‘Injustice porn’ like Making a Murder and Serial celebrates men who kill and abuse women

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Yet feminist critics of this new entertainment genre are missing in action

We are in the middle of what, for lack of a better description, I will call a radical feminist moment. Not a day goes by without some poor soul being shamed on the internet for a multitude of sins ranging from mansplaining and manspreading to not fully supporting affirmative consent policies or depriving women of jobs in the gaming industry.

Yet right in the middle of this media-fuelled, girl-power moment, something inexplicable has happened. A new favourite entertainment genre — let’s call it “injustice porn” — has emerged that celebrates the men who kill and abuse women.

Funnily enough, the usual feminist suspects have next to nothing to say about injustice porn’s woman problem. And even weirder, the genre’s most recent hits — the 2014 podcast Serial and the 2015 Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer — are produced and directed by women who systematically minimize, dismiss and ignore crimes against women.

The result of our current over-fixation on things like everyday sexism and microaggressions has been not just to turn the trivial into the supposedly important but the inverse as well — it’s made the important trivial.

Thus when Steven Avery douses a cat and gasoline and throws it on a fire to watch it suffer, the directors of Making a Murderer suggest their protagonist was just goofing around and the cat mistakenly fell in the fire. Adding insult to injury, online apologists explain that this is how rural folk treat animals.

10 Questions about Making a Murderer

Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist, pointed out on the Reasonable Doubt podcast that Steven Avery looks like he suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, but that doesn’t fit the lovable-Avery-clan narrative (Photo: courtesy of Netflix)

Likewise, when Adnan Syed, the hero of Serial, writes “I’m going to kill” on a break-up note written to him by his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, journalist Sarah Koenig dismisses it as a “a detail you’d find in a cheesy detective novel” and a “stray thing” that could be meaningless. Never mind that 18-year-old Lee actually ended up murdered, her body dumped and half buried in a Baltimore park. Koenig can’t even be bothered to ask Syed about the note.

The Serial journalist also managed to overlook the fact that Hae asked a teacher to help her hide from Adnan and that, in her diary, she described her ex-boyfriend’s possessiveness as a problem, a direct contradiction of what was said on the podcast.  Yet despite Koenig’s consistent minimization of incidents that are classic warning signs of intimate partner violence, there has, in almost a year and a half, not been one serious feminist critique of in the mainstream US media. (Yes, early on a couple of Brits expressed shock, but they were pretty much ignored and then forgotten.) Instead, Serial won the prized Peabody Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 1.31.35 PM

Hae Min Lee wrote a break-up note to Adnan Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and “hate me if you will”

 

Adnan Syed I'm going to kill note

Adnan Syed wrote “I’m going to kill” on the back of the note, which his supporters variously dismiss as a “stray thing” and so much teenage drama

Now, injustice porn history is repeating itself with Making a Murderer. The directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos leave out key evidence about Avery’s possible guilt and history of violence against women. They never explain why he asked specifically for Teresa Halbach, the 25 year old woman he was convicted of murdering, to come to the Avery salvage yard and photograph his sister’s car. They fail to mention how he had answered the door in a towel on one of her previous work visits. Nor do they acknowledge that Avery used *67, which blocks the callers’ name, to phone her twice on the day she disappeared.

The filmmakers also portray Avery’s parents as kindly homespun hillbillies, showing his father tending to his garden and his mother spending years fighting to get her son out of jail. They skip over the fact that Avery looks like he might have fetal alcohol syndrome and don’t bother to mention that all three of Avery brothers have criminal records including multiple charges for assaulting women.

Older brother Charles was charged and acquitted of sexual assault in 1988. And then in 1999, his ex-wife accused him of sexual assault and wrapping a phone cord around her neck. Along the way, he pled guilty to disorderly conduct. Younger brother Earl pleaded no contest to sexual assault and two different sets of battery charges. He was also charged with sexually assaulting his two daughters.

As a result of these omissions — apparently no big deal in injustice porn land — the abusive and dysfunctional Avery family has developed quite the internet fan following. Stop by Reddit’s Making a Murderer forum and you can participate in threads entitled: Anyone else wanna give Steve Avery’s mom a big hug?, “I know you like lettuce.” – The incredibly endearing Allan Avery” and What can we do to help the Avery family?

In contrast, family and friends of the victim have been subject to internet abuse based on their treatment in Making a Murderer. “Mike Halbach seems awfully creepy,” tweets Kinsey Schofielda tv personality and journalist  to her 286,000 Twitter followers.

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“My “#MikeHalbach is the worst” tweet is still getting likes. I’m so happy people agree. Mike…you are the worst. #MakingAMurderer,” boasts Seth Lieber, who describes himself as an Actors’ Equity member.

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Empathy is not a requirement for injustice porn fans

While the filmmakers aren’t responsible for every idiot on the internet, this reaction was completely predictable. Ricciardi and Demos treated Mike Halbach, Teresa’s brother and the family spokesman, unconscionably. Every time he appears, he’s made to say something that’s just been carefully debunked for the audience. From his very first quote, about how the process of grieving his sister might take days (yes, days!), the directors never miss an opportunity to make him look bad. Halbach doesn’t get so much as one sympathetic quote. The only thing the filmmakers don’t do is play spooky music whenever he appears.

Such are the requirements of injustice porn. When the convicted man is your protagonist, the audience requires and will find someone to witch hunt. After Serial ended, Syed’s advocate-in-chief, Rabia Chaudry, joined up with two other lawyers to start the Undisclosed podcast, which, since its inception, has produced one conspiracy theory after another, smearing a long list of people along the way.

Their friend and fellow Serial-obsessed podcaster Bob Ruff devoted show after 2015 show to innuendo and unfounded accusations that Don, the guy Hae dated after she dumped Adnan, was a far more likely killer even though he had something very important that Adnan didn’t — an alibi.

Nor is Injustice porn kind to victims although it often tries to disguise this with hashtags like #JusticeforHae #FreeAdnan, while ignoring the fact that freeing remorseless Adnan would be about the biggest injustice possible for Hae.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 9.32.10 AM

Injustice porn fans turn the female victims into props designed to support the most ludicrous and offensive theories. For the purpose of finding her fantasy, anyone-but-Adnan killer, Rabia Chaudry suggested Hae, who took only the occasional puff of pot, was a weed smoker with a big enough habit that she would be visiting shady drug dealers after school, which was how she got killed. Hashtag victim blaming.

In a related vein, Making a Murderer uses footage of Teresa Halbach, talking about what would happen if she were to die, without putting it in context, namely that it was a university video project. As a result, Teresa’s mental health has been questioned and it’s been suggested she might have killed herself although how that would cause her cremains to end up in the Avery salvage yard is never explained. Hashtag more victim blaming.

Yet another fact that Making a Murderer withholds from its audience is that the people Steven Avery’s lawyers would have thrown under the bus — had the judge allowed the defence to name alternate suspects — were his two brothers, his nephew and brother-in-law. That was an inconvenient truth that didn’t fit the adorable Averys narrative and would have taken some explaining. Why bother when it was so much easier just to make Teresa’s brother and ex-boyfriend look bad and serve them up for the online lynch mob?

Essentially, the only reason the filmmakers were able to so successfully mythologize the Averys is because, in 1985, Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted of rape, a crime for which he was exonerated by DNA testing after spending 18 years in jail. The wrongful conviction was a result of tunnel vision on the part of the police, a mishandled identification process for the accused assailant, and the victim’s compelling yet mistaken testimony that it was Avery who had raped and viciously assaulted her. After he was finally released from jail, Avery sued the county for $36 million, but just as it looked like he was about to receive a fat settlement, he was arrested again for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Like all wrongful convictions, it’s a shocking tale — yet something of a challenge for Third Wave feminists preaching that the victim must always be believed.

None of this is to deny that Ricciardi and Demos make a convincing argument that some of the evidence used against Avery in the murder charge might have been planted. And it’s  also hard to disagree with their conclusion that Avery’s 16-year-old cousin was wrongfully charged and convicted, failed by everyone, including his lawyers, at every step of the way. As for Steven Avery himself, I have no idea whether he did it or not. But like his lawyers, I believe that whoever did kill Teresa Halbach was associated with the salvage yard.

In this respect Making a Murderer is very different from Serial, where there was — as the transcripts for Adnan’s trial and the police files of investigation clearly demonstrate — no miscarriage of justice. The prosecutor Kevin Urick was half right when he described the killing of Hae Min Lee as  “pretty much a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder.”

Where he was wrong however was in his failure to understand that there is indeed a mystery at the heart of Serial. It’s just that it has nothing to do with Adnan Syed, whose unoriginal motive and story are as old as time. What made Serial a mystery was the presence of Jay, a Shakespearean character, who first goes along with Syed, becoming an accessory after the fact to murder, but later confesses his crime to police. His testimony sends Syed to jail for life plus 30, and left every Serial listener puzzling and arguing over why he did what he did.

The post conviction relief hearing recently granted to Syed and coming up in February is the exploitation of a legal loophole and most likely the result of the publicity the podcast generated. The defence is contending that Syed’s counsel was ineffective because she failed to contact Asia McLain, who was presented in the first episode of Serial, entitled The Alibi, as the witness who could have exonerated Adnan had his lawyer done her job. Never mind that Asia’s a total flake who appears to have her alibi days mixed up, she was part of the false groundwork Sarah Koenig laid to convince the audience that something was not quite right about the Syed case and that if they wanted to find out the truth, they would need to accompany her on her emotionally manipulative podcast journey.

The promise was not kept, however. Koenig copped out and never provided the truth. Her “I nurse doubt” cri de coeur was V.2014 of “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit.” Just like race beat out gender two decades ago at the OJ trial, allowing a wife killer to be transformed into a symbol of justice for African Americans, so, today, can Adnan can be hailed as a representative of the wrongfully convicted and the Averys celebrated as exemplary Americans while the Halbachs are trashed.

This is because, in the end, Injustice porn isn’t about either truth or justice. It’s porn, which means it can only supply a cheap frisson. If it leaves you with an uneasy feeling about the women victims, it’s because it should.

What a rape trial looks like: Inside the court room for eight days of a sexual assault prosecution

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OnTrialForRapeByAnnBrocklehurst

My series about a criminal rape trial is now an Amazon ebook.

This true story tells the tale of an alleged victim, seventeen years old at the time, and her alleged assailant, a star athlete on his way to winning a full sports scholarship to a US university.


“I said, ‘Stop, you’re being ridiculous.’ I kept repeating stop. I asked him, ‘Please take me home.’ He said, ‘You want it,’ and put the passenger seat back.”


She had substantial credibility problems on the witness stand. His testimony seemed far more convincing—most of the time. But this was more than just a “she said, he said”—or, as it turned out, “she lied, he lied”—case. There was an element of physical evidence against him: bruises on her arms and legs. The judge had to decide if the totality of the prosecutors’ case against the defendant was enough to send him to jail, brand him a sexual offender, and destroy his promising future.

Despite its sensational nature, this was a case that never made headlines. What I observed during my reporting was the farthest thing from a Jian Ghomeshi courthouse scene, with mobs of press and police. I was the sole reporter at the superior court trial and, on most days, the only observer not directly related to the case. The mother and grandmother of the accused, whom I will call Matthew in the reports that follow, attended throughout the trial. The complainant, who will be known as Ava, was supported by a representative from victim services and the detective in charge of her case.


“You left your panties behind,” says the defence lawyer, who reminds me of Matlock.  “No I did not,” replies the weeping complainant


Ava’s family and Matthew’s father were not permitted in the courtroom as they were all considered to be potential witnesses. They spent much of their time in the courthouse hallways, pacing or sitting nervously. Like everyone else, they knew that the events unfolding on the other side of the courtroom door would deeply affect the two young people’s lives.

The first two chapters of On Trial For Rape can be read for free here. To read the entire story, you can buy the ebook on Amazon:

Part 1: She Said
Part 2: Are You Sure?
Part 3: Can the Complainant Continue?
Part 4: The Facebook Test
Part 5: He Said
Part 6: “I’m Not a Rapist”
Part 7: Closing Arguments
Part 8: The Verdict


The complainant is reporting someone to the judge for making faces in court. “It was the girl with black hair,” she tells Justice Trotter, referring to the mother of the accused


Buy On Trial For Rape on Amazon

I’ll be watching on Amazon for your feedback and reviews.

Relax, dog lovers, Popper cheats death in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

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If you are, like me, a dog, book and movie lover, you will feel a sense of dread when reading Donna Tartt’s new book, The Goldfinch. This is because it features a small white fluffster of a Maltese dog — called variously Popper, Popchik and Popchyk — who appears doomed from the moment he makes his entry into the novel, greeting with desperate shrieks the evil owner who has left him home all alone for almost two weeks.

Luckily for Popper, things change for the better thanks to Theo, the new teenage addition to his household,  and Theo’s bad-guy buddy, Boris. These two drug and booze-addled dudes let the little dog hang out with them, ending his life of isolation. The downside  is that their activities don’t exactly provide a safe and secure environment for the family pet, provoking many anxieties that he will go missing forever in a deserted Las Vegas subdivision.

Worse yet, when Theo and Boris encounter a mobster, it seems predestined that Popper will get what happens to so many movie dogs and end up lifeless on the front door stoop or kitchen counter with a threatening note attached to his collar.

Any half-serious movie goer knows just how often the loyal family dog meets a gruesome death, enough that there exists an entire website — www.DoesTheDogDie.com — devoted to answering this “most important movie question” and mentally preparing dog-loving movie goers for what’s to come.

That there is no literary equivalent to  www.DoesTheDogDie.com can be seen as a good thing  in as much as it  shows that tear-jerking pet death  has never been as big an issue for books as it is for movies. On the other hand, it also means there’s no quick reference guide to turn to if a reader does start to worry about a fictional dog’s future.

Therefore in the interests of calming the nerves of dog and literary fiction lovers reading The Goldfinch, I am hereby informing you that Popper survives this almost 800-page novel unharmed despite his many brushes with danger and long absences from the narrative.

And no, I did not forget the spoiler warning. The only thing this knowledge will spoil is a sadistic ride on the roller coaster of fear for an innocent little Maltese dog. Knowing Popper’s fate does not in any way affect the outcome of the rest of The Goldfinch.

Rest reassured dear Reader, Popper lives to a ripe old age.

Fed leak rumours shine spotlight on bigger problems with ‘media’ lock-ups

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Government never intended to become part of the high-speed trading infrastructure, but it can’t extricate itself without alienating Wall Street

Lock-ups, like the one the Fed is now investigating for a leak, make no sense in the age of the internet. The Fed and other agencies that announce potentially market-moving data could far more easily release it on the web, as Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt argues they should in this interview. But this is unlikely to happen anytime soon due to the simple fact that lock-ups have, over the past few years, become part of the infrastructure for so-called high frequency trading or HFT as its known.

Wall Street, a major donor to both U.S. political parties, would go ballistic if it no longer had access to the lock-ups through special fibre optic lines and, as of late, microwave networks. Instead of the data travelling straight to the Street via so-called machine readable feeds that allow profitable trades to take place in milliseconds, hedge funds and traders would have to figure out a way to get the data from the internet so they could then trade on it. It might take seconds like it did in the past and this is something, the masters of the universe wouldn’t be prepared to live with.

As a result of this most recent Fed leak investigation, several other leak and lock-up stories this year, and various ongoing SEC and FBI investigations, we’re likely to see two things happen in the very near (but far longer than milliseconds away) future. One, expect to hear more and more that lock-ups — originally conceived  to ensure the public received clear information in a timely fashion — have become obsolete in this era of global communications. And two, prepare for Wall Street to push back and tell us there will be market chaos if lock-ups are done away with. Financiers will argue that such a change would make the system unfair and susceptible to the horrible vagaries of regular old internet connections.

Access to lock-ups is so important to the HFT crowd that over the past decade, several trading companies have set up their own “news agencies” (yes, those are scare quotes) to gain the coveted entry key. Chicago’s JED Capital funded Need to Know News and then sold it to the Deutsche Börse. The Montreal-based proprietary trader Vigilant Global (formerly Vigilant Futures) founded the now-defunct Canadian Economic Press (CEP News) and, as a result, received direct feeds from lock-ups in Ottawa, Washington, London and Frankfurt. A Slovakian firm, World Business Press Online, cropped up in Bratislava, and started attending lock-ups around the world. Then came Econolive, also know as Empire News, which appears to be an Israeli firm, but this can’t be confirmed because no one there will return phone calls and their reporters don’t have the foggiest idea who owns the company. And last but not least there’s Buffalo-based RTTNews which — unlike many of the aforementioned new players — has been around since early internet days. In recent years, it’s had a makeover, however, and it too is now an active lock-up attendee.

All this activity eventually attracted the interest of the FBI, but failed to result in any arrests or prosecutions. Apart from the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to kick Need to Know News and RTTNews out of its lock-ups in the spring of 2012, everyone’s still attending Washington’s other lock-ups and many go to similar lock-ups in the UK, Germany and Canada.

According to anonymous but proven-to-be reliable sources, it was never clear that there was indeed any illegal leaking by the new “news agencies.” Despite the suspicion and investigations, no evidence of malfeasance was ever found. Multiple insiders, who did not want to give their names, said the new “news agencies” profited simply because they were both more nimble and more sophisticated than bigger, better established news operations, which made them significantly faster in the age of HFT.

“While I can’t say if any of these (new) news companies were cheating, I can say they were light years ahead technology wise over DJ, Reuters, Bloomberg, AP, etc,” said one source in an email.  “They built highly optimized networks to transfer this data through ultra low latency switches and lines that the other guys never thought of.  They also were optimized to this single rifle shot of data through a network where the big legacy guys were using systems/networks optimized for throughput and continuously publishing hundreds or thousands of stories simultaneously and continuously.”

Since the invasion of the small news agencies beginning in 2005,  the big players have mostly caught up and just about everyone now offers machine readable feeds (you program your computer with algorithms that allow trades to be carried out in the blink of an eye) and low latency (ultra high-speed) services.

Many of the traders associated with new “news agencies” are said to have their own microwave networks, which are supposedly faster than even the newest fibre optic lines. In a study released after reports of the September 18 Fed leak, the large trading firm Virtu Financial confirmed that certain companies receive their data via microwave radio signals, a topic that traders usually don’t mention in public.

In August of 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported:

These microwave networks require a dish every 30 miles or so and Federal Communications Commission approval. High-speed traders, however, try to cloak their routes in secrecy. FCC filings do not list the traders themselves but limited liability companies with such nondescript names as Webline Holdings.

For this reason, it was unusual to see Montreal’s Vigilant Global publicly named when it requested antennae permits in both the U.S. and Great Britain. According to a source, Vigilant, Virtu and Jump Trading are confirmed to have their own microwave networks. Other firms who may own them are Allston Trading, Tower Trading Group, which owns the mysterious Latour Trading, and Final, an Israeli company that is a top volume player on the CME.

While some traders have said that they think the ongoing investment in proprietary millisecond-shaving networks is a costly war of diminishing returns, others are not yet ready to lay down arms. Jump is supposed to have “bought a de-commisioned NATO telco tower in Belgium to secure the fastest London-to-Frankfurt route,” said the source.

The source added that any one of these trading companies might own and/or be (exclusive) clients of the smaller news agencies accessing lock-ups. This conflict-of-interest situation is a huge annoyance to the legacy news agencies, who don’t make multi-million dollar trades on the side and must earn their profits solely by providing news. They’ve tried on many occasions to have the new players booted out of the lock-ups and their press passes revoked, but these efforts have been foiled partly due to governmental bureaucratic inertia and partly due to haphazard media accreditation systems devised by press gallery members themselves.

The whole situation is further complicated by the fact that it’s not just Wall Street that would be in trouble if lock-ups were abolished; Bloomberg,Thomson Reuters and Dow Jones would be cut right out of their profitable middleman role, which would undermine their entire business model. Last year, when Statistics Canada attempted to put information on the web before it was released from lock-ups, it was immediately forced to back down. Reuters reported that it and other news organizations had made “strenuous representations” to StatsCan and the minister in charge to block the change.  StatsCan was supposed to come up with an alternative proposal shortly, but there’s been radio silence ever since.

As much as the internet makes it possible to do away with lock-ups, powerful vested interests won’t let go of the keys to the money-making chambers without a fight.

Declining Dynasty: The Family of Accused Killer Dellen Millard

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Wayne Millard with young Dellen Millard

Wayne Millard with young Dellen Millard

I have a story on the Millard family and Millardair’s new Waterloo business venture in today’s National Post. It doesn’t seem to be online yet, but I’m sure it will go up eventually. Here’s the link.

The story focuses on Wayne Millard and his mysterious death.

If you have any information on any of the different angles relating to this story and Tim Bosma’s horrific murder, I would like very much to hear from you. You can reach me at ann.brocklehurst@gmail.com or @AnnB03 on Twitter.

In the meantime, here are the first two paragraphs from my article:

In his role as a business development consultant to Millardair’s new Waterloo airport venture, Al Sharif was happy to have only limited contact with Dellen Millard, the boss’s son and the guy in charge of hangar construction. As far as Mr. Sharif and other executives at the company were concerned, Dellen and his red mohawk spelled trouble.

“I thought he was just a spoilt little brat who had his way all his life and didn’t appreciate what his father was doing for him,” said Mr. Sharif. “He was an impediment to the hangar operation” who didn’t meet his deadlines, almost never arrived at work before noon, and refused to clear his collection of cars, jeeps, hot rods, jet skis and personal airplanes from the business premises.

CSIS hacking story appears in National Post

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The Post picked up my story on the CSIS hacking.

I’m still perplexed by the comment from Tahera Mufti, a media liaison officer at CSIS, who said the websites are fine, when they clearly aren’t. I can only think of two explanations:

  1. The charitable explanation: CSIS fixed the sites after I first posted about the problem here and the search engines just haven’t caught up.
  2. The non-charitable explanation: CSIS really does not understand the nature of the problem and didn’t see they had been hacked.

I also learned on the weekend that developer Sean Walberg had noticed the Viagra spam as far back as January. He took a screenshot of the hacking that shows it differently from my examples.

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Sean Walberg’s screenshot of the CSIS hacking

On Friday, you could still see this kind of result by viewing the Google cached versions of the infected www.csiscareers.ca pages but now those pages show a 404 message, which indicates to me that CSIS is actively clearing this up. As of this afternoon, Yahoo cached pages still show the infection, which makes sense since Yahoo (which is powered by Bing) doesn’t crawl as often and is slower to take account of changes.

Wattpad, What Pad, WTF Pad???!!!

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Wattpad is a bit of a tech darling as of late. Not only does it have the venture capital crowd on its side, it’s also got Margaret Atwood. In fact, credit where credit’s due, Atwood’s the one who coined the name “what pad,” which inspired WTF pad, whch sounds a lot like making reading and writing social, which is what Wattpad’s supposedly about. Or one of the things Wattpad might be about.

Except nothing about Wattpad, beyond the fact that it seems to have some very solid traffic and useage stats, makes much sense. If you don’t believe me, just go to their site and see if you can figure it out. I can’t and I’ve been dropping in once a year for a while now.

Although he makes a valiant attempt, this interviewer (I believe it’s Michael Healy)  seems equally perplexed by Wattpad. It’s almost as if he should have subtitles that read, “I don’t get it.”

In an attempt to get its story across, Wattpad often describes itself as wanting to do for writing what YouTube does for video. But that analogy doesn’t work for me for a number of reasons that I’ll only go into if someone asks.

Publicly at least, the Wattpad business model seems to be if we keep building it and they keep coming, we’ll find a way to monetize it. Think Twitter and Facebook. Fair enough, but we’re all still thinking about Twitter and Facebook, wondering if the former’s even profitable and if the latter’s ever going to live up to the hype.

Wattpad CEO Allen Lau is on the record for being a fan of  free and freemium (see video for just one example) and for talking — not all that clearly — about transactional relationships (the old way) versus gifting (the new way). Although at one point in his video interview he seems to advocate the write-for-free, sell-the-t-shirt-and-souvenir-book model, during the question period, he says he doesn’t want to get into the shrinking paper book market. It’s confusing if not contradictory.

For a company that’s all about story sharing, Wattpad either doesn’t have a very good story to tell, or they do but they’re not about to share it, which is kind of strange given that they’re hiring a PR manager when they’re not ready to divulge the plot.

In the past, I’ve called BS on some bizarre internet media companies — including Geosign which may have suckered U.S. venture capitalists out of a large chunk of the $160 million they invested — and I’ve turned out to be right. But I have a tendency to be overly sceptical and not see what I don’t know — like how Google was going to make a profit. Cough, cough.

In the case of Wattpad, I do think there’s a potentially viable business and this quote from the video (approximately 26 minutes in) is a clue, or one clue at least , to what the business model that Lau declines to talk about, might be.

A lot of people believe that on the internet we are going to get rid of all the middle men. I don’t think so. If you look at YouTube they are still a middleman, but the role of the middleman is quite different from the traditional world. (With the old model) the middleman is basically the gatekeeper, they would control the flow from the content creation side to the end user side. But for digital or for internet companies that role is changing. We are no longer the gatekeeper. We are the facilitator.We want to remove and reduce the friction between content creation and content consumption.

Lau also puts a lot of emphasis on being first and how one mega-player often reigns supreme on the internet in industries where competition used to be more vibrant. He cites Amazon and book-selling as an example.

My theory is that Lau wants to turn Wattpad into some kind of publishing marketplace where writers can use the social network as a focus group, get cover art, hire an agent, get publicity, find translators and much more.  Wattpad would collect commissions and fees from freemium users all along the publishing chain including present partners like Smashwords and Lulu.

Instead of helping writers monetize, which Lau says he doesn’t want to do, writers would help Wattpad monetize by paying for the freemium services they need. While only a handful are ever likely to break even or break out, they’re the ones who’ll provide the bulk of the revenues.

Wattpad has recently been asking published writers to put previously published works on line for free. Those who give it a whirl, like Jon Evans, have access to information about how readers read that they never had before.

Wattpad provides data

Lau  emphasizes the importance of data multiple times throughout the video. He also says on his blog that “the current ebook ecosystem is quite clearly just another bridge product” like Microsft’s Encarta encyclopedia on DVD. “Except for the output, the way ebook is written, edited, published and sold are more or less the same as the old traditional publishing system,” he writes.

That indicates to me that he’s aiming to make Wattpad the new ecosystem. I would be very surprised, however, if Amazon doesn’t understand all this just as well. Not only does Amazon likely have stats on how readers read every single ebook it sells, it’s also got its own publishing house and employs people who understand both traditional and “bridge” publishing models. It’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t understand that “the book” is evolving and that the future will be different.

As for the community aspect, Kindle Direct Publishing could build that out pretty fast and the big social reading sites have strong communities that are older and wiser than Wattpad’s mostly teen audience. They could move into the “new ecosystem” pretty fast if they wanted to.

End of Chapter One. I can now see if anyone’s interested and, if they are,  move on to Chapter Two in the Wattpad saga.

How much is Dellen Millard worth?

Just how much Dellen Millard is actually worth has always been one of the mysteries surrounding the convicted murderer.

Receivership documents filed with the courts in November 2015 indicate there’s a severe cash flow problem.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 9.13.39 PM

Millard’s major asset, a shareholder loan of $4.2 million made to Millard Properties, may not be good and even if it is, he may never be able to collect it for all sorts of legal reasons.

While these documents make interesting reading, two key figures are still missing: the value of Wayne Millard’s estate and how much the hangar sold for. That makes it impossible to estimate how much money remains in the Millard family coffers and how much, if any, may end up coming Dellen’s way.

Also of interest are the claims made by the Bosma family against Millard and the fact that Millard’s mother Madeleine Burns had to go to court to free up $75,000 to pay various legal fees for both herself and her son.

 

Dellen Millard talks guns with Matthew Ward-Jackson

Police found key evidence in the Tim Bosma murder case on the computers seized from Dellen Millard’s Maple Gate home. Among other things, they discovered a series of conversations between Millard and Matthew Ward-Jackson, an alleged drug and gun dealer who went by the name of “Iish,” or “Iisho.” Millard had met Ward-Jackson through Mark Smich, who had gone to Catholic elementary school with him in Mississauga in the 1990s. Ward-Jackson loved low-rider cars, Hispanic gangs, and tattoos, which he had all over his body, including on his face. Like Smich, he was an aspiring rapper, most recently using the identity Krucifix14. Many of his friends and hangers-on had no idea what his real name even was.

Matthew Ward-Jackson has been accused of illegal possession of an AK-47

Along with selling guns to Dellen Millard, Matthew Ward-Jackson has been accused of illegal possession of an AK-47

On February 5, 2012, when Ward-Jackson texted Millard asking for Smich’s new phone number, his real name showed up on Millard’s screen. A few days later, when Millard contacted him about buying a gun, he texted, “Jackson? that your last name?”
“Yea,” Ward-Jackson acknowledged, before providing the details of the gun: “Walther pk 9mill tomorow 2200? Proper one.”

Millard asked him if he could come down on the $2,200 price and if it included ammunition.

“Na walther is a really proper wanted one. And yes I can give y grains. I tlked the guy down from 25 cuz I thought ya wouldn’t wanna spend that. I can get him to bring me it now would u like it foreal?”

“Let’s do it,” said Millard. “pick it up tonight?”

“Can u be at my house soon? Lakeshore one?”

“30-40 mins. send me the address, encase I mix up which building.”

Ward-Jackson pushed for the habitually late Millard to be punctual. “5:30 at 2537 lakeshore. 22 cash plz I’m doing ya a big favor trust. I’m not making a penny. My guys comn from niagara so plz be on time. I don’t wanna look stoopid.”

“I’ll be there,” Millard promised.

At 5:50, Ward-Jackson asked Millard if he was close by, to which Millard answered he was. At 6:22, Ward-Jackson texted that the Niagara guy was late but would be at his house in ten minutes.

“K,” answered Millard. “I have till 7.”

“Yea ill be there in a second and ima hop in ya car and im off to niagara ima pay dude myself. So just have it counted I gotta run. And its legit u won’t have problems if u need lessons tomorow I’m free and we can go over every piece ok?”

“it’s counted,” said Millard. “yea going over it tomorrow sometime after 2pm is good.”

Ward-Jackson brought the gun down to Millard’s car at 6:45. A few minutes later, after they had parted company, it dawned on Millard that he had forgotten an important question about the gun and whether it could be traced to any past crimes. “btw is it clean or dirty,” he texted Ward-Jackson.

“Clean,” came the reply.

Read about more meetings between Matthew Ward-Jackson and Dellen Millard in my book, Dark Ambition, due out in November 2016.

Matthew Ward-Jackson is pleading not guilty to the sets of charges still outstanding against him. These include the Millard and  AK-47 matters.

Christina Noudga testimony at Tim Bosma murder trial

Christina Noudga (2015)

Dellen Millard’s former girlfriend Christina Noudga is charged as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Tim Bosma. The charge is related to her activities on Thursday May 9 and Friday May 10, 2013. She is pleading not guilty. The trial is set for November 2016

Christina Noudga spent a week in the witness box at Dellen Millard‘s and Mark Smich’s trial for the murder of Tim Bosma. There were many shocking moments including when she described what happened on Friday, May 10, 2013, the day Millard was arrested.

She and her boyfriend had spent the previous night together, driving the trailer containing Tim Bosma’s truck to Millard’s mother’s driveway in Kleinburg north of Toronto. After that they’d travelled to the Millardair hangar in Waterloo and then to Millard’s farm in Ayr, where they had moved the incinerator, used to burn Tim Bosma’s body, from the barn into a treed laneway. On their way back home, Millard dropped off a toolbox containing the murder weapon at the house of a friend of his.

Noudga maintained throughout her testimony that she was just along for the ride, she had no idea a murder had taken place. Her boyfriend often did strange things. They were night owls. She said that after the toolbox drop-off, they had gone back to Millard’s place and had sex. He left for work after just a few hours sleep.

At noon on Friday she texted him, “Hope your days [sic] going well,” followed by a photo of herself with Millard’s dog Pedo in bed. She received no reply. At 3:50 p.m., she messaged again: “Text me when you can, I want to see you tonight.” At 8:04, she wrote, “Hellooooo?” And at 9:10, she texted, “Call me.”

By this time, Millard had been arrested. There was no call. Noudga didn’t know it, but he was busy being questioned by the Hamilton Police.

Worried about Millard’s lack of response, Noudga called his roommate Andrew Michalski, who told her Millard wasn’t at home but that Pedo was. She then phoned Millard’s best buddy and co-accused, Mark Smich.

“I said, ‘Hi, Mark, is Dell with you?’ He said, ‘No, but don’t worry about it, Christina. Shit went down. Just don’t worry about it.’” She was irritated with Smich for not answering her simple question and for getting her “panicked.”

Not long after, Millard’s mother Madeleine Burns phoned and told Noudga to come to her home  immediately. She sounded hysterical. Noudga persuaded her own mother to drive her there and wait outside while she went in to speak with Burns. Noudga’s mother, who had trained as a doctor in the former Soviet Union, was concerned someone might need medical attention, but after Noudga talked to Burns, she reassured her mother and told her to go home.

Burns informed Noudga that Millard had been arrested for forcible confinement and the theft of a truck. She said Dellen’s lawyer expected the media would soon be arriving at her house and she wanted Christina to accompany her to a hotel. Noudga says Burns kept asking, “Do you think the truck is in the trailer?” and “What if the truck is in the trailer?” Noudga claimed not to know what was in the trailer.

At the hotel, the two women checked in and drank some wine before deciding they should go to Maple Gate and pick up chequebooks, power-of-attorney forms, and some $5,000 to $6,000 in cash that Millard kept for emergencies. Once back at the hotel, they had more wine. “We started brainstorming as to what may have happened,” says Noudga. “There’s this giant trailer which he didn’t really give much information about.”

“At some point, do you look at any media?” asks Tony Leitch, the assistant Crown prosecutor questioning Noudga.

“No, it was too disturbing.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, it was really stressful. I never expected Dell to get arrested. I don’t want to see what’s going on. I don’t want to know any of this,” says Noudga. “You watch the media, and everything gets twisted around in your mind.”

Burns was worried because she had tried to open the trailer to see what was inside.
“We kind of sit there, and we’re like, Should we go back? Should we do something?”

They decided that they should indeed go back to Burns’s house and wipe down the parts of the trailer they had touched. Noudga estimates that by this time it would have been the early hours of Saturday, May 11. When they got to the house, Burns gave Noudga a cloth and some dishwashing gloves and went to feed her cats and fetch a few things.

Noudga wiped down the trailer hitch and chain and the locks on the trailer’s two side doors, anything she remembered touching the evening before. Burns pointed out to Noudga the areas she had touched when she had tried earlier to get in through the trailer’s rear doors only to find them locked. When the clean-up was done, they returned to the hotel. It was still dark out.

Back in their room, there was “more brainstorming, a lot of crying, hugging, consoling … [while] drinking copious amounts of wine,” Noudga tells the court. “I think we ran out of wine by the time it got light out, but we were still in a lot of distress.”

You can read the full story of Noudga’s testimony in my book, Dark Ambition, due out in November 2016.

Satoshi Nakamoto: Is it ok to hunt for the identity of the Bitcoin inventor?

To search or not to search for the identity of the mysterious founder and inventor of Bitcoin, that is the question. Do we the public have a right to satisfy our curiosity about who the person behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym is? Or are we ethically obliged to respect his or her privacy?

Two opposing views on the topic come from Adrian Chen, a staff writer at The New Yorker, whose beat is internet technology and culture, and Emin Gün Sirer, Cornell prof and self-described hacker.

Chen’s argument is that “in investigating the background of an inventor, we hope to learn something about innovation that can’t be gleaned from the thing itself.” He says it’s wishful thinking to argue as many Bitcoiners do that Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity is irrelevant. Somewhat unconvincingly, Chen also maintains that the mere fact that Satoshi holds an estimated half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin legitimizes the curiosity about who he is or isn’t.

At core though, Chen’s argument seems to be about not letting technology control us. “Turning away from the question of Nakamoto’s identity is a way to deny the fact that bitcoin, like all technology, is ultimately, imperfectly, human,” his brief essay concludes. “The world could use this reminder now more than ever.”

In contrast, Sirer says the spectacle of journalists hunting for Satoshi’s identity “serves only a prurient interest.” He argues that we have no right to make “someone who wants to remain a private individual into a public persona,” especially when what’s brought attention to them is an invention that ultimately benefits the public.

In the case of Bitcoin, Sirer says, being outed as Satoshi could also be dangerous and lead to “extortion attempts from the Russian mafia[.] Everyone known to hold substantial bitcoin, and even those who do not, get extorted by shady characters.”

But, somewhat contradictorily, in the same blog post, Sirer says he thinks he might have identified Satoshi, that people’s “thought patterns and idiosyncrasies form a unique signature, the same way code structure forms a unique signature for developers.”

“Having read Satoshi’s writings, I have a very good idea of his unique mental signature,” he writes.

“So, for some time now, every time I converse with someone new, I have been doing a quick comparison to Satoshi…

“Interestingly, I have come across one person who was a perfect fit. That person had the precise same intellectual signature as Satoshi, someone who could have written, word for word, some of Satoshi’s forum posts.”

Now Sirer says a lot of things that make sense to me about Bitcoin. And as a writer and investigator, I know that people definitely have a writerly signature. I frequently discover people’s identities due to their unique turns of phrase. I am inclined to believe that he might very well have insights into who the Bitcoin inventor truly is.

But I don’t agree with Sirer that the Bitcoin inventor would automatically be in danger from the Russian mob. There are lots of rich people in the world, who get along just fine. While being outed might be majorly disruptive for Satoshi, I am far from convinced it would be perilous. Not to mention that Sirer seems perfectly secure telling the world he believes he has identified Satoshi.

I also don’t think it’s fair of Sirer to accuse the media of conducting a “pointless Satoshi manhunt” when he’s been doing the exact same thing. He clearly wants to know who Satoshi is so why can’t the rest of us?

It’s not good enough to say responsible media don’t do this. There may be a good reason not to reveal Satoshi’s identity or there may not be. There may also be compelling grounds to tell the public who Satoshi is. Without knowing his or her specific circumstances, it’s impossible to say.

On the question of privacy, lt’s my experience as a journalist that people who want to be left alone generally do get left alone. In the Satoshi case, there’s little doubt that a public identification would lead to a media conflagration, but after a stint in the world’s headlines, I think it would be pretty easy for Satoshi to get back to leading a normal life.

I am, however, still undecided on the question of whether the public has a right to know the identity of the Bitcoin creator, as Chen seems to suggest it does.

Ultimately, I think that depends on Satoshi’s very individual circumstances as opposed to what responsible media should do or how we need to be reminded about the imperfections of technology.

GQ’s Bitcoin article: Inside the £8 billion swindle

British-GQ-September-2016-463x600-9051798I don’t get.

On its September 2016 cover, British GQ labels Craig Wright’s claim to be the inventor on Bitcoin a swindle, but then inside the author is still falling for parts of Wright’s con — the main one being that the late Dave Kleiman is a computer genius who could be the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto.

Pretty much everything we know about Kleiman comes from Wright and shouldn’t be trusted. There is absolutely nothing concrete to suggest Kleiman is the Bitcoin inventor. It’s almost comical when, along with the Wright claims about Kleiman, GQ cites the fact he was a guest commentator on security issues on CNN and ABC, that he had a lot of certificates from various courses he’d taken, and that he lived in the eastern US time zone as reasons for why he could well be Satoshi Nakamoto.

It’s just bizarre how much people want to believe this Wright and Kleiman tale when there’s zero proof to back it up and lots of evidence that Wright is a serial liar and a belligerent fool. As for Kleiman, I do not wish to suggest in any way that he is part of this con. He’s dead and can’t speak for himself, which makes it very easy for others, like Wright, to speak for him.

The GQ article doesn’t name Wright’s backers apart from Robert MacGregor, who seems to have been appointed as the public face of the operation. MacGregor may still be working for online gambling tycoon, Calvin Ayre, who was his boss when he was employed by Riptown Media in Vancouver last decade. Neither he nor Ayre responded to emails requesting comment about their relationship.

At this point, I still don’t know if Wright fooled Ayre and MacGregor, and if they really paid him $15 million, as the LRB maintains, and set him up with a team of 30 employees, as Wright claims in GQ. Sure Ayre’s a gambler but putting a guy who conducts himself like Wright does in charge of anything seems like a really, really stupid bet. And it’s weird that Wright says he didn’t want to come out as Satoshi while sources are telling GQ he was forced to do it by his backers. There just seems to be a whole lot of image and story crafting going on.

I’m still not sure what the real story is supposed to be, but I have a feeling it will all be told eventually. The GQ piece isn’t online yet. It’s only available in print. However, the magazine did post stunning audio of Wright’s foul mouthed tirade when he was confronted last May with the fact that his “proof” that he created Bitcoin was less than convincing.

GQ interview: Is Craig Wright the bitcoin genius? from Joseph Ingham on Vimeo.

What brought Mark Smich and Dellen Millard together?

The question of how Mark Smich and Dellen Millard came to be best friends has been asked many times since the two men were charged in May 2013 for the first degree murder of Tim Bosma, a crime of which they were eventually convicted.

In one of his letters from jail to his girlfriend Christina Noudga, Millard wrote: “Some people gave food to food banks, some people donated money to the homeless, and some people spent months in africa building homes. Mark was all three rolled into one for me.”

Smich’s girlfriend Marlena Meneses testified at his trial that she believed Mark was “in love” with Dellen, who had promised to help him fulfill his desires to be a rap star.

A selfie still from one of Mark Smich's rap videos

A selfie still from one of Mark Smich’s rap videos

Although Smich was commonly perceived to be Millard’s follower, when he took to the witness box at their joint trial, he pointed the finger straight at Millard, saying he alone had murdered Tim Bosma.

Smich proved a self assured witness whose story was believed by many. During his four full days of cross examination by Millard’s lawyer, Nadir Sachak, there were many testy encounters between the two. At one point Sachak asked Smich to rap for the jury, Smich’s lawyer Thomas Dungey quickly objected, and the judge agreed, telling the court, “He can read, but I don’t think he has to perform it.”

Smich then read aloud the lyrics he had written:

Its me muthaphuka, so relentless
Runnin from cops outta them spots, over them fences
Im high so im half fuckin demented
But i still
gotta get away nice and splendid
Got my 9
So im runnin like its nothing … Till im dead, kid!
I am not unstoppable
but I like to live my life without the cops involved
Its not probable, but if it happened to me … . Problem solved!
Im just comin for the loot, so shoot first, i come for your new purse, and wallets, I
want some chronics, and that juice cuz ima alcoholic,
No stallin, give it to me in a quick haste, more speedy then fast paced,
Im runnin away from the police in a cash race,
First one, im never last place

The creation date for this particular lyrics file on Smich’s iPad was February 16, 2013, while the date for last modification is May 21, 2013, the day before Smich was arrested.

When Sachak erred in referring to a date, Smich pounced on his mistake. “Could be one those brain cramps,” he said. “You’re probably under a lot of stress.” The comment didn’t fit with Smich’s portrayal of himself as the victim of his powerful friend’s crime, but it provoked laughter in the courtroom and was much remarked upon online by those following the trial live on Twitter.

“Zing,” wrote “meterclicks” on Websleuths. “MS is giving Sachak a taste of his own medicine this morning.”

“Oh snap LOL,” wrote “Kamille.” “MS should have been a comedian LOL.”

“Interesting. I’m starting to believe that MS is not as dumb as what I first thought,” said “Redheart.”

“Smich is getting sassy,” wrote “Katpaws.” “I’m still fully on the fence about MS’s role, but I’m not a fan of Sachak’s style at all … so I can’t help but take a little delight in MS’s quick comebacks. Clearly cleaning himself up has revealed a more clever and quick-witted guy than we initially realized.”

Undeterred by Smich’s retort, Sachak asked again what exactly Smich modified on May 21, 2013.

Smich explained instead that adding one letter or a space would cause a file’s modification date to change.

“Tell us what was modified,” said Sachak in exasperation. “What part was modified on May 21, 2013?”

Smich gave a lengthy account about how Meneses could have used the iPad and caused the modification. He repeated his explanation about inserting a character by mistake, adding that the file could have been opened randomly.

Sachak cut him off. “I don’t need to know how an iPad works,” he said, looking at the jurors as if to say he shared their pain. “Just tell me, What did you modify? Please help me. Please answer that question.”

Smich never did.

Sachak placed more rap lyrics on the courtroom screens.

You can read the full story of Smich’s testimony in my book, Dark Ambition, due out in November 2016.

Questions re that London Review of Books article on Bitcoin

So I finally read the London Review of Books’ magnum opus on Craig Wright, apparent pretender to the Bitcoin throne. I had never bought that Wright invented Bitcoin and the article — all 35,000 words of it — did nothing to convince me otherwise.

wright_twitter_profile

Wright had always struck me as a self promoter not a self effacing type prepared to forego the praise and attention lavished on brilliant inventors. He also seemed very concerned about his image as projected by his clothes and the photos he used to represent himself. Modest types don’t tend to call themselves “Dr.” and show themselves off in evening wear on social media.

The whole Canadian investor thing didn’t sit right either. Robert MacGregor and his company nTrust say they are in the “cloud money” business, but when I looked at their website, MacGregor was no longer listed as CEO. Nor could I figure out what exactly nTrust did and why it would be beneficial to use it. It certainly didn’t strike me as a company making so much money that its CEO would have $15 million to invest in bailing out the broke supposed inventor of Bitcoin. (nTrust apparently set up nCrypt, a new subsidiary to handle at lease some of the Bitcoin business.)

I also found it strange that while the LRB strongly hints at the involvement of Calvin Ayre in this whole Wright/Bitcoin affair, it didn’t mention that MacGregor too has ties to Bodog and Ayre going back years.

MacGregor worked at the Bodog affiliate, Riptown Media, in Vancouver for years. When he set up nTrust, it was with a group of former Riptown employees. nTrust also appears to have ties to Ayre. When police raided Ayre-linked companies in the Philippines in 2013, Robert MacGregor’s name was listed on the search warrants.

The Manila Times reported that nTrust, also known as Fenris Ventures, was suspected by Filipino police of being a front for Ayre’s illegal gambling operations. Ayre flatly denied all accusations of wrongdoing and took prosecutors and police to court, claiming there was no basis for the warrants. The Philippines appeals court recently ruled in his favour that it was an illegal search and seizure operation.

That’s about the extent of what I know for now but if you have further information I would love to hear from you. The Bitcoin inventor saga fascinates me and I would like to know more about the relationships between Robert MacGregor, Craig Wright, Stefan Matthews and Calvin Ayre.

The big question in my mind and for now is whose idea was it that Craig Wright should claim he invented Bitcoin?

ann.brocklehurst@gmail.com

 

Dellen Millard’s incinerators: From homemade device to $23,000 Eliminator

Dellen Millard homemade incinerator

Dellen Millard’s mechanic Shane Schlatman built a homemade incinerator resembling a science fair project. It is shown here in the Millardair hangar

At his murder trial, Dellen Millard conceded through his lawyers that he used his portable livestock incinerator to burn the body of Tim Bosma.

Although Millard owned a farm there were no animals on it. He had no obvious need for an incinerator. Yet for several weeks during the spring and summer of 2012, Millard had his mechanic Shane Schlatman working to build a homemade incinerator.

At Millard’s request, Schlatman welded together three fifty-gallon green steel drums on a steel base. The device, which was shown to the court during Schlatman’s testimony, looked like a high school student’s entry in a science competition to build your own rocket ship.

“Whose idea was it to build this thing?” asked prosecutor Craig Fraser.

“That was Dell’s,” said Schlatman. He explained that Millard planned to use it to burn garbage.

“Did you ever use it for garbage?” Fraser asked.

“I didn’t, no.”

“Did Mr. Millard use it for garbage?”

“I do believe he tried, but it didn’t work very well.”

“Do you know what kinds of garbage would be burned?”

“From Riverside and Maple Gate,” said Schlatman, referring to the streets where Millard owned, respectively, a six-plex rental unit and a house. “There was a lot of garbage produced from those properties. He wanted some way to dispose of it cheaper and quicker.”

It was a preposterous story. Millard’s residential properties all had regular city garbage, recycling, and compost collection. The idea that it made sense to drive more than one hundred kilometres to dispose of normal household waste in a homemade incinerator was beyond belief. Yet according to his testimony, Schlatman never so much as raised an eyebrow at the plan, even when he almost caused a serious accident.

“Having to wash the barrels out real well. Had small fireball out of one barrel,” Schlatman texted Millard on May 25, 2012. “Luckily had barrel facing out overhead door so No prob other than dirty underwear! Lol.”

“Haha, shame I missed it,” Millard wrote back. “So no incinerator today?”

“No lookin like monday it will be done.”

On Monday, Schlatman and Millard exchanged more texts. “That’s the idea,” wrote Millard regarding a photo they had been looking at. “needs double the number of vents, and a guard to prevent egress of large embers and light.”

Then Millard messaged his friend and co-accused Mark Smich about getting together that evening: “We go do incinerator, cool?”

“Yo I’m down bro. I would even say come sooner then [sic] that. Then we can chill and talk about other shit as well.”

Schlatman had fixed up a trailer for Millard to tow the incinerator from the hangar to the farm for its test. Whatever happened next was not documented at the trial, but the text messages available indicate it was not a success. Millard asked Schlatman to make still more modifications.

“Did you want existing air holes covered or leave them and add more?” Schlatman asked.

“If the new guards cover the old holes, leave em. if not, fill em,” Dellen instructed.

“Ok guards will cover.”

“Great, don’t forget handles for easy moving,” said Millard.

Dellen Millard purchased The Eliminator for $23,000 after he was unsuccessful at building and operating the homemade device

Dellen Millard purchased The Eliminator for $23,000 after he was unsuccessful at building and operating the homemade device. It is shown here at his farm

Two days later, Schlatman asked, “Incinerator up to snuff now?” Presumably it wasn’t, because by June 18, after a month of experimentation, Millard finally gave up on homemade devices and instructed his mechanic to research professionally manufactured livestock incinerators.

“Cost on small 250 lb [capacity] incinerator is $11,390,” Schlatman texted Millard the next day. “Next model is 500 lb and sells for $13,440. Tax and Shipping extra.”
“Interesting, double capacity for 18% higher cost,” said Millard. “And they run off propane?”

Schlatman confirmed that he was looking at the propane model of The Eliminator.

“Put an order in for the larger one,” Millard instructed. “Use the red Visa.”

You can read the full story of The Eliminator and the various different reasons Millard provided for purchasing it in my book, Dark Ambition, due out in November 2016.

Week of July 11, 2016

I will be in court today to see the Crown’s certiorari motion re Matthew Ward-Jackson and the AK-47 charges.

I am also sitting in on a sexual assault trial with an eye to doing a bigger project on the current state of sexual assault prosecutions. My interest in looking beyond the conventional wisdom about sexual assault began when I did this eight-part series on a rape trial. You can read the first two parts here.

OnTrialForRapeByAnnBrocklehurst

Read the first two chapters for free