Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts

April 16, 2013

Christopher Knight, 47, Stole to Survive Solitary Life in the Woods of W. Maine.

ROME — Christopher Knight went into the central Maine wilderness 27 years ago.

click image to enlarge
Game Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes, right, Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance, center, and Somerset County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Leal on Tuesday inspect Christopher Knight's camp in a remote, wooded section of Rome.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge
Christopher Knight
Contributed photo
He built a hut on a slope in the woods, where he spent his days reading books and meditating.
There he lived, re-entering civilization only to steal supplies from camps under the cover of darkness. During those nearly three decades, he spoke just once to another person – until he was arrested during a burglary last week.
In between, Knight told police, he committed more than 1,000 burglaries, always taking only what he needed to survive. He became so familiar for his thievery and elusiveness that he spawned the local legend of the North Pond Hermit, who for years confounded both locals and police investigating the break-ins.
In June 2005, the Morning Sentinel published a story about the "hermit of North Pond," who, it said, "for the last 15 years has been picking his way through dozens of the 300 or so camps around North Pond."
"It's been a myth, or legend, that a hermit was responsible," Maine State Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance told the Kennebec Journal on Tuesday. "That happens to be the case."
The 47-year-old hermit now awaits his future at the Kennebec County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $5,000 cash bail on charges of burglary and theft.
Even as law enforcement continues to piece together a story that sounds too incredible to be true, every new layer of evidence uncovered since Knight's arrest has buttressed the legend of the hermit burglar in the area of the pond, which is surrounded by Smithfield, Mercer and Rome.
On Tuesday, police uncovered the ultimate evidence of Knight's odyssey: the makeshift campsite in the woods of Rome that was Knight's home for 27 years.
"He said he just came into the woods one day in 1986," Perkins-Vance said. "He claims he hadn't had a conversation with another human being since the mid-1990s, when he encountered someone on a trail. I was the first person he talked to since the 1990s. People are like, 'No way!' But yeah, it's true."
While police are still investigating how Knight managed his decades-long withdrawal from society, they have not learned why. And they may never know.
Knight has always been interested in hermits, according to Perkins-Vance, and loved the book "Robinson Crusoe," the story of a man stranded on an island for decades.
Beyond that, Perkins-Vance said, Knight had no deeper explanation for heading into the woods. He said he had a good childhood growing up in Albion. He left society after the April 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Russia, but Perkins-Vance said Knight remembers that event to mark the date of departure rather than to provide its motive.
"He didn't give a reason," Perkins-Vance said. "He said he frequently asks himself that same question."
"I couldn't fathom why he has done what he has done," said Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Maine Warden Service.
There must have been times during the winter, Hughes said, when it was well below zero and the wind was howling that Knight dreamed about checking into a motel or a shelter.
"To maintain his position is phenomenal," Hughes said.
Hermit arrested
Christopher Thomas Knight's first contact with another human being in 27 years — outside of that hiker with whom he exchanged a greeting in the mid-1990s — came around 1:15 a.m. Thursday.
Hughes said he arrested Knight as he carried meat and other food from Pine Tree Camp in Rome, which serves children and adults with disabilities.
Knight estimated he had broken into the camp more than 50 times over the years and taken thousands of dollars of meat, beer, coffee and other supplies.

March 1, 2013

Would You Know If Your Hotel is a Murder Hotel?

Cecil Hotel
The exterior of the Cecil Hotel.
Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
This January, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist named Elisa Lam disappeared while visiting Los Angeles. Lam was last seen at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where she had been staying. Tuesday, her body was found at the bottom of one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks, thus solving two separate mysteries at once: “What happened to Elisa Lam?” and “Why is the water pressure so bad at the Cecil Hotel?”
The hotel’s guests were horrified at the news, with good reason—nothing spoils a vacation faster than learning you may have been brushing your teeth with corpse-water. But anyone familiar with Los Angeles’s history couldn’t have been too surprised. Downtown LA has long been seedy, and somewhat dangerous; the Cecil Hotel, for its part, has a long and sordid criminal history.
The Cecil doesn’t advertise its dark past; caveat emptor and all that. But, still, many guests might balk at staying in a hotel that was once a crime scene. It’s best if you do your researchbefore embarking on your travels, not after. Here are some ways to determine whether or not you might have booked a room in a murder hotel.
The hotel is also a residential hotel. Half the time, people who live in hotels are either eccentric millionaires or adorable, adventure-prone children. The rest of the time, they are usually creepy drifters. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which, so corpse-wary travelers should play it safe and avoid hotels that court the long-term trade. The Hotel Chelsea, where Sid Vicious allegedly killed Nancy Spungen in 1978, was also a long-term residential hotel. The Cecil is one, too; a Los Angeles Times article about the Lam case featured quotes from an 89-year-old man who has lived in the Cecil for 32 years. A hotel like this is probably not the sort of place you want to stay, unless you are a character in a Charles Bukowski novel—in which case, congratulations on magically coming to life!
Half the online reviews are left by people with names like “The Night Stalker.” A little Googling will reveal whether or not any serial murderers have ever used your chosen hotel as a kill site. Indeed, a quick search for “Cecil Hotel” and “serial killers” would’ve turned up a bunch of pertinent information. In 1985, Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez used the Cecil as a home base during his months-long murder spree in which he killed 14 people. (As far as I know, he did not actually kill any of his victims in the hotel.) An Austrian author and ex-convict named Jack Unterweger stayed at the Cecil in 1991 while in town researching a story on LA’s red-light district. Apparently Unterweger never learned that good journalists shouldn’t make themselves part of the story; he murdered several prostitutes over the course of his stay.
The hotel seems to court the sex trade. Last year, just like every single year before it, “prostitutes” took the top prize at the Groups of People Most Likely to Be Killed in Hotel Rooms Awards. This is why squeamish travelers should stay away from hotels that rent rooms by the hour, or boast that their staff is “discreet.” A few years back, I used to stay overnight at a hooker hotel in the heart of the East Village. The hotel was really cheap, and thus I was willing to overlook the bulletproof glass at reception, and its pay-in-cash policy, and the giant mirrors next to the beds so that self-absorbed johns could watch themselves in flagrante. Turns out that some people also used the mirrors to tell whether the prostitutes they had just strangledwere still breathing. I don’t stay at that hotel anymore.
The room smells like corpses. At some point in your life—probably while you were driving across Pennsylvania or something—you may have rented a room in a cheap motel, opened the door, sniffed the air, and yelled “Who died in here?” Often, the answer is “the previous occupant.” Stories abound of corpses stashed under hotel beds, often for inexplicable lengths of time; in 2010—and this is the most extreme case I could find—a Memphis woman namedSony Millbrook mouldered under the box springs of a bed at the Budget Lodge for six weeks before being found. If your room smells like death, don’t just send down for some air freshener. Find a better place to stay.
The website is inept and hostile. Most respectable hotels put a lot of time and effort into their websites, which is why you should be very suspicious of hotel websites that look like they were created with Microsoft FrontPage 97. Take New York’s Hotel Carter, for example, anotoriously dirty Times Square hostelry known for its body counta woman thrown out of a windowan infant beaten to deatha goth rocker stashed under a beda hotel clerk killed by another hotel clerk. Its website is inept, ungrammatical, and at times perplexingly belligerent. “We do not receive package/shipments for guests. We will refuse to receive package to those who order online and use our hotel address,” the home page states, emphatically, in red italics. You know what else is red? Blood. A clear sign that this might be a murder hotel.
The closet is actually a chute leading down to a secret murder chamber. Not to take anything away from turn-of-the-century serial killer H.H. Holmes—whose terrible true story was told in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City—but come on, victims. Do a walk-through before you put a deposit down on a room. If you see any unexplained trap doors, leave.

November 30, 2012

McAfee Founder Story Gets More Queer, if Possible

Chris Richards/The New York Times via Redux
John McAfee at his home in Rodeo, New Mexico, on June 4, 2009.

John McAfee, the founder of the popular anti-virus software maker, is considered “a person of interest” in the murder of U.S. citizen Gregory Faull and has yet to be located, Belize National Security Ministry spokesman Raphael Martinez said.
McAfee Founder Is Suspect in Murder of American Ex-Pat in Belize
John McAfee, founder of the popular anti-virus software maker, is wanted for questioning in the murder investigation of a U.S. citizen in Belize, according to the National Security Ministry. Source: News5 Belize 
The two Americans, whose homes on the Belizean island ofAmbergris Caye were separated by a few yards, had “some sort of conflict” which was thought to be linked to McAfee’s dogs, Martinez said in an interview today. Four of McAfee’s dogs were poisoned last weekend, Martinez said, and Faull, a 52-year-old contractor and Florida native, was found dead on Nov. 11, with a bullet wound in the back of his head.
National police are continuing to search for McAfee, who Wired magazine reported is hiding within the Central American nation, citing a phone interview with the former entrepreneur.
“All police precincts across the country have been alerted of the case and are on the look-out for Mr. McAfee,” Martinez said. “Hopefully by now he knows police are looking for him. At this time, the police are asking for him to come in for questioning about the case.”

Buried in Sand

McAfee, who founded the Santa Clara, California-based McAfee Inc. in 1989, buried himself in the sand with a cardboard box over his head when police arrived at his home on Nov. 11, according to the report by Wired. He remains in hiding because he believes he’ll be killed if he’s taken into custody for questioning, the story said.
Martinez said that two suspects in the murder have been detained and brought in for questioning. A laptop computer and iPhone were missing from Faull’s home, he said. Martinez said he didn’t have contact information for a lawyer for McAfee.
“We urge law enforcement authorities in Belize and internationally to bring those responsible to justice quickly,” Faull’s family said in a statement e-mailed today by Texas-based DPK Public Relations.
McAfee told Wired Magazine that he was innocent and that he was worried that Faull’s killers may have been pursuing him and made a mistake by killing Faull.

Yoga Enthusiast

McAfee, a yoga enthusiast and author of books on the topic, relocated to Belize in 2008 after his $100 million fortune was reduced to $4 million after a series of failed investments in property, real estate and bonds at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to a 2009 article in the New York Times. Intel Corp. (INTC) agreed to buy McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, at the time its largest acquisition, in 2010.
McAfee spokeswoman Tracy Ross said the company doesn’t comment on former employees and that he “retired from McAfee in 1994, and has not had any affiliation with the company since then,” in an e-mail response to requests for comment.
Since arriving in Belize, McAfee, 67, made headlines in May when his beachfront home was raided by the Central American nation’s police on suspicion of drug production. McAfee said the raid was government orchestrated and that one of his dogs was killed during the operation, according to an interview with newspaper the Belize Reporter.
“I love Belize,” he said in the video interview after the raid. “I have no intention of giving up on Belize in anyway what so ever.”

U.S. Military Veteran

Faull purchased his home on Ambergris Caye several years ago, his family said in today’s statement. As a long-time contractor, Faull used his expertise in construction to rebuild the home, which had been damaged in a hurricane, according to the statement.
Faull served in the U.S. Navy and Marines and spent his adult life as a contractor in Florida, working on projects at Disney World and other theme parks, his family said. He also built an on-campus restaurant known as Tailgaters Smokehouse & Spirits at the University of Central Florida, the statement said.
“Losing Greg leaves a hole in our hearts and our lives,” his family said the statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Williams in San JoseCosta Rica

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