(Hat tip to Max)

Vicious two-time (at least) murderer and rapist-torturer Robert Waterhouse was put to death in Florida last week.  He took his first life 45 years ago.  To say merely that the wheels of justice move slowly is a repugnant understatement in this case.

Robert Waterhouse, executed in Florida 45 years after his first known murder, having a bit of fun with the press

Waterhouse’s first known murder occurred in 1966, when just offing some woman didn’t matter too much to the new crop of criminal fetishists playing sociologist beneath their black robes (let’s not forget to thank the denizens of that blood-drenched punchline called the New York State Parole Commission).  The victim was 77.  Waterhouse raped and strangled her: he tortured an innocent elderly woman to death.  But luckily for him, he did it in a state and at a time when such things just didn’t matter.

Such an act, and the subsequent early release of Waterman wasn’t considered injustice, just another run-of-the-mill rape/torture/murder/leniency in a city busy channeling William Kunstler’s ethical priorities.  Waterhouse got life, but New York State cut him loose after only seven years.  Seven years for the torture, violation, and murder of a defenseless, elderly woman.

Back in such bad old days (that many in our current justice system are trying to recreate), seven years was a typical sentence for this:

77-year-old widow Ella Mae Carter of 39 Washington Ave., Greenport, died of strangulation. She had been brutally beaten; 14 of her ribs were fractured. Teeth marks were found under her right breast. Police said there was evidence of rape, although that charge was never brought against him.

Life, reduced to seven years.  Too bad it wasn’t what we now call “hate crime” since he just did those things to a woman — then somebody might have actually cared, or might care about Ella Mae Carter today.  Waterhouse just slaughtered an old lady — not the sort of thing AG Attorney Holder gets excited about as he scrolls back through history seeking the right types of indignities and injustice to justify his current policies.  Nor was Ella Mae Carter’s murder the sort of thing activists take up as a decades-long cause.   They took up Waterhouse as their cause instead, of course, costing the rest of us millions, I imagine, in ensuing years.

Nor was Mrs. Carter’s murder the sort of thing that gets people like NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn screeching in front of cameras.  If anyone could prove the 77-year old victim had been gay, well, then, that would be a different story.  Then she wouldn’t be forgotten: she would be memorialized.  Books would be written.  Teaching Tolerance classroom syllabi would be scribed in her memory and imposed on young children.  What she endured would be held forth as proof of something bad, instead of being merely an inconvenient reminder of things the social justice industry want us to forget today: that killers aren’t victims; that victims don’t matter to them unless they fit certain political agendas.

Perhaps, had she been water-boarded at some point between the raping and the strangling, Code Pink would be roused to crudely crayon some signs to wave at Waterhouse’s execution, remembering the torture victim.

The hundreds of thousands of murders that occurred during the crime wave of 1965 – 1995 simply aren’t the types of injustice about which PBS makes solemn documentaries.  Some people simply matter more to the activist classes.  Some torture is outrage: other torture is just an excusable expression of the childhood pain of the torturer, who needs to be rehabilitated and “re-entered” into society.  Some injustice burns brightly decades, generations later; other injustice is swept under the nearest available carpet.

This has been the case for half a century now.  So nobody cared when Waterhouse got cut loose in the early 1970’s.  Certainly not the Kunstler types who were insinuating themselves at every level of the criminal justice system, in service to the criminals.  Few even cared when, a decade later, Waterhouse killed Deborah Kammerer after raping and torturing her.  Her body was found on a St. Petersburg beach.  Her anus had been brutalized.  She fought back, hard, before being drowned in the surf:

Teeth broken. Nose broken. Eyes swollen. She had been sexually mutilated with a bottle. She had a bloody tampon jammed down her throat. Wounds on her fingers suggested she tried to fight back. She didn’t die until she drowned.

Here is another description of the type of torture you never find puffed over by cultural elites like Susan Sontag in the New York Review of Books, et al:

Ms. Kammerer, who was described in news reports as “blonde,” petite, a bar-hopper and a (former) date of Waterhouse,” was found nude, lying face down in the mud flats next to Tampa Bay the following morning. A description in the March 12, 1985, edition of the St. Petersburg Times stated: “(Ms. Kammerer) had drowned, but not before her 5-foot-2, 90-pound body was repeatedly violated…

“According to the medical examiner, Ms. Kammerer took 22 blows to the head, some from a tire iron. Her nose was broken in three places, teeth were cracked, eyes swollen, neck choked, back bruised. She was raped. There were extensive cuts in her rectum, where a bottle was forced. A blood-stained tampon was jammed in her throat.”

Well that certainly sounds like the type of case that brings legal activists like Steven Bright lapping at the door. The jailhouse door, that is, to make a hero of the tooth-smasher, anus raper, woman strangler.  And lap he did, along with scores of other excited anti-death penalty attorneys and one buffoonish British “journalist” who discovered he shared the same name with a rapist-killer, and, on such stimulating grounds, inserted himself in the case.  Can you imagine anything more puerile and egocentric?  Anything more indulgently-dining-outish?  I suppose I lack imagination.

The other Robert Waterhouse: Guardian writer shares the name of a rapist-killer!

In recent media, the other Robert Waterhouse describes his fun times with his murderer-pal while systematically concealing the facts that convicted the murderer.  In The Guardian, of course.  What a distasteful, attention hungry little man, trampling on raped and murdered women to puff himself up.  To indulge . . . a hobby.  His writing illuminates an ugly impulse driving many journalists: he seems aroused by the fantasy of experiencing the “suffering” of the killer on death row; he identifies with the inflictor of torture so transparently that one must wonder how much time he spends strolling like a dirty flåneur in his mind through the details of the murders themselves.

Projected self-pity is such a noxious modern sin.

In his journalism, Waterhouse utterly misrepresents nearly every detail of the legal narrative, leaving out things like the evidence.  For his sake, one can only hope the subjective bits about his own feelings are equally inaccurate, or else he really is an embarrassing specimen:

My friendship with Robert started formally in early February 2001 when I interviewed him at Union Correctional Institution, Raiford. My presence there as a journalist ensured that we met with a screen between us. He was in cuffs and leg-irons. I would get to know him later as a friend in the more relaxed setting of the contact-meeting room nearby, where up to 20 inmates at a time receive approved visitors. But the press interview emphasized our wholly different positions, something that spurs me when I feel the need to be reminded.

I did eventually publish an article in the weekend edition of the London Financial Times. By that time I had met Robert on three further occasions. I spent four weeks last summer investigating his case in St. Petersburg while visiting at weekends, preceded by a few days on Long Island, New York, where Robert was born and grew up, and where he pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in 1966 [Oh, let’s not go into that messy thing, shall we?  Ruins the ambiance.]

He was then only 19. He spent the next nine years or so [simple math, Bob] in Auburn State Prison before being released on life parole, drifting from Long Island to Louisiana and eventually, in 1978, to Florida where he went to live with his aunt and uncle, the people who had raised him from the age of six months and had retired to St. Petersburg.

Robert has always insisted on his innocence of the St. Petersburg murder. A few months back, he wrote his account of the events of January 2-3 1980, the night Deborah Kammerer was murdered, for Justice Denied Magazine. I have questioned him closely on this account. He has stuck to his story, and I am not in a position to say I don’t believe him [translation: I know he’s guilty but lack the spine to admit it.] So, in writing about his case, I intend to concentrate not on guilt or innocence but on the wrongs I believe he suffered before and after his arrest on January 9 1980. These alone, I suggest, make up a prima facie example of justice denied.

Let’s start by setting the scene. St. Petersburg, or St. Pete, is a low-density conurbation of some 238,000 souls on the west side of Tampa Bay. Its downtown area faces the bay with a few skyscrapers and a famous pier. The town straddles an isthmus between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. On the gulf side, a string of resorts beside golden sands with names like Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. It’s a sub-tropical retirement haven, which in 1980 also attracted an easy-going, pot-smoking set of drifters [sic] Deborah Kammerer and Robert Waterhouse were among them.

They knew each other. They had smoked dope together and had made love three or four times. Debbie (as everyone called her) was a divorcée whose ex-husband and children were back in Indiana. She was a slight (90 pounds) fair-haired woman. Robert, on the other hand was, at 6ft 2in and 220 pounds, dark-haired and bearded, a strong, flashy 33-year-old determined to enjoy himself after spending most of his twenties behind bars [For torturing an elderly woman to death.  But, whatever.]. He had a string of drinking companions and women admirers.

[Here’s the part where Waterhouse leaves out Waterhouse’s other crimes, including an attempted double murder for which he wasn’t punished.  Details, details.  What a hack.]

One of the places they met was the ABC Lounge on 4th Avenue North and 35th Street North. It was from here that Deborah Kammerer left in the early hours of January 3, probably with the person who murdered her. She was discovered head down in the shallow muddy water of Tampa Bay at Lansing Park beside Beach Drive South East at 19th Avenue SE the next morning by a resident walking his dog. She was naked, had been hit viciously around the head many times, raped and otherwise violated. The autopsy concluded she had been alive when dumped in the water.

Robert, who had also been in the lounge the previous evening, contends that he did not speak to Debbie on that occasion. She was at the main bar with friends; he was in a side bar meeting someone who was to sell him some pot. He says he left early to do the deal, and only returned to drop off his contact. But a barmaid claimed she had seen Robert and Debbie sitting, drinking and leaving together (this was not corroborated by Debbie’s friends). However, that evidence and blood traces in his car which matched her blood type was enough, in a circumstantial case, to convict him.

Just three days after the murder, before Deborah Kammerer herself had been identified, Robert was put under police surveillance following an anonymous phone call. The caller identified his car tag, indicating that all the evidence needed was in the vehicle.

Two days later Robert was pulled over by police cruisers as he left another St Petersburg club. His driver’s license was taken from him. He was told he could only get it back by accompanying police to the police station. There, he was questioned but not arrested. He was free to leave. However, his car must stay. A search warrant issued the next morning for the car led to a warrant for his arrest on January 9. The police, and the district attorney, were sure they had their man.

So the police hit the jackpot when, prompted by the mystery caller, they found that the registered owner of the 1973 Plymouth Satellite was none other than Robert Waterhouse, on life parole for a previous murder. Or was it the other way round? Did they concoct the call to match the profile? The caller was alleged to be a middle-aged male with a New York or New England accent. Robert’s uncle Chet Foster and “family friend” Ken Norwood both fitted the bill, but both denied involvement.

In pre-trial suppression hearings of August 1980, Robert’s court-appointed attorneys, Paul Scherer and John Thor White, moved to strike evidence found in the car as inadmissible because they claimed Robert had been unlawfully detained when made to take his vehicle to the police station. They also moved to strike damning statements taken in a police station interview of January 10 not in the presence of a defense attorney, even though the Pinellas County Public Defender had been appointed to Robert’s case.

Judge Patterson allowed the automobile evidence [Oh, just blood evidence, hair evidence, admission she was tortured in his car, other forensics, nothing important to a British journalist (I am beginning to believe the breed may not actually exist)] (without which the prosecution case would have crumbled) [Yes, prosecutions tend to crumble when you don’t consider, you know, evidence] but ruled against the verbal statements. However, after further representation by prosecutors Bob Merkle and Jack Helinger, Judge McGarry reversed Patterson’s opinion and allowed everything to stand.

This was the first, but by no means the last, example of prosecution bullying [Bullying?  Does he mean doing his job?  We are talking about a man who ripped a woman’s anus open with a bottle, and this thingy is whining about bullying?].  The trial transcript illustrates many instances of Merkle, in particular, hustling trial judge Robert E. Beach into accepting his view of how things should be conducted.

The trial was a big event in the St. Petersburg of 1980. According to reports the courtroom was packed. Judge Beach, whose background was in commercial law, had seen two decisions recently overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. The DA’s department was known for its aggressiveness. Bob “Mad Dog” Merkle was at the start of a career which took him to be Assistant US Attorney in Tampa and one-time Republican candidate for the US Senate before opting for lucrative private practice. He needed the victory he quickly gained  [Oh, no.  The prosecutor wanted to win the case, even though some British journalist with a fetish problem wanted him to lose it twenty years later!]. 

Among photographic “evidence” allowed as a backdrop to the trial were pictures of Ms Kammerer not as she was discovered in Tampa Bay but after she had been literally scalped during autopsy.  [So what?  Why the scare quotes around the word “evidence”?  This is what happened to Ms. Kammerer, no matter how much Waterhouse wishes to officially cleanse the record.  How sickeningly, sickeningly dishonest he is.] Jurors were illegally offered a handbook of advice on how to conduct themselves. So-called expert witnesses put on the stand by the county were not cross-examined in an adversarial manner. The defense brought only one witness compared with the prosecution’s 30 or so. The prosecution had delayed until the very last moment to disclose exculpatory witnesses to the defense, contravening Brady rights.

Robert was in fact never asked by his defense counsel to provide a list of witnesses. It wasn’t until the trial opened that the defendant realized that his own car would be identified as the crime scene, with Merkle borrowing from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to invoke blood and guilt [Confabulation, distortion, meaningless technicality, utterly meaningless observation, confabulation, and more lying.  Waterhouse was convicted on the evidence.  Too bad there isn’t a minimum mandatory for recidivist dissembling].

Here is Robert Waterhouse’s last word on Robert Waterhouse. He calls the rapist-murderer “brave” and a courageous example to us all:

[M]y friendship with Robert, with his wife Frances and with other Death Row families — indeed my opportunity to meet briefly other inmates — is an extraordinary ongoing experience. To be one amongst perhaps 50 people at Saturday visiting time talking, laughing and eating, putting the bravest of faces on the worst of circumstances, is to know that human nature does indeed triumph in adversity.

Robert Waterhouse is surely the most, well, to put it as best as I can, icky advocate of Robert Waterhouse the rapist-killer, but there are others eager to empathize with the murderer, with any murderer.  Here is a deeply disturbing empathy spiel from a childhood friend who felt sorry for Waterhouse because people wouldn’t talk to him at a party after he raped and murdered a 77-year old woman:

Mr. Tyler remembers seeing Waterhouse at the Apple Tree, a Mattituck nightspot, after his 1975 parole. “A lot of the guys he used to hang out with were there, but no one would talk to him,” Mr. Tyler recalls. “No one could relate to him. What do you say to someone who has been in prison for 10 years? It was a very awkward situation. As much as I wanted to go up to him and say, ‘Hi, Bob, how are you doing,’ there wasn’t anything to say. Everyone must have had the same attitude, because no one else talked to him. He was standing there all alone like a lost soul, just looking over the crowd.”

Awww, poor baby.  What is the matter with these people?  What do you ask him, Mr Tyler?  So, Bob, how did it feel to torture and rape that sweet elderly woman to death?  Hey, want a beer?  How about: What the hell is that bastard doing out of prison?   The void where outrage should exist has been replaced with people more worried about hurting the feelings of a serial killer-rapist.  The sheer perversion of what has become of the old saw about “walking in another person’s shoes” would leave Atticus Finch vomiting in his coffin for eternity.  If he existed.

I think we should call crimes like Waterhouse’s precisely what they are: Lynching.  Robert Waterhouse’s murder of Ella Mae Carter became a lynching the moment he walked out of prison instead of spending the rest of his life there; his murder of  Deborah Kammerer was a lynching because our legal system chose to not protect her.  The people who excuse Waterhouse’s crimes and denounce his incarceration, particularly the other Robert Waterhouse, are no different from those who used to stand by the sidelines cheering on murderous Klansmen.  Using accurate language would clarify the mind as we grapple with the fact that there are thousand of Robert Waterhouses out there eluding justice because society doesn’t care enough to apply its own laws when politically irrelevant types of people are denied justice.  Call all such murders lynchings; call them all hate crimes, and then, once we’ve had a nice bracing emetic of ethical and intellectual consistency, we can start to have that real conversation about injustice everyone keeps nattering about.

And when we do that, the Robert Waterhouse journalists of the world can also be named what they truly deserve:  Apologists.  Propagandists.  Aroused houseboys for torturers.  And worse.  Because he clearly enjoys doing this sort of thing with rapist-murderers, enjoys it with enough appetite to deploy his profession to obliterate the memory of women who suffered and died.

Whining about the distasteful nature of a photograph of a tortured woman’s raw scalp.  What a man.

~~~

Most recently, the Catholic Bishops have taken it upon themselves to cruelly criticize Deborah Kammerer’s surviving family.  In the interest, in their case, of opposing the death penalty, the Bishops publicly accuse Kammerer’s loved ones of serious moral transgressions.  This behavior has got to stop.  I ask that practicing Catholics send a letter to the Catholic Bishops asking them to withdraw their statement and apologize to Ms. Kammerer’s relatives.  One need not oppose the Catholic teaching on the death penalty to call for an end to such scapegoating of victims’ families.  Below is my letter:

Dear Bishop _____,

I am writing to ask that you and the other signatories publicly withdraw your statement falsely accusing the families of Robert Waterhouse’s victims of harboring hatred.

In the media, you stated of them: “Anger destroys while forgiveness frees one to live again in peace, blotting out the desire for revenge.”

This is deeply offensive.  You do not claim to know these people, nor does it appear that you have counseled them — and had you done so, you would have no business speaking publicly about their feelings in any case.  Yet you pronounce in the most public forum that you do know what they are feeling, and then you presume to correct them in that public place.  You position alone does not grant you knowledge of, nor authority over, their hearts.

You must also know in your own hearts that press releases like this one are not written to heal.  If they were, you would hardly broadcast them in a newspaper.  You are engaging in anti-death penalty activism, and that is all.  Through the act of publishing these words, you are exploiting your positions as religious leaders and exploiting the act of counseling, not sincerely offering real comfort to possibly (possibly not) troubled souls.

Victims in high-profile cases are too frequently subjected to such pressures from Catholic authorities.  And while I personally know and know of individual religious who have offered the greatest comfort to crime victims, I also know of many shameful demonstrations of public excoriation and political misuse of other victims by Church representatives.  The murderer becomes the victim, and the victim becomes the enemy of the cause.

This sort of advocacy is deeply corrosive.  You are dragging innocent bystanders into your activism for their loved ones’ killers.  You are also choosing to make ethical scapegoats of people who are mere witnesses, both legally and morally, to the workings of our justice system.  Society sentenced Robert Waterhouse to death, not the victims’ families, and not a mob.  Elected officials alone can commute his sentence.  Your appeal to the victims is mere calculation, and it is cruel.

Please withdraw your statement, and apologize to these grieving people for your misuse of them, now and in the future.

~~~

To the other Robert Waterhouse, I have just this to say:

Zip up your pants and get a different hobby, pal.

 

 

 

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