Saturday, June 28, 2008

Arrest in One of Three Big Unsolved Madison Murders

Madison police chief Noble Wray announced Friday that Madison police have arrested a suspect in the murder of hospital equipment salesman Joel Marino. Adam Peterson, 20, was arrested in the metro Twin Cities area. His father told the media that Peterson attended the University of Wisconsin briefly.

Marino was stabbed January 27, 2008, in a quiet working-class lakeside neighborhood. He bled to death en route to a nearby hospital emergency room. The killer left behind a backpack, a hat and a knife in a rush to escape. DNA evidence from the objects matched Peterson.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Jean Zimmerman are suing Dane County and a 911 dispatcher for dropping their daughter Brittany’s cell phone call shortly before she was murdered. Wray said there is not current DNA evidence tying Peterson to Zimmerman’s murder.

Marshfield native and University of Wisconsin molecular biology and immunology student Brittany Zimmerman, 21, was murdered before noon on April 2 2008, in her West Doty Street apartment. It is known that she called 911 just before she died. Zimmerman then either hung up or operators hung up on her; this may never be known. Operators at the 911 system neither called her back nor sent police officers to the Global Positioning System location which all cellular phones now provide. The dispatcher in question was transferred to a county child support agency and might have government immunity for work in the 911 center.

It is likely that a homeless man broke into Zimmerman’s apartment to steal and that she surprised him, leading to her being stabbed. The wrongful death suit by her parents says Madison did not curb homeless people in Zimmerman’s campus neighborhood, Dane County knew it did not have enough dispatchers and they were not trained well. Isthmus reported months ago that dissatisfaction and employee turnover at the 911 center were both rampant. Poor training was cited by many who left.

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has been dogged by contradictory comments about the Zimmerman call and the 911 system. So has Joe Norwick, director of the Dane County 911 system. At a County Commission meeting after the Zimmerman death, Norwick did not to know how many calls were made to the center monthly and how many are from cell telephones or landlines. Wray, irate about the 911 center not dispatching police to the Zimmerman scene, has pointedly asked how many calls for help in Madison did not result in police being notified. Falk has expressed confidence in Norwick, a former deputy sheriff.

It is possible that Falk and Norwick will receive subpoenas to testify in a Zimmerman trial. That would be embarrassing to both and it would not be surprising if each turns on the other to assess blame.

We are also coming up on the one-year anniversary of the murder of Kelly Nolan, 22. UW-Whitewater student Nolan disappeared from State Street near bar time on June 23, 2007, triggering a national man-hunt similar to that for Natalee Holloway, when she disappeared in Aruba. Nolan’s decomposing body was found in the woods near Oregon, Wisconsin, about a week later. It is not known if there was DNA evidence.

There are other unsolved murders in Madison but murders on campus or downtown explode the myth that Madison is somehow immune from this violence. It is comforting to those of us who are harsh critics of Madison liberals that an arrest was made in the Marino case. Now the Nolan and Zimmerman cases demand attention.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Remembrance of George Carlin

News that George Carlin has passed away moves me to remembrance. He was more than a comedian to me, although I found him funny. When I was about 11, I bought “Class Clown.”

As an actor, he was also important in the lives of my children. When Jens and Eric were little, they watched “Shining Time Station,” the PBS show which included the animated Thomas the Tank Engine stories. It featured a mother and her children living at a train station run by a character called Mr. Conductor. For several years, Mr. Conductor was Ringo Starr. For a couple of seasons, Mr. Conductor was George Carlin.

When Jens and Eric were a little older, we watched the two Bill and Ted movies. In “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, George Carlin plays Rufus, sent from the future to keep Wyld Stallions together.

Among the bits of “Class Clown,” were the seven words you can not say on television. That would be fuck, shit, piss, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. It was in Milwaukee that Carlin was arrested for using them in public. When I hurt myself or when I discovered that my kids had thrown away the operating system on my Macintosh, I would explode in the seven words out loud or abbreviate it just to fuck, shit, piss. My kids heard this so often, they started to abbreviate it FSP. When I was in public, I would think it without saying it out loud.

Although George Carlin has passed away, he lives on in me and in the lives of my children.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Petty Officer Michaelsen

My older son, Jens, is 23 today.

People who know ask if I have sent him a card and present or called him. Jens has asked his grandparents and me to resist sending him a card or presents until he is back on shore in early July. I have bought a card and picked out presents.

I have not called him. Although he has great cellular phone coverage, the signal does not carry to underwater in the Pacific Ocean. If you are so inclined, you can send birthday greetings to Jens at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Was Tamara Greene Killed by Kwame Kilpatrick?

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was in his first term and Tamara Greene, a stripper known professionally as Strawberry, allegedly performed for a party at the Mayor’s mansion in September 2002. Supposedly, Mrs. Kilpatrick had been out of town and came home unexpectedly and confronted Greene. In this theory, Greene was executed because she knew too much about sex, politics and power in Michigan’s largest city.

What is undisputable is that Greene died in a hail of drive-by gunfire about 3:40 in the morning on April 30, 2003. In the driver seat, she was shot 18 times; three shots were fatal. Her boyfriend, Eric “Big E” Mitchell was hit by five bullets but he survived. The bullets were .40 calibers, fueling many to believe that the killer was a Detroit police officer. Detroit police are armed with a .40 caliber Glock.

There are problems with this conspiracy theory, however. There is no evidence that Greene ever performed at the mansion or that Mrs. Kilpatrick walked in on the party. A number of weapons fire .40 caliber bullets but Glocks are common on the mean streets of Detroit. Nevertheless, the conspiracy theory survives because of Kilpatrick’s legal problems, which is recounted better at Some believe that Kilpatrick fired Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown because he headed an investigation of the mansion party and Greene’s death.

This is news again because a judge in the suit brought by Greene’s relatives against the city for failing to book her killer asked for homicide files and text messages related to her death. Detroit says the pagers used in 2003 were discontinued in 2004 and there are no longer any records of text messages. Detroit also fought turning over the files, saying police have new leads.

Detroit police say they have new leads, five years after the crime? In 2003, Detroit was in the grip of a murderous rampage which periodically plagues big American cities. Greene was Detroit’s homicide number 113 of 366 in 2003. About half were never solved, including hers.

This is what we know from corroborated testimony by Mitchell and another stripper who was present at a party in Southfield, a suburb just across Eight Mile Road from Detroit. Greene danced for drug dealers, thugs and well-known street toughs in early April 2003. A short man with a light complexion and a record for selling cocaine wanted to have sex with Greene. When she refused, he blackened both her eyes. A giant of a man, Mitchell fought with the smaller man and prevailed.

Greene’s leased BMW was shot-up about a week after the party. Her replacement Buick was idling in gear in front of Mitchell’s home in Detroit when she died so it meandered down the street. Mitchell said he saw an arm with a light complexion holding a pistol out the window of a passing sport utility vehicle and dove for cover in the foot well.

A professional hit would not have left Mitchell alive as a potential witness if Greene was the intended target. Whoever fired the shots sped off instead making sure Greene and Mitchell were both dead, which is why the killing looks more like retribution for the Southfield party and less like a professional job by Detroit police.