Sent to me by a friend of mine on Facebook- thought I would publish it so people could have a look…..
This research material is dedicated to the memory of Karlena Tolston and all other victims of the monsters who stalk my town.
In the process of researching an event which happened some 80 years ago, I went out and picked up a new library card in order to begin the arduous task of digging through volumes of ancient journalism on microfilm in pursuit of the story. Upon visiting the library’s online resource page, my spirits were lifted when I found the Omaha World Herald archives were available online. I was quickly returned to earth when I realized they only went back to August of 1983. Remembering a thing or two about the ninth year of my life, I curiously began browsing through random issues, and soon realized that something was seriously wrong in the small mid-western city where I had existed, like many 9 year olds, in a naive state of childhood bliss, unaware of the darkness enveloping the periphery of my seemingly safe little neighborhood. (Today, a man convicted of raping a 4 year old girl lives in a nice house overlooking my old elementary school. The schoolyard is connected – barrier free – to this man’s back yard!)
Not exactly unaware. Any Nebraskan alive at that time remembers two things. The heat wave, the endless string of rapes, the increase in street violence, the Commonwealth banking collapse, most of the murder victims, and the brutally cold December of 1983 have long been purged from the conscious recollection of those not immediately affected by the various occurrences. What is remembered, however, is the Nebraska Cornhuskers played for a national championship (A game lost at the end when Coach Tom Osborne admirably went for the two point conversion and the win rather than settling for a tie. After much soul-searching, Nebraska fans concluded they had definitely won a moral victory) and a young Air Force recruit murdered two young boys in Sarpy County (Immediately south of Omaha. Bellevue, Nebraska is the home of Offutt Air Force base, headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, and is only separated from Omaha by the county line.)
Serial killers were not exactly something new in Omaha. Jake Bird, one of America’s most effective yet unsung serial killers committed his first known hatchet job in North Omaha back in 1928, a few years after Frank Carter, the “Omaha Sniper”, kept the entire city hiding in darkness at night. Charles Starkweather began his bloody voyage just down the road in Lincoln, and Charles Manson himself spent a little time at Boys Town. As a matter of fact, E. John Brandeis - Intelligence agent, millionaire playboy, big game hunter, polo star, and Brandeis Department store heir -, a man who literally ran Omaha from the mid 1940′s until the mid 1970′s (He would fly in from California once a month and sit at the head of a meeting table above his downtown building. Taking orders from him at the table were the HEADS of AT&T, Union Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, the Omaha World Herald, and a few other major corporations.) – where were we? Oh, yes, E John lived on a ranch just north of Los Angeles which was adjacent to the old Spahn movie ranch where Charles Manson was headquartered at the time of his crowning achievement. The locations were so close, Manson family members and E John had to have seen each other, at least in passing, on a very regular basis……….
Anyways, the man who murdered the boys in 1983, John Joubert, has stuck in the minds of living Omahans as the most depraved and evil figure in the history of our little town. (A quick review of the history of Omaha tells a different tale. Joubert’s alleged crimes were actually relatively mundane and a bit more routine than any of us would care to believe.) The Autumn of 1983 can be remembered as a time of extreme fear and loathing for much of Omaha’s citizenry. Women were already fairly edgy due to the string of random rapes around the area and mothers and children, beginning to pick up on the concept of “stranger danger”, were completely primed to go into panic mode.
The year before, Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch had disappeared while delivering his newspapers. He was never found, and earned the unwanted distinction of being arguably the most famous of the ”milk carton kids”. The Gosch kidnapping, on the heels of literally decades of missing and exploited child cases, served to create a heightened sense of fear and awareness among many parents and children not only in Omaha but across the nation. (Years later, a military officer by the name of Michael Aquino would be implicated by a Franklin Credit Union Scandal witness as the ringleader of the Johnny Gosch kidnapping. Aquino, a co-founder of Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan as well as the founder of the Temple of Set, a group which once re-enacted the “Death’s Head” ritual of Heinrich Himmler’s SS at a triangle shaped castle in Bavaria, was a Psychological Warfare Specialist in Vietnam, a member of the U.S. Special Forces, and a Lieutenant Colonel known to frequent Offutt Air Force base in the 70′s and 80′s. He was implicated in other child abuse cases, most famously as the primary abuser in theMcMartin pre-school case. (which is actually the Presidio Day Care Scandal). As with the Franklin allegations he was never seriously inconvenienced and went on to work with the space program before rising to the rank of General and becoming a top administrator at the NSA.)
After the first Joubert victim, Danny Joe Eberle, was found murdered, there was quite a bit of apprehension amongst the children and parents of the Omaha area. After the second victim, Christopher Paul Walden, was found, the city was in an outright panic. Of course, as you will see, there was plenty in Omaha to be terrified of all along, and the sensationalism and slant of this story as opposed to the treatment of other cases (by the media as well as the police) lent heavily to the near mass hysteria which occurred in December of 1983.
During a recent conversation, I was presented with a theory that Joubert was actually a mind controlled patsy and the case was somewhat of a propaganda/psychological operation designed to create hysteria and then relief amongst the citizens of Omaha while providing a scapegoat and a feeling of security upon his apprehension. As similar crimes had been occurring in and around Omaha since long before John Joubert was born and two VERY similar cases occurred as bookends to Joubert’s crimes, I felt this theory was possibly worth looking into. (I had heard similar theories in the past which have remained in the back of my mind. I personally remember an acute awareness of the Joubert case amongst myself and my peers, months of being terrified to go outside, especially at night, and will never forget the creepy composite sketch shown constantly in the newspaper.) I have been working on a few different historical stories about Omaha, and have known all along that the Joubert story would consist of at least a chapter in what will hopefully become a book. With this in mind, I began to put together a research timeline of events in Omaha during the Joubert era.
This is only a research tool which will assist in writing the story and hopefully ferreting out the truth. All information comes directly from the Omaha World Herald archives, with the exception of my personal observations and a minute amount of information from the court transcript regarding the Courtney Starks trial. This can be seen here: http://ne.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19880812_0001.NE.htm/qx
I have included events that I felt to be of interest to those researching this particular story, including suspicious homicides, suspicious suicides, child pornography cases, and many of the rapes which occurred during this time span. I also threw in a few other tidbits, but did not include the myriad of run-of-the-mill homicides, assaults, and other crimes which did not seem in any way out of the ordinary to me. (There were MANY homicides and assault crimes during this time period which I left out, a fact which will shock most readers.) I also left out the Commonwealth Banking scandal, which was occupying more than a few headlines during these months. To make a long story short, it seems that some very bad people bankrolled the gubernatorial election of Bob Kerrey in order to swindle what were ultimately a bunch of lower middle class investors out of their life savings. With Kerrey’s assistance, the Bank was plundered and the investigation was impeded. The man appointed to oversee the investigation was Kerrey’s old war buddy, Nebraska State Senator John Decamp. While this scandal is somewhat relevant, it would only serve to make our journey a bit longer and quite boring.
I feel that anyone reading this will agree that something very evil was occurring in Omaha of 1983, and highly recommend a look at the timeline. Obviously, some of this information will make a lot more sense to Omaha natives, so I will provide a quick rundown of some of the players in this tragedy before we begin:
William Colby: Former CIA Director and head of Operation Phoenix during the Vietnam War (an operation of total terror and atrocity often intentionally targeting innocent civilians) who was appointed to investigate the Franklin Cover Up in the early 90′s. Not long afterwards he was found floating in a river. While he does not appear in this story, three of his favorite Phoenix junior officers do: Michael Aquino, John DeCamp, and Bob Kerrey.
Harold Anderson: Chief Executive and editor of the World Herald, known to routinely lunch with George H.W. Bush. Anderson was later accused of pedophilia and occult activity by child victims in the Franklin case.
MK ULTRA: For those who scoff at the idea of the U.S. government conducting mind control experiments, there are some 80,000 surviving (albeit often heavily redacted) military documents relating to MK ULTRA and various sub-projects such as Monarch, Artichoke, and Bluebird which state otherwise. Many, many more documents were destroyed before, during, and after the Senate MK ULTRA hearings in the 1970′s. There are also more than a few surviving documents from the Soviet Union and other nations.
It has long been known to elite occultists that trauma-based early childhood conditioning had a few very effective applications. The German Nazis applied pure science to these ideas in the death camps, and soon realized that multiple personalities could be created and then programmed if enough trauma was applied. Obviously the Red Army put a damper on these experiments, but many of the scientists were quickly shuffled off to the East or the West where they were quickly situated and allowed to continue their work. Soon, the CIA was running experiments in hospitals, universities, prisons, religious institutions, military facilities, and elsewhere around the nation and the world (think: Guantanamo, Penn State……). Prisoners, servicemen, POW’s, captured spies, unsuspecting civilians, and a multitude of children, many of them “throw away kids” from places like Boys Town, were soon subjected to a myriad of incidents ranging from hypnosis, drugging, and high frequency exposure to rape, forced murder, torture, electroshock, and occult rituals. It has been theorized that many of those accused of serial murder are actually MK ULTRA victims themselves. Offutt Air Force Base has been labeled by many over the years as a hotbed of MK ULTRA activity.
Boys Town: Made famous by the Spencer Tracy movie, Boys Town has been a world leader in sheltering and mentoring troubled youths as well as in charity work for many years. Boys Town has also become heavily intertwined with the U.S. government as well as with world organizations over the years. A Catholic institution on the west side of Omaha, it has also been alleged to be a procurer of helpless children for elite pedophiles and mind controllers. As it turns out, more than a few Boys Town employees and priests have been recently proven to be involved in pedophilic activity.
Willie Thiesen / Godfather’s Pizza: A single pizza restaurant which became a national chain (which after changing hands a few times was run by former Federal Reserve Officer and winner of the Horatio Alger (a pedophile who wrote books for young boys) Award, Mr. “9 9 9″ Herman Cain) under the guidance of Omaha millionaire Willie Thiesen. It has been alleged that the Godfather’s in Omaha’s Old Market area was a location associated with occult activity and extreme child abuse.
22nd and Farnam Street: The bar where Rosemary Caples worked was actually closer to 24th and Farnam Street. 24th and Farnam at the time was the epicenter of male prostitution in Omaha (the females worked at 25th and Farnam) and obviously a location where some of Omaha’s VIPs conducted business which they would have preferred to keep secret.
Larry King / Franklin Credit Union: Although it’s own story altogether, the Franklin Credit Union must be mentioned here as it was in it’s heyday in 1983. Larry King, a young black entrepreneur and darling of the Republican Party, founded the credit union in the early 1970′s, ostensibly to provide low interest loans to poor people and minorities. Later in the 1980′s, the credit union which operated on a 2 million dollar budget was raided by federal agents and found to be missing some 40+ million dollars.
Advising Mr. King and assisting in the management of his credit union were the cream of Omaha’s business elite, involving top executives of First National Bank, Kiewit and Sons, Union Pacific Railroad, Mutual of Omaha, the Omaha World Herald, and many others. It seems that hundreds of millions of dollars stemming from the Iran/Contra affair and CIA drug trafficking was being laundered through the Omaha business community.
Soon after the raid, children began coming forward with horrific tales of physical and sexual abuse, torture, human and animal murder, forced drug trafficking and prostitution, and Satanic rituals committed by many of Omaha’s ruling elite. These allegations also included then Vice President George H. W. Bush on more than one occasion.
After years of deaths, suicides, plane crashes, an extreme propaganda barrage by the World Herald, and the tragic imprisonment of a witness for “perjury”, the case was covered up and buried. An Omaha World Herald writer was sentenced for sexual acts with young boys and Alan Baer, nephew of E John Brandeis, was given a $500 fine for pandering to male prostitutes. The witness, Alisha Owen, spent the next decade in prison for claiming that the Omaha Police Chief,
Robert Wadman: ,had raped and impregnated her. The courts were never interested in obtaining evidence, and she was later convicted by a sham of a grand jury which officially declared the Franklin Case a “carefully crafted hoax.” They never really provided a sufficient case or even a motive for the “hoax”, and sealed and destroyed rooms full of Franklin related evidence. During the course of the investigation, Owen’s brother Aaron was found hung in his jail cell. This was naturally ruled a “suicide.”
Wadman, though cleared, was pretty much forced to resign and leave town. He then went to the town of Aurora, Illinois, and was conveniently on the scene when the personal aircraft of Franklin investigator Gary Caradori exploded in the air outside of town, killing Caradori and his son and destroying Franklin related evidence he claimed to have obtained in Chicago. The plane was illegally taken to a military base for examination and was never examined by civilian authorities. Wadman went on to Chief the police department of Wilmington, North Carolina. The heavy handed tactics of Wadman’s Omaha days were employed there, a fact which made him highly unpopular early on. He then deliberately impeded the work of a very highly respected officer who specialized in occult crimes and Satanism, which didn’t exist, according to Wadman. Wadman was eventually forced to resign over this issue.
Walter Scott Jr.: Omaha’s chief Freemason CEO of Peter Kiewit and Sons, the third largest construction company in the world and builder of most of Omaha’s historic buildings. Scott was heavily involved in at least the financial aspects of the Franklin money shuffle. Years later, he would play host at his North Omaha estate to President George W. Bush. Bush flew into town, attended an event at the “One World Community” Health Center in South Omaha, and then went to a private fundraiser at the Scott mansion before leaving town. A few hours later a young product of Nebraska’s foster care system would gun down a dozen Christmas shoppers at an Omaha mall with a high powered rifle before turning the gun on himself. It may also be remembered that Bush went straight to Omaha following the attacks of 9/11/2001.
Without further ado, here is the promised timeline:
A Council Bluffs girl is found in Indiana 38 hours after being kidnapped by an escaped Nebraska prisoner.
A 22 year old Omaha man is apprehended and charged with the violent rape, beating and robbery of a 35 year old woman the week before.
A 21 year old Fremont man is arrested and charged with the rape of a 15 year old girl in her car outside the Civic Auditorium where she had attended a rock concert.
A 19 year old Omaha man is arrested and charged with the rape of a 13 year old girl after being left alone with her at the home of her cousin. The cousin left, at which time the man “choked, beat, and raped” the 13 year old.
A long heat wave continues, with no end in sight.
A 27 year old woman is raped in her car in the area of 24th and Q Street.
August 23, 1983: A woman is raped by a “knife wielding man” in the area of 30th and Dodge Street
August 24, 1983: An 18 year old woman is raped by a man who broke into her home in the area of 60th and Fort Street.
A woman is raped:
The woman told police she was alone in her home near 24th and Erskine Streets at 11 p.m. when a man broke in, grabbed a butcher knife and threatened her and her son……The man made her give him the keys to her car and drove her and her son to a secluded spot near 16th Street and Ames Avenue, Wilson said.
While the child slept in the back seat, the man raped the woman in the front seat, Wilson said. The man stabbed her in the shoulder and hit her in the face several times, breaking her nose and blackening both her eyes. He also used the knife to sexually assault her, Wilson said. At all times, the man threatened to kill the child if the woman did not submit, Wilson said.
The man then drove them to Phil’s Foodway, 3030 Ames Ave., got out of the car, broke a store window and stole some meat, Wilson said. He then drove the woman and child around North Omaha, going from one after – hours club to another, trying to sell the meat, Wilson said. The man finally sold the meat to a man walking near 24th and Lake Streets, and used the money to buy gas at a service station at 33rd and Cass Streets, Wilson said. About 3:45 a.m., the man spotted a male friend on a sidewalk near the 2200 block of 24th Street, parked the car and got out, leaving the woman and the child in the car.
The woman said that while her assailant spoke with his friend, a woman and another man approached him, argued with him and began chasing him down the street, Wilson said. As her assailant fled, the woman said he turned, threw the car keys to her and told her to pick him up, Wilson said. The woman drove to Central Police Headquarters.
August 29, 1983: Jerry Sandusky gets a taste of his own medicine as the Nebraska Cornhuskers rape his defense, winning 44-6 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
A 15 year old girl is forced into a car and raped in the area of 45th and Seward
Three Creighton students (2 female 1 male) are walking in the area of 60th and Blondo when a man robs them at knife point. He then grabbed one of the females, drug her into a yard, and raped her in a tomato garden.
A 15 year old Omaha girl is raped in her home at knife point.
September 6, 1983: The bridge at Hamilton and Military Streets is destroyed by fire at 4:25 p.m. Arson is suspected.
September 7, 1983: Local Restaurant owner Eli Caniglia dies from cancer at the age of 63.
Police claim to have found the perpetrator’s blood at the location where the nude body of Iranian student Firozeh Dehganpour was recovered. After a month of careful examination, they now believe it was NOT a short bladed knife that killed her, but possibly a longer knife.
September 9, 1983: Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle claims the Omaha police are out to get him and his family members, stemming from his reproachment of four officers for loafing in front of a sports bar in 1981. Police Chief Robert Wadman denies any such allegations. In four different articles that day, the World Herald makes it clear which side they are on. (Mike Boyle is later recalled by Omaha voters at the urging of the local media as a result of an escalation of this feud.)
September 12, 1983: (excerpt from September 20th World Herald)
Rosemary Caples, of 5206 Kansas Ave., was last seen Sept. 12 at 11 p.m. leaving Wilson’s Lounge, 5430 N. 42nd St.
Police believe she might be in danger because her car was used in a burglary the morning of Sept. 13 in Mondamin, Iowa, Lt. Dennis K. Howard said.
The owner of a store there spotted a man driving away in a car and noted the license number. Authorities traced the number to Mrs. Caples, Howard said.
The same day, the contents of Mrs. Caples’ purse were found in front of Jones Body Shop Inc., 1517 N. 24th St. Her purse, money and house keys were missing, Howard said. Police found her papers, canceled checks and photographs strewn on the sidewalk.
Mrs. Caples, who is divorced, has a 14 – year – old daughter, Roxanne Caples, and a married daughter, Rosanna Wadel. She has worked as a bartender at the Sportsman Bar, 2212 Farnam St., for the last six years.
September 13, 1983: A 16 year old girl, abducted 40 hours prior while walking through the Crossroads Mall parking lot, escapes from a house “north of Hummel Park” where she had been beaten and repeatedly raped. She claims another girl is still captive in the house, fearing the wrath of her abductors if she attempted escape. When she returns to the area with police, she cannot find the house.
September 16, 1983: Police dismiss the girls claims as “false.”
An escort/prostitution ring is raided at 87th and X streets in Southwest Omaha. ”Meticulous” records including names and details of around 1000 clients are confiscated.
September 18, 1983: A 16 year old girl tells police she was raped at Elmwood Park by a man claiming to be a member of the Park Patrol.
September 19, 1983: A South Omaha girl is found brutally murdered in her neighborhood
early Sunday, Miss Tolston was attacked in a vacant lot near the Highland Elementary School playground at 27th and Madison Streets, about a block from her home. A woman walking a dog found Miss Tolston’s body near some bushes about 7:15 a.m.
Police said they found a 20 – foot trail of blood leading to the body. The assailant apparently dragged the body to the brushy area to conceal it, Lt. Robert Pfeffer said.Shell Casings Found
An autopsy conducted Sunday indicated that Miss Tolston died of two bullet wounds to the head, authorities said. Two shell casings were found near the body, police said. She also was struck in the head with fists or feet, the autopsy indicated. The autopsy also showed bite marks on the body, leading police to believe that the assailant attacked her with his teeth.
According to police reports, Miss Tolston’s underpants and slippers were found next to a puddle of blood 20 feet from the body, which was clad in a sun dress that had been pulled over the chest.
Miss Tolston had been visiting friends in the neighborhood during the evening, Pfeffer said. Mrs. Tolston said she last saw her daughter about 8 or 9 p.m., and a niece saw her at midnight.
As far as police know, she was last seen walking home sometime after midnight with two friends, one male and one female, Pfeffer said.On their way home, they ran into an acquaintance of Miss Tolston. Her two friends left her with the acquaintance, Pfeffer said. Police were seeking to determine who that acquaintance was. “That person might have been the last one to see her alive,” Pfeffer said. ”We’re trying to determine what happened from there.”
Police were interviewing friends that Miss Tolston visited in the course of the evening. They also interviewed the father of her baby, Pfeffer said. Police believe she was killed between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m., because neighbors reported hearing screams around that time…
Earlier that day, Bellevue paper boy Danny Jo Eberle, 12, disappears while delivering his papers. His papers and bicycle are found in front of the house of Dr. Joseph Troia. Unlike other missing person cases, this case is immediately covered by the local media, and the FBI involves itself in the investigation within a few hours.
September 20, 1983: A homeless man is found murdered in an alley next to a bar on 22nd and Farnam Streets. This bar was where missing Omaha woman Rosemary Caples had been employed. The same day, the World Herald announces that she is missing.
A 69 year old South Omaha man dies of a “self inflicted” gunshot wound to the head.
Police claim to have a suspect in the death of pregnant 18 year old Karlena Tolston.
The body of Karlena Tolston, 2711 Monroe St., was found Sunday morning in a vacant lot near the Highland Elementary School playground at 27th and Madison Streets.
She died of two bullet wounds to the head, according to an autopsy conducted Sunday. The autopsy also indicated she was struck in the head with fists or feet, and showed bite marks on the body.Miss Tolston’s underpants and slippers were found next to a puddle of blood 20 feet from the body, which was clad in a sun dress that had been pulled over the chest, according to police reports.
Police found a trail of blood leading to the body. The assailant apparently dragged the body to a brushy area to conceal it, Pfeffer said.
Miss Tolston’s mother, Charlene Tolston, said her daughter graduated from Bryan High School in May, and was seven months pregnant. ”She was pregnant and happy,” Mrs. Tolston said. “She had changed from a kid to a woman. She wanted to have her baby and own an apartment.”
Miss Tolston had been at the home of a female cousin during the evening, fixing her cousin’s hair, Pfeffer said. Around midnight, she walked home with a male cousin.
On their way home about a block away from where her body later was found they ran into a male acquaintance of Miss Tolston. She left with him, Pfeffer said. “We’re trying to determine what happened from there,” he said.
The male cousin was a teenager by the name of Courtney Starks*.
Omaha business Executive Samuel Coldwell dies in his Pennsylvania home of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 50.
Police step up the search for missing paper carrier Danny Jo Eberle. The World Herald pledges “assistance” as well.
September 21, 1983: Crime Stoppers issues a $1000 reward for information regarding the murdered Iranian girl found in August.
The body of 12 year old Danny Jo Eberle is found in a secluded area just south of Offut Air Force Base, Strategic Air Command Headquarters. It is reported much later that he had been stabbed nine times and then brutally tortured while he bled to death.
In Northwest Sarpy County, an 11 year old paper carrier reports that a man in a red hatchback attempted to persuade her to get in his car. The man, described as in his 30′s with a mustache, is decidedly NOT the man later convicted in the Eberle slaying.
The homeless man found in the alley on 22nd and Farnam is identified as 33 year old Lewis Douglas. He most likely was beaten and left to die.
A former University of Nebraska regent, Kermit Wagner, is found dead in his Platte River cabin of an apparent heart attack.
…..(Kermit) Wagner traveled on university – arranged tours of Australia, New Zealand, Russia and China in recent years…..
Keep in mind, we were in the middle of serious tension with the Soviets then. In fact, these stories are all set against the backdrop of the Soviet attack of a passenger plane over South Korea.
Omaha women begin enrolling in self defense classes in record numbers.
Johnny Gosch’s parents claim many similarities between the Eberle case and the abduction of their own son.
A woman claims her two daughters (ages 2 and 6) were raped by a man while playing in their backyard at 29th and Parker Street.
Police say Eberle was stabbed and his hands and feet bound, labeling the crime a “murder.” The FBI quickly takes evidence to Washington DC for “examination.”
September 22, 1983: A delivery driver claims to have seen a man in his “late teens or early twenties” discard a knife behind a gas station at 72nd and Pacific Street in Central Omaha. This DOES fit the description of the eventual convict in the case, yet cannot be linked. The knife, retrieved by two service station employees, appears to be a fish fillet knife, sharpened down to about a quarter of it’s original width. The FBI immediately sends the knife off to Washington as well.
The city is in near hysteria over the multitude of rapes and now the murdered paperboy. The World Herald assures us that the rapes are well within the range of statistical normality, and not to worry too much about it. In all the hype, the Karlena Tolston case is somewhat overlooked.
September 23, 1983: (Autumnal Equinox) The man in the red car tried to entice another boy earlier that week by offering him marijuana. The boy ran away. A third boy claimed to have been abducted by the man in the red car, taken to a park and assaulted. The boy hit the man with a rock and escaped. The boy then told police a second scenario in which two men from the neighborhood abducted him and forced him to help them vandalize a house. When he refused, they took him to a park and assaulted him. He hit them with a rock and escaped. Police insist the second story was the true story and the man in the red hatchback had nothing to do with this abduction.
Police announce they will use a hypnotist to help potential witnesses recall information about the Eberle slaying.
The Tolston slaying has not been mentioned in the World Herald for days, despite being labeled as one of the “most gruesome” murders in Omaha history – quite an achievement, really.
Several fifth grade girls describe Nebraska Governor Bob Kerrey as “totally awesome.” A few years later, some other Omaha children will strongly disagree………..
HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr. meets with Larry King, CEO of the Franklin Credit Union.
September 24, 1983: A Bellevue man is taken into custody as the potential murderer of Danny Jo Eberle. The man, though never convicted for this crime, does have a history of violently raping young boys.
The World Herald mentions the Tolston case, but gives no new information.
Police Chief Robert Wadman tells Omaha parents not to become “hysterical” over the Eberle case.
September 26, 1983: A 19 year old woman is raped in her apartment at 99th and V Street.
Investigators say the red hatchback or a green car was possibly involved with the Eberle case.
September 27, 1983: A Council Bluffs Scout leader is sentenced to 2-5 years for sexually assaulting two boys on a Scout camp out.
September 28, 1983: The Virginia home of Nebraska Representative Doug Beureuter is burglarized.
Child abuse cases in Western Iowa are up 30% from the year before.
Two Omaha boys who told their parents last week that they had been threatened and chased by two men were reported missing Tuesday night.
One of the boys, Sammie Lee Hill, 14, of 4419 Spaulding St., also was involved in an incident last week in which he told police he was the victim of an attempted abduction.
Sammie and a companion, David William Hutchinson, 13, of 4735 N. 41st St., were last seen by their parents Tuesday morning when they left for their eighth grade classes at McMillan Junior High School………….According to their mothers, Sammie and David told their parents Friday that they had been chased by two adult men in a vacant lot near their school. The mothers said the boys told them that the men yelled threateningly at them.
Sammie’s mother said he told her one of the men also was involved in an earlier incident, in which Sammie told police he had been abducted by two men who allegedly wanted him to commit a crime for them.
Initially, the boy had told police he was abducted by a person fitting the description of a man involved in a separate alleged attempt to abduct a newspaper carrier, but he later changed that story.
Sammie finally told police that two men had abducted him and that he had broken free after they had taken him to a secluded area near Columbus Park at 24th Street and Woolworth Avenue and began assaulting him with a rock and a broken bottle.
Sammie, who has a brother and a sister and lives at home with his parents, was an Omaha World – Herald carrier until he quit his route after his attempted abduction report last week.
The boys are found the next day, claiming they were again abducted and assaulted. Police declare a “hoax.”
A human skeleton is stolen from Iowa Western Community College.
October 1, 1983: (excerpt from World Herald)
The Bethel Baptist choir will join John McClain Jr. in presenting a concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at Horace Mann Junior High School auditorium. Also on the program is Larry King, manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union , who will be accompanied by the Omaha Symphonic Chorus. Admission fee is $2. The concert is sponsored by Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church.
October 2, 1983: A 19 year old Creighton girl apparently jumps from her fourth floor dorm room, killing herself in the process.
A 36 year old man is shot by Omaha Police in the Downtown area. A strange, very religious man, he would often walk about with a scythe shaped stick and a red bible, preaching about Jesus to passers by. For some reason, the police tried to subdue him and he, out of character, grabbed an officer’s billy club and began to fight back. He was then murdered by one of the policemen. Curiously, some comments made to his mother that morning led her to believe that he knew he was going to die that day.
The officers who murdered him were cleared several days later and their actions labeled “self defense.” The World Herald simultaneously ran an article claiming the victim was out of his mind due to a combination of marijuana and antihistamines.
Barry L. Donehower, 35, was sentenced Thursday to five to 10 years in the Lincoln Regional Center for the sexual assault of an 11 – year- old boy. Douglas County District Judge James Murphy, noting the concern raised by the slaying of young Danny Eberle of Bellevue, told Donehower: “I don’t think you could have picked a worse time.” Donehower, a privately employed airplane pilot, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of first – degree sexual assault on a child. Donehower admitted that on June 22 he enticed the 11 – year – old to submit to oral sex…
The close succession of violent crimes recently in the Omaha – Council Bluffs metropolitan area has created a false impression among the public that the crime rate is rising, Omaha Police Chief Robert Wadman said.
The crime rate in the area appears to be stable. Omaha Police Department figures indicate that the number of homicides and rapes so far this year is the same as last year. The number of robberies is down 6 percent, and the number of aggravated assaults is up 9 percent.
A good number of the most violent of those crimes occurred in a recent six – week period.
or: “just go about your business, there’s nothing to see here…”
The partly decomposed body of an unidentified female is found in a field in Waterloo, just west of the Omaha city limits. This case is never again mentioned in the World Herald.
Police claim to have “rumours” of a major child pornography ring in Iowa, but have been “unable to locate” any “substantial” evidence.
October 11, 1983: A teen age girl is sexually assaulted by a teen age boy while walking home from school in the area of McMillan Junior High School.
October 12, 1983 (The birth date of Aleister Crowley as marked on the calendar of any self respecting occultist): A strange burglary occurs in a North Omaha business overnight in which nothing is taken but several calculators and a door is left ajar. Because the door (in no way connected with the robber’s entrance and exit) was left partially open, a body was discovered in an obscure fenced portion of the building’s exterior. Nobody used that door and, were it not for the “burglary”, the body of Rosemary Caples would not have been discovered until the following Spring. If you recall, Ms. Caples was the former employee of the bar on 22nd and Farnam where a homeless man was found murdered in an adjoining alley the day Ms. Caples disappearance was announced and during the bloody weekend preceding the Fall Equinox when Danny Jo Eberle and Karlena Tolston were also murdered.
October 15, 1983: A 32 year old Carter Lake man is charged with paying 13 to 16 year old boys for sex. His bond is initially set at $200,000, but is lowered to $2000 later that day. Apparently, the value of young boy’s lives is not very high in Omaha……
October 18, 1983: Robert D. Miller, a bouncer at the infamous Hollywood bar in downtown Omaha is arrested and charged for sexual acts committed with the same minors. The two men claim not to know each other.
October 19, 1983: Crime Stoppers issues a $1000 reward for information about the Karlena Tolston slaying in September (the same day as the Eberle abduction). The 18 year old Tolston, 7 months pregnant, was last seen walking home with her cousin, Courtney Starks. It can be assumed that Starks was the suspect police claimed to have, although no arrest or further information has been revealed. According to Starks, he was walking home with her when an unknown acquaintance in a Corvette pulled up and began talking to Tolston. She allegedly then told Starks to go back home and she would go home with this individual. Her body, according to this particular article, was found the next morning behind, of all places, a City of Omaha Parks and Recreation office, beaten, raped, shot, ripped open with teeth and left dead in the weeds. Sensationalism of the Eberle case left this case rather obscured in the local consciousness.
October 20, 1983: 40 year old Bellevue man William Fyfe is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a 14 year old and is questioned by police in the Eberle case. Police claim to have questioned 350 individuals in the case and have charged two with separate crimes. Leads are dwindling however….
A Southeast Iowa paperboy reports a man in a dark green pickup tried to abduct him. The man called him by his name and claimed to be his uncle Bill. The boy managed to escape. Another rural Iowa paperboy claimed a similar encounter with the dark green truck a week prior. The man was described as in his late 30′s with brown hair, blue eyes, cowboy boots, and a shirt that read “I’m Number One!”
October 22, 1983: Bert Howard, a well known Omaha organized crime figure dies at the ripe old age of 50 from an apparent heart attack. In the mid 70′s, he was caught running a gambling ring while he was the owner of a used car lot. The investigation revealed that he had provided free automobiles through his attorney to Judge Theodore Carlson (who later sentenced John J. Joubert to death in the Eberle case and was a central figure in the Franklin cover up a few years after) and the assistant City Prosecutor Anthony Troia (Eberle’s bike and newspapers were found in the driveway of a relative, Dr. Joseph Troia. The Troias are a well established Omaha family with many members prominent in the Omaha legal and medical communities. One Dr. Troia is a head physician at Boys Town pediatrics). Troia and Carlson received no punishment for the bribes. Howard, with a criminal record dating back to 1955, had run an adult bookstore in downtown Omaha in the early seventies and was currently the owner of a semi nude lounge in Council Bluffs.
Harold Crisp, the man who raped the 88 year old Alabama woman, is returned to Omaha, charged with (and later convicted of) the murder of Rosemary Caples, whose body was discovered after the October 12th burglary of a North Omaha business.
October 23, 1983: A Kansas City author claims that tensions with the Soviets are manufactured in order to justify military and classified spending.
A 17 year old Council Bluffs girl is raped in her house the night before.
A Des Moines newspaper columnist shoots his wife and mentally disabled daughter before turning the gun on himself while driving in the family car.
October 25, 1983: Trial begins in the case of 4 Omaha prostitutes who sexually assaulted, robbed, and murdered Laura LaPointe, another prostitute, in the remote Hummel Park area north of Omaha.
Richard Duff, 32, is captured for the murder of a Kansas City man in a North Omaha alley several days prior. It turns out he has beenacquitted of 3 felonies, including another hit murder in the past 14 years “by reason of insanity.”
October 27, 1983: Colonel Richard L. Purdum of Offut Air Force Base is appointed a councillor to the governor of Ak Sar Ben, according to Walter Scott Jr.
David Heer, a 43 year old system designer at Northwestern Bell telephone company is charged with a misdemeanor for producing underage sex films.
100 people assemble downtown to protest the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
October 28, 1983: The World Herald proclaims that so far there are no Nebraska victims attributed to Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole, a pair of serial killers recently apprehended in Texas.
A lady is found wandering lost in North Platte. Her behavior baffles police, but they later find out she is the victim of multiple personality disorder and has possibly 22 different personalities. Apparently, she switched from which ever personality took her to North Platte, and was then lost and confused. In early November, men who could not be named arrived to fly her to a location that could not be disclosed, according to the North Platte psychiatrist who cared for her.
October 31, 1983: A woman is abducted from a Halloween party and raped and stabbed near Carter Lake.
November 2, 1983: Iowa authorities announce that September had the highest number of child abuse cases ever reported in a single month in the state
The Eberle case is now the most expensive investigation in Sarpy County history, according to the Sarpy County Sheriff’s office
November 5, 1983: A 17 year old Arkansas girl is abducted from the Greyhound bus station and raped, possibly at Carter Lake
A 14 year old boy sexually assaults two girls, ages 5 and 6, while babysitting them
November 7, 1983: Two women are robbed, cut, and one of them is raped while working at a South Omaha fast food restaurant late at night. The rapist, a white man in his early 20′s, claims to be a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
A 26 year old Offut Air Force Base officer, 1st Lt. Margis B. Repecka of Omaha, is found dead in his 54th and Grover Street home from a bullet wound. A .357 revolver is found at his side. Police proclaim the wound to be “self-inflicted.”
November 9, 1983: A 34 year old Omaha woman is beaten and raped in her downtown apartment.
November 14, 1983: An 18 year old Omaha woman is raped by a man giving her a ride home from a Council Bluffs bar.
November 15, 1983: A man with a gun tries to abduct a 28 year old woman in downtown.
December 2, 1983: 12 year old Christopher Walden of Bellevue disappears while walking to school.
December 3, 1983: The parents of Christopher Walden (Air Force, like the Eberles) make a public plea for the safe return of their son. A massive search is underway involving a multitude of law enforcement and civic officials as well as private volunteers. The FBI assigns about 20 people to the case, rather quickly. Again, they are all over this case from the start, although many other Omaha missing person’s reports receive considerably less attention. Evidence is collected along the boy’s route to school, although it is unknown if any of it is related to the crime. School officials had neglected to call the Waldens when the boy didn’t show up, so his disappearance was not known until much later. Apparently making calls when a student is absent without notification is up to each school’s principal. (The year before, I read the book “Tom Sawyer” and felt that skipping school for a day was a good idea. I talked my little sister into doing it with me. Both of our schools had called my parents by 10 A.M.)
December 4, 1983: Searches continue for the missing Christopher Walden, nothing new is revealed. Schools are urged to teach students not to accept rides or favors from strangers.
A 24 year old woman is raped at gunpoint.
At the end of the day the search is unofficially called off. Rumors alleging a connection between this crime and the Eberle boy are spreading around town like wildfire, fanned in part by the World Herald itself. Parents are no longer allowing their kids to walk to school.
December 5, 1983: Two hunters retrieving a downed pheasant in an isolated grove of trees near the former town of Portal (A location in the news several weeks prior. Portal was a town built in western Sarpy county in the late 1800′s. Due to frequent flooding of the creeks, the town was deemed unsustainable after several years and became farmland once again. The only remnants of the town left to be seen in 1983 were the Portal cemetery and the Portal schoolhouse, a historic one room schoolhouse in the news as the destination of teenage thrill seekers due to an old legend about the school. Supposedly a teacher killed all the children in the schoolhouse in the distant past, leaving the schoolhouse itself to be remembered as the “Hatchet House” by generations of bored and gullible teenagers. According to the World Herald, the story is complete fiction. Nevertheless, in a grove of trees adjacent to the school:) stumble upon the grisly remains of Christoper Paul Walden. They are described as “visibly shaken.” This location is an out of the way area rarely used by anyone but locals, and if it weren’t for the hunters, the body may have gone unnoticed for months.
Authorities admit that Walden had been stabbed multiple times, but refuse to comment whether he was sexually molested or not. Police give a description and composite photo (a menacing photo imprinted in the memory of many Omaha children and their parents in the following month, although not even remotely resembling the man later convicted of the crime) based on a description provided by unnamed witnesses of the abduction.
December 7, 1983: (excerpt from World Herald)
Investigators think that Christopher Hall Walden, unlike Danny Joe Eberle, probably was slain at the spot where his body was found. Sarpy County Sheriff Pat Thomas said at a press conference Wednesday that it appears young Walden was stabbed to death in the plum grove near Cornhusker Road northwest of Papillion where his body was found by hunters Monday night. The 12 – year – old son of Air Force Lt. Col. and Mrs. Stephen Walden, 4558 Holly St., had been missing since leaving for school about 8:20 a.m. Friday.
Young Eberle, a 13 – year – old Bellevue newsboy, was reported missing Sept. 18 after he went on his morning route. His body was found three days later along a road south of Bellevue, and authorities believe he was killed elsewhere. He too died of multiple stab wounds; both bodies were clad in underwear. The officers, who are conducting one of the most intense investigations in metropolitan Omaha history, have not said whether either boy was sexually molested. However, Thomas said Wednesday that there is sexual motivation in both cases “to some extent.”…..
…..Thomas and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Chuck Wiley said an autopsy has been completed in the Walden case. Wiley said that much material from the autopsy has been sent to FBI labs in Washington, D.C…..
……The two said little about the nature of the wounds. Thomas said that many of the stab wounds were in the chest, and some appeared as though they could have been fatal.
Also discussed at the Wednesday press conference in Bellevue was a report by witnesses who saw an encounter between a boy who looked like Christopher and a young man.
A composite sketch of the young man was drawn by the FBI Saturday and has been circulated nationally…..
…..Regarding the incident reported by the witnesses, Wiley said the boy was not seen to have been shoved into a car. The officers declined to discuss the witnesses or the nature of what they saw.
But Wiley and Herb Hawkins, special agent – in – charge of the FBI for Nebraska and Iowa, said the witnesses did not see anything violent or aggravated enough to cause them to call police at that time……….They said the witnesses stepped forward Friday night when they learned there was a missing youth.
He said the FBI has brought in an additional 10 agents to work on the case, bringing the total number of FBI agents involved to 45. ”We’ve dropped almost everything except the essential things” to work on the Walden case, Hawkins said. The Eberle – Walden task force now totals more than 100 officers working around the clock, according to Robinson. Rewards in the cases now total more than $48,000.
The suspect is described as being 18 to 25 years old, 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 and about 160 pounds. He is described as a white male with a dark complexion. The officers have declined to identify any car possibly connected with the case……
A prominent psychiatrist weighs in on Omaha’s new serial killer:
…..Three months after Karlena Tolston, 17, was killed, people who live in the Bancroft Park area say the unsolved slaying has changed their neighborhood, causing them to live in fear………..Omaha police have made no arrests in the case, though they say they know who killed Miss Tolston. Detectives just don’t have enough evidence to arrest him for the crime, said Lt. Robert Pfeffer of the homicide unit. Pfeffer said the suspect lives in the Bancroft Park area and that police consider him a sexual psychopath.BrutalThe murder was unusually brutal the most brutal that veteran homicide detectives have seen in years, Pfeffer said. Miss Tolston was shot twice in the head, stomped, beaten, cut and possibly strangled. Police believe the murder was sexually motivated because of the way the body was mutilated. Parts of the body had been bitten off…….When the body was found, broken white beads were strewn along a 20 – foot trail of blood. The killer had pulled her body by the legs, letting her head drag in the mud in the lot at 27th and Madison Streets.Shots, Screams HeardSeveral people who live near the death scene heard shots, screams and dogs barking wildly around midnight. None, however, called police. Several said that at the time they were not sure what exactly they had heard. ”I did hear some screaming,” said one woman who asked not to be identified. “It sounded like the voice of a little girl. I heard my dogs barking back in the alley in a very mean way, like there was somebody around. I closed my curtains and I stayed in the house. I didn’t call the police. I didn’t think anything of it.”Police canvassing the neighborhood found Miss Tolston’s purse and stubs of welfare checks in an alley across the street. They did not find the murder weapons the .25 caliber handgun and the tennis shoes that left a bloody imprint on the girl’s cheek. They found two spent ammunition shells by the body.…..Miss Tolston, seven months pregnant when she was killed, spent the night before her death with friends and relatives. One of her cousins braided and beaded her hair.She had left a friend’s house around midnight and walked toward her house with a second cousin, Courtney Starks, 17. Starks later told detectives a man in a Chevrolet Corvette passed them near 27th and Drexel Streets and stopped. Miss Tolston seemed to know the man and stopped to talk, he told detectives. Starks waited a while, grew impatient and went home, he told detectives.
Hardly the work of a 17 year old amateur.
December 19, 1983: A 24 year old South Omaha man is found hanging in his bedroom.
Not even Mr. T can save the movie “D.C. Cab”, according to the World Herald in a rare moment of honesty.
The 17 year old son of Mayor Mike Boyle is assaulted by a man in his 20′s for no apparent reason outside of a party, resulting in a fractured cheekbone.
Children are suffering from stomach aches, sleeplessness, and high anxiety due to fear of Omaha’s serial killer.
December 21, 1983: Police declare that an “older model, cream colored car” was used in the Eberle-Walden murders.
January 1, 1984: A 12 year old Omaha girl is raped by a man who broke into her home on New Years Eve.
December, 1983 is officially declared the coldest month in the history of Omaha. Fortunately for the women and children of Omaha, this seems to have severely curtailed the violence of previous months.
Two South Omaha girls, 13 and 14, are abducted and taken to a house by three men in a pickup where one of them is raped.
January 11, 1983: A man seemingly attempts to rob a Bellevue church daycare with a knife at around 8:30 a.m. The woman working there manages to escape and call the police, giving them the license plate number of her assailant. The rental car is traced back to a local car lot, where the driver’s own car is being repaired. His personal car fits the description of the car used in the Walden murder. John Joubert, a 20 year old Air Force service man and assistant Boy Scout leader is arrested for the attempted robbery and placed in solitary confinement.
January 12, 1983: Joubert is convicted by the World Herald as the murderer of Eberle and Walden in the morning edition, and formally charged in the afternoon. Investigators are looking into Joubert’s whereabouts during the Johnny Gosch kidnapping, but ultimately find he was nowhere near Iowa at the time.
John Joubert, a 20 year old member of the Air Force, had a troubled history. His parents divorced at an early age, and he was forbidden to see his father throughout the rest of his childhood. He then began stabbing people, and allegedly fantasized about victims crying for help and even cannibalizing them. By some accounts he was a very bright boy, by others he was very slow. Either way, he hardly seemed like Air Force material, but somehow was welcomed right in. Just in time, it seems, for a Maine boy was murdered (Joubert would later be convicted of this crime as well) right before he signed up with the Air Force and set off for training in the deep South before being stationed at Strategic Air Command headquarters just south of Omaha, Nebraska.
Apparently, he kept and used a most uncommon type of rope, fibers of which were later used to convict him (the World Herald convicted him in the court of public opinion the morning the story broke) in the summer of 1984. Omaha breathed a collective sigh of relief as it seemed the serial killer scare was over and kids were safe to walk the streets once again. Never mind that similar child abductions had been occurring all along and, as we will see, would continue in the future. Joubert was executed by electrocution in 1996.
March 23, 1986: 11 year old Richard Chadek is abducted while riding his bike in a bank parking lot on a Sunday afternoon. His body is found in a West Omaha field on April 2. The killer is never apprehended.
*July 31 / August 1, 1986: (Lammas on the Satanic Calendar, a date calling for human sacrifice): At exactly midnight, Ms. Linda Wierzbicki, a 32 year old Omaha theater actress and teacher at a Catholic school is stabbed in the head 11 times and left dead in the parking lot of her apartment complex. It is called a robbery attempt, although Ms. Wierzbicki purportedly did not carry a purse. Police are searching for a young black male driving a black muscle car.
Coincidentally, a 20 year old black male driving a black Pontiac Trans Am is arrested about 20 minutes later just down the road at 36th and L street after crashing into several utility poles. The driver, Courtney W. Starks of South Omaha (the last person to see Karlena Tolston alive) is arrested by Officer Donald Fiala Jr. (another prominent Omaha surname) and is taken to University Hospital where he is subsequently arrested for driving while intoxicated. He is charged and sentenced to 30 days in prison on the morning of Friday, August 1. Later that afternoon police receive an “anonymous tip” (although from who we may never know – if he was immediately arrested after the murder which he allegedly committed spontaneously while alone, who could have possibly tipped off the police?) and transport Starks from the jail to the police station for questioning. He is thoroughly grilled by Officers Clyde Nutsch and James Wilson Senior of the homicide department culminating in a taped confession for the murder. He never again accepts responsibility for the murder, instead claiming that his confession was forced.
Apparently Starks spent the night of July 31st partying with his employer, one Cathie Caffrey, who had hired him as a part time employee of Nuncio’s Licorice Stick Lounge (Now “Douger’s”) on 42nd and Cuming Street. She was quite friendly with young Starks, claiming that he “ was a friend who sometimes visited her home, took her 8 – year – old daughter to ballet lessons and ran errands” although the two were not romantically involved. Ms. Caffrey and Susan McCann, the on duty bartender that night at Nuncio’s, had two decidedly different time lines of events, although neither the court nor the World Herald seemed to concern themselves with such trivialities. The mostly established timeline seems to occur as such:
Starks and Caffrey were driving around in Stark’s car doing something all evening. Caffrey had somewhere around $3500 in cash on her all night, a fact which Starks was well aware of. At some point Starks and Caffrey had an argument over Starks’ driving while intoxicated, and Caffrey went into the bar to fume while Starks left the premises around 11:30 p.m. The two women’s stories also involve Starks successfully playing a Star Wars video game around the time he left (while simultaneously claiming he didn’t come back in the bar at all), and the women’s times don’t match up. According to McCann, she refused to serve Starks anymore and he and Caffrey left together at 11:30. According to Caffrey, they returned to the bar at 11:30, at which time Starks left alone. Not too important in a first degree murder case, I suppose, so let’s move on.
Starks also, depending on which of the two women you ask, did or did not have access to a boning knife allegedly found at the murder scene. McCann claims it was in the bar and then in Starks car, while Caffrey claims the knife was never in Starks possession. Anyways, Starks left the bar around 11:30 and then showed up at Caffrey’s house ostensibly to borrow money from the same Caffrey he had just left at the bar. Caffrey’s house was roughly eight blocks from the crime scene. Starks apparently conversed with Caffrey’s daughter for a few minutes and then left. According to the girl, Starks arrived at around midnight (as the murder was occurring) – a fact she knew because a movie had just started. A check of the listings determined that the movie actually started at 11:45, which put Starks back on the road at around 11:55.
(I made the drive and side detour in under ten minutes on a cold winter night with little traffic, so it is conceivable that Starks could have arrived at the crime scene on an active summer night in time to commit the crime. Either way, he was conveniently nearby.)
At around midnight, a man heard a scream in the parking lot of the Charleton Apartments. According to him,
Scott Johnson, then a resident in Miss Wierzbicki’s apartment complex, testified that he heard two or three screams outside about midnight.
Johnson, who was clipping coupons and watching television at the time, said the screams came soon after he heard a car pull into the parking lot.
Saw the Body
Johnson said he looked through the screen door of his third – floor apartment, saw someone lying on the pavement and shut off his living room light.
“I didn’t want anybody that was out there to know that I was watching,” Johnson said.
He said he walked downstairs to the ground level and started to move toward the person on the pavement when he saw a tall, slender man coming toward him.
Johnson testified that he said “Hi” as the two passed about 6 feet apart, but the man said nothing.
Johnson said didn’t go any nearer to the person he saw on the ground.
He said he returned to his apartment and about 5 minutes later he saw a tall, slender man walk from behind another part of his apartment building, climb into a dark – colored Trans Am and drive off “hurriedly.”
The perpetrator apparently spent a lot of time around the crime scene afterwards, made sure he was seen, and caused no harm to Johnson, contrary to the image of “drug crazed Negro” painted at his trial (mostly by his own “defense” attorney). According to another witness:
When the witnesses went to investigate, they saw a man run from the lot, cross 42nd Street, jump into a yard and then hide in some shrubs. Several minutes later, the witnesses said the man returned to the parking lot, picked up a cigarette package and then sped away in a Pontiac Firebird or Trans Am.
This account is troubling for several reasons. First of all, for anyone to have left the crime scene, crossed 42nd Street, hid in a yard, and returned, they would have to have gone about 4 blocks up the street, as the only thing across 42nd right there is the Center Mall parking garage. Also, there is an apartment building and a fenced property standing between the crime scene and 42nd Street. Furthermore, while all the witnesses seem to describe a different version of him returning for his cigarettes, the police later claimed to have FOUND his cigarette pack at the crime scene. Could the return actually have been to PLANT the pack?
Moving forward, a friend who had been waiting to hear from Ms. Wierzbicki arrived to check on her at around 1:45 A.M. and found her lifeless body in the parking lot. Starks, of course, was already in jail for driving while intoxicated. By the next afternoon, police had extracted a taped confession from Starks. To this day Starks claims he does not believe he could kill anybody, and if he did, it wasn’t him in his right mind committing the crime. He, however, has no recollection of the event. Police and the World Herald immediately began promoting the idea that Starks was broke and needed money, causing him to pull in the parking lot and stab Wierzbicki in the head 11 times at exactly midnight on a Satanic holiday.
The following Monday, Starks claimed that police questioned him for four hours about the murder of Karlena Tolston. Police have now stated that Starks was and still is a suspect in his cousin’s murder, although they have no evidence to arrest anyone with. James Martin Davis was appointed to defend Starks.
For those unfamiliar with Omaha, James Martin Davis is the premier criminal defense attorney in town. A former military operative and Secret Service Agent with the Nixon administration, it is rumored around town that Davis was assigned to protect Ronald Reagan the day he was shot. (I have been unable to either confirm or deny this.) He later would defend both Police Chief Robert Wadman as well as Boys Town itself against sexual abuse allegations in the wake of the Franklin scandal. He is a pompous, crooked, showboat who finds his way into the middle of all high profile criminal trials in Omaha, and has run for public office unsuccessfully on at least one occasion.
Martin’s brilliant plan to defend Courtney Starks was for Starks to say that he was under the influence of alcohol and PCP that night and could not remember whether he murdered anyone or not. Not quite enough blood had been taken from Starks that night to test for PCP, and one Omaha officer had stated that he had only seen PCP in Omaha one time in the previous decade. Nevertheless, the official story told by Starks, Davis, the World Herald, and the court itself was that Starks was under the influence of PCP the night of the murder. This ultimately, according to the judge, spared Starks the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison + 20 years to be served afterwards for the weapons charge. Starks sits in the Nebraska penitentiary to this day, paying for a crime he does not know whether he committed or not, while simultaneously remaining the scapegoat in the extremely brutal rape and execution of his young cousin during that most bloody weekend in September of 1983.
Unsolved Slayings Haunt Victims’ Kin Unsolved Murder
Omaha World-Herald (NE) - Sunday, July 25, 1993
Author: CHRIS BURBACH, WORLD – HERALD STAFF WRITER
Barbara Stennis expects the answers to hurt, but she would prefer that pain to the agony of not knowing.
Who killed Kenyatta Bush, Mrs. Stennis’ teen – age daughter? How can the killer still be free? And why – why? – did that person take Miss Bush’s life?
“I still get mad,” Mrs. Stennis said. “I’m concerned about the who, but I most want to know why. I can’t understand it. I often wonder, ‘How does this person go to bed at night?’ I don’t understand it.”
More than 90 percent of the homicides in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawatomie Counties in the last 10 years have been solved. That’s well above the national clearance rate of less than 70 percent.
But with homicides, almost perfect isn’t good enough – not for the families of victims, and not for the police. Their frustration grows as time passes and the chance of bringing killers to justice wanes.
Two of the highest – profile slayings in the last decade in Omaha remain unsolved. Nine months have passed since Miss Bush, 17, disappeared from North High School Sept. 23. She was found dead 10 days later.
And it has been more than seven years since 11 – year – old Ricky Chadek last was seen alive, riding his bicycle near 42nd and Valley Streets. His strangled body was discovered March 31, 1986, in rural Douglas County, eight days after he had disappeared.
Ricky and Miss Bush are but two of many homicide victims whose deaths remain unexplained. Law – enforcement agencies in the Omaha – Council Bluffs metropolitan area list 26 unsolved homicides from 1983 through 1992. Even though the names of their loved ones have slipped from the limelight, the relatives of those victims have not forgotten.
Frank LaMere, executive director of the Nebraska Indian Inter – Tribal Development Corp., said he thinks every day about his sister Michelle LaMere. She was killed north of Omaha in 1984.
“We still are deeply saddened, frustrated and angry that we were never able to reach resolution in that case and that we can now only rely on the Creator in the hopes that he will take care of everything,” LaMere said. “We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we may never find the murderer, and you cannot know how frustrating that is to her brothers and sisters, and especially to her mother.”
A murder investigation never is closed, Omaha Police Sgt. Pitmon Foxall said. There is no statute of limitations on prosecuting a homicide suspect.
But Foxall said the chances of building a strong enough case to convict dramatically decrease when detectives are unable to identify a suspect within a day or two of the killing.
Immediately after someone is reported killed, a law – enforcement agency throws all the detective power it has into the case, Foxall said. Investigators collect as much physical evidence as they can and track down and question witnesses and acquaintances of the victim.
Foxall said that, in Omaha, the initial investigation usually reveals some link between the victim and the assailant and some reason for the killing. Detectives often can follow that track to a suspect.
When that information isn’t immediately apparent, as in the Ricky Chadek and Kenyatta Bush cases, the investigators look for other witnesses. They interview and re – interview people who know or might have had any contact with the victim in an effort to find a link with the attacker.
Sometimes no one knows of such a connection. Killings by strangers, such as in a robbery, are the hardest to solve, said Lt. Ken Landwehr of the Des Moines Police Department.
In other cases, people know but won’t tell, Foxall said. That often happens with gang – related shootings……..
……….Sometimes a lucky break makes hard work pay off.
That’s what happened in the case of Rosemary Caples, said Officer Jimmy Wilson, a veteran Omaha homicide detective. He said investigators believed Ms. Caples was dead after she disappeared Sept. 12, 1983, but searchers could not find her body.
A month after she disappeared, burglars broke into Hy – Temp Manufacturing Inc., 30th and Saratoga Streets. The Hy – Temp employee who discovered the burglary also found Ms. Caples’ decomposed body in an area outside the plant where no one normally walked.
Wilson said police learned Ms. Caples’ car had been used in the burglary of a Mondamin, Iowa, Western gear store. From photographs of people who had committed similar burglaries in Omaha, the owner identified the Mondamin burglar.
Wilson found the suspect in jail in Fairhope, Ala. The man confessed to killing Ms. Caples and was convicted of first – degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Detectives have made several trips to question suspects arrested in other states for crimes similar to the Chadek killing. They scan daily teletypes that announce arrests by other agencies for similarities to Ricky’s death or other unsolved local homicides.
Tips Checked On occasion, people call with tips, Foxall said. Every one of those tips, however insignificant it might seem, is checked out, he said.
In Miss Bush’s case, there is one person whom police have not been able to eliminate as a suspect, Thorson said. And some forensic evidence, which he declined to detail, still is being examined.
Mrs. Stennis said she believes the police are doing all they can to find her daughter’s killer. But she said she suspects there are people who know more about what happened to Miss Bush than they have told police.
“But they won’t say anything,” she said. “I would advise them to talk to the police. Anonymously, if they have to. Send in a tape recording. Say something. Why not try to help, if they’re Kenyatta’s friends like the whole community said they were?” Unsolved Homicides The victims in the 26 unsolved homicides from 1983 through 1992 in the Omaha – Council Bluffs metropolitan area:
1983 – Karlena Tolston, 17 years old and seven months pregnant, shot twice in the head, beaten and cut. Mutilated body was found Sept. 18 behind a city Parks and Recreation Department building, 27th and Madison Streets.
Firozeh Dehghanpour, 24, an Iranian student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was found dead Aug. 14 under a bridge above Pigeon Creek River Road, about three miles north of Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County. Stabbed to death. Last seen about 9:30 p.m. the day before, when she left UNO’s Eppley Administration Building.
1984 – Frank Cannon, 54, an unemployed truck driver from Council Bluffs, shot to death Sept. 27. Body was found in his car on a county gravel road two miles north of Council Bluffs near the Lewis and Clark monument. Last seen about 9:15 a.m. Sept. 27 at a restaurant at the Interstate 80 – 29 and South 24th Street intersection.
Michelle LaMere, 21, of Omaha, run over by a car on secluded Shongaska Road in Ponca Hills area north of Omaha. Douglas County sheriff’s investigators said evidence indicated the driver hit her on purpose. Body was found the morning of July 9. Last seen just before midnight July 8 at 22nd and Leavenworth Streets. 1986 – Ricky Chadek, 11, disappeared March 23, 1986. Last seen riding his bicycle into a bank parking lot at 42nd and Valley Streets near his home. Body was found eight days later near 168th and Ida Streets. He had been strangled.
Stephanie R. Caldwell, 24, a go – go dancer from Omaha, was stabbed to death. Body was found June 2 in Elkhorn River about one – half mile south of the Q Street bridge. Last seen about 2 a.m. May 27 near 24th and Farnam Streets.
1987 – Kathryn Huber, 17, of Bellevue disappeared Nov. 28. Body was found Dec. 4 along U.S. 75 north of Omaha. She had been strangled. Last seen about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28 when she left her apartment, 3819 S. 25th St.
Hulen Brown Jr., 32, was found shot to death Nov. 26 near 23rd and Grace Streets. An unemployed Omaha man, he was shot in the head at close range.
1988 – William Baker, 45, was killed Dec. 21 Winter Solsticein an office behind his restaurant, the Dining Car, 1017 S. 10th St. He was shot several times.
Frank Jasper, 19, of Kansas City, Mo., was shot about 12:10 a.m. Sept. 8 during a fight between three Kansas City men and two Omahans in a parking lot at 2215 Seward Plaza.
Irvin C. Settje, 35, was shot to death April 22 during a robbery of the Ginn service station, 4709 Hamilton St. Settje was an attendant at the station.
1989 – Chantelle Cotton, 18, was shot to death Sept. 21Autumnal Equinox near 22nd and Charles Streets in the Logan Fontenelle low – income housing development. Although not a gang member, she was shot while a bystander during a gang – related shooting.
Harold Prather, 54, a homeless man living in Omaha, was found dead June 24 near railroad tracks around 14th and Nicholas Streets. He died of head injuries.
1990 – Willie Bemore, 59, a city Public Works Department employee, was found dead Dec. 13 in the basement of his home, 3521 Maple St. He had suffered multiple stab wounds. Several things were taken from the home, leading police to theorize that the killing occurred during a burglary.
George Gass, 48, an Omaha Public Power District Supervisor, disappeared Sept. 7 after leaving his home in LaVista to buy cigarettes. His skeletal remains were found Nov. 11 in a field southwest of Crescent, Iowa. The cause of death was not determined.
Brian Gordon, 23, was shot to death in his home, 3720 N. 42nd St. Body was found there early Dec. 14.
Mitchell Simon, 41, was found stabbed to death March 31 in the Ohio Fish Market, 2604 N. 16th St., where he worked. Last seen alive the previous night by co – workers.
1991 – Marcia Crouse, 28, a housekeeper at the Western Inn Motor Lodge in Council Bluffs, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her apartment, 1108 Marshall Ave. in the Bluffs. She was found dead Sept. 20 Autumnal Equinox. Miss Crouse, who was hearing – impaired, had last been seen three days before.
Forrest Hillary, a 40 – year – old homeless man, was found dead about 5 a.m. May 22 in an alley near 17th and Jackson Streets. He was stabbed in the neck. Police suspected the stabbing occurred during a fight near 19th and Jackson Streets.
Donna Reed, 36, of Omaha was found Aug. 26 in a vacant lot at 16th and Ohio Streets. Last seen about 10 p.m. Aug. 23 near 19th and Corby Streets. Cause of death not determined. Prosecutors charged a habitual sex offender, who is in prison for a separate sexual assault, with killing Ms. Reed, but dropped the charge after a judge ruled they lacked proof.
Ismil Thomas, 16, died in January 1992 from wounds he suffered when he was shot Oct. 27, 1990, while leaving a party near 23rd and Saratoga Streets. Police have said Thomas was with members of the Bloods street gang, and several Crips gang members were there.
James “Sonny” Thomas, 38, an employee of Ticket Services, was shot Nov. 29, 1991, as he answered a knock on his apartment door at 1607 Burdette St.
1992 – Lolita Braxton, 32, was found dead about June 12 at Whiskey Pete’s Bait, Gun & Tackle, 202 Browne St. on the north edge of Levi Carter Park. Police have refused to say how she was killed.
Kenyatta Bush, 17, disappeared Sept. 23 Autumnal Equinox from North High School. Body was found 10 days later in rural Washington County. Her throat had been cut. Last seen at 8:36 a.m. Sept. 23 in a hallway at North.
Mary Cronin, 27, a college student and waitress from Ralston, disappeared April 12. Her skull and other bones were found in early May 1993 in wooded area of northwest Cass County. Last seen in the parking lot of Cappy’s Food & Spirits, 5059 S. 108th St.
Robert L. Flakes, 54, owner of F&J Auto at 24th Street and Camden Avenue, was found dead about 1:20 a.m. March 17 in a van outside a house he owned, 2432 Larimore Ave. He had been shot.
Another unsolved homicide stems from 1993: Charlene “Sha – Sha” Quinzi, 37, died April 12 in her upstairs apartment, 2100 Poppleton Ave. Police and fire investigators have said an arsonist started the blaze on the first floor of the house.
Just for fun, this local VIP died a “natural” death inside a basement which only locked from the outside in a room rented to someone who none of the buildings’ owners can recall on the Winter Solstice of 1999.