dun dun: arson aftermath

LizzieLou | nablopomo,true crime | Thursday, November 19th, 2009


Tonight’s update for my out of town reader(s), is to inform you that our local firebug/fuckwad has been apprehended, confessed(!), and plopped into jail for “knowingly and maliciously caus[ing] fire and explosion” and “terrorizing an entire community.” The local paper had a link to the prosecuting documents, e.g. certification for determination of probable cause, which were actually pretty interesting to read. One thing that was noted was that the “crimes were part of a common scheme or plan” and not all possible charges would be made because of the greater arson charges – that trump some of the lesser crimes that went along with the arson. It was also stated that these crimes were “contrary to the law and against the peace and dignity of the State of Washington.” (It’s a curious phrase, “peace and dignity,” but I kinda like it. That’s what we’re asking for isn’t it? A little peace and dignity?)

One thing that the reports did not cover was Why. One fire might have been set to cover up a robbery, but about all the others nothing was noted. There was a statement made by the perp about his arrest available as well and he didn’t say why either, and it seemed like no one asked. It is perhaps outside of the cause-effect-evidence-arrest sphere of the reports provided, or maybe there just wasn’t a why. Maybe all there was was ‘fire bad, me like.’

And, now I am all like ‘bad guy nabbed, me sleep better.’


and my torches

LizzieLou | nablopomo,true crime | Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The neighborhood meeting had a huge turn out. The fire marshal opened the proceedings with a warning that they were over capacity and that there were firefighters posted at the exits (which he took time to point out) in case of an emergency — like a fire. Then various officials went over the basics of fire-safety and repeated reminders about not having piles of combustibles stacked around your home or business. They encouraged us to continue to look out for ourselves and each other. They would not offer up any details about The Case, except that while we all thought there had been ten arson fires, there have actually been fourteen.

Then it was time for questions. These too were pretty unremarkable except for the first one. A guy, a bit scraggly looking, got up to say, “I think we are all thinking that the arsonist is probably here in this room with us right now.” (I think he was quick to point this out because no doubt anyone who noticed him noticed that he stood out a little – and we were all thinking that the arsonist was probably there in that room with us right then.) “My name is [blahblah],” he added, “and I sell the Real Change paper, and I just want to let the person or persons who are probably here know that I would talk to them. If they want to talk to someone, I’ll listen. Thank you.”

Like therapy? Like to tattle on? No one was sure. Someone did report that he was out patrolling on his own very early in the a.m. and called in to report some suspicious looking characters and he was told that they were undercover officers. Oops. Cover blown! Now they will have to dress up like… not suspicious looking characters? Omigosh, maybe *I* am undercover and I don’t even know it!

Anyway, that is all for now.

It’s lonely out here in Nablopomo, by the way. Linsey.

let me grab my pitchfork

LizzieLou | nablopomo,neighbors,true crime | Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

This evening I will be heading over to our neighborhood meeting about the arsons. It was going to be in a walk-up banquet room across the street (and down the street, and behind) from a scorched place, in a room that was too small to fit the number of people who were expected, and only had one way up and the same one way back out. Sounds like a fire trap to me! I am very relieved that it has been moved because otherwise I feared the arson would be planning A Big Finish.

Speaking of the fuckwad, it is generally assumed – on the gossipy blatherboards – that the arsonist is going to be attending the meeting. I hope that we get a mystery novel moment where the fire marshall says, “Thank you all for coming. Please don’t panic, but the arsonist is here with us and his name is [LIGHTS GO OUT!]…” Then there is a scuffle, and when the lights come back on the perp is caught! Although it is more likely we will all be sitting on each other pointing fingers and crying.

Anyway, I’ll post an update if anything exciting happens. Because I know you just can’t stand the suspense.

it burns

LizzieLou | nablopomo,neighbors,true crime | Thursday, November 5th, 2009

I’d feel stupid writing a blog today about anything else besides my neighborhood being burned down building by building. There is an arsonist on the loose, and not just the kind of firebug who likes to burn trash cans and abandoned soggy sofas. This fuckwad is really doing serious, harmful damage. There have now been seven fires (2 just last night, following the 3-alarmer that took out four businesses over a week ago) since the summer.

The neighborhood is on edge. Someone had the idea to pile up a bunch of old shit out on a play field to see who comes to light it up. Maybe we can use the abandoned McDonalds building as bait.

Online community posters are suggesting civilian foot patrols. How is that going to work? It takes 30 seconds to start a fire; there would have to be mulitple sentries on every block. I can’t even get Dandelion Lady who lives across the street to acknowledge my existence when I see her almost daily at the bus stop. The Croutons and the McScreamersons only come over when they a) need our permission to do construction, or b) to tell us they drove into our garage. (Yes, I know, I don’t go visit them either and I’m sure they have some nice names for me too especially after I do things like broadcast a stream of invective and profanity out of the vent for the clothes dryer when I couldn’t reassemble that bloody piece of crap.) I’m just saying we don’t seem like a very band-together kinda group. Also, I recommend that the mob does not carry torches.

So, there are plans to get a meeting happening with the townfolk and the police and the fire department. I hope all the sweaty voters come out and shout and stomp and sob so someone will help us. I’ll be there too with flames… flames on the sides of my face.

[photo stolen off our local phinneywood blog]

A Lert

LizzieLou | true crime | Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

**Emergency Alert. Seattle and University Police are searching for a suspected bank robber near the University Medical Center. The suspect is described as an Asian male wearing an orange hat, dark jacket and white pants. You are asked to call 911 if you spot the suspect. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.**

“White pants?”

“Who robs a bank wearing white pants?”

“Especially after Labor Day.”

“Although, you could easily change the color of white pants; roll around on the ground then you’re all like, ‘S’not me! My pants are brown!'”

**Update. Suspect nearly apprehended by authorities. Now wearing yellow pants.**

**Update. Suspect confronted by police. Wounded. Now wearing red pants.**

Fact Check

LizzieLou | nablopomo,true crime | Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

My sister would like to me address some factual errors in yesterday’s story.

  1. The story takes place around 2 a.m. but I was not asleep in bed. I had been up with her for quite awhile, perhaps even playing the piano for a little bit, and was down in my room, but still very much awake and a full party in the discussion about what to do.
  2. She was in the kitchen, not the living room, and was running the dishwasher and making oatmeal on the stove. The rising heat from these activities was the likely culprit of the creaking noises.
  3. I may not have had a flashlight.

She does, however, fess up to her paranoia. So now that that’s all cleared up, I’m going to start taking some ginko and maybe get one of those gameboy doodads that is supposed to keep your brain functioning better as you get older.

The Butcher Knife Follies

LizzieLou | nablopomo,true crime | Monday, November 3rd, 2008

In the previous post, I had originally included this line about excitement occurring while babysitting: “There was the time I heard crying and a strange man’s voice on baby monitor.” Lolly thought this needed a little more explanation so here it is.

It was a dark and stormy night. I was babysitting in a condo, sitting in at the kitchen table watching tv. The baby monitor had been silent since the kids fell asleep a little while before. Then I heard a little fussy crying. I ignored it, like a good babysitter, and waited for the kid to go back to sleep. But then… I heard a strange man’s voice talking quietly about said softly crying baby!

Unsure whether the call was coming from inside the house, I got a big knife out of the drawer and tip-toed up the stairs to go check the children. All was silent outside the bedroom door, but then when I got back downstairs to the kitchen I heard it again!?! Back up the stairs I went, heart pounding and knowing that was I going to be killed by a psycho any minute. This time I opened the door; the kids were sound asleep and otherwise alone in their room. That goddam baby monitor was picking up some other signal!

So that’s that story. But it wasn’t the last time I relied on the time-tested, horror-movie-bad-idea of confronting danger…

My parents were away and my sisters and I were left home alone. My older sister was a bit of a night owl so she was still up frittering around after I went to bed. It was quiet and dark and I was sound asleep when she crept into my room and woke me up with frantic whispers about having heard a noise upstairs. In the attic. I tried to ignore her but her fears could not be assuaged. I got out of bed and followed her to the living room and we listened. She pointed out where on the ceiling she had heard the suspicious sounds. Was there a creaking above us? Was her paranoia rubbing off on me?

I told her that if she was really worried she should go call the police. And she did. The operator kept her on the phone while a car was sent over. I waited with her. The police were outside for quite a while before they came to the door. They had been checking the perimeter for any signs of a break-in and other intrudery things. They found nothing and returned to their patrol car.

“See. There is nothing here.”

“…But it was up in the attic. They didn’t check the attic. You have to go up and check…”

So my sister, thinking that there was an intruder above us, no doubt hiding up there for days waiting for my parents to go out of town before he came down to murder us in our sleep, handed me a flashlight and a large knife from the kitchen and steered me towards the door to the attic. At this moment in time the police were still been sitting out front; we wondered if they could see us now creeping through our own house with a big knife. I slowly opened the attic door and peered up the stairs. It was dark, quiet and dark. She gave me a little push of encouragement, “…be careful.” (I think this is where the plinky-plink scary music would start playing.)

I went up a few steps, pulled the chord for the light and crouched down so my head would not get whacked off before I could assess the situation. I turned back to my sister and told her I didn’t see or hear anything. She waved me forward. I took another step when she called my name in a hushed tone. I turned around again.

“I love you.”

 …were to be her last words to me before I was brutally slaughtered.

I peeked up over the edge of the stairwell, my eyeballs at floor level. Nothing moving, no head whacking. I continued up and stood at the top of the stairs. I stayed in the light of the bulb, casting the flashlight around into all four corners under the eaves, over the old toys and baby furniture at the friendly end of the attic, and finally over the less friendly end, that held mothballed garment bags and other things I never bothered to investigate, from whence the mysterious creaking had been heard. Nothing moving, not a thing out of place. Obviously the intruder had to be hiding inside one of the garment bags. I moved closer. I reached out. I punched them… only clothes.

With a sigh of relief and foolishness, I started back towards the stairs. SUDDENLY A MADMAN LEAPT OUT FROM BEHIND THE DOOR AND STABBED ME STABBED ME STABBED ME AS I SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED!!! No, not really. I turned off the light and went back down the stairs.

“There’s nothing there. I’m going back to bed.”

We laughed about how silly we were, about what the neighbors must think to see a police car in front of our house, about what the police must have thought about two silly paranoid girls, and SUDDENLY A MADMAN LEAPT OUT FROM BEHIND THE DOOR AND STABBED US STABBED US STABBED US AS WE SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED!!!

No, not really.


The True Story of the Time I Hid from a Murderer

LizzieLou | true crime | Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Way back when, when I lived down South, I would frequently walk between my apartment complex and the campus where I was taking classes by way of the trails that circled through the park separating the two. One fall day, as I was ambling along, a guy ran by me and we nodded and smiled as we passed. Then, a little while later he passed me again. (This wasn’t unusual as it was a decently long amble and this guy, as it turned out, was a rather well known marathon runner from Ethiopia.) Anyway, there was some more smiling and nodding and then he started to chat me up a little. No problem. He was very polite and seemed like a decent person. I had a friend at the time who had some fun and interesting international friends, so I was pleased with the possibility that I might make some fun and interesting international friends too.

Marathon guy and I decided to go have coffee sometime. He was a regular at a neighborhood place not too far away. We didn’t go that same day but some other day and I don’t really have any keen recollection of that because it was pretty uneventful – as one might suspect coffee with an seemingly nice, polite, international marathon runner who was well known to people around that part of town might be.

We hung out once or twice and then he was calling me a lot on the phone. He started saying that he would like to buy me things. I would like some nice things wouldn’t I? He thought that he would like to buy me… some jeans.

Yes, jeans.

“No, really.” I told him, “I’ve got jeans. I’m good, got lotsa jeans. No jeans. No thank you. That’s very nice of you, but no.”

Well, he then asked if perhaps I would like to have a leather jacket? He could get me a really nice leather jacket.

Hmm, I rather would have liked a leather jacket, but I had to say, “No, thank you! Don’t be silly. You can’t buy me a leather jacket. I don’t really know you that well and -” …. “- Yes, even for my birthday. No.”

The last time we spent any time together was not too long after the first time we spent any time together. I stopped by his apartment for a visit. (I suppose it was just for a visit, although maybe it was because he had a puffy chair to move.) For entertainment he put in videos of himself running in marathons. He had hours and hours of video tapes of himself running (and running and running) in marathons. Surely, I would enjoy seeing those? Surely, I would like to have some wine? Surely, I would not mind if he rubbed against me to pleasure himself but never the sex because that would be wrong and a lot of people have AIDS and as a virgin and a marathon runner he takes very good care of his body and would never do anything unhealthy, no?

“Ehh. No. I’ve gotta go now.”

He kept calling, but only got my answering machine. (You remember those, the machines where you can hear the person talking into the tape?) One afternoon the phone rang. I let the machine get it and heard, “I have something for you and I am coming to your apartment to give it to you. BEEP.”

“Oh shit! (hey wait, maybe it’s a leather jacket?) ACK! No!”

It was too late. If I tried to leave he would probably see me as I was leaving; he called from around the corner. I was trapped. And then he was pulling into the lot under my big picture window. I held my breath and lay on the floor under the window as I heard him come up the stairs.

Knock knock?

Crinkle crinkle.

Knock knock knock?

I heard him go back down the stairs. I had to kick myself for choosing to lay under the window because I couldn’t safely peak out to see if he was truly gone. I waited and waited. Finally I had to assume it was all clear. I’d never graduate if I didn’t. I opened the door to find out that my present wasn’t a leather jacket, nor a flaming bag of poo, but a small statue of a leopard. I think you’d call it a figurine.

I didn’t call to say thank you and I still didn’t start answering my phone. He just got the hint, went quietly away and I never heard from him again.

A few years later, this national news story appeared…

Runner is Charged With Killing Cousin
Published: January 27, 1997 New York Times
A* H*, an Ethiopian immigrant, was delighted when her cousin arranged a marriage for her — so excited that she bought clothes for her first date with the man and showed them off. But the day after the date, Ms. H* called a friend and said that the man was too old and that she could not marry him. A day later, she was found dead along an Atlanta highway, shot in her head.

The police have charged the man who set up the date, A* Ab*, with murder. Mr. Ab* was arrested on Friday at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport on a Federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Mr. Ab*, 35, is a professional runner who has won more than 170 races, including the Atlanta Marathon. He was going to receive money for the marriage, the police said, and he killed his cousin when she balked. The police said they were seeking the suitor for questioning.

The end.

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