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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2009 / 16 Sivan 5769

Believability is key in crime-hoax villains

By Michael Smerconish


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Memo to hoaxers: You've overplayed the race card. Better to blame the Vietnamese than the blacks. Maybe the Mexicans. Perhaps be daring and say your attacker looked like a guy from the Philadelphia suburbs. Whatever your story, come up with a new rap because the old tale about a couple of black guys just isn't working. Ask Bonnie Sweeten, the Bucks County, Pa., woman whose abduction hoax ended when she was found in Disney World with her daughter Julia Rakoczy, 9, last week.


The first of many red flags came when Sweeten said she'd been rear-ended by a black duo who threw her in the trunk of their Caddy with her daughter. Anyone who has ever driven through Upper Southampton, Pa., knows that four such disparate individuals could never have an interaction in broad daylight without being noticed.


And so her name gets added to a list that includes Charles Stuart, Samuel Asbell, Susan Smith, Jennifer Wilbanks and Ashley Todd.


Remember Stuart? In October 1989, he claimed that a black man shot and killed his pregnant wife (Charles also sustained a gunshot wound) in an apparent robbery gone wrong. A man named Willie Bennett became a prime suspect, though he was later cleared after Stuart's brother implicated Stuart himself, who committed suicide in January 1990.


Days later, and closer to home, Samuel Asbell, the gaudy former New Jersey prosecutor, resigned after holding a news conference to describe a high-speed chase through Camden during which he exchanged gunshots with two black assailants he suspected were drug dealers, terrorists, or Ku Klux Klan members. Within days, investigators had debunked the account — including Asbell's assertion that his shotgun blast made one assailant's head "explode."


Susan Smith claimed a black man carjacked her and abducted her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons in October 1994. Nine days later, Smith confessed to strapping them into their car seats and rolling the car into a South Carolina lake.


And in 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks, the so-called Runaway Bride, skipped town just days before her wedding. On the morning she was to be married, she called her husband and claimed she'd been abducted by a Hispanic man and a white woman. Turns out she'd planned the trip on her own.


Then there's Ashley Todd, the woman who reported last year that a black supporter of Barack Obama robbed her, and — when he saw a John McCain bumper sticker on her car — beat her and carved a "B" onto her cheek. The problem? The "B" was in reverse — like she'd drawn it herself while looking in a mirror. Todd later admitted her wounds were self-inflicted.


Why in each of these cases did the real perpetrator conjure up a racially tinged alibi?


That's a question for criminal profiler Pat Brown, author of "Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers." Brown told me that racism isn't a factor in implicating a nonexistent black perpetrator. Rather, it's a question of believability. "When people stage crimes, they often try to come up with what they think is a plausible scenario, the most believable scenario, the most sympathetic scenario," she explained.


The perception they cultivate, Brown said, can be driven by prevailing news storylines of the day. Brown noted that Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted in 1979 of killing his pregnant wife and two daughters in Fort Bragg, N.C., has claimed for years that drugged hippies broke into his home, slaughtered his family, and left him unconscious and bleeding.


Behind that story, Brown surmised, was the fact that "Charles Manson and his hippie gang made their way into the minds of the public" before the MacDonald family murders in 1970. Indeed, an issue of Esquire magazine detailing murders perpetrated by Manson followers — just six months beforehand — was found in MacDonald's home after the killings.


Brown continued: "Then, violent inner-city African-American crime became a popular news item and so those staging crimes moved to claiming black men were responsible for what happened. As the Hispanic population grows in the United States as an underclass, they will become the new 'offenders' in fabricated scenarios."


Whatever the window of believability, Brown told me that a common trait among these imaginative perpetrators is psychopathy. Many are "manipulative, arrogant, tend toward grandiose thinking, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions," she said.


Brown suggested that in some cases, the true perpetrators are looking to eliminate the people or parts of their lives preventing them from moving on to something newer or more exciting. Others are attempting to extricate themselves from trouble. Or it could be a way of seeking notoriety — a way of making the desire to "be someone special" a reality.


In Sweeten's bid to make herself the victim of black abductors, she actually undercut her own credibility. Forget the undamaged car, parking ticket, and cell phone tower. Two black guys in an altercation with a 38-year-old white woman and her 9-year-old daughter attracts attention in Lower Bucks County. So where were the 911 calls from rubbernecking drivers? Maybe Sweeten was too busy booking the Grand Floridian to plan that.


Perps like Charles Stuart and Susan Smith think they can dupe the multitudes of investigators, reporters and onlookers their fantastic cases will surely attract. "They are arrogant and think they are smarter than everyone else," Brown told me.


Not smart enough, apparently.

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Previously:

05/14/09 Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?
04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about ‘plans’
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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