MONDAY, JANUARY 6 The week kicks off with the fascinating story of Kathleen Jenny and Virginia Erickson, the 59-year-old housewives in Spokane, WA, charged with masterminding a $1 million pot-growing operation out of their basements. According to newly released court documents (reported today by the Associated Press), the late-middle-aged women began their homespun pot network in 1994. So successful was the venture that before long it involved both women's husbands, who helped harvest and distribute the plants grown not only in the couples' home basements but in the basements of three additional houses, purchased with pot revenues for the sole purpose of growing more of the sweet, salubrious weed. Things were fine until last summer, when a Spokane bank teller alerted police to the funny smell emanating from Kathleen Jenny's and Virginia Erickson's cash deposits. Following this olfactory tip, drug agents searched the couples' various homes, finding over 500 marijuana plants and $110,000 in cash, plus some psychedelic mushrooms. Last week, Kathleen Jenny and Virginia Erickson pled guilty to money laundering, with each woman facing up to six years behind bars. As for the husbands, Francis Jenny, 65, and Jack Erickson, 66, have pled guilty to conspiracy, with each man facing up to three years in prison.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 7 In much ickier illegal doings: Today brought further thickening of the plot revolving around Sherry Murphy, the 41-year-old go-go dancer from Newark, NJ, wanted by the FBI on charges of child endangerment. Ms. Murphy's hideous saga heated up last Saturday, when her live-in boyfriend was poking around the basement and found Raheem and Tyrone Williams, aged seven and four, locked in a putrid basement room. The boyfriend called the cops, and the starving-and-dehydrated kids were rushed to Newark's University Hospital, where Raheem Williams told investigators he had a twin brother he "hadn't seen in a long time." Searching Sherry Murphy's home, police soon found (crammed in a plastic storage bin) the body of Raheem's twin Faheem Williams, whose death authorities attribute to starvation and blunt force to the stomach. Ruling Faheem Williams' death a homicide, New Jersey police immediately began searching for Sherry Murphy (identified by court reports as a cousin to the Williams boys' mother), who began taking care of the boys after their mother was jailed in March. Today the FBI joined the search for Murphy. (Murphy was eventually found and arrested on January 9 in Newark, New Jersey.)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8 Following yesterday's horrific tale of child abuse comes today's relatively benign story of attempted child purchase. Today the San Jose Mercury News published an exclusive interview with Kenneth Eugene Parnell, the 71-year-old convicted child kidnapper and pedophile arrested last week for attempting to buy a four-year-old boy. By his own admission, Parnell was hoping to pay $500 in exchange for one toilet-trained African American boy, to whom Parnell would "give a good home." "The main thing is that I am lonesome," said Parnell from his cell at the Santa Rita Jail. Speaking with the Mercury News, Parnell offered no apologies for his deeds and dodged questions about his intentions with the child he'd hoped to purchase. Thankfully, Parnell's boy-purchasing was preempted by the plan's would-be negotiator--the sister of Parnell's former caregiver--who told reporters she knew of Parnell's past when she concocted her fictitious boy-for-sale and wiretapped herself throughout the negotiations. According to police reports, Parnell allegedly gave the woman $100 with the understanding that he'd pay the remaining $400 upon receipt of the potty-trained boy. Last Friday, Parnell was arrested at his Berkeley apartment and charged with solicitation to commit kidnapping, attempted purchase of a human being, and attempted child stealing. With a pair of convictions already under his belt (one for kidnapping, one for sexual assault of a minor), Parnell's "third strike" could land this creep behind bars for the rest of his creepy life.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 9 Today brought the publication of a new Stranger, featuring a Last Days item about the good deeds and iffy voting record of Tennessee Senator Bill Frist. After reporting Frist's fiercely anti-choice voting record and predicting his emergence as a key figure in the forthcoming abortion wars, we wrapped up our reportage with the seriocomic suggestion, "Get those partial-birth abortions while you can, ladies"--a sentence described by one reader as "the most insensitive you've ever typed." So wrote Hot Tipper Imagine ("pronounced IM-a-GENE"), urging Last Days "to use a bit more heart when referring to a process some women will put in the 'horrible--will never forget' file folder of their brain's cabinet." "I'm pro-choice," Imagine continued, "but I don't believe in using abortion as something you 'go get while you can.' So please, think before you type, especially when it comes to stuff you'll never know about." Last Days thanks Imagine for caring enough to write, and offers our assurance that our "heartless" statement was by no means thoughtless. Having removed ourselves from arguments over the morality of abortion (something every uterus-free human should do), Last Days' only concern is its legality. For now, partial-birth abortions are legal; if Bush & Frist have their way, they could soon be outlawed. Which means: Get 'em while you can (if that's your thing).
··Back to Senator Frist: Adding yet another dimension to the man known as Frist was an article in the New York Observer, forwarded to Last Days by Hot Tipper Jim, penned by Ron Rosenbaum, and pegging Senator Frist as a cold-blooded cat killer. The kitty-killing incidents stem from Frist's days as a Harvard medical student; racing to finish his thesis, Frist overcame the Harvard lab's lack of research animals by visiting Boston animal shelters and adopting cats, which Frist would "treat as pets" for a few days before hacking them up in the lab. "It was, of course, a heinous and dishonest thing to do," writes Frist in his 1989 memoir, Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life-and-Death Dramas of the New Medicine.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 10 Nothing happened today (unless you count the Associated Press item about I Can Fly, the forthcoming children's book illustrating the "inspirational life" of R. Kelly, the poor boy from Chicago who overcame enormous odds to become an R&B superstar currently facing 21 counts of child pornography).
SATURDAY, JANUARY 11 Speaking of days when "nothing happens": Today Last Days received a letter of concern from reader Kevy, who denounced our published weekly output as "lacking, and here's why: From one issue to the next you insist that 'nothing happened today' on one or more days a week. Clearly something happened--you're just not creative enough to come up with a synopsis of an event on that particular day, and/or you are too lazy to put forth the effort." Last Days thanks Kevy for writing, and would like to offer some words on the previously off-limit subject of days when "nothing happened." As such days invariably fall toward the end of the week, Last Days has always hoped readers would assume we'd simply run out of room. However, the truth behind Nothing Days is far darker, involving in every instance some combination of lawsuit-fearing "publisher discretion," garden-variety libel-watch, and federal-level censorship. But trust us, dear readers: Everything is done with your best interests in mind.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 12 Nothing happened today.
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