NJ Man Who Murdered Family Says He's Cured of Schizophrenia And Ready To Be Released After 30 Years In Prison
A mentally ill man who brutally murdered his mother and stepfather 30 years ago claims that he has been cured of schizophrenia and will not be a danger to society if he is released from jail.
52-year-old Richard Spillane of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., was just 23 years old when he murdered his 64-year-old mother and 74-year-old stepfather and dumped their bodies in New York’s Harriman State Park. Police found the couple’s bodies a month after the murder took place, and Spillane, who had originally reported to police that they went missing, was arrested and charged with the murders.
Nearly 30 years later, Spillane says that he has been taking anti-psychosis medications for a long time and no longer hears voices in his head.
“I’m horrified and repulsed by the crimes now,” said Spillane in a recent interview. “At the time when I was planning the crimes, I thought I’d have a party when I was done — you know, drink some beer and have a great time. But it was horrible and horrendous, and that’s been emphasized to me over the years.”
During the 1986 trial, doctors diagnosed Spillane with paranoid schizophrenia, and the sick man was sentenced to two concurrent 30-year sentences. Spillane’s remaining family, including his sister, have all lived in fear of him in the years since the murders, and some have even moved away and changed their names in anticipation of his one day being released.
“I’ve been locked up for so many years that it must scare every person that gets released after that much time,” said Spillane. “I realize the significance of what I’ve done and people are scared. I realize they might want to keep a tight leash on me for a while.”
For now, the man’s parole hearing is scheduled for May 5, and a board will determine if he still poses a threat to society. It’s possible that if he is released, he will be required to spend months in a psychiatric facility.
In 2013, Brian Cooper was accused of sexually assaulting and killing Alisha Bromfield.
Convicting Cooper of sexual assault proved to be fairly simple. Unfortunately, the jury could not decide on the murder charge because he was drunk during the attack.
Bromfield's family is now trying to overturn a Wisconsin law which prevents a first-degree murder conviction when someone is drunk because "a killer's intent can't be proved if intoxicated," reports The Daily Mail.
Cooper allegedly strangled Bromfield because she refused to rekindle their relationship.
After Bromfield died, Cooper sexually assaulted her body. Bromfield was six months pregnant.
Both Bromfield and her unborn baby girl died in the attack.
According to Jury foreman Mark A. Hagen, the jury's main disagreement was over the meaning of a line in the instructions they were given.
The instructions read: "If the defendant was so intoxicated that the defendant did not intend to kill Alisha Bromfield, you must find the defendant not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide."
Cooper has never denied killing Bromfield, and his defense at trial was that the alcohol he consumed inhibited his ability to form intent.
"This bill is to eliminate voluntary intoxication as a defense for criminal liability," the post read.
The petition gained 6,300 signatures in 48 hours. It will go to the House, Senate, and the Governor of Wisconsin.
"Being drunk is no excuse for murder. We are trying to get a law passed that amends voluntary intoxication that it cannot be used as a defense for murdering," Sherry Anicich, Bromfield's mother, told CBS Chicago.
Cooper will be retried on murder charges for the deaths of Bromfield and her unborn child on May 5.
In many areas of India, witch hunting is not just a dark practice from the past, but an ongoing problem.
As Friday writer Matteo Fagotto wrote in a story titled, "The Witch Hunts of India," villagers in rural areas frequently target women in their societies and accuse them of witchcraft. According to Michigan State sociology professor Soma Chaudhuri, whom Fagotto interviewed for his article, the reasons behind the witch hunts often stem from competition for land.
“In Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha and in Purulia in West Bengal, the struggle for tribal land is intense within the community,” Chaudhuri said. "These are mineral-rich lands so mining companies are encroaching these places, leading to dearth of land. Adivasi [tribal] women who inherit land from their fathers or husbands are often targeted. Envious family members start the accusations against the women to discredit them, leading to loss of inheritance.”
One of these fatal witch hunts occurred in Naya Raipur, India, on Wednesday. The victim was 52-year-old Dulari Bai. Bai’s brother-in-law, Mehattar, and his family had accused Bai of being a witch for years.
Recently, Mehattar’s daughter-in-law fell ill. While sick, the woman murmured Bai’s name. Mehattar and his family took this to mean Bai was casting spells on the sick family member.
On Wednesday, Mehattar and four family members entered Bai’s house and killed her. Police were called to the scene, and all four people were arrested.
Dr. Dinesh Mishra, who works to reduce superstition and black magic beliefs in the country, spoke to the Times of India about Bai's murder and others like it.
"[The] psychology behind such [an] extreme step is usually to end the cause, as just a suspicion on someone would not serve the purpose and [the] villagers' problem would remain intact,” Mishra said. “Hence, without giving second thoughts, they either humiliate, assault or kill women under suspicion ... There's an urgent need to make people aware about how innocents are being killed over groundless issues.”
A talking parrot in India helped put a murderer behind bars last week.
On February 20th, Indian woman Neelam Sharma and her dog were inexplicably found dead in their house. Local police were struggling to find suspects in the murder during the following week.
Then, Sharma’s husband, Vijay Sharma, noticed a peculiar pattern. Every time a nephew named Ashutosh visited the house, the parrot started acting differently.
"During discussions too, whenever Ashutosh's name was mentioned, the parrot would start screeching. This raised my suspicion and I informed the police," Sharma said.
After being questioned by police, Ashutosh confessed to killing Sharma and her dog. Ashutosh said he broke into the house to steal cash and valuables, and killed Sharma to make sure she wouldn’t report him.
"We checked his call details and took him in custody,” police said. “He accepted his crime and informed us that he was accompanied by an accomplice. They had entered the house with the intention of taking away cash and other valuables."
Way to go, little parrot.
A 2011 study found parrots have the intellectual capabilities of a four-year-old child. One famous gray parrot named Alex reportedly understood the concept of “0” and had a vocabulary of over 150 words. He used his impressive vocabulary in conversations with his caretakers.
A Washington, D.C. woman training to be a nun at a convent has pleaded guilty to killing her newborn baby.
26-year-old Sosefina Amoa came to the United States from Samoa to study at the Little Sisters of the Poor convent back in the fall, and only five days after arriving, she gave birth to a baby boy. Amoa feared the her fellow sisters would hear the baby cry and find out about her sexual activities, so she covered the baby’s nose and mouth with a cloth for a few minutes to keep it from crying. When she removed the cloth, she discovered that the baby wasn’t breathing.
According to reports, instead of getting help or reporting what happened, the nun-in-training stayed in her room with the baby until the next morning.
After both the woman and her deceased baby were brought to the hospital, Amoa was charged with first-degree murder.
“We all feel this is a very tragic situation. We are just praying for everyone involved,” said Sister Constance Veit. “Now that it is in the hands of the legal system, we will not be providing any further comment.”
Sentencing is set for May 23, and the prosecutor has asked that she receive at least four but no more than 10 years in prison.
Earlier this month, Opposing Views reported about the gruesome death of 28-year-old Alfred Wright. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance were initially alarming; he reportedly abandoned his truck at a gas station and ran off into the woods, completely randomly. 18 days later, his body was found in the woods nearby, and he was brutally maimed. Wright was stripped down almost naked, wearing only his boxers and a single sock with his cell phone tucked into it. One ear, his eyes, and his tongue were all missing from his body, and despite all signs pointing to foul play, authorities quickly dismissed it as a drug overdose.
Wright’s family immediately knew that police were wrong, as they claimed their son, a married father of two and well-regarded physical therapist, was not using drugs, and they tried to get police to investigate it as a murder. The official autopsy done by police said there was no reason to think it was foul play, but when the family decided to get a private autopsy done, that pathologist determined that the cause of death was severe trauma.
“The Wright family and I had a three-hour meeting with Sherriff Maddox in his office and there was a map that I got up and took a marker and asked the Sherriff to search one specific area on that map and Sherriff Maddox told me no,” said Quanell X, leader of the New Black Panther Party and representative for the Wright family. “Not only did Sherriff Maddox tell me that we could not search that area, he went further to say that if any of the search organizers decided to search that area they would be arrested on the spot. I knew right then that Sherriff Maddox had his fingerprints all over this young man’s disappearance.”
The Wright family turned to Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, asking if she could appeal to the Department of Justice to get involved. Finally, the federal government took on the case, and since then, there have been some major updates.
According to reports, there has been speculation that Wright had an affair with the daughter of the sheriff that was initially investigating the case. Although the daughter denies the affair, that would definitely explain why the police department was so blasé about the case from the start.
“On a telephone conference call with Sherriff Maddox and Texas Ranger Danny Young, Sherriff Maddox denied ever hearing any rumors that his daughter knew Alfred Wright,” said Quanell X. “I asked him how he could possibly know that and he admitted to all of us on the telephone that he questioned his own daughter. I asked him [if] he thought that it was right for him to question his own daughter during a major investigation and he said yes.”
The investigation is ongoing, and now, the Wright family is offering a $30,000 reward for anyone that can give them information about Alfred’s death.
After 23 years, a murder has been solved. The catalyst for the breakthrough in discovery is, as it has been in so many recent cases, DNA testing.
The unsolved murder involved Ivelisse Berrios-Berguerisse, a 23-year-old Miami woman who was found killed by strangulation on Nov. 27, 1990.
The culprit, however, is likely already dead. Newly-conducted DNA testing linked a man named Oba Chandler to Berrios-Berguerisse’s murder.
Chandler was arrested in 1994 for another strangulation crime, in which he was found guilty of raping and killing a woman and her two daughters. Chandler was executed for the crime in 2011 at the age of 65, Fox News reports.
The Berrios-Berguerisse case was solved by detectives Brian Koenig and Dan Cucchi. The latter detective explained how the DNA testing process has vastly improved since Berrios-Berguerisse’s body was found.
“Back in 1990, rape kits and the DNA collection process were not the same but now it’s way more advanced. You can actually take a smaller sample and through the new technology they can develop potential profiles and suspect DNA, where in the past they could not,” Cucchi said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Because DNA testing technology was limited in the early 1990s, many cases were left unsolved or resulted in the wrongful incarceration of individuals. The technology is now a much more trusted, valid form of identification at crime scenes than it was twenty years ago.
The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to proving currently incarcerated individuals’ innocence through new DNA testing. The organization has already successfully freed several inmates that had been jailed for decades despite their DNA clearly not being involved at the crime scene.
DNA testing should only improve in the future, resulting in more honest and legitimate crime investigations.
A Maryland official at the National Security Agency has officially been charged with beating his 3-year-old adopted son to death.
36-year-old Brian Patrick O' Callaghan of Damascus, Maryland was arrested on February 16. According to reports, O’Callaghan, who was chief of the NSA’s Korea division, took his adopted Korean son Hyunsu O' Callaghan to the emergency room on February 1 because he was unresponsive. Hyunsu died two days later, and doctors said he died of injuries consistent with being beaten.
"These types of injuries are consistent with acute head trauma and Brian O'Callaghan could not provide an explanation that would cause this type of medical distress to Hyunsu," it said in the medical documents.
O’Callaghan told police that his son had fallen in the bathtub on January 31 and that he became unresponsive the next day, ultimately leading to his death. The charges against him, however, contradict these claims and allege that O’Callaghan beat his son to death.
"The injuries to this child were catastrophic injuries," said State's Attorney John McCarthy. "I think the evidence supports the charges that were brought."
The NSA official’s lawyer Steve McCool says that the allegations against him are false and that the truth will come out during the trial.
"When all the evidence is presented in this case, we're all gonna know the truth, which is this was a terrible, terrible tragedy and not a crime," said McCool.
O’Callaghan’s grandfather William Rose echoes McCool’s sentiments, maintaining that his grandson is completely innocent.
"I find it impossible to believe that he's been indicted for murder because he's worked so hard to get this baby," said Rose to the Washington Post. "He was so loving with him. He's been so wonderful with his other child. I've never seen him do anything that would make me believe he is capable of that."
O’Callaghan has officially been charged in the young boy’s death and is currently being held without bond.
Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana say they’ve arrested two teens that are accused of killing a 55-year-old man earlier this month in a random.
The two teens, 19-year-old Windall Lavel Herring and an unidentified 15-year-old assailant, attacked the victim, John Bannon, as part of what police think was an attempted robbery. Police say that the two teens decided to see which one of them could hit harder, and when Bannon fell to the ground after being hit, he hit his head on the concrete and suffered a brain hemorrhage. The attack happened on February 1, and Bannon died of his injuries last Friday.
“You just want to know why, why him,” said Bannon’s sister Susan Smith. “Why him, of all people, (who) didn’t bother anybody.”
Both teens were originally wanted for second-degree battery, but since Bannon died and they’ve been arrested, their charges were changed to second-degree murder.
Despite speculation for the teen’s motives, police say they have not officially determined a reason why the teens would attack Bannon.
A Chinese police officer was sentenced to death on Monday for murdering a pregnant woman and injuring her husband. In addition to the deaths sentence, Hu Ping was ordered to pay $12,000 to the victim’s family.
According to reports, the woman, Wu Ying, was working at the rice noodle shop she owned with her husband Cai Shiyong when Ping entered demanding milk tea.
Wu told Hu Ping that the store didn’t serve milk tea, which enraged the police officer, so he pulled out his gun and opened fire. Wu and her unborn baby were killed while her husband Cai was wounded from the gunfire.
Hu claimed that he was drunk when the incident occurred, but a hospital evaluation proved that he was in fact sober.
Hu, who was called a “bastard” by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has now been sentenced to death for the brutal and senseless murder. The case sparked outrage all over, with Chinese Internet users sharing a poster that said, “Death would not be a sufficient punishment for his crime."