Aaronic priesthood, (2) the Melchizedek priesthood; and (3) the Patriarchal priesthood. Although these are different orders, they are, in reality, all subsumed under the priesthood held by Jesus Christ, that is, the Melchizedek priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood (also called the Levitical priesthood), is considered to be a lesser priesthood tracing its roots to Aaron, the brother of Moses, through John the Baptist. In Latter Day Saint theology, it derives from the original holy priesthood which Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received on May 15, 1829, when they were ordained by an angel identifying himself as John the Baptist. In 1835, Smith and Cowdery clarified that this authority was the "Aaronic, or Levitical priesthood". By early 1831, Latter Day Saint theology also recognized a higher order of priesthood, or the high priesthood. This high priesthood had been foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon, which referred to men holding the unique position of high priest in the church organization described in that book, holding the "high priesthood of the holy order of God" (Alma 4:20, Alma 13:8); however, the office of high priest was not implemented in early Mormonism until some days after Joseph Smith was joined in his ministry by Sidney Rigdon, a newly-converted Cambellite minister from Ohio, who merged his congregation with Smith's Church of Christ. Rigdon believed the teachings of the early Mormon missionaries who taught him, but thought the missionaries were lacking in heavenly power. In response to Rigdon's concern, the church's first high priests were ordained at a special conference held in June 1831. By 1835, Latter Day Saints began referring to this high priesthood as the Melchizedek priesthood, or, the "Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God". This priesthood was so named, according to a revelation, because Melchizedek "was such a great high priest" and "out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name". This priesthood was thought to be the order of priesthood held by Jesus, and a distinction was made between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, which derives in part from the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose author argues that Jesus arose "after the order of Melchizedec, and not ... after the order of Aaron" (Heb. 7:11). Although there were generally considered to be only two orders of priesthood during most of the life of Joseph Smith, toward the end of Smith's life, on August 27, 1843, he referred to a third order of priesthood called the Patriarchal priesthood. This one of the "3 grand orders of priesthood", Smith said, was second in greatness between the lower Aaronic and the higher Melchizedek. The priesthood included, according to Smith, the "keys to endowment—tokens, etc.", the ability to "walk with God", and the authority of the "order of prayer". Smith taught that this order of priesthood was passed from father to son, and held by Abraham and the biblical patriarchs. However, Smith provided little further information about this third order. Although Smith instituted an office of patriarch in the church, most modern Latter Day Saint denominations classify the Patriarchal priesthood as an office within the Melchizedek priesthood, rather than a separate order. Calling and ordination: According to Latter Day Saint doctrine, to exercise priesthood authority, a person must (1) be called by God, (2) be ordained or endowed with priesthood authority, and (3) receive the necessary priesthood keys, either through ordination to an office of the priesthood or through delegation or setting apart by someone who does hold the appropriate keys. Calling to the priesthood: Latter Day Saints believe that as a prerequisite to receiving the priesthood, a person must be "called" to the priesthood. When a person is called, it is the person's opportunity or destiny to hold the priesthood. See Matthew 22:14 ("Many are called but few are chosen"). There is some disagreement among the various Latter Day Saint sects as to the manner by which a person may be called to the priesthood; however, there are at least four possibilities expressed in Mormon scripture: (1) calling by prophecy, (2) calling through lineage, (3) calling by foreordination, or (4) calling through faith and good works. In addition, a person's calling through lineage or foreordination may be revealed by prophecy, and a person's faith and good works may identify him as one who was foreordained; thus, these categories are not mutually exclusive. Calling by prophecy: Despite the existence in Mormon doctrine of other means by which a person could be called to the priesthood, the most common and standard means by which a person is said to have been called to the priesthood is "by prophecy". In his Wentworth letter, Joseph Smith stated, "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy ... to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." (See also Fifth Article of Faith.) In the early church, many callings came as direct scriptural revelations by Smith. Since Smith's death, most Latter Day Saint denominations consider a person to have been called by prophecy when someone within the church hierarchy, who holds the priesthood, is inspired by the Holy Spirit that the person should hold the priesthood. Right to the priesthood through lineage: In some situations, Latter Day Saints believe that a person may also be called through their lineage, so that they have a legal right to a priesthood office by lineal succession. For example, Doctrine and Covenants 68:16–21 states, "And if they be literal descendants of Aaron, they have a legal right to the bishopric, if they are the firstborn among the sons of Aaron." In addition, Smith taught that the Patriarchal priesthood descended from father to son. One who has the right and calling to hold these positions through lineage must still be ordained by the church hierarchy before officiating in the office. Calling by foreordination: Latter Day Saints also believe that a person may be called to the priesthood by foreordination. The Book of Mormon refers to priests that were "called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works." (Alma 13:3). In the Book of Abraham, Abraham was said to be called to the priesthood in this way: "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born." (Abraham 3:22–23). It is generally believed that those who were foreordained to the priesthood earned this right by valiancy or nobility in the pre-mortal life. It is by prophecy that a person's foreordination is thought to be revealed. Latter Day Saints, however, do not believe in predestination, and therefore believe that foreordination is a destiny, but not an immutable destiny. A person can nullify their foreordination through sin. Calling by faith and good works: Many Latter Day Saints believe that a person may be called to the priesthood through their faith and good works. This view is based primarily upon the Book of Mormon, which states that "it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God". (Ether 12:10). Similarly, in the Book of Mormon's first detailed discussion concerning the calling and ordination of high priests, the scripture states, "And this is the manner after which they were ordained— ... they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling .... And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith." (Alma 13:3-4). In a similar vein, the earliest sections of the Doctrine and Covenants contain statements such as "if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work" (LDS D&C 4:3) and "whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God" (LDS D&C 6:4). The gift of the priesthood and ordination to a particular priesthood office: In addition to being called by God, Latter Day Saint theology holds that a person must be given priesthood authority by one who currently holds it. While calling represents a general call to receive priesthood authority, a person is not thought to actually possess the priesthood to which they have been called until it is formally conferred or endowed to that person through a sacred ceremony. Mormons generally understand priesthood authority to be given in one of two ways: (1) as part of a priesthood ordination ceremony, or (2) through the endowment ceremony. After a person has received the priesthood, a person may be ordained numerous times to various particular offices within the church. Receiving the priesthood is considered to be a saving ordinance. Requirement of priesthood succession: Very early in his ministry, Joseph Smith began to advocate the position that priesthood does not come directly from God through the Holy Spirit, as many Protestants believe, but through a line of direct or apostolic succession. Thus, Latter Day Saints generally believe that priesthood originates with Jesus, and is passed to others through a line of succession. Only one who holds the priesthood can pass it to another. Thus, in 1829, Smith and his associate claimed that the Aaronic priesthood was given to him by John the Baptist, who was thought to have authority through the lineage of his father Zacharias, who was an Aaronic priest. Later, Smith also claimed to have received the Melchizedek priesthood from the apostles Peter, James, and John, who were given their authority by Jesus. Gift of the priesthood through an ordination ceremony: The most common and well-recognized manner through which a Latter Day Saint receives the priesthood is as part of a priesthood ordination ceremony. Typically, in an ordination ceremony, before a person is ordained for the first time to a particular office such as elder, deacon, teacher, or priest, the person performing the ceremony will lay their hands upon the recipient's head and in the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of his priesthood confer upon the recipient the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood. Gift of the priesthood through the endowment ceremony: While most Latter Day Saints recognize that priesthood may be conferred as part of an ordination ceremony, some feminist Mormons understand the endowment ceremony to be an endowment of priesthood authority. In the washing and anointing portion of the endowment, men are washed and anointed (by men) "to become kings and priests", while women are washed and anointed (by women) "to become queens and priestesses". Later in the ceremony, both men and women are clothed in the "robes of the priesthood" and "prepared to officiate in the ordinances of" the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. Thus, it has been suggested that the endowment ceremony was recognized as an endowment of priesthood authority to both men and women, although not an ordination to a specific priesthood office. (Hanks, 1992). This view was expressed in 1884 by Eliza R. Snow, president of the Relief Society, who stated: "Is it necessary for sisters to be set apart to officiate in the sacred ordinances of washing, anointing, and laying on of hands in administering to the sick? It certainly is not. Any and all sisters who honor their holy endowments, not only have right, but should feel it a duty, whenever called upon to administer to our sisters in these ordinances, which God has graciously committed to His daughters as well as to His sons; and we testify that when administered and received in faith and humility they are accompanied with almighty power." (Snow, 1884, cited in Hanks p. 85). A similar view was also expressed by LDS Church apostle James E. Talmage in 1912, who wrote: "It is a precept of the Church that women of the Church share the authority of the Priesthood with their husbands, actual or prospective; and therefore women…taking the endowment…are not ordained to specific rank in the Priesthood. Nevertheless there is no grade, rank, or phase of the temple endowment to which women are not eligible on an equality with men." Female priesthood authority was closely associated with the Relief Society. Joseph F. Smith, an influential LDS Church leader around the turn of the 20th century, argued that though Mormon women were not ordained as general authorities, elders, or high priests, they are admitted to an "ecclesiastical or priestly authority" through the Relief Society, which may include holding offices within the church through that organization. Ordination to particular priesthood offices in the church through the laying on of hands: After a person has received the priesthood, they may be ordained numerous times to various particular offices within the church. This takes place by the laying on of hands. The ordination to a particular office, such as priest, teacher, or elder, represents a more specific call to perform a particular priesthood duty within the church, and a person may be ordained to numerous offices during their lifetime, depending on the needs of the church. That specific ordinations to preach or perform ordinances are made through the laying on of hands was a concept formulated early in Joseph Smith's ministry. He stated the principle as one of the church's articles of faith, that a calling to preach or perform rituals in the name of Christ was to be made through "prophecy and the laying on of hands by those who are in authority" (See Fifth Article of Faith in The Wentworth Letter). A Book of Mormon example of ordination by the laying on of hands is found in the Book of Alma, where Alma "ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands according to the order of God, to preside and watch over the church" (Alma 6:1). Modern day priesthood holders ordained to the office of priest (or higher) are able to ordain other worthy members to priesthood offices up to their office.
Robert James Jeffress, Jr. is an American pastor, author, and radio and television host. Jeffress hosts the program, Pathway to Victory, which is broadcast on more than 1,200 television stations in the United States and 28 other countries. He also has a daily radio program, Pathway to Victory, heard on 764 stations. He is the pastor of the 11,000 member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Biography: Jeffress's father was Robert Jeffress, Sr. (1925–1990). Jeffress and his wife, the former Amy Lyon Renard, have two daughters, Julia Sue Jeffress and Dorothy Fielder Jeffress. Jeffress received a Bachelor of Science degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Jeffress grew up under pastor W. A. Criswell of First Baptist Dallas, whom he cites as an influence on his own ministry. In 2006, Jeffress received the Daniel Award from Vision America. On August 12, 2007, he was elected pastor of First Baptist Dallas, a megachurch with 11,000 members. He succeeded Mac Brunson. Previously, Jeffress had been the pastor of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls. Controversial statements: While a pastor in Wichita Falls in 1998, Jeffress sought to have two children's books about children with gay or lesbian parents removed from the public library by checking out the books and paying for them rather than returning them to be recirculated. Following publication of the story by news media, the library received multiple copies of the books as donations and demand for the books increased significantly. Jeffress has claimed that Islam "promoted pedophilia" and has been accused of reducing "Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and virtually everyone else" to members of cults. In 2008, Jeffress, in his sermon "Gay Is Not OK", stated that "What they homosexuals do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease." In September 2010, Jeffress called Islam an "evil, evil religion" and in December 2010 established a "Naughty and Nice List" where businesses are identified based on whether or not they openly celebrated Christmas, saying "I wanted to do something positive to encourage businesses to acknowledge Christmas and not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday." Also in 2010, Jeffress referred to Roman Catholicism as a "Satanic" result of "Babylonian mystery religion". In October 2011, at the Values Voter Summit, Jeffress called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) "a cult". He received widespread criticism for his statement, but has not retracted it despite U.S. presidential candidate and church member Mitt Romney's request for him to do so. An outspoken opponent of gay marriage, Jeffress has described such marriages as being "counterfeit". Political views: Jeffress supported Governor Rick Perry in the Republican presidential primaries for the 2012 presidential nomination. On October 7, 2011, he provoked a national controversy when he introduced Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., by indicating that one of Perry's rivals, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, is opposed to Christianity. According to Jeffress, Romney's Mormonism contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ. He had previously made a similar statement to this effect during the 2008 presidential primaries, when Romney lost the nomination to U.S. Senator John S. McCain of Arizona. Nevertheless, in April 2012, Jeffress endorsed Romney for president because of the pastor's strong opposition to the reelection of U.S. President Barack Obama. In September, Jeffress warned Romney that he was risking defeat by concentrating solely on economic issues in the campaign: "Up to this point, the Romney strategy has been to focus on the economy. Well this isn't working out well for him, is it? Because the economy is improving, and it fails to recognize that many of the Republican base, many of them are social conservatives who care about the economy, but we also care about the moral and spiritual deterioration of our country." On November 4, 2012, the Sunday before the 2012 election, Jeffress commented on Obama and the Antichrist: I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist. Jeffress has further questioned the commitment of the conservative clergy to the preservation of traditional societal morality. In an interview with The O'Reilly Factor, which aired on December 11, 2012, on the Fox News Channel, Jeffress questioned why many clergy falsely perceive Christ as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial. The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth – and he ended up being crucified because of it. ... Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians – and that is why we are losing this culture war. I believe it's time for pastors to say, You know, I don't care about controversy, I don't care whether I'm going to lose church members, I don't care about building a big church. I'm going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.
My mom asked me if i wanted to be baptized. I refused as I don't agree with the church policy which says kids of same gender parents can't be baptized till they got 18, disinvow the practice of same gender marriage and they can't live with the parents
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Mormonism teaches that its adherents are either direct descendants of the House of Israel or adopted into it. As such, Mormons regard Jews as a covenant people of God and hold them in high esteem. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest church in Mormonism, is philo-Semitic in its doctrine. Studies have shown that American Jews generally view Mormons more positively than any other religious group, despite often voting on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Explanations for Jews' high regard for Mormons is speculated to come both from their solidarity with other historically abused religious minorities and the philo-semitism of Mormon theology. Jewish symbolism in Mormonism: The LDS Church includes among its traditional symbols the Star of David, which has been the symbol of Judaism since at least the 13th century. For the LDS Church, it represents the divine Israelite covenant, Israelite regathering, and affinity with Judaism; a Star of David is prominently depicted in a stained glass window in the landmark Salt Lake Assembly Hall. Jewish presence in Utah: Not long after the LDS church reached the Salt Lake Valley, those who practiced Judaism also arrived. Alexander Neibaur, a Jewish convert to Mormonism, arrived in 1848. The first permanent Jewish family in Utah is thought to be Julius Gerson Brooks and his wife Isabell. The first Jewish cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah, was on land donated by Brigham Young in 1869, and the first Reform synagogue in Salt Lake was funded by the LDS Church. Inspired by the Jewish back-to-the-land movement, Eastern European Jewish immigrants from Philadelphia and New York established the Clarion colony in Sanpete County in 1910. The colony was organized by the Jewish Agricultural and Colonial Association, and with approximately 200 individuals at its height, was one of the largest Jewish farming colony initiatives of its eras. Simon Bamberger, the fourth Governor of Utah (1917–1921) was Jewish; antisemitic publications targeting Bamberger were denounced by most Utahns. B. H. Roberts, a Mormon politician and church leader, supported Bamberger's campaign by nominating him for the governor. Baptism for the dead: A longtime practice of the LDS Church has been to vicariously baptize their relatives. This stems from the LDS belief that all individuals must receive all saving ordinances to achieve exaltation. Under Mormon theology, vicarious performance of the ordinance of baptism and other temple ordinances does not automatically make a deceased individual a Mormon, but rather allows the person (believed by Mormons to be alive in the afterlife) the option of freely accepting or rejecting the ordinances performed on their behalf. Mormons do not claim the power to compel acceptance of vicarious ordinances or change a deceased person's religious affiliation against his will. From time to time, and contrary to LDS Church policy, Latter-day Saint genealogists have submitted the names of other prominent individuals, including at one point Jewish and other victims of the Holocaust. Official church policy states that church members submit the names of their own relatives for these type of ordinances, and requires that permission of the closest living relative be obtained for any baptism that is to be performed for deceased individuals born within the last 95 years. Regardless, some baptisms were performed on behalf of Holocaust victims. When this information became public, it generated vocal criticism of the LDS Church from Jewish groups, who found this ritual to be insulting and insensitive. In 1995, in part as a result of public pressure, church leaders promised to put new policies into place that would help stop the practice, unless specifically requested or approved by the surviving spouse, children or parents of the victims. In late 2002, information surfaced that members of the church had not stopped the practice of baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims despite directives from the church leadership. Criticism once again arose from Jewish groups. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is on record as opposing the vicarious baptism of Holocaust victims. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the center stated, "If these people did not contact the Mormons themselves, the adage should be: Don't call me, I'll call you. With the greatest of respect to them, we do not think they are the exclusive arbitrators of who is saved." Recently, church leaders have agreed to meet with leaders of the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. In December 2002, independent researcher Helen Radkey published a report showing that the church's 1995 promise to remove Jewish Nazi victims from its International Genealogical Index (IGI) was not sufficient; her research of the church's database uncovered the names of about 19,000 who had a 40 to 50 percent chance of having "the potential to be Holocaust victims ... in Russia, Poland, France, and Austria." Genealogist Bernard Kouchel conducted a search of the IGI, and discovered that many well-known Jewish people have been vicariously baptized, including Rashi, Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Menachem Begin, Irving Berlin, Marc Chagall, and Gilda Radner. Some permissions may have been obtained, but there is currently no system in place to verify that these permissions were obtained, which has angered many in various religious and cultural communities. In 2004, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Jewish genealogy columnist for The Jerusalem Post, noted that some Jews, even those with no Mormon descendants, are being rebaptized after being removed from the rolls. In an interview, D. Todd Christofferson, a church official, told The New York Times that it was not feasible for the church to continuously monitor the archives to ensure that no new Jewish names appear. On April 11, 2005, Jewish and Mormon officials met and created a joint Jewish/Mormon committee with the goal of preventing future issues. The committee met intermittently over the next few years. On September 1, 2010, Jewish and Mormon leaders issued a joint statement "acknowledging that concerns between members of both groups over [the] sensitive doctrinal issue have been eliminated." However, in February 2012, the issue re-emerged after it was found that the parents of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal were added to the LDS Church genealogical database. Mormons and the State of Israel: The LDS Church is officially neutral when it comes to the Arab–Israeli conflict. Mormons, as well as many Jews, are also in favor of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land. The LDS Church recognizes Jews and Arabs as children of Abraham. The LDS Church has two congregations in Israel: the Galilee Branch in Tiberias and the Jerusalem Branch in Jerusalem. Latter-day Saints in Israel hold their worship services on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. "Missionaries are allowed to proselytize, although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) voluntarily refrains from proselytizing under an agreement with the Government." Brigham Young University (BYU) has a study center in Jerusalem that is active in research and cultural activities (e.g. classical music concerts). Its creation was initially protested by Haredi Jewish groups which claimed, despite Mormon reassurances, that it would be a center of proselytizeing activities. BYU was allowed to open the center in Jerusalem only after promising the mayor that no proselytizing would take place and that all students would be foreigners. The courses at the center, attracting students from BYU and other institutions of higher learning in the US who wanted to do credit coursework in Israel, have previously been temporarily suspended due to security concerns.
John Smith, was the fifth Presiding Patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). His father was Hyrum Smith, the older brother of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. John was born in Kirtland, Ohio, to Hyrum Smith and his first wife, Jerusha Barden Smith, during the early days of the Latter Day Saint movement. He was among the first generation of children raised in the church. The office of Presiding Patriarch was initially created to honor Joseph Smith, Sr., the father of the religion's founder. Before his death in 1840, Joseph Smith, Sr. declared his eldest living son, Hyrum, would receive the office of patriarch by virtue of lineal succession. Hyrum at this time was one of the most influential members of the church and was widely seen as the most likely successor to its leadership should he outlive his brother. However, in 1844, both Hyrum and Joseph Smith were assassinated by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. This event left the church leaderless. By consensus, it was expected that the title of Presiding Patriarch would pass to Hyrum Smith's eldest son, John. However, because John Smith was only 11 years of age at the time of his father's death, the position was instead claimed by a younger brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., William, and later by the younger brother of Joseph, Sr., John Smith, who was known to the church as "Uncle John". Meanwhile, Hyrum's son John Smith traveled with the family of Heber C. Kimball to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In 1848, John Smith, along with Kimball, reached the Salt Lake Valley to join Brigham Young, who had assumed leadership of the largest Latter Day Saint faction, the LDS Church. In February 1855, the younger John Smith succeeded his great uncle, "Uncle John" Smith as Presiding Patriarch of the LDS Church, following the latter's death. He became the longest-serving Presiding Patriarch in LDS Church history, remaining in that position for 56 years, until his death from pneumonia in 1911 in Salt Lake City. Among his accomplishments during this time were a mission to Scandinavia, begun in 1862. Following his death, he was succeeded by his grandson, Hyrum G. Smith. Smith was buried in Salt Lake City.
Lorenzo Snow was an American religious leader who served as the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1898 to his death. Snow was the last president of the LDS Church in the nineteenth century and the first in the twentieth. Family: Snow was the fifth child and first son of Oliver Snow (September 18, 1775, Massachusetts – October 17, 1845, Illinois) and Rosetta L. Pettibone (October 22, 1778, Connecticut – October 12, 1846, Illinois), residents of Mantua Township, Ohio, who had left New England to settle on a new and fertile farm in the Connecticut Western Reserve. Lorenzo had siblings Leonora Abigail Snow (1801–1872), Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887), Percy Amanda Snow (1808–1848), Melissa Snow (1810–1835), Lucius Augustus Snow (born 1819), and Samuel Pearce Snow (born 1821). Despite the labor required on the farm, the Snow family valued learning and saw that each child had educational opportunities. Snow received his final year of education at Oberlin College, which was originally founded by two Presbyterian ministers. Snow later made his living as a school teacher when not engaged in church service. Introduction to Mormonism: In 1831, Joseph Smith, the Latter Day Saint prophet, took up residence in Hiram, Ohio, four miles from the Snow farm. The Snow family was Baptist, but soon took a strong interest in the new religious movement. Snow recorded that he heard the Book of Mormon being read aloud in his home in Mantua and met Smith at Hiram in 1831. By 1835, Snow's mother and his older sister Eliza, had joined the Latter Day Saint church. Eliza soon moved to the church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio, and worked as a school teacher. She, in her biography of Snow, claims to have fostered his interest in Mormonism while he was at Oberlin. Eliza invited Snow to visit her and attend a school of Hebrew newly established by the church. During his visit there, in June 1836, Snow was baptized by John F. Boynton, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Early church service: While living in Kirtland in 1837, Snow was called to serve a short mission in Ohio, traveling "without purse or scrip." He recorded that relying on the kindness of others for his meals and lodging was difficult for him, as he had always had sufficient means to care for himself. When he returned to Kirtland in 1838, Snow found Smith's followers in turmoil over the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. Snow and the members of his extended family chose to move to Missouri in the summer of 1838 and join the Latter Day Saints settling near Far West. Snow became seriously ill with a fever, and was nursed for several weeks by his sister Eliza. On his recovery, Snow left for a second mission to Illinois and Kentucky in the fall of 1838. He served there through February 1839, when he learned that the Latter Day Saints had been expelled from their settlements in Missouri. He traveled home by way of his former mission area in Ohio. He was again taken ill and was cared for by members of the church. He remained in Ohio, preaching and working with church members until the fall of 1839. During the school year of 1839–40, Snow taught in Shalersville, Ohio. He sent money to his family, which had by then settled in Nauvoo, Illinois; he joined them in May 1840. Shortly after he arrived in Nauvoo, Snow was asked to serve a mission in England. After an unpleasant sea voyage from New York City, Snow met with some of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve who had opened the British Mission in 1839, including Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Parley P. Pratt. Snow worked briefly in the Manchester area, and had success in Birmingham, where he baptized people in Greet's Green and organized a branch in Wolverhampton. Snow was assigned to preside over church members in London. During his administration, church membership in the city increased from approximately 100 to 400 members. He was released from his mission by Pratt, who by then was president of an expanding European Mission. Snow arrived home on April 12, 1843, and was accompanied by a shipload of 250 British converts. After visiting with his family, Snow again secured a teaching position for the winter, teaching at Lima, Illinois, thirty miles from Nauvoo. In late spring 1844, he returned to Ohio, preaching and baptizing new converts and distributing recent church publications to members. He was working in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he learned of the assassination of Joseph Smith. Snow closed his Ohio mission and promptly returned to Nauvoo. During the period of disorganization and schism that followed Smith's death, Snow chose to follow the Quorum of the Twelve under Brigham Young. In 1845, Snow was involved in work in the Nauvoo Temple. Migration to Utah: Snow and his family, with wagons and livestock, joined a group of emigrants and moved across the Mississippi River into Iowa in February 1846. On the way west, Snow again became ill and the family stopped at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. Three Snow children were born at the Mormon refugee settlement, but none of them survived. Snow was called to preside over the church organization in Mt. Pisgah and actively raised money to assist the bands of emigrants in their move west. The Snow family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1848. Call to the Twelve and missions abroad: In 1849, Snow was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was added to the Quorum on the same day as Franklin D. Richards, Erastus Snow (a distant cousin), and Charles C. Rich. They were called to fill vacancies caused by the re-establishment of the First Presidency and Lyman Wight's apostasy. Shortly after his call to the Twelve, Snow left on a mission to Italy and French-speaking Switzerland. He later sent missionaries under his direction to India (1849–52). Snow was directly involved in missionary work in Italy and Switzerland, and also preached in Malta. He had planned to visit India, but various circumstances prevented this journey. Snow began his mission in Italy among the Waldensians, an ancient sect of Christians who inhabited the Piedmont Valleys in the Alps. (Waldensianism predates the Reformation by several hundred years and is completely separate from Catholicism.) Snow and his companions Joseph Toronto, Thomas Stenhouse, and Jabez Woodard initially had very little success in converting the Waldensians to Mormonism. However, after healing a three-year-old boy named Joseph Gay, they began to find converts. In the end, more than 150 Waldensians converted to Mormonism, and 70 eventually emigrated to Utah. Snow also discovered the poem "The Mountain Christians" while preaching among the people of the Piedmont Valleys; it was later modified and re-titled as the hymn "For The Strength of the Hills." The song has remained in the LDS Church's hymnal for more than 100 years. In 1850, Snow wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Voice of Joseph" to advance missionary work in the Italian mission. He was unable to find anyone in Italy to translate it so sent it to Orson Pratt, then the president of the British Mission, who eventually found someone in Paris to translate it. In 1851, Snow published a pamphlet entitled "The Italian Mission" about the church's missionary efforts in Italy. It was published in London. In January 1851, Snow went to England and found a person there whom he hired to translate the Book of Mormon into Italian. The efforts of missionaries under Snow, especially the ones he sent to Turin, inspired an article attacking the Mormon missionaries for undermining the Roman Catholic Church in the Turinese paper, L'Armonia. Snow and his successors were unsuccessful in the cities also due to opposition to their activities by the government of Camillo Cavour. Activities in Utah: On his return to Utah Territory, Snow founded a society called the Polysophical Society to conduct study into the various aspects of human knowledge. He encouraged church members of all ages to join and some view this organization as a predecessor of the church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association. In 1853, under the direction of church president Brigham Young, Snow brought additional settlers to Brigham City, Utah. Settlement had begun on a limited scale at this site under the name "Box Elder." Snow changed the name and moved the community towards living up to its name. He was also a key backer of the Brigham City Cooperative, which was the inspiration for ZCMI and other cooperatives. In 1864, Snow was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. He went on this mission with Ezra T. Benson and Joseph F. Smith. The mission was prompted by messages from Jonatana Napela and other Hawaiian church members about the irregular administration of the church by Walter M. Gibson. While in Hawaii, Snow was seriously injured but was healed through the ministration of holders of the priesthood. Some accused Snow of engineering the 1901 election of Thomas Kearns, his friend and a wealthy Catholic, to the United States Senate. However, it may have been a shrewd decision to help Utah retain its statehood by electing a non-Mormon to represent Utah. Political offices: Snow was first elected to the Utah Territorial Council, the upper house of the territorial legislature, in 1855. Originally, he represented Weber County along with Lorin Farr. At that point, Weber County encompassed all of Utah north of Davis County. By 1857, Box Elder County, Cache County and the short-lived Malad County were added to the area Snow and Farr represented. In 1863, Weber and Box Elder Counties were broken off from Cache County (Malad County was by then defunct) and made a single-representative district, with Snow remaining as their lone council member. (Ezra T. Benson had replaced Farr as the other councilor in 1861; he was a resident of Cache County and remained the other councilor after the district was split.) In 1872, Snow became the president of the council. He held this position for through the end of 1881. In 1882, Snow remained a member of the council but he was succeeded as its president by Joseph F. Smith. In 1884, Snow was succeeded as a member of the council by Franklin S. Richards. Activities in Idaho: As the church expanded into the surrounding states, members of the Quorum of the Twelve would be sent to other states of assignment. In 1888, Snow went to Rexburg, Idaho, where he told the leaders of the stake that Karl G. Maeser had been appointed Commissioner of Church Education and recommended that they form a stake academy. The local leaders followed Snow's instructions and the institution they formed eventually evolved into Brigham Young University–Idaho, formerly known as Ricks College. Snow in the U.S. Supreme Court: Snow was the subject of a United States Supreme Court case regarding polygamy prosecutions under the Edmunds Act. In late 1885, Snow was indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of unlawful cohabitation. According to his indictments, Snow had lived with more than one woman for three years. The jury delivered one indictment for each of these years, and Snow was convicted on each count. After conviction he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court which convicted him. The petition was denied, but federal law guaranteed him an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. In Ex Parte Snow, the Supreme Court invalidated Snow's second and third convictions for unlawful cohabitation. It found that unlawful cohabitation was a "continuing offense," and thus that Snow was at most guilty of one such offense for cohabiting continuously with more than one woman for three years. Actions as church president: The first notable action of Snow as president of the church was that he organized the First Presidency almost immediately after Wilford Woodruff's death, rather than waiting years as his predecessors had. As he began his tenure as president, Snow had to deal with the aftermath of legal battles with the United States over the practice of plural marriage. Men engaging in plural marriage were still being arrested and confined in Utah. Some members of the LDS Church did not accept the 1890 Manifesto put forth by Woodruff, and there was a strong division of opinion on plural marriage even in the priesthood hierarchy of the church. The LDS Church was also in severe financial difficulties, some of which were related to the legal problems over plural marriage. Snow approached this problem first by issuing short term bonds with a total value of one million dollars. This was followed by emphatic teaching on tithing. It was during Snow's presidency that the LDS Church adopted the principle of tithing—being interpreted as the payment of 10 percent of one's income—as a hallmark of membership. In 1899, Snow gave an address at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, imploring the Latter-day Saints to pay tithes of corn, money or whatever they had in order to have sufficient rain. Eventually, it rained in southern Utah. For the remainder of his tenure, Snow emphasized tithing in his sermons and public appearances. By April 1907, the members' practice of paying tithing had eliminated the church's debt. On March 31, 1900, Snow, along with the First Presidency, changed the policy of presidential succession. Under the then-existing rules of presidential succession in the church, John Willard Young would have become the President of the Church when Snow died, as Snow was the only living person who had been ordained an apostle prior to Young. Snow was 85 years old and in poor health, so it appeared to many that Young would be the next president of the church. However, many of the general authorities of the church felt that Young's succession to the presidency would be a disaster for the church. Under the new policy, the new president of the church would no longer be the person who had been an ordained apostle the longest; rather, the new president of the church would be the person who had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the longest period of time. Since Young had never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he could not become the president of the church if Snow died. On April 5, 1900, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unanimously approved the new policy. Snow died of pneumonia in Salt Lake City, and was succeeded in the church presidency by Joseph F. Smith. LDS doctrine and teachings: Snow is credited with succinctly summarizing the LDS doctrines of exaltation and eternal progression, in his often repeated couplet: "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be." Snow's teachings as an apostle were the 2013 course of study in the LDS Church's Sunday Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood classes. Portrayal in film: The role of Snow was played by Francis L. Urry in the LDS Church-made film The Windows of Heaven.
The Mineral, Washington murders, dubbed by the media as "the Tube Sock Killings," is a series of unsolved murders that occurred in remote areas of Lewis and Pierce County, Washington, near the remote community of Mineral, Washington, in 1985. The murder cases were widely publicized, and were featured on the television series Unsolved Mysteries in 1989. Case- Harkins and Cooper: On August 10, 1985, Steven Harkins, 27, and his girlfriend, Ruth Cooper, 42, left their Tacoma, Washington home for a weekend camping trip at Tule Lake in Yelm, Pierce County. When the two did not return to their jobs at a Tacoma vocational school the following Monday, their families reported them missing. Four days later, on August 14, hikers passing through Pierce County found Harkins' body near a remote campsite. He had been shot in the head, and his body, still in a sleeping bag, suggested he had been murdered while sleeping. Nearby, searchers also found Harkins' and Cooper's pet dog, who shot to death as well. At the time, law enforcement suspected that the case may have been connected to the murders of Edward Smith and Kimberly Diane La Vine, a couple from Kent, Washington who were abducted, murdered, and disposed of in a gravel pit near the Columbia River in March 1985. On October 26, a skull was found at the dead end of Eighth Avenue South, near Harts Lake, about 1.5 miles from where Harkins' body was found. Dental records confirmed the skull belonged to Cooper, and two days later on October 28, her body and her purse were also recovered from the area, fifty feet from where her skull had been found. A tube sock had been tied around Cooper's neck. According to the autopsy, Cooper had died of "homicidal violence," though a spokesman later stated she had died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. After the discover of Cooper, the murders were publicized by Crime Stoppers in an attempt to recover information leading to the arrest of those responsible. Riemer and Robertson: Over a month after the discovery of Ruth Cooper, on December 12, 1985, Mike Riemer, 36, his girlfriend, Diana Robertson, 21, and their daughter, Crystal Louise Robertson, age 2, traveled from their Tacoma home to Pierce County, planning to find a Christmas tree near the Nisqually River. Riemer, an animal trapper, also planned to check on traps he had set in the area. Later that evening, customers at a Kmart store thirty miles north in Spanaway found the couple's daughter, Crystal, standing outside the store entrance. Crystal was placed in temporary foster care until her maternal grandmother saw her photograph on a local news broadcast two days later. When asked where her mother was, the dazed two-year-old told her grandmother that her "Mommy was in the trees." According to investigators, the two-year-old was "not nearly verbal enough" to provide any information. Police searched the area both on foot and by flight, searching for evidence of Riemer's red 1982 Plymouth pickup truck, but the searches remained fruitless. On February 18, 1986, over two months after the couple's disappearance, the body of Diana Robertson was discovered half-buried in snow by a motorist near a logging road off of Washington State Route 7 in Mineral. Bloodhounds searched the area in the following days, but six inches of snowfall impeded the search. Riemer's 1982 red pickup truck was also found near Robertson's body. In the truck, police discovered a hand-written note on the dashboard that read "I love you, Diana," on a manila envelope. Robertson's mother claimed the handwriting was that of Riemer's. Bloodstains were also found on the seat of the truck. An autopsy revealed that Diana Robertson had been stabbed seventeen times, and, as with Ruth Cooper, was also found with a tube sock tied around her neck. Because of Riemer's disappearance, investigators believed he may have been responsible for Robertson's murder, and had abandoned his daughter at the Kmart store and then fled. Police theorized that Riemer may have been responsible for Harkins and Cooper's murders as well; an alternate theory, however, claimed that Riemer was also a victim of the same killer who had murdered Robertson, Harkins, and Cooper. In February 1986, after the discover of Robertson's body, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an article revealing that Riemer had been charged with domestic assault against Robertson on October 19, 1985. However, the couple had reconciled by December when they disappeared. Riemer, who worked as a roofer at Seattle’s Queen City Sheet Metal and Roofing Inc., was described by his employer as a "typical roofer who worked hard and played hard." 2011 development: On March 26, 2011, hikers discovered a skull in an area within a mile radius of where Robertson's body had been discovered in 1986. After the discovery of Riemer's skull, Lewis County investigators stated that they believed Riemer could be a possible homicide victim as well, though his cause of death could not be determined. Based on the condition of the skull, however, authorities were able to rule out a gunshot wound to the head. Media depiction: In September 1989, the case featured prominently on the series Unsolved Mysteries.
Friday, February 26, 2016
David Brian Stidham was a pediatric ophthalmologist stabbed to death in Catalina Foothills, Arizona as the result of a murder-for-hire plot that stemmed from a colleague's professional jealousy. Bradley Alan Schwartz, also a pediatric ophthalmologist, and Ronald Bruce Bigger, a hitman, were arrested and convicted for the murder. Brian Stidham Background: Stidham was born and raised in Longview, Texas, the son of Mack and Joyce Stidham. His father was Baptist and his mother was Jewish. Stidham began attending Harvard Medical School in 1990 and graduated in 1993. He then moved to Dallas, Texas where he entered a residency program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School's internal medicine department. A year later he switched to ophthamology. While in Dallas, he met and began dating his neighbor, Daphne Herding, whom he eventually married in a garden ceremony in 1997. The couple moved to Indianapolis where Stidham undertook a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus at Indiana University. In 1998, they returned to Texas when Stidham joined the faculty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Their first child, Alexandre Brian, was born in Houston in 2000. Their daughter, Catherine Elizabeth, was born later in Tucson in 2003. Relocation to Tucson: In 2001, Stidham answered an ad Bradley Schwartz had placed in a trade journal seeking someone to care for the pediatric patients in his Tucson ophthalmology practice, Arizona Specialty Eye Care. Stidham was officially hired in November 2001 partly as a way to provide added support to Schwartz's booming business. Other reports suggest that Schwartz was planning to open a plastic surgery practice or, at least, another office on the north side of the city. Stidham was meant to take over the pediatric ophthalmology aspect of Schwartz's business. In December 2001, one month after Stidham joined the practice, the DEA raided the office and Schwartz was indicted on 77 counts of illegally obtaining prescription medicine by a federal grand jury. This spurred Stidham to create his own Tucson-area practice. Bradley Schwartz- Background: Bradley Alan Schwartz was born January 14, 1965 in Brooklyn, New York to Henry and Lois Schwartz. He graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1991, and married his wife, Joan Samuels, in New York City 4 days after his graduation. The couple subsequently had three children. He worked at a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania prior to relocating with his family to Tucson in the late '90s. A Phoenix-based ophthalmology group had hired Schwartz to open an office in Tucson. One year later when his contract expired, the group sued him for violating a restrictive covenant when he opened his own practice less than 200 yards away. The two sides settled out of court with the Phoenix group characterizing his behavior as "obscene, abusive, and belligerent." Drug abuse, DEA investigation, and indictment: From early 2001 to May, 2004, Schwartz was involved in a romantic relationship with the foster mother of one of his patients, Pima County deputy attorney Lourdes Salomon Lopez. Schwartz had also developed a drug problem that began in 2000 when he received Vicodin for chronic back and jaw pain. He also became addicted to Ritalin. Over a two-month period during the summer of 2001, Lopez allowed Schwartz to use her name to fraudulently obtain prescriptions for the controlled substance hydrocodone. Schwartz also wrote prescriptions to his office manager, Laurie Espinoza, who would retrieve the medication and return it to Schwartz. In October 2001, two DEA agents interviewed Lopez as part of a criminal investigation involving Schwartz. Although she was instructed not to discuss their interview with Schwartz, she told Schwartz about the investigation and interview within the following 24 hours. On December 2001, DEA agents raided Schwartz's office. In September 2002, a grand jury issued a 77-count indictment on charges related to Schwartz writing Vicodin and Ritalin prescriptions for two patients (Lopez and Espinoza) who returned the drugs to him for his own use. Schwartz's wife, Joan, filed for divorce the following month. Schwartz initially pleaded "guilty" to the drug charges in 2003, however, the plea was withdrawn in early 2004. In June 2003, Schwartz and Lopez were involved in a domestic altercation which resulted in an amendment to the conditions for their release, prohibiting them from having contact with each other. In November 2003, Schwartz was placed on five years' probation by the Arizona Medical Board for "unprofessional conduct." Under the terms of the probation, Schwartz was barred from writing prescriptions for narcotics, required to check in with the board each day, and subject to random drug tests. Schwartz attended rehab later that year and admitted that he had a drug problem. This occurred shortly after the Arizona Medical Board had reinstated Schwartz's license in August 2003. In March 2004, the conditions of Schwartz and Lopez's release were modified to allow the two to have contact with each other. However, the two had already been seeing each other and were even engaged to be married. Professional relationship severed: The relationship between Brian Stidham and Bradley Schwartz began to deteriorate soon after Stidham was hired in November 2001. Stidham officially served as Schwartz's associate until October 2002, at which point Schwartz was indicted on drug fraud charges. Stidham gave Schwartz 30 days' notice and began making plans to start his own practice across town. Stidham told friends that his partner (Schwartz) had been acting "weird" and that he needed to remove himself from the situation. Because of the indictment, Schwartz lost his medical license and entered into rehab. When he received word that Stidham was still recruiting patients, Schwartz became angry and even directly told his girlfriend, Lourdes Lopez, and other friends that he wanted to kill Stidham. While Stidham was still under Schwartz's employ, Schwartz instructed his parents to fire Stidham. Some of Schwartz's patients went to Stidham's new practice, many of whom stayed with Stidham even when Schwartz had started practicing again. Despite the fact that Stidham's new practice was on the opposite side of town, Schwartz was convinced that his former partner was deliberately stealing his clients. Murder and investigation: On the evening of October 5, 2004, deputies of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department responded to a report of a man down in the parking lot of the North First Medical Plaza where Stidham worked. Differing reports say his body was found by either a cleaning crew or Christine Rotella, a massage therapist who had returned to the medical plaza to retrieve her forgotten engagement ring. The victim, identified as Stidham, had been stabbed 15 times and had incurred a skull fracture. He was killed in his 1992 white Lexus SC400 and dragged from his car to make it look like a robbery. The car was later found at an apartment complex over six miles away. Schwartz was the case's primary suspect from October 6 onward, the day after Stidham's murder. On the night of the murder, Schwartz was with Lisa Goldberg, a girlfriend he had recently begun seeing after meeting her on an online dating service. Earlier in the day, Schwartz had engaged in a series of phone calls with Ronald Bruce Bigger. One of these phone calls included Bigger repeatedly asking, "Where is my money?" Conflicting reports suggest that Schwartz had either met Bigger at Narcotics Anonymous or at his medical practice. Schwartz and Goldberg were eating at a Thai restaurant in Tucson shortly after the murder occurred. Bigger reportedly met up with the two at the restaurant. Schwartz introduced him to Goldberg as "Bruce." Schwartz would later take Bigger to an automated teller machine (ATM) and then check him into a hotel. The following day after a conversation in which Schwartz denied to her that he was involved in the murder, Goldberg telephoned the police to report her suspicions and indicated that a man named "Bruce" had joined them while they were at dinner. The investigation eventually revealed that Schwartz hired Bigger for $10,000 to help him murder Stidham. Bigger had previously been convicted of criminal recklessness, check deception, and possession of marijuana in LaPorte, Indiana and was a fugitive from that state. Schwartz was with his girlfriend in a public restaurant but there are cell phone records linking Schwartz's cell phone to a convenience store pay phone, where Bigger allegedly visited that evening, and to Bigger's hotel, which was paid for by Schwartz. A sample of DNA linked to Bigger was found on the radio knob of Stidham's car. On October 15, police captured Bigger who was hiding just outside Tucson. They also arrested Schwartz the very same night. When police arrived at his apartment, he was found naked with a woman. He was taken away with such haste that his shirt was on backwards. From jail, Schwartz pleaded with Lourdes Lopez, his former lover, to be his attorney, but she refused. On October 28, Lopez reported that, prior to the murder, she had expressed to Paul Skitzki, a county prosecutor with whom she was on friendly terms, her concerns about what Schwartz might do to Stidham. The case was transferred from Pima County to Pinal County because of the nature of Lopez's past work relationship with Pima County. Trials and convictions: Both Schwartz and Bigger were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Both men also pleaded "not guilty." After some delay, the trial for Schwartz began in March 2006. Bigger's trials would not begin until the following March. Schwartz was provided with a court-appointed defense attorney named Brick Storts. Early on, Storts suggested that the attorney-client relationship between Schwartz and Lopez precluded the case from going to trial. Other arguments Storts used revolved around discrepancies between the time of death, Bigger's whereabouts, and the fact that the $10,000 had seemingly vanished. Prosecuting attorney, Sylvia Lafferty, pointed to Schwartz's cell phone records, which received calls from a payphone at a Denny's across the street from Stidham's office. Schwartz's cell phone also received calls from Bigger's hotel room, which Schwartz had paid for. The nature of the phone discussions had changed over the course of the night. Schwartz began to reassure Bigger that he had his money. Lafferty also brought up the fact that Schwartz harbored a well-known vendetta against Stidham. Many individuals took the stand, including ex-girlfriends, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, many of whom confirmed that Schwartz often talked about his hatred for Stidham. The DNA evidence from Bigger in Stidham's car also provided evidence for the prosecution. Throughout his trial, Schwartz never took the stand once. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for conspiracy to murder Stidham. Because the jury could not make a decision on the first-degree murder charge, Schwartz would have been eligible for parole after serving 25 years (in 2029) on good behavior. Schwartz's trial lasted two months and it took the jury five days to deliver a verdict. The trial officially ended on May 2, 2006. Bigger's trial took place from March 14, 2007 to May 16, 2007. Bigger's defense attorney, Jill Thorpe, tried to prove that it was Schwartz who had actually physically committed the murder. Both the prosecution and the defense attacked Schwartz's character. Lead prosecutors, Sylvia Lafferty and Richard Platt, also brought in a more sophisticated DNA analysis than the one used for the Schwartz trial. The trial ended up painting Schwartz as an extremely manipulative individual, causing the jury to feel sympathy for Bigger. Nevertheless, the jury found Bigger guilty of both conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree murder itself. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Aftermath: Attorneys for Schwartz and Bigger filed appeals almost immediately after sentencing. Bigger's appeal suggested that he was not afforded a fair trial on account of the copious amount of media coverage surrounding the case. Despite the fact that 83% of the jury pool had been exposed to some of the pretrial media, Bigger's appeal was thrown out by the Arizona Court of Appeals in May 2011. Unlike Schwartz, Bigger's trial was still held in Pima County. His attorneys felt that the trial should have taken place outside of the county where it had been less publicized. Schwartz has repeatedly made headlines since his imprisonment. In 2009, Schwartz claimed to have been attacked numerous times by inmates. He sustained injuries to his eye sockets and tear ducts and suffered nasal damage and facial fractures that required plastic surgery. He also noted that his vision had been permanently damaged. He, along with attorney Brick Storts, attempted to sue the state of Arizona for $750,000. Another inmate was convicted of aggravated assault for beating up Schwartz. Schwartz's ex-fiancee, Lourdes Lopez, continued to work as a Pima County prosecutor after disciplinary action had taken place. A complaint was filed against her by the Arizona State Bar as a result of her involvement with Bradley Schwartz's drug fraud. In 2007, the Arizona Supreme Court officially disbarred her for her connection to the drug case. The result was one that reportedly pleased the state bar. Brian Stidham's widow, Daphne Stidham, filed a wrongful death suit in 2005 against the medical complex where her husband was murdered, alleging that the conditions at the complex aided the killer. She settled that suit for an undisclosed amount. Mrs. Stidham also filed a suit in August 2005 against Pima County, Lourdes Lopez, Paul Skitzki, and county attorney, Barbara LaWall. The case alleged that the parties involved could have helped prevent Brian Stidham's murder. LaWall even testified that, if Skitzki or Lopez had come forward sooner, Dr. Stidham would still be alive. Although the original case sought $20 million in a claim against the county, Mrs. Stidham settled for $2.29 million in 2007. Lourdes Lopez, Barbara LaWall, and Pima County were dismissed from the suit as part of the settlement. Pima County paid the entire amount on behalf of Paul Skitzki. Media coverage: According to Bonnie Booth of the American Medical News, the rarity of physician-on-physician crime was the likely reason that the trial drew so much media attention. In addition to local media outlets, Court TV and CBS's 48 Hours provided coverage to a national audience. A.J. Flick, a reporter who covered the case for the Tucson Citizen, wrote a book published in 2008 entitled Murder in the Old Pueblo: The True Story of the Brian Stidham Murder Case. The events surrounding the 2004 murder were broadcast on the Investigation Discovery series, Solved in October 2008. The events of the murder were also covered by an episode of Forensic Files, titled "Office Visit", which aired on January 22, 2010 on truTV.
The Lillelid murders refers to a criminal case in Greeneville, Tennessee, United States in 1997. A Norwegian-Honduran-American family of Jehovah's Witnesses were carjacked and then shot; three of the four were killed. Six young people were convicted and sentenced for the crime. Norwegian Vidar Lillelid (age 34), his American wife Delfina (28), their daughter Tabitha (6) and son Peter (2) were shot on a deserted road in Tennessee on 6 April 1997. Vidar and Delfina were found dead, while Tabitha died after being transported to the hospital. Peter, who was found lying in a ditch, was the only survivor. He had been shot once in the torso and once through the eye. As a result of the shooting, he was left blind in one eye and permanently disabled. Family history: Vidar Lillelid grew up in Bergen, Norway. He moved in 1985 to the US, where he married Delfina Zelaya in 1989. They met through their common involvement in Jehovah's Witnesses. She was born in New Jersey, US by parents from Honduras. Details of the crime: Six young people—Natasha Wallen Cornett, 18; Edward Dean Mullins, 19; Joseph Lance Risner, 20; Crystal R. Sturgill, 18; Jason Blake Bryant, 14; and Karen R. Howell, 17—were arrested two days after the killings. They were taken into custody in Arizona after trying to cross the Mexican border in the van which they had stolen from the Lillelid family. All of the perpetrators had difficult childhoods and lived on the edge of the law. Eye witnesses observed the youths in conversation with the Lillelid family at a rest area picnic spot outside Baileyton, Tennessee. From there, they forced the family to drive them away from the rest area and to a more remote location on Payne Hollow Road. After the family had been shot and left for dead, the six abandoned their original vehicle and left in the Lillelid's van. During the trial, Natasha Cornett said her first attorney coached her to say she was the "Daughter of Satan". District Attorney Berkeley Bell considered the Satanic angle a distraction and was relieved when Cornett's first attorney was replaced. References were made by witnesses and prosecutors at trial to rumors that the six were involved with occultism and Satanism, however no evidence was presented and this omission was cited in Mrs. Cornett's unsuccessful 2002 appeal of her conviction. The trial was completed in March 1998. The six were convicted of felony murder as participants in felony kidnapping and carjacking that resulted in three murders (three life sentences) and an attempted murder (25 years). The six youths were sentenced to prison for life with no chance for parole. The judge applied the same aggravating circumstances for all. However, it was not exactly decided which of them had the main blame for the killings. Court testimony by the other defendants was that the youngest, Jason Bryant, had fired shots, but the judge opined another undetermined member of the group might also have done so. Aftermath of the victim family: Soon after Peter Lillelid's medical condition stabilized at the end of April 1997, a custody battle began between his maternal grandmother Lydia Selaya of Miami, Florida, US and his father's sister Randi Heier of Sweden. Citing Randi's pledge to raise Peter in the faith and teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses as the deciding factor, local Judge Fred McDonald awarded her custody of Peter on July 1, 1997. Peter has since been raised in Sweden by his Aunt Randi Heier and her family. As of 2007 at the age of about twelve years, he still had trouble walking because of the injuries.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Destiny Anne Norton was a victim of kidnapping and murder. Murder: Until her death, she lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. On July 16, 2006, she disappeared from her home. Her body was found fewer than 100 feet from her home in the basement of her neighbor, 20-year-old Craig Roger Gregerson. She was last seen as she left her home after arguing with her parents about going to bed. She lived in a small ranch house with her parents, and about ten other couples and friends who shared the house for economic reasons. Volunteers posted missing posters throughout Salt Lake City, describing her several silver capped teeth on the bottom row of her mouth, blonde hair and green eyes, and dressed in a grey shirt with black stripes. After a massive eight-day search by about 5,000 community volunteers, FBI and police, Destiny's body was found on July 24, 2006, less than 100 feet from her home in the basement of her neighbor, 20-year-old Craig Roger Gregerson. Family and friends were initially outraged after the search ended, and accused authorities of mishandling the investigation. An apology on behalf of the family and friends was later issued in a press conference. Gregerson was formally charged on July 27, 2006 with kidnapping and aggravated murder. He waived his rights to a speedy trial, and later waived his rights to a preliminary hearing which had originally been scheduled for October 3 and October 4, 2006. In a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, he pled guilty to capital murder and child kidnapping on December 4, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder, and fifteen years to life for the kidnapping. The sentences will be served consecutively. In 2007, the Destiny Search Project was formed in memory of Destiny Norton. The group is organized to assist with volunteer operations in missing persons cases.
The barbecue murders, also known as the BBQ murders, refers to a 1975 double murder in Marin County, California, United States. Business consultant James "Jim" Olive and his wife Naomi were murdered in their home by their 16-year-old adopted daughter Marlene Olive and her 20-year-old boyfriend Charles "Chuck" Riley, who then attempted to dispose of the bodies by burning them in a barbecue pit at a nearby campground. Riley, tried as an adult, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and received a sentence of death, which was later changed to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. Marlene Olive, tried as a juvenile, received a sentence of three to six years in a California Youth Authority juvenile facility, from which she was released at age 21 having served a little over four years. The case gained worldwide attention due to the age of the perpetrators, the details of the crime, and the wide disparity in sentencing between the two perpetrators. Riley and Marlene Olive have also been the subjects of continuing coverage in connection with his repeated bids for parole and her subsequent convictions for numerous other crimes. Background- Olive family background: Marlene Olive was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1959 to an unmarried mother, and was adopted as a newborn by a middle-aged childless couple, James "Jim" and Naomi Olive. Marlene Olive spent most of her childhood up to her early teens in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where her adoptive father Jim Olive worked as a marketing executive for Tenneco and Gulf Oil. She was very close to her adoptive father, but had a troubled relationship with her adoptive mother, who reportedly suffered from alcoholism and mental illness. When Marlene Olive was 14, her father lost his job and moved the family back to the United States, settling in Marin County, California, in the Terra Linda community of the city of San Rafael. Jim Olive became a self-employed small business consultant and spent less time with his daughter as he tried to make his business succeed. Marlene Olive had difficulty adjusting from her relatively sheltered life in Ecuador to the unfamiliar, permissive Southern California teen culture. She developed a stomach ulcer requiring prescription pills, and soon began to use the pills and other drugs recreationally and socialize with other teenage drug users. She also became interested in glam rock, witchcraft, and prostitution, the latter interest stemming from her biological mother repeatedly being called a "whore" by Naomi Olive, her adoptive mother. The relationship between Marlene and Naomi Olive worsened after the move to the U.S., and their arguments began to erupt into domestic violence. Over time, Marlene Olive also developed resentment towards her father for siding with her mother in disputes, and suspected him of informing police about her friends' drug activities. She shoplifted, stole her parents' credit cards, used and overdosed on drugs, ran away from home, and received stolen goods from burglaries committed by a boyfriend. She talked to several friends about wanting to kill her parents, and asked some of them to help, but the friends either did not take her seriously or decided not to get involved. At one point she attempted to poison her mother herself by mixing large doses of prescription drugs into her mother's food, but the drugs made the food taste bitter and Naomi refused to eat it. Chuck Riley's background: Charles "Chuck" Riley was born in 1955 in Marin County and lived most of his life there in Santa Venetia, the son of a bakery worker and a nurse's aide. Obese since childhood, by age 15 he weighed over 300 pounds. Before he met Marlene Olive, he had never had a girlfriend and was a virgin. Riley dropped out of high school in his senior year and worked as a newspaper and pizza deliveryman, bartender, and factory worker. He was a heavy drug user and also dealt drugs, both to earn money and to gain social status and popularity. He owned several guns and was a skilled marksman. Chuck Riley's relationship with Marlene Olive: When he was 19, Riley met 15-year-old Marlene Olive while dealing drugs at her high school. He developed a crush on her and began to pursue her. Although she was initially put off by his weight, the couple eventually had sex and began a relationship largely controlled by Marlene. Riley provided her with free drugs, gifts, and transportation, listened to her problems, and sometimes helped her carry out sexual or criminal fantasies. Marlene frequently threatened to break up with Riley unless he did what she wanted, and claimed to have magical powers of control over him, in which he reportedly believed. He was anxious to please her in order to continue the relationship, and twice attempted suicide when she briefly broke up with him. As she had with previous boyfriends, Marlene Olive soon began to ask Riley for help or advice in killing her mother, or suggest that he himself kill her parents. Jim and Naomi Olive initially approved of their daughter dating Riley, finding him polite and responsible. At Marlene's suggestion, the couple carried out a prolonged shoplifting spree, stealing approximately $6,000 in merchandise (primarily women's clothing and accessories) from local stores over several weeks until they were caught in the act and arrested for grand larceny in March 1975. Riley had no prior history of delinquency or antisocial conduct as a juvenile, and this was his first adult arrest. In May 1975, Riley was arrested again for possession of marijuana and a sawed-off shotgun. Jim and Naomi Olive threatened their daughter with juvenile hall, planned to send her away to school, and forbade her to see Riley again, the prohibition also being included in a court order. Jim Olive ordered Riley to stay away from the Olives' house, threatening to kill him if he ever returned. Murders: On Saturday, June 21, 1975, following another argument with her mother, Marlene Olive telephoned Riley and told him, "Get your gun, we've got to kill the bitch today". She arranged to go out with her father, leaving her mother home alone and leaving a door unlocked through which Riley could then enter and kill her mother. Riley, who was carrying a loaded .22 caliber revolver and later said he had taken LSD, entered the house where Naomi Olive was sleeping. Afterwards, Riley told police that he had struck Naomi Olive "many times" with a hammer (a statement he later recanted under hypnosis), and also stabbed and suffocated her. While Riley was still in the house, Jim Olive returned, saw his wife lying in bed covered with blood, picked up a knife and started toward Riley, exclaiming, "I'll kill you". Riley drew his gun and shot Jim Olive four times, killing him. Marlene Olive and Riley tried to dispose of the bodies by transporting them to a wooded area at nearby China Camp (which became part of a newly established state park the following year) and burning them in a barbecue pit with gasoline and logs in an attempt to make them unrecognizable. The couple left while the bodies were still burning. A fireman who arrived shortly thereafter to put out the unattended fire initially mistook the partially burnt remains for a deer carcass. The couple later returned to the park and further burned the remains along with additional evidence. With a friend, the couple cleaned up the room where the killings had taken place, removing blood from the carpet, walls and furniture. They confided in the friend who helped clean and in several other friends that they had killed the Olives, with Riley physically carrying out the killings. Riley allegedly said, "We had to do it. They wouldn't let me see her." Marlene Olive and Riley continued to live together at the Olives' house for several days, attending a Yes concert, shopping, eating at restaurants, and paying their expenses using cash, checks and credit cards taken from her dead parents. They allegedly planned to wait for Jim and Naomi to be declared dead, collect the life insurance money and move to Ecuador. After a few days, Jim Olive's business partner became concerned about his absence from work and contacted police, who visited the Olive house and spoke with Marlene Olive. She provided various alibis for herself and Riley, which the police later determined were false, and stories about her parents having either disappeared or died, claiming that one parent had killed the other and then disappeared with the body, or that both parents were killed by Hells Angels. Police also noted the recently cleaned room in the otherwise disordered house. The friend who had helped clean informed the police about the blood in the room and the couple's statements about killing the Olives and burning their bodies. Acting either on information from Marlene Olive or from her friend, police searched the China Camp barbecue pit and determined that it contained fragments of burnt human remains. Marlene Olive and Riley were arrested. After his arrest, Riley made a detailed confession, in which he said that he and Marlene Olive had been planning to kill her parents for some time, that he had beaten, stabbed and suffocated Naomi Olive and then shot Jim Olive, and that Marlene Olive had made him do it. However, Marlene Olive claimed that Riley had killed her parents of his own accord, and that afterwards he had held her hostage and forced her to take drugs. Court proceedings- Chuck Riley's trial: Based on his initial confession, Riley, who was an adult over 18 at the time of the crime, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for killing Jim and Naomi Olive and faced the death penalty. Under hypnosis, Riley later recanted the part of his initial confession about beating Naomi Olive with the hammer, saying that when he entered the house, he found Naomi Olive lying in bed, bleeding from head wounds and near death, with the hammer embedded in her head. Riley thus implied that Marlene Olive (who had reportedly been using the hammer that morning to repair a platform shoe) had fatally beaten her mother with the hammer before leaving the house. Riley contended that he had stabbed and suffocated Naomi Olive because she was suffering and near death from the hammer attack, and he was trying to end her misery. He said that he initially confessed to killing Naomi Olive in order to protect Marlene Olive by taking the blame for her actions. Riley admitted shooting Jim Olive, but said he acted out of fear and self-defense as Jim had threatened to kill him. At his trial, Chuck testified under hypnosis about the events of the murder and that he had not beaten Naomi Olive. The jury was not convinced, and convicted him on both counts of first-degree murder for killing both victims. He was sentenced to death on January 26, 1976. Author and reporter Richard M. Levine later wrote that compared to Marlene Olive, Riley did not harbor much anger at Naomi Olive, whom he barely knew, and therefore Riley would be less likely to use a method of homicide suggesting rage; that Riley would have used his loaded gun as the weapon rather than a hammer; and that Marlene Olive had previously asked Riley how hard she would have to hit Naomi Olive in order to kill her. However, others have noted that Marlene had no blood on her clothing when she left the house and would not have had time to change clothes; that Riley used a hammer to avoid alerting neighbors because it made less noise than a gunshot; and that according to a hypnosis expert, Riley's revised confession lacked credibility. Marlene Olive continued to maintain that Riley had beaten and killed her mother in addition to shooting her father, and denied that she herself had any part in the killing of either parent. Marlene Olive's juvenile court trial: Marlene Olive, who was a minor aged 16 at the time of the crime, was tried as a juvenile rather than an adult, and was represented by the well-known defense attorney Terence Hallinan. She was charged with violating Section 602 of the California State Welfare and Institutions Code, which at that time covered any crime committed by a juvenile, from petty crimes up to and including murder. The court ruled that she had violated Section 602, stating that she "did encourage, instigate, aid, abet, and act as accomplice in the homicides of her parents." In announcing his decision, Judge Charles R. Best stated, "The uncontroverted evidence regarding the father is that Chuck Riley killed him. As to who actually did in the mother, we'll never know." Marlene Olive was sentenced to a term of four to six years confinement at the California Youth Authority at Ventura (also known as the Ventura School). She was to be released by her 21st birthday unless the youth authority determined she had not been rehabilitated, in which case she could be kept in custody up to age 23. Aftermath- Chuck Riley: In December 1976, the California state supreme court ruled that the California death penalty statute, which then required a mandatory death penalty for certain categories of murder, was unconstitutional in view of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent rulings in Gregg v. Georgia and other cases. As a result, California prisoners sentenced to death under the unconstitutional statute, including Riley, could not be executed. Riley's sentence was changed from death to two concurrent life sentences with the possibility of parole after 7 years. While in prison, Riley lost weight, received his high school diploma and earned the equivalent of a college degree. After becoming eligible, Riley applied for parole approximately a dozen times and was denied each time. In 2011, Riley, now age 56, appealed his most recent denial on the grounds that there was no evidence he continued to be a danger to the community, that the parole board did not consider his age, and that his sentence had been unconstitutionally excessive. Riley won a new court-ordered parole hearing, at which the parole board found him suitable for release and granted parole. However, on February 6, 2015, the parole board's decision was reversed by California Governor Jerry Brown, who explained that "although Riley professes to accept some responsibility, he continues to downplay his role in this crime. Until Mr. Riley is able to come to terms with his role in this horrendous double murder, I do not believe he will be able to avoid violent behavior if released.” Riley appealed from the Governor's reversal of the parole board's decision. On December 3, 2015, the California Court of Appeal for the First District vacated the Governor's reversal and reinstated Riley's grant of parole, stating, "We cannot affirm the Governor’s decision because the premise of his conclusion—that Riley has failed 'to come to terms with his role in the double murder'—is unsupported by any evidence. There being no evidence in the record that Riley 'continues to downplay his role in this crime,' the Governor’s decision cannot stand." Following the court's directive, the parole board's 2015 annual report released in January 2016 showed Riley as having been deemed suitable for release and granted parole as of December 8, 2015. Marlene Olive: Marlene Olive began serving her sentence at the Ventura School and was later allowed to serve part of her time living outside the school with a young woman who had been a juvenile services volunteer. A few weeks before Marlene Olive was due to be paroled, she escaped and fled to New York City where she worked as a prostitute. She was eventually arrested and returned to California to finish her sentence, finally being released in 1980 when she was 21. After being released, she moved to the Los Angeles area, where she changed her name numerous times and was arrested at least seven different times over the next decade on forgery and drug-related charges, serving two one-year terms in jail. In 1986, she was one of 14 people arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly operating a large counterfeiting and forgery ring, of which she was thought to be the ringleader. She was subsequently convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. She served additional prison terms in California after a 1992 conviction for making a false financial statement, and a 1995 conviction for possessing a forged drivers' license. In 2003, in Kern County, California, she pled guilty to passing a fictitious check in Bakersfield and was sentenced to seven years in prison. A 1992 Los Angeles Times article called her "the queen of the trashers" due to her alleged skills at committing forgery and fraud and creating false identities based on documents, such as voided checks, obtained from discarded garbage. Police said "they had rarely come across a street-level forger believed to be as prolific or as skilled as Olive." Marlene Olive saw Chuck Riley only once after they were arrested for murder, when she visited him in prison in 1981. After the visit, Riley correctly predicted, "I'll never see her again." In popular culture: Richard M. Levine, a feature writer for numerous publications including The New York Times, New York, Harper's, and Esquire, wrote a true crime book about the case, Bad Blood: A Family Murder in Marin County (Random House, 1982), which was widely reviewed and became a bestseller. The case was also discussed in John Godwin's book Murder U.S.A.: The Ways We Kill Each Other (Ballantine, 1978) and in several later true crime anthologies. During the 1990s, Levine's book inspired American artist Marlene McCarty to create a series of drawings about the teenage Marlene Olive, her relationships, and the barbecue murders. These led to a broader group of works by McCarty on the subject of teenage female murderers known as Murder Girls, which explored issues of female aggression, sexuality, sexism, and family relations. Marlene Olive continued to be, in the words of Maud Lavin, the "chief protagonist" of the series, and at least one exhibition of McCarty's work focused solely on her and the barbecue murders. McCarty's drawing entitled Marlene Olive: 353 Hibiscus Way — Marin County, California — June 21, 1975., (Mural 2: Chuck, Jim, Marlene – December 21, 1974) (2003), is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. McCarty based her art works concerning Marlene Olive on the theory, presented by Riley's defense counsel and Levine, that Marlene Olive had beaten her mother Naomi to death with the hammer. The barbecue murders were dramatized in a 2014 episode of the true crime documentary series Killer Kids entitled "Please Kill For Me" (Season 3, Episode 12).