"MYSTERIOUS CELEBRITY DEATHS"
William Edward John (November 15, 1937 - May 26, 1968) was better known by his stage name Little Willie John. Many sources erroneously give his second name as Edgar. He was a R&B singer who performed in the 1950s and early 1960s and is best known for his popular music chart successes with songs such as, "All Around the World" (1955), "Need Your Love So Bad" (1956) and "Fever" the same year, the latter covered in 1958 by Peggy Lee.
Little Willie John was destined for superstardom until tragedy struck!
In all, John made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of fourteen times. A cover version of "Need Your Love So Bad" by Fleetwood Mac was also a hit in Europe. Another of his songs to be covered was "Leave My Kitten Alone," (1959). The Beatles recorded a version in 1964, intended for their "Beatles for Sale," album, but it went unreleased until 1995.
Willie John was known for his short temper and propensity to abuse alcohol, and was dropped by his record company in 1963. In 1966, he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Washington State Penitentiary for a fatal knifing incident following a show in Seattle. He appealed against his conviction and was released while the case was reconsidered, during which time he recorded what was intended to be his comeback album, but due to contractual wrangles, and the failure of his appeal, it was not released until 2008 (as Nineteen Sixty Six). Little Willie John died in 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite numerous claims, the official cause of death was listed on his death certificate as a heart attack although many still consider his death a mystery.
Little Willie John was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
He was the brother of singer Mable John, who recorded for Motown and Stax, and the father of Keith John, a long time backing vocalist for Stevie Wonder.
James Brown, who early in his career had opened shows for John, recorded a tribute album, "Thinking about Little Willie John... and a Few Nice Things."
Robert Gaston "Bobby" Fuller (October 22, 1942 – July 18, 1966) was an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitar player best known for his singles "I Fought the Law" and "Love's Made a Fool of You," recorded with his mid-1960s group, the Bobby Fuller Four.
Bobby Fuller became so popular, that he was being touted as the next Elvis Presley.
Fuller moved to Los Angeles in 1964 with his band The Bobby Fuller Four, and was signed to Mustang Records by producer Bob Keane, who was noted for discovering Ritchie Valens and producing many surf music groups.
Just after "I Fought The Law" became a top ten hit, Bobby Fuller was found dead in his automobile, which was parked outside his Hollywood apartment. The police considered the death an apparent suicide/accident, however, some people believe Fuller was murdered. The investigation was botched from the start. The crime scene was not secured and no fingerprints were obtained. A witness also claimed seeing a police officer throw a can of gasoline found at the scene into the trash. Fuller was found with multiple wounds all over his body and covered in gasoline, leading many to speculate that the perpetrators fled before they could set the car on fire. Police later changed the cause of death to "accidental asphyxiation" citing no evidence of foul play. Despite the official cause of death stated by authorities, rumors and speculation still surround Fuller's mysterious death. Fuller is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
The relatives of Sam Cooke have noted similarities in the mysterious nature of his death with those surrounding the death of Bobby Fuller.
Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell grew up in a crowded home with three brothers and one sister. He first came to the public’s attention as a member of the rap group Groove B. Chill. In 1986 the group was featured in an Uptown/MCA Records compilation recording titled "Uptown Is Kickin’ It." Shortly thereafter, Groove B. Chill launched its own debut album, "Starting from Zero," with A&M Records.
The rappers made a video to accompany the new album, which led directly to their acting debuts: The Hudlin Brothers, who directed the video, cast the group in the feature film House Party (1990). Chill found the experience so enjoyable that he decided to focus on an acting career.
In November 2001, Chill was sidelined by a motorcycle accident, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. However, this never stopped his forward momentum. Once he was in control of his wheelchair, Chill went back to work.
Chill is married and has three young children.
The R&B singing group Tavares was one of the biggest acts of the 1970's. Tavares was comprised of five Cape Verdean-American brothers from New Bedford Massachusetts. The brothers,Tiny, Ralph, Pooch, Butch and Antone "Chubby" Tavares, began their music career in the 1960's as "Chubby and The Turnpikes," performing cover songs at clubs throughout New England. In the early 1970's, Tavares finally scored a record deal with Capitol Records and released their first single, "Check It Out". That song cracked the top ten on the charts, and the group was suddenly on the music world's map. The Tavares sound was signature sweet harmonies, with the brothers switching up the leads effortlessly from song to song.
The group really exploded in popularity after their release of two successful albums, "Hard Core Poetry" and "In The City." Their recording of the Hall and Oates-penned song, "She's Gone" went to number one on the charts. But Tavares's biggest success would come from their contribution to the soundtrack of the 1978 blockbuster movie, "Saturday Night Fever." The film defined the disco cultural phoenomenon and took what had been an underground New York dance culture global. Tavares performed the two most memorable songs on the Bee Gee's-written soundtrack, "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" and "More Than A Woman". The soundtrack was the album of the year, and earned a Grammy for Tavares.
As the 70's faded into the 80's, Tavares continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences around the world, but Chubby (back row, right) and his brothers began to settle down a bit and raise their children. Chubby's youngest son, Jason, was born in 1979. At that time, Chubby and his wife Miriam settled in Sunrise, Florida near Miami. Jason was a bubbly boy, who grew to love sports. "He was probably one of the best hockey players to come out of the city of Sunrise and I was so proud of him", Chubby told AMW reporter Tom Morris Jr. during a taped interview in January 2004. By the time Jason turned 23 in 2002, he had developed a love for music and was planning to follow in this famous father's footsteps. Jason and his two childhood friends, John Marzulli and Tommy Gartuola had formed a rap group called Universal Law. "It was his time to shine," says John, "and it just turned out to be Hip Hop, so even if it wasn't in the 70's style of music, either way the Tavares name was still gonna continue."
Tragedy Strikes A Super-Group of the 70's
A Dream Shattered In One Fateful Night
Like his father, Jason loved to perform and wanted to become a successful rap artist
By 2002, Jason was the father of a one-year old son, but his relationship with the child's mother, Dania Lopes, had deteriorated and they were no longer a couple. Chubby Tavares was living in New Bedford, after he and Jason's mother Miriam were divorced. Jason, now 23, spent most of his formulative years growing up in south Florida with his mom. But after he graduated from high school, he moved to New Bedford, and lived with his father for a while before returning to West Palm Beach.
"My son was a kid like a lot of kids who liked to smoke a little pot," Chubby says. "I used to tell him that you can't do that. That's illegal." Despite his father's warnings, on the night of September 20th, 2002, Jason and his buddies, Tommy and John, were looking to cop some weed. But none of their friends had any, so Jason looked outside of their normal connections. Police say he was eventually put in touch with a 19-year-old Jamaican kid named Peter Jerome Cunningham. Cunningham lived with his father in the Miami suburb of Lauderhill in a somewhat dicey neighborhood the local kids called "Deepside". According the police and Jason's friends, Jason and his buddies scrapped together some money to buy some pot, and Jason gave the money to Cunningham on the afternoon of the 20th. Police say Jason was supposed to go back to Deepside later in the day to pick up the marijuana from Cunningham.
But that evening, Jason called Tommy and John with some bad news. They say he told them that Cunningham, who none of them knew personally, had stiffed them. Cunningham reportedly claimed that he had given another person the cash to buy the marijuana, and had ended up without Jason's money, and without the weed. But Jason didn't buy Cunningham's story, and told Tommy and John that he was going back over to Deepside and try to straighten the situation out. Tommy and John insisted on going with him.
"Out Came The Gun, And The Bullets Started Poppin'"
When Jason, Tommy and John pulled up in front of the Villa apartments in Lauderhill, it was around 11:00 p.m. According to Tommy and John, they got out of Jason's car and walked up to Peter Cunningham, who was standing on the sidewalk with eight or so other kids milling around him. John describes what happened next: "Jay walked up to this one kid who had a t-shirt tied around his head and had words with him. The kid said he didn't want no trouble. Jay pulled out his cell phone and made a call. We all started walking away thinking things were cool. Then all of a sudden, the kid with the shirt on his head (Cunningham) pulled out a gun and just started lettin' off shots. He shot Jay in the back, then fired on me and Tommy as we took cover behind the car. Then he jumped in a car driven by some other kid and took off. Jay was on the ground. We couldn't believe what had just happened. We threw Jay in some kid's car and took off for the nearest hospital. We kept screaming at Jay to hold on...don't die on us."
Jason Tavares was pronounced dead a few minutes later. That night, Chubby Tavares recieved a phone call in New Bedford that changed his life forever. His pride and joy, his youngest son, was dead.
Less than 48 hours after he was profiled on "America's Most Wanted," accused murderer Peter Jerome Cunningham, 21, (above) was collared on the streets of New York City. Cunningham was a fugitive from Broward County, Florida, charged with a homicide that occurred in the Miami suburb of Lauderhill in the fall of 2002. The victim was 23-year-old Jason Tavares.
In 1985, Robert Palmer's album "Riptide," featured the #1 single "Addicted to Love." The song was originally cut with Chaka Khan sharing lead vocals but due to contractual problems Chaka was removed from the final mix. The single was accompanied by a memorable and much parodied music video, directed by Terence Donovan, in which Palmer is surrounded by a bevy of near-identically clad, heavily made-up female "musicians". The singles "Hyperactive" and his cover of Cherrelle's "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" also performed well. Another song, "Trick Bag" was written by one of his major influences, New Orleans jazz artist Earl King. In 1987, he won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for his song "Addicted to Love."
Palmer, who made his home in Lugano, Switzerland for his last 15 years, died in Paris, France in 2003 of a heart attack at the age of 54. He is interred at the cemetery in Lugano.
Angela Rockwood-Nguyen (actress/model), was on top of the world. She was engaged to the love of her life, actor Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street). She and several friends piled in her car in September 2001 to take a road trip to San Francisco where another friend was hosting a wedding shower in her honor and then the unthinkable happened. They were involved in a tragic car accident that left Rockwood a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. This accident claimed the life of Vietnamese-American actress Thuy Trang, a member of the original cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rockwood and Nguyen would marry at a later date and the couple is currently active in the The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.
Singer Angela Bofill was paralyzed on her left side following a stroke suffered on Jan. 10, according to her manager Rich Engel. Bofill was convalescing at Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa, CA. She was released from intensive care on Sunday (Jan. 15) and will require speech and physical therapy, Engel said.
A benefit concert has been organized to pay her hospital bills, as Ms. Bofill did not carry health insurance. The show, planned by Engel along with N.Y. radio stations Kiss FM, and CD 101.9, was held on March 11th at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, N.J. Similar events were being planned for Detroit and Los Angeles, Engel said.
David Nathan, of the R&B Foundation, says that Bofill may just qualify for sorely needed aid from the organization. He says that the wheels were grinding and if all goes well, she would receive assistance with medical bills ASAP.
Ms. Bofill suffered another massive stroke on July 10, 2007 according to her website www.angelabofill.com. Her condition at this time is unknown.
With help from Sammy Davis, Lola Falana brought her act to Las Vegas and became a top draw there. By the late 1970s, she was considered the Queen of Las Vegas. She played to sold-out crowds at The Sands, The Riviera, and the MGM Grand hotels. Finally The Aladdin offered her $100,000 a week to perform. At the time, Falana was the highest paid female performer in Las Vegas. Her show ran twenty weeks a year and became a major tourist attraction.
While still playing to sell-out crowds in Las Vegas, Falana joined the cast of a short-lived CBS soap opera, Capitol.
Soon after the show was cancelled in 1987, she suffered a major setback; a relapse of multiple sclerosis. Falana's relapse was severe; her left side was paralyzed, she became partially blind, and her voice and hearing were impaired. Recovery lasted a year and a half, during which she spent most of her time praying. Falana attributes her recovery to a spiritual experience which she described as "Being able to feel the presence of the Lord."
She converted to Roman Catholicism and worked her newly-found spirituality into her everyday life. Though she performed again in Las Vegas shows in 1987, her practice of religion and faith became the center of her life.
After another bout with multiple sclerosis in 1996, Falana returned to Philadelphia and lived with her parents for a short time. No longer performing, she now tours the country with a message of hope and spirituality. When not on tour, she lives a quiet life in Las Vegas working on the apostolate she founded, The Lambs of God Ministry. The ministry is focused on helping children who have been orphaned in Sub-Saharan Africa, and works closely with the group Save Sub-Saharan Orphans.
Her last known musical performance was in 1997, at Wayne Newton's theater in Branson, Missouri.
What do Mariah Carey, Lisa Fischer and Mya have in common? They all list singer Minnie Riperton (above) as one of their musical influences.
Minnie Julia Riperton (November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979) was an R&B singer and songwriter, most noted for her abilities in the whistle register and her 1975 hit single "Lovin' You." Possessing a rare five-octave vocal range, she displayed the ability to imitate varied instrumentation.
As a child, Riperton studied music, drama, and dance, and seriously considered a career in opera. However, her affiliation with the famous Chess Records record label soon allowed her to sing backup for Etta James, Fontella Bass, and Stevie Wonder. Riperton sang lead vocals for several small, unsuccessful bands. Riperton's first solo album, "Come Into My Garden" (1970), was produced by Charles Stepney and released on Cadet Records, a subsidiary of Chess Records. It was not a commercial success. Her next solo outing did not suffer the same fate. Riperton teamed up with her husband, composer Richard Rudolph and Stevie Wonder, who agreed to produce her album "Perfect Angel."
Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy in 1976. She became an active spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society and was awarded the Society Courage Award from then-President Jimmy Carter.
She died in 1979 at the age of 31 and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
After her funeral, Riperton's husband-locked himself in their bedroom, crying non-stop while he played her records over and over again.
In addition to her musical legacy, Minnie Riperton was survived by her husband, Richard Rudolph; son, Marc Rudolph; and daughter, Maya Rudolph (above, second photo), a cast member of "Saturday Night Live."
Richard Rudolph currently heads a very successful music publishing company with his son.
Original lead singer of the Four Tops, Levi Stubbs, suffered a massive stroke in 2000 and a mild heart attack. Stubbs hasn't performed with the group live in seven years and is confined to a wheelchair.
R&B crooner Will Downing was hospitalized in January due to a chronic inflammatory disease of the muscles, called polymyositis.
According to Brian Soergel's Smooth Jazz Scoop (04:43), the vocalist has cancelled touring plans for the immediate future after he was diagnosed with the debilitating disorder, which causes muscle weakness that can often be severe.
Downing says he first noticed symptoms of extreme fatigue over the holidays. He said his fear of doctors kept him from getting examined sooner than later. He is now in rehabilitation and working to get himself back in shape.
“He’s moving slowly, but he’s moving nonetheless and is thankful for that and for the fact that his voice so far has not been affected,” writes Soergel.
"PLATTERS" LEAD SINGER SUCCUMBS TO AIDS:
The Platters frontman Curtis Bridgeforth (above) has quit the rock 'n' roll group to seek AIDS treatment. The 51-year-old singer released a statement two days ago, confirming he will leave the Platters at the end of the month. He said, "I found out in 1990 that I was HIV positive and I've been living with HIV for the last 17 years.
"Then two years ago, after suddenly losing 20 pounds and 30 percent of my eyesight, I learned that I had diabetes, in all probability stemming from my HIV medication. "Right now, my sugar count and cholesterol count are dangerously high, so to prevent a major heart attack or stroke, as well as deal with the HIV issue, I need to seek treatment in New York.
There is a program offered there for people like me who don't have health insurance. "Ninety-nine per cent of the people I work with every night knew nothing of my HIV until now, although our management company has been aware since 2003.
I don't want to hide it anymore - I'm an example of how to survive it and maybe I can help other people in the same situation. "After I get my health in check, I want to come back to performing. I've already been offered some opportunities.
The most important thing I do on this planet is sing to people - I can make people smile and that's a God-given gift." Bridgeforth joined the group in 1994 and has recently been performing with them at the Sahara in Las Vegas.
Sadly, Bridgeforth succumbed to AIDS in May of 2007.
Former "Save By The Bell," actor Isaac Lidsky who played the character of 'Weasel' on the show, (1st photo, front white shirt and 2nd photo, today) is now a Harvard educated lawyer who is-legally blind. Lidsky currently gets around with a white cane.
He was diagnosed with a eye disease (retintis pigmentosa) when he was 13. The disease is incurable and leads to permanent blindness.
Two of Lidsky's sisters also have the disease. He says, "My parents are very supportive even though 3 of their 4 children will eventually go blind."
Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old anorexic model who stood 5'8 and weighed only 88 pounds has died of generalized infection, a hospital said. The hospital said the infection that killed the model was caused by anorexia nervosa, a disorder characterized by an abnormal fear of becoming obese, an aversion to food and severe weight loss. Reston began her modeling career at the age of 13 after winning a local beauty contest in her hometown of Jundiai, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
In 1985, Heidi Von Beltz, first photo, the 25-year-old daughter of Brad von Beltz, a veteran actor in Westerns, was working as a stunt woman and was on her way to a successful Hollywood acting career. Then, on the set of "Cannonball Run," where she worked as a stunt woman for Farrah Fawcett, she broke her neck in a car crash which left her a quadriplegic. Allegedly, after the accident, rumors circulated that no one from the cast or crew visited Von Beltz in the hospital. Doctors predicted she would remain a quadriplegic and die within five years. Her parents found a pioneer in spinal surgery who fused their daughter's neck, and with their unwavering support, Heidi embarked on a series of rigorous alternative treatments and spiritual journeys that enabled her to regain movement in her arms and legs and to sit and stand with support. Von Beltz once dated actor Ray Liotta (third photo). When they went to the movies, she left her wheelchair at home and Liotta carried her in his arms like a baby as they bypassed the movie line. Optimistic and energetic, Heidi today surrounds herself with loyal friends, including actress Melanie Griffith.
Gregory Hines (February 14, 1946 – August 9, 2003) was a Tony Award-winning American actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer.
Born Gregory Oliver Hines in New York City, Hines and his older brother Maurice started dancing at an early age, studying with choreographer Henry LeTang. Together with their father the three were known as "The Hines Kids" and later as "The Hines Brothers" only to have the name change again in 1963 to "Hines, Hines and Dad."
Hines appeared in such movies as The Cotton Club, White Nights, Running Scared, and Tap. On television, he starred in his own series in 1997 called The Gregory Hines Show, as well as in the recurring role of Ben Doucette on Will & Grace.
Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in The Girl in Pink Tights in 1954. He earned Tony Award nominations for Eubie!, Comin' Uptown and Sophisticated Ladies, and won a Tony and Drama Desk Award for the revue Jelly's Last Jam and a Theatre World Award for Eubie!.
In 1990, Hines visited with his idol, Sammy Davis, Jr., as the great entertainer lay dying of throat cancer, unable to speak. After Davis died, a choked-up Hines spoke at Davis's funeral of how Sammy had made a gesture to him, "as if passing a basketball … and I caught it." Hines spoke of the honor that Sammy thought that Hines could carry on from where he left off.
Hines died of liver cancer in Los Angeles, California. He was engaged to bodybuilder Negrita Jayde at the time of his death.
Curtis Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American soul, funk, and R&B singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Superfly. From these works and others, he was highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.
He is ranked at number 36 in a list of the top 100 most influential musicians.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mayfield attended Wells High School. He dropped out of high school early to become lead singer and songwriter for The Impressions, then went on to a successful solo career. Perhaps most notably, Mayfield was among the first of a new wave of mainstream African-American R&B performing artists and composers who injected social commentary into their work. This "message music" became extremely popular during the period of political ferment and social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.
On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. This tragedy set him back, but Mayfield forged ahead. He was unable to play guitar, but he wrote, sang and directed the recording of his last album, New World Order. It was during this time when Curtis invited the legendary guitarist, Edmund Darris to his home in Atlanta. Darris played guitar for him and created tracks for his "New World Order" Album. Mayfield offered Darris a deal on his son's label but the deal didn't materialize. Mayfield's vocals were painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line whilst lying on his back. Mayfield received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. Unfortunately, health reasons prevented him from attending the ceremony.
Curtis Mayfield would die on December 26, 1999.
Philippé Wynne, above, front row, center (born Phillip Walker April 3, 1941 – July 14, 1984) was an R&B vocalist.
Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, he began his singing career as a gospel singer. He soon switched to the newly emerging R&B style and attained some measure of success, singing with Bootsy Collins's Pacesetters in 1968 and with James Brown's JBs shortly thereafter. In the Academy Award-winning film, "When We Were Kings," Wynne was in total control of his Congolese audience. Before Wynne replaced his cousin, G.C. Cameron, in the Spinners, he spent time in Europe playing with a band from Liberia. However, he gained stardom in his own right starting in the early 1970s when he became the lead vocalist of the Spinners. Wynn sung lead on several number one hits, including: "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love," "Mighty Love," and their signature song, "Sadie."
He sang with the group until 1977.
He then launched a solo career, but it wasn't nearly as successful. His fortunes turned upwards again after he joined George Clinton's Funkadelic in 1979. He was a featured vocalist on the Funkadelic single "Knee Deep." However, he never regained the superstardom he enjoyed with the Spinners.
While performing at a show at Ivy's nightclub in Oakland, California on July 13, 1984, Wynne suffered a massive heart attack and died early the next morning at Providence Hospital.
Tamia was introduced to former Detroit Pistons basketball player Grant Hill by singer Anita Baker. The two married on July 24, 1999. They had their first child, a daughter named Myla Grace, on January 23, 2002. In 2005, Tamia and her husband announced on Extra that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In an interview with Smooth magazine, she reported that the disease is seemingly in remission and she has symptoms now and then but they are controlled.
Aubrey Boyd signed with the Florida State Seminoles as a highly touted recruit from Southwest High School in Macon, Ga. and made an immediate impact on the court for Florida State. From 1988-91, Boyd appeared in 116 games and averaged 6.7 points per game During the 1990-91 season, Boyd's senior year, he started 31 of 32 games and averaged 11.8 points per game as the Seminoles cruised to a 21-11 record and won the Metro Conference championship. The Seminoles advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as they defeated Southern California before losing to Indiana in the second round.
Four years after departing Florida State, Boyd was tragically injured in a pickup football game in Macon. While being tackled during the game, Boyd broke his fourth vertebrae in his neck, leaving him a paraplegic. The Aubry Boyd Fund was begun shortly after the accident by Seminole supporters Bob and Mary O'Neil and is now monitored by Leonard Hamilton, and the Florida State University Athletics Department remains committed to helping one of their own in times of need.
"First Black Corps Commander Sergeant Major at West Point Killed in Iraq"
By: The Associated Press; © 2006 DiversityInc.com®
*Lt. Emily Perez was not a celebrity but she was an exceptional and extraordinary young lady in and out of military circles and we decided to add her tragedy to this page.
Second Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, 23, of Fort Washington, died on Sept. 12 of injuries sustained in Al Kifl, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near her vehicle during combat operations, the Pentagon reported.
At West Point, she was the first black woman to serve as corps commander sergeant major, and she finished in the top 10 percent of her class.
Perez had the military bearing and discipline befitting a West Point graduate and Army officer.
She was also smart as a whip, athletically gifted, and deeply religious. She also sang in the Academy's gospel choir.
"She was a constant learner, always eager for something to learn and share with someone," the Rev. Faith Bell, a friend of Perez's family, said yesterday.
Perez was assigned to the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Faith Bell's husband, the Rev. Michael Bell, is Perez's godfather. He will give the eulogy at Perez's funeral tomorrow at Ebenezer AME church in Fort Washington. Perez will be buried Tuesday at West Point.
Army track coach Jerry Quiller was saddened when he heard the news. "It still doesn't seem real to me," Quiller said.
Perez was a happy and yet serious student, Quiller said. She arrived at West Point as an accomplished high-school sprinter and later became a top-flight triple jumper after volunteering to fill a roster need. Perez scored points in the annual Army-Navy meet and at the Patriot League championships.
"She was really into being a leader," Quiller said. "She really enjoyed being the person that was in charge. If there was a parade and track meet on the same day, the highlight of her day was probably leading the parade."
Perez had served in Iraq for about a year, Faith Bell said, and had visited her parents, Daniel and Vicki Perez, in Fort Washington for two weeks last month.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, where her father was stationed in the Army, Perez attended elementary schools in Germany, Faith Bell said.
Her family moved to Prince George's County and Perez attended and graduated from Oxon Hill High School in 2001, where she was on the track team.
Although she was from a military family, Perez was the first to attend a military academy, Bell said.
After graduating from West Point in 2005, Perez began her assignment at Fort Hood and was sent to Iraq shortly thereafter.
Perez regularly kept in touch with her family, Bell, said, but was particularly communicative with her father, "because they could both talk military." (AP)
Daniel Earl "Dan" Hartman (December 8, 1950 - March 22, 1994) was a singer, songwriter and record producer best known for the 1984 song "I Can Dream About You."
There was also a cover version of his hit "Instant Replay," which was a one-hit wonder for a boy duo called Yell! (Paul Varney and Daniel James) in January 1990.
Hartman was back in the charts yet again with the Top 10 single, which became his signature song, "I Can Dream About You," from the "Streets of Fire," soundtrack in 1984. Hartman was featured as a bartender in the video, which received heavy rotation on MTV; in the video, his vocals were convincingly lip-synched by Stoney Jackson, an African-American actor.
Hartman then scored a third number-one single, "We Are The Young." During the next decade he worked as a songwriter and producer, and collaborated with such artists as Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Tyler, Paul Young, James Brown, Nona Hendryx and Steve Winwood.
Hartman died at the age of 43, in Westport, Connecticut from a brain tumor caused by AIDS. Only after Hartman's death did his homosexuality become public knowledge.
'Pretty' Terry Stanton was the lead singer of The Polyester Players, one of LA's most heralded party bands. He was known for his great looks and charm and henceforth nicknamed “Pretty Terry.” Tragically, according to news sources, Terry was recently murdered, his face shot off and his body left to burn on LA city streets, painting a horrific sight.
Terry was greatly loved by many great music artists who worked with him. Music icons such as Stevie Wonder, Teena Marie, Vesta, Marva King,The Polyester Players and many others heralded in a musical jubilee at the Henry Ford “Music Box” theatre in Hollywood on Good Friday, April 14th. Terry was once linked to adult star Heather Hunter.
According to Los Angeles Police Department, On September 24, 2004 at approximately 11:50 p.m., Damien Patrick Holland, 25, son of legendary R&B Singer Chaka Khan, shot to death an 18-year-old male. The incident took place at Holland's apartment where the two men struggled for control over a gun, which discharged a bullet and struck the victim. According to police, the victim was transported to the nearest hospital where he died of his injuries. The identification of the victim is pending notification to his family. Damien Holland claims it was an accident. Damien Holland would eventually be acquitted of the murder. The murder was ruled accidental.
"CELEBRITY RAPE VICTIMS"
On November 8, 1974, singer Connie Francis (Who's Sorry Now, Where The Boys Are) was raped in the Howard Johnson's Lodge following a performance at the Westbury Music Fair in New York. After returning to the room some time after the attack she discovered the broken lock and torn screen had not been repaired by facility management. She subsequently sued the motel chain for failing to provide adequate security. She reportedly won a $3 million judgment, at the time one of the largest such judgments in history. She did not perform again for seven years thereafter. She has stated that it was because of the rape. Later, Francis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She has long suffered from continuing mental impairments that developed as a result of her rape, including drug dependencies and suicide attempts. She uses lithium to treat the illness.
She resumed her career in 1989.
Actress Terri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) never spoke publicly about her molestation until recently. Hatcher says her uncle raped her for several years. When she found out he had also raped a 14-year-old girl who ended up committing suicide, she had had enough, went to the cops and helped put her uncle in jail. Now, the actress is urging other women to come forward about abuse and not blame themselves.
Actress Gabrielle Union was just 19 when she was raped at gunpoint while she was trying to close up the mall store she worked at-and now she just wishes she had run when her gut told her to. She says, "When the man who raped me came into the store, my heart said run, but I was raised to be polite and not make others uncomfortable. "Women are constantly second-guessing our instincts but you know your body, and your body is telling you something is wrong... We are given instincts for a reason."
In January 1985, robbers ransacked Fran Drescher's Los Angeles apartment and raped her and a friend at gunpoint. It took her many years to overcome this ordeal, and it took her even longer to admit this to the press. She was paraphrased as saying in an interview with Larry King that although it was a very negative experience, she found ways to turn her experience into something positive. In her book Cancer Schmancer, she is quoted to have said, "My whole life has been about changing negatives into positives." She saw her rapist sent to prison.
In 1982, actress Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, The Accused) and her roommate were assaulted and raped in their home by the escaped rapist Leroy Johnson after McGillis came home from work. This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her film role as the lawyer who supports Jodie Foster's character in The Accused. McGillis was originally approached for the role of the rape victim in that film. She turned it down, feeling it would be too close to her real life ordeal. The part eventually went to Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar for her performance.
On March 15, 1982, Saldana was the stalking victim of Arthur Richard Jackson, a 46 year old drifter from Aberdeen, Scotland. Jackson stabbed her viciously in the torso 10 times, with a 5 1/2 inch knife, near the front of her home in broad daylight, almost killing her. The attack so fierce, that he bent the blade in his rage.
Saldana would have died had it not been for a bottled water deliveryman, Jeff Fenn, who came down from the second floor of an apartment building and subdued her attacker while numerous people stood around and did nothing. Inspired by the event and encouraged by many, Jeffrey Fenn, shortly after, entered Los Angeles County Sheriff Dept. training, graduated from the academy, and became a deputy sheriff.
Saldana eventually recovered after 4 hours of surgery, and a 4-month hospital stay, and eventually founded the Victims for Victims organization. The 1990 anti-stalking law and the 1994 Drivers Privacy Protection Act came into being partly as a result of the attack. The horrific experience inspired Saldana to star in the TV-film "Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story" (1984), recreating that traumatic day.
Jackson attained Saldana's address by hiring a private investigator to obtain the unlisted phone number of Saldana's mother. Jackson then called Saldana's mother and posed as Martin Scorsese's assistant, saying he needed Saldana's residential address in order to contact her for replacing an actress in a movie role in Europe. Jackson's approach to Saldana would later inspire stalker Robert John Bardo to also hire a private investigator to contact Rebecca Schaeffer.
Jackson served a 14-year prison term for the assault, and was then extradited to England to be tried for a 1966 robbery/murder. The mentally ill Jackson, who once perceived himself as "the benevolent angel of death", died at 68, of heart failure in a British mental hospital in 2004.
Actress Rebecca Schaeffer (My Sister Sam) was murdered by then 19-year-old Robert John Bardo on 18 July, 1989. Bardo was a deranged individual, affected with grandiose type delusional disorder, who fixated on Schaeffer after his previous fixation, child peace activist Samantha Smith, was killed in an airplane crash.
Bardo had written several letters to Schaeffer (one of which was answered) and twice attempted to gain entry to the My Sister Sam set, but was turned away (as was anyone who did not have an appointment) by CBS Television City security. Bardo, who had read in a magazine how Theresa Saldana's stalker Arthur Jackson had obtained Saldana's address through a private investigator, used that approach to get to Schaeffer. He paid $250 to a Tucson detective agency to obtain her home address from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After viewing her film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, in which Schaeffer appeared in bed with a male actor, Bardo became intent upon murdering her for her perceived "loss of innocence," traveled to Los Angeles and buzzed her apartment, requesting her autograph when she came down to answer the door.
Shaeffer, who was preparing for her audition for Godfather III and was expecting him to be the man delivering her script, hurriedly gave him an autograph, then retreated back to her apartment. Her abruptness apparently reinforced Bardo's belief that she was a cold individual. After gathering his nerves, Bardo returned about 20 minutes later and buzzed a second time. Schaeffer once more came down, again believing it was the delivery man. At his trial, Bardo stated, "She had this kid voice... sounded like a little brat or something... said I was wasting her time!... Wasting her time!" Bardo pulled out the gun his brother had purchased for him, from a brown paper bag he was carrying, and shot her once at point-blank range in the chest, in the doorway of her apartment building. Bardo recounted that Shaeffer screamed in pain, stammered out, "Why?" then screamed again before she dropped to the pavement.
The gunshot and screams caused a neighbor to phone paramedics who quickly arrived, then brought her to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Schaeffer was pronounced dead 30 minutes after her arrival. The following day, Bardo was arrested in Tucson, Arizona, after motorists reported a man darting through traffic on Interstate 10. He confessed immediately to the murder.
According to Sandra Rose: Atlanta police on Friday issued a warrant for the arrest of a 24-year-old Georgia man in connection with the savage beating of a popular celebrity fitness trainer last weekend. Darius Miller, 41, was attacked by a group of men after he asked them to stop videotaping the mayor’s daughters outside D’Jangos lounge.
The warrant charges Apollo Holmes in the attack, according to police spokeswoman Judy Pal. Holmes’ whereabouts were unknown on Sunday but police are expected to name more suspects.
The beating left Miller in a coma and he is listed in critical condition at Crawford Long hospital. The hospital has seen a steady stream of high profile clients of Miller’s including Keisha Knight Pulliam, Ma$e, Usher, Takeo Spikes, who has visited everyday, and Takeo’s girlfriend T-Boz, formerly of TLC.
Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who is on a ski trip with her 8-year-old grandson, issued a couple of tersely worded statements that were highly critical of the media’s coverage of the case. In both statements she referred to a “media frenzy” which prompted one Fox 5 news reporter to ask another, “Do you know anything about a media frenzy?”
In issuing those written statements, the mayor hopes to deflect attention away from her daughter, Kai Franklin Graham’s legal troubles. Earlier this month, Franklin-Graham copped a plea deal to a federal charge of accepting drug money from her ex-husband, convicted cocaine trafficker Tremayne Graham.
In return for her cooperation in the ongoing investigation of her ex-husband’s associates, Franklin-Graham will be sentenced to three years of probation - three months of which will be home confinement.
Police said that Apollo Holmes, 24, above, wanted in connection with last week’s assault on fitness trainer Darius Miller, turned himself in Monday morning.
Atlanta police spokesman James Polite said Holmes turned himself in at the Fulton County jail about 8 a.m. Monday. A warrant charges Holmes with aggravated assault in the attack on Miller. Polite said more arrests are possible.
Miller, 41, was beaten after trying to stop a group of men from videotaping a group that included Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s daughters, Kai Franklin Graham and Kali Jamilla Franklin outside of the popular Atlanta nightclub Verve around 2:50 a.m. Wednesday, according to a police report.
Polite said Miller remained in critical condition in a coma Monday at Emory Crawford Long Hospital.
Last week, we all heard about celebrity fitness trainer Darius Miller, pictured above, being beat into a coma while he was trying to protect the daughters of Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, from being videotaped outside of a nightclub.
According to Sandra Rose, before the physical altercation started, one of the Mayor's daughter, allegedly, thirtysomething year old Kai Franklin screamed "BMF," (Black Mafia Family) twice before the beating ensued.
Sandra Rose asks the following question on her site: Is she that gangsta? And didn’t she agree to testify against BMF in ongoing federal investigations or did she just agree to whatever plea deal the feds offered her to avoid a lengthy prison term? We will have this story in an upcoming edition of Panache Report.
Over the years, George Benson has lost three of his seven children to untimely deaths, including son Keith to a gunshot wound in 1991, and namesake George Jr., who died in 1997 of kidney failure.