The week at a glance ... United States
Salt Lake CitySmart’s kidnapper convicted: A state jury last week convicted Brian Mitchell, a self-styled religious prophet, of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint from her home and holding her captive for nine months, during which he repeatedly raped and threatened her. Mitchell’s defense didn’t contest Smart’s account but claimed he was insane. Smart, who was 14 when she was kidnapped, was the key prosecution witness, calmly recounting horrific details of her captivity. She testified that Mitchell referred to himself as a “Davidic king” and frequently called on God to make Smart perform her “wifely duties.” Smart, now 23, said she hoped her story would help other victims realize “that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened.”
Whitefish Bay, Wis.Very special delivery: A letter carrier has been arrested and suspended from his job after he delivered mail in the nude to a woman he said was in need of a good laugh. David Goodman, known as “Mailman Dave,” was arrested after police received a complaint from a woman working alone in an office. “He burst into the door with the mail, except this time he’s completely nude,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “I yelled at him and told him to leave, with my eyes half-closed.” Goodman, 52, told police he was trying to cheer up the woman, who he said seemed “stressed out.” The U.S. Postal Service has suspended him pending an investigation.
Oak Beach, N.Y.Serial killer on loose? Police say a serial killer could be responsible for the bodies of four women discovered this week scattered over a quarter-mile stretch of beach on New York’s Long Island. “It’s not a coincidence that four bodies turned up in the same location,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, who has requested FBI assistance. “Somebody targeted these individuals and dumped them.” Police departments in New Jersey and Maine have contacted local police to share information on unsolved missing-persons cases, in an effort to identify the bodies. The victims were discovered by a cadaver dog during a training exercise on the beach, near where a woman is believed to have disappeared in May.
Bedford, N.H.Required-reading flap: Parents of a local high school student have pulled their child out of school because of their objections to a book assigned in a personal-finance course. Aimee and Dennis Taylor removed their son Jordan, 16, from Bedford High School after Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America was included in the course’s reading list. The book, an account of living on the minimum wage, refers to Jesus as “a wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist.” School superintendent Tim Mayes says the book will stay on the reading list but offered an alternative assignment. That didn’t mollify Dennis Taylor, who called Ehrenreich’s book “un-American” and said, “I don’t think we need it in Bedford.” Jordan Taylor is currently being home-schooled.
Washington, D.C.: Holbrooke dead: Richard Holbrooke, a hard-charging diplomat who served every Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson, died this week after undergoing 20 hours of surgery to repair a torn aorta. Holbrooke, 69, was one of four authors of the Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the Vietnam War whose publication in 1971 revealed years of official deception. Serving under President Clinton, Holbrooke in 1995 oversaw the marathon negotiations that yielded the Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. Under President Obama, Holbrooke served as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Blunt, persistent, and prone to volcanic rages, Holbrooke was a formidable presence at the negotiating table, and clashed with colleagues and adversaries alike. He was in a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week when he fell ill. President Obama praised him as “simply one of the giants of American foreign policy.”