The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on October 22, 1994 · Page 71
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 71

Nashville, Tennessee
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 22, 1994
Page 71
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Th Tnne n Saturday October 22, 1994 a ' " f i 8 il el) ft li ii ft 5 ' " 1 n n n onn n n ft teM 17 G7 I i l v Q State's residents fear 'Almost Heaven' community could become a living hell By TOOTHY EGAN New York lines News Service KAMIAH, Idaho Ever since Lewis and Clark sloshed their way through this valley 190 years ago, some people have viewed the Pacific Northwest as a refuge for the kind of behavior that might get a person run out of town in other parts of the country. Communities based on free love, a pending apocalypse or conversing with ancient spirits have long sprouted among the hidden reaches of the American far corner. But now comes retired Lt Col. James (Bo) Gritz, a Vietnam-era Green Beret and onetime Populist Party candidate for president, with what is likely to be the first community ever built around fear and hatred of the federal government Gritz (rhymes with SIGHTS) and his associates say they have already sold most of the lots in a planned development on a high plateau here in the middle of Idaho, arguably the most remote state in mainland America. They call it Almost Heaven, but to many people who live in the Clearwater Valley, the new development is less than celestial. Gritz, who discovered Idaho during the presidential campaign, says he is a patriot who has become disgusted with the "cesspool" of public schools, the "grip of international bankers" on toe nation's currency, and "an encroaching, ravenous, predator government," which wants to disarm the citizenry and force everyone to carry a health-care card. At times, he can sound like Rush Limbaugh in a particularly sour mood, as when Gritz singles out Hillary Rodham Clinton as the font of all big government plans to control people's lives. But Gritz goes well beyond passionate conservative thought when he urges people to arm themselves for conflict, castigates "homos and feminists," and repeatedly states that "eight Jewish families" control the Federal Reserve. "We are not a bunch of skinheads and not a bunch of neo-Nazis," he said in a telephone interview. "We are trying to live by the laws of the land according to the Constitutioa" Ever since his presidential campaign, when he received 10,000 votes in Idaho, Gritz has been training hundreds of people, for a fee, how to live offthe land and defend themselves. In an advertisement for his paramilitary programs, he says, "You will learn what weapon and ammunition type is best in times of grave . peril; how to carry, draw, hold and efficiently engage multiple targets." It is that kind of language that has many people here worried that their hamlet, now being discovered by retirees and California exiles, will become the next Waco, Texas. And in fact the lethal standoff last year in Texas between federal agents and followers of David Koresh, as well as an Idaho mountaintop siege by the white separatist Randy Weaver two years ago, are the main rallying cries for Gritz and his followers. "The tyrants who ordered the assault on the Weavers and Waco should be tried and executed as traitors," Gritz wrote in a recent issue of his newsletter. There are early signs that followers of Gritz will bring some extremist attitudes to the valley, said Mitch Landmark, an insurance agent and school board member in Kamiah, population 1,300, the nearest town to Almost Heaven. "I went out there the other day to underwrite some insurance, and this person tried to convince me that Abraham Lincoln hated Jews," he said. "This area is based on the idea that you dont put up fences, you don't lock your doors, and people are tolerant," Landmark said. "We'd like to not be afraid that if you go down the wrong road some guy is going to stick a gun in your face." A Kamiah real estate agent, Cliff Engledow, said a woman, new to town, "sat here the other day and said, 'I can show you in the Bible where it says we've got to get rid of all the blacks.'" If ftmiah IT-fr-H I I ? Missoula ft ure. i Montana n Idaho - hi ' - ..... F i i a vvvu. Boise rjJ J k I I Miles 1 N '-'tf-fi-r rWrt'' ''a,M'-"'"'-''!"rjl' " 4 V a. 't l The TENNESSEAN While such attitudes are not unknown in Idaho, which is the longtime headquarters of a small neo-Nazi church called the Aryan Nations, the state has worked hard to overcome a racist image. It is on the verge of electing the nation's first American Indian governor, Larry Echohawk, and it was the first state to elect a Jew as governor, Moses Alexander in 1914 "We don't want to get this label," Engledow said. "But it's already happening. A guy just canceled a $250,000 deal to buy here after he heard about this." Gritz says he has been falsely labeled a bigot Though in 1988 he was briefly on the same presidential ticket as David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, Gritz said he withdrew when he found out Duke's true nature. But Gritz was seen giving what appeared to be a Nazi salute to a group of skinheads camped outside the place in northern Idaho where federal agents surrounded the cabin of Weaver two years ago. Gritz said it was a "special salute" in tribute to the skinheads' support of Weaver and not a Hitler motion. He said his community of followers, which likely number about 70 families, would obey all laws "unless they go against the laws of God and common sense." He said a council would be set up to govern the community, a place in which all residents must sign a pledge to defend one another and abide by strict principles of the Constitution. When asked if allowing a commu- -:(P':-.:,.,.Jr, rX it- I t mi j? limm mMm: File Retired Lt Col. James (Bo) Gritz talks to a crowd near Naples, Idaho, during the standoff between fugitive Randy Weaver and federal authorities in 1 992. nity to essentially write and live by their own interpretation of the law would lead to an inevitable conflict with authority, Gritz said, "I want a community where if the FBI looks at us, they'll end up saying it's more trouble than it's worth." He said, "I won't be a Jim Jones forcing people to drink Kool-Aid," a reference to the mass suicide of cult members in Guyana ordered by Jones. "We don't want any trouble, and hopefully, we won't get any." Almost Heaven and a neighboring community run by Gritz's associates, Shenandoah, will cover about 600 acres on a plateau where hay bales are stacked like fresh cinnamon rolls on edge. A tight-knit Quaker community is nearby. It is "an absolute paradise, land that time forgot" Engledow said. Idaho County, where bulldozers are clearing land for Almost Heaven, is one of the nation's biggest coun ties, 5.4 million acres, with one of the sparsest populations, less than 15,000 people. Although Sheriff Gene Meinen said "a lot of people in the county dont care much for law enforcement" crimes are few. The county averages about one murder a year. But statements by Gritz and his followers make some people here worried that the county will now become polarized and full of suspicion. "There's always been a certain hillbilly perception that the way to go here is don't pay your taxes, cut down a tree to heat and post a deer to eat" said Carolyn Frei, a former schoolteacher who has started a human rights group to monitor Almost Heaven. "We relish that But Bo Gritz is not just some simple hillbilly character. He has an ulterior motive." A longtime associate of Gritz, Gerald (Jack) McLamb, a former Arizona police officer, said Frei was 1 part of "a homosexual group that has it in for us." The Nez Perce Indians have lived in this valley for thousands of years, and their reservation overlaps private land being used for Almost Heaven. Mary Tall Bull, a Nez Perce, met with Gritz recently and voiced a number of concerns. "He assured us that he has come here in peace and friendship and he shook my hand," she said. It was, to, some Indians, a throwback to the days when whites would come into Indian territory, shake hands with the locals, then steal most of the land. Tall Bull said the Indians of this valley will not be easily swayed. "Our main concern are the white supremacists who follow him," Tall Bull said. "I asked him if he would be responsible for these people and their actions. He said he would. We'll see."! (mju Ii u p iiiwiii 'I. in II V I j 4 Is; r W , 1 .M David Chavis of the Guardian Angels speaks with Christine Hammond, who said she Jogs in Central Park five times a week. They are standing near the spot In the park where a woman was raped last week. mm aar u i Some women worried, others oblivious following 11th rape of 1994 By WCX HAMPSON Associated Press NEW YORK Comedians joke about crime in Central Park, politicians bemoan it out-of-towners fear it and police say it's exaggerated "safer than Vermont" a commander said last summer. But with 11 rapes this year so far, the park that attracts 14 million visitors a year is living up to the reputation it supposedly doesnt deserve. The latest victim was a 39-year-old unemployed secretary who was attacked while jogging around the park's reservoir at 9:30 p.m. last Saturday. The woman, who was wearing stereo headphones, was grabbed by a man from behind and dragged at knifepoint into the bushes. Central Park had only six reported rapes in all of 1993. Police said they see no pattern to the attacks this year. The victims include homeless women, an Austrian tourist and a woman walking home after a concert They have been attacked by strangers and by acquaintances, by day and by night On Monday, the park was sunny and calm. AP The Guardian Angels, the city's self-appointed, red-bereted crimefighters, posted signs reading, "After Dark, Be Smart-Stay Out of the Park." The Parks Department removed the signs. Some people were at least a bit worried. Others were oblivious. Dana Enlowe, a visitor from Dallas, said a friend drew her a map of where the rapes took place. Marcia Lowe, a longtime resident of Manhattan, held a police whistle. Katrina Cary, a filmmaker, was asked if she wished she could run at night "I dont think that's feasible," she said. "I think that's too much to expect" Park officials cautioned against panic, saying that to jog in the park is one thing; to do so 1) alone 2) after dark 3) in the park's more overgrown, less frequented northern half is something else. If you're going to run at night, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said, "run with a partner. Maybe three people." Frederick Law Olmsted, the park's creator, never intended the park to be used after dark; lights were not included in his original plan. The park at 840 acres, it's larger than Monaco was a romantic, naturalistic retreat from the city, full of hills and dales and vegetation that also gave bad guys cover. Today, police describe the department's Central Park precinct as an island of relative safety in a sea of murder, burglary and auto theft. "It's impossible to calculate how safe Central Park is because nobody lives there," said Thomas Reppetto, director of the Citizens Crime Commission, a watchdog group. "There are areas in the city that are safer than others, but they're still in the same city. The city as a whole is safer than it was four years ago, but not as safe as it was a generation ago." A generation ago, lovers took moonlit -strolls through the park, which has some street lights and lots of dark stretches at night As crime escalated in the 1960s and ; the fiscally strapped city let the park slide in the 70s, Central Park became far more threatening. Its image wasnt helped by the rape and beating of a young investment banker by a ' gang of youths who jumped her as she was jogging at night in the northern section in j 1989. On Monday afternoon, a jogger was : approached near the scene of the latest rape. The woman, who moved here in July and wouldn't give her name because she was skipping work, was asked if she felt less secure after Saturday night "What happened?" she asked.1 Amateur sleuths grab chance to help police crack real-life murder case BvKEAYPAVPSON San Fraicisco Examiner SAN FRANCISCO When TV cops need help, they turn to amateur sleuths from the chatty Angela Lansbury to the formidable Batman. Now real cops need help, and they're turning to the ultimate amateurs: ordinary, 9-to-5 folks who might spot clues that the pros have missed clues to murder. Uttering nary a "yuck!" or a "gross!" 25 would-be Miss Marples sat in a schoolroom last week and scrutinized color photos of a grisly crime that has baffled the San Francisco Police Department since Christmas. "Notice the chest wound it's located just below the left nipple and next to the fourth rib. That's above the left ventricle of the heart," said gray-haired, dark-suited homicide Inspector Earl Sanders, pointing at the chilling snapshot a rust-colored gash across a dead man's chest 4'Either the killer is vry lucky or was veryl, experienced to hit such a vital spot" he said' After almost a year of investigative work, cops havent found the killer or killers of Jian Fang, owner of a prominent noodle factory in the Bayview-Hunters Point area. So, last Saturday, Sanders presented key information on the Fang case including clues never before made public at a so-called "Murder We Solved" class at Horace Mann Middle School. The purpose: to get feedback from people who dont know the first thing about the case or about crime-fighting, for that matter in hopes that they'll perceive a forest where the experts see only trees. Sure enough, class members more than two-thirds of them women, each of whom paid $40 to become detective-for-a-day peppered Sanders with suggestions about what may or may not have happened on an ill-lit street in an industrial park at 10 minutes past midnight on Dec. 18, 1993. What's known is this: After Fang and a female co-worker drove away from the noodle factory after a long day's work, they were startled by two young men who rose from the back seat One thrust a knife under Fang's neck; the other held what appeared to be a gun against the woman's head. The assailants repeatedly demanded, "Where is the money?" the woman Liter told police. Fang tried to wrestle the knue from one man's hand and was stabbed in the chest they fled and he bled to death. It's a gruesome topic for a Saturday morning. So when Sanders sporting a handsome, 1940s-style black fedora first walked into the class, he immediately put everyone at ease by stating: "You want to be a homicide detective? First you have to buy yourself a hat like this." Next he gave class members a lengthy rundown on the Fang case. Then he asked them to ponder the clues that were askew, awkward, out of place clues akin to the "dog that did not bark" in a famous Sherlock Holmes story. And the class readily obliged, pointing out that The knife was an ordinary kitchen knife that appeared to be worn down, as if it had been repeatedly washed. The attackers spoke fluent Cantonese, Fang's native tongue. The stab wound was located above the left ventricle of the heart, where an experienced killer might have struck to ensure a quick death. Speculation ensued For example, how could a killer using such a crude weapon have been sophisticated enough to know to jab at the left ventricle? ? "It's intellectually stimulating parts of my brain I dont get to use all day," said class member Charlotte Doering, who works for San Francisco's child welfare department Other possible "clues" were quickly shot down by Sanders, a key investigator in the case. A few class members were puzzled by odd ring-shaped indentations on Fang's skin. But these were simply indentations created by rescue equipment used by emergency personnel when they arrived at the scene, Sanders said "Could the knife have been used by an employee in one of the restaurants that bought Fang's noodles?" a woman asked "That's an excellent question," Sanders said He noted that Chinese restaurants dont typically offer knives to customers. Hence, he speculated it's possible the knife was formerly used and repeatedly washed at a restaurant that serves both Chinese- and American-style food The class an allusion to the TV mystery show Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury was organized by Brooke Stewart, of Salinas. "I'm a mystery buff Onystery novelist) Ed Bains is one of my favorites," said Stewart, who has degrees in psychology and English literature. "I came up with the idea (of 'Murder We Solved") around the first of the year in 1993' Stewart owns the rights to the "Murder We Solved" concept and has held similar classes in Cerritos, Sacramento and San Jose. A video crew from Unsolved Mysteries filmed the class for use on the TV show. Class members also received a riveting lecture on basic police procedure from detective Sgt William J. Kennedy, a balding, gray-coated professional from the Pacific Grove Police Department with a relaxed, unpretentious speaking style. He described various murders and investigations he's handled over the years, and stressed the importance of knowing how to talk to people to talk in a way that elicits information. Kennedy cited the widespread belief that U.S. crime-fighting has been stymied by Supreme Court rulings that cops must tell suspects their "Miranda rights" for example, their right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. But in reality, Kennedy said suspects talk readily even after being notified of their ; rights. "I think they have a personal need to get it off their chest You can see it visually when you're talking to them," he said "Just before they confess, you can see the suspect's shoulders sag. He sighs, an&hen he starts to telr ' you what happened"!

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