Sculptor Carl Andre was found not guilty on February 11, 1988 of charges that he murdered his wife by pushing her from the window of their 34th-floor Greenwich Village apartment. Mr. Andre, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his spotless blue overalls, stood silently and received the verdict without any sign of emotion. As he rushed from the 13th-floor courtroom of the Criminal Courts Building to an elevator being held for him by courtroom officers, Mr. Andre said only: ''Justice was served. Justice was served.''
But as they stood outside the courtroom and watched the elevator doors close, the mother and sister of the victim, Ana Mendieta, called him a murderer. ''I know he killed my daughter,'' the mother, Raquel Oti Mendieta of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said. The sister, Raquel Harrington, said: ''He might be getting away with murder now. But he'll get his just rewards. Just wait and see.''
The death of Ms. Mendieta, who was 36 years old, and the subsequent arrest of Mr. Andre, 52, was a shock to the world of art. Mr. Andre is credited with founding the minimalist school of sculpture in the 1960's. His works are in the Tate, Whitney and Solomon R. Guggenheim museums. Ms. Mendieta, who was born in Cuba, was lesser known, but her sculptures were gaining prominence.
In prosecuting second-degree murder charges, an assistant district attorney, Elizabeth Lederer, said the defendant's calling the 911 emergency telephone line was an incriminating factor. A tape of the call showed Mr. Andre saying: ''My wife is an artist, and I'm an artist, and we had a quarrel about the fact that I was more, eh, exposed to the public than she was. And she went to the bedroom, and I went after her, and she went out the window.''
Evidence at the trial showed that Ms. Mendieta had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol before her death. There was a fight, Ms. Lederer said, and it escalated in the bedroom, and ''he caused her to fall out the window'' at 300 Mercer Street. Mr Andre later told the police that he and his wife had been watching television before she went to bed alone. He said when he went to bed, he found that she was not there and that the bedroom window was open. A doorman working nearby testified that he had heard cries of: ''No! No! No!'' just before the body hit the ground. Mr. Hofffinger said any seeming inconsistency between what Mr. Andre told the 911 operator and later said was a result of Mr. Andre's ''eclipsing'' events the night of the death.
Boy plays with a Carl Andre sculpture (0:18)
In November 2002, Timothy Boham appeared on the cover of Freshmen magazine (considered to be the best '18-25' magazine of young gay, but not twinkish, men). In the annual survey in 2003, Marcus Allen was voted "Freshman of the Year" by a wide margin, and again appeared on the cover (June 2003). This led to opportunities such as with Falcon studios. With Falcon Entertainment, Boham appeared in a dozen adult movies under the name "Marcus Allen" in 2004 and 2005.
As Marcus Allen, Boham was on the cover of Mandate magazine in July 2006, apparently for All World's Video. Boham also appeared on the cover of Playgirl Magazine's "campus hunks" issue (November 2006). The Advocate reported that Boham left porn in 2005 and went to live in Denver, eventually working for John Paul "J P" Kelso but only for about 10 days before failing to show up for his job. Kelso was co-owner of a Denver debt recovery business called Professional Recovery Systems; he was a philanthropist "... giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities around the world...." and was openly gay.
Boham had the right look but not the right attitude for modeling work. He didn't like people telling him what to do. He seemed like an angry person. His opportunities were tapering off. Lara Holland, who lived in a Denver mansion on High Street in an apartment a floor below Boham, gave an interview. "Boham has an explosive temper and owned a large collection of guns, including a rifle with a silencer and a scope", Holland said. Boham, who has a 5-year-old daughter, also picked fights over petty disputes with friends, she said. "He got into bloody fistfights," Holland said. "He just had anger issues." Boham told Lara Holland, that he "sanitized" his apartment by thoroughly scrubbing it because a gay man had lived there previously, she said. "He hated (gays)," she said. "He hated their lifestyle."
A housekeeper found Kelso, 43, shot to death in the bathtub of his upscale Congress Park home on November 13. The police named Boham as a suspect in the slaying. Kelso, reportedly often hired the services of male dancers/escorts. Boham was arrested on November 16 at the U.S.-Mexico border in Lukeville, Arizona. He was extradited to Colorado and is being held without bond. According to the Denver Post, Boham told his family that he killed Kelso because he believed that Kelso kept $100,000 to $400,000 in his household safe.
The Post reported that court documents said Boham planned to use the money to go to South America with his girlfriend, he told his mother and sister shortly after the shooting, the records allege. But Boham said his plan went awry when Kelso refused to open the safe, and there was a brief struggle during which he accidentally shot Kelso, according to the Post. Boham told his family that when he cut the safe open, it was empty and "so he had done this for nothing," according to a police affidavit.
One of France’s biggest rock stars was released from prison recenty after serving half of an eight-year sentence for killing his actress girlfriend in a jealous rage over a text message. Bertrand Cantat, 43, lead singer of the left-wing group Noir Désir, was driven by his band’s drummer from a Toulouse jail to his country home at midnight.
The charismatic Cantat first came to the attention of France's music scene almost 20 years ago. Celebrated for his enigmatic performances as the lead singer of Noir Desir, he was hailed as the French Jim Morrison. But Cantat was known in France for his strong public stance on issues such as globalisation and racism as much as his on-stage persona. A rebel with a love of literature, a star with a social conscience, Cantat became an idol to thousands of anti-capitalist teenagers during his years in the spotlight.
Cantat became the centre of a lurid drama in July 2003 when he punched and slapped Marie Trintignant, 41, in an hotel room in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. They had quarrelled over a text message that Ms Trintignant, a mother of four and the daughter of Jean-Louis Trintignant, a 1960s film idol, had received from her former husband. She struck her head on a radiator and died in a Paris hospital a week later.
Cantat pleaded that he never meant to kill but was convicted of murder in Vilnius and returned to France in 2004. A court last month approved his release on condition that he received regular psychological counselling and refrained from public reference to the murder in interviews or in music.
Noir Désir 'Des armes' (3:20)
Tom Melford entered Columbia in 1995. His major was visual arts, and his freshman year seemed to go well enough. With little money for winter clothes, he could be seen trudging through snow in sandals, jeans and a T-shirt as if he were strolling through warm California beach sand. He formed a band called Couchcase and recorded a few songs featuring his frenetic guitar playing and scruffy voice. He also had several cartoons published in the student newspaper, The Columbia Spectator. His cartooning revealed a mordant, Mad magazine sense of humor about many subjects -- designer drugs, Internet sex, infomercials. In one cartoon, a man and woman trade a series of insults and ugly confessions, culminating with the man saying, ''The voices told me to kill you in your sleep.'' The woman then screams, ''April Fool's!'' The man replies, ''That's today?''
Mr. Nelford spent more and more time on his art at the expense of academics. He dropped out of college in the spring of 1998 and returned to California. His mother sent him to counseling, but he expressed ambivalence about re-enrolling at Columbia. He told friends that he wanted to wander the country like Jack Kerouac, one of his literary heroes. He wanted to live the life of an artist, a nomad with a sketchbook. In early 1999, Tom Nelford, then 22, returned to New York City with no specific plan. Back on the fringes of Columbia, Mr. Nelford floated along. He fell in with a small group of students, and spent his summer days in-line skating, writing songs, smoking marijuana and playing his guitar on the roof of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, where he often slept in an oversized storage closet. Tom Nelford lived off the generosity of his friends and sometimes bartered his art. Once he used coat hangers to make a sculpture for a friend as thanks for allowing him to crash on her living-room couch. Sometimes he would sing for his supper. His primary response to everyday setbacks was a beatific ''Dude, it's cool.'' His outlook seemed neatly summarized in one of his songs: ''Things could be better, but I feel content. Because what I'm after, I represent.''
In the fall, Mr. Nelford underwent an abrupt transformation as he began to date Kathleen Roskot, the first serious girlfriend his Columbia friends had ever seen him with. He cleaned himself up, got a crew cut and took a job selling jeans. Some of Mr. Nelford's more bohemian friends did not understand the attraction. She seemed preppy, standoffish. Once, when Mr. Nelford introduced her to a friend whose bedroom walls were plastered with photographs of marijuana buds, it was clear that she wanted to get out of the room fast. But the two had things in common -- athletics, contemplative natures and a passion for the music and literature of the 1960's. Ms. Roskot decorated her room with posters of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. She stuck up favorite Kerouac quotes. Before long, Mr. Nelford was spending many of his nights in her suite on the fifth floor of Ruggles Hall. After she failed to show up for lacrosse practice one Saturday, her room was checked and her nude body was discovered. Were it not for the fact that Mr. Nelford subsequently threw himself in front of a subway train, dying instantly, his friends said, they would have found it impossible to even imagine that he had slashed her throat. Did he or didn't he? That's the ongoing assumption, but the truth will never be known for sure.
Three days after William Burroughs returned to his home in Mexico City from a South American trip, his wife Joan (Vollmer) was balancing a water tumbler on her head as her husband aimed. Burroughs missed and Vollmer, 27, died later that day from a bullet wound to the skull. The death was ruled a culpable homicide, after Mexican police investigated and Burroughs gave several contradictory versions of events. He initially claimed he accidentally shot Vollmer during a William Tell act, but changed his story, possibly after being coached by his Mexican attorney, Bernabé Jurado. The day after in court, Burroughs claimed he accidentally misfired the gun while trying to sell the weapon to an acquaintance.
Burroughs was held in custody on murder charges for two weeks before being released on bail after his brother arrived from St. Louis to dispense thousands of dollars in a variety of legal costs, which may have included bribes to Mexican jailors. Vollmer was buried in Mexico City and her two children were taken back to the United States. Her daughter Julie was raised by her father, Paul Adams, and his family; her son was raised by her in-laws. For a year, Burroughs reported every Monday morning to the jail in Mexico City while his prominent attorney worked to resolve the case. However, when Jurado fled the country after accidentally shooting and killing a trespasser on his property — a child of a government official — Burroughs re-entered the United States, where he was fortunate that Louisiana had not issued a warrant for his arrest on the previous narcotic charge. In absentia, Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter in Vollmer's death. He received a two year suspended sentence. In essence, the Mexican justice system effected a penalty of two weeks incarceration for Vollmer's death.
In the introduction to Queer, a novel written in 1953 but not published until 1985, Burroughs states, "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would have never become a writer but for Joan’s death ... [S]o the death of Joan brought me into contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I had no choice except to write my way out."
William Burroughs buys a parrot, 1963 (1:29)
Richard Dadd was born August 1, 1817 in Chatham, Kent, England. At age 13 the family moved to London, and in 1837, Dadd, age 20, was admitted to the Royal Academy of Art. Dadd showed talent at the Academy and gathered a number of painterly friends, known collectively as 'The Clique'. He won several awards while at the Academy, and began exhibiting his work during his first year. Overall, his style was not particularly remarkable, no more so than any other moderately gifted painter in Victorian England during the stylistic phase now referred to as "The Fairy School".
In June 1842, Dadd and his patron, Sir Thomas Phillips, left England to travel extensively in the Middle East and Europe. Things were going well until Dadd, in Egypt, encountered a group of old Arab men smoking a "hubbly-bubbly", an arabic style waterpipe. Dadd joined them, and according to his later claims, spent five continuous days and nights smoking. Though the men never spoke, Dadd became convinced that the sound of the bubbling pipe was actually a form of communication. By the fifth day, he had deciphered a message, which he claimed was from the Ancient Egyptian god Osiris.
Dadd left Phillips and returned to England, where his family had a physician specializing in mental illness examine him. The doctor found him to be "non compos mentis", legally not of sound mind. Unfortunately, instead of being institutionalized, Dadd convinced his father that all he needed was a rest, and together they travelled to a country village called Cobham, where Dadd claimed that he would "disburden his mind" to his father. It was on August 28th, 1843, at a chalk pit called Paddock Hole, a forested area just outside of Cobham, that his life changed forever. Rather than disburden his mind, Richard Dadd chose to brutally murder and dismember his father with a knife and a razor. (read more)
While traveling with friends and a relative named Will Stafford in 1917, the great blues and folk musician Leadbelly got into a fight in which Stafford was fatally shot. Though Leadbelly maintained his innocence, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years of hard labor on Shaw State Farm in Texas. Leadbelly served seven years of his 30-year sentence working on chain gangs. After a prison escape failed, he tried to drown himself in a lake but was apprehended. Back in prison, he used his musical talents to gain favor with the prison guards.
While Leadbelly was serving time at Shaw State Farm, his father died. Just before his death, Wes Ledbetter had tried to bribe prison officials into releasing Leadbelly. But in 1925, Leadbelly won a full pardon on his own. Oddly, the pardon came after the governor of Texas went on record as opposing pardons. The governor had visited the prison several times to hear Leadbelly sing, and Leadbelly later maintained that he won over the governor with his song "Please Pardon Me."
One night while performing a song titled "Mister Tom Hughes's Town," Leadbelly became involved in a brawl that left him with a horrendous scar on his neck and left the other man with permanent brain injuries. Other fights would follow, leading Leadbelly into further conflicts with the law. After a fight in which he claimed that six men tried to steal whiskey from his lunch pail, Leadbelly was convicted of assault with intent to commit murder.
In 1930, Leadbelly was sentenced to ten years at the Louisiana state prison in Angola. After the authorities discovered Leadbelly's prior conviction, he was disqualified from any chance at early release. n 1933, a Harvard-trained expert on American folk music, John Lomax, was making his way through Southern prisons and recording musicians when he stopped at Angola and heard Leadbelly sing. Lomax made some preliminary recordings of Leadbelly's songs. Although Leadbelly later maintained that he was pardoned because the Louisiana governor had been moved by his prison song, records indicate that he was released as a cost-saving measure.
Leadbelly 'Pick a Bale of Cotton' (2:40)
One of the greatest murder mysteries in the history of art appears to have been solved with new evidence that Caravaggio, the Italian artist, killed a rival in a botched attempt to castrate him. For almost 400 years historians have asserted that Caravaggio, who painted a number of Renaissance masterpieces, murdered Ranuccio Tomassoni in 1606 in a row over a tennis match.
A 2002 BBC documentary by Andrew Graham-Dixon, one of the world's leading art historians, disclosed that the killing followed a dispute between the two over Fillide Melandroni, a female prostitute, whose services both men sought. It used documents held in the Vatican and Rome State archives to show that Tomassoni, a pimp, died when Caravaggio attempted to cut off his testicles.
The disclosures also altered a widely held perception of Caravaggio as a homosexual because of the large number of nude males that he painted. This image was consolidated in the 1986 film Caravaggio, directed by Derek Jarman, in which the painter was projected as a brooding homosexual.
Mr Graham-Dixon said, however, that a report written by the barber surgeon who examined Tomassoni's dead body provided evidence that Caravaggio was, at least on one occasion, aggressively heterosexual. "Sure, he had an eye for male beauty, but he probably swung both ways," said Mr Graham-Dixon, who is also a columnist for The Sunday Telegraph Magazine.
The barber surgeon's report, made on the night that Tomassoni died, has also been re-examined by experts in the Italian art world. Monsignor Sandro Corradini, another historian who has combed the Vatican archives, said that the document showed that Tomassoni bled to death through the femoral artery in his groin, having been floored during the duel.
Mgr Corradini, who is author of a book about the artist, Evidence for a Trial, holds the post of Devil's Advocate in the Vatican, assisting the Pope on whether long-dead nominees for sainthood should be beatified. He believes that Caravaggio pinned Tomassoni to the ground with his sword and then made a bungled attempt to castrate him.
The Richardson family murders involved the murder of three members of the family in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. The bodies of Marc Richardson (age 42), his wife Debra (age 48), and their son Jacob (age 8) were found by a friend of Jacob on April 23, 2006 at 1 p.m. Absent from the home at the time of the discovery was Jasmine Richardson, the couple's 12 year old daughter. Jasmine was arrested the next day in the nearby community of Leader, Saskatchewan with her 23 year-old boyfriend Jeremy Allan Steinke, both charged with the three murders.
According to friends of Steinke, he told them he thought he was a 300-year-old werewolf. He allegedly told his friends that he liked the taste of blood, and wore a small vial of blood around his neck. He also had a user account at the VampireFreaks.com web site. Jasmine also had a page at the same site, leading to speculation they met there. However, later, an acquaintance of Steinke said the couple actually met at a punk rock show in early 2006.
The couple were also found to be communicating at Nexopia, a popular web site for young Canadians. Various messages they sent to each were available to the public, before the accounts were removed by Nexopia staff. Jasmine's user page (see: image), under the name "runawaydevil", included pictures of her in dark Goth make up, falsely said she was 15 and ended with the text "Welcome to my tragic end.".
While the goth lifestyle can involve trappings of the occult -- with followers preferring black clothes, white makeup, and underground music -- a founder of a popular goth website says the movement does not condone or inspire violence. "It's silly to assume that all we do is sit around in circles and talk about death and killing each other and stuff like that," said Steven Vardy, founder of Toronto-goth.com. "I mean, what do you talk about with your friends? It's the same thing."
After the murders, the local school in Medicine Hat pulled a children's book called Running from the curriculum. A concerned parent pointed out that the goth character might have been inappropriate material for the school at that time. One of the features of the book is having students take a black and white picture of themselves and to draw themselves in as a goth character. The school substituted the classic The Outsiders for the goth book.
'What is Goth?' (2:49)
A Polish pulp fiction writer was sentenced to 25 years in jail on September 5, 2007 for his role in a grisly case of abduction, torture and murder, a crime that he then used for the plot of a bestselling thriller. In a remarkable case that has gripped Poland for months, Krystian Bala, a writer of blood-curdling fiction, was found guilty of orchestrating the murder seven years ago of a Wroclaw businessman, Dariusz Janiszewski, in a crime of passion brought on by the suspicion that the victim was sleeping with his ex-wife.
The killing of Janiszewski was one of the most gruesome cases to come before a Polish court in years, with the "Murder, He Wrote" sub-plot unfolding in the district court in Wroclaw and keeping the country spellbound. Janiszewski, said to have been having an affair with Bala's ex-wife, was scooped out of the river Oder near Wroclaw in south-west Poland by fishermen in December 2000, four weeks after going missing. The police tests revealed that he was stripped almost naked and tortured. His wrists had been bound behind his back and tied to a noose around his neck before he was dumped in the river.
The police had little to go on. Within six months, Commissar Jacek Wroblewski, leading the investigation, dropped the case. It remained closed for five years despite the publication in 2003 of the potboiler Amok, by Bala, a gory tale about a bunch of bored sadists, with the narrator, Chris, recounting the murder of a young woman. The details of the murder matched those of Janiszewski almost exactly. Bala, who used the first name Chris on his frequent jaunts abroad, was arrested in 2005 after Commissar Wroblewski received a tip-off about the "perfect crime" and was advised to read the thriller.
But Bala was released after three days for insufficient evidence, despite the commissar's conviction that he had his villain. When further evidence came to light, Bala was re-arrested. The case against him, however, remained circumstantial. Police uncovered evidence that Bala had known the dead man, had telephoned him around the time of his disappearance and had then sold the dead man's mobile phone on the internet within days of the murder.
All along, Bala protested his innocence, insisting that he derived the details for the Amok thriller from media reports of the Janiszewski murder. The court heard expert and witness evidence that Bala was a control freak, eager to show off his intelligence, "pathologically jealous" and inclined to sadism. "He was pathologically jealous of his wife," said Judge Hojenska. "He could not allow his estranged wife to have ties with another man."