The Excursion of Perversion; The Depraved Travels Of Alton Coleman and Debra Brown

During a recent interview I was asked a question. The interviewer wanted to know if I possessed a certain amount of empathy for the subjects of my blogs & books due to my criminal background. Caught somewhere between disbelief and apprehension, I regained my wits I responded, (in the most cynical tone that I could muster) “no, why would I.” I went on to inform the young lady that it is due to my criminal past that I know for a fact that violence in any capacity is senseless and above all evil. Regardless of whether I was attempting to become the “Nino Brown,’ of Chicago or trying to become the Black Frank Abagnale, Jr.; violence was never part of my modus operandi.

The following day I was having lunch with 2 Chicago Police officers that actually had thwarted my criminal endeavors back in my “hay day”; now that I’ve gone straight, we’re buddies….yay. Anyway, I told them about the interview and we had a big laugh. However, as we continued to talk, a melancholy presence fell upon our table.  We began to talk about senseless violence and the names of Alton Coleman and Debra Brown came up.

The term “senseless violence,” does not begin to describe the death & destruction carried out by these two. Born in 1955, Alton Coleman resided in Waukegan, Illinois. A middle school drop out that earned the name, “Pissy”, as a youth due to his tendency to wet his pants, Coleman first came to the notice of police as a teenager when he was picked up for breaking windows in his Waukegan housing project. As a teenager Coleman had acquired a reputation for his strong sex drive among his peers. Neighborhood acquaintances reported that he was bisexual and willing to engage in sex any time, any place with anyone. As Coleman approached adulthood he developed an insatiable taste for deviant manners of sexual gratification.Alton Coleman 1

In 1973 Coleman & an accomplice raped and robbed an elderly woman. However, during the trial, the woman refused to testify against Coleman regarding the rape. Found guilty of robbery, Coleman was sentenced to 2 years in prison. From 1973 to 1983 Alton Coleman would be charged in a total of 6 sex crimes, (one involving the rape of his own niece). Of the six charges; two were dismissed, in two he was found guilty of lesser charges and in two he would be acquitted. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. In a span of less than three months, he and Debra Brown would commit; 8 murders, 7 rapes, 3 kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies in 6 different states.

Debra Brown was born in 1962. One of eleven children, Brown suffered head trauma as a child and was deemed borderline mentally retarded. Later in life a psychiatrist wouldDebra Brown 1 diagnose Brown as having dependent personality disorder. Until the age of 21, Brown led a mostly mundane and uneventful life. That would all change in 1983 when she met Alton Coleman. Despite being engaged to be married to another man, Brown detached from her family and accompanied Coleman.

In early 1984 Coleman had been indicted for a rape and murder of a 14 year old girl he had committed the previous year.  Once Coleman found out about his “wanted” status he and Brown embarked one of the most prolific crime sprees in American history. In early May of 1984, the couple went north to Kenosha, WI where they met and befriended Juanita Wheat, her 7 year old son and her 9 year old daughter Vernita. On May 29, Wheat gave permission for Vernita to go with Coleman to his apartment to pick up stereo equipment. The couple abducted young Vernita and transported her back to Waukegan. On June 19th the body of Vernita Wheat was found in an abandoned building in Waukegan, four blocks from Coleman’s grandmother’s apartment. The body was badly decomposed and the cause of death was ligature strangulation. Police also found a fingerprint at the scene which was matched to Coleman. After befriending Robert Carpenter in Waukegan the pair stole his car and headed to Indiana.

In June of 1984 the two were in Gary, IN and crossed paths with 9-year-old Annie and 7 year old Tamika Turks who were walking home from a nearby candy store. Coleman & Brown convinced the two children to accompany them into the woods under the pretense of playing a game. Both children were then bound and gagged with strips of cloth torn from Tamika’s shirt. Annie was then forced to have sex with both adults. Annoyed by Tamika’s crying, Brown held his hand over her nose and mouth while Coleman stomped on her chest, then strangled her to death with elastic from a bed sheet. Annie survived the torment; unfortunately Tamika’s partially decomposed body was discovered on June 19, 1984. The cause of death was ligature strangulation. The two children resided with their grandmother who, stricken with grief over the ordeal and unable to deal with her loss, took her own life.

The very same day, Donna Williams and her car came up missing. The 25 year old Gary resident had met the couple only a few days prior to her disappearance. On July 11, 1984, Williams’ badly decomposed body was discovered in Detroit, MI about a half-mile from where her car was found. The cause of death was again ligature strangulation. On June 28, 1984, while in Michigan; Coleman and Brown committed a home invasion upon the Dearborn Heights, Michigan residence of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer Jones. Palmer was handcuffed by Coleman and then badly beaten. Mrs. Jones was also attacked. Coleman ripped the Jones’ phone from the wall and stole their money and car.

In July 5th of 1984 the pair turned up in Ohio, Toledo to be exact. Virginia Temple, the mother of several children, met and befriended Coleman and Brown. During their acquaintance the two became especially interested in Virginia’s 9 year old daughter Rachelle. Virginia’s family became concerned when she had not been heard from over a period of time. Troubled by the lack of contact, family members were shocked when they entered her home to find her children unsupervised. The bodies of Virginia and Rachelle were found in a crawl space, they both had been strangled to death. Frank and Dorothy Duvendack of Toledo had the misfortune of meeting Coleman & Brown. On the same day of the Temple murders the two entered the Duvendack home, bound them in phone cord and took their money and car. Later that evening the pair met Reverend and Mrs. Millard Gay of Dayton, Ohio. They stayed with them in Dayton and then accompanied them to Lockwood, Ohio, on July 9, to a religious service. On July 10, the Gays dropped off Coleman and Brown in downtown Cincinnati.

During their stay in Cincinnati, Brown & Coleman met 15 year old Tonnie Storey. After failing to return home from school, Storey’s parents reported her missing on July 11, 1984. Eight days later her body was found in an abandoned building. She had been strangled to death. During the investigation, one of Tonnie’s classmates testified that she saw Coleman talking to Tonnie the day she disappeared. A fingerprint at the crime scene was also linked to Coleman

On July 13, 1984, Coleman and Brown bicycled to Norwood, Ohio. Under the pretense of being interested in a travel trailer, they arrived at the home of a local couple, Harry and Marlene Walters. Once inside the Walter’s home, Coleman picked up a wooden candlestick and, after admiring it, struck Harry Walters on the back of the head. The attack was so vicious that the candlestick broke and lodged a chunk of bone against Mr. Walters’ brain. Coleman and Brown proceeded to strike Mrs. Walters up to 25 times about the face and head. The two also mutilated her face and scalp with a pair of vice grips. The two lay dying in a bloody mess until about 3:45 pm. Sheri Walters was horrified when she arrived home from work to find her parents bound with ligatures around their hands & necks. Mr. Walters, survived the attack, but suffered brain damage. Mrs. Walters however,  succumbed to injuries that left her face unrecognizable and a skull so smashed that pieces of it and her brain was missing   Coleman and Brown stole the couple’s car which was found two days later in Lexington, Kentucky.

In Williamsburg, Kentucky, Coleman and Brown kidnapped college professor Oline Carmichael, Jr., forced him into the trunk of his car, and then drove it to Dayton, Ohio. Authorities found the car and Carmichael still alive in the trunk.

While in Dayton, Coleman and Brown revisited the Gays. Rev. Gay recognized Coleman who by now had been nationally televised as a wanted and dangerous fugitive. Reverend Gay asked Coleman, “Why you want to do us like that, like this,” and according to Gay, Coleman responded: “I’m not going to kill you, but we generally kills them where we go.” Coleman and Brown took their car and headed back toward Evanston. On the way back home, they took time to steal another car, killing the 77-year-old man who owned it.

It was in Evanston that the couple’s crime spree ended. While crossing an intersection on July 20, 1984, Coleman was recognized by someone from his old neighborhood. The unsuspecting pair crossed the street and when the red light changed the witness drove north to the nearest gas station to alert authorities. Police officers caught up with Coleman and Brown at a nearby park. When confronted, Coleman, who possessed no identification tried to deny that he was Alton Coleman. During this time Brown attempted to separate herself from Coleman but was met by two approaching officers. During a custodial search, Brown was found to be in possession of a handgun; the two were immediately taken into custody without incident.

A week following the arrest, law enforcement officials from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio met to determine the most effective manner of prosecution against Alton Coleman and Debra Brown. Michigan, who does not have capital punishment, was quickly ruled out as the place to begin. Ohio was given the first opportunity to bring the murderous pair to justice. In Ohio both Coleman & Brown were sentenced to death for the murders of Tonnie Storey, and Marlene Walters. The two were also sentenced to die in Indiana for killing Tamika Turks, 7, of Gary, Ind. In Illinois, Coleman received the death sentence for slaying Vernita Wheat, 9, of Kenosha, Wis. Vernita’s body was found in Waukegan. Alton Coleman was the only person at the time to have death sentences in three different states.

Despite numerous appeals, on April 26, 2002, Alton Coleman was executed by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Debra Brown, however, had her Ohio death sentence commuted to life without parole by Ohio governor Richard Celeste. This outraged Ohio residents due to Brown’s unrepentant attitude. During the sentencing phase of her first Ohio trial, Brown sent a note to the judge which read in part: “I killed the bitch and I don’t give a damn. I had fun out of it.” Governor Celeste, a known opponent of the death penalty, cited her low IQ scores, non-violent history prior to meeting Coleman and her dependent personality as his reasons for the commutation of her sentence. Debra Brown is currently housed at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Marysville, Ohio. Brown still has a death sentence in Indiana which may be exercised at the state’s discretion.

As we concluded our meal, a frightening thought came to mind. Most criminals, regardless of their crime, are not caught for every crime that they’ve committed. I, myself, know that I’ve not been caught for every infraction of the law that I’ve done. Hell, I ran a red light, (it was yellow/red actually) and a stop sign on the way to the lunch meeting. So the numbers of victims given to these serial murderers as they are convicted may only be a fraction of the actual amount of carnage they’ve caused and the lives they have ruined.

The Story of The Original Angry Bird

Jake went over everything in his head,” Go in, get the money, check for valuables and get out, no bloodshed!” Countless times before he had made himself the promise of no blood shed, each time he would find a reason to break this promise. Jake would travel the country, working with the railroad when he could, burglarizing homes during his off time. Jake would stalk the different houses he saw, making mental notes concerning the daily routines of their inhabitants. Initially, it was about the money, plain and simple. However, Jake began to give in to the violent impulses that compelled him.  The bitter rage that dwelled within him replaced the basic human need for money. Jake developed a hatred for the people that had hated him ever since his earliest memories.

With the patience of a monk, Jake watched the house at 1007 South 21st Street as he had for the better part of two weeks.  Having gathered everything he needed to know he decided that today, October 30th was the time to strike. As he peered into the window of the home, he considered aborting the mission, but that thought soon dissipated as his hunger pangs were clearly audible to himself and anyone else within earshot. While waiting on just the right time, Jake thought of his past victims and laughed to himself. “No, please, no!” The cries of his victims rang loudly in his head. To anyone else these screams of terror would have invoked immediate feelings of remorse, but not to Jake. Jake just laughed and whispered to himself, “I hate them Crackers.”

The time had come for him to act. With the stealth of a cat, he cross the street to his victim’s house, passing the mailbox with Kludt neatly written on it, he ducked into a row of bushes that grew against the house. He thought about the rouse he would use to gain entry. “Deliveryman,” he said out loud. Then suddenly, as if an epiphany had come upon him, Jake stripped down to his underwear. As he disrobed Jake spotted an ax inside of the doorway of the shed. Jake grabbed the ax, dressed in nothing but underwear, preceded to the door of the unsuspecting Kludts.

The house was occupied by Bertha Kludt, age 53 and her 17 year old daughter Beverly June Kludt. Disregarding any previous vows of nonviolence, Jake hacked Bertha & Beverly June to death mercilessly. The unmistakable shrieks of women being killed came from the house and alerted the neighbors.  As a result, the police arrived as Jake was attempting to leave through the back door carrying his shoes.

“Freeze,” the officers yelled the familiar command. Unwilling to go without a fight, Jake lunged at one of the officers with a knife, delivering him a superficial wound. The second officer attempted to ease in behind the occupied assailant, but Jake wheeled around and cut this officer also. As back up arrived, the police regained their composure, beat Jake into submission and arrested him.

During the ride to county hospital to have Jake treated for his wounds, the officers began to question him regarding the murder of the Kludt women. At the outset, Jake adamantly proclaimed his innocence. Simultaneously, as if it had been staged, Jake and the police looked down at the prisoner’s soiled apparel. Blood and brain matter covered Jake’s clothing, thereby diminishing any remaining pleas of innocence.

Homicide detectives assigned to the case listened as Jake told them how his only intention was to burglarize the home. He explained that Bertha Kludt appeared suddenly and tried to stop him whereas he hit here with the ax, causing her death. Beverly June came to her mother’s aid, he killed her. While being questioned Jake admitted to police that he had an extensive arrest record. He gave account of a life of incarceration in Michigan, Iowa and Utah that totaled 31 years. Most astonishingly, he told law enforcement how he had actually stalked and killed dozens of white women in dozens of states throughout the 1940s.

Jake’s trial began on November 24th 1947 and lasted almost three days.  A request by Jake to defend himself was denied by the judge and a public defender was appointed. Jake attempted to recant his confession as his attorney claimed it was given under duress due to Jake’s accusation that the officers beat the confession out of him. The judge admitted the evidence and on November 26th the jury deliberated for 35 minutes and returned with a guilty verdict. Judge Edward D. Hodge sentenced Jake to death by hanging.

Jake’s execution at the Washington State Penitentiary was scheduled for January 16, 1948. In an effort to gain a reprieve, Jake again brought up facts concerning the murders of 44 others. He had explained to the law enforcement community that he would be willing to help them solve these cases if he were granted this stay of execution. Washington governor Monrad C. Wallgren granted him a 60-day reprieve. Police from other states interviewed Jake, and eleven murders were substantiated. He was knowledgeable enough about the 33 other murders to be considered a prime suspect. The interviews with Jake enabled the police departments of many states to declare many unsolved murders as solved. In addition to his Washington state murders, he apparently had killed people in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. He mostly preyed on Caucasian women. In each case, Jake killed his victims with an axe or hatchet

Before being led to the gallows, Jake was given a chance to speak. During this time, he gave a 20 minute monologue. During this time he placed a hex on everyone involved with the trial. Ironically, Judge Hodge died of a heart attack within a month of sentencing him to death. An officer that took his 1st confession as well as one of the officers that took his 2nd confession both experienced untimely deaths. The same fate fell upon the court’s chief clerk, and one of Jake’s prison guards.

The anger and rage that had once fueled this individual was extinguished. With no more stories to tell and no more hexes to throw. The gallows of Washington state prison at Walla Walla saw the depraved life and wicked times of Jake Bird ended by way of the hangman’s noose on July 15, 1949. Thus ends the story of Jake Bird, the original angry bird.

Jake Bird
Jake Bird

The Real Reason for the Rise in Chicago Violence.

The violence that plagues the streets of Chicago is not new. Though it has only recently been reported by media outlets around the world, the violence in the streets of Chicago has existed for decades. Another fact that you might find interesting and hopefully shocking, it isn’t by chance, believe it or not, all of this destruction was planned. Please read on as I bring you up to snuff.

The Real Reason for the Rise in Chicago Violence 3

During the 50’s and 60’s massive amounts of heroin was “dumped” in Black communities around the country. This was done as a strategic maneuver to cause mass addiction and to quell the civil rights movement which at that time was gaining momentum. In the 70’s, the Nixon administration initiated the ”War on Drugs”, under the guise as an effective means for law enforcement to take down and prosecute drug cartels that seemed to operate above the law. During the presidency of Ronald Reagan the “war on drugs” was reinstituted and the “Just Say No” campaign swept America, unfortunately, so did “crack” cocaine. Americans oblivious to its true intentions supported the laws and statutes that came about from the “war”.

What actually happened was the statutes of this war gave law enforcement carte blanche to violate the constitutional rights of Blacks. According to federal records, there were no Blacks arrested for the transport and wholesale sale of narcotics. In fact only 33% of those arrested for ANY drug related offenses were Black, yet 73% of those serving time for those same offenses were Black. According to a 1998, University of Georgia study, Blacks receive sentences and average of 6 months longer than non-Blacks for the same crimes. According to Federal statistics, due to crack’s prevalence in predominantly Black neighborhoods the sentencing for “crack” convictions is 3 times as long as the sentencing for “cocaine” convictions.

Illinois prisons are filled with an astonishing amount of non-violent petty offenders. Illinois incarcerates Blacks on an 8 to 1 ratio to whites for drug related offenses.  The population of Illinois Department of Corrections has a population of 60% Black with over two thirds incarcerated for non-violent offenses such as drug possessions. Whites and blacks engage in drug offenses at similar rates, yet an overwhelming focus of law enforcement on drug use in low-income urban areas, with arrests and incarceration the main weapon.  Furthermore Blacks were 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested than whites in every year between 1980 and 2007. Illinois has a greater percentage for putting more African Americans behind bars for drug crimes than whites than any other state in the nation. Between 2000 and 2007, simple pot possession arrests alone accounted for between 37.7% and 42.1% of all drug arrests.

The violence in the streets of Chicago and other metropolitan areas is a direct result of the mass incarceration of the Black male and its devastating effects on the Black community.  Society grooms us to believe and accept that law enforcement and the judicial system, is right and fair and those that run afoul of it must be wrong or guilty. Potential employers, institutes of education and even family members look upon an individual with a felony conviction with utter disdain. The judicial system has devised a way to legalize discrimination by placing a permanent blot on an individual, no matter the circumstances or how petty the offense. The likelihood of a Black male, convicted of petty offenses such as drug possession, acquiring gainful employment is slim at best. Regardless of a nonviolent criminal history, the conviction placed on his record makes it legal for this individual to endure hardships parallel to those instituted during the Jim Crow era. The scene for re-offense is set as the frustration due to the inability to provide for his family mounts, thus resulting in probable re-incarceration.

The father provides a vital asset to the family structure as well as the Black community. Through the mass incarceration of Black men, the mission to disassemble the Black family has been achieved. Men are the head of the family, families create communities. Taking out the Black male creates communities that lack any form of leadership. When young men are raised without the influence of a positive male they often lack the ability to apply logical analytical problem solving to everyday situations. These emotionally charged young men often apply irrational solutions to rational circumstances. In many cases these men grow into adulthood with resentment for the absence of the father. Others may lack respect for a father unable to provide for his family.  The young men grow into adulthood seeing society as a two sided group, the haves and the have nots. Many develop an erred since of entitlement, a bleak outlook on future life with a total disregard for their own life as well as the lives of others. With the absence of a real sense of self-worth, a false sense is developed, guided not by the laws of the land but replaced with the laws of the street, laws that classify individuals as either predator or prey. As a result, violence ensues and death numbers skyrocket.

The violence perpetrated in Chicago streets come as a direct result of the mass incarceration of the Black male. Laws, put in place by the “War on Drugs”, have caused great loss of life here in Chicago. It is not uncommon to cruise through Black neighborhoods and see tactical police officers patting each other on the back and giving high fives for taking down an old man in possession of some minute amount of drugs. In the distance, the sound of rapid gun fire from automatic weapons can be heard; a sound as common as chirping birds to Black community residents. This activity is followed immediately by another familiar sound, easily recognizable to Black community residents, a mother’s cry of pain due to her slain child as the detective in charge of the case simply writes another murdered youth off as gang related or drug related so that it can be added to the 75% plus of the unsolved homicides here in Chicago. I guess to the powers that be the “War on Drugs” is working exactly as planned.