đź’–Joe Bidenđź’‹Kamala Harrisđź’•

News of the world:

  • On our walks this week, we’ve seen snowdrop and witch-hazel blossoms. Uncertain as to whether those were late fall witch-hazel blossoms or early spring, but with the snowdrops already punching through from beneath the fallen leaves, I expect that they were of the early spring variety.
  • Dan started working again. He has been unemployed since March. The union called him back again and this time he said yes. First though he needed a Covid test. He reported at six, but the nurse wasn’t expected until seven. So, he had to wait in his car. She never did show up. They eventually sent him out to a lab to get tested, but after that was done his shift was already over. At least he got paid to wait around all day. He told us that all those long distance, early childhood trips to the grandparents’ houses trained him well to be able to sit in a car all day. He reports for work again tomorrow. This time with a negative Covid test in hand.
  • I spoke with my dad, who told me that the Lizzie Borden house is for sale in Fall River. They want a cool million for the place. I believe that as of late it has been operating as a bed and breakfast. “I’ll take the murder suite.” “Which one, father’s or mother’s?” I told him that I had met some of those Bordens at Peter and Evelyn’s wedding and that they had not been at all pleased with me when I told them that my last name was Axe. My dad said, that when he and mom got married, her friend at the local paper announced their pending nuptials by saying, like Lizzie Borden, Jackie U. took an Axe.
  • The Orange Elvis has left the building (Ba-bye!) and the counting of the silverware has begun. A half-million dollars will be spent today for deep cleaning the Whitehouse, to try to remove some of the the stench of the past four years and all of the Covid from the last. 
  • For all of you fashionistas out there, I am pleased to report that Anne wore pearls to the inauguration. The same necklace that was once my mother’s.
  • At noon Eastern, as Biden and Harris were being sworn in, I swapped out the Dan created header that I have adopted as a symbol of the resistance. Tonight, fireworks and then tomorrow, back to the regular sunset header.
  • We now have a new president, #46. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris—I’m letting those words flow over me and sink in. A cloud has been lifted. It is a new day, a good day, a day full of hope and promise. Let the celebration begin! I look forward to four years of radical normalcy. 

Trials and Tribulations

Saint Louis County Courthouse

In December of 2012 I served on a jury. The case was statutory rape. Other than the defendant and the victim, everyone else in the courtroom was white. The prosecution could not narrow down when this rape occurred any closer than the 5-10 years, between when the defendant first turned 18 and his niece, the victim, eventually turned 18. The definition of statutory rape. Fuzzy timeline and he said, she said case aside, his case boiled down to a confession. This confession had been videotaped. I’m sure that the prosecutor had intended that the jury only watch the last half-hour of this interrogation, but the defendant had hired one of those high-priced TV advertising lawyers and I’m sure that before we were seated this attorney had got the judge to rule that we had to watch the full four and a half hours. Enduring this interrogation, we came to reasonably doubt the state’s case. We unanimously acquitted. A year and a half later Ferguson exploded, exposing the racist corruption that was prevalent in Saint Louis County government. At the next election, I helped to vote out the old prosecutor and his staff.

This is a story that I have told before and is preamble here, because at the time, I was working with Chris. Chris and I were a bit of oil and water. He knew more about our assignment than I, but I was at least nominally in charge. At least my work retelling of my case got him to open up about his own life altering event.

In 1987 the worse mass murder that has happened in Saint Louis occurred on a Friday in June. A National grocery store on Natural Bridge had just closed for the night. The store was already locked, but the security guard unlocked the door to allow the two-man night cleaning crew to enter. They were not the normal cleaning crew, but heck it was Friday. These two men drew guns, overcame the guard and quickly ushered most of the staff into a side aisle, away from the windows, where they were forced to lie in a row, face down. These men then began to execution style kill the grocery store workers.

Five people were killed and two more wounded. At the time, Chris was a young stock boy and had been in the storeroom at the back when the gunshots began to ring out. Reacting, he and another guy in the backroom went right, climbed a ladder to the roof and were eventually able to get people on the street to call the police. A third guy went left and became one of the seven victims. The two perps were captured, convicted and are still serving time. Chris testified at their trial. The prosecutor told him that by testifying, he would never serve on a jury. 

Murder She Wrote

Stock Photo by JJ Jordan on UnsplashÂą

In 2004, I was sitting next to John in our weekly staff meeting. I presented some of my work and he was rather complementary of it. He was a respected retiree who had come back to work as a consultant. The next day he was poisoned.

Even though he presented to the ER that night and claimed he had been poisoned and had purportedly implicated his girlfriend, Tamara—for more than sixteen months, the local Chesterfield police struggled to unravel the mystery surrounding his death. I think that the Keystone cops could have done a better job of detecting than these guys did.

I worked with John, but really only interacted with him in those staff meeting, which were real three-hour tours. I met Tamara only once at an office Christmas party. She was thin, blonde and a little wild. I later learned that she was also the owner-operator of Metro Pawn on the Rock Road. It was also alleged that her family was the same organized crime family that had been involved with a series of car bombs here in Saint Louis during the early eighties, but that’s only gossip.

John’s son kept pushing the police to do their job. I heard thirdhand that while at his father’s house, months after his death, a detective noticed a tall glass with dried residue in it. The detective asked John’s son, “Do you think that that was the glass that poisoned him?” Certainly not CSI—more Keystone. Eventually though, they put two-and-two together and issued a murder arrest warrant for her. She must have know that they were closing in, because when they went to her home to serve the warrant, they found her dead by her own hand.

Why did she do it? Police theorized that she killed him, because John wanted to breakup and was going cut her off financially. Arsenic was used as the poison, but instead of poisoning him gradually, the way it is usually done with this poison, she chose to do it all at once. Two more “health shakes” were later found in his fridge, in case the first one didn’t do the job. But why did she kill herself. Nothing up until then would have indicated that the police would have secured a conviction. They even opted to only charge her with murder in the second degree, because they couldn’t even convince themselves that she wanted to kill him and not just scare him, but how “scaring” John by nearly poisoning him would have had any desirable effect beats me. John’s son thought that she took her own life to protect her daughter, who was also living with John and could have had some involvement. I guess we’ll never know.

  1. This is a stock photo, using a model and has only visual relevance.