More Michael Snyder news

According to this article, the actor Christian Bale rented Michael Snyder’s former home for awhile in 2008. Of course he had no idea Snyder was buried there. This was while he was starring as John Connor in Terminator: Salvation.

In more important news, Snyder’s stepson will not be prosecuted for his role in covering up his stepfather’s death. This is due to the fact that the young man, Michael Sheffield, was only seventeen years old at the time and because he is cooperating with the investigation. The commenters on the article are hotly debating whether it was the right thing or not to let Sheffield off. I’m inclined to agree with the DA. If I were seventeen and woke up in the middle of the night to gunfire and discovered my mother had shot my stepfather to death, I think I’d be so scared I’d do whatever she told me to do. Besides, the statute of limitations on being an accessory to murder after the fact may have expired by now anyway.

Interview with Nicholas Francisco

Earlier I wrote about Nicholas Francisco, who walked out on his family in February 2008 and was missing for a year and a half. He was finally located in November 2009, alive and well and living in southern California. He left behind a pregnant, unemployed wife and two small children.

Well, a television station tracked down Nicholas in his new home and interviewed him about his decision to disappear. The interview shows he’s the selfish turd I thought he was. His wife (now divorced from him, of course) is stuck paying his student loans and had their home foreclosed on her. She’s living on $600 a month in public assistance, while Nicholas is still trying to avoid paying child support. Speaking of his children, including the one he’s never met, he says, “You know, it’s sad that I can’t be a part of that, but I don’t want to be around for the rest of that. There’s a whole (expletive) ecosystem around that I don’t even care for.”

And there’s more:

“What are you supposed to be to her [Nicholas’s daughter] now?”
“Disappeared. Gone off the face of this earth. Dead.”
“You don’t think it’s affected them?”
“I’m sure it’s affected them. People get affected by things every day.”
“Do you regret that at all?”
“There are lots of kids that don’t have dads.”

I’m a very non-violent person, but if I was face to face with Nicholas Francisco I think I would hit him.

One of my most tragic/horrifying cases

Back in Compton, California in 1977, a house with a woman and four children inside caught fire and burned to the ground in the middle of the night. When the flames were doused, firefighters found the body of Earlene Williams, 32, inside by the front door. A later autopsy would show she’d been strangled. The four children were missing and there was no trace of them in the ashes. They were Earlene’s three daughters, Ivy Matory, Violet Matory and Yolanda Williams, as well as Sir-Kristopher Marshall, a neighbor boy who was spending the night. Authorities later determined the fire was arson and had been set in the room where the children slept.

They didn’t have to think very hard to find a suspect: Earlene’s husband, James Williams. Twenty years older than his estranged wife, he was already facing serious charges. Back in 1976, James allegedly sexually assaulted his then eleven-year-old stepdaughter Ivy and was charged with child molestation and rape. Earlene, quite sensibly, separated from him when she found out. But that wasn’t enough to keep James from further victimizing her family.

When the police picked up James the day after the fire, he had a bad cut on his hand. Probably it was him that made the trail of blood that lead from the Williams/Matory house to a nearby alley. But he said he cut his hand trying to fix his car. He had been on his way to Bakersfield that night, he said, but his car broke down and he wound up sleeping in it. He knew nothing about the fire, Earlene’s death or the whereabouts of the four children. The cops had nothing they could pin on James, so they released him. He was promptly rearrested after Earlene’s autopsy results came back proving she was a homicide victim. A month later, he was facing five murder charges: Earlene, and each of the four children, one of them his own natural daughter.

This I found out through articles on Newslibrary today. The fire, the missing children and James’s arrest received pretty scant press coverage. There were articles in several local papers, but they were not very detailed and all were on the inside pages. An arson, murder, and four missing (and probably murdered) children apparently wasn’t good enough to make front-page news back in 1977, perhaps because the people involved were black and poor. I know that James was convicted of Earlene’s murder eventually and is now dead. I don’t know how the homicide prosecutions for the children turned out, though.

I do know that they remain missing to this day — over thirty years now.

NewspaperArchive orgy

I gave up my NewspaperArchive subscription over a year ago. I was poor (still am) and couldn’t stomach the idea of paying $17 a month for a database I didn’t use that often. I find Newslibrary more useful. Well, last night I found out they were doing a special offer and I could afford to purchase an annual subscription for just $71. I took it and have been going crazy putting old cases into their searches and seeing what it spits out.

So, yeah. Expect a lot of updates on ancient cases.

My parents are insane

I’m at my mom and dad’s house right now. I came over to take care of some things and will spend the night.

Feeling hungry for spaghetti, I found some noodles and then asked if they had any sauce. They told me where to find the sauce, in the garage (which is actually a storage area for anything BUT cars). I looked and found a jar of sauce at the indicated spot, but after examining it I put it down and went back inside.

“Do we have any other sauce?” I asked.

“No, what’s wrong with the sauce we gave you?”

“It expired in September 2005.”

“If it’s still sealed, use it anyway.”

“Four. And. One. Half. Years. Ago.”

“They only put that date on it because they have to put expiration dates on everything. They put expiration dates on bottled water, even.”

“This is not bottled water. This is spaghetti sauce. Probably with meat products in it. I’m going to have to go out and buy some more sauce.”

“Don’t do that. The roads are terrible. It’s not safe.”

“Safer than eating that spaghetti sauce, I think.”

So I endured blistering winds and snow-covered roads to journey 15 miles to the grocery store to buy some sauce that did not expire in 2005. On the way I called my friend Wendy the minister, who has known my family for like fifteen years, and she told me Mom once got sick from eating a Taco Bell taco she found buried at the bottom of her purse.

I rest my case.