Eight Dead in Mississippi Shooting Spree, Suspect in Custody

(Willie Godbolt being arrested on May 29, 2017. Photo credit: Therese Apel/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)

CTV News reports that a Mississippi man was arrested this morning and charged with murdering eight people Saturday night, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff’s deputy, over an alleged domestic dispute involving his children.

35-year-old Willie Godbolt is accused of shooting seven family members to death as well as the police officer in a rampage which spanned three homes.

Authorities offered no motive for the crimes, but said prosecutors intend to charge Godbolt with murder. The suspect was hospitalized in good condition after being shot himself.

Please visit the above link to read more.

22 Dead, Scores Injured in Manchester Concert Bombing

(Ariana Grande with Manchester victim Georgina Callendar)

CNN reports that 22 people are dead and dozens more injured in a terrorist attack when an explosive device was detonated outside of the Manchester Arena, where pop musician Ariana Granda was performing.

The bomber reportedly died at the scene, while a 23-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Please visit the above link for continuing coverage of this story.

Book Review: If I Did It

Following the 1995 acquittal of legendary NFL running back O.J. Simpson for double-homicide, many memoirs would derive from the ashes of the “Trial of the Century” penned by many key players involved in the media frenzied story which captured the global public’s imagination for over a full year. But perhaps no book was more eagerly anticipated than that of the defendant himself.

Simpson, accused in the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown and her friend, Ron Goldman, offers his side of the story (sort of) in If I Did It, released in September 2007. Marketed as a “hypothetical” version of events if Simpson had committed the crimes, the former football hero chronicles his relationship with Brown leading up to that tragic pre-summer evening and the fallout from the murders until his arrest five days later.

Simpson’s presentation of events surrounding the Brown-Goldman murders is interesting, in a word. Obviously, the central part of the book – and the basis for its conception – is the sixth chapter, titled “The Night in Question.” Here, Simpson offers what he describes as a theoretical scenario of him (accompanied by a friend Simpson refers to as “Charlie”) stabbing his former wife and Ron Goldman to death.

At least that is what we may assume, considering Simpson does not actually admit to remembering the murders. Instead, the athlete-turned-actor places himself in the courtyard of Brown’s condominium covered in blood and holding a knife, with no apparent recollection of the brutality which befell the two lifeless people in front of him.

Obviously, Simpson’s hypothetical confession comes off as disappointing, lame and lacking of validity. While I did not delve into If I Did It hoping for a graphic first-hand account of two gory murders, Simpson’s words read as those of a man unwilling to accept responsibility for his own violent actions.

Simpson makes a number of other eyebrow-raising claims within the pages of If I Did It. First, let’s tackle the infamous white bronco chase. While Simpson admits to being suicidal that day, he insists that he and longtime friend A.C. Cowlings were on their way to Simpson’s Rockingham estate as the two led police on a low-speed pursuit on Los Angeles freeways. This is certainly contradictory to the recorded telephone conversation between Simpson and L.A.P.D. detective Tom Lange from inside the bronco, where the officer appears to cannily sway a seemingly suicidal Simpson from shooting himself (a discussion which goes completely unacknowledged in the book).

The author denies that he murdered Brown in a passionate rage over his desire to be with her. In fact, Simpson adamantly states several times that it was she who continuously hoped for reconciliation in their marriage and even describes an occasion where Brown sent him a letter along with the couple’s wedding tape in hopes of reuniting their family. This causes the reader (or at least this one) to wonder why Simpson didn’t produce such documentation of his ex-wife’s adoration for him during his criminal or civil trials.

Simpson questions the report that he recorded a tape about his life prior to the bronco incident, saying he would love to hear it someday. Well, should “The Juice” happen to be reading, I gladly direct him to the 2015 Lifetime Movie Network special, The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story – the basis of which is that very recording Simpson has apparently forgotten about.

Simpson does not address the criminal or civil court proceedings in the book. Instead, If I Did It concludes with the fallen gridiron hero being booked for the double-homicide of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

In addition to Simpson’s account, If I Did It includes passages from the Goldman family, late investigative journalist Dominick Dunne (who sat next to Kim Goldman during Simpson’s criminal trial), the book’s ghostwriter, Pablo Fenjves and attorney Peter T. Haven, who assisted the Goldmans in acquiring the publishing rights to If I Did It.

Purchasing information for If I Did It is available courtesy of Midpoint Publishers here.

(Special thanks to Megan Trank at Beaufort Books)

True Crime Factor Interview: Benjamin Zeller

On March 26, 1997, the bodies of 39 men and women were discovered inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. It was later determined that each of the deceased were members of a millenarian group known as Heaven’s Gate; the victims had ritualistically ended their lives as part of a belief system which required them to exit their earthly vessels in order to ascend to the “next level.”

Among the dead was the group’s leader, Marshall Applewhite, who had co-founded “The Crew” – Heaven’s Gate’s earliest incarnation – in 1974 along with the late Bonnie Nettles. Applewhite posthumously shouldered most of the blame for the suicides during the ensuing media blitz, with many claiming the Heaven’s Gate chief had brainwashed his devotees into taking their lives.

Benjamin Zeller, religious scholar and Associate Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College in Illinois, has penned a book documenting the origins, history and ideology of the Heaven’s Gate movement. Released in 2014, Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion provides a balanced and unprejudiced examination of the group’s members and their fatal decisions.

Zeller kindly spoke with me on the afternoon of May 12 to discuss the Heaven’s Gate organization and his work researching the group. You can visit Ben Zeller online at NRMS.net and follow him on Twitter under the handle @ZellerProf.

Purchasing information for Heaven’s Gate is available here.

(Special thanks to Betsy Steve at NYU Press)

Please click on the “Play” icon below to hear the interview:

True Crime Factor Interview: Rose Pinson

15-year-old Pearl Pinson was abducted on the morning of May 25, 2016 while on her way to school in Vallejo, California. Several people witnessed the perpetrator, Fernando Castro, force the injured and screaming girl at gunpoint over a pedestrian crossing bridge. According to bystanders, Castro then put Pinson into the trunk of his car.

Castro was killed in a shootout with police the following day in Santa Barbara County, but Pinson remains missing.

Pearl’s sister, Rose Pinson, kindly spoke with me on the afternoon of May 10 to discuss her disappearance. Rose also appeared on a recent episode of The Vanished podcast, which can be heard here.

(Backpack worn by Pearl Pinson at the time of her abduction)

You can follow Rose Pinson on Twitter under the handle @Pearl_Team12. Additionally, there are two Facebook pages dedicated to Pearl Pinson’s story, Pearl Team and Find Pearl Pinson.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Pearl Pinson may contact the Solano County Sheriff’s tip line for the case at 707-784-1963, call Rose Pinson’s personal telephone number at 925-812-2059, or E-mail the Pinson family at helpfindpearlpinson@gmail.com.

Please click on the “Play” icon below to hear the interview:

FBI Director Terminated By Trump

(Photo Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, Mario Tama/Getty Images)

CBC reports that FBI Director James Comey was abruptly terminated yesterday by United States President Donald Trump.

Comey, recognized as the nation’s top law enforcement official, was in the midst of an FBI investigation into the potential impact of Russian election meddling relating to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Additionally, Comey had come under scrutiny in recent months for his role in an investigation into the E-mail practices of Trump’s election opponent Hilary Clinton, which Clinton has partially blamed for her failed presidential bid.

Comey was nominated to a 10-year term as FBI Director by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013. He is the second agency head in FBI history to be terminated from the post.

Please visit the above link to read more.

Suspect Named in Arizona Serial Shooter Case

CBS 5 reports that Phoenix Police have officially named Aaron Juan Saucedo as the prime suspect in a series of deadly shootings which occurred in the Phoenix area from August 2015 to July 2016.

Saucedo is linked to nine murders and twelve incidents. He has been booked on 26 felony counts, including homicide and assault.

Police say there is an abundance of evidence against Saucedo, including ballistic, witness statements, forensic, video, physical evidence and more. The suspect may also have made comments linking himself to the crimes.

Please visit the above link to read more.