Be careful of your friends: the case of Abraham Shakespeare

I have been following with great interest the disappearance and probable murder of Abraham Shakespeare, who’s been missing since around April. He’s gotten more media attention than any missing black man that I know of. He was already somewhat famous before his disappearance because he won $31 million in the lottery back in 2006. At the time of his lottery win, he was completely broke — he claims the day he bought the tickets, he gave his last couple of bucks to a homeless man. He took a lump sum of $17 million rather than annual payments. After taxes, he was left with about $11 million. Then one of his coworkers sued him, claiming Shakespeare stole the winning ticket from him. Shakespeare won the suit without too much difficulty.

The guy had a troubled past. Quite a lot of criminal activity beginning when he was a juvenile, never graduated high school, either completely illiterate or very close to it. But he doesn’t seem like an altogether bad sort. Most of his criminal convictions were for non-violent offenses. He stole things. He sometimes failed to pay child support. He drove when he wasn’t supposed to. Of course he shouldn’t have done those things, but there are many offenses that are much worse, as I’ll get to later.

If I win a large sum of money in the lottery (which is highly unlikely, seeing as how I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life), I hope no one ever finds out about it, and I will immediately hire a financial adviser to make sure I don’t blow through all the money right away. I’m sure people would be swarming all over me asking for handouts, like ants over a picnic basket — starting with members of my own family. So it was with Shakespeare. He gave boatloads of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases, to relatives and friends and even people he barely knew. He doesn’t appear to have purchased much for himself — a house, a couple of cars, a Rolex (used), and some pretty expensive eyeglasses judging by the pictures.

According to the St. Petersburg Times: He gave his stepfather $1 million. He gave his three step- sisters $250,000 apiece. He paid off $185,000 of a mortgage for a friend, he paid off $60,000 of a mortgage for a man whose last name he didn’t know and he paid off $53,000 of a mortgage for a man “out of the neighborhood” who he’d “been knowing for a few years.” … He gave his brother’s son’s best friend $40,000. He gave his mother $12,000 and his sister $10,000. He wrote Wachovia cashier’s checks to friends. He paid for funerals. By the time of his disappearance, just two and a half years after his lottery win, most of the money was gone. I’ve been told that’s pretty typical of jackpot lottery winners.

Enter Dorice “DeeDee” Moore, who claims she befriended Shakespeare back in late 2008. She says she wanted to write a book about Shakespeare’s life and that’s how they got together. She says she became a financial adviser to him and, in that capacity, gave herself a million dollars of his money. One of the most informative articles is here. Moore claims Shakespeare wanted to walk out of his life to get rid of all the problems he’d acquired as a lottery winner, and she “helped” him by paying him $870,000 in cash for his assets — a lot less than what those assets were worth, incidentally. Pretty crappy financial adviser, if you ask me. It’s obvious he got taken advantage of. And what’s more, according to a press conference held by the police, there’s no evidence that she actually paid him any of the $870,000. (That video is worth watching, if only for the depth of the contempt the officer has for Moore. You can almost see it in the air around him.)

Moore has a criminal record herself, and it’s for something that, in my opinion, is far worse than anything Shakespeare got convicted of. Back in 2001, she owed more on her SUV than it was worth and decided to collect on its insurance. So she went to the cops and claimed she’d been carjacked and gang-raped. God only knows how many thousands of dollars in taxpayer money was wasted before Moore’s story fell apart. I think that to try to pull something like that off you have to be not just remarkably selfish, even psychopathic, but also remarkably immature and stupid.

Shakespeare apparently dropped out of sight last April, but he wasn’t reported missing until late in the year. Moore muddied the waters by trying to make it look like he was still around. She sent text messages pretending to be him, and paid someone five grand to give a birthday card to Shakespeare’s mother. The guy, whatever his problems, had no history of walking out of his life. None. As far as I can tell he’d never lived outside the state of Florida in his life — though I could be wrong about this.

And now Moore seems all confused that the police are suspecting her of foul play and says, with tears in her eyes, gulping down sobs, that she was just trying to help a friend out, no good deed goes unpunished, they searched her (that is, his) house, they searched her car, they humiliated her, she’s never going to help anyone ever again, waaaah. She says she’s offering $10,000 to anyone who can lead her to wherever Shakespeare is hiding at, because she wants him to come back and clean up the mess he left. The police are also offering a $10,000 reward to find him, dead or alive.

It seems to me that Shakespeare would have turned up by now if he was hiding out there. So it looks like he’s wanted for failure to pay child support — so what? He’s been arrested for that before, and for other things. He can handle being arrested again. If he knew everybody thought he was dead, if he knew his friend Dee Dee was in trouble over him being missing, I think he would come back if he could. And I think he hasn’t come back because he can’t. I think it’s pretty obvious that Shakespeare’s lying in a swamp somewhere. I can only hope that his killer or killers (and I bet there was more than one) will face justice and his body will turn up.

Illinois woman accused in 1988 Alaska murder

According to the Juneau Empire, a woman, Jane Reth, has been indicted for killing her husband, Scott M. Coville, in Alaska in 1988. An Illinois TV station says she now lives in that state. This case is of interest to me because Mr. Coville’s body has never been find — making him a candidate for placement on the Charley Project. The couple had only been married for a few months, according to yet another article. They married in late 1987; he was reported missing in April 1988.

If only I could find a picture. Maybe one will appear as the case progresses.

Free, to a good home

Yesterday morning, when my dad was taking the family’s two dogs for a walk, they were accosted by two puppies. He went around knocking on doors and found out the puppies had been wandering around town for days — evidently abandoned; no one would claim ownership. He’s a good soul, my dad, and he took them home, and judging from the fact that they ate half their weight in dog food, they must have been starving. I think it’s highly likely that, if he hadn’t found them, they wouldn’t have survived another night, cold as it was and hungry as they were. They are presently staying in my parents’ laundry room.

Mom and Dad took the puppies to the vet, who said they were both girls, healthy, and about nine months old. They are obviously sisters and both are black with white spots. A problem, however: the dogs are obviously at least half pit bull. Pit bulls, rightly or wrongly, have a bad reputation. These two are extremely friendly, however. I went over to see them today and they jumped on me and tried to lick my face off. (I think a dog’s capacity for forgiveness is something we humans ought to aspire to. These two were horribly mistreated by their previous owner, abandoned in the January cold and snow and left to starve/freeze to death. But they still love humans.)

Mom and Dad, having two dogs already, aren’t keen on keeping these two around forever. So they’re going to post ads and stuff. I thought I’d do my part: would any blog reader here, residing in northwest Ohio or northeast Indiana, be interested in taking one of these girls and giving her a forever family? Or does anyone know anyone who would?

And incidentally, I firmly believe there is a special place in hell reserved for people who abandon animals outside in the winter.