Associated Press Writer
BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) — Lane McIntyre’s world stopped in March 1980.
McIntyre, then 23, came home from his third-shift job to the one-bedroom apartment in Columbus he shared with his 18-year-old wife, Marilyn. He’d saved her from an abusive foster father and married her when she was 17.
“I’ve never felt that strong of love since. It was pure,” he said Thursday. “Marilyn was a living angel.”
But his angel was dead. A knife stuck out of her chest. Her skull had been fractured. Her neck was bruised from being strangled. A coroner later reported “evidence of traumatic sexual contact.”
Their 3-month-old son, Christopher, lay sleeping, untouched, in his crib. Lane McIntyre managed to call his mother, who called police. As five officers pushed past him into the apartment, he remembered, “my brain didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.”
Since that day, McIntyre watched his life crumble. Two more marriages dissolved. His son, now 29, doesn’t speak to him. Through it all, the murder hung over him like a shadow.
“You’re darn right I’m angry,” he said.
On Tuesday, detectives acting on new DNA evidence arrested McIntyre’s longtime friend Curtis Forbes in connection with Marilyn McIntyre’s death.
Forbes, 51, of Randolph, remains in the Columbia County Jail. District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said charges could come on Monday but that she hasn’t decided what specific counts to file.
Authorities typically can hold a person for only 48 hours without an initial court appearance, but Kohlwey said a judge has granted the jail permission to hold Forbes beyond that.
Kohlwey said Thursday that Forbes hadn’t retained a lawyer yet. The Baraboo public defender’s office, which handles Columbia County cases, said Forbes hadn’t asked for representation. Public defender Mark Gumz said he hasn’t been allowed to see Forbes.
For Lane McIntyre, now 52, the arrest has generated a mix of vindication and anger. He now lives in Beaver Dam, a city of 15,000 about 40 miles northeast of Madison and a dozen miles from Columbus, where Marilyn McIntyre was killed.
Sitting on the porch of his apartment Thursday, he recounted meeting Marilyn when she was 16.
He said she had bounced from foster home to foster home, but she still cared about other people. He remembered collecting donations for UNICEF with her one Halloween and how she wouldn’t let him stop, even when he grew tired.
He said he helped her flee from an abusive foster father, and that was when she decided to marry him.
He’s known Forbes since grade school. They were mortal enemies, he said, always getting into fights until they finally became friends in high school.
But Forbes abused his girlfriend, McIntyre said, and the girlfriend turned to Marilyn McIntyre for help.
The girlfriend left Forbes a week before the killing, he said. He theorized that Forbes stopped at the McIntyre apartment looking for the girlfriend. According to court documents, Lane McIntyre told investigators the day after the murder that Forbes should be their prime suspect.
But the investigation went nowhere. Meanwhile, Lane McIntyre said, people talked about him, wondered if he did it.
His son told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2008 that stories about his father being involved in his mother’s death were a big factor in their estrangement. No phone listing for Christopher McIntyre could be found Thursday.
In 2007, the state crime lab matched DNA from the McIntyre apartment to hair samples Forbes gave police in 1980. The body was exhumed in March 2008 for collection of more evidence.
This past February detectives interviewed an informant, unnamed so far in court documents, who said he witnessed a conversation between Forbes and Forbes’ son around 2002. Forbes began talking about how he took a wife’s friend home from a bar and she didn’t breathe anymore that night.
Now Lane McIntyre, bitter and angry, is looking for payback from those who thought he killed his wife. He wants to write a book about the murder and “the way people are in a small town.”
He chose to stay in Wisconsin because an innocent man doesn’t run, he said. If the book sells, though, he hopes to retire someplace far away.
“I want to go where nobody knows me, where I don’t have to defend myself, and live the rest of my days in peace,” he said. “I have a right to be happy. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Eric Szatkowski is a Wisconsin Justice Department special agent, but on that Sunday afternoon he entered an online chat room as a 14-year-old boy.
He claimed he was into weightlifting, AC/DC and muscle magazines. Then he waited.
Within hours, screen name Paul2u sent a message: “Hi. u realy 14?”
Over the past decade, agents and computer experts have gone after hundreds of people like Paul2u who solicit sex from kids or trade child pornography online. Police efforts around the country were all the rage with the media in the early 2000s, reaching a crescendo with Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” series.
Despite the publicity then and now, the bad guys haven’t gone away. They’ve quietly multiplied. Trading child porn online and grooming underage targets in chat rooms has exploded nationwide. With arrests more than quadrupling in 10 years, Wisconsin’s agents and analysts feel overwhelmed.
“I don’t think we’ve made significant progress at all,” Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. “Our community leaders don’t even know how bad the problem is. The general population has no idea.”
In the past year, Van Hollen has raised the profile of Wisconsin’s Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, unit, recruited local police departments to help and asked for more state dollars to help agents like Szatkowski, who adopted the 14-year-old’s persona.
“If I’m too young that’s ok,” the agent wrote back to Paul2u that Sunday back in 2002, adding: “Lots of dudes call me jail bait.”
“Well, yeah, if you get caught,” Paul2u replied, “but if you’re willing its doable.”
The hook was set.
The Internet was just gaining traction when an online child porn arrest was made by Wisconsin’s Justice Department in 1995. The next year saw six arrests. The year after that, 13. By then agency officials realized what the future held, said Mike Myszewski, administrator of department’s Criminal Investigation unit.
Using $300,000 in federal seed money, he set up one of the first units to combat Internet crimes against children. Today about 60 such task forces exist nationwide.
Szatkowski, a homicide investigator with years of undercover experience, was an early volunteer for the group, which focused at first on “travelers,” people like Paul2u who solicit sex from children online and arrange meetings with them. The unit made 18 arrests the first year, 36 in 2000 and 24 in 2001.
The numbers from units across the country were so encouraging federal officials thought they could eradicate chat room solicitation within three years, Myszewski said.
Then computers and Internet connections got cheap. More people could afford to go online. The bad guys got smarter, too. They wanted to talk to the person on the other end of the modem and see photographs. “To Catch a Predator” only made them more cautious, Szatkowski said. Wisconsin arrests dropped, from 24 in 2001 to 17 in 2002 to 11 in 2003.
Meanwhile, online child porn became more sophisticated. New peer-to-peer file sharing software enabled porn purveyors to send photographs and videos directly to each other’s computers in seconds, anywhere in the world.
Szatkowski and Paul2u exchanged messages for an hour.
Paul2u asked Szatkowski about his sexual experience with men and said he’d love to see him more than once. At one point Paul2u asked Szatkowski if he was a cop. They agreed to exchange photos.
Szatkowski sent a photo of Racine County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Prochaska when Prochaska was 13. Szatkowski typed that he could sneak out but didn’t want to spend all night with him. He had school in the morning.
Fine, Paul2u replied. They could “do it” in his van.
Paul2u asked Szatkowski to call him. Prochaska made the call and agreed to meet Paul2u in half an hour.
Szatkowski glanced at Paul2u’s photograph, hit print and rushed out of the office without taking a second look. Later, he wished he had.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s cyber tip line took 85,301 reports of child porn and 8,787 reports of online enticement last year. Investigations of Internet crimes against children resulted in 3,000 arrests nationwide in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The statistics show how an entire generation has moved online, seeking reinforcement from others with the same abhorrent sexual tastes, said Michelle Collins, executive director of the missing children center’s exploited child division.
Most disturbing is the correlation between child porn and enticement, said Wisconsin forensic computer analyst Dave Matthews. Viewing leads to doing, he said.
“They’re grooming themselves,” Matthews said.
Wisconsin’s unit moved from busting travelers to taking down porn users. The state justice department began training every criminal agent in its Division of Criminal Investigation to help, Msyzewski said. Arrests have hovered around 100 annually since 2004.
Szatkowski, his partner, Mike Hoell, and Prochaska sat at a Country Kitchen in Racine, watching the clock as they waited for Paul2u. Prochaska, playing the role of the boy, wore a yellow jacket and backward baseball cap.
They talked about everything Paul2u had said to Szatkowski online and how they hoped he would park in front, where they’d see him. They kept looking around, making sure Paul2u hadn’t come in through a back door.
Around 10:45 p.m., a brown Ford van pulled into the parking lot and flashed its lights at Prochaska.
Ramping up the fight against child cyber crime comes with a price.
The Wisconsin task force’s five full-time agents and six full-time computer analysts are swamped, mentally and physically. They analyze hard drives, catalog tips, write search warrant affidavits and criminal complaints, break down doors, and interview children as young as 3.
On a recent winter morning, agent Jenniffer Price was working 43 cases, all stacked neatly on her Madison office desk.
“We simply don’t have enough cops on the street to do the work that needs to be done,” Price said. “We’ve got so many offenders out there. I just see the balloon getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
The work takes its toll.
Szatkowski barred his children from sleepovers, instant messaging, social networking and online games when they were young.
Matthews, a unit analyst since 2005, specializes in tracking down porn users. In the last six months he’s identified about 50 leads for agents that have resulted in cases.
He said the Internet has become an adult bookstore that pushes sexual deviants to act on their desires for children. He copes by not socializing with other ICAC agents and keeping his imagination in check.
“Mainly you just shut down a part of your brain that makes you feel like crap,” Matthews said.
Analyst Chris Byars spends days scanning seized porn for clues. Last summer she sat outside her home in central Wisconsin, trying to watch people stroll by, and had to go inside.
“All of a sudden I’m wondering how many people in Lodi right now are assaulting or abusing their children,” she said. “I don’t think you can turn it off.”
Meanwhile, Van Hollen, the attorney general, has worked to draw attention to cyber crimes and get ICAC help. News releases trumpet each bust, and the state has sponsored 300 public workshops on cyber crime.
Van Hollen also has pushed local law enforcement leaders to join the unit as affiliates, creating a statewide net of cyber sleuths and easing the burden on his agents. Seventy-four agencies have joined. Hundreds haven’t.
When they plead that they lack resources, he has a ready answer: “I say what’s more important — these 10 speeders getting tickets or this kid not getting sexually molested?”
Van Hollen asked Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle for $732,000 in the 2009-2011 state budget to hire two more agents and three more analysts, despite the state’s $5.7 billion deficit. Doyle allocated funds for one agent and one analyst. The federal stimulus package could add money.
Analyst Matthews just wants help, saying: “If pedophiles in this state feel that the odds are in their favor when they’re browsing for and downloading child pornography, that they probably won’t get caught, right now, I’ll tell you that’s true.”
The van sat in the Country Kitchen parking lot.
The agents’ adrenaline surged. Paul2u’s action in simply pulling into the parking lot was enough for them to make an arrest. The sheriff’s deputies closed in and ordered the driver out.
Hoell and Szatkowski stepped into the wet, 35-degree night and started walking toward them.
Then Szatkowski stopped short.
He recognized Paul2u.
The cyber predator was 46-year-old Robert E. Thibault — Szatkowski’s children’s religion teacher. Szatkowski had seen him in church that morning.
Hoell found a bag of sex toys in the van. Thibault told Hoell later that he would have had sex with the boy if they liked each other, adding he’d had about 20 conversations with minor males online over the last couple years.
Later that night Szatkowski looked at the photograph on his printer. He thought about how Thibault had been at his daughter’s First Communion.
“It just reinforced … you don’t put faith in a person,” he said. “In my heart, I can forgive anyone for anything, including him. Forgiveness is huge if you’re going to be a good Catholic. (But) that feeling of betrayal will be there forever.”
A judge sentenced Thibault to 10 years in prison on conspiracy to sexually assault a child, but stayed the time and ordered him to spend a year in jail with work release. That was modified to electronic monitoring. The jail was too crowded.
Since the arrest in the Country Kitchen parking lot, Szatkowski has lured priests, teachers, police officers — even a mayor. In January, the agent posed online as a 14-year-old girl and allegedly engaged in a conversation with Racine Mayor Gary Becker. According to a criminal complaint, Becker showed up at a suburban Milwaukee mall hoping to meet the girl for sex. Becker, who has since resigned, faces eight felony counts. He pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.
“When you’re a child, you shouldn’t have to be exposed to this stuff,” Szatkowski said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
By DINESH RAMDE
Associated Press Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The unemployed Army veteran who shot and killed three teenage swimmers last summer is so indifferent to his killing spree that he compares it to spilling a glass of milk.
“Do you get all upset about it? No, you just clean it up and get another glass of milk,” Scott J. Johnson, 38, told The Associated Press recently by phone from the Marinette County Jail. “It might sound sick or sadistic to come off that way but that’s pretty much it.”
The killings on the Wisconsin-Michigan line were “very easy to do,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t mind if Wisconsin had the death penalty. It doesn’t, but if it did, Johnson said, he “would go quietly.”
He was convicted of three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, six counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one count of second-degree sexual assault. He pleaded no contest.
He sits in solitary confinement awaiting his mandatory life sentence on May 21. He doesn’t expect the judge to give him a chance for parole.
Johnson won’t apologize to the victims’ families. “I don’t care what they think,” he said. “Anyway, considering the act I did, an apology would come off as pretty weak, you know?”
According to a psychologist’s report released Tuesday by the state Department of Justice, Johnson felt empty and numb the day of the shootings and told the doctor his “purpose was to kill. Jesus could have been walking with Moses that day and I would have killed them.”
Johnson added, “You don’t have to be crazy to do what I did, just angry,” said the report by psychologist Deborah Collins.
None of the victims’ families responded to requests for reaction.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Johnson’s comments only open old wounds. “His comments serve only to re-victimize the survivors and the families of those whom he has confessed to killing,” Van Hollen said.
Johnson freely admits his criminal actions, which began with a sexual assault July 30, the day before the shootings. Johnson had coaxed a 24-year-old acquaintance to join him on a bike ride. He took her to a remote area by the Menominee River and assaulted her.
Unlike his indifference toward killing, Johnson said the sexual assault made him feel guilty: “I think what it is is, I betrayed her trust. I’ve been betrayed in the past and that hurts a lot.”
The next day, prosecutors said, Johnson fired on a group of youths at a popular swimming spot along the Menominee River, killing Tiffany Pohlson, 17; Anthony Spigarelli, 18; and Bryan Mort, 19, all of Michigan.
Johnson had joined the Army 10 days after graduating from high school in Kingsford, serving nearly 5 years in Shreveport, La. He married and had two kids, but the marriage ended in 2001.
His ex-wife, Theresa Johnson, described him as “controlling, a “neat freak” and a “loner with few friends,” according to the psychologist’s report on her interview of him in 2008.
He once threatened his ex-wife with a gun. “He said ‘I could of killed her. … She was scared, I was scared,’” Collins wrote in the report.
He said he turned to alcohol and marijuana. Eventually he quit his job to spite his ex-wife by taking away child-support payments. That and writing bad checks led to a number of arrest warrants.
He couldn’t apply for a job without an employer discovering his warrants. So he “leeched” off his mother.
The day after the sexual assault, his mother told him police were looking for him. If job prospects were bleak before the sexual assault, he thought, being labeled a sex offender would make employment impossible.
“I started weighing stuff and said ‘I’m screwed,’” he said. “I was really bitter, full of hate.”
His hazy plan on July 31 was to kill the teens as “bait” to attract police, then take out officers one by one.
“I was either going to be shot and killed by police or be in prison for the rest of my life,” he said.
Johnson fired about 17 shots at the group of about eight teens swimming in the Menominee River below a railroad bridge. He would have fired more but his rifle repeatedly jammed, so he fled.
He eluded police all night but his resolve eventually wavered. He saw suicide as “a coward’s way out” so he dismantled his weapon and surrendered.
Johnson said his initial plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was forced on him by his lawyer. He dumped the lawyer and pleaded no contest.
He has never been mentally ill, he said. Instead he just “snapped,” driven to kill in part by the trauma of being separated from his kids.
Reminded that other men lose custody of children but don’t go on killing sprees, Johnson still didn’t apologize.
“That’s true, that’s their choice,” he said. “I guess I’m lashing back. I’m taking a punch at the system.”
These days, Johnson reads mystery books and does puzzles. He still replays the shootings in his mind — but never feels a pang of remorse.
“It was very easy to kill,” he said matter-of-factly. “Very easy.”
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
By The Associated Press
During the 2008 presidential election, law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states including Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN. No criminal charges were filed against the nonprofit organization, which collected 1.3 million registrations in a nationwide get-out-the-vote effort.
The agency said the bogus cards represented less than 1 percent of those collected. The problem forms — some bearing names such as “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” — were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods, ACORN officials said. Since the 2004 presidential election, ex-employees have been convicted of submitting false registrations in states including Florida and Missouri.
Associated Press National Writer
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
By ROBERT IMRIE
Associated Press Writer
MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) — A man faces life in prison after he pleaded no contest Thursday to gunning down three youths and trying to kill six others in a river ambush near the Wisconsin-Michigan state line last summer.
Scott J. Johnson, 38, of Kingsford, Mich., withdrew his not guilty pleas earlier Thursday and pleaded no contest to 10 felonies. Marinette County Circuit Judge Tim Duket convicted him of three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, six counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one count of second-degree sexual assault.
Johnson’s plea spares him a jury trial that was set to start March 16. Duket told Johnson that he could face a maximum of three life terms plus 445 years. The judge will decide at a May 21 hearing whether Johnson will be eligible for parole.
Prosecutor Gary Freyberg said he had no doubt Johnson would have been found guilty at a trial.
“We are delighted that the victims don’t have to go through the trauma of a trial,” Freyberg said. “They have suffered tremendously.”
Johnson’s lawyer, public defender Shannon Viel, said it was Johnson’s decision to change his plea and that there were no plea negotiations Thursday.
“He understands his situation,” Viel said. “He is not hiding anything. He is not in any denial.”
Johnson dropped an insanity plea in January, and reports filed by court-appointed psychologists who examined him in the fall have not been released.
Prosecutors said Johnson, an unemployed Army veteran and divorced father of two, fired at a group of youths at a popular swimming spot along the Menominee River in July, killing Tiffany Pohlson, 17, of Vulcan, Mich.; Anthony Spigarelli, 18, and Bryan Mort, 19, both of Iron Mountain, Mich.
Daniel Louis Gordon, 21, of Kingsford, Mich., also suffered a superficial back wound from shrapnel.
Johnson, wearing camouflage, hid in the woods overnight and turned himself in the next day.
The criminal complaint said Johnson thought about committing a random shooting for four or five years. He told investigators he stashed weapons in the woods for at least a year in preparation.
Johnson also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman near the river the day before the shooting. He told investigators he knew police would be looking for him after the assault and that he plotted to kill as many officers as he could, then wound up shooting the youths when four of them started climbing toward where he was hiding, the complaint said.
His mother, Judy Johnson, has described her son as despondent since his wife left him in 2001 and took their children to Ohio. Johnson served five years in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1994, she said.
David Mort, the father of a victim, said he was relieved there would be no trial. His son was killed near a train bridge between state lines, and he has pushed for Johnson to be tried in federal court in Michigan, where a death penalty would be possible.
Viel and prosecutors declined to comment on the possibility of federal charges, referring questions to Michigan prosecutors. After-hours messages left at U.S. attorney’s offices in Lansing, Mich., and Marquette, Mich, were not immediately returned Thursday.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — White House Budget Director Peter Orszag on Tuesday defended President Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion federal budget and its proposal to raise taxes on more affluent Americans.
“We have lived through an era of irresponsibility,” Orszag told the House Budget Committee. “Looking forward, we must change course.”
Lawmakers in both parties have questioned Obama’s call to reduce high-income earners’ tax deductions for the interest on their house payments and for charitable contributions. Also drawing fire is his proposal to start taxing industries on their greenhouse gas pollution — a move sure to raise consumers’ electric rates.
Obama’s budget plan drew fire from a senior Republican, who called it the biggest expansion of government since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan told Orszag that administration claims of deficit-cutting are mostly bogus since the deficit would fall anyway as the war in Iraq winds down.
Ryan also warned that tax increases on small businesses earning more than $250,000 a year would stunt a possible recovery and that the plan would double the national debt in eight years.
Obama dispatched both Orszag and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Capitol Hill to defend the budget, with its proposed tax increases and the whopping $1.7 trillion annual budget deficit it would generate for 2009.
Geithner was to appear before the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Obama and his top aides have been promoting the budget package since unveiling an outline last week, but Tuesday provided lawmakers their first opportunity to publicly question top officials over details.
The one-year budget deficit for 2009 is 12.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. That’s up from 3.2 percent in 2008 and the highest since 1945.
Orszag acknowledged the sheer enormity of the projected deficit. But, he told the Budget Committee, it would be “worse if we failed to act.”
Obama’s budget faces a difficult path through Congress because of its many controversial proposals on health care, taxes and global warming.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was generally supportive of Obama’s efforts to stimulate the economy.
Bernanke, who was appointed to the top Fed job in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, told the Senate Budget Committee that Obama’s recently enacted $787 billion stimulus package of increased federal spending and tax cuts should help revive consumer spending, boost factory production and “mitigate the overall loss of employment and income that would otherwise occur.”
Still, the Fed chief warned that the timing and magnitude of the impact of the stimulus package is subject to “considerable uncertainty, reflecting both the state of economic knowledge and the unusual economic circumstances that we face.”
The Fed chief found himself challenged over the need for the government’s new $30 billion lifeline for ailing insurance giant American International Group. The latest plan, announced Monday, marked the government’s fourth effort to stabilize AIG.
“I share your anger,” Bernanke said. But he said the government had little choice but to take the action because the collapse of the insurance company would further rock the nation’s weakened economy.
Bernanke testified that an economic recovery depends on the government’s ability to stabilize weak financial markets.
The economy was taking another hit a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged below 7,000 for the first time since 1997.
An early rebound on Tuesday gave way to another round of selling by midday.
Obama insists he would impose higher taxes only on the wealthiest. Republicans, however, say Obama’s energy proposal amounts to a tax that would increase energy costs for all Americans.
“This massive hidden energy tax is going to work its way through every aspect of American life,” said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. “How we light our homes, heat our homes and pay for the gas in our cars, in every phase of our daily lives, we will be paying higher costs.”
Obama wants to reduce the emissions blamed for global warming by auctioning off carbon pollution permits. The proposal, known as cap and trade, is projected to raise $646 billion over 10 years.
Most of the money would be used to pay for Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit, which provides up to $400 a year to individuals and $800 a year to couples. The plan also would raise money for clean-fuel technologies, such as solar and wind power.
Orszag acknowledged that the energy proposal would increase costs for consumers, but he argues that the vast majority of consumers will get tax breaks elsewhere in Obama’s budget package.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.