Friday, September 28, 2012

Curbside “Couch-Humper” Arrested

A 46-year-old Wisconsin man, Gerald P. Streator, was arrested this month for allegedly having sex with a curbside couch. At 11 p.m. on 3 September 2012, an off-duty Waukesha police officer was jogging on North University Drive near Pebble Valley Road when he spotted an abandoned yellow couch on the curb.

The off-duty officer then claims that he saw Mr. Streator “having sex with an abandoned couch set on a curb, thrusting his hips as if he was having sex with a person,” the report says. The officer approached and yelled “what are you doing,” which allegedly caused Mr. Streator to run away. It was at that point that the officer realized that the assailant was “thrusting it between the couch cushions for sexual gratification.”

The officer chased the couch-humper to an apartment building nearby, where the perpetrator walked upstairs and entered one of the apartments. The officer contacted the police department, reported the incident and discovered Streator’s name. Police returned to the apartment the next day and spoke to Streator’s wife, who told them that her husband had done nothing wrong. Police then visited Streator’s work place and spoke to him there about the alleged incident. Streator denied being out at that time, saying that he had been at home with his wife and had gone to bed around 10:30 p.m.

He will make his initial appearance in court 1 October 2012. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Community Braces as Fears of Serial Killer in Bergen County After Third Body Found

There have been no arrests and still unsolved; two murders, one in Teaneck, the other in Palisades Park, both in 2010. The victims were Joan Davis [72] (Teaneck) and Dolores Alliotts [69] (Palisades Park). The crimes were eerily similar: both elderly women, both beaten, stabbed and their homes set on fire. Then in 2011 Robert Cantor, 59-year-old software engineer from Teaneck, NJ was also killed in his home, suffering a gunshot wound prior to the fire being set. I reported on these incidents back then and was among the very first to ask: is there a serial killer in Bergen County? Read HERE and HERE.

Since then, the Cantor murder appears to have been solved. Sui Kam Tung, a New York City man, has since been arrested and charged with murder and arson in the death of Robert Cantor. Authorities depicted the murder as a love triangle turned deadly. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli stated that Tung allegedly learned that his wife was romantically involved with Cantor back in 2010 and “began a pattern of stalking the victim,” which ultimately and allegedly led to his murder. With that one out of the way, we return to the latest on the possibility of a serial killer in Bergen County.

On 21 March 2011, Prosecutor Molinelli made a public statement asserting that the murders of two Teaneck residents over the last several months are not linked and there is no ongoing threat to the community. Prosecutor Molinelli added, “If authorities believed there was any ongoing threat to Teaneck residents—including a possible serial killer—[they] would have alerted the public immediately.”
That was until a fourth victim, 70 year old Barbara Vernieri, an East Rutherford, NJ widow was found beaten to death, her home set ablaze mid-morning on Friday, 14 September 2012. Prosecutor Molinelli spoke of the complexity of the situation, explaining that Vernieri was a successful real estate broker, therefore, investigators will have to sift through “hundreds of transactions and potential witnesses.” He also insisted that the murders from two years ago had not “gone cold,” and that “Those are still very active investigations.”

Prosecutor Molinelli briefed reporters late Monday, confirming that Vernieri was beaten to death, with blows to her head and upper body and an accelerant was poured on her body, and ignited. He also said that while he cannot exclude Vernieri’s murderer as someone who was responsible for the murders of Ms. Davis and Ms. Alliotts, he claimed that he is also not saying that it is definitively the same person.

The fire at Vernieri’s home, unlike the other deaths, was extinguished quickly, because the tenant who lived upstairs called the police and reported the fire so fast. This may have saved some vital physical evidence, but we won’t know that until police report on it further. Investigators report that they are hopeful they will find evidence to either link or exclude the murders from two years ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sollecito’s New Book: “Knox May Have Left My Apartment”

In his new book In Honour Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox, Amanda’s ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, finally breaks his silence, and his words mirror the bizarre and contradictory behavior both he and Knox exhibited since the murder. In the book, Sollecito questions whether Knox knew more about the murder than she revealed, casting doubt on her key alibi—that on the night of the killing she was in his apartment, watching a film and making love.

In an excerpt from his book, Sollecito writes:

“My poor memory seemed a ridiculous reason to throw me into an isolation cell and accuse me of involvement in the crime…If the problem was with Amanda and the things she might or might not have done outside the house—assuming she left at all—why not focus the investigation on her?...Maybe she knew something. Maybe there was something she hadn’t told me. But please, I thought, leave me out of it.”

Sollecito goes on to insist that he “didn't believe for an instant she was capable of murder,” but admits he had doubts about the friends that Knox mixed with.

Let’s break these statements down. Let’s say your DNA is found on a murdered female victim’s severed bra next to her body and police ask you where you were during the time of the murder and you say you don’t remember who you were with because you had smoked marijuana less than 24 hours ago. Do you think that it would then be "ridiculous,” as Sollecito says, for police to hold you as a major suspect in the crime?

Moreover, Sollecito told police (less than 24 hours after the murder) that he was with Knox in his apartment the entire night. Less than two days later Sollecito did an interview to Kate Mansey of the UK's Sunday Mirror in which he claimed that he and Knox were at a party of an unnamed friend. Then, less than 4 days after the murder he changed his story again, claiming to police that Knox had left his apartment at 9:00pm and returned at 1:00am on the night of the murder, and that Amanda told him to lie. He claims that he doesn’t think that Amanda is capable of murder, even though he had only known her at that point for approximately one week.

Sollecito certainly leaves the door wide open in regard to Knox not being at his flat at the time of the murder. Then, when police confronted him and told him that a knife confiscated from his apartment was found to have Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s DNA on the tip; Sollecito said that he accidentally pricked Kercher with the knife while cooking her a fish diner in his apartment, even though it was later determined that Kercher was never in his apartment.

Police knew very well that Sollecito and Knox were inseparable from the time that they met and for a short time after the murder. That is why they focused on him as well as her. Moreover, he became even more of a focus when police intercepted a phone call that he had with his father just days after the murder, where he called police “stupid,” because they didn’t find the knife that he carried frequently on his person when they searched him. If Sollecito wanted to truly “stay out of it” he would have been honest with police right from the start, telling them that Knox had left his apartment. There is only one problem with that scenario: he was with Knox when she left his flat and he was there during Kercher’s murder. His cover-ups go far beyond an innocent bystander simply sticking up for his true love of one-week. After all, his DNA was found on Kercher’s severed bra, and the contamination theory doesn’t hold water. Sollecito’s DNA was found nowhere else in Knox’s apartment and there was no way to transfer it to Kercher’s bra.

The probability, or even plausibility, that two people could smoke a joint and completely forget where they were, who they were with, and any of the events of the night (only hours later) is comical. Moreover, even if we were to believe this truly ridiculous theory, what is to stop us from asking: if they didn’t remember anything, how can they say they didn’t do it and don’t remember?

In another section of his book, Sollecito writes that Knox did not have a key to his apartment. Therefore, he surmises that if she had slipped out to murder Kercher, he writes, she would have had to ring the doorbell for him to let her back in. This didn’t happen, he says (funny how he has such selective memory). Yet, this clearly contradicts his earlier statement that he is unsure if she had left his apartment or not. But, again, he blames his memory loss on the joint that he smoked, so he really can’t be held accountable for any of these statements…hedging his bets, if you will.

“I knew I had nothing to do with Meredith's murder, but I was furious with myself for having such a foggy memory and I knew it was in part because of the joint I'd smoked on the afternoon of November 1,” Sollecito writes. Interestingly enough, Sollecito can remember most of the events that took place during the afternoon and early evening hours, just not of any events that occurred during the time the murder was taking place.

In his new book, Sollecito also makes new allegations against Perugia police. While being held in custody in Perugia, he writes, that police stripped him naked while threatening and slapping him. Sollecito was subject to what he calls a “less than scrupulous” set of “time-honored pressure techniques,” in which, he believes, the police asked him to repeat his story multiple times in order “to catch me out in whatever inconsistencies they could find.” He also claims that police never seriously believed in his guilt, but pursued him aggressively in order to have him testify against Knox. When he wouldn’t, Sollecito claims that they set him up. Sollecito says that, while searching his apartment, officer Finzi reached into his cutlery drawer in the kitchen, “pulled out the first knife that came to hand, a large chopping knife with an eight-inch blade,” and turning to a fellow officer he asked, “Will this knife do?” to which the officer answered, “Yes, yes, It’s great.”

Sollecito paints himself as a hero in the book—much as he did in the interview he gave to UK’s Sunday Mirror (when he falsely claimed that he and Knox were at a party while the murder was taking place). Sollecito claims that his family, and his lawyers, urged him to abandon Knox and change his testimony in order to buy favor with police and save himself, but he writes, “…my determination to stick by Amanda, and by what I knew to be the truth, was one thing I knew I had exactly right. Nothing in the world—not the people I cared about most, and certainly not the threat of further punishment for a crime I did not commit—could induce me to change my mind.”


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sollecito Arrives in U.S. to Promote his New Book

Almost one year to the day that Amanda Knox and Raffalele Sollecito had been released from jail after their conviction had been overturned; they are once again back in the news. This time it is Sollecito who is stealing the headlines. Yesterday, Sollecito arrived in the United States to promote his new book, Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox, which is scheduled to be released on 18 September 2012. The book is co-authored by Los Angeles-based Andrew Gumbel who spent six years in Italy and was a Reuters foreign correspondent.

In leaked excerpts of his new book, Sollecito speaks about his “indescribable joy,” after being acquitted and released in Perigua, Italy almost one year ago today. He also speaks of his love affair with Amanda Knox, including their first night together:

“I showed Amanda around and invited her to plop down on the bed while I loaded a film on my computer. Of course, by the time I settled in next to her, all thoughts of the movie were quickly forgotten and we pulled each other’s clothes off before the opening credits finished rolling. When I woke up the next morning, Amanda still had her arms wrapped tightly around me. I remember feeling safe and warm in a way I hadn't since I was a little kid.”

The Associated Press received an advanced copy of the book Teusday and say that it describes how the early days of their relationship became a nightmare: the horror of Kercher’s slaying; the misunderstandings that swept them up in the case; their tabloid portrayals as two suspects unrecognizable to themselves. In the book Sollecito also wrote about his first night in prison, saying he wavered between “great waves of indignation and a nagging sense of guilt.” He said that while he knew he was innocent, he was angry at himself for having a “foggy memory” of the night of the killing because he and Knox had smoked marijuana.

It will be interesting to see what he has to say about the night of the murders and his side of the story now, considering that he and Knox have told several conflicting and different stories about what had happened and where they were throughout this whole ordeal. UK’s The Telegraph writes briefly that in his new book, Sollecito questions whether Amanda Knox knew more about the murder than she revealed, casting doubt on her key alibi--that on the night of the murder she was in his apartment, watching a film and making love. Yet, he still appears to maintain that smoking weed caused him not to remember these crucial events.

Knox has also signed a multimillion dollar publishing deal, and her book is due out soon as well. It is unlikely that there will be any true closure or any clarity added by these two, if you are familiar with the case and with the way that they both speak so confusingly about the events; Know even falsely claiming that another man (Patrick Lumumba) was present at the murder scene. Moreover, it is not likely that anything truly enlightening will be added in this book as Sollecito’s correct legal status is that he STILL stands accused of Meredith’s murder unless and until the Italian Supreme Court signs off on the case’s outcome.

However, Gumbel told, “Not only will the book leave no doubt about Raffaele’s innocence; everything Raffaele and his family have to tell, backed by previously unpublished documents in the case, suggests that his incarceration had almost nothing to do with the actual evidence but had another motivation entirely — to be revealed when the book comes out.” But then again, Gumbel may just be trying to hype it up for the sake of book sales.

Sollecito is scheduled to speak at UW's Kane Hall Room 110, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, or free with advanced purchase of his book at the University Book Store. Sollecito is scheduled to appear on the Katie Couric show on Tuesday 9/18/12. Protesters are also scheduled to meet Tuesday morning, 10:30 am to 12:00 pm, near the studio (Lincoln Center). Hopefully Katie will ask the tough questions and not fold to the Knox PR machine. Here’s a PPP from on some of the poignant questions that Sollecito is yet to answer and that Couric should be asking him (CLICK HERE). In any event, the two former lovers will become rich because of this tragedy, and Kercher’s parents will keep being reminded of what happened to their daughter.