Category Archives: Season 2

Drive Thru Murder – Season 2, Show 6, 2012

This show is “Drive Thru Murder.”  Here’s the story, along with a few disgusting extra details.

An unfortunate pedestrian comes across Missy Berry dead at the wheel of her car, engine still running, gear still in drive.  Missy is an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant.  Her boss Ruthie describes her as a close friend & kind-hearted person.  (I know…there have been more than a few off-the-point remarks about Ruthie’s hair dye.)  But others found Missy abrasive & domineering.

Plus, there’s the matter of missing money.  Missy is supposed to deposit the day’s receipts at the bank, as she does every night.  But bank security film shows no sign of her that night, & the deposit bag is missing.

Lt. Joe assumes the motive may have been revenge, as well as money.  Several people hate Missy.  One former police officer, in particular, has been harassing her.  He views it that he lost his job because of her complaints against him.  But he has an alibi.  Joe interviews several other momentary suspects–including a couple not mentioned in the show–before he finds the man he calls his “new star.”

The “star” is Cliff, who works with Missy at the restaurant–& has suffered from her taunts & bullying.  When Joe discovers this prime suspect, he says in true Kenda fashion, “I am beginning to feel wonderful.”

Cliff is a marginal person.  His parents are marginal.  His father, whom Joe describes as a milquetoast, was once in the military (Fort Carson, ever present in these shows), is now unable to find a job in civilian life.  His British mother, also unemployed, is abrasive & domineering.  (So was Missy. Anyone want to psychoanalyze that?)  Cliff lives with them & attempts to support them with his meager earnings.

Here’s yet another disgusting detail:  On the night he murdered her, Cliff caught a ride home with Missy after work.  He didn’t murder her until he was just about a block from home.  He wouldn’t want to have to walk too far.  This is, of course, one way the police caught him.  Missy is known as an inexpert driver, gets confused & lost easily, not likely to drive out of her usual route home.  But she’s found about fifteen miles in the wrong direction.  And by the way the body is positioned, Joe is able to deduce that she was not afraid, was not facing an intruder into the car, must have been driving a passenger with whom she was acquainted–& as it turned out, lived quite nearby.

Cliff is also a fantast.  In his mid 20’s, he hangs around with teenagers.  He constantly attempts to impress these younger guys.  He brags about plans to rob the restaurant.  At some point, he brags about plans to murder Missy.  He requests a gun, & one of these kids actually comes up with a stolen gun.  Apparently, he has no problem with handing the gun over to Cliff, no questions asked, nor even any money changing hands.

When the time comes for escape & evasion, as the military call it, Cliff does just what Joe says fugitives tend to do.  He flees to a familiar place, a place where he feels comfortable.  Then he hunkers down…no matter that this all makes him look guilty, guilty, guilty.

With his mother’s help, Cliff buys a one (!)-way ticket to London.  He requests the bereavement fare on account of the death of an aunt, who is very much alive & easily traceable.  The first place the British police look is the aunt’s house, & there is Cliff.   All that remains is the difficulty of extraditing a fugitive from another country…& the “impressive piece of paper” that will need to be drawn up to make that happen.

Is Cliff’s decidedly non-military version of escape & evasion mean that he is another one of these perpetrators who believe that the police are stupid & will never catch on?  Cliff gives the impression of being too stupid himself to think that far ahead.

And then there’s the aunt, the mother, & the teenager who gave Cliff the gun.  They all had criminal records (mostly non-violent property crimes).  They all aided & abetted Cliff in his crime.  Joe decided not to arrest the mother as an accessory.  She claimed she arranged for the airline ticket merely because her son was homesick for his native Britain.  The bereavement fare was just a lie to save money…& indeed, that was so common a problem that the airlines have long since abandoned the concept.  Joe decided not to prosecute.  He quotes a baseball regulation, “Tie goes to the runner.”

The boy who provided the gun also got off, since the casual transfer was impossible to prove.  Joe knew only because the boy volunteered the information.  And the boy didn’t come forward when he first heard of the murder & remembered Cliff’s bragging about his plan to kill Missy. Haven’t we heard this before in various previous cases?  People sit tight.  They remain silent.  Even in the face of murder.

But the aunt is another story.  She certainly didn’t get off.  When the English police arrived, she physically attacked the officers.  They got her under control.  She emerged bloody.  And of course, the British legal system does not look kindly on assaulting police.  She served a long sentence.  Is stupidity hereditary?

Joe says motives for murder are sex, revenge, or money.  Cliff got both revenge & money.  But Joe admits that many crimes do not fit cleanly into those three categories.  This one certainly doesn’t.

Lt. Joe is being quite the tough guy in this show.  When he learns of the murder, he says it’s time to “grab your toys” & head for the crime scene.  He maintains “a heart of railroad steel.”  I want you to know he’s actually very sensitive.  But you already knew that, didn’t you?

One final secret:  The fast food restaurant is Arby’s.

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…