When a police chief goes bad


The city of Savannah, Georgia is a favorite tourist destination. It’s a great place for vacationers to leave the rat race behind and climb into a horse-drawn carriage to clippity-clop their way through the city’s scenic historic squares. From there their carriage winds down to the waterfront, along River Street, where riders are often seen gawking at the shops and inside open-front bars. The slow-moving carriages are passed by groups of squealing and laughing teenagers, with heads and arms hanging out of the windows of old black hearses, as they head for the next stops on ghost tours.

Well into the night, tourists are often out and about, strolling along the downtown sidewalks doing the things all Savannah tourists do—point at old buildings, gaze at civil war relics, and play touchy-feely with the gray-green Spanish Moss that dangles from the crepe myrtles along the waterfront. It’s a fascinating place, for sure.

But residents of Savannah see things a bit differently. They know not to challenge the unwritten rule of crossing the line that separates one gang turf from another. The locals know and understand that just a few blocks away from the hub of tourist activity is a place where gunshots ring out at any time of the day or night. Bodies are sometimes found sprawled on the streets, in front or back yards, and in homes or cars shot up by gang members.

Drug activity is rampant. Prostitution is nearly out of control. Illegal gun sales occur on a regular basis. Assaults. Rapes. Illegal gambling. It’s all there, and it’s all within a stone’s throw of pricey hotels and Paula Deen the Butter Queen’s eatery.

Help! Help! Help! That’s what the residents of Savannah have cried for a long time now. They want relief from the violent crime they’ve endured for so long. They’re tired of seeing people wounded and dying from gunfire, stabbings, and beatings. They’re tired of cowering inside their homes at night. Over five dozen unsolved murders in the past eleven years is certainly enough to make even the strongest person a little weak in the knees.

Savannah residents are also extremely weary of the turmoil within the ranks of the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department. Internal trouble, many say, is the reason violent crime is so out of control in their beloved city.

And that, the roiling troubles inside SCMPD, brings us to the real story, and quite possibly the root of the violent crime woes.

First, though, I have to say that the police officers working to keep Savannah’s streets safe are highly-trained professionals. They’re good people who work hard and love what they do. I’ve met several SCMPD officers and, well, they don’t play second fiddle to anyone. But we all know that a chain is only as good as its weakest link. And when that weak link is at the top of the chain, well, when it breaks the rest must fall.


The troubles within SCMPD first came to the attention of the public when Domestic Violence Detective Trina Mayes filed a sexual harassment suit against Willie Lovett. At the time, Lovett was chief of the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department.

Shortly after the claim was filed, Lovett unexpectedly resigned his position as chief, and retired.

Next came the suspension of three officers assigned to a narcotics detail. Without going into the details, this was related to an officer helping to cover up drug sales by a “friend of a friend,” or something like that.

Detective Trina Mayes was fired, and later charged criminally with making false statements. Mayes claims the criminal charges were retaliation because of her lawsuit against the department. In February 2014, she was arrested and booked into the county jail. Turns out she was allegedly romantically involved with convicted felon William Lamont “Rocky” Sellers. Did I mention that Mayes was married to another SCMPD detective, who, by the way, had been placed on paid leave at the time he filed a formal complaint stating Lovett denied him a promotion when his wife ended her affair with their boss (Lovett).

Lovett, a chief who, according to news reports, was indeed having an affair with at least one female detective. A captain was accused of helping Lovett arrange meeting times and places, and helping to cover up his bosses indiscretions.

This he-said/she-said soup continued boil and play out in front of the entire department and population of Savannah, and surrounding areas, and all while violent crime in the city was spiraling out of control.

To add to the confusion, the city manager at the time was dismissed (something about misusing funds and/or using her position as city manager for personal gain).

Anyway, the new city manager and other Savannah leaders put their heads together and appointed a new city manager and an interim police chief, former Major Julie Tolbert. Tolbert immediately began cleaning up the department. Yes, heads rolled, which was a necessary evil. It’s tough to go out into the streets each day when you’re unsure of what’s going on behind closed doors. Even tougher, is to face a public that’s lost its confidence in their police department.

THEN…the bomb dropped.

Former Chief of Police Willie Lovett was indicted in federal court on 7 counts—extortion, participating in an illegal gambling operation, and conspiring to obstruct the enforcement of state criminal laws. The gambling charge is “aiding and abetting commercial gambling in violation of law.”

*Read the actual indictment here.

In other words, Lovett allegedly accepted bribes/money to allow illegal gambling within the city of Savannah. He also used his position and power to provide protection to those in charge of the operations.


Also indicted were Randall Wayne Roach and Kenny Amos Blount, who were charged with running an illegal gambling business, and with conspiring with Lovett to obstruct the enforcement of Georgia gambling laws.

Lovett faces over 100 years in federal prison if he’s found guilty and sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed. He entered a not guilty plea on all seven charges.

Interestingly, Randall Wayne Roach is expected to withdraw his not-guilty plea and change it to guilty. Sounds like he’s may be working a plea deal with federal prosecutors, which could mean big trouble for Willie Lovett. We’ll see.

Anyway, the dust has finally begun to settle in Savannah. Interim Chief Tolbert has taken control of the department and things are now headed in the right direction. The weak link in the chain is once again strong.

Although, just this past week, a 48-year-old man was gunned down and killed as he was walking along a residential street, a man was cut/stabbed during an altercation on River Street (the cobblestone waterfront street where tourist visit shops, bars, etc.), a man on Wilmington Island (where Paula Deen resides) was arrested and charged with the death of his wife, shots were fired into a vehicle just blocks away from the tourist area, and well, you get the picture. Still, it’s far better than than it was this time a year ago.

The good officers of the Savannah Chatham Metro Police certainly have a tough job and a long road ahead of them.

The police department is healing, slowly.

No thanks to Wille Lovett, a chief gone bad…

Grandma dope smoking


We can’t be certain of our future, but if we base it on the past, especially the recent past, well, we’re doomed. And here are a few small reasons why (the big reasons are simply too scary to list).

– The Philippines’ civil aviation authority announced that it is now permissible to use all electronic devices, including cell phones, during flights. The only restriction is that the devices must be turned off during pre-flight operations, such as fueling the planes.

Imagine sitting next to “chatty grandma” while she rambles on for three or four hours, at the top of her voice, about pumpkin pie recipes, support hose, and her upcoming colonoscopy. Attention all writers: Imagine this as a new motivation for murder by your fictional characters—sex, greed, money, revenge, and now, silencing the obnoxious phone-talker seated next to your villain.

– U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ruled that U.S. border patrol agents may search and copy the files from travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices, and they may do so without probable cause or suspicion of illegal activity. What happened to a U.S. citizen’s protection against illegal search and seizure?

– A sixteen-year-old Seattle girl escaped serious harm when her eyeglasses deflected a bullet during a drive-by shooting at her home. The girl was asleep on the couch when incoming rounds penetrated the walls of her home. Remember, mystery and thriller writers, drywall, plywood, and wood doors do not stop bullets.

– Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) is calling on auto manufacturers to install anti-virus and other security-based software on all cars and trucks to prevent hackers from gaining control of vehicles. Another concern is driver privacy. A recent DARPA study showed that two professionals were able to hack into the computer systems of various cars, and that they were able to use a wireless connection to take control of the vehicle’s brakes, steering, engine, and other computer-controlled systems. This is certainly better than having a fictional villain attempting to cut a brake line or rig the steering controls to make the vehicle crash as it rounds a sharp curve in the mountains (besides, isn’t it time to dump that tired, old scenario?).

– Scientists have developed a new means of detecting surveillance and/or explosive devices. By mimicking the way dolphins hunt using bubble nets, experts came up with a new type of radar—twin inverted pulse radar (TWIPR)—that’s able to detect even the smallest well-disguised explosive devices, such as those hidden in soft drink cans and pipes. Of course, scientists have recently discovered that dolphins get high by milking the toxins from puffer fish. Then they pass the fish to the next dolphin in the group. So, can we really trust the word of stoned dolphins?

Finally, California recently approved granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, and critics say that by doing so the state is increasing a threat to American citizens.

To obtain a California drivers license, the illegal immigrant need only to present a few unverifiable, or easily forged documents, as a means of establishing their ID. Some say this would make it extremely easy for terrorists to enter the U.S. and then acquire a legal ID and license to drive.

To add to the critic’s woes, the new law bars police from using the licenses as a basis for arresting or detaining someone for immigration violations. In other words, if an officer stops a vehicle for a traffic offense and found the driver to be in possession of a license as an illegal immigrant (the license shows this status), he/she is not able to detain the driver merely because he is indeed an illegal immigrant. This is sort of like saying police could not arrest a man who’s carrying an official state document stating that he is in possession of a kilo of cocaine, even when the cocaine is on the car seat next to him. As long as the offender has that state document in his possession, well, he’s basically immune from arrest.

So what do you think? Is the U.S. headed down a path of self-destruction? Should we draft laws to protect the security of our automobiles and the data stored in a car’s computer system? Should cellphone use be allowed on planes? Is it okay to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants?

I certainly don’t have the answers to all of our troubles, but I’m thinking we could turn to the dolphins for temporary relief from our woes.

So, “Hey, Flipper, stop hogging the puffer fish and pass it this way!”

Sam Spade never kissed his horse


How can crime fiction writers survive when real-life crimes and criminals are more bizarre and wacky than the goings-on in the far and deep corners of the minds of Stephen King and Dean Koontz? Writers certainly have enough worries these days without having the added stress that comes with pushing their imaginations to the outer limits of what’s humanly possible, just to entertain their fans.

Remember when readers enjoyed the simple things, like mummies, werewolves, a good whodunit, a heartbeat resounding from beneath the floorboards, and even a good vampire tale? A couple of neck nibbles were about as gory and racy as it got, back in the day.

Today…not so much. Now readers seem to fancy their mummies and vampires as love interests who drive expensive cars, live lavish lifestyles, and are red hot sex gods and goddesses, and, well, the more blood and entrails spilled the better. Good guys are transformers, shapeshifters, and zombie-like creatures who can turn a furry lady’s head with a simple flick of a froth-covered, forked tongue.

Why is it that writers are having to dream up such odd and unusual characters and their bizarre behaviors? Well, let’s just take a quick look at today’s crime headlines. For starters…

1. Major Nadal Hasan, the Fort Hood Army psychiatrist who murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded several more, is now set to defend himself in court. His defense…he attacked and killed American soldiers in defense of the Taliban. He did what he did because the soldiers he killed were soon to deploy overseas where they’d engage in battle with Taliban fighters. He wanted to save the lives of the enemy. Our leaders say this was not an act of terrorism. Instead, they say this was merely a simple case of workplace violence. You know, like when two people argue over a parking spot, or who grabbed the wrong lunch bag from the company refrigerator.

2. A Michigan special education teacher is accused of kissing one of his students and then asking for sex. He wrote love letters to the girl and planned to take her virginity as soon as she graduated from high school.

3. A man in New York City sexually assaulted a female hospital patient. The victim attempted to get out of the hospital bed to get away when the attacker then urinated on her.

4. A Chicago man was on a group tour of a local animal shelter when he sneaked away from the group. Employees discovered the man a few minutes later engaged in sex with a female pit bull. I guess as the group passed by her cage the dog gave him her best “come hither” look, and he couldn’t refuse. Witnesses say they heard the man tell police, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault, the bitch came on to me.”

5. A British man was arrested for attempting to take a photo under a woman’s skirt. He said the police had it all wrong. It wasn’t a picture he was after. Instead, he merely wanted to light/ignite…um…the gases she expelled.

6. Indiana police forced their way inside a home where they’d heard a girl screaming. They found a father straddling his six-year-old daughter, stabbing her repeatedly. Officers shot and killed the attacker. The child died as a result of the multiple stab wounds inflicted by her dad.

7. An entire family—father, mother, and 20-year-old daughter holding her baby, were caught walking the streets of Charlotte, N.C…while totally nude. They told officers that God had instructed them to take the naked stroll.

8. A North Carolina man was in the process of committing suicide when he accidentally shot himself in the foot, so he called 911 for help.

9. A woman in New Mexico repeatedly stabbed her boyfriend because she thought he’d cheated during a game of Monopoly.

10. A Texas man was in the middle of raping a 77-year-old woman at knife-point when he suddenly dropped dead.

11. A Washington man was pulled over by a police officer, who discovered a dead woman stuffed inside a sleeping bag on the passenger seat of the suspect’s vehicle. The man told the officer he’d taken possession of the body to spare her family the expense of a costly funeral. He also admitted to having sex with the dead body many, many times.

12. A Nebraska man was arrested for attempting to calm down his cat, Shadow, by placing it inside a homemade bong along with some marijuana, and smoking it. Shadow was rescued by police; however, the cat appeared paranoid and immediately went to its food dish for a quick snack.

So, what happens if you write this sort of thing—the truth. Your editor will most certainly send it back, suggesting you write something more realistic, like a vampirish zombie-mummy who eats the city of Nashville and burps out country music hits while the hero, a two-headed BradPitt/Johnny Depp rises from the depths of the ocean carrying an RPG in each hand. The world is saved when Pitt-Depp blasts Nashville-eater with a toe-fired death ray. Now that’s believable make-believe if ever I saw it.

Sigh…whatever happened to the good old days when the cowboy story ended when the hero kissed his horse…  Oh, I forgot about the man in Washington who was caught having sex with a horse. Actually, there’s a “resort” there where people go to have sex with a variety of animals.

Then there’s the guy who tried to get his horse pregnant, and the man who went to jail for having sex with a neighbor’s horse, who was caught again with the same horse the day after he was released from jail.

And let’s not forget the guy who had a threesome with two donkeys. I understand he felt like a real ass when the officers nabbed him…


Murder in Paradise:


Living on the islands near Savannah, Ga certainly has its perks. The weather is great. The scenery is spectacular. Seafood is wonderful. Kayaking beside dolphins and pelicans is out of this world. And bizarre murder, well, it’s as plentiful as the fried shrimp on the buffet at Uncle Bubba’s/Paula Deen’s seafood restaurant out on Hwy 80.

For example, there was the recent murder of pretty 18-year-old Amber DeLoatch. This young woman was assaulted, strangled, raped, and then killed by her attacker, who then placed DeLoatch’s body in the trunk of her car and set it on fire.

Next came Jonathan Courson, the man who contacted authorities to say he and his family had been the victims of a horrific home invasion. When police arrived, they found Courson tied up with only a few small nicks and scratches on his body. Courson’s wife was also tied up. However, she was dead. Murdered.

Courson explained to police that two black males had forced their way into the house, tied up the couple, and then ransacked the place. Oddly, during the course of pilfering and general destruction, the two bandits allowed Mr. Courson to go upstairs to tend to his 2-year-old daughter. Then, once Mr. Courson was safely back into his bindings, the robbers killed Mrs. Courson, and left. Needless to say, Jonathan Courson has since been charged with the death of his wife. In another strange twist in the case, Courson was permitted to leave jail to attend his wife’s visitation at the funeral home. He was accompanied by the county sheriff.

And this brings us to the latest bizarre murder—the killing of Charles “Charlie” Ray. The case began when Charles Ray’s family called police to say that he had been missing since New Year’s Eve.

Charles Ray III

Charlie, they said, had Tourette’s Syndrome and needed his medication. So, police started their search for the missing man, learning that Ray had been in the company of Chad Moretz on New Year’s Eve. So officers decided to visit Mr. Moretz.

Chad Moretz had an extensive criminal history that included domestic violence.

Officers knocked on Moretz’s front door and were greeted by Kevin Lambert, Chad Moretz’s brother-in-law. Lambert quickly told them that Chad was inside with his wife (Lambert’s sister, Kim) and that he had an assault rifle and was ready to shoot police. Officers  promptly pulled Lambert to safety and an hours-long stand-off with Moretz began.

During the stand-off, Moretz held his wife hostage, at gunpoint, and threatened to kill officers.

Finally, Moretz ventured out onto the porch and pointed the AK-47 at SWAT team members (at this point, dozens of officers had responded to the scene). In response to the immediate threat, SWAT opened fire, killing Moretz.

When investigators entered the residence they immediately noticed a terrible odor. While searching the home they discovered a severely bloodstained kitchen. And, an officer located Charles Ray’s severed head and hands in the attic. Further investigation led detectives to a storage unit in South Carolina, where they found the rest of Ray’s dismembered body parts.

Yesterday, Kevin Lambert and his sister, Kim Moretz, were charged with concealing a body. They are currently in jail under a $25,000 bond.

*Police later learned that Moretz’s mother had been murdered. Her killer? Well, this apple certainly didn’t fall far from the tree. In 2009, Moretz’s father used a .380 caliber Ruger handgun to kill his wife, Chad Moretz’s mother. In earlier police reports, Chad Moretz accused his father of abuse and trying to kill him.

So, my writer friends, please feel free to stretch your creativity when writing those plot twists, because there are no limits to the human imagination. Especially when it comes to murder…

True Crime Thursday


Sometimes truth is far more difficult to swallow than fiction. Would you believe…

Brunswick, Ga. –  A former Appling County Georgia deputy sheriff, Richard W. Crosby, has been sentenced to two years in prison for alerting a drug dealer that deputies were on the way to his residence to serve a search warrant.

Dulles, Va. – Synthetic drugs such as Spice, Eight Ballz, and K2 are now so rampant the DEA has a chemist specifically assigned to delve into the new drugs, learning their compositions. His purpose is to alert officials so they can stop the sale of these extremely dangerous products.

The DEA lab is located in a Virginia suburb just outside of Washington D.C. It’s a tightly guarded facility that’s surrounded by a twelve-foot fence smartly decorated with lots of surveillance cameras, with guards patrolling the perimeter. Why the super-tight security? Well, the facility also conducts tests on real drugs, such as meth, cocaine, and heroin, meaning those drugs are stored within the compound. Scientists check out samples from a steel vault each day and return them at the end of their shift.

There’s a problem, though, with the testing of synthetic drugs…there’s only one scientist assigned to the task and there are thousands of chemicals available for the market. And, there are, well, who knows how many illegal drug-makers out there, but you can be sure the number is much greater than one.

Augusta, Ga. – Cell phones were at the root of a dozen incarcerated gang members being sent to the hospital with various injuries. It seems the phones were smuggled into the prison for the purpose of helping to start a gang-related riot. I wonder if any of the injured used the devices to call 911?

Chattanooga, Tenn. – It could have been filmed for an episode of Officers Gone Wild, when Officer Dennis Hughes shot fellow officer Chris Mason in the hand while Officer John Hammond, in a prescription-pill-induced high, looked on. The shooting incident launched an investigation that revealed a much larger problem, such as the officers’ regular abuse of pills without prescriptions and having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls. To make matters worse, the town’s police chief allegedly knew of the illegal activities and did nothing about it.

Kingston, N.Y. – Two kids (4- and 6-years-old), rang up 911 and asked to speak to Santa…or the police chief.

Toronto – A Toronto police officer, Const. Salameh Marji, was found guilty of grabbing and squeezing the testicles of a motorist after a traffic stop. The officer, it seems, squeezed “the fruit” not once, but twice, and he used enough force to lift the screaming driver off his feet. Ironically, at the time, Marji was assigned to Toronto’s Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy.

Gary Haugen – Eurasiareview photo

Salem, Oregon – A two-time murderer, Gary Haugen, called Gov. John Kitzhaber a “paper cowboy” for commuting his death sentence to life in prison. Haugen felt the governor was “too chicken” to allow his execution to go forward. The inmate is now pursuing legal options that would allow his death to take place as scheduled. “Man, this is definitely cruel and unusual punishment,” said Haugan.

St. Louis, Mo. – The Knockout Game is all the rage in the Gateway City. The rules of the game are simple. A group of teens hang out on the street until an older person passes by. Then, one of the teens shouts out, “Knockout King!” and sucker-punches the unsuspecting pedestrian. The game is so much fun to the youths that after the victim falls to the ground the rest of the group joins in by throwing a few punches and kicks of their own. Last month, a 72-year-old man died as result of injuries he received during one of these “games.”

San Francisco, Ca. – Sarah Boushey , 41, the loving mother that she is, took her 4-year-old daughter to see the latest Smurf movie. And, like many of us, smuggled in her own snack. Well, her idea of a snack was a bottle of vodka which she apparently chugged throughout the entire two hours of the tiny, singing, blue peoples’ antics.

On the way home with her precious cargo, the woman sideswiped two cars and hit a median before police managed to get her stopped. She was so intoxicated she couldn’t remember her name or what had happened. Her little girl, though, summed it all up for police when she calmly said, “He name is Sarah Boushey and she’s drunk.”

I wonder who’s feeling “blue” now?

Can a fly convict Casey Anthony


The death of little Caylee Anthony is another case that hinges on forensic evidence, or the lack of it. It’s been a real puzzle since the beginning. A convoluted story that began with a missing two-year-old whose mother, Casey Anthony, concocted lie after lie after lie to justify why the grandmother would not be able to see her precious granddaughter for nearly a month. There was a car accident, work meetings, spending time with a new lover in a hotel room, and, of course, there was the mystery nanny named Zanny (Zanny was supposedly the victim in the imaginary auto accident, a lie Casey told her mother). Casey even lied about her job. Well, the job she didn’t have but dressed for and pretended to drive to each morning.

And that brings us to Casey Anthony’s vehicle, a white Pontiac Sunfire. Casey’s mother, Cindy, reported to police (the original 911 call) that she smelled the odor of death in the trunk of the vehicle. The owner of the impound lot where Casey’s car was stored testified that he, too, smelled the odor of human decomposition in the trunk of Casey’s car, an odor he says he’s quite familiar with since bodies have been found in cars on his lot in the past. Forensic experts have testified that material consistent with human decomposition was indeed found in the trunk of the car.

Now, forensic expert Dr. Neal Haskell has testified to some very interesting facts concerning his discovery in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car—the discovery of insect parts. That’s right, pieces of bugs. Dr. Haskell says he discovered the leg of a fly inside the trunk compartment. But this was no everyday fly leg. This leg belonged to a fly that ONLY feeds on fresh remains. But the real “nails-in-the-coffin” were the hundreds of fly eggs (a different type of fly) found. These eggs were from a type of fly, coffin flies, that ONLY feed on decomposing flesh. The eggs were found on paper towels that had possibly been used to clean the carpeting inside the trunk. What were the towels used to clean up? Well, it appeared they’d been used to wipe up fluids that are consistent with human decomposition.

Therefore, by combining his findings of different types of insects and their stages of development, Dr. Haskell was able to say that a human body had been inside the trunk for up to five days before someone removed it. Also, from the lack of blow flies present, Haskell determined that the body had probably been moved to the trunk after the initial stages of decomposition.

Of course, the defense has argued that the insects were there because someone had left a bag of garbage in the trunk for quite a while, attracting them. I guess they’ve forgotten about the strand of Caylee’s hair that was also found in the trunk. It, too, was in a stage of decomposition. Dr. Haskell says the odor that attracted the bugs was the odor of decomposing human remains, not garbage.

Will Casey Anthony be sent to death row based on a tiny fly’s leg? Or will there be a “Perry Mason” moment before the trial is over?

After all, Casey has now stated that her daughter drowned in the family pool and that Casey’s father, George, a former police officer, concealed the child’s death by disposing of her body. All this after Casey stated that her father and brother had molested her many times when she was a child. George Anthony may not have done what his daughter is accusing him of, but mark my words, he’s riddled with some sort of guilt. His body language is proof of that.

Who knows how this one will end? I don’t. But I do know one thing…the whole case really “bugs” me.