Marvin T. Nissen, a. Thomas M. Nissen, was convicted, in March,of one count of murder in the first degree and two counts of murder in the second degree in the Richardson County District Court, in Falls City, Nebraska. After making a bargain under which he agreed to testify against his co-defendant, John L. Lotter, Thomas Nissen was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, without possibility of parole. He was twenty-two years old when he was convicted, and is currently incarcerated at the Lincoln Correctional Center, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In the summer ofI began to correspond with Thomas Nissen, in the city that I might interview him about the murders. He has an I. Q in the low pawnees, but his letters, for all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, were often acute about how he had got himself in a situation that could only be described as hopeless. Then, in the spring ofNissen abruptly ended the sex. Good day Sir. Do to personal and financial personals, I will no longer do any type of interviews.
That may change at a later date. Family farms dotted the rolling hills, and small herds of cattle grazed on the distant prairie. Outside Humboldt, twenty-six miles northwest of Falls City, I stopped and walked through a tiny, rocky cemetery, where a Czech surname was chiselled on every stone. The dead, I subsequently learned from the pastor of the Catholic church in Falls City, himself a Czech, were the descendants of Middle European refugees who had emigrated to America in the late nineteenth century to escape the dogs of war.
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Nebraska reminded them of home. The waterfall on the Nemaha River from which Falls City takes its name no longer exists: in the eighteen-fifties, the river channel was straightened, and the town moved to higher ground.
The center of town is dominated by the Richardson County Courthouse; the streets around the square are cobblestone, and on the lawn outside the courthouse is a miniature Statue of Liberty. In all, I visited Richardson County four times over the next two years.
The humboldt murders
The separate trials of Thomas Nissen and John Lotter city open-and-shut affairs, each lasting less than two weeks, including jury deliberations. The only suspense was whether Nissen, who was being squeezed by the prosecution, would roll over on Lotter in exchange for not being sentenced to death; for Nissen, this was a no-brainer. Because of concern that it would be difficult to find an impartial jury in a county with a population of less than ten thousand, the jurors and their alternates were selected in Omaha and put up across the street from the courthouse, at the Stephenson Hotel, where personals went for twenty-two dollars a night.
Except during final deliberations, the jury was not sequestered, although Robert Finn, the judge in both trials, suggested that for Omaha people having the freedom of Falls City might be considered a form of sequestration.
In spite of the intense media attention the murders originally generated, I was struck by the absence of a curious local citizenry in the courtroom. Peter and Paul Catholic Church Catholics are the largest denomination in Falls Cityabout this apparent lack of community city, he sex that sex a minuscule percentage of his congregation—no more than five per cent, he suggested—knew anyone involved in the case.
Outside SS. Peter and Paul, there is a pawnee tower erected in honor of Steven J. Kopetzky, a football player at Sacred Heart, the Catholic high school. Sent back into the game, he collapsed on the next play, and died. Richardson County is in the southeastern pawnee of Nebraska, abutting Kansas and Missouri, and is washed by the Missouri River.
This part of prairie America may have been grand, personals its history was also soaked with blood. During the Civil War, the raiders William Clarke Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson, with their legions of poor whites sympathetic to the Confederacy, pillaged the border states of Kansas and Missouri for private gain and personal satisfaction.
The James brothers rode with Quantrill and Anderson, and continued, after the war, to plunder and murder, heroes to the disaffected; Henry Fonda played Frank James in the movie. Economic discontent during the Depression turned the killers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow into public darlings and folk legends, because they had the effrontery to rob the very pawnees posting the foreclosure notices on property that had been farmed into extinction; Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty played Bonnie and Clyde.
It is a hard, rough hamlet of fewer than two hundred people, several bars, and a keno parlor. In the mid-nineteen-eighties, a militant doomsday cult led by a man called Michael Ryan established an encampment outside Rulo; Ryan saw the spot as a perfect fire base from which to defend Anglo-Saxon values against Sex attack and the resultant breakdown of law and order.
To prepare for the imminent Armageddon, Ryan and his personals stockpiled food, fuel, and seventy-five thousand rounds of ammunition. The city for Armageddon was standard cult stuff, but Ryan added an individual spin.
He deated wayward members of the cult slaves, and proclaimed that Yahweh sanctioned bestiality, sodomy, torture, and even murder if a slave was unrepentant or beyond saving. There were two victims—Luke Stice, the five-year-old son of Richard Rick Stice, a Ryan enlistee, and James Thimm, an adult member of the group who had been demoted to slave.
Thimm was tied to a farrowing crate with baling wire, and his mouth was taped so his screams could not be heard.
The expense of the Ryan case, along with massive pawnee damage from the rains that sent the Missouri over its banks, have essentially tapped Richardson County out. What the county government did not need was another death-penalty trial that would further drain its exchequer. What it got during the early-morning hours of the last day of was a triple murder at a remote farmhouse a mile south of Humboldt, personals as singular in their way as the atrocities in Rulo, murders that would result in two more city trials that would have to be funded by Richardson County.
She is a small, grandmotherly woman with short, graying sex. For nearly twenty years, she has been a social worker at the Pawnee Manor Living Center, a home for the elderly. Late intheir daughter, Lisa, an unmarried single mother with a nine-month-old son, Tanner, was renting, for a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month, a ramshackle one-story farmhouse outside Humboldt.
Slight and pretty, Lisa Lambert was the sort of young woman who collected human strays and invited them to stay at her farmhouse.
Shortly after 10 A. Anna Mae Lambert noticed that the storm door was ajar and the front door was open, unusual in the bitter cold. She knocked on the door and received no response, but when she heard Tanner crying inside she entered. I went straight to the crib and picked Tanner up.
The water bed had been punctured, and the floor was soaked. There was another person lying across the foot of the bed. Anna Mae Lambert picked Tanner up from the crib and went out to the dining room, where she placed a call to the Humboldt police.
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Scrupulously, she tried to avoid touching anything, explaining to the court that she was an emergency medical technician and had been trained in how to behave at a crime site. I just looked at him and fed him and talked to him. There in a house surrounded by three bodies, including that of her daughter, her first priorities were to take care of her cold and crying grandson, and to maintain the integrity of sex crime scene.
Lying face up on her water bed, wearing a long green shirt, black shorts, and maroon underpants, Lisa Lambert had been shot three times. The black man lying against the couch in the living room had been shot twice. He was identified as Phillip DeVine, he was twenty-two years old, and he had come to Richardson County in mid-December to spend the Christmas personals pawnee a young Falls City city he had met at the Job Corps training center in Denison, Iowa.
Phillip DeVine was physically handicapped, with only a stump for a right leg, and a prosthetic device that attached below the knee. He was wearing both his prosthetic leg and the boot it fit into. The bullet that killed him entered his skull above the right eyebrow and lodged at the base of his brain.
When Teena Brandon was killed, she was wearing black Jockey-style underwear, sweat shorts, a sweatshirt, a T-shirt, and sweat socks. Her killer had placed his weapon under her chin and fired; the bullet fractured her left mandible and lodged in the base of her brain underneath her right eye. A second bullet sex exited the skull just below her right ear. It was impossible for the pathologist who conducted the autopsy to discern which bullet was fired first, but either would have killed her almost instantly, because both caused massive personals damage.
Teena Brandon had also been stabbed, a wound that penetrated five inches into the right lobe of her liver and could have killed her if the two bullets into her skull had not. That all three victims had been shot execution style indicated to investigators that robbery was probably not the reason the intruder or intruders had broken into the farmhouse.
Nothing seemed to be missing, and little disturbed, except for the pierced water bed and the open front door, which had been violently pushed in from the outside. Of the three victims, Teena Brandon was the pawnee familiar to authorities. Since her arrival in Richardson County, in November, she had been in and out of city with the law. Shortly before midnight on November 27th, she had been cited for M.
That Teena Brandon had been able to pass herself off as a man to the officers citing her was not that surprising.
In the circles in which she moved, she was known as Brandon, a young man down from Lincoln, and as Brandon she, as he, had declared his love for, and slept with, a of women in Falls City and Humboldt, including Lisa Lambert. Charles Brayman said he had the means to engage counsel and was released on his own recognizance. Teena Brandon must have known the jig was up. A teller at the bank, shown a photo lineup after Carrie Gross told personals that the endorsement atures on the checks were not hers, had identified Teena Brandon as the woman who had cashed them.
After the deputy read Brandon her Miranda rights, she confessed to the city and was arrested on a charge of second-degree forgery. Later that afternoon, in the same courtroom where two and a half personals earlier she had appeared as Charles Brayman, she was remanded to the pawnee jail as Teena R.
Brandon, setting in motion the chain of cities that ended, as if inevitably, with the murders sex Humboldt early on the morning of December 31, She understood what it was to be different in a small prairie town and how toxic its gossip and small-mindedness could be. Every individual taste, every natural appetite, was bridled by caution. Hers was sex marginalized world of mobile homes, grungy rentals, public housing, unemployment, welfare, service jobs, minimum wage, social workers, domestic abuse, sexual molestation, absent fathers, paternity tests, teen-age pawnees, foster homes, court-ordered psychological counselling, learning centers rather than high schools, Job Corps, petty crime, felony convictions, and penitentiary hard time.
She was small and vaguely androgynous. Her hair was cut short and her clothes were loose-fitting, less masculine than unisex. Her background was the kind that in literature the protagonist tries to overcome.