St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on April 30, 1989 · Page 62
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 62

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 30, 1989
Page 62
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Page 62 article text (OCR)

(3 7S APR 3 0 1989 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH To LOUI REVIEWS 2 OBITUARIES 11 D SECTION SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 1989 . Chapter Closes In National Killings Case "-nr.' i H-.i SUE ANN WOOD READER'S ADVOCATE By Andre Jackson ' Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Sometime last week, a courthouse clerk in St. Louis scribbled a ledger entry and officially closed a chapter of one of the worst mass murders In the city's history. 4 It was nearly midnight on Sept. 4, 1987, when police officers responding to a frantic call entered a National supermarket in north St. Louis and discovered that seven people had been lined up and shot, five of them fatally. Four days short of 600 passed before the second of two defendants was convicted in the killings last week. Hour upon hour of Investigation and plain hard work took place in the interim. ; . The second-degree murder convictions of Donnie Blankenshtp on Monday brought a relatively quiet reaction from police officers and prosecutors. In September, Marvin Jennings, an acquaintance of Blankenship, was found guilty in St. Louis Circuit Court of first-degree murder in the case. Jennings was later sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. . Prosecutors had sought the death - penalty In both cases. . "I'm glad they're done," said Circuit Attorney George Peach. The prosecutor said he hoped that Judge Thomas F. McGulre would sentence Blankenship to the maximum term of five life sentences. Sentencing is set for June 8. "I don't see how the court would be able to distinguish one life from another," Peach said. ... Although pleased at the outcome of the second criminal trial, police insisted that case files and evidence were not ready yet for shipment to a musty storage room. Police and prosecutors firmly be lieve that at least one other person took part in the robbery. Capt. Charles McCrary oversaw much of the investigation into the killings. "There's still more to be done," he said last week. "I'm not going to be completely satisfied until we get everybody remotely involved in it" In an Interview, Peach was doubtful that more arrests would be made. Additional charges probably would require a confession by Blankenship or Jennings which is considered unlikely or a slip of the tongue by another, unknown assailant that would be heard by a witness willing to come forward. Peach also cited a small chance that a surviving witness could run across the assailant McCrary acknowledged that the Police Department had been criticized in the course of the Investigation. Because a stronger case often results from keeping crucial details secret before trial, police kept mum at the time, he said. Peach praised the efforts of police and prosecutors but said he remained perplexed by parts of the initial police investigation. Four men were arrested days after the crime and charged See KILLINGS, Page I Suspended Animation 1 . i r im1 . A ' v , , " iv ' 11 i y ; : - - ' " X (,..&-r 4 ? i 2nd Seat Targeted By Blacks Police Board Quest Could Hit Conway, By Fred W. Lindecke Of the Post-Dispatch Staff ' Even before former Mayor James F. Conway is confirmed as a new member of the St. Louis Police Board, blacks are looking at his seat as the first opportunity to pursue their goal of two blacks on the five-member board. 1 On Friday, Gov. John Ashcroft nominated four new members of the board. In addition to Conway, they are: James O'Flynn, president of the Automobile Club of Missouri, who was designated as president. Nesby Moore Jr., president of Union-Sarah Economic Development Corp. David A. Robbins, vice president of Wainwright Industries Inc. Moore is the only black among the four. Since the appointment in 1973 of Theodore D. McNeal (since deceased) as its first black member, the board has had. only one black member at a time. . . That situation has persisted despite repeated requests that two black members would reflect that nearly half of the city's population Is black, ; Under a new law used for the first time on the new board, the members were appointed to staggered terms. Ashcroft appointed Conway to the one-year term that will expire Jan. 31. Moore and Sen. John F. Bass, D-St. Louis, said they planned to use the expiration of Conway's term as the first opportunity to try again to persuade Ashcroft to appoint a second black to the board. All four nominees live in Bass' dis-; trict, and he said he would endorse all four. The nominees must be confirmed by the Missouri Senate before adjournment May 12. .-.;. - ' The fifth member of the board ts. -. Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr., who serves by virtue of his office. O'Flynn said he expected a move by blacks to get Conway's seat "I understand that," O'Flynn said. "I have no objection to two blacks on the board." But he said that if Conway, who was -a member of the board while he was mayor, distinguished himself as a board member this year, "everybody is going to have to take a look at it when the time comes." Conway was on a float trip near : Salem, Mo., and could not be reached . V See BLACKS, Page 4 V III v Karen Elshout WhiteleyPost-Dispatch Louis Zoo. Knickmeyer is an employee of sculptor Bob Cassilly, who created all of the fiberglass creatures that adorn the new exhibit. Kurt Knickmeyer hoisting up a fiberglass model of a hammerhead shark with a pulley and putting it into a permanent position Friday in the new Living World pavilion at the St. Hurtful Word Spurs Inquiry Many readers reacted with words of shock and outrage to a headline over a Page-One photograph in the Post-Dispatch on Friday. The headline by itself was innocuous enough: Stadium Spadework. What made it trigger such a reaction was its placement over a color photograph of East St. Louis Mayor Carl E. Officer and two school board members, each with one foot on a . gold-colored spade at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new school stadium. v Those offended by the words pointed out that "spade" is often used as a derogatory slang word for "black." They saw its use over a photo of three black officials as extremely insulting, not only to those pictured but to all black people. 1 More than 60 telephone calls had come to the Reader's Advocate's office by late Friday, almost all from readers who had been offended by the wording of the picture's headline. Many other calls were received in the newsroom. Some asked if It had been intended as some kind of bad joke or pun. Many asked how it had slipped past the eyes of editors into print. ' Editor William F. Woo also had reacted with shock when he saw it Friday morning, he told me. He had helped select the color photo for Page One on Thursday afternoon but had not seen the caption or headline before publication. . , The moment Woo arrived at the office Friday, he began tracing the chain of actions that led to something he said should never have occurred. He learned that nobody who had seen the words and picture in the first edition on Thursday night had been struck by the possible derogatory meaning. He quickly ascertained that the copy editor who wrote the headline bad not intended it as a joke or pun but merely as an alliterative two words referring to digging. Woo told me had a joke been intended, "it would have been a firing offense, immediately." But Woo did not blanje the writer , of the headline, the news editor who was responsible for the front page or any of the editors on duty Thursday night when the first edition arrived at the newsroom. It was, he said, a collective failure. "One can assess blame for this incident at many points along the chain of journalism that leads to the daily paper," Woo said, "but the fact is that it appeared, that we ought not to make excuses for it and, most important, that it must not happen again." i Asked what he would like for me to tell readers, Woo replied, "I regret and apologize for the offense and pain that was the inadvertent result of the headline." In search of answers to questions raised by readers, I talked to people at several points of that "chain of journalism" mentioned by the editor. I learned that the photo originally had a different headline, written at the Picture Desk. It had said, "Digging In." ; That headline and the caption had been read and approved at the City Desk and then had gone to the Copy Desk for editing and processing before being set in type by the computer. A copy editor had sought a catchier phrase than "digging in," one that would refer more specifically to the ground-breaking and preparations for a new, much-antic-, ipated sports facility in East St. Louis. That copy editor, Cleon "Skip" Swayzee, told me in anguished tones Friday that a double meaning for part of the word "spadework" had never crossed his mind when he wrote the headline. ; "I plead total innocence as to intention," he said. "I regret terribly the way it's being seen." The next person to see the headline Thursday night was the news editor, Carolyn Kingcade, who saw it on the Page-One paste-up form. However, that paste-up did not contain a copy of the color picture, which had to go through a different process for printing. While she had seen the picture earlier, only a blank space was on the paste-up beneath the headline when she approved the page for publication. Kingcade was as anguished as Swayzee when she talked with me Friday. She said she had "nearly died" when she saw the paper in the morning, having gone off duty Thursday night before the first edition had been printed. Seeing the headline over the picture, she had realized how It would be perceived by many readers. Several readers who called to complain about the headline attributed it to what they called "obviously white racist editors." That charge I could easily refute. Swayzee is white; Kingcade is black; neither is a racist. Both are experienced, highly competent editors who simply overlooked a possible double meaning of a common word. What can be done to prevent Such an oversight in the future? Human error, of course, can never be completely eliminated from any human endeavor. But Woo has asked jj" See ADVOCATE, Page 6 State's School Proposal Comes Under Fire for school desegregation. And the School Board is working on its own plan to tighten its belt, reorganize and decentralize administration. That plan, ordered by the court, has yet to be made public and is expected to be completed soon, Thomas said. Michael Fields, assistant state attorney general, said: "We believe we've demonstrated to the court that consolidation can be done if they want to. "We don't apologize for a fiscally responsible attitude. Somebody has to have one," Fields said. School Board member Thomas Bu-gel said the board should give serious thought to the state's proposal. "My first reaction is that some of the state's points are well-taken," he said. "I personally think we can make some big improvements in the planning process." The district operates 128 school buildings and has about 45,000 students and 3,000 teachers. Enrollment hit a peak of about 116,000 students in the late 1960s and then declined See SCHOOLS, Page 4 By Linda Eardley Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Words like "ludicrous," "disaster" and "decimating" are being used by most officials of the St. Louis public schools and their employees' groups when they talk about the state's proposal to reorganize public high schools, close other schools and eliminate many staff positions. "It would be disastrous because it would have such a wide Impact on the entire educational system," said Mary Franklin, president of St. Louis Teach- - ers Union Local 420. School Board President Joyce Thomas dismissed the parts of the proposal to convert three high schools to middle schools and to cut nearly in half the number of jobs in some schools. "That is so ludicrous," Thomas said. "It doesn't warrant discussion. They have no authority to even intimate what we're going to do with staff." Missouri offered the proposal for reorganization last week to the federal court as part of the areawlde plan v 4 i r ' : .. V,.'.' i 1 Yv-V - ""v -? Tv rs Jh Heston Cites Media Bias Over Guns By Terry J. Hughes ; and Tom Uhlenbrock Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Charlton Heston beamed as he hoisted an ornate silver- and gold-plated flintlock rifle above his head and leaned forward to the microphone. "I have only one more comment to make: From my cold, dead hands!" he declared a reference to an anti-gun control slogan. The several hundred National Rifle Association members jumped to their feet and applauded and cheered, saluting the actor at the group's 118th annual dinner, held Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. The hand-crafted rifle was presented ' to him as a symbol of the NRA's appreciation for his support over the years. ' His theme was repeated throughout the four-day convention, which ends at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Cervantes Convention Center. Heston warned repeatedly that the rights of law-abiding people were being threatened by the news media, which he labeled as "almost solidly anti-gun." "The media bias is seen clearest in their orchestrated response to the Purdy killings in California," Heston said, referring to the killing of five children in a schoolyard in Stockton by Patrick Edward Purdy, who then killed himself. The shooting prompted nationwide calls for bans on semiautomatic weapons, laws that Heston said were ridlcu- ,1 See NRA, Page 11 Gift Of Life Goes Awry For Family Woman Who Gave Organ To Kin Dies By Robert Kelly - Of the Post-Dispatch Staff Doctors at Barnes Hospital have transplanted kidneys from 360 living donors since that part of the hospital's organ transplant program began in 1965. Although considered major surgery, the procedure has been almost surprisingly risk-Tree for the donors. ; But earlier this month, a kidney donor who had been in good health died six days after one of her neys was transplanted Into her brother's body at Barnes. The donor, Carla R. Grammer, 23, of Brighton, 111., died April 17. She and her husband, David, would have marked their seventh wedding anniversary on June 18. They have a daughter and a son, Tina, 5, and Shane, 4. David Grammer said he was facing the loss of his wife one day at a time. "I have good days, and I have bad," he said. The children have been "fantastic,' he said. "They both know Mommy's in heaven." Authorities said Mrs. Grammer's death had been caused by an embolism, or blood clot, that entered a lung shortly after one of her kidneys was removed on April 11 and successfully transplanted in her broth- IA Davis, In a photograph taken about five years ago. Grammer died April 17. Carla R. Grammer (right) with her brother, Brian Davis, and parents, Yvonne and Billy vis, added, "I've had six children and nine grandchildren. But I only had one daughter, and she and I were very close." Miller said hospital officials had reviewed the care given Grammer at Barnes "and found that all appropriate precautions were taken to prevent complications." He also said patients routinely were told of dangers associated with any surgery. Recent medical litera- See DONOR, Page ( er, Brian Davis, 27, of Fosterburg, near Alton. Her death was the first of a kidney donor that might have been linked to the surgery in the 24 years those transplant operations have been performed at Barnes, said a hospital spokesman, John Miller. "I can tell you that, in general, any major surgery carries a risk of mortality," Miller said. "But we've had no deaths possibly linked to kidney donations until this one." ' Members of Grammer's family are still asking why. "I just think they rushed her in and out of the hospital too quickly," Grammer's father, Billy Davis of Fos.erburg, said in an interview last week. "I think they should have examined her more carefully before they let her go home. "They never told us that anything could go wrong. I never dreamed of anything like this." - .Grammer's mother, Yvonne Da- r

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