Thursday, May 10, 2007
Amputee criminals I have known
I could see that losing a couple of limbs at a young age could make you angry as hell. Take a look at Michael Wiley's mug shot and you can see the classic white trash criminal look--that sullen awareness that somehow you've been screwed, badly, in ways you're only dimly aware of, you're pissed off about it, and you no longer really give a shit. You've lost the normal person's instinct for self-preservation, and you'll do all kinds of crazy reckless shit just to prove a point.
I'd make Wiley for a wife beater if he had arms to beat her with. There's a unique combination of self-perceived victimhood, resentment and anger; you see it a lot in white trash criminals.
The reason I mention this is that Michael Wiley is not the first amputee criminal I've heard of. Matter of fact, we arrested an amputee years ago in the process of committing a residential burglary. Let's call him "Hooks."
Hooks is his actual street name. He's a gang member and is well known on the northwest side of Chicago; his younger brother is in prison for murder. Hooks lost both his arms up to the elbows in an incident involving electric wires. I've heard different versions, but all of them involved his fleeing from police as a youngster. He received a large settlement as a result of his injuries. Hooks got a lump sum and then a series of monthly payments of $5,000, and he bought a house just off Devon Avenue. For a long time his mom and dad lived there, even though they were divorced, because neither one of them wanted to move away from the cash cow that was their son. I had a sheepish moment when we served the search warrant at his house--I forgot to bring the copy of the warrant that you're supposed to give the homeowner when you kick their door in. I had to run back to the station and grab the copy while my coworkers searched the home.
Anyway, at the time we got him he had a pretty good heroin habit, and he was doing residential burglaries pretty frequently. Our guys caught him coming out of a house, and one of my fellow detectives freaked out when he went to grab him and handcuff him, and found only stubs. They ended up binding his stumps to his body with a belt, and attaching manacles to his ankles.
Hooks was well-known for his ability to hot-wire cars with his stumps, and his ability to work the slide on, and fire, semi-auto pistols. When I talked to him I asked him why, with his money, he didn't just head for some beach in Mexico and hang out drinking and getting hummers from some good looking girl. He didn't know why he didn't. He bragged that he'd done dozens of burglaries before the one he got locked up for.
I'm pretty sure he's fathered some kids since then.
Last I heard of him, he's living with the widowed mother of a fellow gang member, a friend of his, who lives in our town. Side note: the friend died of an overdose in the house a few years ago. Before that Hooks' friend had committed a sexual assault there. So far four people have died in that house--grandma of natural causes, dad (hanging suicide in the garage) a fellow gang member who overdosed on heroin, and then the friend. I think Hooks has a pit bull now, and one of our officers saw him riding a scooter down the street a few months ago. The scooter kept stalling because Hooks was having a hard time working the throttle with his nubs.
It's not always Germany or Florida. Sometimes it's right here at home.