Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Talk about under water...Paris

With the Eastern US seaboard suffering Sandy and parts of lower Manhattan flooded I'm hoping everyone is safe. It brought to mind Paris in 1910.

 The summer had been wet, the winter even wetter, and bedraggled Parisians entered 1910 to a January of torrential downpours. The Seine already swollen,  burst its banks. Streets were inundated. Homes were under water.

One witness at the time described the scene: "Crowds had gathered on the embankments, admiring the headlong rush of the silent yellow river that carried with it logs and barrels, broken furniture, the carcasses of animals, and perhaps sometimes a corpse, all racing madly to the sea; they had watched cranes, great piles of stones, and the roofs of sheds emerge momentarily from the flooded wharves and then vanish in the swirl of the rising water."

20,000 buildings were wrecked within days and 200,000 people made homeless, the deluge brought devastation to the city on a scale not seen for centuries.

According to measurements taken at the Quai de la Tournelle, the Seine reached 8.5 metres, the highest seen since 1658. Of Paris's 20 arrondissements, 12 were flooded.

The poet Guillaume Apollinaire wrote: "On Avenue Montaigne people organised pleasure tours by boat. For two sous, you pass by the smartest hotels and photographers will take your picture as a flood victim for the sum of 50 centimes."

In the face of disaster, however, Paris squared up. Emergency services, police and charities swung into action and residents began building wooden walkways above the water. They reached the highest floors by stepladder. Ministers sailed to work by boat and worked feverishly by gaslight until the flood waters receded.

The politcian Jean Jaurès, who chastised the government in the newspaper L'Humanité: "A society whose citizens are thus at the mercy of the elements is like a house without a roof," he wrote. "In every disaster there is a lesson."

Here's to candles, books, boats and blankets
Cara - Tuesday

Monday, October 29, 2012


Turmoil in Greece.
Riots in Spain.
The election in America.
All sorts of garbage going on in Brazil that doesn't even get a corner of the world stage.

Writers should be politically engaged, right?
Not me, folks.
Not any more.

I've lived in dictatorships.
I've been arrested by the police.
I've been beat up by cops in the course of demonstrations.

But, ya know what?

Unlike those praiseworthy and couragous men that Jeff wrote about in his last post, I have gotten to the point in my life where


Not on the global scale.
Oh, yeah, sure, I still do a lot to support poor people, orphanages, that sort of thing.
But, as far as participating, actively, in the political process, I have opted out.

I continue to hold an American passport, but I have such grave doubts about my birth-nation's political system, as currently constituted, that I can't even find it within myself to bring up the outrage Tim expressed in his last post.

Truth to tell, I haven't voted in an American election since 1960.

And, in all probability, this is going to be the last post that any of you ever see, signed by me, where I make any reference, whatsoever, to politics.

So, at the risk of offending any of you who are more politically engaged, how about we reflect, today, on something less transitory.

Tropical fruit.

Yeah, tropical fruit.

It's gonna be here long after you, and I, and any of those damned politicians are gone.

Visitors to Brazil are often overwhelmed by the variety we have to offer.

Açai is one you might have heard of.
Regarded as a superfood, it’s rich in antioxidant properties.

But I’d be surprised if you know more than half of the ones depicted below.

Let’s try a little game.
Note down the names of the ones you recognize.

And then compare them with the answers at the end of this post.













Here are the answers, with the Brazilian names first.

  1. Fruta do conde – Sugar apple
  2. Arazá – Amazonian pear
  3. Feijoa – Guavasteen
  4. Maracuja – Yellow passion fruit
  5. Jaboticaba – Brazilian grape
  6. Guanabana – Soursop
  7. Jaca – Jackfruit
  8. Cacao – Chocolate (Some folks like it fresh, as a fruit.)
  9. Pitanga – Brazilian cherry
  10. Acerola – Barbados cherry
  11. Abiu – Yellow star apple
  12. Caju – Cashew fruit (the little double shell at the bottom contains the nut.)

How did you do?

Leighton – Monday

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Electile Dysfunction

It won't be long, thank God, before the final act of  “our long national nightmare," as Gerald Ford characterized the American Constitutional crisis caused by Richard Nixon being caught with his hand in the Democrats' cookie drawer.

In this case, of course, I refer to the quadrennial marathon of mendacity and mediocrity we refer to as presidential elections.  Only a few very long days left before a largely dispirited America trudges wearily to the polls and selects two from Column B or two from Column B-minus.  Column A, regrettably, is only intermittently (no pun intended) available.

We've endured the not-so-great debates, less policy discussions than snapping-turtle fights, in which the presidential and vice-presidential candidates squabbled savagely over how their opponents had flip-flopped on various mildly important issues (as though the ability to change one's mind disqualifies one for public office) while floating gentle platitudes and generalities toward things that actually matter: the deficit, the war in Afghanistan, the extra-judicial murder of Afghani and Pakistani civilians with drones.  (“I agree with the president about drones,”) Mittens murmured.

The president he agrees with, by the way, is the same president who made noises about trying members of the Bush administration for, uhhhhh, waterboarding civilians.  I'm willing to admit that waterboarding is no day at even the world's worst beach, but offered a choice between it and being taken off the board permanently as collateral damage in a drone attack, I'll line up for the bucket of water and the towel every time.

So: we're heading toward sixteen trillion in the hole.  Not a real campaign issue.  Getting pasted in the longest war of our history.  Not a real campaign issue.  Bill of Rights about half-shredded, thanks to Bush and the Patriot Act, abetted by the present administration.  Not a campaign issue.  Schools dumbed down to vocational level and about a quarter of our students failing to graduate anyway.  Not a campaign issue (if you discount Obama saying to Romney, “You said we don't need more teachers” and Romney saying, “I did not.”)  African-American and Hispanic kids (especially boys) failing to graduate at hair-raising rates. Not a campaign issue.  Tech companies and others hiring foreign nationals because, despite the level of American unemployment, they can't find qualified American citizens.  Not a campaign issue.

Hundreds of billions in TARP funds being “paid back” by banks who are borrowing from other government programs the funds they're using to pay the government back.  It's like I take a dollar from your left pocket, tell you I owe you a dollar, and then take another dollar from your right pocket, give it back to you, and call us even. Not a real campaign issue.

Gay marriage?  Now there's an issue Obama can sink his teeth into.  (Never mind that the Supreme Court is about to rule on it and the president can't do a thing about it.)  Self-deportation?  Romney can knock that one out of the park.  Getting the government out of our bedrooms and/or securing the borders?  Not real campaign issues.

This is the election in which the political father of the ObamaCare model, former Massachusetts Governor Mittens, campaigned against his own program.  This is the election in which the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (who is, as someone once said of Nixon, “an old man's idea of a young man”) floated a deficit-killer budget with enormous increases in defense.  This is the election in which the so-called “liberal media” ran headline stories about how much money Romney's campaign was raising but backed off the issue when Obama began to outraise him.

I have to tell you, there was something reassuring in old Nixon burglarizing the Democratic National Committee's offices.  It suggested that there were actual differences between the two sides, that there was a genuine choice for voters.  These days, when a campaign costs billions and billions of dollars and corporations are people, it seems like both candidates have their hands in the same pockets.

I'm voting for Obama, but I'm doing it one-handed because I'll be holding my nose.  And I'll be SOOOOOOOOO glad when this is over and I can get back to “Honey Boo Boo.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

True Greek Heroes Fight Like Greeks.

How many of us can think of a single act of valor so symbolic to a nation that it defines the rest of the actor’s life? I’m talking on the scale of Hans Brinker’s little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke sort of stuff, not a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction moment.

Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas
One such act occurred on the night of May 30, 1941 in Athens when two, 19 year-old Greeks, Manolis Glezos and Apostolos “Lakis” Santas, climbed to the top of the Acropolis and tore down a huge Nazi flag flying there since the Nazis first entered and occupied Athens on April 27, 1941.

Their action is credited as the seminal act inspiring Greek resistance to Nazi occupation and turned the two men into folk heroes.  Santas died last year at the age of 89.   His colleague, Glezos, is still alive and more than kicking as an outspoken member of the Greek parliament at 90.

There are many who disagree with Manolis Glezos decidedly leftist politics, but he’s clung to his beliefs all of his life, enduring nearly a dozen years in prison and several death sentences, including one shared with Santas issued in absentia by the Nazis for their daring nighttime attack on the Nazi flag.   He’s also received international recognition for his commitment to his beliefs. 

Glezos on Soviet Stamp
Glezos says what he thinks and at 90 is still out on the streets leading demonstrations, despite the very real risk of injury should they turn violent, as happened recently.  But he was a younger man then, only 89.

In June of this year, Andy Dablis of the Greek Reporter wrote a story condemning the rising, virulently anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi Greek political party, Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi).
(I’ve written about Golden Dawn several times on Murder is Everywhere and in the October 19th issue of The National Review Eliza Griswold has an article titled, THE TERRIFYING RISE OF GREECE’S 
NAZI PARTY: They own the streets; is parliament next?  In addition, yesterday The Guardian published a story and graphic video mini-documentary by Aris Chatzistefanou titled “Golden Dawn infiltrates 

Mr. Dablis article was prompted by a nationally televised pre-election debate in early June that unexpectedly featured Golden Dawn’s party spokesman, a 32 year-old member of parliament (“MP”), physically attacking a female communist party MP when she referred to a pending charge against the spokesman for the attack and robbery of a postgraduate student several years before.  As a MP, prosecution for his acts was barred by parliamentary immunity.

To Mr. Dablis, that televised attack meant no “more proof was needed that the Nazis of Golden Dawn are really just cowardly bullies who do their fighting in packs like mad dogs when they can pounce on one victim without fear of being hit back.”

His piece offered several suggestions on how to deal with Golden Dawn, two of which I found particularly telling in light of what happened this week in Greece’s Parliament.

Mr. Dablis suggested in June that (1) “Greeks rise up as they always have against bullies and tyrants and shun Golden Dawn, make its members pariahs and ostracize them,” and (2) “seat them next to Manolis Glezos, a real Greek hero who, with his late friend Apostolos Santas, climbed up under the Acropolis in 1941 to pull down the Swastika that Golden Dawn wants to put up again. Glezos knows how to deal with Nazis. Let’s see if the rest of Greece does too.”

This week, 220 MPs of the 300 in Greece’s parliament voted in favor of lifting the immunity of Golden Dawn’s spokesman and two other Golden Dawn MPs charged with recent attacks on immigrants.

Bravo, Parliament.

And, as reported by Athens’ primary newspaper, Ekathimeri:

Leftist veteran and main opposition SYRIZA MP Manolis Glezos on Tuesday condemned the ultra-rightwing Golden Dawn, describing their presence in Greece's Parliament as “an insult to Greek democracy.”

The entrance to Parliament earlier this year of Golden Dawn, which holds 18 of the seats in the 300-seat Parliament, is “one of the darkest pages in the history of Greek democracy,” Glezos said.

The 89-year-old wartime resistance veteran, best known for removing a flag bearing a swastika from the Acropolis in 1941, said Golden Dawn was not purely a fascist or Nazi group “but a party that essentially violates the good of the nation and with characteristics of a criminal organization which does not hesitate to plot crudely, exploiting the instincts of a society that is collapsing.”

Bravo, Mr. Glezos! 

This is a moment to be proud of, Greece.

Keep up the fight.  Never relent.  Never forget.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Crime writers cake shop

I'm on the road again, so I wanted to post some beautiful pictures for you to admire. But then I came across some pictures of repulsive cakes made to look like various human organs and sliced and diced anatomically correct body parts, and I thought that'd be more appropriate. They have been baked as part of the Eat Your Heart Out exhibition at the pathology museum at St Barts in London, which is on this weekend, so if you're in London, you're peckish and have a strong stomach then head down there. They look remarkable, and the attention detail is amazing. Not sure how they taste though. More info here

skinless head cake

Lung Cake

Maggots on a diabetic ulcer cupcake anyone?

STD awareness cupcakes - boils, scabs, warts and genital discharge. Or should that be clap-cakes? Great with a cuppa.

From the 'women in horror' cake selection...


Dan - Friday

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day of Reckoning?

A lot has been happening in South Africa over the past few months.  And it’s not good news.  I haven’t written about it before because it seemed to need time to get perspective.  Now that the dust has settled somewhat – literally and metaphorically – it may be worth trying to understand the events.

Demonstration at Marikana
The flashpoint was a wildcat strike at a platinum mine in the north-west of the country called Marikana run by a London-based company called Lonmin.  Well, strikes happen.  It’s part of the negotiating process between labor and management and is enshrined in the South African labor code.  Normally an industry has a single powerful trade union – in this case the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – that is affiliated to COSATU, the umbrella trade union body that is a member of the governing tripartite alliance.  (The others are the Communist Party and the African National Congress – the senior partner.  An obvious tension arises as a result of this: the government negotiates with its employees, who are represented by a trade union which is part of … the government.)  Leaving aside the background of the mining industry in South Africa and the often dreadful conditions in which miners live at the mines, let us accept that miners are not well paid for unpleasant, exhausting and sometimes dangerous work.  What was different about the Marikana strike was that the workers were rejecting not only the company and its wage policies, but also NUM and the ANC government.  With some justification, they felt betrayed by both the government – coming up for twenty years rule in South Africa – and their trade union, which had won them increases and better conditions over the years but had been unable to significantly improve their lifestyle in real terms.  They wanted a threefold increase in wages.  And a rival trade union was willing to demand it for them.  Unsurprisingly, the company rejected that out of hand and the stage was set for what followed.

Crowd with pangas and sticks
Regrettably – but again routed in the past – strikes and demonstrations in South Africa are prone to deteriorate into violent confrontations.  Skirmishes broke out between the rival unions, miners, security personnel and the police.  The police – who are also not brilliantly paid – had the unenviable task of trying to keep the sides apart as desultory talks progressed amid inflammatory rhetoric.  Several miners were seriously injured.  Then two missing policemen were discovered hacked to death with pangas.  (Pangas are vicious machete like tools or weapons, depending on the context.)

 On August 16th a protest of hundreds of miners descended on the mine.  They were visibly armed with pangas and sticks and some gunshots were reported (although the latter report is controversial).  Union leaders all claim that they called for calm and for the protest to be non-violent.  Nevertheless, at a certain point the group surged forward, ignoring police orders and the shouts of their supposed leaders.  The police opened fire with various types of ammunition and 34 people were killed and many more injured.  It was the worst massacre the country has seen since the days of Apartheid, shocking the nation, the government and the world.  At the end of this piece is a Youtube clip covering the event.  I warn you that it's pretty grim.

Strikes at the gold mines and the other platinum mines followed.  Then the transport workers went on strike and truckers who continued to work were victimized – one killed - and several trucks were burned.  The railway workers went on strike.  Moody’s downgraded South African debt, the economy slowed, and the rand fell up to 10% against the US dollar.  The government was paralyzed by a problem it hadn’t expected and couldn’t deal with.  Initially it responded by arresting all the protesters who could be identified on murder-related charges using an obscure law from Apartheid days.  Realizing that this would lead to disaster, it dropped that idea, instead establishing a commission to look into the whole issue.  That is still underway.

I promised some sort of comment, yet I feel overwhelmed by what is summarized above.  One thing is clear.  Workers are finally turning away from the ANC government, biting the hand that has not fed them, or has not fed them enough.  Conventional wisdom in South Africa is that when Madiba (“the old man” – the affectionate name for the universally-revered Nelson Mandela) dies, black people will reject the ANC in droves, moving to other parties.  No one will insult Madiba by doing so now.  The liberal conventional wisdom is that they will choose centrist groups like the Democratic Alliance.  The reality may be rather that they reject the conventional structures altogether and turn to firebrand outsiders like Julius Malema, who calls for nationalization of all the mines.  And that will be the end of the Rainbow Nation’s economy.  

The workers have a case.  South Africa is a rich country in terms of natural resources that attract investors, and natural beauty that attracts tourists.  It has shown that it has the expertise to host a huge international event (the Football World Cup), it has good infrastructure and, in many areas, good services.  Much HAS been achieved in terms of housing and other service delivery.  But many have used the needed transfer of power and resources from white hands to black ones as an excuse to enrich themselves rather than to uplift the population.  The day of reckoning may have arrived.
President Zuma, empty-handed

The stand-off continues with the other mines, although many miners have returned to work.  The transport workers strike has been settled – at above inflation increases. Wildcat strikes have spread around the country to other areas.  Government workers are threatening a major public sector strike.  Even my University in Johannesburg has the academics on occasional strike.  (I fear no one will notice!)  The only glimmer of good news is that the South African Revenue Service workers (IRS equivalent) are also threatening to join in.

 In due course Lonmin ended the strike at Marikana by giving increases of around 22%, taking wages to R11,000 per month (about $1,300) before deductions.  But the latest news from Marikana is that 4,000 workers have refused to go underground to protest the arrest of three of their compatriots on a charge of murdering a union official. 

So where does this end?

Michael – Thursday.

Youtube clip: Marikana massacre

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fish - take 2

This being the pinnacle of book time and me being caught up in a frenzy of last minute revisions to my new book I must again revert to a previous post. This I accompany with a warning, next Wednesday will probably be the same but after that I will be free from a deadline for a year and promise to provide new material.  

Fish – previously posted April 27 of 2011

I like fish. Everyone in Iceland likes fish. Well, everyone past the age of about twelve. This approximate age is when the tongue, the roof of the mouth and the insides of the cheeks have developed enough not to spasm from panic at the slightest prick of a tiny bone and the imagination has dulled to the point that such occurrences do not bring about envisions of a choking death. This does not mean that these thoughts leave you completely; I can easily recall this feeling and sometimes lose my appetite when I feel a bone in my mouth, always if it happens twice from the same plate.
Today bones are rarely found in the fish filets sold in the stores as the processing of fish has advanced greatly from when I was a kid. Also fish is cooked as filet in most cases today whereas it used to be thrown into a pot with everything but the head and the guts. This left a lot of bones that needed to be removed before eating, not all successfully. I recall my grandmother and grandfather always asking the same question when placing a fish on the table: “How many oars in a boat?” The answer lay in the ribs, i.e. the fish was opened and the ribs were counted. This game drew attention to just what one wanted to forget, namely the ominous presence of bones in the dinner.

According to the Icelandic Institute of Natural History there are five fresh water fish species in Iceland (salmon, trout, bleach, stickleback and eel) and over 340 species have been encountered within our fishing grounds. Not all are eaten, for example although “stickleback” is a big name, the fish carrying it is very small and one would need to eat about fifty to feel halfway full. Removing its bones would require a microscope and needle thick tweezers. Historically many of the fish we prize today and greatly enjoy eating were thrown back into the sea, catfish and lobster for example. This was not because these were too small but because they were too ugly. Ugly had to originate from evil of some form and better not to digest evil if you could avoid it.

This is actually reasonable. One should not eat or drink evil.

Not for the first time, I am what in Icelandic is called “afterwards smart” meaning you realize something too late, once you face consequences. This particular case relates to a dinner party me and my husband attended on Friday evening that lasted way too long. At the end of the party I drank Cointreau, lots of it actually, and now realize that this particular drink is pure evil despite its sweet taste. I ended up throwing up in our new sink after waking up during the night feeling absolutely horrid. The sink got plugged and as all stores were closed over the Easter holiday we were unable to buy drain de-clogger. I was cursed by all family members every time someone needed to wash their hands or brush their teeth for three whole days – not very Easter-ish at all.
I would drink a lot more if it were not for hangovers. I hate them. One of the things that I can't stop thinking about when in such a state is how happy I am that humans don’t have antlers or a rhinoceros horn sticking out of our forehead.  A hangover headache is bad enough with just hair attached to one’s head.

Yrsa - Wednesday

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SOS in Paris

SOS Paris is a call-in Helpline for English language speakers in Paris. While I've never availed myself of their services or volunteered I had a friend who did. My friend was very committed and went through the volunteer training by a psychologist.  She then hired a babysitter and volunteered two evenings a month at a small donated office space. This concept of her sitting alone, her supervisor consultant not onsite but a phone call away, pushed my curious button.
Who called on the help-line? Paris isn't all croissants, berets and baguettes when you actually live there. Were the callers lonely businessmen, tired expat moms, consular officials who felt alienated from the French culture, a foreign wife unable to make friends?
Most of all I wondered if she felt confident enough to talk people through a crisis?  I asked her how she might handle a call from someone wanting to get help in a country far from their own.  How could she help a depressed or suicidal person who reaches out by calling her?
No rocket science or Freud required she told me. Still, I remember seeing a book about Jung in her flat but she said 'we basically listen, sometime that's all a person needs. They grasp at a lifeline provided by someone who'll listen and respond to them in their own language.' The help-line is confidential. No names are given and no phone numbers are logged.
This is information from their website: Help is just a phone call away whether you're worried, confused or just want someone to talk to. Maybe all you need is some practical information like where to find an English-speaking doctor, how to work with your local mairie, or where to get help when you need it. That's what this volunteer community service organization, now in its 25th year, is all about.

Whatever the problem or question, you can talk to a friendly listener, anonymously and in confidence, between 3 and 11 p.m. every day.
If you're lonely, you're like the majority of people who call SOS Help. Others call because they're depressed. Latest statistics show 50 percent of the issues discussed were personal (loneliness, sexual), 16 percent health/depression, 15 percent were about relationships and 9 percent for information. Economic problems (housing, employment, financial) registered at 7 percent, and 3 percent of calls were crisis-related (suicide, alcohol/drugs, rape and violence).
"Some of our calls are from people who call us regularly," says Plum-Le Tan, SOS Help's administrative director. "We are a part of their support system."
With some 6,000 phone calls a year, SOS Help hears from a broad cross-section of the English-speaking community in France. The majority of callers (68 percent) are in the 20-39 age range with a further 23 percent in the 40-59 age range, according to SOS Help statistics.
Volunteer listeners hail from from all over the world and share an interest in the welfare of people and a desire to serve their community. They are empathetic, non-judgmental, and receive thorough training from professional psychotherapists including listening skills and specific topics like bereavement, drug abuse and suicide.

My friend told me about some of her conversational experiences and there was one that got my 'what if's' going. I'm fictionalizing it and it's slowly becoming a short story...at least that's the plan.
No names, the streets are changed and murder might be involved.
Cara - Tuesday

Monday, October 22, 2012

Murder in Brazil #5 – The von Richthofen Case

Manfred von Richthofen.

When they hear that name, most folks think of this guy, the famous WWI fighter pilot shot down over the Western Front in April of 1918.

But in São Paulo, in the spring of 2002, everyone would have thought you were talking about someone else: a distant relative of the Red Baron who shared his name - and whose life also came to a sudden and violent end.

Here’s the happy family before the tragedy. The Brazilian Manfred was an engineer. His wife, Marísia, was a psychiatrist. Andreas, their son, was fifteen. Suzane Louise, their daughter, was just short of her nineteenth birthday.

They all lived in a comfortable house, beyond this wall, in the Campo Belo neighborhood of the city.

At the time of the murders, and for the previous three years, Suzane been carrying-on a torrid love affair with a young man her parents deeply disapproved of. Twenty-one year-old Daniel Cravinhos de Paula e Silva didn’t study, didn’t work and had introduced their daughter to drugs.

They pressured her to break-off the relationship. She refused.
And when they threatened to cut-off her allowance, she decided to murder them.

On the night of the 31st of October, 2002, (Yes, I did say it was springtime; this is the Southern Hemisphere, remember?)  she took her brother to a cyber-café to meet friends and play video games. Then Suzane, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother, twenty-six year old Cristian, went to her home.

Earlier that evening, she’d disengaged the burglar alarm and turned-off the video security cameras. Upon arrival, she actuated the electric gate. They drove into the garage. The men put on hoods and entered the house.

She preceded them up the stairs to her parents’ bedroom, turned on the light in the hall, and verified that Manfred and Marisía were asleep.

Then she went downstairs and sat on the couch, in the living room, while her accomplices set to work with bludgeons they’d previously prepared.

The killers thought to make quick work of it, but they were in for a surprise:

In cases of severe brain trauma, when the individual doesn’t die immediately, the tongue often loses support at the base and drops back into the throat.

Causing a loud and most disturbing snore.

Daniel ran to the bathroom and came back with two wet towels. They put them over their victim’s faces in an attempt to drown-out the sounds. It didn’t work. So he ran down the kitchen, returned with a pitcher of water and set to drowning them with it.

That did it for Manfred, but not for Marisia. So they tied her head into a plastic bag until she finally expired.

Once it was over, Suzane came up for a look – and then she went downstairs and started ransacking the house.

The brothers did the same on the upper floor, all designed to make the house look as if it had been burglarized. But they didn’t do a good job of it. They left valuables, they left cell phones, they left a firearm, all things burglars would be unlikely ever to do. They did, however, take the von Richthofen’s stash of cash, a considerable amount of it in both US Dollars and Euros.

Then they left – and Daniel and Suzane checked-into a motel to establish an alibi.
Just before three in the morning they checked-out. Suzane dropped her boyfriend off, picked up her brother and they went home to “discover” their parents dead.

As the investigation progressed, it was ultimately discovered that, only ten hours after the crime, Cristian had bought himself a motorcycle, paying with thirty-six bills of one-hundred-dollars each. And he couldn’t prove where he got the money.

 They grilled him. He broke down. And then the others did too.

The investigation was over within a week.

But Brazilian law is such that, if an individual isn’t apprehended in the commission of a crime, it’s likely they’ll await their trial in liberty – and that’s what happened.

Suzane was free for a year, even launched a lawsuit to take over complete control of her parents’ estate (to the tune of more than five million US Dollars) and she might have won it, too, if investigators hadn’t feared for the life of her brother – and found a revolver hidden in a teddy bear in her room.

In July of 2006, almost four years after the murders, the trio finally went to trial. (There’s a considerable backlog of cases in the Brazilian justice system.)

The lovers were sentenced to thirty-nine years and six months each. Cristian got a year less.

In 2009, Suzane tried to get her sentence changed to house arrest. Her appeal was denied.
She tried again, two years later, with the same result.

But she’ll keep trying, and people who know about these things have told me it isn’t likely she’ll do all of her sentence as hard time.

In 2011, Andreas sued his sister for her half of the inheritance, including the money paid-out on her parents’ life insurance.

He won.

Leighton - Monday