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.

16 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Wow. It's really hard to believe the lives some people lead. I feel so very normal all of a sudden.

Hey, did he inject the heroin? Any idea how he managed that?

Mob said...

What the hell? That's the weirdest thing I've read in awhile, and odd to sorta know (via the interweb) someone involved in the man's life.

Melinda June said...

"I'd make Wiley for a wife beater if he had arms to beat her with." That might be the funniest thing I've read in awhile.

Bubs said...

Melinda, thanks! The credit goes to MizBubs--while we were talking I said "I'd make him for a wife beater" and she responded over the rim of her martini glass "if he had arms to beat her with."

Mob, I'll try and get an update on what he's been up to. After I posted that I remembered a couple of other stories about him. Like the time we had a surveillance on him and he grabbed a baseball bat in his nubs and came after a detective who was behind him in traffic in an undercover car and tried busting his window.

Barbara, mostly he snorted, and then later he got a girlfriend and other friends to shoot him.

Dino aka Katy said...

weird

lulu said...

My mother spend several years working in poor urban schools in Cincinnati; the look you call "white trash criminal" she calls "Appalachian Weasel Face". According to her, all of the really bad kids she had were Appalachian transplants who wore that expression by the age of 8. (just for the record, she had plenty of really nice Appalachian kids as well.)

lulu said...

spent, not spend.

Johnny Yen said...

Growing up in Albany Park, and then Streamwood, I saw my share of white trash current and future criminals. There is nothing quite like that breed. It's one thing to be an ignorant thieving idiot, but it's quite another thing to be proud of that fact.

Bubs said...

Johnny, Hooks' family lived in the Albany Park neighborhood on Montrose up until the settlement money came in, and he was still hanging out there in the 90's.

Lulu, that's a good description, and she's right about seeing it etched in some kids at a young age. My family's from Kentucky and West Virginia, I know it well.

Johnny Yen said...

Did he hang with any of the Hell's Henchmen biker gang? They were behind a lot of the white trash mischief in the neighborhood, including the peddling of illicit herbs and spices.

Anonymous said...

Dad, you speak lies! It was me who made the "if he had arms to beat her with" statement. Thank you.

Bubs said...

Noreen I stand corrected. I had a mental image of your mom saying something clever over the rim of a martini glass when I wrote that, but it was you.

Johnny, nope. He was a Simon City Royal

Mob said...

Wow, I have hands and I wouldn't attack a fuggin cop, this guy really is out of his tree.

Bubs said...

He didn't know it was a cop, he thought it was some middle-age guy who was looking at him funny. They were stopped at a red light, when Hooks came out of his car and came back to the uc car. The cop took off so as not to burn the surveillance. Later on, once they'd arrested Hooks, they found out he didn't know it was a cop, he was just pissed off.

justacoolcat said...

I almost posted on this same article, but didn't for two reasons.

1) I knew you would do it better.

2) It left me stumped.

Grant Miller said...

Is there any way you could make this into a ongoing series? Because the post title alone is worth the price of admission.