From Dec. 7, 2000
GRAHAM TAKES ANOTHER SHOT
AT HAVING SENTENCE OVERTURNED
By Randy Turner
Patrick Dallas Graham has filed a lawsuit in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri seeking to have his
15-year sentence overturned.
In court documents filed in December, Graham says he had ineffective assistance from
his lawyer, Ross Rhoades of Neosho. This is the fourth time Graham has tried to have his sentence tossed out since he pleaded
guilty to three counts of stealing and securities fraud in September 1997 in Barton County Circuit Court. In the earlier court
decisions, the judges indicated there was no reason to throw his sentence out because he was the one who had entered the guilty
The reasons cited by Graham in his federal lawsuit are similar to the ones he used during his efforts in
state courts. He says that Rhoades should have attempted to suppress evidence uncovered by the Missouri Highway Patrol, the
Attorney General's office and the Secretary of State's office during a May 23, 1995, raid at the office of his business, Conquest
Labs, which was located in the spot on the Lamar square which is currently occupied by the Barton County Chamber of Commerce.
Graham says the search warrant was issued "without probable cause" and by a judge, Charles Curless, who was not
"neutral and detached." Graham notes that Curless had once served as his attorney.
At the time when he
signed the search warrant, Graham says in his petition, Curless was suing him to collect his legal fees "that were in
If Rhoades had not been ineffective, Graham said, and had informed him of Curless's "biased
and partial involvement," he might have elected to stand trial instead of entering a guilty plea.
The U. S.
District Court offers one more opportunity for Graham, a man who had been at the top of the world less than six years ago,
at a time when he had already spent millions of dollars and planned to make millions more, bilking investors, including singer
Pat Boone and a number of Branson high-rollers, by convincing them to invest in AIDS vaccine that did not exist. The AIDS
vaccine scheme was the latest in a lifetime of schemes for Graham.
Pat Graham was born June 18, 1941,
in Pleasanton, Iowa, the third of four sons born to Lawrence and Elizabeth Graham. He married Betty Woods July 3, 1959, in
Pleasanton. They had two daughters, Marcia Martinson, 40, and Michelle Hoyt, 33. Graham graduated 21st in a class of 66 students
at Leon High School, Leon, Iowa. His grades were average to superior, but he did receive a D in chemistry. He later attended
Iowa State University from September 1964 until he dropped out n June 1970 with 155 hours of college credit. He had a grade
point average of 1.79 (D+) on a scale of 4.0.
Robert Getty, chairman of the Department of Anatomy at
Iowa State, gave him a job working with a colony of beagles in 1964, researching the clogging of coronary arteries. After
Getty died, Graham left that job and worked for a time as a deputy sheriff.
Graham's difficulties with
investors go back two decades. He had problems in previous dealings involving a veterinary medicine company and a Christian
restaurant venture in Freeman, S. D., according to court records. His one foray into the restaurant business ended in bankruptcy
and caused eight lawsuits. On Oct. 26, 1977, Graham held a groundbreaking ceremony for The Cornerstone, a Christian-themed
restaurant in Freeman. Plans for the restaurant included several private dining rooms, a picturesque fountain and a stage
for live gospel music.
By the time the restaurant had its grand opening in September 1978, Graham had
skipped town and his workers had not been paid. Orville Waltner, an electrician, estimated Graham owed local tradesmen more
than $130,000, including $8,000 owed Waltner.
Lawsuits were filed in South Dakota and in Missouri accusing
Graham of stealing patents from Duane Pankratz, a Freeman veterinarian. When Graham moved from South Dakota to Missouri in
the late 1970s, documents filed in Barton County Circuit Court indicate, he and Pankratz entered into an agreement which would
allow Graham to sell Pankratz' products in Missouri. Graham did not pay Pankratz the money he owed him. The doctor sued him
and a U. S. District Court jury awarded Pankratz $25,000.
Graham managed to avoid the criminal side
of the judicial system until 1984, when he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in U. S. District Court. Charges were filed
against Graham after he offered to pay three southeast Kansas businessmen, August Rua, Francis Usher and Ken DeLange $250,000
"one half of my finder's fee from a gold sale in South Africa," according to a promissory note on file at the Barton
County recorder's office, in exchange for a loan of $25,000. Court records indicate Graham already owed the three businessmen
$575,000. He sent letters to the men telling them the money he owed them was being held by the Internal Revenue Service until
it completed an audit of his taxes. When the businessmen realized Graham had no intention of paying them the money he owed
them, they went to the FBI. A plea agreement was worked out in which Graham would serve no prison time in exchange for his
cooperation in other federal investigations.
Graham was placed on probation for five years. He was required
to repay the $25,000, but the $575,000 was lost forever.
The scheme that finally put Pat Graham in prison
began in the early 1990s when Graham started selling shares in Conquest Labs, Inc., a company he said had developed an AIDS
vaccine. According to court records, he sold more than $5.3 million worth of stock in the company. He convinced potential
investors with a deeply personal selling style, using his "Christian" background and oozing with sincerity. His
sales pitch is captured in a transcript of a sales meeting in Branson, which is one file in Barton County Circuit Court.
At that meeting, he told potential investors he had turned down attempts by Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Magic
Johnson and Arsenio Hall to buy shares in Conquest Labs. "We have turned down money from all sorts of people," Graham
said. Graham indicated he wanted only Christian people to invest in his company.
"My name is Graham,"
he said, introducing himself, "like the old brown crackers. I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you that everything
that I hope to have, I owe to the good Lord. Period. There's nothing else that I can add to that."
Graham talked about the history of Conquest Labs and said he had been teaching his grandchildren about the Bible, that the
Christian life was the most important thing of all. "If you don't feel like you're serving number one, you better. I
hope nobody noticed how polished my knees are. I've been on my knees a lot lately." He said his wife and his daughter
had both had cancer scares.
The AIDS vaccine was brought to him by a university professor in 1991, he
said. The professor, who was in his 80s, said he had come to Graham to ask him to take over the vaccine. "He said, 'Every
time I've gone with a big company to do something, I've been done wrong.' "
Graham said he agreed
to help the professor. "I don't want anybody to sit here and get the idea that Pat Graham is a genius or something like
that. I'm an old south Iowa cow milker."
The old south Iowa cow milker then told his Bible belt
audience how he had prayed about the product, since many of those who suffered from AIDS had lifestyles that were contrary
to what he believed in. "At one time in my life," he said, "I didn't love those people enough and I don't condone
one iota of anything they do, but I know God loves them and I know that He put me in charge of this product." An added
benefit of his vaccine, Graham said, is that it wouldn't work on a homosexual unless he changed his lifestyle. "It doesn't
matter if it's a horse or a human, if they are too far gone, you got to let them go. If they continued in their sinful ways,
it didn't work at all." Graham said the vaccine would only work on homosexuals if they quit being homosexual. "God
isn't going to let homosexuals continue their sinful lifestyle without punishment," he said. The spiel worked. Many of
the investors in Conquest Labs came from that meeting...which was held in a Branson church.
Labs came under the scrutiny of state officials, Graham had convinced more than 500 investors to put in a total of $5.3 million.
Graham told the investors he was not in it for the money...when he was drawing a salary of $120,000 a year under
his wife's name; his residence and those of his two daughters were bought with funds paid by Conquest investors, one of his
daughters and his sons-in-law were receiving handsome salaries, their vehicles were paid for by investor funds and other living
expenses were being covered by investments.
Tonya Ehrsam, a former Conquest employee, told state investigators
that while she worked there, between Sept. 21, 1993, and Oct. 27, 1994, the firm only had $250 in income, a rebate, other
than income received from investors.
The company's marketing plan indicated Conquest was also working
on vaccines for cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.
The beginning of the end for Pat Graham's biggest scam
came on Oct. 3, 1994, when Frederick Holloway, a securities investigator for the Missouri Secretary of State's office, received
a call from David Hoyt, Graham's son-in-law. Hoyt told Holloway much of the investors' money was being used by Graham for
himself and his family. "Mr. Hoyt stated that investor funds had been deposited in a number of banks under fictitious
names which were controlled by Mr. Graham." On May 23, 1995, the Missouri Highway Patrol, working with the secretary
of state's office and the attorney general's office, indicted Graham on 10 counts of securities fraud and 10 counts of stealing.
Graham finally agreed in 1997 to plead guilty to three counts of securities fraud and was sentenced to 15 years in
prison. He could have been placed on probation if he had been able to repay his investors. He was given 120 days to pay back
the money. The sentencing judge, David Darnold, had no doubt the investors would never see their money. "If someone wants
to step up here and pay the $5.5 million," Darnold said, "I would be delighted." Darnold and the lawyers representing
the Missouri attorney general's office were not amused by two ideas to raise the money that were brought up at the sentencing
hearing. One would have had Graham working for one of his former investors to market serums made out of elks' blood. The other
was a deal through which, Graham, an unpublished novelist ( a talent no one had known about up until that time) would sell
one of his books to a Hollywood producer, who was interested in making it into a movie.
like to not have to go to jail," Graham said. "I have a goal of paying back every one of my investors 100 percent.
I would like to be with my family, my grandchildren and my church family and not be gone."
elks' blood serums did not impress Judge Darnold, who was not impressed with Graham's scientic expertise, noting that Graham
had taken chemistry in college six times before getting a D grade. It was not all bad for Graham on the educational front,
the judge noted. "I see you had a B in volleyball," he said, adding, "This is not a scientist."
The investors did not receive a cent and Graham began making his motions, all of which have been rejected by Judge
Darnold and in the appellate system.
As Graham was sentenced by Judge Darnold, his youngest daughter
and his son-in-law watched intently. David Hoyt's phone call had begun the process that put his father-in-law behind bars
for 15 years. "I felt we had a responsibility to those investors," he said. "Those people were being cheated."
Graham's daughter, Michelle, agreed with her husband's action, though the pain in her face as her father was sentenced
was undeniable. "People think we took that money," she said, holding on to her husband's arm, "but we didn't
come out of this with a cent. I want people to know that."
ANNIVERSARY OF HER DEATH
By Randy Turner
words are simple ones, but to those who followed the ordeal the Cruzan family went through after a 1983 automobile accident
left Nancy in a persistent vegetative state, those two words have a significant meaning.
The words are etched
in her tombstone in a cemetery just outside of Carterville. They can be interpreted in more than one way. It could be a thank
you to the U. S. Supreme Court, which made it possible for Judge Charles Teel to render the Dec. 12, 1990, decision that ended
what remained of Nancy?ife. It could be a thank you for all the people who fought to make those decisions possible??ple like
Nancy?arents, Joe and Joyce Cruzan and her sister, Chris White, the nieces she loved, Angie and Miranda Yocum, or the attorney,
Bill Colby of Kansas City, who fought all the way to Washington, D. C. and back for Nancy?ight to die.
Dec. 26, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the end of a saga that began on a county road just outside of Carthage and ended
up gripping the nation.
Nancy Cruzan made the most of the quarter of a century that she "lived." She
was vivacious, outgoing, looking forward to every day. My encounters with her were brief and both came when we were teenagers.
When my baseball team played in Carterville, one of the highlights was the Cruzan sisters, whose laughter and joy of life
came across to everyone they met. I only met her a couple of times, but she made enough of an impression that I, like the
others who knew her, was shocked when she was robbed of her life at such an early age.
On Jan. 11, 1983, Nancy
had worked the late shift at Schreiber?heese Plant in Carthage. She was driving east on Elm Road and was only one mile from
her home when the accident occurred. There were no weather conditions that would have explained why she lost control of her
car. It ran off the left side of the road, hit some trees and a mailbox, then swerved back across the road and went off the
right side, going through a fence, overturning several times and coming to rest on its top. She may have fallen asleep, authorities
By the time CPR was administered to her, her brain had already been deprived of oxygen for about 14
minutes. About six minutes is all it takes to cause permanent brain damage. She was left in what doctors called a "persistent
vegetative state." The cerebral hemisphere of her brain, which controlled her thinking and her emotions no longer functioned.
All she had left were physical reflexes.
Nearly five years into that existence between life and death, Joe and
Joyce Cruzan asked Judge Teel if they could remove the feeding tube that was attached to their daughter?? only thing that
was keeping Nancy alive. Teel warned that someone could bring legal charges against them unless they petitioned to have it
done legally. The Cruzans filed the motion in Jasper County Circuit Court and that began the long legal battle. Testimony
at the circuit court level was provided by people who said that Nancy had indicated she would never want to be kept alive
by artificial means. She had worked for a time as the Stapleton Center in Joplin caring for a retarded three-year-old boy
who had to be forcefed. During a conversation with other workers at the center, Nancy indicated if she were in that situation,
she would want to have the plug pulled.
Teel granted permission to have the feeding tubes removed, but the decision
was appealed by the Missouri Attorney General?ffice, which had taken an interest in the case, and it was sent to the Missouri
Supreme Court, which overturned Teel?uling. The Cruzans and their attorney, Colby, took the case to the United States Supreme
Court. It was the first time the Supreme Court had ever considered a right-to-die case.
The Court ruled that a
person does have the right to die, but also indicated state courts should hear the evidence and determine if Nancy really
had indicated what she would want to happen.
That brought the case full circle and the eyes of the nation were
on Carthage, Mo., that day in October 1990. The courthouse square was filled with vans from all the Joplin and Springfield
stations, plus stations as far away as Kansas City and St. Louis.
Since the case was going to be heard by Judge
Teel once more and not by a jury, reporters filled the jury box so they could get a little closer to the judge, the attorneys
and the witnesses. The national media was present, including representatives of The New York Times, The Associated Press and
other metropolitan newspapers.
Three more witnesses were presented who testified that Nancy had indicated to them
she would never want to be kept alive through artificial means if she were left incapacitated in an accident. One of the witnesses
was a man whom she had worked for when she lived in Oklahoma City.
The Cruzan family listened attentively as the
man began his testimony, clearly answering the questions that were posed to him by Colby and by Carthage attorney Thad McCanse,
who had been appointed by the court to represent "Nancy?nterests."
Joe and Joyce Cruzan were seated
with Colby. In the row behind them was Nancy?lder sister, Christy White, and Christy?wo young daughters, Angie and Miranda
Yocum who at the time were students at Webb City High School. Nancy had loved those two girls more than she loved anyone else
in her life.
Miranda, a ninth grader and a budding artist, had brought along a sketchpad and was drawing a courtroom
scene that matched the efforts being put forth by the two professionals who were seated in the jury box. Her eye for detail
was evident as she sketched Colby perfectly, right down to his suspenders and caught all other aspects of the courtroom.
As the testimony continued, Nancy?ormer boss recollected the conversation he had with her, recalling that she had
said she wouldn?ant to live as a vegetable because "vegetables can?ug their nieces."
After hearing that,
Angie, the older niece, began to cry. Miranda?ace was also reddening as she put her arm around her sister?houlder and began
patting her on the back. When the testimony ended and the hearing concluded, Miranda took her sketch to William Colby and
presented it to him. Maybe the first time during the case, the attorney was able to smile. "That?eally good," he
said. "That?eally good."
Judge Teel took the testimony under consideration and on Dec. 12, 1990, he
ordered the feeding tubes to be removed. In a written statement, Joe Cruzan said, "I suspect hundreds of thousands of
people can rest free, knowing that when death beckons they can meet it face to face with dignity, free from the fear of unwanted
and useless medical treatment." Twelve days later, Nancy Cruzan, whose life ended on that county road nearly eight years
The end did not come peacefully for the Cruzan family as protesters gathered around the Southwest
Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon where Nancy had been a patient for several years. Even though many of the protesters
were calling him a murderer, Joe Cruzan still had sympathy for them. He knew they believed in what they were doing, just as
he did. On one particularly cold night, he took them hot coffee because, as he said, "No one should have to be cold."
Nancy Cruzan died 10 years ago, but her influence is still being felt.
For a time, her sister, Christy
ran the Nancy Cruzan Foundation, helping people who faced similar situations. "I think we?come a long way," she
told the Associated Press in 1996. "There are a lot of caring medical professionals ready to listen to what patients
want. I truly believe??ause of Nan?ase??re are a lot of families that won?ave to go to court now."
went from being behind other states in providing patients the right to control their own destinies to establishing a living
will law that makes sure that what the patient wants is taken into consideration. The public awareness created by the Nancy
Cruzan case made it easier for people to put into writing what they would want to have done for them medically if they should
ever be incapacitated.
Missouri also now has a durable power-of-attorney law, put into effect shortly after Nancy?eath,
that allows a person to name another person who will make the life-and-death decision if it needs to be made. The Cruzan case
also made a difference on the federal level. The Federal Patient Self-Determination Act, primarily sponsored by former U.
S. Senator John Danforth of Missouri, requires hospital officials to tell patients about their right to determine in advance
what should be done and then requires the hospitals to honor those wishes.
Joe Cruzan committed suicide in 1995.
His life had never been the same since Nancy?ccident. An intensely private person, he suddenly against his will became a celebrity
with many sworn enemies who felt he had no right to make a life-and-death decision for his daughter.
died in 1998. The Christmas holidays will always bring bittersweet memories for the remaining members of the family. But they
do know that their sister?ife?? her death??de a difference.
Their attorney, Bill Colby, was also greatly affected
by the case. He took a leave of absence from his law firm to write a book on the Cruzan case. Earlier, on the fifth anniversary
of Nancy?eath, he wrote an op-ed article for The Kansas City Star, in which he said what he hoped would be the lasting impact
of Nancy Cruzan and the court battle that earned her the right to die.
"The more information we provide while
healthy, the more each of us communicates with our loved ones, the greater the chance that we will empower those loved ones
to ask the right questions and make the decisions we would choose at the end of life."
In that article, Colby
described the call he received from Joe Cruzan the night that Nancy died. "When Joe saw that Nancy was no longer breathing,
he reached up and gently closed her eyelids. As we wound up (our) conversation early that morning, I asked Joe, 'What are
you going to do now?' He replied, 'Well, I guess we are going to go home.' "
BRUMLEY HEIRS SUE
DIXIE CHICKS SONG
By Randy Turner
The heirs of songwriter Albert Brumley, a southwest Missouri
native, are suing Sony Music Corporation over what they claim is an unauthorized use of Brumley's gospel classic, "I'll
Fly Away" in a recently released song by The Dixie Chicks.
In the lawsuit, filed last week in U. S. District
Court for the Western District of Missouri, Albert E. Brumley and Sons, Inc. alleges that the Dixie Chicks song "Sin
Wagon" on their 1999 album "Fly" contains "words and music which are identical to and are copied from
the words and music of (I'll Fly Away)."
The Brumley Corporation is seeking a half million dollars for the
alleged copyright infringement. The "Fly" album has sold more than seven million copies, according to the lawsuit
and reached number one on the Billboard charts.
Corporation officials are asking for a jury trial.
Mr. Brumley, who died in 1977, composed more than 800 gospel songs and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and
the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame. "I'll Fly Away" was written in 1932, according to the lawsuit. It has been
recorded by a wide variety of artists, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Ray Stevens, The Boston Pops, Bill
Monroe and the Chuck Wagon Gang. The song received an SESAC Hall of Fame Award in 1976 in recognition of being performed publicly
more than a million times.
Mr. Brumley renewed his copyright to the song in 1960, according to the court documents.
He died in 1977.
NEOSHO SCHOOL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
SEEK EIGHT YEARS OF INFORMATION
ON CAMMY BROWN'S
By Randy Turner
Attorneys for a Neosho R-5 schoolteacher who sent nude
e-mails of herself to someone she met on the Internet, have asked Ms. Brown to provide them with eight years worth of telephone
records plus numerous records of her e-mail messages and chatroom conversations.
According to documents filed
this week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, on Dec. 18 and 19, Ms. Brown received copies of seven
subpoenas which had been served on people who are not parties to the lawsuit filed by Ms. Brown in an effort to regain her
teaching job at a Neosho elementary school. The R-5 Board of Education fired Ms. Brown, citing moral reasons, but a judge
stayed that firing and she remains suspended with pay. The district has also made efforts to have Ms. Brown's teaching license
The first subpoena mentioned in the most recent court filing went to Leah Brecunier of Critical Path,
Inc., a California firm. The R-5 District's attorneys said they wanted "any and all documents" related to Ms. Brown's
e-mail address or the e-mail address of Steve Hobbert, the man to whom she allegedly sent the nude photos.
second subpoena was to AOL Custodian of Records asking for all e-mail communications made by Ms. Brown.
wide-reaching subpoena was directed to Southwestern Bell. The R-5 District asked for all of Ms. Brown's long distance records
back to 1992. "Despite (Ms. Brown's) request, defendants refused to narrow the scope of these subpoenas to cover information
relevant to this lawsuit," Ms. Brown's attorney said in the court document. The attorney asked the judge to limit the
discovery. The lawyer also offered another alternative, saying that if the judge decided not to limit the scope of inquiry,
that the documents should be delivered to the judge to be examined first.
Ms. Brown's attorney noted that nothing
related to the lawsuit happened in 1992, but when the lawyer contacted attorneys for the R-5 School District, they refused
to limit their subpoenas.
The filings were the first in the case since Ms. Brown indicated she intended to seek
punitive damages against former Superintendent Ron Barton.
In documents filed Nov. 17 in U. S. District Court,
Western District of Missouri, Ms. Brown indicated that Barton was responsible for making information about the nude pictures
public during an interview with a Joplin Globe reporter.
During that interview, Barton said, "She might be able
to get by with this in Chicago, but she can't get away with it in Neosho." Ms. Brown is also suing current R-5 Superintendent
Mark Mitchell and the members of the R-5 Board of Education. Mitchell was added in the amended complaint. He took over for
Barton on July 1.
The amended complaint also says that a letter written by Barton to the State Board of Education
in an effort to have Ms. Brown's teaching certificate revoked contained allegations with which she was never confronted, and
that "some of the allegations were not true." Ms. Brown also charges Barton with having an "evil motive"
in taking the actions which he took against her.
The details of the events that brought about Ms. Brown's suspension
are spelled out in the court documents.
"In the fall and early winter of 1999, (Ms. Brown) e-mailed private,
revealing pictures of herself from her home computer to a person she had developed a relationship with over the Internet and
through telephone conversations.
"(She) later learned that the person she was conversing with on the Internet
was acting in cooperation with her estranged husband, Richard Brown, from whom she had been separated since August 1999."
After that, the petition says, Brown threatened to show the photos to school officials "if she did not take him back."
In August and December, Brown entered Ms. Brown's home and took computer discs containing the revealing photos, the petition
On Jan. 9, Ms. Brown received a phone call and e-mail from a person claiming to be Renee Cooper telling her
she had until midnight to take her husband back "or she was going to e-mail (Ms. Brown's) private pictures to the principal
and Barton, the petition said.
The next day, Ms. Brown told her principal and Barton about the threat and that she
had e-mailed the pictures to someone she met on the Internet. "Prior to January 10, 2000," the petition said, "the
principal and Superintendent Barton were aware that (Ms. Brown's) husband had wrongfully taken private, revealing pictures
from her home and had threatened to blackmail her with them, and that he was and had been mentally and physically abusive
At the close of the meeting, the petition said, Barton told Ms. Brown it was "a personal matter"
and "she should not worry about the situation." On the same day, the principal and Barton received an e-mail with
the photographs attached. Ms. Brown's husband, using the Webb City Police Department's fax machine (he worked there) sent
a fax saying that Renee Cooper and others wanted to set up a meeting with the R-5 Board of Education to discuss the photos.
Barton denied the request.
"Shortly thereafter," the petition said, "Barton informed the Board of Education
of the situation and informed them that he did not intend to take any action against Ms. Brown's employment because it involved
a personal matter."
That was the way the situation stayed until March, according to the petition. Early that
month, Renee Cooper set up a meeting with Barton and brought him additional pictures of Ms. Brown along with a number of "Internet
exchanges between Ms. Brown and a person referring to himself as 'Steve.' "
On March 10, Ms. Brown's principal
called her into the office and told her it would be "in her best interest to resign." Ms. Brown met with Barton,
who told her "he was concerned that the matter would become public because Renee Cooper threatened that she would make
the information public," the petition said.
Ms. Brown's divorce attorney attended the meeting and told Barton
she was in the process of getting a protective order to prevent Brown and his friends from distributing the photos. Barton
said that would help the situation. At that meeting, according to the petition, Ms. Brown asked Barton if she could see the
photos. Barton said she cold not see them because he had given them to the district's attorney.
Barton never told
her about ICQ logs containing Internet exchanges with Steve at that time, the petition said. On March 15, Missouri NEA representative
Lori Cox met with Barton about the situation. Barton said he was concerned with the information becoming public and told her
he had already spoken to a Joplin Globe reporter about it.
On that same day, Barton placed Ms. Brown on a leave of
absence with pay. The Joplin Globe article was published the next day and everyone knew about Ms. Brown's nude photos. The
headline of the article, a copy of which is included in the court file, read, "Teacher Refuses to Resign; Nude Photographs
"We wanted her to resign," Barton told Globe reporter Jeff Lehr. "We thought that would
be the best thing. But I don't want to violate her civil rights." According to the article, Barton said a perceived likelihood
that the existence of the photos would become public knowledge compromised Ms. Brown's credibility as a teacher in the Neosho
Barton told The Globe that what a teacher does in the privacy of her home is not normally a concern. "But
if it becomes public knowledge that she's doing that sort of thing, we have a problem."
The only reason it became
public knowledge was because of Barton, Ms. Brown's petition indicated. "(He) was responsible for making Ms. Brown's
personal affairs public on March 16, 2000, through the information he provided to The Joplin Globe and other media."
The petition noted that Ms. Brown had "made every reasonable effort to avoid the disclosure of her private affairs
to the public and declined various reporters' requests for interviews."
On March 16, she obtained a temporary
restraining order against Brown and Ms. Cooper, preventing them from distributing the photos. A permanent injunction, a copy
of which was included in the court filed, was issued April 21 in Newton County Circuit Court.
The Board announced
on April 28 that it would seek to have the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education revoke Ms. Brown's teaching
license. A resolution was approved by the board at its May 11 meeting and papers were filed with the state on the following
The board leveled two major charges at Ms. Brown. The first was "Immorality in that Ms. Brown distributed
obscene pictures of herself through an Internet chatroom and agreed to engage in sexual conduct with an unknown person on
or about Sept. 11, 1999 to wit:
-"Ms. Brown engaged in a conversation with a person whom she did not know and
whom she believed to be male.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown discussed sexual activities that she enjoyed.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown agreed to meet this unknown person in a motel room that evening and to engage
in sexual activity.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown sent photographs of herself to this unknown person.
These pictures included photographs of: 1. her bare breasts, 2. her genitalia, 3. her manual manipulation of her genitalia.
-"Ms. Brown's interactions with this unknown person on or about Sept. 8, 1999, became known in the Neosho community.
-"Ms. Brown's conduct violated the conditions of the IRCQ the net server, which specifically prohibits transmission
of obscene and objectionable material."
The second charge was "Immorality in that Ms. Brown distributed
obscene pictures of herself through an internet chatroom on or around December 1999 to wit:
-"Ms. Brown engaged
in a conversation with a person whom she did not know and whom she believed to be male.
-"During that conversation,
Ms. Brown discussed sexual activities that she enjoyed.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown sent photographs
of herself to this unknown person." The photographs contained the same information as given on the first charge. The
charges were signed by Barton and the resolution was approved by the R-5 Board of Education by a 6-0 vote.
initially filed her lawsuit May 15 and obtained an injunction keeping the R-5 School District from firing her. In her petition,
she said she has "suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress,
pain and suffering, harm to her reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, lost earning potential and lost job opportunies during
the summer semester."
She claims the actions taken by Barton and the board violate her right to freely associate
and right to privacy as guaranteed by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th amendments and that she was deprived of due process.
She is asking that the court permanently prevent the board from seeking to revoke her license, let her keep her job and that
she be awarded damages and costs against all defendants and punitive damages against Barton.
An Oct. 9, 2001, 9 a.m.
trial date has been set. According to U. S. District Court documents, discovery in the case is due by March 14, 2001. A pre-trial
conference is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2001, followed by the trial, which will be held in Kansas City
SUPREME COURT DECISION
ON REGIONAL JAIL EXPECTED
By Randy Turner
from an ad hoc committee on whether to build a regional jail to serve Barton, Dade, Vernon and Cedar counties are being reviewed
by the Missouri Supreme Court and a decision is expected soon.
The court appointed the committee to study the
feasibility of such a jail, the idea being that one regional jail would cut down on the costs of having four counties each
providing a jail. A study was conducted by ASAI Architecture, which submitted its findings to the committee.
Supreme Court is also studying a similar concept for the 24th District. Though there is no doubt that the regional jail would
eliminate some costs, the proposal comes after considerable money has been spent in recent years updating the Barton County
RAPIST TO REMAIN IN PRISON
By Randy Turner
A Jasper County man's attempt
to have his eight-year prison sentence for rape overturned were rejected by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals
Ricky L. Henderson was found guilty of statutory rape in connection with an incident involving a 13-year-old
relative. Henderson asked for a new trial claiming his lawyer was ineffective and because Henderson says no oe told him the
victim had denied being raped.
Henderson says that despite this, his lawyer pressured him to plead guilty. The
'newly discovered evidence" Henderson said existed, consisted of an undated affidavit of a man named John William Cain
"claiming that the victim had recanted her statement to him in December of 1998 and that he was not "put on the
stand and able to testify to (Henderson's) good moral character.' "
In their ruling, the Southern District
panel said it was not legally able to weigh questions of new evidence. Henderson also said his lawyer had a conflict of interest
because he had represented Henderson's ex-wife in other cases.
The judges said Henderson had to prove that, except
for his lawyer's errors, he would have pleaded not guilty and would have insisted on going to trial. Going through case documents,
the appellate panel said it appeared that the lawyer had told Henderson of the recanted testimony and that he had not concealed
his previous dealings with Henderson's ex-wife.
The trial court judge indicated he did not accept Henderson's
version of the way things went down during Henderson's initial attempt to have his sentence tossed out.
RAPIST'S CONVICTION IS UPHELD
By Randy Turner
The statutory rape conviction of a Jasper County
man was upheld in a decision issued Nov. 29 by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals.
Robert E. Crawford,
51, was trying to get out of a four-year sentence for having sex with a 15-year-old neighbor. According to court documents,
in February 1999, the teenager visited Crawford's house, where he asked her to come into his bedroom and take her clothes
off. She did and they engaged in a number of sexual acts.
This also happened a second time, according to court
documents. On May 24, 1999, the girl contacted the Division of Family Services to report the incidents. Crawford admitted
during a videotaped interview that he had sexual relations with the girl. The videotape was shown during his trial.
In his appeal, Crawford said the decision should be thrown out because the prosecution had never submitted testimony about
how old he was. Other minor reasons cited to overturn the verdict were also rejected by the court.
AGAINST LEGGETT & PLATT
By Randy Turner
A former Leggett & Platt
employee filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit Nov. 9 in United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Jeffrey A. Buchanan, Webb City, claims that the discrimination led the company to fire him in February. According
to the lawsuit, Buchanan was hired by Leggett as a truck driver in January 1998. He suffered a groin injury that year which
he said "substantially limits one or more of life's major activities." He said Leggett officials were aware of his
disability since he used short-term disability benefits and had requested "reasonable accommodations."
Another defendant in the lawsuit, a Leggett worker named Scott Daniels, according to the petition, "intentionally and
repeatedly, in 1998, 1999 and 2000 struck (Buchanan) in the genitals and/or caused contact with the plaintiff which was offensive
to the plaintiff."
Buchanan claims that he and Daniels' supervisor, Curtis Helmes, was aware of what Buchanan
terms as Daniels' assaults. Buchanan said he has suffered damages including "emotional distress, pain and suffering,
lost wages and benefits, a detrimental job record, career damage and diminished career potential, mental distress in the form
of embarrassment, degradation, humiliation, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of sleep and other non-pecuniary losses."
Buchanan is suing Leggett and Daniels for damages and punitive damages. He is asking for a jury trial.
officials, in a response filed with the court Nov. 30, denied Buchanan's allegations and said he was fired after he failed
a drug test, which indicated amphetamines and methamphetamine were in his system.
STAGE STORES, FORMER CEO
NEAR SETTLEMENT OF SUITS
By Randy Turner
The legal battle
between Stage Stores, Inc., and its former chief executive officer Carl Tooker may be nearing an end.
to a filing this week with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the two sides have reached an agreement to
their problems. It is merely awaiting the approval of the court.
Tooker was sued by Stage Stores after an investigation
conducted by a special committee consisting of all the non-management members of the Stage board of directors determined that
-Arranged for the sale of his residence to the company in 1997, set the price for it and had it assume
all liability for the property, including upkeep and existing debt payments until it was sold in 1999. SEC documents indicate
Stage lost $806,556 on the deal. The sale was not reported to the SEC or to the board of directors.
-Set up almost
literally a sweetheart severance agreement and a separate consulting deal with a woman who soon became Mrs. Tooker. SEC documents
indicate Stage Stores made payments totaling $608,317.48 to Mrs. Tooker between May 1997 and August 1998. The board of directors
knew nothing about the arrangement.
Mrs. Tooker, while employed by Stage in 1996 and 1997, had entered into transactions
"with a company with whom were sister was believed to be affiliated," according to SEC documents, "in which
the company paid a total of $313,260 for purchases of clothing inventory." That arrangement, though it had a bad appearance,
did not result in any overcharges, the committee determined.
Tooker had been asked to repay an additional $1.1
million in loans.
Tooker's wife and sister-in-law were not the only members of his family to benefit from his
generosity at the company's expense, SEC documents indicate. The committee determined that Stage had a contractual relationship
with a company named Stage Planning and Design, Inc., to manage the construction of store openings and remodelings. Under
the agreement, Stage Stores, Inc., paid all of that company's costs, including all payroll expenses. In 1997, that amounted
to more than $2.4 million. That went up to $9.9 million in 1998. Tooker's son-in-law was an officer and was project manager
for the company and Stage Stores, Inc., paid his salary.
Tooker filed an answer and counterclaim against Stage
Stores, seeking approximately $3.9 million in damages, plus attorneys' fees for breach of his employment contract, and nearly
the same amount for alleged interference with his employment contract, according to SEC records. He also sought nearly $18
millon in damages against the company and against third-party defendants, SEC records indicated, claiming there was a conspiracy
against him and a breach of good faith in the company's dealings with him.
Though company officials indicated
Tooker's questionable transactions cost it millions of dollars, they said they were not responsible for the company's decision
to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and close 120 stores earlier this year. The closings did not affect the stores in Carthage,
Neosho or Pittsburg, Kan.
The company closed stores in Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and four in Missouri.
The company is trying to rebuild by concentrating on its stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.
According to SEC documents, Stage Stores' sales decreased 18.1 percent during the quarter ending Oct. 28, compared to that
same quarter during the previous year, from $264.3 million to $216.6 million. That is largely due to the closing of 185 stores.
ALIS BEN JOHNS CONVICTION UPHELD
By RANDY TURNER
The murder conviction of Alis Ben Johns was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court in a 5-2 vote issued today (Dec.
Johns, who pleaded guilty in Newton County Circuit Court last month to the 1997 murder of Wilma Bragg of
Stark City, had been trying to win a new trial in his capital murder conviction for an October 1, 1996, slaying of a former
friend., Thomas Stewart.
In the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice William Ray Price, held that Johns
was competent to stand trial. "At a pretrial comptency hearing, the court found the state's experts more credible and
persuasive than the defense experts. Johns' low IQ scores did not render him incompentent. Evidence suggests that Johns could
consult with his lawyer and understand the proceedings."
The court also rejected Johns' claim that a second
change of venue should have been granted in the case. "Jury selection took place hundreds of miles from the trial almost
two years after Johns' capture," the opinion said. "Although about 80 percent of the potential jurors were exposed
to publicity, all who had fixed opinions were stricken and all Johns' jurors testified that they would be fair and impartial."
The court also disagreed with the major contention made by Johns' attorney during oral arguments...that he should
have been allowed to introduce evidence of his victim's known penchant for violence, saying it was "properly excluded
because Johns did not show he knew (of it)."
The decision by the initial trial judge to permit evidence
of the six-month manhunt he led state authorities to be introduced was also backed by the Supreme Court. "Johns' attempt
to flee shows his consciousness of guilt and the methodology of his flight, such as taking a hostage to evade capture, makes
this evidence admissible," the opinion said.
The court also disagreed with Johns' lawyer on numerous other
-It was permissible to introduce Johns' previous conviction for second degree assault.
-The state's closing penalty phase arguments, stating a strong opinion that Johns should die, were permissible.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice J. Wolff said he felt Johns should be granted a new trial because he was not allowed to
present a self-defense theory, which would have relied on Stewart's tendency toward becoming violent when he had been drinking.
Wolff also said Johns' lawyers should have been able to present evidence that Stewart chased Johns before Johns killed him.
According to the opinion, Johns began spending time with Stewart in the spring of 1996. They spent a considerable
amount of time drinking together. On the night of Oct. 1, 1996, Johns accepted a ride from Stewart's girlfriend, Deborah Tedder.
Stewart, who had been fighting with Ms. Tedder earlier in the day, followed in his truck and eventually confronted the two
on rural Highway KK in Pulaski County. All three were drunk, according to the opinion.
The confrontation became
violent and two of Ms. Tedder's car windows were shattered. Johns got out of the car, wielding a .22 caliber pistol. He shot
Stewart seven times, killing him.
At 10 p.m., Robert and Christina Deardeuff passed by while returning home from
a family gathering. They saw Stewart's gray Chevrolet truck stopped in the northbound lane with a small white car near it.
Deardeuff saw Stewart lying face down between the two vehicles. As they approached the second vehicle, Deardeuff slowed down
and offered help. Johns said several times, according to the opinion, "Everything's all right. Just go on." After
the Deardeuffs left, Johns and Ms. Tedder took off.
About an hour later, Kristine Brockes came upon Stewart's
truck while heading home from her job at Fort Leonard Wood. She found Stewart's body lying face down and called the police.
Police were unable to find the murder weapon, but did find seven .22 caliber shell casings, a pile of glass and two spots
of blood where Ms. Tedder's car had been parked.
Ms. Tedder was located the next morning, according to the opinion.
While she was being questioned, officers noticed the shattered windows on her car, blood on the fender and a bullet hole in
the left rear quarter of the vehicle. Ms. Tedder told them that Johns might have been involved in Stewart's death.
According to the opinion, Johns had been living on a small farm that was owned by Pearl Rose. When police arrived at the farm,
they were too late. Johns was already on the run.
Johns remained on the run for the next six months. During this
time, he was implicated in two other murders. On Feb. 7, 1997, Ron Wilson returned to his home to find Johns standing on the
front porch with a shotgun that he had just stolen from inside, according to the opinion. After firing once into the ceiling
and once at Wilson, Johns fled with Wilson's car, two guns, a hunting knife and a watch. On Feb. 26, 1997, he forcibly entered
the home of Bud and Melinda Veverka and held the couple at gunpoint while he warmed himself by the stove. This robbery proved
largely unsuccessful, the opinion said, as Johns was only able to steal two dollars, a wallet and some juice. Though no one
was injured in the two robberies, "Johns' next victims were less fortunate."
On Feb. 28, 1997, police
found Leonard Voyles lying dead in his Camden County home. He died from a single .22 caliber gunshot wound to the head. An
inventory of his home revealed that Voyles' Ford Ranger truck and his .22 caliber rifle were missing. A shoe print was found
that matched Johns' right boot. "In addition," the opinion said, "law enforcement officers recovered Johns'
fingerprints from Voyles' stolen truck, which was found on March 8, 1997. Three miles away, police found the dead body of
Wilma Bragg, 57, Stark City on March 9, 1997. The investigation revealed that Mrs. Bragg's assailant shot her two times in
the back of the head while she lay face down on her bed with her hands tied behind her back. DNA testing of a cigarette butt
implicated Johns in the murder and impression analysis confirmed that the rifle stolen from Voyles' home was used to kill
Bragg. Johns left with Mrs. Bragg's 1991 Toyota, which was later recovered with the rifle still inside.
the following weeks, Johns and his girlfriend, Beverly Guehrer, burglarized four additional homes. At each home, Johns left
fingerprints or took property that was later found in his posseession. On April 7, 1997, the crime spree came to an end when
officers of the Missouri Water Patrol encountered Johns in a cabin while searching Cole Camp Creek in Benton County. As the
officers approached the cabin, Johns threw open the door and emerged with Ms. Guehrer held in front of him as a human shield.
With one arm around Ms. Guehrer's neck and the other aiming a rifle at her head, Johns said, 'I've got a hostage, I'll shoot
her.' As Johns made a sudden movement to escape, Officer Eric Gottman shot him in the abdomen and placed him under arrest.
"Johns was taken to Bothwell Hospital in Sedalia," the opinion said. "On April 9, 1997, Deputy Robin
Peppinger of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department received permission from the medical staff to conduct an interview. Deputy
Peppinger informed Johns of his Miranda rights and Johns confessed that on Oct. 1, 1996, he was with Tedder when a vehicular
chase and confrontation occurred on Highway KK. He claimed that Stewart smashed the glass out of Ms. Tedder's car and assaulted
her. Johns also claimed that he tried to intervene, but Stewart knocked him to the ground. Johns alleged that Stewart reached
into his pocket, which prompted Johns to shoot him once in self-defense. Deputy Peppinger made an audiotape of the interview.'
"The State charged Johns with murder in the first degree and armed criminal action on May 22, 1997. In July,
Johns informed Deputy John Ward of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department that he wished to speak to him. Ward again informed
Johns of his Miranda rights and asked whether Johns would like his attorneys present. Johns declined. In this interview, Johns
claimed that he wanted to 'get it over with." He mused that the state penitentiary would be less restrictive than his
current incarceration. Johns again confessed to the killing of Stewart, but he also claimed that Stewart had threatened to
kill him.He gave police the location of the pistol used in the killing, though the weapon was never recovered due to an overgrowth
of the grass in the area. Johns also confessed to the murder of Leonard Voyles and Wilma Bragg. He described in detail how
he shot his victims in the head with a .22 caliber rifle that he had taken from the Voyles home. Finally, he described the
location of the two vehicles that he had stolen from the victims."
The opinion continued, "As the date
of the trial approached, the trial court heard evidence regarding Johns' mental competency. Johns presented the testimony
of Dr. Robert A. Briggs, a neuropsychologist in private practice; Dr. Phillip J. Murphy, a clinical psychologist in private
practice and Dr. Dorothy O. Lewis, a professor of psychology at New York University School of Medicine. The State offered
the testimony of Dr. John Zimmerscheid, a staff psychiatrist at Fulton State Hospital. All of the expert witnesses agreed
that Johns grew up in a troubled home. Johns' father was an alcoholic who had twice been institutionalized at Fulton State
Hospital. He subjected the family to persistent abuse, and his wife eventually , shot him in self-defense. Johns' mother was
also troubled, suffering from chronic depression and anxiety. As a child, Johns endured multiple head injuries and debilitation
seizures. His I. Q. was below average and at times fell into the 'mentally retarded' classification. He never learned to read
or write and began abusing alcohol at the age of 15," the opinion said.
"Johns continued to show memory
lapses as an adult. He could not relate the date, his present location, his birth date, his age, or the current president
of the United States. Johns also asserted that an Indian spirit helped him evade capture for six months by causing him to
become invisible. Though the State's expert, Dr. Zimmerscheid, noted Johns' troubled history and sub-average intellect, he
stated that Johns retained the basic reasoning and communication ability to understand the charges levied against him and
to aid his attorneys in the preparation of his defense. In his interview with Dr. Zimmerscheid, Johns knew the meaning of
the terms 'guilty' and 'not guilty'. He understood the roles of the prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury. During the
interview, Johns indicated that he committed the crime and wanted to take responsibility for it. Dr. Zimmerscheid found no
indications of depression, psychosis or hallucinations. He specifically noted that Johns was able to communicate appropriately
and effectively. Though Johns showed only a 'borderline' intellect, Dr Zimmerscheid concluded that Johns was competent to
"The defense experts disagreed," the opinion continued. "They concluded that
Johns' history, combined with several neurological tests indicated that Johns was episodically psychotic, delusional and brain
damaged. They reasoned that his learning deficiencies combined with his memory problems and delusions rendered him unable
to appreciate the charges or reasonably aid his attorneys. After hearing the testimony, the trial court was persuaded by the
opinion of the State's witness. The court found Johns competent to stand trial.
"To ensure a fair trial,"
the opinion continued, "the trial court determined that the jury should be summoned from outside of Pulaski County. Consequently,
jury selection commenced on Jan. 11, 1999, in Adair County."
The trial began on Jan. 16, 1999, "Johns
appeared in orange pants and leg braces, which were placed on the outside of the pants at Johns' request." Evidence about
Stewart's murder, the other two murders and the numerous robberies and burglaries was presented. The defense presented evidence
of Johns' limited mental capacity. The jury deliberated for six hours and found Johns guilty on both counts. It deliberated
for three hours and twenty minutes before sentencing him to death during the penalty phase of the trial.
CONVICTED KILLER TO REMAIN IN PRISON
By Randy Turner
The Missouri Supreme Court announced Tuesday it
will not hear the case of a Joplin man convicted of killing his girlfriend in 1996.
Don Kluck had already been rejected
by the Southern District Court of Appeals in his effort to have his second degree murder sentence set aside. Kluck was convicted
of killing his girlfriend, Kelly Drury on Jan. 20, 1996. He was living with Ms. Drury and her children, Tiffany and Justin.
That night, Ms. Drury was visiting with some friends in the kitchen of her home when she decided to go to the grocery store
to buy some liquor, according to the court decision.
She went into the bedroom, where Kluck was sleeping, and took
some money from his coat. Ms. Drury, her friends and Tiffany went to the grocery store. "(Kluck) woke up and came into
the living room shortly after they returned from the store. Ms. Drury's friends left when (Kluck) who apparently walked with
crutches, slammed them on the floor. (He) then entered the kitchen and began yelling at Ms. Drury, asking her where his money
was. After a 30-minute argument over the money, (Kluck) hit Ms. Drury in the head with a liquor bottle, causing her head to
bleed. Ms. Drury's children ran out of the house, but Tiffany went back in to help her mother bandage her head. Tiffany had
gone back outside and was talking to Justin when the children looked in a window and saw (Kluck) come out of the bedroom with
a gun in his hand. The children then went to the home of a neighbor, John Gabany, and called their father requesting that
he pick them up. When Tiffany and Justin later went back home to get their things, Tiffany saw (Kluck) sitting on a bed with
a gun next to him."
Later that morning, the opinion said, Kluck went to Gabany's house and said Ms. Drury had
shot herself and asked Gabany to call an ambulance. When the police arrived, they discovered Ms. Drury lying in a pool of
blood on the floor. She had been shot in the head.
Kluck had blood on his clothing. He was arrested. "Kelly shot
herself," he told the officers.
At the station, Kluck told Detective Greg Helms that Ms. Drury got the gun and
shot herself. Helms said he didn't believe that story so Kluck changed it, saying he handed the gun to Ms. Drury and told
her to "go ahead and shoot herself," and she did.
When Helms again indicated he wasn't buying the story,
Kluck gave him a third option, saying they had struggled over the gun, she had overpowered him and then shot herself. For
the third time, Helms said he didn't believe it, so the ever-obliging Kluck came up with a fourth story.
In his final
version, according to the court opinion, "he said that he and Ms. Drury had been arguing about her drinking. According
to (Kluck), he pointed his gun at her head, she grabbed his arm and he shot her."
The court did not agree with
Kluck's argument that his attorney had not worked hard enough to support the defense theory of suicide.
TEACHER SEEKS PUNITIVE DAMAGES
AGAINST FORMER SUPERINTENDENT BARTON
By Randy Turner
R-5 elementary teacher who was suspended for sending nude e-mails to a man she met in a chatroom has filed an amended complaint
in her lawsuit against the R-5 School District, in which she says she intends to seek punitive damages against former Superintendent
Cammy Brown, in documents filed Nov. 17 in U. S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, indicated
that Barton was responsible for making information about the nude pictures public during an interview with a Joplin Globe
During that interview, Barton said, "She might be able to get by with this in Chicago, but she
can't get away with it in Neosho." Ms. Brown is also suing current R-5 Superintendent Mark Mitchell and the members of
the R-5 Board of Education. Mitchell was added in the amended complaint. He took over for Barton on July 1.
amended complaint also says that a letter written by Barton to the State Board of Education in an effort to have Ms. Brown's
teaching certificate revoked contained allegations with which she was never confronted, and that "some of the allegations
were not true." Ms. Brown also charges Barton with having an "evil motive" in taking the actions which he took
The details of the events that brought about Ms. Brown's suspension are spelled out in the court
"In the fall and early winter of 1999, (Ms. Brown) e-mailed private, revealing pictures of herself
from her home computer to a person she had developed a relationship with over the Internet and through telephone conversations.
"(She) later learned that the person she was conversing with on the Internet was acting in cooperation with
her estranged husband, Richard Brown, from whom she had been separated since August 1999."
After that, the
petition says, Brown threatened to show the photos to school officials "if she did not take him back." In August
and December, Brown entered Ms. Brown's home and took computer discs containing the revealing photos, the petition says.
On Jan. 9, Ms. Brown received a phone call and e-mail from a person claiming to be Renee Cooper telling her she had
until midnight to take her husband back "or she was going to e-mail (Ms. Brown's) private pictures to the principal and
Barton, the petition said.
The next day, Ms. Brown told her principal and Barton about the threat and that she
had e-mailed the pictures to someone she met on the Internet. "Prior to January 10, 2000," the petition said, "the
principal and Superintendent Barton were aware that (Ms. Brown's) husband had wrongfully taken private, revealing pictures
from her home and had threatened to blackmail her with them, and that he was and had been mentally and physically abusive
At the close of the meeting, the petition said, Barton told Ms. Brown it was "a personal
matter" and "she should not worry about the situation." On the same day, the principal and Barton received
an e-mail with the photographs attached. Ms. Brown's husband, using the Webb City Police Department's fax machine (he worked
there) sent a fax saying that Renee Cooper and others wanted to set up a meeting with the R-5 Board of Education to discuss
the photos. Barton denied the request.
"Shortly thereafter," the petition said, "Barton informed
the Board of Education of the situation and informed them that he did not intend to take any action against Ms. Brown's employment
because it involved a personal matter."
That was the way the situation stayed until March, according to the
petition. Early that month, Renee Cooper set up a meeting with Barton and brought him additional pictures of Ms. Brown along
with a number of "Internet exchanges between Ms. Brown and a person referring to himself as 'Steve.' "
On March 10, Ms. Brown's principal called her into the office and told her it would be "in her best interest to resign."
Ms. Brown met with Barton, who told her "he was concerned that the matter would become public because Renee Cooper threatened
that she would make the information public," the petition said.
Ms. Brown's divorce attorney attended the
meeting and told Barton she was in the process of getting a protective order to prevent Brown and his friends from distributing
the photos. Barton said that would help the situation. At that meeting, according to the petition, Ms. Brown asked Barton
if she could see the photos. Barton said she cold not see them because he had given them to the district's attorney.
Barton never told her about ICQ logs containing Internet exchanges with Steve at that time, the petition said. On March 15,
Missouri NEA representative Lori Cox met with Barton about the situation. Barton said he was concerned with the information
becoming public and told her he had already spoken to a Joplin Globe reporter about it.
On that same day, Barton
placed Ms. Brown on a leave of absence with pay. The Joplin Globe article was published the next day and everyone knew about
Ms. Brown's nude photos. The headline of the article, a copy of which is included in the court file, read, "Teacher Refuses
to Resign; Nude Photographs at Issue."
"We wanted her to resign," Barton told Globe reporter Jeff
Lehr. "We thought that would be the best thing. But I don't want to violate her civil rights." According to the
article, Barton said a perceived likelihood that the existence of the photos would become public knowledge compromised Ms.
Brown's credibility as a teacher in the Neosho community.
Barton told The Globe that what a teacher does in the
privacy of her home is not normally a concern. "But if it becomes public knowledge that she's doing that sort of thing,
we have a problem."
The only reason it became public knowledge was because of Barton, Ms. Brown's petition
indicated. "(He) was responsible for making Ms. Brown's personal affairs public on March 16, 2000, through the information
he provided to The Joplin Globe and other media."
The petition noted that Ms. Brown had "made every
reasonable effort to avoid the disclosure of her private affairs to the public and declined various reporters' requests for
On March 16, she obtained a temporary restraining order against Brown and Ms. Cooper, preventing
them from distributing the photos. A permanent injunction, a copy of which was included in the court filed, was issued April
21 in Newton County Circuit Court.
The Board announced on April 28 that it would seek to have the State Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education revoke Ms. Brown's teaching license. A resolution was approved by the board at its May
11 meeting and papers were filed with the state on the following day.
The board leveled two major charges at Ms.
Brown. The first was "Immorality in that Ms. Brown distributed obscene pictures of herself through an Internet chatroom
and agreed to engage in sexual conduct with an unknown person on or about Sept. 11, 1999 to wit:
engaged in a conversation with a person whom she did not know and whom she believed to be male.
that conversation, Ms. Brown discussed sexual activities that she enjoyed.
-"During that conversation, Ms.
Brown agreed to meet this unknown person in a motel room that evening and to engage in sexual activity.
that conversation, Ms. Brown sent photographs of herself to this unknown person. These pictures included photographs of: 1.
her bare breasts, 2. her genitalia, 3. her manual manipulation of her genitalia.
-"Ms. Brown's interactions
with this unknown person on or about Sept. 8, 1999, became known in the Neosho community.
-"Ms. Brown's conduct
violated the conditions of the IRCQ the net server, which specifically prohibits transmission of obscene and objectionable
The second charge was "Immorality in that Ms. Brown distributed obscene pictures of herself
through an internet chatroom on or around December 1999 to wit:
-"Ms. Brown engaged in a conversation with
a person whom she did not know and whom she believed to be male.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown discussed
sexual activities that she enjoyed.
-"During that conversation, Ms. Brown sent photographs of herself to
this unknown person." The photographs contained the same information as given on the first charge. The charges were signed
by Barton and the resolution was approved by the R-5 Board of Education by a 6-0 vote.
Ms. Brown initially filed
her lawsuit May 15 and obtained an injunction keeping the R-5 School District from firing her. In her petition, she said she
has "suffered and continues to suffer emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, pain and suffering,
harm to her reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, lost earning potential and lost job opportunies during the summer semester."
She claims the actions taken by Barton and the board violate her right to freely associate and right to privacy as
guaranteed by the 1st, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th amendments and that she was deprived of due process. She is asking that the
court permanently prevent the board from seeking to revoke her license, let her keep her job and that she be awarded damages
and costs against all defendants and punitive damages against Barton.
An Oct. 9, 2001, 9 a.m. trial date has been set.
According to U. S. District Court documents, discovery in the case is due by March 14, 2001. A pre-trial conference is scheduled
for Sept. 14, 2001, followed by the trial, which will be held in Kansas City.
LINDSTEDT APPEAL REJECTED
BY 8TH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
An appeal of former Libertarian Party candidate for U. S. Senate
Martin Lindstedt?awsuit against the city of Granby and numerous city officials was rejected by the United States Court of
Appeals for the 8th Circuit last week.
In his lawsuit, which was thrown out earlier in U. S. District Court. Lindstedt
alleged that city officials ?ticipated in a deliberate policy of obstruction of justice and encouraging false arrests and
assaults upon (Lindstedt).??t;br> ? lawsuit appears to have its origin in an altercation between Lindstedt and City
Councilman Jay Jeter which occurred following a council meeting on Aug. 9, 1994,??e court opinion said. ?ording to newspaper
accounts included in the record, Lindstedt apparently called Jeter a crook and moral leper to which Jeter responded by hitting
Lindstedt?aw with his fist. Following misdemeanor arrests of both Lindstedt and Jeter and dismissal of those charges, Lindstedt
brought this action.??t;br> The district court tossed out the case because Lindstedt did not respond to discovery,
according to the opinion. Lindstedt, acting as his own lawyer, appealed the case, but the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected
the appeal on Dec. 6, 1999. Lindstedt appealed for a rehearing. The court agreed and this time, appointed a lawyer for Lindstedt.
Lindstedt said his refusal to provide discovery materials to the city?ttorneys was caused by previous problems with
the firm which was representing the city. He wrote, ?intiff is more than willing to provide disccovery in this matter or they
can read it from off the Internet with the rest of the public as Plaintiff informs the WorldWide Web what a pack of morally
degenerate corrupt fascists defendants are. If plaintiff is not going to get justice in the courts, he might as well seek
his payback somewhere else.??t;br> The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Sept. 13. The 8th Circuit
panel indicated part of Lindstedt?roblems with the case came when he tried to put it together with three other civil rights
cases against elected officials.
In footnotes to the decision, the court noted that Lindstedt was no stranger
to federal civil rights lawsuits, mentioning Lindstedt vs. Missouri Southern State College, Lindstedt vs. the City of Granby,
Lindstedt vs. Missouri Libertarian, Lindstedt vs. Baum, Lindstedt vs. Hopper and Lindstedt vs. Jasper County, all filed in
the Western District of Missouri since December 1995.
JONI WILLIAMS KEEPS CHRISTMAS
ROYALTY CROWN IN
Joni Williams, daughter of Rick and Denise Williams, was crowned Lamar Miss Merry Christmas
during ceremonies held Nov. 17 in the Thiebaud Auditorium. Her older sister, Holly, won the Miss Merry Christmas crown four
years ago. Other winners were: Addie Doyle, Little Miss Merry Christmas, Ashley Graham, Young Miss Merry Christmas and Anya
Buzzard, Junior Miss Merry Christmas.
NO PAROLE FOR LIQUOR STORE KILLER
By Randy Turner
The Missouri Probation and Parole Board has denied convicted murderer John Steven Martin?fforts to receive a parole.
The board?ecision ended for another two years what has become an unfortunate repeat event in the lives of the family of James
Stemmons, whom Martin killed 26 years ago. Family members attended his parole hearing Aug. 9. Petitions were circulated around
Carthage to keep the Martin, who used to live here, behind bars. Stemmons was killed following a 1974 robbery at the Airport
Package Liquor Store. The murder was not the only one Martin committed. He was a teenager the first time he took another man's
life. In October 1974, while knocking over a Rolla gas station, he shot a man to death and wounded another man.
months later, Martin and two other men, Leslie Sanders and David Pugh, held up the Airport Package Liquor Store. They took
Stemmons out of the store, took him to a wooded area near Jones Creek and Martin shot him to death.
was discovered eight hours later after a customer found the liquor store deserted. Stemmons had been shot three times in the
head and struck in the back with a shotgun blast.
As the three men left the body behind, they divvied up the loot.
James Stemmons died so they could each receive $115.
John Steven Martin was sentenced to life in prison for the murder
of Stemmons and life in prison for the murder of the Rolla man. The other two men involved in the robbery and Stemmons's death
received lesser sentences and have already been released. Pugh was killed earlier this month in a traffic accident.
children were at the Diagnostic Center in Fulton in 1996 at Martin's parole hearing. Martin, a former Carthage resident, said
he felt the pain the family felt and that Stemmons's murder took place during a time in which he (Martin) was heavily involved
in drugs and alcohol.
Martin changed his tune by the time his August 1998 hearing took place at Potosi. He told a
parole board panel he was not the man responsible for Stemmons's murder. His parter in crime, Leslie Sanders, was the one
who did it, Martin said. He claimed he (Martin) finished the job in a humane effort to prevent Stemmons from suffering anymore.
Nine members of the Stemmons family sat shocked as Martin told a different version of the story. He claimed after Sanders
shot Stemmons that Stemmons begged him (Martin) to put him out of his misery. Martin claimed his life of crime was a result
of "peer pressure" and his fondness for drugs and alcohol.
When he pleaded guilty in 1975, Martin, who was
only 19 at the time of the robbery, kidnapping and murder, took the responsibility for the crime, saying he had forced Sanders
to go along with it and that Pugh had nothing to do with the robbery or with the murder.
The Stemmons family fears
that if they and the public do not keep reminding the parole board of what Martin did, he will eventually be set free. They
have good reason to be afraid. In 1996, Martin had already been placed in a halfway house and was preparing for his reentry
into society. He was returned to the regular prison population after a public outcry about a convicted killer being given
so much freedom.
In 1998, more roadblocks were placed in front of the Stemmons family. Many of the family's petitions
were stolen, but after the thefts were publicized the family was still able to get more than 1,000 signatures on the petition
to the three-member parole board panel.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRINGS
LAWSUIT AGAINST GUEST HOUSE OWNERS
IN MEDICARE FRAUD CASE
By Randy Turner
The United States government opened a second front
in its battle with the owner of the Guest House of Joplin Nov. 9, filing a lawsuit against Robert J. Dupont Jr in U. S. District
Court for the Western District of Missouri.
DuPont and a number of business associates are cited in the lawsuit.
They were also indicted in June by a federal grand jury for Medicare fraud. Among those indicted and also listed as defendants
in the lawsuit are DuPont's former Guest House partner, Karl Otis Householder of Milo, and DuPont's daughter, Kelley Liveoak.
Dupont currently owns the Joplin Guest House, Anderson Guest House, Carl Junction Guest House and the St. Louis Guest House.
Ms. Liveoak served as the administrator for those facilities.
In the first and second counts of the seven-count
lawsuit, the government alleges that false or fraudulent claims for homebound health services were made for an individual
who was not homebound.
The third count alleges that Dupont and Ms. Liveoak made false or fradulent claims for
personal care for people who were hospitalized at other facilities.The fourth count alleges Householder made false or fraudulent
claims for personal care for people who were hospitalized in other facilities. Householder was claiming the people were at
the Lamar Guest House, the Butler Guest House or were under the care of Regal Home Health or Sterling Home Health, two businesses
co-owned by Householder.
Another count alleges common fraud. On each count, the government is asking for $10,000
in damages for each of dozens of cases and then asking that that amount be tripled.
The Guest House of Joplin,
as reported exclusively in The Turner Report, has been denied license renewal by the Missouri Division of Aging because of
a continued problem with contaminated drinking water.
According to Division of Aging documents, the drinking water
was contaminated because the Guest House does not dispose of its sewage properly. Raw sewage backed up in the backyard, eventually
contaminating the drinking water. The problem was first noticed in a May 31 state inspection. It had not been corrected when
state inspectors returned Aug. 7 and Aug. 10.
A notice of non-compliance has been issued, as well as a notice of
denial of license renewal "due to lack of correction of (violations of) Class I and Class II standards."
As The Turner Report noted last month, Dupont and Householder lost another battle in court when the U. S. Court of Appeals
for the 8th Circuit ruled in favor of the city of Springfield, which Dupont and Householder's company, Sandhill, Inc., claimed
had violated the Fair Housing Act when it closed its Springfield Guest House due to zoning regulations.
was also the owner of the Lamar Guest House, which was closed by the Missouri Division of Aging in 1997.
indictment indicates Dupont, Householder and the others were involved in a conspiracy to send Sandhill patients to specific
doctors. The doctors would then say that the patients needed home health services from Sterling Home Health Care, Inc., a
Lamar company owned by Householder and Dupont, Home Health Care, Inc., and A to Z Billing Services, Inc., both of Joplin,
and both owned by Dupont. Dupont had been co-owner of Sandhill from 1993 to 1996.
The problems of Sandhill, Inc.,
were spelled out in documents filed in U. S. Bankruptcy Court. The company bought property in Springfield and opened a residential
care center but ran into a tidal wave of opposition from people who lived near the proposed center and from city officials.
The city of Springfield refused to issue necessary local licenses, company officials claimed in the Bankruptcy Court documents.
They also claimed the Department of Housing and Urban Development had referred the matter to the U. S. Justice Department
with a recommendation to bring discrimination charges against the city of Springfield. Householder and Dupont filed the discrimination
suit against the city March 7, 1997, in U. S. District Court. Dupont said they were seeking more than $5 million in damages.
The city had closed the Guest House in 1993 saying it did not have a city business license. Dupont said the closing was motivated
by the presence of black residents at the Guest House.
In Bankruptcy Court documents, Sandhill officials said the
city of Springfield closed the Springfield Guest House solely because "mentally handicapped people resided therein."
Dupont told this reporter in a 1997 interview that many of the accusations made by officials of the Missouri Division of Aging
against the Springfield facility were not accurate. He said accusations that people were administering insulin shots without
training were incorrect. Another problem cited by the state was a lack of counseling for a patient with a history of cocaine
abuse. Dupont said, "We were told by the Department of Probation and Parole to hold off on the counseling program, then
we were cited by the Division of Aging for doing what we were told to do." The District Court did not agree that Sandhill
had been the victim of discrimination and granted a summary judgment in favor of the city of Springfield.
PLEADS GUILTY TO BRAGG MURDER
By Randy Turner
Alis Ben Johns saved Newton County taxpayers the
expense of a long, drawn-out trial Monday when he pleaded guilty to murdering Wilma Bragg, Stark City. As part of a plea bargain
arrangement, he will be sentenced to life in prison for the crime. Newton County officials had indicated they planned to seek
the death penalty.
Johns is already on death row for the murder of Tommy Stewart, 32, of Dixon, in October 1996.
After that murder, he led authorities on a six-month manhunt and killed two more people, including Mrs. Bragg, along the way.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Sept. 6 on whether Johns's capital murder conviction should be tossed
out. He was sentenced to death by an Adair County jury in 1999 in connection with the Stewart murder. He shot Stewart seven
times, including once in the back of the head.
His attorneys claim he was not competent to stand trial, noting
concerns with his "intelligence, vocabulary, reasoning, memory, halllucinations of an Indian spirit, schitzotypal personality
traits and bizarre behavior" at his trial. The chase that Johns and his girlfriend, Beverly Guehrer, led authorities
on also led to too much pretrial publicity, Johns' lawyers claim. Johns should not have been convicted of first degree murder
because the prosecution failed to show deliberation, Johns' attorneys said.
They also claimed that the judge
should have excluded information about Johns' prior convictions during the trial's penalty phase.Information about two later
murders allegedly committed by Johns, including Mrs. Bragg, should also have been kept from the jury, they said.
The death sentence was way too much of a penalty for what Johns did, they claimed.
In briefs filed with the
Supreme Court, the Missouri Attorney General's office, which is handling the various prosecutions of Johns, contested each
of his attorney's claims, said his prior convictions were relevant during the penalty phase and that his prior conviction
for assault which they claimed showed his penchant for violence was particularly relevant.
The Bragg family
received partial justice in July 1999 when Ms. Guehrer pleaded guilty in Newton County Circuit Court to second-degree murder.
Authorities indicated Mrs. Bragg was shot twice in the back of the head with a .22 caliber rifle. She was found face down
on her bed with her hands tied behind her back.
Johns has also been charged with murder in connection with the shooting
death of Leonard Voyles, 69, Richland.
Johns and Ms. Guehrer were captured April 7, 1997, by two state water patrol
officers who found them in a cabin.
NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE
SUES ATTORNEY GENERAL,
By Randy Turner
The National Right to Life Committee has filed a lawsuit against
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, Charles Lamb, director of the Missouri Ethics Commission and other Commission members
for preventing it from giving money to educate voters about state campaigns.
Missouri law prevents out-of-state
political action committees from donating money to a state election campaign within 30 days of the election. Prior to that,
a company must register with the state, then cannot make any donations for two weeks.
Right to Life officials
claim that the rules prevent the organization from exercising its First Amendment right of freedom of speech. They also say
the state has no business interfering with an issue advocacy group. National Right To Life's mission is to educate voters
about pro-life issues.
Missouri's regulation of "free speech" is an attempt to "influence voters,"
the officials said in their petition, which was filed Nov. 7 in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
The petition noted that Right to Life does not advocate the election or defeat of specific officials.
to Life officials claim they were not allowed to contribute $1,500, which would have been used to educate people planning
to vote in the Missouri gubernatorial election on pro-life issues. They are asking that the Missouri Ethics Commission and
the attorney general be prevented from enforcing the law as it applies to National Right to Life.
HOHULIN PAC MONEY BEING POURED
INTO AREA COUNTY RACES
By Randy Turner
126th District State Representative Bubs Hohulin has no opposition in the November general election, but he continues to raise
PAC money for his re-election and is now making sure that big-city money could play a key role in local campaigns.
According to documents filed Sept. 12 (11 days past the filing deadline) with the Missouri Ethics Commission and Oct. 3 (32
days past the filing deadline) with the Barton County Clerk's office, Hohulin has donated $275 to Nevada lawyer Jim Bickel
who is trying to defeat long-time incumbent Circuit Court Judge David Darnold. This is the second time Hohulin has donated
$275 (the maximum allowable donation) to Bickel's campaign.
His generosity also has been extended to Ivan Frieden
a candidate for Barton County assessor, who is trying to unseat veteran Democratic incumbent Doug Sprouls. Hohulin has also
donated $550, the 275 maximum for the primary and for the general election to Frieden's campaign.
an additional $825 to local campaigns elsewhere in the state and $200 to the Barton County Republican Central Committee.
Where did the money come from for Hohulin to so generously try to affect the outcome of local races...definitely not
from this area. During the last reporting period, Hohulin had 16 donations of $100 or more...all of them from big city business
All of the reported contributions came either Aug. 4 or Aug. 7, too late to be used for Hohulin's
own campaign and by that time it was well known that the veteran legislator would face no opposition in the November general
The Iantha hog farmer appears to have spent most of his campaign contribution efforts drinking from
the trough of the Missouri Bankers Association. The MBA managed to avoid the $275 contribution limits by having most of its
Missouri branches donate to Hohulin's campaign, including $275 from the MBA State Pac, $200 from MBA Gateway Region, $100
from MBA Capitol Region, $200 from MBA Truman Region, $100 from MBA Pony Express Region, $100 from MBA River Heritage Region,
$100 from MBA Mark Twain Region and $200 from MBA Ozark Region.
The campaign finance documents show other incidents
of the candidate playing a strong game of PAC-MAN. He received $100 from the Missouri Optometric PAC, $275 from Commerce Bank,
$200 from the MR/MGA Pac, $100 from the Missouri Podiatry PAC, $275 from Dealers Interested in Government (this refers to
car dealers not drug dealers), $200 from the Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyers PAC and $250 from Northport Health Services
of Missouri. According to the campaign documents, all contributions came from Jefferson City, St. Louis and Manchester, Mo.
He raised $13,020 this election, including $2,925 during the most recent reporting period. Of the $13,020, he spent
only $5,578.51, leaving the possibility open that he might continue to use the Jeff City/St. Louis/Kansas City money to influence
the outcome of other local elections.
If he did, it might just be to keep other politicians from having to go
through the hateful fund-raising process. In one of his newsletters in July, he came out against the proposal on Missouri
ballots next month to provide public financing for political campaigns.
"As a politician, I would love to not
go out and raise money each election," he wrote."Where I have to run every two years, sometimes it seems that raising
campaign funds is a never-ending process. However, as a citizen, I don't want to pay for the campaign of someone that I totally
disagree with and I doubt if you do either."
He may hate to do it, but he has becoming increasingly good at
it over the years and much of his money comes from political action committees. Many of those are based in the Kansas City,
St. Louis and Jefferson City areas, an irony considering that Hohulin was first elected in 1990 after lambasting long-time
Democratic incumbent Jerry Burch for the amount of money he received from Kansas City and St. Louis interests.
the last financial disclosure form prior to the most recent one, Hohulin listed the following contributions:
Cross Blue Shield, Kansas City, $275 (the maximum allowable amount); Empire District PAC, Jefferson City, $200; AGL Missouri
PAC, Jefferson City, $275; Kansas City Light Employeer PAC, $275; David Greenlee, Nevada, $100; Marvin Proffer, SEMO, St.
Louis, $200; Kenneth Neises, Laclede Gas Company, St. Louis, $100; John Parker, Bank of Minden, Mindenmines, $100; National
Federation of Independent Businesses PAC, Washington, D. C., $275; RPAC, Columbia, $275; MMH PAC, Jefferson City, $200; Missouri
Association of Municipal Utilities PAC, $100.
In Hohulin's June 30 financial disclosure, on file with the Missouri
Ethics Commission and at the Barton County Clerk's office, the five-term representative lists $3,475 in contributions between
April 16 and June 30. Among those contributing were:
Missouri Medical Political Action Committee, Jefferson City,
$275; Nicollas Whitley, Mid-America Environmental, Carthage, $275; Meetz Banking Co., Metz, $275; Don Ross, Mid-America Environmental,
Carthage, $275; Motor Carrier Public Affairs, Sugar Creek, Mo., $275; Missouri Land Title PAC, Jefferson City, $275; Anheuser-Busch,
St. Louis, $275; Missouri Business for Good Government, Jefferson City, $275; Kansas City Power and Light PAC, Kansas City,
$275; Missouri Forest Products PAC, Jefferson City, $100; Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, Jefferson City, $150;
Missouri Concrete Association PAC, $150; General American PAC, St. Louis, $150; SAMPEC, Jefferson City, $200; Hallmark Cards,
Kansas City, $150; BAPAC, Kansas City, $100.
The report indicated Hohulin had raised $7,720 for this election.
In his 1998 race against Nevada mayor Mary Ireland, Hohulin spent approximately $20,000, with money pouring in from political
action committees. He received eight $100 donations from eight branches of the Missouri Bankers Association PACs, representing
eight areas of the state.
Other PACS donating to Hohulin included: National Federation of Independent Businesses,
Jefferson City, $275; Amernve, Jefferson City, $275; Missouri Progress Committee, Jefferson City, $275; Title Loans of America,
Atlanta, Ga., $100; Health-PAC, Jefferson City, $100; Southwestern Bell Employees PAC, $200; NationsBank Mo., $100; FEA-PAC
of Missouri, Kansas City, $50; Missouri Petroleum Marketing Association PAC, $100; Missouri Financial Service PAC, $250; Builders
Association PAC, $100; Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities, $100; Citizens for Mark Elliott, $275; Chrysler Political
Support Committee, St. Louis, $100; Missouri Independent Business Association, North Kansas City, $200; Missouri Restaurant
Association, Kansas City, $150; Realtors PAC, Columbia, $275; National Marine Manufacturers Association, Jefferson City, $100;
American Insurance Association PAC, $100; Gary Burton for State Representative, Joplin, $250; Conservative Committee of Southwest
Missouri, $250; Shelter Insurance PAC, $250; Missouri Managed Healthcare Association PAC, Jefferson City, $100; Missouri Pork
PAC, Columbia, $100; Missouri Poultry Federation, Jefferson City, $250; Missouri Land Title PAC, Jefferson City, $125; Life
Underwriters PAC, Jefferson City, $150; Sprint of Missouri PAC, Jefferson City, $250; Missouri State Medical Association,
Jefferson City, $275; Ford Motor Company Civic Action Fund, Dearborn, Mich., $125; Missouri Insurance Coalition PAC, Jefferson
City, $275; MR.PAC, Jefferson City, $100; National Association of Independent Insurance Agents, Des Plaines, Ill., $200; KAMO-PAC,
Vinita, Okla., $100; Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, Jefferson City, $100; S.A.M.P.E.C., Jefferson City, $200; CPA-MO-CPA,
St. Louis, $275; Leggett & Platt, Carthage, $275; Tapjac, Carthage, $275; David Humphrey, Tamko Roofing Products, Joplin,
$275; Ethel Mae Humphrey, Tamko Roofing Products, Joplin, $275; Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, $150; Murphy Family Farms,.Nevada,
Also, Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, $200; KC Power PAC, Kansas City, $275; Citizens for Bill Waris,
Kansas City, $50; DIG, Jefferson City, $275; Mercantile Bank PAC, St. Louis, $250; Missouri Health Care Association, Jefferson
City, $275; General American PAC, St. Louis, $200.
NOVEMBER 6, 2000
REMEMBERING A CARNAHAN VISIT
By Randy Turner
The large dining room at Bob and Faye's Restaurant was filled to capacity
(and maybe a few more) March 4, 1992, as the Democratic faithful awaited the appearance of Lt. Governor Mel Carnahan, who
was campaigning for governor.
It was the most memorable area appearance for the governor, who died in a plane
crash while heading toward a campaign stop at New Madrid Monday night.
But on that night eight years ago, it
was definitely a strange sight to see that many Carnahan supporters, especially in a city which had been inundated with publicity
about its own native son, Attorney General Bill Webster, who was the leading candidate for the Republican nomination.
There should have been no interest in Carnahan if you believed the local newspaper, which endorsed Webster the day
he ran under the rather dubious assumption that we know him, we love him and whatever is good for Carthage is good for the
Where the heck did all these Democrats come from in the heart of Bill Webster territory?
It didn't matter. What did matter was that they were waiting to hear from the man they hoped would become the first Democratic
governor since Joe Teasdale upset Kit Bond in 1976. As the time for the lieutenant governor to speak approached, he still
Betty and Pete Tiller had been designated to pick up Carnahan at the airport and drive him to
Carthage. When they hadn't arrived, Debbie Hensley, the Tillers' daughter became concerned and called them on the car phone.
The call went through the first time...with one minor hitch... Debbie could hear everything that was being said on the other
end, but no one could hear Debbie. She tried one more time. This time, the connection was solid.
she said, then she learned after a brief conversation that the car was nearing Carthage and that Lt. Governor Carnahan would
be there momentarily. As Debbie replaced the phone on the hook, her face had turned a beet red. "I just called the lieutenant
governor Dad," she said sheepishly.
Even people who were not at the restaurant to see Carnahan were excited.
One man asked Jasper County Democrat Ruth Ruppert, "Is Clinton coming tonight," referring to the governor of Arkansas,
who would be elected president of the United States eight months later.
"No, but our next governor is,"
Mrs. Ruppert said.
The next governor walked briskly into the restaurant, as the one reporter who turned out
for the event snapped a few photos, replaced the camera around his neck and began scrambling to get a brief interview. I was
successful in that endeavor. The things Lt. Gov. Carnahan said to me that night turned out to be the same things that provided
the backbone for his two terms as the leader of this state.
"There is a mood for a change. People want
someone in the governor's mansion who has an agenda," he said. It was virtually the same thing he said eight years later
as he announced he would seek the U. S. Senate seat held by Republican John Ashcroft.
The lieutenant governor
addressed many of the issues that faced Missouri in an interview that stretched out to about 15 minutes. "I am not a
big government person, but a governor has to set the agenda and marshal the support for it. Take jobs," he said, warming
to the topic. "We have a fine Economic Development department, but we haven't got a plan." He said he had dealt
with companies that had been turned down for federal grants because Missouri had no economic development plan. "The Ashcroft
administration has been sort of rudderless, drifting around."
The next subject he talked to me about was
the one that was closest to his heart...education. Carnahan, who spent five years as a school board member, said, "It
is very clear that teachers are being called on to do everything except teach. They're loaded down with paperwork, they counsel,
they police...we require teachers to do everything except what we need them to be doing, teaching our children.
"We have to reorganize our priorities in education and if we do, the quality will go up. We have to allow our teachers
to return to the classroom."
As the interview concluded, he said, "The people in southwest Missouri
have always been good to me. I am determined to be the governor for all of Missouri."
LOSES $5 MILLION LAWSUIT
By Randy Turner
A Lamar man who at one time claimed to be the Unabomber, Jesus
Christ and Bill Clinton's son, had his $5 million lawsuit against the Barton County Sheriff's Department dismissed in August
by a United States District Court judge.
Angel Luis Montes, also known as Angel Luis Clinton, according to documents
filed in Barton County Circuit Court in connection with an earlier criminal case, was suing Sheriff Bill Griffitt and his
department for allegedly violating Montes' civil rights by conducting an illegal search that eventually led to his arrest
on drug charges.
Montes said officers violated his 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendment rights, obviously reserving
the right to use the other amendments at a later date.
Montes, in earlier court documents, also claimed to be
married to Prince Diana, with whom he had 100 kids. "Their names are Bill, Susan, Sally, Jim, Bob and oh, I can't remember
the rest," Montes wrote. On the spot reserved on the form for Prince Diana's occupation, he wrote that she wasn't working
because he had killed her.
Having 100 kids obviously labels Montes as a family man, but he still criticized
his "father" for his affair with Monica Lewinsky saying that the president needed to learn to keep a certain part
of his anatomy in his pants."
At the time, Montes was represented by a public defender, who asked the court
to allow his client to receive a mental examination. The judge quickly agreed.
DIRECTS LA-Z-BOY TO HOLD
ANOTHER UNION ELECTION
Threats by La-Z-Boy officials to close down
the plant if a union was voted in were among the reasons cited by a National Labor Relations Board for ordering another union
election at the plant in Neosho. According to The Neosho Daily News' Oct. 2 edition, the hearing was held Sept 11 and Sept.
12. The hearing officer Daniel L. Hubbell released his findings Sept. 29.
Though The Daily News stressed the fact
that more reasons given by the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) for having
another election were overruled than sustained, the five reasons that were left over appeared to be serious ones.
other reasons sustained by Hubbel were that La-Z-Boy officials:
-Enforced plant rules more stringently against Union
-Threatened and coerced employees because of their union activities and the threat of dire consequences
if the employees selected the union.
-Created the impression of futility of selecting the union.
employees with loss of benefits if the Union were selected.
In the Aug. 10 election, 786 employees voted against
unionization with 449 supporting it.
AUDIT: INTERNAL CONTROL WEAKNESSES
ENABLED THEFTS TO
JASPER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT DIVISION 5
By Randy Turner
in the internal controls and record keeping system of Associate Division 5 Jasper County Circuit Court enabled approximately
$2,500 to be stolen, according to a report issued Sept. 19 by the Missouri State Auditor's office.
misappropriations could have been prevented or detected on a more timely basis if adequate oversight and review had been performed
and if proper internal controls as noted in the prior audit findings and the management advisory report had been established,"
the audit said.
Richard Copeland is Associate Circuit Court Judge for Division 5. Lynette Weathers, the clerk
who handled the money, admitted to taking $2,502, the report said. It also indicated she had repaid the money and has been
charged with felony stealing. She was placed on paid maternity leave May 5 and resigned on July 31.
was discovered on April 6 when court employees noted discrepancies in five criminal case files, according to the audit. "Fines
and costs totaling $1,502 related to those cases had been turned over to the court by the sheriff's department between January
and early April 2000, but these monies had not been properly receipted or deposited by the court."
days later, Ms. Weathers, the court clerk, repaid $2,502 to the court, the audit indicated. According to Judge Copeland, she
admitted to taking the $1,502 plus a $1,000 cash bond. "This bond, received from the sheriff's department on March 21,
2000, had been properly receipted, but not deposited into the bond account," the audit said.
cases were not the only problem cases, the audit report said. "One additional transaction was not accounted for properly.
According to the sheriff's records, a $538 fines and costs transaction was transmitted in cash to Ms. Weathers on Nov. 15,
1999, however, this transaction was not properly receipted and deposited until Feb. 18, 2000."
funds were not detected earlier because of various internal control weaknesses, the report indicated, "including the
failure to compare monies transmitted from the sheriff's department to the court records."
problems in the internal controls system were noted in the audit report:
-The sheriff's department collects
cash bonds, as well as fines and costs, which are transmitted to the Associate Division. Because they are not placed into
a sheriff's department bank account, large amounts of cash are transmitted to the associate division. "No independent
reviews are performed comparing the monies transmitted by the sheriff's department to the court's receipt records," the
audit said. "Had such reviews been performed, most of the discrepancies would have been detected." The auditors
recommended that an independent review be performed periodically and that the court should request that the monies be turned
over by check.
-"The duties of receiving, recording, depositing and disbursing monies are not adequately
segregated. One court clerk is responsible for collecting civil fees and another is responsible for collecting criminal fees
and bonds." No one provides supervision on these activities or conducts an independent review, the audit indicated.
-Bank reconciliations were not accurate, which caused court employees to be unaware that the funds were missing.
"In July 1999," the audit said, "the court disbursed $8,868 in what were believed to be unidentified monies
to the state treasurer's office as unclaimed property. However, there was only about $3,600 in unidentified monies in the
account at that time, considerably less than the amount of this disbursement. The audit report noted, "Had proper reconciliations
been performed, the court would have avoided or detected the errors, thus preventing the current shortage in this account."
-A book balance is not documented in the bond ledger at the end of the month. "Had a book balance been maintained
in the bond ledger and had proper reconciliations been performed, the undeposited $1,000 cash bond would have been detected."
-Monthly listings of open items are not prepared for the bond account. "Monthly listings of open items are necessary
to ensure the proper disposition of cash balances."
-Receipts are not always deposited on a timely basis.
"Receipts for fines and costs were often held two to three weeks before being deposited and included significant amounts
-"The court accepts cash, checks and money orders for the payment of fines, court costs
and bonds," the audit said. "Although the mode of payment is noted on receipt slips, this is not reconciled to the
composition of bank deposits."
-"Procedures to monitor and collect old accrued costs could be improved.
Without the active and timely pursuit of accrued costs, revenues to the state and county could be lost.
a review of cases opened during the last five months of 1999 and the first five months of 2000, court employees could not
locate the case files related to 11 cases. Case files include all relevant information related to court cases and they should
be properly controlled and filed to ensure that they are readily accessible when needed."
recommended various steps to control these problems and Judge Copeland and Judge Jon Dermott, who is the presiding judge,
agreed to follow the recommendations, according to the audit.
CARTHAGE PRESS EDITOR RESPONDS
TO TURNER REPORT CRITICISMS
(Editor's note: The following message was left on The Turner Report's
answering machine by Rick Rogers, editor of The Carthage Press in response to criticisms of him which were leveled in the
last edition of the report.)
"Hey, Mister Ego, how's it going? You know, boy, it's kind of like the kettle
calling the pot black or something like that. Anyway, God knows I'd never stoop to your level at all and write anything bad
about you like that, Randy.You can feel free to write anything about me you want, I don't care. It's just your little ego
website and nobody reads it anyway." (Editor's note: The message was cut off at that point.)
SET FOR NIEBUR LAWSUIT
AGAINST CICERO CITY OFFICIALS
By Randy Turner
An April 23, 2001, trial date has been set for former Joplin Police Chief David Niebur's civil suit against Cicero,
Ill., city officials.
Niebur served as police chief in the Illinois town from December 1997 through April
1998. He was hired to clean up a corrupt town, but when he left he feared for his life, according to a Chicago Tribune article.
"FOr the first time in my life, I believe there are a number of people who would like to see me assassinated. In my career,
I have had people shoot at me and I have killed people. But I have never been so scared as I am this week here. This is big-time
crime. This is big-time corruption."
Niebur told federal officials and reporters that he had uncovered
a seething cesspool of corruption in Cicero including police officers making thousands of dollars a years by shaking down
illegal immigrants, making false arrests in order to set up bribes, letting solvable murders go for years without making arrests
and the hiring of numerous police officers with long criminal records.
The biggest scandal involved a towing
operation in which many city residents, especially minorities were having their cars towed for no apparent reason then having
to pay exhorbitant prices to get them back.
Niebur and his deputy superintendent of police Phillip Bues
were fired by the Cicero City Council and filed a multi-county federal civil rights lawsuit against the city officials in
U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Town President Betty Loren-Maltese,
Town Counsel Merrick Scott Rayle, the Cicero Police Board and individual police commissioners. According to a statement issued
by Niebur's lawyer, Michael D. Bersani, "The crux of our lawsuit is that the defendants violated Superintendent Niebur's
and Deputy Superintendent Bues' civil rights by wrongfully suspending and seeking their dismissals. We believe additionally
that the retaliatory suspensions and dismissal charges are the product of a conspiracy among the defendants to deprive Niebur
and Bues of their civil rights and to cover up improprieties and wrongdoing involving the town's towing practices. In this
lawsuit, we are seeking money damages, declaratory relief and injunctive relief."
Niebur issued a statement
the day the lawsuit was filed. "I accepted the position of police superintendent for the Town of Cicero because I wanted
to make a difference. It was well known that the police department was in turmoil and 15 to 20 years behind the times in terms
of management and operations. I took the position with the intention of reforming the police department and making the residents
of Cicero proud of their police officers. I thought that was the reason I was hired.
"During the four
months I was police superintendent, I did initiate many positive changes in the department. The town president boasted about
my job performance and stated that I had turned the morale of the department around in a short time. I was doing the job for
which I was hired.
"It was not until I began investigating Ram towing and the irregularities in the
town's towing practices that I was no longer considered a reformer. I was suspended by the town president from my position
as police superintendent in retribution for my cooperation with the FBI and the state police in their investigations of the
town's towing practices and alleged corruption. We are filing this lawsuit today because we are being wrongfully punished
for exercising our rights under the law.
"However, this lawsuit today is not just about two police
executives wrongfully punished for exposing corruption and wrongdoing within government. This action is needed to let all
police officers nationwide know that they cannot be fired and maliciously slandered because they did what was right. It will
also provide assurance to police executives to do what is necessary in their towns, cities and counties, even when their positions
are threatened. For me, the decision to report apparent wrongdoing was the only choice available and one made without hesitation.
It is my sincere desire for all law enforcement officers facing a similar situation to be confident to make the same decision."
Niebur has moved back to Jasper County and was defeated by incumbent Jasper County Sheriff Bill Pierce in the August
PHIPPS FAMILY APPEALS RULING
IN LAWSUIT AGAINST FORD
The Phipps family of Lamar has filed an appeal to the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals in their
lawsuit against Ford Motor Company.
A Jasper County jury March 10 handed down an $8 million judgment against
Neley Milner, the drunk driver who killed eight-year-old Julie Phipps and caused permanent physical and mental damages to
her father, Jerry Phipps and five-year-old sister Abby on July 1, 1995.
That judgment will probably never
be collected since Milner was sentenced to 48 years in prison. The jury rejected the Phipps family's claim that Ford Motor
Company was also responsible for Julie's death and the injuries suffered by the other family members.
trial, witnesses for the Phipps family contended their injuries might not have been as bad if it weren't for the faulty design
of their Ford pickup truck. Ford presented witnesses saying that was not the case.
The Phipps family's lives
were changed forever when Milner, a career drunk driver, rammed his Mercury Marquis, which was going at a speed in excess
of 100 miles per hour, into the back of their pickup on Highwy 71 near the Carterville exit.
Milner had been
convicted of drunk driving in 1983 in Oklahoma City, Okla. He spent 30 days in jail and receieved a three-year suspended sentence.
When he moved to Missouri in the 1990s, he began racking up drunk driving arrests with alarming speed...but apparently not
enough alarming enough to put him behind bars in time to save Julie Phipps' life.
According to Missouri Department
of Revenue records, Milner was arrested by Webb City police officers June 19, 1993, for driving while intoxicated, driving
while revoked, having an open container and not having a motorcycle operator's license.
On Oct. 26, 1994,
he was arrested by a Seneca police officer for driving while intoxicated and driving while revoked. After an administrative
hearing, Department of Revenue officials determined he would not be eligible to apply for a driver's license until Nov. 28,
1995, or almost four months after the collision with the Phipps truck. That didn't keep Milner from sliding into the driver's
seat after he had a few. The Webb City Police Department arrested him again on April 17, 1995, for driving while intoxicated.
Despite having entered guiilty pleas for three DWIS, Neley Milner was still driving on Missouri highways on a collision course
with an innocent family.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the accident occurred at 2:40 p.m. Saturday,
July 1, 1995, when Milner, driving the 1984 Mercury Marquis, hit the westbound 1991 truck driven by Jerry Phipps from behind,
causing it to overturn and go down an embankment. The four Phipps family members were ejected from the truck.
Highway Patrol officers estimated the Milner vehicle was going at a speed of more than 100 miles per hour...he never hit the
brakes...and beneath his car seat, officers found an empty vodka bottle.
Milner was charged with involuntary
manslaughter and with three counts of assault. He entered a guilty plea on Nov. 20, 1995. Phipps family members, at one point,
were told a plea bargain had been worked out and that Milner would plead guilty in return for a 25-year prison term with the
possibility of parole after eight years. "That just wasn't enough," Julie Phipps' grandmother, Reba Phipps, told
The Carthage Press newspaper. The discovery of Milner's June 10, 1988, conviction on an Oklahoma felony charge of conspiracy
to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine ended the possibility of that initial plea bargain agreement.
After Milner pleaded guilty, the Jan 22, 1996, sentencing date was scheduled. Judge Jon Dermott sentenced Milner to 48 years
in prison with no possibility of parole until the year 2034.
Neley Milner discovered quickly that life behind
bars was no picnic and he had no intention of spending nearly four decades there. He appealed his sentence, saying that no
evidence had been presented to prove that he was a persistent offender, the reason he received such a long sentence. The Missouri
Southern District Court of Appeals agreed, and sent the case back to Judge Dermott's court for another sentencing hearing
on May 5, 1997.
The evidence of his Oklahoma drug conviction and his Oklahoma DWI conviction was presented.
Those were the only felony convictions on his record, despite his long history of drunk driving.
him to the same amount of time on all charges.
Milner's attorney, a public defender whose salary was footed
by Missouri taxpayers, including the Phipps family, claimed it was improper to allow the evidence of the prior convictions
to be admitted since the presentation of evidence in the case had already been closed in 1996. The "proper remedy,"
the petition said, was to "correct the original sentence by removing all references to Milner being a prior and persistent
The appellate court disagreed aftr Milner appealed for a second time.
It also rejected
Milner's claim that he should not have been sentenced to so much time in prison. His attorney said the sentence "constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment because it is extremely and grossly disproportionate to the crimes of involuntary manslaughter
and second degree assault."
In yet a third appeal, Milner claimed he received ineffective counsel from
his lawyer, another public defender. The lawyer should have filed a timely request for a change of venue, he said, and should
have looked for witnesses who would have corroborated his story that he was not the one behind the wheel when the car hit
the Phipps truck.
"The collision that led to (Milner's) convictions occurred in Jasper County and (his)
case was apparently the subject of considerable publicity," the appeals court ruling said. Milner testified that he asked
his lawyer to ask for a change of venue during their first meeting, but the lawyer didn't file the motion until well after
the deadline for doing so had passed.
Milner's new attorney said the pre-trial publicity was "devastating,"
but the worst of it took place after the deadline to file for a change of venue had passed. Dermott never ruled on the motion
because Milner entered a guilty plea before he could do so.
Milner claimed his fear of being tried by a Jasper
County jury forced him to plead guilty. He said his lawyer told him he would "receive 80 years" if he went to trial
there. Milner said he would have taken his chances in another county because he wasn't guilty.
court didn't buy that argument because Milner said at his plea hearing, "I'm pleading guilty because I'm guilty."
He also said at that hearing that he had been intoxicated and that he caused the crash that killed Julie Phipps and permanently
disabled Jerry and Abby Phipps. Milner did say he had no recollection of the incident.
The appeals court ruling
said the lawyer's failure to file a timely motion for a change of venue did not show that he was incompetent and that Milner's
claim that he pleaded guilty because he was afraid of what a Jasper County jury might do to him was not reason enough to overturn
Milner argued that he had two witnesses who could have testified he was not driving the car
and three others who could say that he did not have any injury to his chest from the steering wheel as a result of the accident.
"Milner claimed that two men he knew from Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, Edward Duff and a man
whose first name was Scott, could have testified that he was not driving the car in the fatal collision. He said he told counsel
that Duff could be located through the local DARE House, a residential facility for recovering addicts and that (his) girlfriend
could show where Scott lived," the appeals court ruling said.
Milner's attorney said he researched that
claim. The DARE House director posted a notice on the bulletin board asking that anyone with information about the accident
No one did.
Milner's girlfriend gave the lawyer names of people who allegedly
heard someone else admit to driving the car. When the lawyer spoke to the potential witnesses, "they denied hearing such
a confession," according to the Appeals Court opinion.
Milner said that was because his lawyer waited
too long to get in touch with them. Dermott ruled that Milner's lawyer had done his best to find witnesses who could back
up Milner's story. The appeals court agreed.
The Phipps family filed the lawsuit against Milner and Ford Motor
Company on May 14, 1998, in Jasper County Circuit Court. The lawsuit was a necessity because of the incredible amount of money
it costs the family to take care of Jerry and Abby's needs. Though other family members and the community have rallied around
Jerry, Connie and Abby Phipps, the financial burden caused by a drunken Neley Milner remains enormous.
the lawsuit, the Phipps family members claimed the truck in which they were riding when the collision occurred was defective.
They asked for compensation "in excess of $50,000,"
No date has been set for the lawsuit appeal.
REMEMBERING TERRY SHEPHERD
By Randy Turner
The blue and white Pinto
wasn't the most fearsome looking car cruising down the Neosho Boulevard that summer evening in 1972, but with Terry Shepherd
behind the wheel, it became a combination Formula race car and Batmobile.
One of the nice things about the Pinto
was its maneuverability and Terry skillfully weaved it in and out of the two southbound lanes. The Pinto, carrying Terry and
two other East Newton High School students, pulled up beside a carful of Neosho High School students. There were no markings
on the car that said, "Hey, we're Neosho High School students," but you could always tell the ones from Neosho.
They had that wild-eyed look. Or at least we thought so back then. It's amazing the barriers that 10 miles of geography can
place between people.
Terry pulled into the left lane and drove up beside the Neosho car. Terry's friend, Chief
Saddler, who was on the front passenger side, rolled down his window, just in time to hear a Neosho boy shout what seemed
to be an impolite greeting. Chief's response was a little more impolite and the chase was on.
Terry pulled ahead
of the Neosho car, took a left, drove through a parking lot and headed north. He left the boulevard and there probably wasn't
a street in Neosho that didn't see that blue and white Pinto that night. Finally, the car came to a one-way street. Unfortunately,
the sign said, "One way, do not enter."
"Let's do it," Terry said and zipped down the one-way
street going the wrong way. The Neosho car didn't follow. He drove around town a while longer until once again he spotted
that same Neosho car on his tail. The chase resumed and soon, once again, Terry came up to the one-way street. He looked at
Chief. Chief looked at him. No words were spoken. Terry drove the wrong way one more time and once again the Neosho car passed
up the chance to follow him.
It took a while, but the Neosho group spotted the blue and white Pinto (how could you
miss it) and this time, those boys were out for blood. Terry decided to go to the well one more time and returned to the one-way
street. There was no doubt about what he was going to do this time. He didn't even hesitate as he turned and drove the wrong
way. Only this time, the Neosho car followed. As the Pinto emerged on the other side of the street, another car pulled into
the path of the Neosho vehicle ending the chase as the pursuers were forced to pull off the road.
That memory of
Terry Shepherd is as vivid to me today as it was 28 years ago when I was cowering in the back seat of that Pinto figuring
that each time down that one-way street was going to be the last one.
We took one lesson out of that evening...Those
people from Neosho are crazy. Stay away from them.
Fortunately, Terry forgot that lesson and five years later, he
married Rhonda Speak, a Neosho girl. And she didn't even have that wild-eyed look. The chase, Terry discovered, was much more
rewarding when Neosho and East Newton were in the same vehicle heading in the same direction for eternity.
chases were a distant memory when Terry married, but enjoying life was something he did from the day he was born until the
accident that took his life Tuesday at Jolly Mill Park.The picture that accompanied his obituary in The Joplin Globe and The
Carthage Press struck an instant chord with everyone who saw it. Terry was nearly always smiling and there was generally a
hearty laugh just a few moments away when he was in a room.
In the short 44 years Terry had on this earth, he accomplished
a great deal. Some of those accomplishments were listed in the obituary. He was the driving force behind Mid-America Hardwoods.
He teamed with his wife to form the highly successful and much-needed Powerhouse Teen Center in Carthage. He spent a great
deal of his summers for the past three decades coaching Little League baseball. He devoted his time to the things that meant
the most to him, his family, his church and the young people of the community.
The most endearing quality about
Terry Shepherd was that he did all of these things, over and over again, without ever needing to be the center of attention.
On the Halloween night a few years ago when the Powerhouse Teen Center opened, Terry stood proudly in the back of the auditorium
as Rhonda welcomed the capacity crowd. From Terry's standpoint, someone had to do the introduction, Rhonda had put in hour
after hour of work to get the former theatre building ready for the grand opening...and besides, he would say with a laugh,
everybody would rather look at her anyway.
The Teen Center's success stands as a symbol of the commitment Terry
and Rhonda Shepherd made to young people, a commitment also symbolized by their four children, Adrian, Aubree, Allee and Lucas.
Terry was just six months away from becoming a grandfather.
The lines were long at Terry's visitation at Fairview
Christian Church Thursday night. The memories were flowing as rapidly as the tears. "It's a shame he'll never see his
grandchildren," one woman said quietly as she looked at Terry's pregnant daughter.
Yes he will, ma'am.
He certainly will.
He'll just have a better view.
SHERIFF CANDIDATE SUPPORTED
DEAL WITH KU KLUX KLAN
By Randy Turner
Former Joplin Police Chief David Niebur's five-month
stint as police chief of Cicero, Ill., ended abruptly in 1998 with his dismissal after Niebur, who is running for Jasper County
sheriff, alleged that city officials were guilty of "big-time corruption" and he left town claiming, "For the
first time in my life, I believe there are a number of people who would like to see me assassinated."
surrounding the dismissal overshadowed an earlier incident during Niebur's short time in Cicero. According to a March 13,
1998, Associated Press article, Niebur supported a deal in which Cicero city officials agreed to pay $10,000 to print and
distribute Ku Klux Klan literature in exchange for the Klan agreeing not to stage a rally in the city.
it could be deemed extortion in one sense," Niebur said in the AP article, "but I don't see it that way. I think
this is really a sensible solution under the circumstances." The deal was struck by city officials to prevent violence.
In the article, Niebur said security fences alone would have cost approximately $20,000 and the town would have had to foot
the bill for state troopers for added security.
A Niebur deal with the Ku Klux Klan would not have surprised people
who knew him from his days with Minnesota police departments. According to an article in the May 1, 1998, Chicago Tribune,
Niebur was one of several officers named in a federal civil rights lawsuit in the 1960s in a small Minnesota town where he
worked as a police supervisor. A jury found the officers and the department had harassed a black driver, the article said.
When he was with the Minneapolis, Minn., Police Department, he had a running battle with the Minneapolis Urban League
over arrest rates of African-Americans, the article said. "He had a reputation for being a racist for stopping a lot
of black people on the road," former Minneapolis Police Chief Tony Bouza told The Tribune.
did not agree with that assessment. "I looked at the racism issue and didn't see any racism in his actions," he
told The Tribune. Bouza, in fact, promoted Niebur to head of internal affairs, according to an article in the Jan 12, 1989,
Minnesota Daily, despite a record that included "42 investigations into charges of brutality, harassment and assault,
primarily involving minorities," the article said.
The article noted that there was not enough evidence to
prove wrongdoing in almost all of the charges. The Chicago Tribune article placed the number of investigations at 48 and said
charges against Niebur were sustained in eight of them.
Shortly after Bouza appointed Niebur head of internal affairs,
Urban League President Gleason Glover sent Bouza a letter complaining about Niebur's record for dealing with minorities.
Niebur was removed from the position shortly after Bouza was replaced by John Laux as police chief. "His (Niebur's)
appointment was inappropriate in the first place," Urban League Vice President Gary Sudduth told The Minnesota Daily.
"I think Chief Laux realized that if there was going to be honest rebuilding of relations with the minority community,
Niebur would be a glitch in that process."
Though Niebur had asked the minority community in Minneapolis to
give him a chance during an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune shortly after he was appointed head of internal affairs,
any chance of receiving one might have ended five years earlier when he was involved in the shooting death of an unarmed black
man named Sal Saran Scott, according to the article in The Minnesota Daily. Niebur also didn't help his cause when he told
the Star-Tribune about his activities when he was a traffic control officer. According to the article, "He said that
he unlawfully searched cars without probable cause and issued a record number of citations in one year, almost 6,000. Minority
leaders complained that a disproportionate number of those citations was given to minorities.
"I stopped a
lot of blacks," Niebur told the Star-Tribune, "but I stopped a lot of whites. I stopped everybody, anyone that moved."