I write about what matters to me. https://linktr.ee/booksby_bri

FNC: January 8, 2021

You know the stories of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein all too well. But what about the first and last state-sanctioned execution?

Image for post
Image for post

Narrator: Good evening and welcome back to Friday Night Crimes. Once again, I must apologize for the delay between episodes — life does have a habit of getting in the way, doesn’t it? The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

Anyway, let’s get started. This week we’re headed to the Far North/Midwest state of Wisconsin to discuss John McCaffary.

The Timeline: 1820–1853


John McCaffary was born in Ireland. Little is known about his early life, but it can be presumed that he was not a political figure or wealthy merchant, otherwise there would be more information about him.


McCaffary emigrated to the United States in May 1837 and applied for citizenship in 1846. According to his application for citizenship, he arrived in the US via the Port of Burlington, Vermont, and then relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin, at some point between 1837 and 1846. At that point, Wisconsin was still a territory and would not become a state until 1848. …

“Hi I’m Jaycee. I want to thank you for your support and I’m doing well,” — quote from victim’s first public statement post-abduction

Image for post
Image for post

When kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard suddenly reappeared after 18 years, her remarkable story completely captivated me. I spent hours reading article after article about her, simultaneously repulsed by the kidnappers’ actions and inspired by Jaycee’s resilience. The monumental trauma that she endured at the hands of Phillip and Nancy Garrido is the sort of thing you never want to think is real.

Though Jaycee herself described her experience in a book titled A Stolen Life: A Memoir, having a third party discuss it can sometimes be more palatable to the public. So, here we go.

The Victim

Jaycee Lee Dugard was born on May 3, 1980, in Arcadia, California. Ten years later, Jaycee, her mother, stepfather, and infant sister moved from Arcadia to Meyers, CA (a town near South Lake Tahoe) as they believed it was a safer community. …

It gets better.

Image for post
Image for post

This year has had unprecedented amounts of suckage.

Brush fires in Australia, the potential for WW3, the impeachment trial, a global pandemic that has killed millions worldwide, subsequent quarantine, face masks/social distancing, the murder of George Floyd and return of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Summer Olympics postponement, the deaths of Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, Alex Trebek, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg…

… like I said. Unprecedented amounts of suckage.

If you’re dealing will all of this chaos on top of losing a loved one, whether they passed from COVID-19 or something else, it’s even harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You’ve probably had a lot of people tell you they’re “so sorry for your loss,” that they “extend their sincerest condolences/sympathies,” and assurances that your loved one is “in a better place,” but none of those things actually make you feel better.

If you ever needed more evidence that I come from a family of massive book nerds, here you go.

Image for post
Image for post

A few months ago, I decided enough was enough.

I closed out of TikTok and told my mom that we were finally going to reorganize the bookshelves in the family room. (I reorganize the one in my room every few weeks/months because it helps me handle my anxiety.)

That said, this particular task had been on my mom’s to-do list for several years, but it always fell to the wayside for one reason or another.

However, now that she’s retired, she has far more time on her hands. As such, she’s finally taking control of her hoarding habit and getting rid of some things. …

Fifty-one years later, the death of this Michigan native is still under active investigation.

Image for post
Image for post

You should never have to pay for research with your life.

Tragically, that’s exactly what happened to Betsy Aardsma on November 28, 1969, at the Pattee (now Pattee/Paterno) Library in University Park, Pennsylvania. Between 4:45 and 4:55 PM on the day after Thanksgiving, someone stabbed the bright and likable graduate student from Michigan.

In the five decades that have passed since, there has only been one credible suspect named, and much of the evidence against him is circumstantial. After researching the grisly details, I have my own theory as to who killed Betsy.

The Victim

Betsy Ruth Aardsma was born on July 11, 1947, in Holland, Michigan, to Esther and Richard Aardsma. She was the second of four children and graduated from Holland High School with honors. From there, she attended the University of Michigan, where she studied art and English and graduated with honors from there as well. …

The best way to decrease marginalization is to normalize what makes someone different (i.e. being gay, trans, nonbinary, etc.).

Image for post
Image for post

In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, expanding the freedom to marry from coast to coast.

This was a monumental achievement in the ongoing battle for equal rights among LGBTQIA+ individuals, but once the dust settled, it required more work to enforce the law.

Barely two months later, a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, named Kim Davis made international headlines by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was eventually imprisoned for contempt of court and her term as county clerk ended in January 2019.

I don’t bring up Davis to celebrate or honor her — quite the opposite. One of my biggest pet peeves about “devout” Christians is their continued homophobia, coupled with the audacity to claim their beliefs are “God’s will.” …

“All I want to do is live.” Tokes’s reported last words are simultaneously chilling and unbearably tragic.

Image for post
Image for post

As morbidly fascinated as I am with true crime, reading about a victim close to my age always hits harder. In a way, it is easier to read about crimes that happened decades ago, rather than ones that occurred recently enough to remember. While I don’t recall hearing about this case specifically, the fact that I could have is notably chilling.

Reagan Tokes lived life passionately and unapologetically. She loved her family, friends, and university. Her final Tweet shows a new adult on a path to a prosperous life of helping others.

Happy endings are for unrealistic stories created and told dozens of times around campfires. Right?

Image for post
Image for post

What, exactly, makes up a happy ending?

Is it all the loose ends of a story being tied up into neat bows?

Is it the antagonist finally getting their comeuppance, especially in a way that’s satisfying to the reader?

Is it the protagonist living a long life where they accomplish their goals and die peacefully in their sleep?

Or…is it something far more ambiguous than that?

On the back cover of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, there is the following author bio:

“Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of The Lotus War series and The Illuminae Files. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an arts degree, he has no education to speak of. He is 6'7 and has approximately 13,520 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is not strictly a “child’s condition” or a “result of bad parenting.”

Image for post
Image for post

One of the most prevalent memories from my childhood is sitting at the kitchen table hysterically crying because I didn’t understand my math homework. Or, sometimes, I understood the concept, but my method for getting the correct answer differed from what the teacher showed in school, which was a major no-no (Assuming I could even remember what the teacher had taught just a few hours prior).

My poor parents tried their hardest to be patient, but they misinterpreted my inability to focus as a lack of interest. …

This year has been an absolute disaster. The last thing we need is more negativity.

Image for post
Image for post

In August 2018, I was working part time at a home improvement store. I watched in horrified disbelief as my coworkers took down the summer items and replaced them with Christmas decorations.

Sure, there were some Halloween things, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse in skeleton costumes and inflatable Minions from Despicable Me, but the clear focus was on the so-called Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

“Really, guys?” I called out from the customer service desk. “Can’t we at least have Halloween first?” …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store