True Crime Tuesdays – “I Did It All For You, Jodie!”

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I don’t know much about John Hinckley Jr. All I knew prior to watching the recent Dateline episode (Season 27, Episode 52) was that he shot President Reagan. After all, I had just had my first birthday a month prior. My focus was on taking my first steps, not true crime. That would come much later.

When I saw the Dateline preview for the episode “Hinckley: Diary of a Dangerous Mind” I became intrigued. I never knew why he did what he did. I never knew that when he shot President Reagan, he shot several other people. And I never knew that the reason behind him shooting the president all lied with his tremendous infatuation with actress Jodie Foster.

Within the episode, they had interviewed some of Hinckley’s childhood chums. They described him as this nice kid, friendly, caring. And then something happened. He changed. He became paranoid. As his friends described him, I jumped up from the sofa scaring my husband as I shouted, “He has schizophrenia!” Leave it to my mentally ill mind to know. I, myself, am not a schizophrenic, but know several people who are and the one thing they all have in common is that their symptoms first appeared in their late teens/early 20s. I have to admit, I high-fived my husband when they did finally diagnose him.

But I digress. A little background on John Hinckley Jr.: He was born in Oklahoma in 1955 to well-to-do parents. Money was not an issue in their house. He grew up in Texas through elementary school on and even into his college years. Because of the symptoms of his mental illness, he wound up dropping out of college and moving back in with his parents who were then living in Colorado.

It was here that he came up with his plan, the plan to shoot (and hopefully kill) the president. Why? Jodie Foster. I know, I know, how are the two connected? My husband and I were greatly perplexed by this, sitting on the edge of the sofa about to fall off, staring at the TV with our faces in a puzzling look. Then the answer was given… the movie Taxi Driver.

Ah, yeah, Taxi Driver! I see the correlation. Totally! (Remember, I was a baby when Reagan was shot. I wasn’t even born when Taxi Driver was released).

So, to put all the points into perspective… Jodie Foster plays a prostitute in Taxi Driver (released in 1976). The lead, played by Robert DeNiro, is a Vietnam Vet who is now driving a taxi through the streets of NYC. He slowly becomes insane and starts to plan the assassination of the presidential candidate and Jodie Foster’s pimp.

Okay, now it is making more sense. Hinckley was obsessed with this movie. This movie was where his obsession with Jodie Foster was fostered (hah, like my play on words there?!). This movie’s lead goes insane. Hinckley was going insane. The lead plans to assassinate the presidential candidate… aha! Hinckley plans to assassinate a president.

Now I got it. All the dots are connected.

On March 30th, 1981, Hinckley fired 6 shots into a large crowd aimed at President Reagan. His first few shots hit police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and press secretary James Brady. It wasn’t until the very last shot, that he hit Reagan. The bullet squeezed by through the small gap at the hinge of the car door and hit Reagan in chest. Reagan recovered as did the others shot, although some of them did not fare as lucky as others.

Hinckley is quickly tackled and arrested after the shooting. It is at this point where they have a psychiatrist see him. He was then given the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Throughout this whole time (prior to the shooting and after) he is in constant contact with (who else?) Jodie Foster. He created this romantic relationship in his head. Called her dorm room. Wrote her letters. He was in love, the obsessive, stalker kind, but in love nonetheless. Meanwhile, Jodie thought the complete opposite. Frankly, he was nothing to her but an annoying man.

Hinckley is brought to trial in 1982. Everyone is 100% positive that he will be found guilty. I mean, there are over dozens of witnesses. The courtroom is waiting with baited breath as the jury files in and reads the verdict…

“Not guilty by reason of insanity!”

The courtroom was in shock! No jail time for someone who shot the president?!

It isn’t that Hinckley got off Scott-free. He was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. During his hospital stay, he decided that conversing with other criminals would be a really good hobby. He and Ted Bundy became good pen pals. He wrote with one of Charles Manson’s women, Lynette Fromme. He tried to get Manson’s contact info but never received it (I guess Manson swiped left on Tinder).

Hinckley did fall in love while in the hospital. He fell for a woman 10 years his senior who was taking up residence there because she shot and killed her 10-year-old daughter. During this tragedy, she cut her arm off as well. The two were crazy about each other and would meet outside, walk together and even enjoyed some sexual escapades. They were so in love that when this woman was released she took a job at St. Elizabeth’s to remain near him. I am not sure how this was allowed by the staff…

In 1987, Hinckley made his first attempt at freedom. He applied to the court for periodic home visits. Because of his correspondence with mass-murderer Ted Bundy, and his continued obsession with Jodie Foster, he was denied.

He was given supervised home visits in 1999. A year later, 2000, the hospital decided he was ready to see the world and suggested unsupervised visits. Not sure what they were thinking, but they quickly realized this was a bad idea and changed their minds.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Hinckley regained supervised visits with his parents. September of 2005, he requested expanded privileges. He received multi-night visits with his parents, who were now living in Williamsburg, VA. In 2007, Hinckley wanted more. He was denied.

In 2009, he was allowed longer visits with his mother (his father had passed away) and he was allowed a driver’s license. With this he had to have a GPS enabled cellphone to which he had to carry all the time.

In 2011, the hospital deemed him safe and not a danger to himself or society. The Department of Justice disagreed.

In 2013, he received longer visits with his mother, now allowing him 17-day stretches.

After over 30 years at St. Elizabeth’s, John Hinckley Jr. was released on September 10, 2016 into the hands of his aging mother who was 90 at the time. He had a whole bunch of conditions he had to keep in order to stay free and seemed to maintain them all. As of November 2018, the court allowed him to move out of his mother’s house and is live on his own.

I know for a fact that he still resides in Williamsburg, VA as I have a friend there who has seen him. He lives a normal life, goes shopping, has a girlfriend.

But what would a good true crime story be without a good humorous twist?! Am I right?!

As of September 10, 2019, Hinckley is seeking permission to move to California. Why? To enter the music business. The judge is reviewing and requesting additional information.


An interesting side note: Hinckley didn’t care which president he tried to assassinate, there was no democrat/republican angle. He is seen in a photograph standing in a crowd behind President Carter. He just never had the right angle. So Reagan was next.

Okay, okay, so what do I think about Hinckley living a “normal” life?
As a person with mental illness, I think he deserves a second chance at a “normal” life. He spent many years, decades, at an institution. He sees a therapist and a psychiatrist. He is what I like to call “in remission”. Why shouldn’t he deserve another chance at life?!
But to play devil’s advocate… he shot a president! He shot other people as well. No, none of them died (although Brady’s death was ruled a homicide 33 years after the shooting). I often wonder what would’ve happened if he succeeded. But, what ifs are pointless.

 

If you enjoyed this installment, please check out last week’s: “I’m Gonna Be A YouTube Sensation!”

 

True Crime Tuesday – “I’m Gonna Be a YouTube Sensation!”

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A tale as old as time…

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Boy marries girl. Girl hires hit man to kill boy… whoa, wait a minute!

This is the story of Dalia Dippolito, of Boynton Beach, FL who met her husband Michael Dippolito when she first appeared on his doorstep one day as a hired escort in 2008. Four months later (yes, I said four months) they were married. Hmmm… how much do you really know about a person in 4 months?! Their quick-to-the-altar marriage started out euphorically. All sunshine and roses, until it wasn’t, you know a few months after that. Why do I say a few months? Because Dalia started to plan Mike’s murder in 2009!

Maybe the sex wasn’t good, she didn’t like him anymore, who knows?! But he had to die! Why? Because the easiest most profitable way to get out of the marriage was to have him killed.

Detour here… I don’t understand what goes on in the criminal mind. You want out of a marriage and you want money. Ah, let me murder my spouse! Okay, I see that train of thought, BUT, and a big, BUT, criminals are stupid. They seem to get stuck on greed, that they don’t realize they will be caught and then instead of seeing all this insurance money & freedom, you’re seeing the inside of a prison. Just mind-boggling to me.

Back to the story. So Dalia wants her husband dead so she can collect his life insurance. Not original by any means. Greed is the #1 instigator of murder. Money talks. While she is planning his death, she starts stealing his money, $100,000 of it.

She begins with plans that only involve herself… poisoning his drink with antifreeze, attempting to steal a gun, trying to get him back behind bars on a probation violation (yes, Michael was not a saint by any means). All this backtracked her. She had to bring in reinforcements.

Enter her boyfriends.

She went first to Mike Stanley telling him that they could be together if they got Michael out of the picture. He helped put a townhouse Michael owned into Dalia’s name only. He aided in making phone calls to the U.S. Department of Treasury reporting Michael for fake money scams. This wasn’t enough.

She then enlisted Mohamed Fawzi Shihadeh. With this, Dalia makes the biggest mistake of her life… she tells Mohamed that she wants her husband dead. Oh Dalia, you broke one of my rules, disclosing your plan to someone else.

Well, at least the boyfriend isn’t as dumb as Miss Dalia. He takes his smart thinking directly to the local PD where he informs them of Dalia’s statement. The officers and Mohamed strike up a deal. Mohamed, now an informant, is to tell Dalia that he has found a hitman for her. Of course, this soon-to-be hired hitman is actually an undercover cop. This plan is the beginning of Dalia’s demise.

Dalia meets with the uncover cop, I mean hitman, in his car. Naturally, being an undercover cop there is not only sound recording devices in the car but video as well. Oh Dalia… She can be heard on the recording stating, “I’m positive, like 5,000 percent sure I want it done!Well, at least she is, like 5,000% sure and not only 100% sure. The video became an internet sensation.

But not as much as a sensation as her “grieving wife” video.

She goes back and forth texting the hired hitman. After the time and date is decided, the cops disclose to Michael Dippolito his wife’s plans for him. He was a bit shocked but not “Oh my God! No way!” shocked. He decides to play along to the cops plan… fake his death. Good thinking Michael! When no one was home, the cops went in and staged a murder scene and then waited for their prey to show up.

Soon enough, they get their wish. When Dalia arrives home, the cops tell her that Michael is dead. Without hinting to her involvement, she starts dramatically sobbing, falling into an officers arms. It is an absolutely fabulous performance. She is then taken back to the precinct for questioning. They bring in the ‘hitman’ and tell her he is an undercover cop. Then they bring in Mike, back from the dead. Dalia is utterly shocked, in tears and begs him to come to her. (Watch all this in the video below)

Well, if the story hasn’t brought you to tears of laughter yet, it is about to. Remember, criminals are stupid. Dalia’s defense at trial is that it was all fake. The murder plot was a sham. She wanted to become a YouTube sensation because, she thought, YouTube would lead her to her own reality show. (Insert head smack here). Her defense didn’t work and she was found guilty, sentenced to 20 years in 2011. (The texts and the video didn’t help your defense Dalia… not one bit)

But, in an unforeseen turn of events, her conviction is overturned. (Gasp!) A 2nd trial in 2016 wound up having a hung jury. Because of this, she was sent home on house arrest until the start of trial #3. In this short period of time, she gets pregnant and has a baby. Her 3rd trial happens in June of 2017 and she is found guilty once again and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her ex-husband, Michael Dippolito, expresses his joy with a little play on words, “I am 5,000% happy with the result.

At this point the residents of Florida, and frankly anyone who has been following this case, is so exhausted about hearing about Dalia Dippolito. But, sadly, we are not done. A few days ago, her name appeared in the news once again. She filed for an appeal. In the smartest decision of the Florida Supreme Court, they rejected it.

She is due to be released in 2032 at the age of 50.

So much for living that carefree life with all that insurance money!

 

Seen on:

Snapped, Season 8, Episode 20, Dalia Dippolito,

Dateline “The Sting” Season 25, Episode 13

Cops, 20/20, American Greed & Crime Watch Daily

True Crime Tuesdays: A Place to Discuss Most Suburban Moms’ Obsession

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So I had this idea… nothing too original, but with my huge obsession with true crime, I thought I should write about it  more than once a season. I know I have written about the stupidity of criminals but I wanted to do something else.

Enter True Crime Tuesdays!

Each Tuesday, I will analyze a case I have seen, heard or read about giving a fresh look from this suburban working mom. Of course there will be some humor, but also seriousness as I will be discussing murders.

I welcome any suggestions on cases. If you have any, please comment below or email spaigewrites@gmail.com

There will be cases from Dateline reviews, Snapped reviews, Cold Justice, A Lie to Die For, Buried in the Backyard, In Ice Cold Blood, Forensic Files… the list goes on and on…

There will be cases from podcasts such as Wine & Crime, True Crime Obsessed, True Crime Brewery, My Favorite Murder, Moms & Murder, Martinis & Murder…

There will be local and national news stories…

All that and more every True Crime Tuesday!

Who’s excited besides me?!

 

Join me next Tuesday for my first installment.

The Stupidity of Criminals… Part 2!

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Earlier this year I wrote about the stupidity of criminals. With all the true crime I watch, read and listen to, I had to speak up… criminals (99.9% of the time) are stupid! In the blog post I wrote back in March, What Not To Do When Committing A Crime… The Stupidity of Criminals, I had an influx of things I missed told to me from other true crime fanatics. I was shocked. How could I not have picked up on a few of these?! Because of this I feel a second edition (and possibly a third) is needed. And so, the saga continues:

Don’t Like Your Own ‘Wanted’ Post on Facebook

I can’t believe I just typed that. With the rise of social media, local and federal authorities have started to post ‘Wanted’ posts on Facebook and Twitter. The more people that see it and share it, the better.

Meet Levi Charles Reardon from Cascade County, MT who back in 2015 liked his ‘Wanted’ post on Facebook. He was tagged on the post on the Crime Stopper page and made himself known. Stupid, you just gave away your IP address… the cops came and apprehended him.

Meet Anthony Aker from Richland, WA: He liked his own ‘Wanted’ Facebook post from the local police department and even told them he would be turning himself in. Then when he didn’t show a whole chat ensued online between him and the local PD. This honestly began to make the police department look stupid until, low & behold, he actually turned himself in about two weeks later! He just needed to get his affairs in order (so he said).

And of course, there was a Florida man (isn’t there always one?!).  Mack Yearwood was apprehended back in 2016 after the Stuart Police Department did a simple search for him on Facebook. They not only found him, but dude used his ‘Wanted’ poster as his profile pic.

If  you are looking to NOT get caught, stay off of social media.

Do Not Research ‘How to Get Away With Murder’

Yes, I know, How to Get Away With Murder is a popular TV show but researching this is not only going to bring you websites of the show, it will show you a lot more. Just like my previous post on this topic with cell phone & credit card use, whatever you search for online is hidden on your computer even if you delete your search history. It amazes me how many criminals search for poisonous plants, which weapon kills quicker, and my fave, how to dispose of a body and not be caught.

Clue #1, if your are searching online, the cops will know you are guilty.

Going On Vacation With Your Significant Other…

…and only buying 1 round trip ticket.

I really do not think this needs an explanation. But, if you are going to be taking that special someone on a romantic getaway and that person turns up missing and they find out you only purchased 1 round trip ticket… looks kind of suspicious. Don’t you think?!

In relation, do not attempt to ask for a refund if you do purchase a round trip ticket when your significant other is missing. Again… suspicious.

Don’t Give Away A Person’s Belongings…

Especially if they haven’t been missing a long time.

Most notable on this topic is Josh Powell, now deceased, whose wife, Susan Cox Powell turned up “missing” December 6, 2009. Within a month he had sold their house, moved, and gave away most of her belongings. Um, dude, do you know something about her disappearance because it sure looks like you do!

Sadly, Susan’s body has never been found. She is presumed dead. In a tragic twist, Josh Powell beat their two sons and then lit the house on fire with all three of them in it.

Taking Out Life Insurance Right Before A Death

Because money is the #1 cause for murder, this is a no brainer. So many episodes of Snapped, Dateline, etc. where someone loves money more than their significant other. They are worth more dead than alive. Life will be easy. Kill them, collect their insurance money, say $500,000 and live happily ever after…

… except, when you get caught. FYI, insurance companies will not pay out if you are a suspect in a murder or convicted of said crime.

Some examples:

A typical husband and wife scenario: In July of 1997, Nuzzio Begaren, of Anaheim, married his wife Elizabeth Wheat. Three days later, he took out a $1,000,000 life insurance policy on is wife. Nuzzio then contacted some gang members to kill his wife. Elizabeth, who worked as corrections officer, noticed a car following her one day. Her smart thinking eventually led to the arrests of Nuzzio & 2 of the 3 gang members as she jotted down the license plate number of the car. The 3rd is still at large.

A father, Karl Karlsen, of Waterloo, NY took out a life insurance policy on his own son just 17 days prior to his son’s death. Because of the nature of his death, it was initially ruled as an accident and Karl received $707,000. Well, because he got away with it, he took out a policy on his second wife. Turns out Karl is known for this. He received $80,000 for the deaths of his horses and wait, you guessed it, $200,000 on his first wife. It is really sad when a parent kills their own child for money.

Seen recently while binge-watching Forensic Files (Season 11, Episode 13 “Undertaken”:  Frankie Pullian was an errand runner for a funeral home in Paterson, NJ where E. Lee White was the director. Frankie had some neurological impairment. He was making no more than $10,000/year back in 1980 before his death. The police who arrived at the scene noticed a few inconsistencies at the site of where Frankie’s body was found and began to research his employer. Turns out the funeral director, his wife, and two other men began taking out policies on Frankie 8 months prior to his death having someone pose as Frankie and forging his signature. They stood to gain $980,000 with a bonus of $350,000 if Frankie died in an accident. Needless to say, they never saw any payment as all 4 were found guilty.

Pastor hires hit man to collect life insurance. This is a sad story. A pastor of all people, Kevin Jerome Pushia of Baltimore, MD, would trick mentally challenged individuals into applying for life insurance and naming him as the beneficiary. He took out a $200,000 life insurance policy on Lemuel Wallace, a man who was both blind and disabled. In addition to himself, he listed the victim’s brother as a beneficiary. Eventually he admitted his guilt and is serving a life sentence.

If you can’t trust a pastor, who can you trust, right?!


*Because this addition is already so long, a 3rd one will be required. Stay tuned for The Stupidity of Criminals Part 3 where I will discuss arson and more!*

*Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging any of my readers on what to do to commit the perfect crime. This is an article about how stupid 99.9% of criminals are. I am formally saying, do not commit a crime. Just don’t.*

What Not To Do When Committing A Crime… The Stupidity of Criminals

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There is no denying the fact that I am a true crime fanatic. I live, breathe and sleep true crime. I watch true crime shows and documentaries. I listen to true crime podcasts. And, I read books devoted to true crime. With all this, I have deemed myself an expert… an expert on what not to do if you want to pull of the perfect crime.

My husband, who occasionally joins me for my Friday night “Wine & Dateline”, has stated many times about the stupidity of these criminals. I am not going to lie, these crimes are mostly murders. Please note, I do not condone any criminal act. My heart breaks for the victim and their family.

But, the criminal, the murderer, I have found myself laughing at many of them. I never in my wildest dreams thought this topic would be humorous, but it has become so.

Below is a list of what you shouldn’t do when trying to pull off the perfect crime. I honestly can’t believe how many stupid people believe they will never be caught that have done the following:

Using Your Cellphone

In this day and age, most of us are attached to our cellphones. We check our emails. We peruse social media. We text. And in rare occurrences, we actually make a phone call. The last two are a criminal’s downfall. Somewhere in between informing their ‘boss’, significant other, or anyone else, they forget that their cellphone will ping off of towers within their vicinity. So many Snapped episodes I have seen where the woman (because it is always a woman on Snapped) will constantly deny that they were anywhere near their now dead spouse, parents, or child. Then the cops show her her phone records. Really?! Are you that stupid to believe the cops would not look into your cellphone records?!

Using Your Credit Card

Similar to using your cellphone, do not use a credit card. So many episodes of Dateline and Snapped where the criminal goes to buy supplies and low and behold, pays with a credit card. Their own credit card. Really?! It is not only the credit card use that has solidified it was in fact you, but you are also caught on camera at the store. No need for receipts, law enforcement has already looked into your credit card purchases.

Keeping The Receipt

I just recently watched a Dateline episode, “Finding Venus”, where an ex-husband killed his ex-wife. He lived in Virginia, she in Michigan. He used a gaming buddy as his alibi. He even had this buddy pretend to be him delivering a check to his divorce lawyer. And, he would have gotten away with it if, a big if, he had thrown out a Walmart receipt. The receipt was found in his car from a location in Ohio along the drive from Virginia to Michigan. It gets better though. What was he buying on this receipt you ask? Gloves, a shovel and a tarp. The tarp wrapper was found at the scene of the crime. Yeah, not looking good buddy! If only you had thrown out that receipt…

Also, a big note to Doug Stewart, the ex-husband… it is bad enough you kept the receipt, but also, your outfit of choice when purchasing said items made you stand out even more. A striped shirt and surf shorts are not the way to go in the month of October in Ohio when you are buying murder supplies.

Using Your Real Name

Let’s go back in time. A time before social media. A time before cellphones. The year was 1986 and this crime happened one town over from where I live now. This is the sad murder of Helle Crafts, a Danish flight attendant. Her husband, Richard Crafts, a pilot, is now more famously known as the man who committed the Woodchipper Murder. Another criminal who thought he would get away with murder especially since they could not find a body. They had suspicions that Helle did not disappear but was in fact murdered with her husband as suspect #1. Problem was a snowplow had seen Richard on the side of the road with a woodchipper late the night Helle was last seen. This led the police to looking into rentals as the Crafts’ did not own one. Low and behold, on the rental agreement, although he paid in cash, Richard signed his own name. Doh!

Writing Out Your Murder Plan

When I first saw this on an episode of Snapped I was extremely amazed at the stupidity of this woman. Meet Maryann Castorena. She hired someone to kill her ex-boyfriend for his insurance as she was still declared the beneficiary. Not uncommon. Most murders are done for the insurance money. What makes her so ‘unique’ or just plain stupid, is she wrote the whole murder plan out for her hired help. When the cops asked her about the letter which highlighted every step of the murder, she claimed it was for a book or screenplay she was writing. She pleads with law enforcement that she overheard 2 women at a restaurant talking about this and thought, “Hey, what a great book/movie idea!”

Ms. Castorena… if you didn’t want to get caught, you shouldn’t have laid out the whole plot on paper.

Your Last Name Should Not Be Peterson, Period

If your last name is Peterson, just change it. Between Drew, Scott & Michael, you’re screwed.

It doesn’t matter if you are found innocent, you will still be guilty. Then again, you could just blame it on an owl!

And if you are a female with the last name Peterson, you will wind up being killed.

Not Paying Your Hired Help

I have seen many a Snapped episode where the instigator of the murder plot ‘forgets’ to pay their hired killer. As much as this killer does not want to get caught, you can bet if he or she does, your ass is going down with them… especially if you didn’t pay them. They will quickly tell the cops who hired them.

Paying Your Hired Help $100

Offering your hired help a mere pittance to murder your significant other will not work out well either. I am still perplexed at the people who agree to kill someone for $100. Really?! Let’s weigh the pros and cons: Pro, $100; Con (and most likely outcome) life in prison with or without parole. Does that $100 seem desirable now?!

(Insert head smack)

Please let me know if I left any off the list. Honestly, this list will constantly grow with all the advances in technology. I may have to write a follow-up to this in a year or two.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging any of my readers on what to do to commit the perfect crime. This is an article about how stupid 99.9% of criminals are. I am formally saying, do not commit a crime. Just don’t.*