december 1985

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Dian Fossey was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who was known for her extensive study on mountain gorillas. She observed gorillas for 18 years in Rwanda and was staunchly against poaching - something that gained her many enemies. She lived among the gorillas, developed a tight bond with them, and dedicated her entire life to attempting to protect them.

Sadly, she was brutally murdered on 27 December, 1985. She was discovered in the bedroom of her cabin which was located in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. She had been bludgeoned and chopped to death with a machete; many believe by poachers she had been tracking. The case remains unsolved.

Before Newtown: Connecticut’s First School Shooting

27-years before Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary and murdered 27 people, there was another, little discussed school shooting in Connecticut. 

On December 11, 1985, 13-year old Floyd Warmsley was told by his principal to remove his hat, which was against school rules. The eighth grader was “reluctant to do so”, so he walked home, stole his fathers Tec-9 assault pistol, walked back to Portland Junior High School and entered the principals office. 

He pulled the gun from his trench coat, and pointed it at the principal. Another teacher pushed him out of the way and they both hid in an office. Warmsley then shot and injured the school secretary, before going to the upper level of the school, randomly shooting at lockers and taking a student hostage. 

The school janitor, David Bangston, was returning from his break just as the vice principal announced via the intercom that there was an active shooter in the building. Warmsley aimed down the hallway and shot Langston from about 200 feet away, killing him instantly. Several hours went by as the parent of the student he took hostage pleaded with him over the intercom system. Eventually Warmsley threw the pistol out of the window and surrendered himself to the authorities. 

Floyd Warmsley was tried as a juvenile, found guilty and sentenced to four years in a juvenile facility. He was released after three years for good behavior. 

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Serial killer Carroll Edward Cole was born on May 9th, 1938, and was the first person executed by lethal injection in Nevada, on December 6th, 1985. Cole was convicted of 13 lust homicides, but by his own admission the full number was closer to 34 or 35. His case was significant as a demonstration of the failure of the criminal justice system. There were numerous instances of malfesance in the case, the true culprit was a system that lacked contemporary technology. Cole committed dozens, if not hundreds, of crimes in addition to the murders, throughout the United States. He was convicted in numerous local, state and federal jurisdictions, but was commonly a first offender because of the lack of a central depository for criminal behaviour.

The FBI initiated the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) in 1985. Prior to VICAP there was no central depository on violent crime and no mechanism of sharing information on violent crimes, either solved or unsolved. Consequently, if an offender was mobile, he could be considered a first time offender in every jurisdiction in which he violated a law. Cole is one example of a person who could have been stopped and whose violent and heinous crimes could have been prevented, if the modern technology had been place to detect his violent crime spree which spanned decades.

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On this day in music history: December 27, 1985 - “Manic Monday” by The Bangles is released. Written by Christopher (aka Prince), it is the fourth single release for the rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Not long after releasing their major label debut album “All Over The Place” in mid 1984, The Bangles receive a phone call from R&B and pop megastar Prince. The musician tells them that he loves their album, especially “Hero Takes A Fall”. What he doesn’t say but is obvious is that he is also attracted to their petite, doe eyed lead singer and rhythm guitarist Susanna Hoffs. He tells them that he has two songs for them. Already big fans of the Minnesota born musician, The Bangles say yes to his offer, with Prince sending them a cassette with the two songs. The two songs on the tape are “Jealous Girl” and “Manic Monday”. “Manic Monday” is written by Prince just as he is completing work on the blockbuster soundtrack and film “Purple Rain”. It is originally recorded by Apollonia 6 for their album released in late 1984. However, Prince has a change of heart about Apollonia 6’s version and pulls it from the album. The Bangles decide that “Manic Monday” is perfect for them and tell Prince that is the song that they are going to record. The Bangles cut it at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA in mid 1985 with producer David Kahne, coincidentally the same studio favored by Prince when not working in his home base of Minneapolis. Prior to embarking on a tour, he attends a Bangles rehearsal and hears their arrangement of his song for the first time. At first apologizing to Prince that their keyboardist who also plays on the song is not present at the rehearsal, the band launch into the song. He then cryptically says, “You don’t need the keyboards. It’s gonna go”, and then walks out. When “Manic Monday” is included on The Bangles album, it is credited to the pseudonym “Christopher”, after Prince’s character Christopher Tracy in his second film “Under The Cherry Moon”. “Monday” is released two weeks ahead of The Bangles second album “Different Light”, it quickly takes off. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on January 25, 1986, it peaks at #2 twelve weeks later on April 19, 1986. Trimmed down to 3:03 for the LP and 7" single releases, “Monday” is recorded with an additional instrumental break and reprise of the bridge that is cut from those releases. However, the complete version of the song running 4:38 (also known as the “Extended California Version”) is released by CBS Records as a promotional 12" single in the US, and as a commercially issued 12" in the UK and the rest of Europe. Ironically, The Bangles’ single is held off from the top spot on the chart by Prince & The Revolution’s “Kiss”. Also a huge hit internationally, the success of “Manic Monday” helps take the band to pop stardom and helps propel their album to 3x Platinum status in the US. “Manic Monday” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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“The all-American kid from Vancouver.”

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Serial killer Carroll Edward Cole was born on May 9, 1938, and was the first person executed by lethal injection in Nevada, on December 6, 1985. Cole was convicted of 13 lust homicides, but by his own admission, the full number was more like 34 or 35. The Carroll Cole case is very significant as a demonstration of the failure of the criminal justice system. While there were numerous instances of malfeasance in the case, the true culprit was a system that lacked contemporary technology. Cole committed dozens, if not hundreds, of crimes, in addition to the murders, throughout the United States. He was convicted in numerous local, state and federal jurisdictions, but was commonly a first offender because of the lack of a central depository of criminal behaviour.

Carroll Edward Cole was the third child of Laverne and Vesta Cole. The Great Depression forced Laverne Cole to move his family west in search for work. While the West Coast was the goal, Laverne found work in Richmond at the Kaiser Shipyard. Laverne joined the armed forces with the United State’s entry into World War II. Vesta enjoyed the ‘company’ of other men during her husbands absence, and would require Carroll to visit their home while she participated in extramarital affairs. Carroll was sown to secrecy under the threat of severe beatings. Best was physically and emotionally abusive of Carroll. She would dress him up in one of his sister’s frilly dresses, refer to him as her little girl, tease him about his feminine name, and make him serve refreshments to guests she invited to the family home. Vesta, in violation of California law, also refused to send Carroll to school. At an early age, a young female acquaintance aggressively knocked Carroll to the ground and sat on his face. When Besta observed the activity she pulled the girl off of Carroll and then proceeded to strike him in the face as if he was the aggressor rather than the victim. In a rage, Carroll crawled beneath the porch where he found and strangles a puppy.