VICTIM NO.1...VICTIM NO.2
Elizabeth Smart's sudden re-appearence in March 2003 after having been missing for almost a year was hailed as a miracle by the media, and in a sense it was, since it was presumed by many she was probably long dead and would never be found alive. However, with all the hoopla surrounding her remarkable return to her family, one person was almost completely overlooked in the media. His name was Richard Ricci, who was a handyman for the Smarts the previous summer. He was arrested, and wrongly accused of kidnapping the Smart girl.
While in jail, he suffered a brain hemmorage, and died a short time later. No one seemed to care that an innocent man died while in custody, from a hemmorage that was most likely brought on by the stressful and inhumane conditions he experienced while in prison. Yes, there was a second victim here that actually did die. Richard Ricci was practically tried and prosecuted in the media and by the investigative team handling the case.
For example, Nancy Grace (hard-nosed, nerve grating, ultra-aggressive, pompous, know-it-all correspondent to CNN and heavy-hitter on Court TV), when confronted with the 'facts of the case' (including a rock-solid alibi from Ricci's wife), argued and proclaimed in front of thousands of viewers on Larry king Live AND Geraldo Rivera, that Ricci was the man, that the evidence was just too strong for him not to be. When Grace was specifically confronted on the same program with the same panel seven months later as to whether she was 'incorrect' and whether she felt bad about it in any way, she went on the ultra-defensive. She sighted all the evidence against Ricci for her conviction of him at the time. She stated that Ricci was a known ex-con, a known felon, and brought suspicion on himself so who could blame anyone for claiming he was the perpetrator. She had no guilt whatsoever.THE TRUE CRIMINALSI suppose she just thinks she was doing her job as the raving bitch, last word, striker for a super-hyped up in-your-face network. But she couldn't even be professional enough to admit she was incorrect - that the facts just weren't there, that she engaged in cheap journalism, that she was speaking out of her ass. She basically rallied a huge number of viewers against an innocent man.
Richard Ricci died in jail. The cops repeatedly remind us that while he was the number one suspect, they never officially pressed charges. But how long would it have been before they did? They did look for a technicality to incarcerate him. And they held him in a manner that was far beyond what fit the technical crime they claim was the reason for his imprisonment. This technicality just served as an excuse to hold him while they attempted in futility to build a case against him. A technicality that Ricci himself offered up in cooperation. Ricci did everything he could do to cooperate because he knew he was innocent. He trusted the system. That cost him his life.
When Ricci died, the head of the law enforcement agency proclaimed "with Ricci's untimely death in prison, we now have much less hope that we will ever know the whereabouts or condition of Elizabeth Smart. What Ricci knows about her will be taken to his grave with him. This is a sad day for our department".
Sad day? Not sad because an innocent man died in prison for a crime he didn't commit, who had a clot burst in his brain after 26 hours of interrogation and 2 months of hard prison time, but sad because their assumed guilty man died before they had a chance to fry him themselves. Well ... they did kill him. In many ways the media is also responsible for Ricci's death. Whatever the man's past crimes, he had served his time.
In this crime he was innocent. But because our investigative groups operate on an assumption of guilt till proven innocent, this man paid the ultimate price. To me - I would let 10 guilty men go free to prevent one innocent man from suffering persecution in our legal system and press. It could happen so easily for any of us, especially in this age of Homeland Security, and Patriot Acts I and II. True criminals go free while vunerable people like Ricci are arrested on false or trumped up charges, and are essentially killed by the system, and nobody cares. This man's wife said he was in bed with her the night of the kidnapping.
The media speculated that Ricci's wife was lying to protect him. The police speculated the same thing. This all despite the fact that Ricci and his wife both passed multiple polygraph tests and despite the fact that the evidence just didn't add up. I am glad Ricci was vindicated. I hope that this teaches the press a lesson. I was not expecting Ricci to get fair treatment from the press. There were a couple of talking heads though that gave Ricci what he deserved - recognition of his innocence and sincere critique of their profession for the injustice they regularly dole out to people in his position. Very few members of the mainstream press honestly reflect upon the fact that they often take things way too far in their efforts to compete and entertain.
The incompetence of the investigative force was evident. The true kidnappers stood out like sore thumbs in the community. They did everything but wear a jingling dog collar with a tag that said "please confront me, cop". The police force had essentially closed the case. It was the family, and the community that broke this case. The younger sister, who was in the room at the time of the kidnapping, stated that she thought that Brian Mitchell, the true abductor, might be the man she saw, and not Ricci. She said this in reports to investigators several month's before Brian Mitchell was arrested. The investigators made a composite sketch but still didn't know who it was. They didn't try really hard to find out either. And only when the father, Ed Smart, frustrated with the lack of results and effort on the part of the police, personally took it to the press and television.
Most of the media dismissed the Richard Ricci story as an incidental side story of minor consequence, as long as the cute little girl with golden hair returned home safely. Who cares if some handyman suffered a gross injustice at the hands of the American Gestapo, and died as a result of it. The shallow idiocy of most of these empty suits and airheads that parade in front of us on our TV screens day after day was never more clearly on display.
Maybe they wouldn't mind if they, or their loved ones were imprisoned on false chages, and died as a result of it. I heard one of these geniuses make the comment "The Richard Ricci story is just a minor blip on an otherwise happy story". Unfortunately, minor blips like her pollute our airwaves daily, and occupy our highest political offices as well.