Dead Pool 17th January 2021

Yay! We have a winner! First death of the year and the bonus points go to Ceri for the demise of murderer Lisa Montgomery, well done Ceri!!! Touch and go if they were going to list her, they were very slow to do so, but she is listed; even though her Wiki points to her victim which is common practice nowadays as to limit the glorification of the murderer. I’ve elaborated below on the story of Montgomery as it’s a tragic tale from start to finish. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Jeff Bridges has announced that his cancerous tumour has “drastically shrunk” amid treatment for lymphoma. The Oscar winner revealed in October that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, but that his prognosis was “good”. In a new message posted to his official website, Bridges said that he went “in for a CAT scan” on 6th January to see if his tumour had shrunk in the wake of his treatment. “Turns out it’s working beautifully,” Bridges writes in the hand-written note. “The thing has drastically shrunk. I come home elated with the news.” Bridges added that his CAT scan coincided with the Capitol riots, in which Donald Trump supporters stormed Washington’s Capitol building. “To see our country attacking itself broke my heart,” Bridges writes. “A question rose in me – what’s an individual to do in a situation like this? My mentor, Rozzell Sykes, came to mind. His mantra was ‘be love’.” Nice to see he’s not lost his lovie-ness. Lymphoma is cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body. When you have lymphoma, lymphocytes change and grow out of control. 

Don’t you just hate rewrites? I was leading this week with the story of Lisa Montgomery, the only female inmate on federal Death Row and how she got a stay of execution only hours before her big moment. Well, they only went and executed her!!! She received a lethal injection at a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The case attracted attention because her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and suffered serious abuse as a child. The 52-year-old strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out and kidnapping her baby in Missouri in 2004. Her victim, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, bled to death. Montgomery is the first female federal inmate to be put to death by the US government in 67 years. The execution was postponed twice – first by Covid-19, then by a judge – until a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for it to take place in the early hours of Wednesday. In a dramatic move late on Monday, a judge in Indiana had halted the scheduled injection until a mental competency hearing could be held which was thought to be a total reprieve as had she been able to hold out until President-elect Joe Biden took office, it was widely believed that he’d put a stop to federal executions. Her lawyers argued that she had been born brain-damaged and was too mentally ill to be executed as she had no comprehension of what her punishment involved. As a child she was routinely sexually and physically abused by her father and trafficked by her mother, family members said. Her treatment was so violent that it amounted to torture, her lawyers say. Her defence team believe that at the time of her crime, Montgomery was psychotic and out of touch with reality. That opinion is supported by 41 current and former lawyers as well as human rights groups like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. But her victim’s family and friends say the murder committed by Montgomery was so horrific that she deserved to be put to death regardless of her mental health. Since 2008, Montgomery had been held in a federal prison in Texas for female inmates with special needs, where she has been receiving psychiatric care. Since receiving her execution date, she’d been placed on suicide watch in an isolated cell. Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, said her original legal defence was woefully inadequate, and presented few of the details about her abuse, trauma and mental illness. Federal executions had been on pause for 17 years before President Donald Trump ordered them to resume earlier last year.  

Former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi was rushed to hospital in  Monaco on Thursday because of heart issues, his personal physician has said. It is unclear what the media tycoon’s medical emergency is. The 84-year-old has battled multiple health issues in recent years, undergoing heart surgery in 2016 and being hospitalised with Covid-19 in September, following a visit to Sardinia. Mr Berlusconi developed double pneumonia after contracting the virus and was treated for more than a week at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital. On his release from hospital, the former prime minister said he had survived “the most dangerous challenge” he had ever faced. “Each one of us is exposed to the risk of infecting others. I repeat my call for maximum responsibility from everyone,” he cautioned at the time. On the news of his current health scare, shares in his family’s broadcasting firm Mediaset leapt almost three per cent on Thursday. The jump in price was attributed to speculation about ownership changes at Mediaset were his condition to worsen.  

Saved by The Bell actor Dustin Diamond has been diagnosed with cancer, his representative has said. The 44-year-old, who played Samuel “Screech” Powers in the popular 1990s US school-based sitcom, fell ill last week and was taken to hospital. His representative, Roger Paul, said the actor is now waiting for further details. “We will know the severity of it when the tests are done,” Paul said, adding they expect an update next week. Diamond reprised his role in follow-up series Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and Saved by the Bell: The College Years. But he did not appear in the recent revival series. The American was also a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother in 2013.

On This Day


The Bullseye Killer

In May 1989, a Welshman named John Cooper filmed an appearance on the cult ITV game show Bullseye. He was skilled at darts, talked of the beauty of the Welsh coastline, and happily told presenter Jim Bowen of his love of scuba-diving. He was also a serial killer.

The unexpected significance of Cooper’s Bullseye appearance only became apparent 20 years after the episode was broadcast, and plays an integral role in a new ITV drama series about his crimes.

While Cooper appeared jovial and friendly on television, he also hid a dark side. As well as being a prolific burglar of homes across the Welsh village of Milford Haven, Cooper had killed two people four years prior to filming the episode. Less than a month after Bullseye, he killed again. 

“You’ve got an unusual hobby John, haven’t you?” Bowen asked Cooper during the programme. “Oh yes,” Cooper replied. “The scuba diving … on the coast line. We’ve got deep water where you can swim over mountains and all sorts of things.” Cooper’s performance on the show was relatively short-lived. Kicked off after the first round having failed to answer a sufficient number of general knowledge questions, he was then invited back in a later round, but that also proved unsuccessful – all three darts he threw missed their target. He forced a smile for the cameras nonetheless.

Three weeks later, Cooper held a pair of holidaymakers at gunpoint before shooting them both at point-blank range.

In court, Cooper’s son would recall his father roaming the sleepy town of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with a shotgun concealed under his coat. Secretly, Cooper was looking for houses to break into, and used the skills learnt in his vast collection of SAS manuals to slip in and out undetected. Cooper is believed to have turned to crime after losing thousands of pounds attempting to break into the property market and gambling away the £90,000 he won in a 1978 newspaper competition. 

In 1985, Cooper targeted a mansion in Milford Haven owned by millionaire farmer Richard Thomas and his sister Helen, who would become his first known murder victims. Prosecutors later speculated that Cooper had killed the siblings after being disturbed during the break-in, with the pair’s bodies, both bearing point-blank shotgun wounds, found in their burnt-out home days after the robbery. 

The killings cast a dark shadow over Milford Haven, but police were unable to apprehend a suspect. It would be four years before Cooper struck again just as violently. 

Peter and Gwenda Dixon were a Oxfordshire couple holidaying on the Pembrokeshire coast when they encountered Cooper. Before killing the pair, again at point-blank range with a shotgun, Cooper tied them up close to a cliff edge and demanded their bank details. He would spend the rest of the day travelling from cashpoint to cashpoint, withdrawing money from the couple’s accounts. Police, meanwhile, were able to deduce that the same 12-bore shotgun was used in both the Thomas and Dixon murders. They had a serial killer on their hands.  

Cooper, however, remained at large. In 1996, he held a group of Milford Haven teenagers hostage during a robbery, raping one girl and sexually assaulting another. In 1997, he held a woman at gunpoint in her home in the small Pembrokeshire village of Sardis. The woman was bound and gagged, but managed to flee. It was this crime that eventually exposed him, with police arresting Cooper in 1998 in connection with a series of home invasions in the area.  

During a raid on Cooper’s home, police recovered jewellery, silverware and photo frames, some still bearing the photos of his victims. A pair of shorts were also recovered. Cooper was sentenced to 16 years in prison on 30 counts of robbery and burglary, but it wasn’t until advancements in technology occurred that police were able to officially link him to the Thomas and Dixon murders, as well as the 1996 assaults.  

Police would identify traces of Gwenda Dixon’s blood on the recovered shorts, believing Cooper kept them as a trophy. A sock that once belonged to Richard Thomas was also recovered from Cooper’s home, while traces of Peter Dixon’s blood were found beneath a fresh lick of paint on Cooper’s shotgun. 

In his 2013 book The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer, retired chief superintendent Steve Wilkins, recalled the moment of truth.

Having learnt that Cooper appeared on Bullseye, Wilkins partnered with ITV presenter Jonathan Hill to unearth a copy of the episode. Once a copy was found, Wilkins was floored by what he saw – notably Cooper casually telling Bowen his knowledge of the exact spot in which the Dixons were killed weeks later. It was also quickly made clear that the unknown man in the police sketch bore an uncanny resemblance to Cooper as he appeared on television, with ITV’s camera capturing him in the exact same stance as that in the sketch.

“You could hardly make it up,” Wilkins writes in his book. “For the first time we could see Cooper as he would have looked at the time of the Dixons’ murder. In my 30 years service, I had seen many artist’s impressions and photo-fit efforts, but I had never seen as close a match as this.”

The Bullseye tape, and the discovery of small traces of blood found on items of clothing retrieved from Cooper’s home, proved pivotal to Wilkins’s case. Cooper has always protested his innocence, but his attempts at appealing the verdict have proved unsuccessful. Since his imprisonment, Cooper has been linked with at least five other possible deaths in the Pembrokeshire area.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Zooey Deschanel (41), Jim Carrey (59), Betty White (99), Kelly Marie Tran (32), James Earl Jones (90), Lin-Manuel Miranda (41), John Carpenter (73), James May (58), Eva Habermann (45), Kate Moss (47), James Nesbitt (56), DJ Jazzy Jeff (56), Claudia Winkleman (49), Jason Bateman (52), Carl Weathers (73), Kevin Durand (47), Faye Dunaway (80), Grant Gustin (31), Mark Addy (57), LL Cool J (53), Dave Grohl (52), Ruth Wilson (39), Orlando Bloom (44), Michael Peña (45), Liam Hemsworth (31), William B. Davis (83), Bill Bailey (56), Rachael Harris (53), Kirstie Alley (70), Howard Stern (67), Jeff Bezos (57), Pixie Lott (30), Zayn Malik (28), Amanda Peet (49), Mary J. Blige (50), Jason Connery (58), and Melanie Hill (59).

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