The week at a glance...United States
Deer Park, Wash.Serial killer’s secrets: As police combed unsolved homicide files in search of his victims, confessed serial killer Israel Keyes was eulogized this week at a funeral attended only by his family. Keyes, 34, slit his wrists and hanged himself last week in an Anchorage jail, where he was held after he confessed to murdering eight people in four states between 2001 and 2012. Police believe Keyes may have killed 11 people in all, traveling the country in search of random victims he often strangled “so he could enjoy watching them suffer as they died,” said the Anchorage Alaska Dispatch. An expert on serial killers described Keyes as meticulous, “one of the top three organizers, thinkers, and planners” he’d ever studied, said Frank Russo, an assistant U.S. attorney for Alaska.
Happy Valley, Ore. Shopping mall massacre: A gunman opened fire in a mall teeming with 10,000 Christmas shoppers this week, killing two people and seriously wounding another before turning the gun on himself. The attack began at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Clackamas Town Center mall, near Portland, when Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, ran in wearing a white hockey mask and carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. He began firing randomly at shoppers, some of whom heard him say, “I am the shooter.’’ The mall turned silent, witnesses said, except for the gunshots and the screams from the wounded and terrified. The mall’s Santa Claus dove under his chair. Police said Roberts carried several magazines of ammunition and wildly fired many stray shots, but his gun jammed, preventing greater carnage. As police arrived, he killed himself in a stairwell.
Bronx, N.Y. Strauss-Kahn settles suit: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault agreed to settle her civil lawsuit this week, capping a 13-month scandal that cost Strauss-Kahn his job and derailed his political career. The terms of the settlement were confidential, said Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon, who presided over a brief hearing attended by the 33-year-old maid, Nafissatou Diallo; her lawyers; and attorneys for Strauss-Kahn. In May 2011 Diallo told police that a naked Strauss-Kahn ambushed her while she cleaned his $3,000-a-night suite at a Manhattan hotel and forced her to perform oral sex. Though criminal charges were dropped, Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund. He has maintained that the encounter was consensual, but called it a “moral failing.”
Brooklyn, N.Y. Hasidic sex abuse: An unlicensed Hasidic Jewish therapist who was trusted with the care of children was convicted this week on 59 counts of sexual abuse and faces up to 117 years in prison. The explosive trial and conviction of Nechemya Weberman, 54, shed light on the secretive codes, standards, and practices of the insular Satmar Hasidic sect, an Orthodox Jewish group. The victim, now 18, was sent to Weberman for counseling at the age of 12, but she instead suffered through three years of sexual abuse at his hands. In coming forward, she “showed great courage,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who noted the intense pressure from the Satmar community to drop the charges. After the conviction, a rabbi who advocates for abuse victims in the community was attacked by a man who threw bleach in his face. Weberman’s attorneys insist he is not guilty and will appeal the verdict.
Sissonville, W.Va.Natural gas explosion: An 800-foot swath of Interstate 77 was turned from asphalt to tar this week as a massive natural gas explosion obliterated the highway, flattened four homes, and damaged five more, authorities said. “It sounded like a Boeing 757,” said witness Kent Carper, who watched the quarter-mile-long blaze, which sent flames some 75 feet into the air. “It actually cooked the interstate.” As the state Department of Transportation scrambled to reopen the road, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin marveled that no one was killed in the blast. “We’ve been very fortunate,” he said, as he inspected the charred remains of the houses. The owners “were just lucky enough not to be home.” Federal and state agencies are investigating the cause of the explosion in the 20-inch pipeline that ran along the highway.
Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman sues NBC: Accused murderer George Zimmerman sued NBC Universal last week, charging that the network defamed him when it aired edited recordings of his 911 call to police the night he shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. The recordings were altered to make Zimmerman sound like a “racist and predatory villain” in the pursuit of ratings, the complaint said. NBC viewers heard Zimmerman say, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” But the tape had been edited to remove the voice of the 911 dispatcher asking whether the person he was watching was “black, white, or Hispanic.” Meanwhile, a judge this week denied Zimmerman’s request to let him remove his GPS monitoring device and travel freely in the state pending his trial in June on second-degree murder charges in the death of Martin.