Monthly Archives: October 2012

Last Call for Murder – Season 2, Show 3, 2012

This is # 3 out of 10, “Last Call for Murder,” a case from 1986.  I remember (unforgettably sad) Joe telling us at the time about having to tell the mother about the death of two of her daughters in the convenience store.

The father who speaks of his sorrow in this program says that his wife died not long after the deaths of their two daughters.  He says she died of a broken heart.

Once again, this appears to be murder without motive.  Did you see the figures?  Gilbert scored a total of $233, or $46 for each of the five lives he took.

Gilbert was at one point a successful man–an Eagle Scout, success with a career as a plumber, a beautiful girl friend.  But he took cocaine.  Cocaine engenders paranoia and rage.  He took on extra plumbing work, often with night calls, to get drug money, so he was exhausted, too.  The girl friend left him.  Feeling the need for more & more money, he had robbed that same Grandview Lounge the year before, also a few minutes before closing time.  That time he was wearing a mask.  And he got away with $1,500.

Being a wise business woman, the owner of the lounge Sonya, whom you see interviewed on the program, changed her policy.  Before she went home every night after that first robbery, she deposited the day’s proceeds.  She left behind only about $100 for the staff as they closed up.

When Gilbert got so little money, he ran to the convenience store near by to see what he could get there.

The two young women there had already locked the door at that time after someone had shouted warnings about the shots & fire at the lounge.

But the owner of the convenience store was not so wise a business man.  He had removed the telephone from the premises.  He didn’t want the employees wasting time calling their boy friends.  And it was fine with him to leave a young, inexperienced woman alone there at night.  Remember one sister was just there, unpaid, because the other sister felt unsafe & uncomfortable.  So he saved a few pennies.

Think of Gilbert’s girl friend.  She had left him because of the cocaine, but had returned to Denver to visit her mother.  She visited Gilbert, too, & since she was used to his taking emergency plumbing jobs in the middle of the night, she wasn’t fazed when the call came in.  She had no idea that the call was about murder.

Just as Gilbert shot himself, the Eagle Scout part of his personality appeared just in the last second of his life.  He said, “I love you” to her.

At the very end of the program, catch a glimpse of Joe as a brown-haired, young man, smoking a cigarette as the body is removed.

Favorite line of the show:  Joe says of the suicide, “You just saved the taxpayers a lot of money.”  He tells me a trial costs upwards of a million dollars, & keeping someone in prison is at least $80K a year.

Strange coincidences about this program:

Strange: The man who installed the surveillance cameras had visited that day.  The camera had gone off accidentally.  He re-set it.  And he asked the daytime staff to tell the night staff to be careful not to trigger it again.  Apparently, that message got through.  The camera worked & was critical to catching the murderer.

Even stranger:  Kathy was working as a nurse at the local hospital.  An orderly whom she hardly knew charged in & shouted, “Your husband just killed my brother!”  Kathy was able to calm him down by saying that didn’t have to have anything to do with their working together.  Gilbert’s brother agreed finally & walked away without harming her.

Strangest of all:  A few hours after the show aired, in Denver, three men walked into a bar about ten minutes before closing time.  They shot five people.  They started a concealment fire just as Gilbert did.  Police describe it as a “robbery gone bad.”  The suspects been arrested, but again five people have lost their lives.

A Gathering of Evil – Season 2, Show 2, 2012

Among all the sad murder victims in these shows, Maggie may be the saddest.  She was only 15, an abandoned child, homeless, parentless….& prey to predators, murderers who murder apparently without motive, “in a fog of alcohol & drugs,” as Lt. Joe puts it.

Joe says this case was immensely complicated.  A number of people were lying, then lying again, in ever-changing stories.  One of the soon-to-be convicted murderers even claimed to have multiple personalities.  Another was an army sargent at Fort Carson, a “leader among men,” according to Joe…& a leader in murder conspiracy, too.  But Joe is very good at figuring out lies, & this man’s slip of the tongue led to Silas.  Silas was a soldier, “not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” who heard the beginnings of the plot.

Why didn’t Silas tell the police what he witnessed right in the beginning?  Silas was afraid.  He was scared that the murderers would go after him next.  Silas was due to get out of the army soon.  He planned to return to his home in Alabama.  Meanwhile, he was hiding out at Fort Carson…until Joe found him & convinced him–as Joe so easily does–to talk.  It is not against the law to fail to come forward with knowledge that might assist a crime investigation.

All these years later, producers for the show tracked Silas down in Alabama.  He did not wish to talk for the show.

Another evil character in this gathering of evil was Maggie’s mother.  She abandoned Maggie to state care, so that she could live her own life of alcohol, drugs, & bad men.  When police got in touch with her about Maggie’s death, she had no photo to give them, not even a baby photo.  Joe says he wishes he could have arrested her, too.

Is Joe right when he says at the beginning of the show that anyone could commit murder?  Could I?  I say no.  Could you?  (I distinguish between murder & killing in self-defense or in time of war.)

Joe mentions during the show that young Maggie reminded him of his own daughter.  He & his staff went together to provide a proper burial & headstone for Maggie.  Did I detect a tear in his eye at the end there?

Several of you inquired about the welfare of the children in the last show, “I Now Pronounce You Dead”:  When Jennifer was convicted of murder, she left behind two very young daughters, ages 3 & 18 months.  (Did she, or did she not, have a babysitter that fatal night?)  Her estranged husband took over care of them.  He remarried a very nice woman who took good care of them.  Having conspired to murder his wife, Brian went to prison & left behind three children.  Brian’s parents took in those children.  Then after the grandparents died, other family members took them in.  Joe says some children of murder victims & murderers go into state care & foster homes, as Maggie did.  But at least these children, horrible & destructive as the murder was for them, had something like good & loving care.

I Now Pronounce You Dead – Season 2, Show 1, 2012

Title is “I Now Pronounce You Dead.”  They really should let Joe write these titles.

Production values:  As you may have noticed, production values are higher than last year.  This year it’s all Colorado, no more ersatz California.  And I very much like the aerial views of Colorado Springs, both day & night shots.  No bloopers that I’ve spotted…

The media:  Joe describes a courtroom crowded with reporters for both trials.  Peoplemagazine covered the story in detail.  There was at least one instant true-crime book about it in the 90’s, titled Sweet Evil.  (Oh, I don’t like these titles.) Why did this case entrance  the media? Was it because the murderers were white, middle-class, college-educated, attractive-looking people?  Was it the element of Hollywood-style “fatal attraction”?

Real life:  Joe arrested both murderers within 48 hours.  Show depicts him interviewing the florist in a flower shop, gym employees at the gym, bartender at the bar.  But in real life, he woke them up to interview them in the middle of the night.  In real life, Jennifer Hood was dressed “like a nun” (Joe’s phrase) for her testimony in court.  And in this show, she wears pearls, looks like a lovely mom type.  Not so in real life.

Interrogation:  Brian appeared at the police station with his uncle, a wealthy man who was acting as a sort of attorney for him.  He objected to Joe reading Brian his rights or asking him any questions at all…until Joe pointed out that he might wish to cooperate in finding his wife’s murderer.  He asked several questions & then the zinger…”Do you know Jennifer Hood?”  Brian said no.  When Joe replied that there were no more questions.  He had got what he was after:  a lie.  At that point, even the uncle seemed to catch on.

After Joe arrested Jennifer on a charge of first-degree murder, he asked the local news anchor to run the story.  It was the lead story on that evening’s news.  Brian’s uncle objected to Joe’s not having told Brian ahead of time.  Joe assured the uncle that he would be “in touch as the evening wears on.”  He arrived at Brian’s house past 1 AM to find awaiting him not only Brian’s uncle but also the state’s most prominent & expensive defense attorney….Quite a backdrop to an arrest.

Religion:  The snap-in’s (for showing the program in those fortunate countries that run fewer commercials than we do) detail Brian’s use of fake religion to convince Jennifer to commit the murder.  He tried to convince her that his diety wanted this death.

Motive:  Did Brian really think he spoke for the almighty?  Or did he get his wife killed so that he could collect $200,000 in life insurance?  Or did he harbor some twisted reason that the rest of us wouldn’t understand?

Children:  Five children lost parents in this tragedy. Their lives were forever & seriously damaged.  Insofar as I can tell, neither Brian nor Jennifer thought about that.  Perhaps neither was capable of bonding with a child.  From the plot, the two of them certainly seem to have employed a lot of child care.  On the night she committed the murder, Jennifer’s husband had already left the family so he presumably wasn’t available for child care–& might have asked where she was going.  Did Jennifer call the girl next door to babysit?  Did she drop the children over at Nana’s, with the caution that she might be out late?  Did Brian cheerfully offer to care for their three children while his wife went out to the meeting from which he knew she would never come home?

Joe & Kathy watched the premiere last night at a Colorado Springs bar where the sports were off & Homicide Hunter was on.  A patron kept eyeing Joe & commenting that “You look just like that guy,”  “You could be twins.”  Want to bet this man votes?

Word today is that the show is playing in India.  It will be in Canada soon.  And there are plans for Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  Very cool brother-in-law…