In one of the posts, I mention that we need to write memoirs before we get too old since old men often don't differentiate between the important and the trivial. And I'm not getting any younger. This blog is mostly for my kids, to understand a bit about the world I came from and lived through. Welcome to anyone else, but this is not profound and it is very personal.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Know anybody who...??
I wrote this some time ago, have hesitated to put it out there, but since I can name everyone who reads this and they aren't very numerous, decided no harm to tell a story about people who may still be alive.
Most of this is based on hearsay and not on significant research. Just a warning. If anyone reads it and can supplement with additional information, I would be grateful.
KNOW ANYBODY WHO HAS BEEN MURDERED? OR
Shortly before he
died, my brother called me with a bit of glee in his voice I had not heard for
a long time. He asked me, “Know anybody been murdered?” “Yes,” I said.
“OK, then, know
anybody been stabbed?” Well, he had me there, as, no, I had never known anyone
who had been stabbed, but I was willing to bet I was going to discover somebody
in the next several minutes.
He was in the Genoa
Hospital at the time and he said about 2 in the morning, “All hell broke
loose,” and people were bustling all over, a medivac helicopter dropped in and
it seems there had been a violent confrontation. This was closer to home than
he could have expected as the victim was his former son-in-law and farming
partner, Mike. Since Mike survived with no ill effects, we can treat the topic
with some levity at this point.
Seems that Mike has
a problem with alcohol…and girlfriends, and that is sort of like saying the
Titanic had a problem with ice bergs…and lifeboats. There has been DUI’s, jail
time, lost jobs for sure, but this time he almost lost his life. His girlfriend
apparently has more problems than just alcohol, and she decided (after some
term of alienation) to drop by in the middle of the night to get some money and
beer. Mike declined her invitation which, to someone on several mind-altering
substances at once was not well-received, and she became enraged.
Tore out the phones
in the house, threw away the cell phone and left. Only to come back later, grab
a kitchen knife and stab him twice in the chest. Once on the left side of the
aorta, next on the right side of the aorta, according to hearsay reports which
is all I have.
finally got him to the hospital resulting in the chaos noted by Dick.
Few days later, he
was back at work. Don’t know if that cured anything, but I might be a bit
pickier about girlfriends? The girlfriend was evidently given some jail time.
Mike ended up with jail time later, too, but unrelated.
He then asked who I
knew who had been murdered. There are lots of flashes and pictures in my mind
and memories associated with this, and I will do my best to not clutter it up
too badly, but it is going to be longer than you will like. Plod on through
I grew up on a dairy
farm in the middle of Nebraska, I thought Columbus was the big city and rarely
visited some place like Omaha. After graduating (in a class of 17, but there was
one National Merit Scholar, a smart girl and some pretty smart, successful
people, so don’t sneer too much) in the spring of 1963, I made a good decision
to attend the University of Nebraska. The reason it was a "good decision"
was because good personal decisions have been rare for me and there was an alternative, a football scholarship to tiny Doane
College in Crete, Nebraska, and for some reason I put my ego aside and
acknowledged that I wasn’t good enough. Besides, the Honors Program at the
University was a pretty good deal.
So I was naïve and
had no idea what college would really entail when I was approached by an older
Genoa native, Mark Raemakers, who was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He
introduced me to Bill Mowbray who came through driving a new, bright yellow
Cutlass convertible. His family owned the Buick dealership on Miracle Mile in
Lincoln. Years later, I saw the identical vehicle parked and for sale in Fargo,
North Dakota and all that flooded back.
Not bad, cruisin’ in
a convertible, drinking a beer and talking about being a college man. I was
astounded that the convertible would have air conditioning…who would have thunk
Pledging Sigma Nu
was concluded long before Rush Week, at least on my part. And as my family and
so many of my fraternity friends know, the associations I made there have had
lasting impact. Lifelong friends, and the best friends.
That was the 1960’s.
Fast forward to 1992. A lot had happened, I was single, working for a $3
billion NYSE company, Midwest Energy (now owned privately by Warren Buffett)
and just about to utter my words that I actually said, but usually elicit a
laugh, “If I have to work for an idiot, I might as well work for myself.” Well,
I hadn’t cut the cord yet, and it was time for our annual company dinner, a
tradition that went way back but that didn’t have a lot of emotional weight for
me. Other than a couple of folks who I continue to hear from, I didn’t have
anyone to sit with, so I asked our pilots if I could join them. I have a
private license, I always enjoyed them, and it seemed that I kept them busy
with a lot of trips, so I appreciated the invitation.
I sat next to a
woman who was from Lincoln, worked at an FBO there, and was dating one of our
pilots. We chatted a bit during the meal and program, and one thing led to
another when we discovered that she was the first wife of Bill Mowbray. “Oh,
how is Bill?” Quite a look. “Perhaps you didn’t know.” And there was a pause, “Bill
That was BIG news to
me, and of course the rest of the story about his death, the second wife,
Susie, being found guilty of murder, the $1.8 million insurance policy, and her
prison sentence where she served nine years. I am not sure when I found out about
the second trial, but it must have been later.
So, I decided to do
some reading. Bill moved to Brownsville, Texas and set up a Cadillac dealership
which was, at the time of his death, experiencing some financial problems. He
had quite a large life insurance policy which was not paid to the wife who was
the beneficiary, as you can’t profit from criminal acts. She later sued for the
money, see below.
As I remember it,
the Susie's son from a former marriage went to law school, studied the OJ
Simpson trial, and came back with a “put the police on trial” defense that not
only succeeded in getting a new trial but got an acquittal.
There was other
information, of course. For example, he was facing criminal charges from the
IRS, he had told a banker that he would commit suicide if he didn’t get a loan,
and he had exhibited poor financial judgment before, like buying a $12,500
shotgun the day before he died.
accounts were incredulous that the second trial could overlook one important set
of facts—if it were to be a suicide, how could that happen when he was shot in
the right temple with a pistol at close range, there was blood all over
everything, but his right hand and arm were under the covers and had no blood
spatters? There was a hole in his left hand where the bullet hit upon exit from
his head. Again, in that dizziness after the OJ Trial, anything can happen. She
was acquitted, released, and I have no current information on her situation.
sued the Mowbray family and the public officials who conducted the trial trying
to get the money which was paid to Bill’s family. Her suit was dismissed. Again,
the similarity with OJ in that the murdered woman’s family sued OJ and
basically obtained all his money in a civil suit. The Mowbray family has
publicly acknowledged that they believed at the time, and continue to believe
that she killed him. It really looks like they are right.
concluded with my discovery that a guy who helped make some formative decisions
in my life was not only dead, but the subject of some interesting stories. Now
I knew someone who had been murdered. Later, I would know someone who had been
stabbed. Haven’t heard the end of that story yet, but I’ll bet it’s going to be