Looters raid Jordanian crypts in search of gold, jewels and artifacts

October 31, 2014 Posted by admin

The tomb-raiders no longer even wait for night to fall before they loot the ancient crypts.

In recent weeks, grave-robbers here dug into 2,000-year-old tombs right in front of a house rented by archaeologists. Dozens of shallow pits now mark the spot. The field is littered with cracked, carved stones that once covered the dead.

“They did this in broad daylight,” said Muaffaq Hazza, project archaeologist at Umm el-Jimal, known as the Gem of the Black Desert, one of the best-studied
and most-protected archaeological projects in Jordan. “There is no shame.”

In Jordan, there is a long tradition of “treasure hunting.” But the gold fever driving a surge in tomb-raiding in the Hashemite Kingdom is the worst in years. No one knows exactly how they started, but rumors have been flying from rough kebab shops to fancy dinner parties of buried treasure, of Ottoman gold and Byzantine jewels, of jars heavy with Roman coins.

It sounds nutty. But it is destroying Jordan’s rich cultural heritage, piece by piece, one looted Bronze-era funerary relic at a time.

The looters are looking not only for gold but for ceramics, glassware, lamps, masonry and bits of jewelry, all of which quickly find their way into the global antiquities trade. Once grave-robbers disturb a site, it becomes impossible for archaeologists to bring order to the finds. It’s as if someone pressed the “delete” button in one of most archaeologically rich countries on Earth.

How bad is the gold fever? Late last month, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour called an extraordinary news conference to dispel rumors that an area around the city of Ajloun, which had been declared off-limits by the military, was a treasure find.

People assumed the late-night explosions and mysterious excavations meant the buried riches of Alexander the Great had finally been unearthed. Looters — and whole families of enthusiasts — descended on the area. Taxi drivers in Amman confidently told visiting journalists the booty was worth billions.

Turns out it wasn’t treasure that the Jordan military was digging for, but Israeli spy equipment buried there in 1969, during the War of Attrition. The news conference did little to break the fever.

“You hear these ridiculous stories all the time, how someone found enough gold to buy a block of apartments in Amman,” Hazza said.

Hazza was born and raised at the edge of Umm el-Jimal’s walled city, which was occupied in waves by Nabateans, Romans and Byzantines between the 1st and 8th centuries. It was laid to waste by an earthquake in A.D. 749.

“Every night, there is digging here now,” he said. “In the morning, men in Hummers come to buy what they find.”


Byzantine era ruins are seen at the Umm El-Jimal archeological site. (Warrick Page/For The Washington Post)

Hazza thought about the absurdity of that image for a moment. “It’s like a drive-through,” he said, searching for an American metaphor.

Imagine what damage a tomb-raider like Indiana Jones could do. Now imagine that Indy has a lot of underemployed cousins with pneumatic drills and a basic knowledge of archaeology.

“We are facing big problems. Every week, every day, we get a telephone call saying, ‘They’re digging again,’ or the police saying they have captured some artifacts,” said Monther Dahash Jamhawi, general director of the Hashemite Kingdom’s Department of Antiquities.

Jamhawi said scholars estimate there are more than 100,000 archaeological sites in Jordan, some 20,000 of which have been documented. But only a few have guards, the very same guards who may indulge in off-hours pillaging, he said.

“We are faced with amateurs who possess some knowledge, who have some talent. They know where artifacts may lie and what their values are,” Jamhawi said. Some, he said, learned how to find graves while working as excavators for professional archaeologists.

These thieves target archaeological sites and may conspire with shadowy middlemen, who employ consultants to appraise the value of, say, a burnished redware pot from the late Roman period or a 7th-century Umayyad painted jar.

Years ago the culprits sold to museums. Since Jordan passed an antiquities law in 1988, things have tightened up some. Now they sell to private collectors — not just easily smuggled trinkets, such as a pair of earrings from a Byzantine tomb, but Greek-inscribed tombstones weighing hundreds of pounds.

The middlemen sell to some of the most influential families in Amman, experts say. They launder antiquities — often with dubious documents of authenticity — through dealers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, then move them on to the international auction houses, to satisfy a global demand for “biblical objects.”

Jamhawi said he was recently shown a pair of Roman-era capitals — the carved stone that sits at the top of a column — that a family in Amman wanted to register. The owners told him the pieces were an inheritance, conveniently collected before Jordan’s antiquities law was passed.

“Of course this claim was highly dubious,” Jamhawi said.

Fascinated by the trade, Morag Kersel, an archaeologist at DePaul University in Chicago, and colleagues recently launched the “Follow the Pots Project,” to track how antiquities in Jordan are purloined and where they go.

“What is driving the looting is demand,” she said. High unemployment and the regional upheaval that has further fed the marketplace for black-market antiquities are also factors.

Iraq was stripped of ancient relics in the decade of unrest that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Similarly, Islamic State militants are now funding their self-proclaimed caliphate with “blood antiquities” from Syria.

Kersel and her team have flown a drone over archaeological sites to take photographs. The aerial images are striking. In Fifa, by the Dead Sea, the area looks like it has been very thoroughly, very neatly, bombed. There are more than 10,000 tombs looted.

Raiders have hit Umm el-Jimal equally hard. Archaeologists count as many as 5,000 tombs plundered. In fields just outside the fence are row after row of conical dirt piles, each one beside a gutted grave.

“Why are they digging and digging and digging when I know their chance of finding anything is almost zero?” asked Bert de Vries, lead archaeologist at Umm el-
Jimal and a professor emeritus at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“There’s always the next time,” he said, answering his own question. “There’s always the chance that the next shovel down, they will hear the clink, and they think it will be a box of gold.”

Mohammad Abu Khader is a 50-year-old day laborer in Umm el-Jimal. This month, he was burrowing in a neighbor’s back yard.

“We dug for 17 nights,” he said.

Then he saw it.

“The tops of three jars,” he said, nervously, but sticking to his story. The jars were capped with blue stones he assumes were precious gems. There was strange writing and what appeared to be an entrance to a secret passageway.

Then Khader went to have a cup of tea — and the jars vanished.

“I was so close,” he said. “Then the treasure was snatched from my hands.”

Later he swore on a Koran before the local imam to what he had seen. It matters not that the story seems improbable, because people believe it.

The new mayor of Umm el-
Jimal, Hassan Al Rahibh, is working hard to spruce up the town, plant palm trees and provide a little infrastructure — maybe a restaurant and a guesthouse — for pilgrims who may want to visit the ruins of 17 Byzantine churches on the site.

He has heard all the stories.

“You combine unemployment and ignorance and this is what happens,” the mayor said. “In reality, there is no treasure.”

And yet — the mayor lit a cigarette and began his own story. He has a cousin, you see. Who was digging. Just eight months ago. Who found a golden cross, he said. A big one. Very old, very valuable.

There was a little glint in the mayor’s eye.

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/looters-raid-jordanian-crypts-in-search-of-gold-jewels-and-artifacts/2014/10/29/67a53b46-5ac7-11e4-8264-deed989ae9a2_story.html

Haunted? 5 vacant buildings cast a scary shadow across South Florida

October 30, 2014 Posted by admin

They loom over city blocks and haunt South Florida. Windows smashed. Hallways dark. Doorways boarded up or padlocked.

Their shadowy presence gives neighbors the creeps.

Do ghosts prance inside? Do screams of hospital patients past reverberate across stripped-bare operating rooms? Do long-ago drunken nights echo off hotel walls?

What truly lurks inside the abandoned and vacant buildings of South Florida might be better left to mystery and the spiders that spin their webs inside.

In some cases, little is known about the history of the buildings, only what has been left in the wake of time.

Don’t bother going inside for a Halloween thrill — some of these buildings that have shadowed communities for years are now being renovated or cleared as the local economy continues to get friendlier for buyers and developers.

Perhaps one of the most well-known vacant structures is Miami Marine Stadium, which has been shuttered for more than two decades. Damaged after Hurricane Andrew, the stadium, which hosted powerboat races and concerts, has been closed since 1992. Recently, a group called the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium has worked to save the Virginia Key landmark.

Other long-time abandoned properties are also on the road to redemption.

A long-haunted Hollywood mall is finally making way for a new Walmart. A creepy downtown Hollywood hotel will soon be incorporated into a new mixed-use project. Plans abound for an inhospitable hospital haunting South Beach.

“Buildings become a target for demolition when they become abandoned,” said historian Paul George. “It’s a shame because many of these buildings tell stories about South Florida.”

Some of these buildings hit people in the face: the vacant hotel off I-95 on the edge of Liberty City. The towering remains of a high-rise hospital in the middle of the Golden Glades Interchange. Others are tucked inside neighborhoods or main thoroughfares including an old dive-bar across from Miami International Airport.

Here is a look at some of the buildings haunting our ‘hoods:

GREAT SOUTHERN HOTEL: A NEW LIFE AWAITS

1. The Great Southern Hotel, built in the 1920s by the city’s founder to house construction workers, is about to undergo some serious surgery.

Vacant and dilapidated, the building has sat for more than a decade, casting a dark shadow over Hollywood’s downtown. Inside, the once practical hotel building as been reduced to shattered glass, broken fixtures, cracked walls and a caved-in roof.

But the property’s owner, Block 40 LLC, has big plans: a 19-story mixed-use residential and commercial project, while preserving some of the original structure. The long-awaited project, in the works for years but stalled because of city restrictions and lawsuits, is now awaiting permits. The hope is to start work by year’s end.

Separate buidings added through the years, have already met the wrecking ball.

“It’s an old building that is in a terrible state of repair,” said developer Chip Abele Jr. Abele said part have the challenge has been the desire by some to preserve the building for the sake of history. “It’s been a horrendous management effort since we’ve owned it.”

Time has not been friendly to the the building, attracting trespassers and vagrants looking for a thrill or a place to hide.

Hollywood Vice Mayor Patricia Asseff said the building was “a mess” with “rodents, pigeons and who knows what else living inside.”

“It needs to be gutted,” she said.

Hollywood’s Community Redevelopment Agency director Jorge Camejo said the building is “facing a number of challenges,” and a makeover of the building, at the gateway to downtown, is in order.

“It’s a building that has great potential and it’s a shame to see it deteriorate before your eyes,” he said.

PARKWAY HOSPITAL: FROM HEALER TO ‘CREEPY’ EYESORE

2. It’s hard to miss — the graffiti-covered, 11-story building that is an eyesore for drivers getting on the Palmetto Expressway at the Golden Glades Interchange.

With only a banner for Star Group General Contractors, there’s no trace of what the building was in its former life — an acute-care hospital.

Inside, the building can be confused for a haunted house, said Shellie Ransom-Jackson, the director of development services and code compliance for the city of Miami Gardens.

“You don’t know if anything is going to fall on your head, there’s a musty smell and it’s just creepy,” she said. “That’s why I wouldn’t go anywhere but the main entrance.”

Constructed in 1972, the building opened in 1974 as Parkway Regional West with 307 beds. It closed in 2002 and has since sat vacant, attracting vagrants and other trespassers — even though the property is surrounded by an iron fence.

Miami Gardens City Manager Cameron Benson said the city has tried for years to get the previous owner to make changes. Ransom-Jackson said deed restrictions on the property may have stalled the efforts.

Meanwhile, the building fell into disarray. Police have nabbed trespassers. Liens mounted to nearly $2 million for code violations.

The new owner, BSD of Miami Gardens, has already begun planning to resurrect the building. Trustee Yaniz Nakash said the company is will gut the building and then build a multi-use project with commercial and residential units.

“This is the center of Miami in a way, the biggest intersection,” he said. “Every way you come down, you’re going to see our property.”

THE PILOT HOUSE: DIVE BAR TO DESERTED NUISANCE

3. Tucked across Northwest 36th Street from Miami International Airport sits a small building with a burned-out neon sign: “The Pilot House.”

In its prime, the building served as a bar for airport workers, said Heike Greenwood, a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways before the company went out of business. Greenwood, 73, said she didn’t go to the bar much because the gritty atmosphere mostly catered to pilots and mechanics.

“It wasn’t up to flight attendant standards,” she joked.

Tex Ziadie, director of building and code compliance for the city of Miami Springs, remembered going to the bar a few times to play pool. In the ‘70s, Ziadie said the building was split in half, with the bar on one side and a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong Garden on the other.

Toward the end of the bar’s era, Ziadie said it turned “pretty shoddy” and remembers visiting the bar for code violation issues a few times.

Those memories are all that remains of the bar, which has sat vacant in the 4900 block of Northwest 36th Street since 2008.

“Ultimately if things keep going the way they’re going, it’s going to become an unsafe structure,” he said. “It’s a detriment to the city for it to just continue.”

It’s now owned by James F. Perry Company, a real estate broker trying to sell the building, along with some surrounding properties, to a developer.

“Ideally, somebody will buy and redevelop it, and it will be nice for the community,” he said.

CITY INN: VIOLENT CRIME HAUNTS EMPTY HOTEL

4. Just as Miami’s skyline becomes visible from Interstate 95, so do the skeletal remains of a hotel.

The red sign on top of the roof reads “City Inn” in white letters, but that time in the building’s life is gone, replaced by missing windows, walls covered in graffiti, a cracked plastic laundry bin with “soiled linen” painted on one side.

The 10-story building, built in 1969 and located at 679 NW 79th St., started as a Holiday Inn, then became a Days Inn in 1986. The owner foreclosed on the building four years later and it became the City Inn.

During the time the hotel passed through ownership, the neighborhood surrounding it eroded into one of poverty and crime. In 1986, robbers forced a man to jump off his balcony after $14,000 worth of gold jewelry and cash in Room 302 of the 198-room hotel. As recently as 10 years ago, a man strangled a prostitute in Room 615 with her own leather belt and shoe straps.

A journalist who stayed at the City Inn for a night in 2008 and wrote about it for the Biscayne Times described it as cockroach-ridden and filthy.

“No matter what name has hung outside … prostitution, drugs, and crime have always found their way into the hotel,” he wrote.

The old hotel is now owned by MNK Hospitality LLC as of last year. Massimo Nicastro, one of the owners, said the building will become what it was at the start — a Holiday Inn. Nicastro said the company will renovate the building’s skeleton when the project starts in the next two months.

The hotel is set to open in November of next year.

“I think it’s going to be the start of a revamp for the neighborhood,” he said.

SOUTH SHORE HOSPITAL: A PAINFUL TRANSITION

5. At the gateway into Miami Beach, a battered hospital looms over drivers on busy Alton Road.

The South Beach Community Hospital, founded in 1968 as South Shore, provided almost 200 beds for Miami Beach’s mostly elderly residents. But as the Beach transitioned from God’s waiting room in the 1960s ande 1970s to a shopping and nightlife hub in the 1990s, the handful of hospitals lost patients.

Now, only Mount Sinai remains, and South Shore has sat vacant at 600 Alton Rd. for almost a decade with damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005 still clinging to the facade. A 2012 story on the website Abandoned Florida shows hospital beds, X-ray machines and even an MRI scanner scattered throughout the dilapidated building.

The building’s owners — Crescent Heights, a Miami-based development company headed up by Russell Galbut — have gone through numerous plans for the hospital. Crescent Heights bought the property in 2004 and changed it from a non- to a for-profit hospital. Then, two years later, the hospital closed after going bankrupt.

In 2009, the owners brought plans to the city to turn the controversial property into a luxury retail complex. Galbut did not return calls for comment.

Miami Beach historian Seth Bramson said he believes Galbut’s ideas for the site are promising.

“Russell has great plans for it,” he said.

Article source: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article3472138.html

Not guilty pleas entered for Indiana suspect

October 29, 2014 Posted by admin

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:46 pm
|


Updated: 3:00 pm, Wed Oct 29, 2014.

Not guilty pleas for suspect in 7 Indiana deaths

Associated Press |

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A judge recorded not guilty pleas Wednesday for a former Marine who is charged with murder in the strangulation deaths of two women found in northwestern Indiana and is suspected of killing five others.

During an initial hearing that lasted eight minutes, Lake County Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan explained to Darren Vann that the informal pleas in the strangulation deaths of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy and 35-year-old Anith Jones would become formal in 20 days unless he or his attorney takes action.

Vann, 43, had refused to speak during an initial hearing in the Hardy case a week earlier and was cited for contempt. On Wednesday, the convicted sex offender from Gary responded to Sullivan’s questions, giving his address and birth date and repeatedly uttering “yes, ma’am” and “no ma’am.”

He also acknowledged that he understood the reason for the hearing. A week earlier, Vann had just stared back silently at Sullivan when she asked him the same question.

Vann is charged with murder in the deaths of Hardy and Jones as well as two counts of murder in the perpetration of a robbery and two counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. Sullivan told Vann he faced sentences of 45 years to 65 years in prison and possibly the death penalty in each death.

Vann’s next hearing in both cases is set for Jan. 9.

Sullivan granted public defender Matthew Fech’s request that she issue a gag order barring investigators from interviewing Vann in the Jones case without Fech being present, just as she had in the Hardy case a week earlier.

Prosecutor Bernard Carter said he couldn’t comment because of a gag order issued by Sullivan.

Hardy’s body was found Oct. 17 in a bathtub at a Motel 6 in Hammond, 20 miles southeast of Chicago. The investigation led police to Vann, who police say confessed to killing Hardy. A probable cause affidavit states Hardy was a prostitute and Vann told police he strangled her with his hands and an extension cord when she fought him.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty has said Vann was arrested the next day and began to tell police where they could find the bodies of more women in abandoned homes in hopes of reaching a deal with prosecutors. Police found Jones’ body later that night beneath a pile of tires and teddy bears in an abandoned house in Gary. The bodies of two other women, including Teaira Batey, 28, were found hours later. The bodies of three more women, including 36-year-old Kristine Williams of Gary, were found later that day.

Authorities are still trying to identify three of the women found in abandoned homes in Gary. They also were investigating whether Vann might have been involved in other deaths, saying he has hinted his crimes stretch back 20 years.

Vann was convicted in 2009 of raping a woman in Austin, Texas. He was released from prison last year and moved back to Indiana. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The woman told police she had lived with Vann for nine months.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:46 pm.

Updated: 3:00 pm.


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Article source: http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/national/wire/not-guilty-pleas-entered-for-indiana-suspect/article_8c826fa0-ad7a-5418-8fb5-a7816ccdc837.html

Indian gold company director arrested for smuggling

October 28, 2014 Posted by admin


The Indian Customs Department has decided to move court to issue arrest warrant against the first accused in the case related to smuggling of gold out of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to jewelry shops. Further, it has decided to request the court to declare him absconding.

According to the investigation team, the first accused in the case, Sanjay Subba Rao Nigam, Managing Director of Ashwini Gold, has failed to appear before the court on three occasions in response to summons issued to him by the court. Furthermore, all efforts by the Customs Department to get in touch with the accused have also been in vain.

Earlier in August this year, customs officials had seized illegal shipment of gold from a jewelry making unit inside Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The gold was seized while it was being transported out of the SEZ to be sold to local jewellers. As per norms, gold imported by SEZ entities are purely meant for value-addition and re-export and are not permitted to be sold in local market.

According to sources, the gold weighing 22 kilograms was imported by SEZ-based Ashwini Gold. The company had imported the gold duty-free for the purpose of jewelry-making and re-export. However, it tried to sell the gold to domestic market for jewelry-making, in violation of SEZ norms.

The Customs Department had arrested Sanjay and other three people in connection with the incident. Sanjay was later released on bail upon the condition that he should appear before the court whenever required by the investigation agency.

Article source: http://www.resourceinvestor.com/2014/10/28/indian-gold-company-director-arrested-for-smugglin

Mystic jeweler pleads guilty to possession of goods stolen in residential …

October 27, 2014 Posted by admin

Mystic jeweler Matthew L. Hopkins has pleaded guilty to being in possession of jewelry and antiques stolen in a series of residential burglaries in the Lyme and Old Lyme area and faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced in January.

Hopkins, 42, owner of Goldsmiths Silversmiths Co. at 9 West Main St., pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny this morning in New London Superior Court. Initially charged with first-degree larceny, he accepted an offer from prosecutor David J. Smith to plead guilty to the reduced charge in exchange for a sentence of five years in prison, suspended after two years served, followed by five years of probation.

Under the agreement, defense attorney Michael L. Cozzolino has the right, at Hopkins’ Jan. 9 sentencing, to argue for a reduced or fully suspended prison term. Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said she would be ordering Hopkins to make restitution along with brothers Justin and Karl Weissinger, who sold him the stolen goods in 2011 and 2012. The total restitution amount is approximately $326,000, and Strackbein indicated that his effort at repayment would play a big part in whether Hopkins goes to jail or not. The two brothers are incarcerated and are not expected to be able to make restitution payments for several years, if ever. The judge said the restitution order will be enforceable for 10 years.

“You happen to run a business,” Strackbein told Hopkins when he stood before her to enter his plea. “It looks like the lion’s share of restitution could fall on you.”

Several of the burglary victims were in court to hear Hopkins’ plea and are expected to address the judge at his sentencing.

Hopkins, of 396 Post Road, Westerly, was arrested in July 2013 following an extensive investigation by state police and Old Lyme police. A year earlier, Trooper Gary Inglis was investigating a series of burglaries in the Lyme and Old Lyme area when he went into Hopkins’ store and ran into Karl Weissinger, who was attempting to sell two stolen watches and a gold chain, according to the court documents. He surrendered the items to police.

Inglis also spotted several stolen items on display in the store, including a Narwhal ivory tusk that had been taken during a burglary of a home on Selden Road in Lyme.

Sgt. John Mesham went to the store and recognized a Tiffany bamboo pattern bar set, black tooth fossil and mammoth vertebrae fossil set that had been reported stolen along with a Tiffany sterling silver baby pacifier.

Hopkins told police the Weissinger brothers had gone into the store 15 to 25 times with items they said they had obtained from storage unit auctions.

A week later, Hopkins and his attorney went to the Troop F state police barracks with financial records from the transactions with the Weissingers and several bags of assorted jewelry and silverware that Hopkins said he had purchased from the Weissinger brothers over the past several months.

Hopkins said he sold some of the precious metals to the Geib Refining Corp. of Warwick, which smelted them.

The Weissinger brothers both pleaded guilty to larceny charges and were sentenced in August. Justin Weissinger, who had a prior record, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Karl Weissinger, who had no prior record but was rearrested twice while his case was pending, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison.

k.florin@theday.com

TWITTER: @KFLORIN

Article source: http://www.theday.com/article/20141027/NWS02/141029812/1047

Nevada marked by 150 years of murder, mayhem – Las Vegas Review

October 26, 2014 Posted by admin

Editor’s Note: Nevada 150 is a yearlong series highlighting the people, places and things that make up the history of the state.

Nevada has seen its share of shocking crimes and frontier justice. From prostitutes to mobsters, firing squads to lethal gas, the eclectic crimes committed and punishments handed out have evolved with the Silver State and kept law enforcement officers and crime reporters alike in business since 1864.

What follows is a decade-by-decade look at some of Nevada’s Crimes of the Century (and a half) — a handpicked but by no means comprehensive list of the particularly heinous or especially historic acts of lawlessness the Silver State has ever seen.

Among the honorable — or dishonorable — mentions that didn’t quite make the list: Philip Cline, who was convicted of murder and arson after eight people were killed by smoke and flame at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1981; Heather Tallchief, who stole more than $3 million from an armored car company and disappeared in 1993, only to turn herself in 10 years later; the still-unsolved 1996 murder in Las Vegas of rapper Tupac Shakur; and Jessica Williams, who was sentenced to up to 48 years in prison for driving under the influence of drugs after she fell asleep while driving in 2000 and killed six teenagers who were picking up trash along Interstate 15.

1860s: ‘Queen’ killer sent to the gallows

Dubbed “Queen of the Red Lights” after her death, Julia Bulette was a prostitute in the mining boom town of Virginia City. She was reportedly well-liked by most, had a regular seat in the town’s opera house and was the guest of honor in parades put on by the Fire Department. But on Jan. 20, 1867, her maid found her bludgeoned and strangled to death in her home, which was robbed of all the woman’s jewels. Jean Millian, a Frenchman caught trying to sell her possessions, was found guilty of her murder. His 1868 hanging — the town’s first public execution — drew a crowd that included Mark Twain.

1870s: First train robbery in the West?

That all depends on how far east you think the West goes. It is widely considered the first train robbery in Nevada or anywhere west of the Rockies. It happened in the early-morning hours of Nov. 5, 1870, when a passenger train was robbed west of Reno, near a town called Verdi. The robbers — there were thought to be eight people involved — forced the train’s conductor to separate one section of train cars from the rest of the train. After locking up the train’s crew, the robbers stole about $42,000 in gold pieces and $9,000 in silver bars. Four of the convicted men later escaped from prison. Much of the treasure was recovered, but about 150 gold coins, now worth $500,000, remain missing.

1880s: Insult leads to murder

Las Vegas Valley rancher Archibald “Archie” Stewart was shot to death on July 13, 1884, while defending his wife’s honor. Stewart’s family lived on a ranch he took from a neighbor after the man defaulted on a loan. One day while Stewart was out of town, a ranch hand named Schyler Henry quit and insulted Stewart’s wife, Helen, on the way out. Upon Stewart’s return, he went to Kiel Ranch — then a hangout for outlaws, now a historic park in North Las Vegas — to find Henry. Stewart was spotted first, though, and the ensuing shootout left him dead. Helen Stewart, about 30 years old at the time, was left with four children and a fifth on the way. Henry was shot twice and lived. Prosecutors tried him along with ranch owner Conrad Kiel but couldn’t prove the crime. Helen suspected a man named Hank Parrish, who disappeared in the aftermath of the shooting. Parrish was later found and hanged in Ely for several murders, though Stewart’s wasn’t one of them. His death was never solved, but the trouble at Kiel Ranch was far from over.

1890s: Senator’s death no work of art

Alice Maud Hartley was an English artist who came to Reno and rented a studio in the top of a bank building to work on her paintings. She became involved with married Nevada state senator Murray D. Foley. In 1894, the couple argued, and she shot him to death. “I only regret,” she reportedly told the sheriff, “not having done it publicly.” In the murder trial, Hartley told the court that Foley had forced himself on her. It was revealed in court that she was pregnant. Hartley was convicted at the end of a six-day trial. She served 18 months of her 11-year sentence in prison with her infant son, where she continued her art by sketching. Once released after 18 months, she moved to San Francisco and died a free woman in Denver in 1908.

1900s: Death returns to Kiel Ranch

Conrad Kiel, who was cleared of Archibald Stewart’s death in 1884, left his ranch to his sons Ed and William when he died. On Oct. 11, 1900, one of Archibald’s sons went to the ranch and found both Kiel brothers dead. Police initially thought it was a murder-suicide. However, the bodies were exhumed in 1975 and investigators determined both were murdered. Circulating rumors said another of Archibald Stewart’s sons, Hiram, had killed the men to avenge his own father’s death. The double-killing remains unsolved, just as Stewart’s murder has.

1910s: Prints point to wagon robbers

This robbery — sometimes and somewhat dubiously labeled the “last stagecoach robbery in the West” — was historic nonetheless. It marked the first time fingerprints were used as evidence in a trial. On a snowy December night in 1916, a horse-drawn mail wagon was ambushed in the far northeast corner of Nevada, near Jarbidge. The driver, Fred Searcy, was killed. A search revealed several pieces of bloody evidence, and law enforcement brought in California fingerprint experts to help. After investigation, three suspects were arrested, including known horse thief Ben Kuhl. Kuhl was sentenced to death and given the choice of being hanged or shot. He chose death by bullet, but before his execution day, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He spent nearly 30 years behind bars before he was released in 1945.

1920s: Killer meets deadly innovation

A Chinese man named Gee John was the first person in Nevada — and the United States — to be executed by lethal gas. John murdered a member of a rival Chinese immigrant gang in Mina, a town 150 miles southeast of Carson City. In February of 1924, prison authorities tried to humanely execute John by pumping cyanide gas into his cell during the night. His cell didn’t contain the gas though — it leaked into other areas of the jail — so a gas chamber was built and John was executed there.

1930s: ‘Driven’ to murder, escape

On April 27, 1937, Grace Nusser shot her unfaithful and abusive husband, George, to death while he lay in bed in their Boulder City home. The shooting came after she found out George had filed for divorce without telling her. When she confronted him, he told her he cheated on her with a waitress, so the angry woman stormed out and bought a gun. “She was very, very drunk and very, very driven,” Nevada historian Dennis McBride said of the woman. After killing her husband, Grace fled to Hoover Dam, where she was arrested. She later slipped out of the jail and fled several miles across the desert until an airplane spotted her. She was sent to prison in Carson City, which only housed two other women at the time. She lost her mind over the next year and a half until she was finally transferred to a mental health facility in Sparks. She died in 1952 from a chronic medical condition, reportedly the result of an injury inflicted by her husband.

1940s: A pub crawl and killing spree

A 22-year-old Boulder City man named Donald Brown was found dead on the highway between Boulder City and Henderson on Aug. 19, 1948. A mentally ill man named Clayton Fouquette, 35, owned up to the murder and admitted to an Aug. 23 murder in California, as well. Fouquette had recently been released from a mental hospital for alcoholism but fell off the wagon and went on his pub crawl and murder spree from California to Nevada, picking up a woman at a bar on the way. When he was arrested, he readily admitted to both murders and was found guilty of Brown’s. The woman was investigated for knowing about the murders and not reporting them. After several years of insanity pleas and appeals, Fouquette was executed in 1953.

1950s: Greenbaum meets unhappy associates

Addicted to heroin and far in debt, it seemed inevitable that casino-man Gus Greenbaum’s story would end prematurely. The man, involved with the Chicago mob, was invested in the Riviera, Flamingo and El Cortez casinos. Greenbaum’s associates became annoyed by the high profile he created for himself. Then they found out he was stealing from the Riviera. He was found murdered in his Arizona home on Dec. 3, 1958. His throat had been cut with a butcher’s knife, leaving him nearly decapitated. He still had a heating pad beneath him in bed when he was found, and the TV was on. His wife, Bess, had her throat slit, as well. The crime remains unsolved.

1960s: Death by dynamite

“It has to be a bomb. There’s no question,” Nevada District Attorney George Franklin said at the time of the massive explosion that killed six people and injured 20 others on Jan. 7, 1967. The bomb went off on the second floor of the Orbit Inn Motel at Fremont Street and Seventh. Police said up to 30 sticks of dynamite were used. The explosion was traced back to Army deserter Richard James Paris. The 28-year-old man fired a gun into a pile of dynamite in his motel room. He and his wife Christine were among the dead.

1970s: Labor leader’s influence ends in desert

In winter of 1977, the body of Al Bramlet, the most powerful labor leader in Nevada, was found in the desert west of Mount Potosi by hikers. Bramlet had been shot six times, including once in each ear. Bramlet’s culinary union held sway over much of Nevada’s government at the time. The man who bullied his way to power by planting bombs near people who disagreed with him had been the target of assassination several times. Tom Hanley, a notorious Las Vegas tough guy and labor racketeer, and his son Gramby pleaded guilty to Bramlet’s murder and were sentenced to life without parole. Eugene Vaughan cooperated with police and received a lesser sentence.

1980s: ‘Ant’ squashed as feds close in

Chicago mobster Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro was sent to Vegas in the 1970s. He was a well-known hit man and leader of the “Hole in the Wall Gang” burglary ring. He ran his operations first from a casino gift shop, then a jewelry store. Law enforcement tried to get dirt on Spilotro but failed for years. Finally, in the 1980s, a friend of Spilotro was arrested and began cooperating with the FBI to convict Spilotro of the robberies and murders he’d ordered over the years. Before the feds could get him, Spilotro and his brother were lured into a basement and killed. The bodies were found in an Indiana cornfield in 1986.

1990s: Binion’s death mints mystery

When troubled gaming executive Ted Binion was found dead in his estate home in an old-money neighborhood of Las Vegas on Sept. 17, 1998, his death was initially called a drug overdose. But a man with such a prominent name couldn’t have such a simple ending. His death turned into a homicide investigation after Rick Tabish was caught digging up an underground vault in Pahrump filled with $7 million of Binion’s silver. It turned out Binion’s girlfriend, Sandra Murphy, was also involved with Tabish, and the pair were charged in 2000 with killing Binion and trying to steal his silver. They were acquitted of the murder charges four years later, but both served time for the silver heist. Murphy was released in 2005. Tabish was paroled in 2010 and ordered to live with his parents in Montana.

2000s: O.J.’s run ends in Vegas

The crime was scarcely even newsworthy: an armed confrontation in a Palace Station hotel room over some sports memorabilia that ended in threats but no bloodshed. But the name of the assailant made it headline news around the world. Hall of Fame football player O.J. Simpson argued that he was simply trying to recover his own property, but he would be convicted in 2007 on 10 separate charges and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison. His conviction was hailed as delayed justice by those who felt he was wrongly acquitted of the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Simpson’s case is now on appeal as his involuntary stay at Lovelock Correctional Center continues.

2010s: Officers killed in suicidal ambush

An angry, apocalyptic husband and wife ambushed and killed two Las Vegas police officers at a pizza restaurant on June 8, 2014, in a suicidal rampage that sent shock waves across the country.

After gunning down officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, Jerad and Amanda Miller went into a nearby Wal-Mart, where they killed shopper Joseph Robert Wilcox when he tried to stop them with his own gun.

The two died in the store in a shootout with authorities, Jerad by a police bullet and Amanda by her own gun. Their paranoid, anti-government motives were later revealed in videos they posted online and in reports of their attempts to join Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with federal authorities earlier in the year.

Contact reporter Annalise Little at alittle@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @annalisemlittle.

Article source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/nevada-150/nevada-marked-150-years-murder-mayhem

Medical ID jewelry shines as a healthy way to prosper

October 25, 2014 Posted by admin

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Article source: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Local-company-makes-medical-ID-bracelets-a-piece-5842991.php

Gold Buying Rebounds in India as Diwali Sales Shine

October 24, 2014 Posted by admin

Shweta Anand took half a day off work to get a jump on India’s jewelry shopping spree before the Hindu festival of Diwali, and she was looking for bargains.

“The best time to buy is before the shops get crowded,” said Anand, 27, as she eyed trinkets on velvet shelves at a store in Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar, India’s biggest jewelry market. “I buy some gold jewelry every Diwali. Last year, I bought earrings. This time, I am getting a chain as prices are lower.” She spent 30,000 rupees ($490) on a necklace.

Even after a two-week rally in bullion, domestic prices remain 7.4 percent lower than a year ago just as sales are set to climb for the festival and wedding season. India is the largest gold buyer after China. The All India Gems Jewellery Trade Federation said fourth-quarter imports of the metal may jump 75 percent, which Barclays Plc said may support prices.

“The appetite for gold among physical buyers in India seems to have increased,” said Howie Lee, an investment analyst in Singapore for Phillip Futures Pte. “India’s attachment to gold is unlikely to break. This tradition has lasted for centuries. It’s a symbol of wealth or a form of investment, and the precious metal is deeply rooted in worship and culture.”

After import restrictions and a weak rupee led to a 34 percent drop in demand in the first half of 2014, purchases are set to improve in India, the world’s largest buyer as recently as 2012. Retail sales of everything from rings to pendants to necklaces may rise 30 percent to 40 percent during Dhanteras, the biggest gold-buying festival, said Rajesh Exports Ltd., a jewelry retailer and exporter. Dhanteras was celebrated Tuesday.

Demand Recovery

Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by the country’s more than 800 million Hindus on Oct. 23, is considered an auspicious time for buying gold. Researcher CPM Group estimates the holiday generates about a fifth of annual purchases in India, more than any other time of year in a country with a long history of hoarding the metal. About 20,000 metric tons of gold are stashed in homes and temples, and Indians often inherit bullion in the form of ornaments or family treasure.

Jewelers in India, which represented 25 percent of global bullion purchases last year, are betting demand will be rekindled by four straight quarterly declines in domestic prices, the longest slump since 2004. The premium jewelers pay to suppliers over London prices has plunged to about $17 an ounce from $120 a year earlier, cutting costs for consumers.

Buying Surge

“Prices have fallen at the right time,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, a director at the All India Gems Jewellery Trade Federation, which represents more than 300,000 retailers and bullion dealers. Domestic demand will rise 15 percent to 20 percent over the three months through December, with imports reaching 175 tons to 200 tons, compared with 114 tons a year earlier, Bamalwa said on Oct. 15.

Gold traded in London touched $1,183.24 an ounce on Oct. 6, the lowest this year. Prices have tumbled 28 percent in the past two years as the Federal Reserve signaled an end to stimulus measures intended to revive the U.S. economy, while inflation remained in check. Even as low prices fueled a surge in physical demand in China, the appeal of the metal as a hedge has waned for investors. Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by gold have dropped 12 percent in the past year, helping to erase about $13 billion of value.

Bullion for immediate delivery traded at $1,250.86 today, while futures on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. were at 27,551 rupees per 10 grams ($1,397 an ounce).

More Imports

In India, signs of a rebound in festival demand emerged in September. Bullion imports were valued at $3.75 billion last month, 450 percent more than a year earlier, the Commerce Ministry estimates. Shipments jumped as jewelers replenished reserves to meet demand, said Bamalwa, the federation director.

Indians purchase gold at festivals and for marriages as part of the bridal trousseau and as gifts in the form of jewelry. Demand will be 850 to 950 tons this year, compared with 974.8 tons in 2013, the World Gold Council estimates. An average of about 5 million weddings every year fuels demand for gold, regardless of prices, according to Prithviraj Kothari, managing director of Riddhisiddhi Bullions Ltd. in Mumbai. He estimates average purchases for a wedding at about 200 grams.

The increase in demand from festivals and the wedding season “alongside the potential for a short-covering rally could see gold extend its gains,” Barclays said Oct. 13. “We believe the bounce is likely to be short-lived and remain cautious given the headwinds the macro-environment presents and would look for opportunities to sell into the rally,” it said.

Insatiable Appetite

The public’s insatiable appetite for gold raised concern for the government because almost all of the metal is imported, widening the current-account deficit and weakening the rupee. India last year raised import taxes three times to 10 percent and introduced a rule obliging shippers to supply 20 percent of their cargo to jewelers for re-export.

The import curbs sent gold demand for jewelry and investment down 34 percent to 394.4 tons in the first six months, World Gold Council data show.

After the curbs throttled imports and cut the deficit to about $32.4 billion in 2013-2014, compared with a record $87.8 billion a year earlier, the government in May eased controls to allow more trading houses to bring in gold. The government may consider re-imposing some curbs after Diwali as imports surged in the past couple of months, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told ET NOW television, the Press Trust of India reported.

Asian Buyers

Cheaper bullion may spur buyers in Asia, according to UBS AG. Prices at or below $1,200 will attract physical buyers and be seen as favorable by investors, UBS analysts Edel Tully and Joni Teves said in a report on Sept. 30. A rush to buy will not materialize unless prices fall closer to $1,100, they said.

Demand in Asia has declined this year after jumping in 2013, when global prices plunged 28 percent, the most in three decades. Consumption fell 16 percent in the second quarter to 963.8 tons, the World Gold Council estimates. While China was the top buyer in 2013, demand in the three months through the end of June fell 52 percent to 192.5 tons, less than the 204.1 tons purchased in India, council data said.

The metal will extend losses into 2015 as the dollar rallies, Morgan Stanley said on Oct. 8, listing the commodity among its least-preferred metals. Average prices will decline each quarter, reaching $1,165 in the three months through September, the bank said.

Jewelers are also hoping that steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, will help revive growth in Asia’s third-largest economy and provide a boost to sales.

Harvesting Gold

“There’s a positive feeling in the economy after the Modi government came to power,” said Rajesh Mehta, chairman of Bengaluru-based Rajesh Exports. “For a reasonably long time, demand was subdued, and that pent-up demand will come in now at these price levels.”

A good crop will also help gold demand in India, where 833 million of the 1.2 billion population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Rural India represents 60 percent of the nation’s gold consumption. After a weak start to the monsoon season, which limited planting, food-grain output will be 120.3 million tons compared with 129.2 million tons a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry estimates. Cotton production will jump to a record 40 million bales of 170 kilograms each.

For Lynette D’Souza, a 30-year-old dentist in the western Indian state of Goa, the lower gold price means she can buy more with the 100,000 rupees she’s budgeted on a gift for her brother, whose wedding is scheduled next month.

“I was initially planning to gift my brother a honeymoon package to Southeast Asia, but I realized that people don’t value other gifts as much as they value gold,” D’Souza said in an interview on Oct. 14. “Years from now, they will still have the gold. It is also an investment.”

Article source: http://www.moneynews.com/Markets/Gold-India-Diwali-Sales/2014/10/22/id/602401/

North Austin jewelry store robbed at gunpoint

October 23, 2014 Posted by admin

North Austin jewelry store robbed at gunpoint
KVUE

Article source: http://www.kvue.com/story/news/crime/2014/10/22/north-austin-jewelry-store-robbed-at-gunpoint/17755709/

Longtime downtown Winder jewelry shop going out of business

October 22, 2014 Posted by admin

As an 18 year old high school graduate Larry Evans had ambitions of going to college, but he knew his parents couldn’t afford to send him. His alternate plan was to join the Air Force and get an education through the GI bill.

Getting off the bus in downtown Atlanta, Evans found himself in unfamiliar territory. “I wasn’t used to the cussing and guys shooting craps and flashing switchblades. I was a country boy,” Evans laughs. He got a quick case of cold feet. “I asked the sergeant if I had signed anything committing myself to the Air Force, and he said we would take care of the paperwork in the morning. I knew right then that I was heading back home.”

Getting off the bus back in Winder, Evans realized he would have to get a job or do something fast. His parents would make certain he began earning his keep. The bus station was where McDonald’s is now so Evans walked up Broad Street to his Uncle W. O. Evans’ store, The Jewel Box. When he told his uncle what had happened, Uncle Orim suggested he go to school and prepare to take over his jewelry business. Evans believes God had a plan for him, and He was beginning to lay it out.

“I went to North Georgia College to take a two year course in jewelry and watch repair, and I worked at the store when I could,” says Evans. Within six months the instructor was allowing Evans to teach the class. “After 14 months, I went to the teacher and told him that I needed to get out of there and go to work. I knew everything in that course by then. We went up and talked to the dean, and he agreed to give me a diploma after just 14 months.”

In March of 1962 Evans began working fulltime at The Jewel Box. In 1967 he purchased the store from his uncle, and for the next 52 years, Larry Evans would continue his career in downtown Winder at Evans Jewel Box.

Now, Evans is in the process of closing down the business he devoted his life to.

There have been many changes in the jewelry business and also changes in the Winder market through the years. One of the biggest changes in the store came in the bridal business. Evans says the bridal department, consisting of china, crystal and silver, probably made up as much as 60 percent of his business years ago. Evans Jewel Box was the bridal center for Barrow County and also got a lot of business from surrounding counties. All that began to change about 30 years ago from both customers and marketing. The big box corporations took over the business with volume purchasing. Evans says those stores could sell the merchandise for what he had to pay for it. Also, customers began to adopt a more casual lifestyle, and the formal lines lost favor with a large portion of brides.

Evans encountered the same problems with other jewelry and gift lines such as Pandora and Vera Bradley. While he always tried to stay on top of the latest trends and offer the popular lines, he couldn’t compete with the corporate stores that offered a whole store full of that particular line.

Online shopping is another thing that has affected the jewelry and gift business.

Evans says for the last seven or eight years the repair service has become a more and more significant part of his business.

Meanwhile, downtown Winder has seen tremendous changes as well. Evans says he can remember when you could find just about anything you needed in downtown Winder. “Winder used to have four jewelry stores, three drug stores, a shoe store, two variety stores, three department stores, a grocery store and three banks – all that was right here in about a three block area. When the apparel manufacturers left, we lost walking traffic. When all those other businesses left, we lost potential customers.

Another thing is that people haven’t kept up their properties so they are hard to rent out to stable businesses. And then the streetscape project took so long. It kept people away, and we lost revenue.”

Still, Evans is not retiring with negative feelings. He says the business has been good to him. Now serving his second term as a Winder councilman, he plans to keep on trying to make Winder a better place to live and do business. In addition to serving on the city council, Evans has been chairman of the Downtown Development Authority; a board member at the YMCA, Project Adam and the Chamber of Commerce; and an active church member just to name a few things. He has donated money and merchandise to every organization and school in Barrow County.

Evans says he has always tried to do his part in the community, and he has always tried to do right by his customers. He has been recognized for his contributions locally and nationally. Evans received a Distinguished Service Award and Evans Jewel Box received the 2012 Small Business of the Year Award from the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce. Evans was also voted the Jeweler of the Year for the Southeast by the 24 Carat Gold Club in 2000. He considers that a high honor since it was voted on by his peers.

He has been able to raise his twin daughters through the business and both have followed his footsteps. Tracy Evans Kiley has worked alongside her dad at Evans Jewel Box for the past 33 years. She will continue her career at Roberts Co. Jewelers in Tifton, Georgia in 2015. Tammy Evans Morgan purchased the Monroe location of Evans Jewel Box from her dad and ran it until 2006. She is now employed by Floyd Green Jewelers in Aiken, South Carolina. Evans wife of 36 years, Frankie, worked in the business for many years and has always supported him in whatever he has undertaken.

Kiley is anticipating the changes coming for her with the closing of the store. She has also raised her son and daughter through the store. She treasures the chance she has had to work with her dad all these years, and says he deserves the credit for preparing her for her next job.

“My dad has taught me and given me a ‘degree’ in the jewelry business. Without him I wouldn’t have the opportunity I do now. My degree is not from a university, but I think it comes from the best place of learning available – the school of Larry Evans and hard knocks. I hope I have graduated with his honor and blessings.”

Evans and Kiley mention their gratitude, first to God, and then to all their customers and friends.

Evans is looking at this life event philosophically.

“It’s time to move on to another phase in my life now,” he says. “Frankie and I have prayed about this, and we’ve watched for signs from God. I’m not going away. I’m just retiring so I can enjoy some other things in my life.”

There is not a definite date for the store to close, but Evans says he expects it to be before the end of the year. He adds, “That final day that I walk out of here will be a very emotional day.” It’s going to be a sad day for Downtown Winder and Barrow County as a whole.

Article source: http://www.barrowcountynews.com/section/10/article/23430/