Thursday, June 12, 2008
Going through an old filing cabinet of mine I found this clipping from a 1992 newspaper. It's about my former coworker, Warren, and the suspicion police put on him after the disappearance of his wife.
I've told this story before, but here's the short course: I worked with Warren and his wife, Margo, in the 1980s. Warren was married with a baby daughter when he met Margo. They fell in love and he divorced his wife, marrying Margo, moving in with her and her two teenaged sons.
Warren had quit the school district where we worked and gone to work on the loading dock of a trucking company. Margo had gotten a job as head custodian at a junior high school. Warren was ass-over-teakettle in love with his wife, and because he did shift work would visit her at work quite often (irking the staff, too). One day in February, 1992, Margo disappeared, a search was mounted, but she wasn't found. A few months later a father and son, hunting in the desert west of Salt Lake City, found some human remains, all that was left of Margo.
During the time of the search and afterward Warren was the main "person of interest" to the police. A couple of years later a man confessed to killing Margo and two teenage girls, who he had buried on his uncle's pig farm.
Here's what bothers me about this case, and it's an object lesson for us all: if your spouse disappears, better make sure you have a rock solid alibi. Better make sure you have a half dozen witnesses who can testify to your whereabouts, or are seen on a surveillance camera somewhere to prove you were somewhere else when the spouse went missing. Better make sure you don't make any cell phone calls that can be interpreted as hiring a hit man. Some of this I learned on CSI, Forensic Files and Law and Order, but a lot of it I realized after closely following the Warren and Margo case. When the cops lock onto someone they think is guilty, they shake him like a dog shakes a rat. This blog ain't called Paranoia Strikes Deep for nothing. The way cops think will make you paranoid.
That a couple of teenaged girls had gone missing the same time as Margo didn't seem pertinent to the police. What the killer later confessed was that he had gone into the junior high school on that February morning looking for a junior high girl to kidnap and kill. Margo, who was a petite, pretty blonde woman, fit the size requirements.
Warren had a lot of flaws to his character. We fellow workers thought he was immature, a blowhard and braggart, an adulterer, and he was also a liar. "Liar" describes most of the rest of us, too. We've all lied to keep ourselves out of trouble. Warren passed two lie detector tests, yet the cops still thought he was their man. We others knew when Warren lied he was so bad at it he always got caught. He just wasn't that smart. So if he got caught lying about something minor he'd done at work and couldn't get away with it, how could be get away with lying about his wife's disappearance and murder?
Margo's killer spent years in the court system, was sentenced to death but beat the lethal injection by dying of a bowel obstruction. He was eating his court papers. He would have gone free forever had he not come forward and confessed, because the cops were so sure Warren did in his wife they were blinded to any other possibilities.