The 70-year-old Bloomfield resident has his own cherished memories of The Gloved One, including the spring day in 1988 when Jackson gave Farmer the hat off his head, after an MJ concert at the Civic Center.
That black fedora, size medium, with the lettering MICHAEL JACKSON on the inside band has been stored in a plastic bag in Farmer’s raised ranch for the past two decades. He also has hung onto several photographs he took with Jackson at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Farmer, a retired Hartford firefighter and former chef at Hartford Hospital, served as Jackson’s personal chauffeur during his week’s stay in the city. “It was quite an experience for me just being with him,” Farmer said in his kitchen, as his grandkids listened.
Though Farmer wasn’t really a fan of Jackson’s at the time, he was thrilled when, as a dispatcher for Cotter Limousine Service in Bloomfield, he received an urgent call. Jackson’s road crew needed to be picked up at Bradley Airport.
Farmer took the assignment himself. He established a rapport with the crew, which led to them suggesting he be the exclusive driver for them and Jackson when the entertainer arrived. Bill Bray, a retired Los Angeles police officer who headed Jackson’s logistics team, made it official. Farmer would soon be headed upstairs to a suite in the old Hilton Hotel on Asylum Street where the King of Pop awaited.
“What struck me was he was in a good mood,” Farmer said. “He was very nice. Just a regular guy. Super nice. I was surprised. I just figured with him being that famous, there was no way he’d be this nice.”
Jackson stayed in his suite for most of his stay — and never wanted to be bothered the day of a performance. A valet, who served as chef, was part of the entourage. There was also a woman and her young boy, who stayed in a separate room, but were apparently Jackson’s guests. Farmer took the crew out to the mall and a KFC on Albany Avenue in North Hartford. At the KFC, one of the crew members surprised the girls behind the counter by giving them four tickets to the concert. They squealed.
Farmer also took Jackson and a security guy on a brief tour of the city. MJ wore shades and cap.
“He didn’t talk much, but he talked,” Farmer said. “He called me ‘sir.’ How’re doin’, sir? Everything all right, sir?’ Very, very friendly.”
When he drove Jackson to the Civic Center with his security people, Farmer said he was allowed to stay backstage. Crew members hooked his family up with front row seats and they granted Farmer’s request that his niece Tiana Armstrong, now 30, be selected as one of the kids to be called up to dance on stage with Jackson.
Farmer later told one of Jackson’s aides how impressed he was that Jackson was so friendly, and mentioned that he was now a fan. The aide asked Farmer to tell that to Jackson directly.
“So, I told him, listen, I never realized you were such a nice guy. I said I wasn’t a fan of yours before, but I’m a fan of yours now,” Farmer said. “And he was thanking me, laughing, smiling, and said, 'I’m glad you are.’”
Feeling emboldened, Farmer had a favor to ask. “I said 'I’d like to have a souvenir of yours.’ And he said, 'OK, what do you want?’ I said, 'Can I have that hat of yours?’ And he gave it to me.”
When he drove Jackson and crew back to LaGuardia, Farmer had yet another request — could he get a picture or two, because no one was going to believe that he chauffeured Michael Jax? Done
His tip was $1,000. Not bad for a week’s work — and the memories and mementos that will last a lifetime.
Out of all Canadian serial killers, Robert Pickton is arguably the most disturbing. Pickton was dubbed ‘The Pig Farmer Killer’ by the media after his crimes were uncovered by local police following an unrelated firearm warrant. While searching his pig-farm, they found the personal belongings of a well-known missing woman. Suspicious, they obtained a second warrant and uncovered a whole plethora of grisly evidence to suggest that Pickton was the serial killer they had been searching for: Not only did police find and identify remains of several missing girls, but they found human skulls that had been cracked and stuffed with human hands and feet. Eventually DNA from 33 women was sent off to the lab to be analyzed.
One of the more bizarre findings was a dildo gun…. A .22 revolver with a dildo attached to its barrel, that was supposedly used to torture the victims. Pickton claimed that this gun only had the sex-toy attached to it because he couldn’t afford a suppressor at the time, and it seemed to do the job just fine.
Pickton’s MO suggests that he was a mixed missionary/lust killer. He would target prostitutes, bring them to the farm, handcuff them or bind them with rope, rape them, and then strangle them to death. When they were dead, he’d treat them just like the animals on his farm: He bled and gutted them, ran them through a wood-chipper and then fed their remains to his pigs. One survivor claimed that he would even grind up some victims’ bodies into mince and sell it as pork mince to local farmers and friends.
Who put Bella in the Witch Elm? - Unsolved Mysteries
- “Who put Bella in the Witch Elm” is a piece of graffito painted onto the side of the Wychbury Obelisk on Wychbury Hill, Hagley, Worcestershire, England.
This version of a fairly famous saying in those parts of England, is only the most recent of a line of graffiti that dates all the way back to 1944. As with all things intriguing, and of a slightly odd and strange nature, there is an interesting story behind the graffiti and, in this case, an unsolved mystery…
The story begins on April 18, 1943, as four boys, Thomas Willetts, Bob Farmer, Robert Hart and Fred Payne were out poaching in Hagley Woods, located near Wychbury Hill. It was wartime, and with rationing making food a little short, the boys supplemented their daily meals with animals caught in the woodlands.
It was a regular exercise for the four friends, and the day was no different to any other. With dogs leading the way, the boys entered the woods in the hopes of returning home with a good catch of rabbits. However pickings were slim, and as the sun began to set they made their way home.
Every now and then they would check the bird nests that they could see up in the branches, in the hopes of finding some eggs. Upon seeing a Blackbird leaving a Wych Elm, Bob Farmer climbed into the tree and found a nest containing four eggs. Farmer then encouraged the youngest of their group, Robert Hart, to climb another nearby Wych Elm to see if they could extend their luck.
As Robert climbed up the tree, he glances down into a hollow, thinking it might be a good place for a bird to nest. As he did so, he noticed the white dome and eye sockets of a skull looking back out at him. Intrigued with his find, and thinking it was the remains of an animal, he hooked it out with a stick.
Robert was aghast to see human teeth and strands of human hair attached to the now obvious human skull. He showed the other boys, before returning the skull to the hollow and they all very quickly made their way home.
The boys decided they would not tell anybody about their find, as they had been on the land illegally (privately owned), and did not want to get into trouble. However, Tommy Willets cracked and told his parents the story.
The next day, after having contacted the police, the boys met up with several constables and sergeants from both Hagley and other nearby towns, and showed them where they found the skull.
Once the police were satisfied that it was indeed a human skull, the investigation got under way. A forensic examiner was sent out to the scene, and with the help of several assistant officers, they started to clear the tree away from the skeleton within. The hollow was too small to get at all the bones, so using axes the tree was methodically trimmed and cut to allow easier access.
Professor Webster, the forensic examiner, first took a good look at the skull. He found that cloth had been wedged into the skulls mouth, and there and then declared it a murder case.
Parts of the skeleton were missing, so the search was extended to the immediate area where parts were found in other, nearby Wych Elms. The most bizarre aspect was that the hand belonging to the skeleton was found dismembered, and buried at the base of the original tree.
Webster concluded the victim had been placed into the tree feet first, soon after death and still warm, as rigor mortis would have made placing the victim into the hollow a very tough task.
A green glass bottle was found along with the skeleton inside the hollowk as were fragments of the clothing the victim, now determined to be female, had worn.
Once the remains and artefacts had been taken back to his lab, Webster was able to conduct a much more thorough study. He determined the victim’s age to be about 35, and that she had given birth at least once. Death had occurred approximately 18 months before the body was discovered (making it sometime in late October 1941), and the cloth in her mouth was taffeta.
The victim had a gold wedding ring, a plain cloth skirt, blue crepe soled shoes, peach coloured taffeta under skirt and a blue striped cardigan. She had brown, chin length hair and a noticeable irregularity in the teeth of her lower jaw.
The police had many clues to start their investigation in identifying the body. They put out a call to the public, to contact them if they recognised the clothing the victim had worn. Dentists were called to obtain records relevant to the victim’s teeth irregularities, and manufacturers of shoes were contacted in regards to the shoes.
The police were confident that soon an identification would be made. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the media began to report it as the ‘Tree Riddle Murder’.
Theories stated that she was a German Spy, and having been caught by the Home Guard, had been quickly dispatched and left in the tree - or that she died in a lovers tryst, jealousy having caused her demise.
In 1944 the first of the graffiti started to appear. On a wall in Old Hill the words, “Who put luebella in the witch elm” appeared. Soon graffiti turned up in another street reading, “Who put Bella down the Wych Elm – Hagley Wood”. No question mark, written in the same hand, and almost a rather simple, but puzzling statement.
It was theorised that whoever wrote the graffiti knew the identity of the victim, the first spelling of the name, an older style spelling, giving the hint of a personal insight.
Soon people began to come forward with their own ideas on what took place… many in the area believing a cult was in operation, and that the murder was a black magic execution.
This theory was put forward by Professor Margaret Murray of University College, London. After studying the case notes, and having spent years looking into the occult and dark religion/beliefs, she determined the removal and burial of the hand was part of an execution. The name Bella, being derived from Belladonna, and Wych-hazel both being related to several occult practices.
A late day in October for the murder to take place was also relevant to this theory.
Then of course there were the rumours of a black coven operating out of Hagley Woods.
The idea of a punishment, rather than the body just being hidden in the Wych Elm, was given more credence when it was later revealed that the Wych Elm was only about 6 feet tall, the rest having broken off sometime in its life. The hollow the body was found only approximately 4 feet off the ground. Had someone intended to hide the body, surely they would have buried it in the soft soil.
Had 'Bella’ been punished for crimes against a group practising dark rituals?
In August 1999 the most recent of the graffiti popped up, this time painted onto the Wychbury Obelisk that overlooks the surrounding countryside, and the neighbouring Hagley Woods. Someone does not want to see Bella forgotten…
The remains were never buried and have since gone missing.
Ashley Hall 2013
Photo: The 1999 Graffito on the Wychbury Obelisk. Inset: Upper, the 'Wych Elm’ Tree Bella was found. Lower, Bellas Skull.