On Armed American Radio: To Discuss Testimony before the Michigan State Senate Judiciary Committee

Dr. John Lott talked to Mark Walters on his national Armed American Radio show about Nikki Goeser and his testimonies before the Michigan State Senate Judiciary Committee on proposed gun control laws. They also discussed FBI gun seizure orders and our latest research concerning people’s views on universal background checks.

(Sunday, March 5, 2023, from 9:05 to 9:25 PM)

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WBUR and The Marshall Project Release New Podcast “Violation” on the Case of Jacob Wideman

WBUR, Boston’s NPR and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focused on criminal justice, today released Episode 1 of a new podcast, “Violation.” It focuses on the case of Jacob Wideman, who was released from prison after serving more than 30 years for stabbing a fellow teen to death while traveling with their summer camp to the Grand Canyon in 1986. Though Wideman was released from prison on parole in 2016, he returned just nine months later, under very unusual circumstances.

Podcast fans may recognize the name Jake Wideman from Serial’s “The Coldest Case In Laramie.” Jake, who went to high school in Laramie, Wyoming, falsely confesses to the crime at the center of that podcast (Episode 5). And literature fans will recognize the name John Edgar Wideman, Jake’s father. He’s an acclaimed writer and Rhodes scholar whose body of work includes his groundbreaking memoir Brothers and Keepers, and two PEN/Faulkner award-winning books, Philadelphia Fire and Sent for You Yesterday. While his writing tackles race, justice and trauma, John Edgar Wideman has not spoken publicly about his son’s case, at least not directly, until now. This podcast marks his first in-depth interview about Jake.

In “Violation,” host and staff writer for The Marshall Project Beth Schwartzapfel investigates Wideman’s winding and complicated story.

“Violation” is filed under ‘true crime’ in the podcast apps, but it’s so much more than that,” Schwartzapfel said. “A crime sets the events of this story in motion, but don’t expect to puzzle out who committed the crime, or to mull if this was a wrongful conviction. Jake’s was a rightful conviction. So the question becomes: Then what?”

WBUR and The Marshall Project bring together the compelling narrative elements of Jacob Wideman’s story with The Marshall Project’s expertise in criminal justice reporting and WBUR’s skill in telling riveting audio stories that unfold over multiple episodes. The podcast details Jake’s struggle to understand why he committed this terrible crime. It pulls back the curtain on the opaque and politicized system of parole boards, which often have more power to determine how much time someone spends in prison than judges and juries do. “Violation” examines the active and unusual role of the victim’s family in Wideman’s legal case — a role that has been bolstered by strong victim’s rights protections in Arizona. And it explores why Wideman was sent back to prison for a minor infraction, when the state’s parole board almost always reserves such a sanction for more serious parole violations. Wideman argues that the reason he remains behind bars is because of who he is and because of who his victim was. The journey listeners can anticipate (note, episode titles and descriptions subject to change):

  • Episode 1: Two sons, lost — An unexpected detour on a summer camp road trip lands two teens in a hotel room off Route 66. Overnight, one teen, Eric Kane, is fatally stabbed. The other, Jake Wideman, committed the crime. And it conjures eerie echoes as Jake’s father — John Edgar Wideman — is known for his seminal memoir, Brothers and Keepers, about his life as a novelist and his brother’s life as a fugitive wanted for robbery and murder.

  • Episode 2: “Bad seed” — Jake Wideman, the son of a college professor, was raised with all the advantages that his father and uncle lacked. Was there something in his family history that led him to commit murder? This episode digs into Wideman’s childhood, his family background, and the state of his mental health before and after the crime.

  • Episode 3: Life without parole — For people like Jake Wideman, trying to get parole is like walking a highwire. It’s full of pitfalls, politics, and in some cases, straight up wrongdoing. This episode delves into the role of parole boards in determining whether and when prisoners are released, and the challenges faced by those seeking parole.

  • Episode 4: Second chances — Wideman recounts his efforts to understand his own story and demonstrate his readiness for release on parole.

  • Episode 5: Mass supervision — This episode discusses restrictions and surveillance on parole, including the use of ankle monitors, and the tensions that rise between Wideman and those who oppose his release.

  • Episode 6: Investigation — Wideman’s parole is revoked after he fails to schedule an appointment with a psychologist, despite attempting to contact the psychologist in advance.

  • Episode 7: No safe place — This episode explains the traumatic experiences that may have contributed to Wideman’s crime, as well as the broader issue of how to balance punishment and rehabilitation in cases of violent crime.

“We’re thrilled to partner with The Marshall Project on “Violation,” a story that explores a gripping case and sheds light on systemic issues within our criminal justice system,” says Ben Brock Johnson, Executive Producer, WBUR Podcasts. “Whether you’re fascinated by motive, family history, or the strange and often hidden machinations of how people navigate serving prison time and parole, we think this podcast will captivate you from the first episode to the last.”

New episodes of “Violation” will be released every Wednesday during the season. It will also be incorporated every Thursday as a weekly broadcast series during NPR and WBUR’s national news program Here & Now. “Violation” is available on Apple, Spotify and wherever podcasts are found.

About WBUR

WBUR is Boston’s NPR — a public media leader committed to exceptional journalism on air, online, on demand and on stage. Our mission is to produce high-quality journalism and enriching experiences that foster understanding, connection and community for an expanding circle of people. WBUR Podcasts brings WBUR’s 70+ years of audio storytelling expertise to the podcast ecosystem. Our record of excellence includes chart-topping, critically acclaimed shows like Modern Love, Dear Sugars, Endless Thread, Circle Round, Last Seen, Anything for Selena, The Common and On Point. We’ve partnered with The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Futuro Media, NPR and Reddit. WBUR’s podcast network drives millions of monthly downloads and features wide-ranging audience groups from news lovers, techies, science nerds and history buffs to new parents and young women. Learn more: wbur.org/podcasts.

About The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. The Marshall Project engages the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. We partner with local and national media outlets to reach diverse audiences, from people who want to learn more about criminal justice to experts who turn to us for fresh, accurate information.

Media Contacts


Mike Moses


The Marshall Project

Dacrie Brooks


Nicole Funaro


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A Summer Camp Murder. Two Sons, Lost.

Subscribe to “Violation.”

Why did Jacob Wideman murder Eric Kane?

In 1986, the two 16-year-olds were rooming together on a summer camp trip to the Grand Canyon when Jacob fatally — and inexplicably — stabbed Eric.

That night, Jacob went on the run, absconding with the camp’s rented Oldsmobile and thousands of dollars in traveler’s checks. Before long, he turned himself in and eventually confessed to the killing — although he couldn’t explain what drove him to do it.

It would take years of therapy and medical treatment behind bars before Jacob could begin to understand what was going through his mind that night. It would take even longer to try to explain it to his family, to his victim’s family and to parole board members, who would decide whether he deserved to be free ever again.

This debut episode of “Violation,” a podcast from The Marshall Project and WBUR, introduces the story of the crime that has bound two families together for decades.

Jacob’s father, John Edgar Wideman, is an acclaimed author of many books on race, violence and criminal justice. He spoke with “Violation” host Beth Schwartzapfel in a rare, in-depth interview about his son’s case that listeners will hear throughout the series, including this premiere.

Listen to new episodes each Wednesday, through the player at the top of the page, or wherever you get your podcasts. The “Violation” series will also be available on The Marshall Project’s site and on Here & Now from NPR and WBUR.

Reading list


Beth Schwartzapel: Would you be willing to read a couple of passages? I brought some of your books with me that speak to some of these issues.

John Wideman: Depends. I don’t want to get into anything that even begins to feel like “he said, she said,” cause that ain’t going no where.

Beth Schwartzapel: I flagged a couple of passages. This passage here that I’ve marked with the red pen.

John Wideman: I don’t know if I could read this. Particularly after looking at that picture of him.

Beth Schwartzapel: This is John Edgar Wideman, author of more than a dozen books. English professor, Rhodes scholar, MacArthur “genius.”

I’ve been reading John Wideman’s books for years, intrigued first by his lyrical explorations of the criminal justice system, of racism and class and privilege. And then, later, even more intrigued when I learned how these themes played out eerily, tragically, in the life story of his middle child, Jacob.

When I finally arrived at his Manhattan apartment on one of the first blustery cold days this winter, it felt like I was walking into something intensely personal — something that as a journalist I’d been fascinated by for at least a decade, but as a human, I was mindful was a painful, private story.

As a rule, John doesn’t talk publicly about Jake, at least not directly — even when he’s asked about it by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, as he was in 1994.

Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air: Do you think you’ll ever write a more extensive piece about your son, Jake, or is that something that you think you might never care to share in detail with the public?

John Wideman: Well, the advantage of being a writer is you talk about things in your own way.

Terry Gross: Right.

John Wideman: Sometimes people can look at your biography and make guesses about what, in fact, you’re writing about and thinking about. But other times they can’t. It’s a complicated way of taking the Fifth, if you will.

Beth Schwartzapel: Years after he sidestepped Terry’s questions, John is finally letting someone in to ask him about his middle child. And he has a specific reason: He’d like to see Jake get out of prison.

This is not my reason for talking with John. It’s my job to tell you everything I can find out about what really happened, and why. Everyone talking to me for this story has their own reasons. Everyone has their own version of the truth, too. John Wideman can relate to that.

John Wideman: I’m a fiction writer. And a novelist. I also write nonfiction. In my view, it’s very hard to distinguish, often, among those genre. And sometimes it’s impossible. And maybe they’re all the same.

Beth Schwartzapel: As a longtime fan of John Wideman’s writing, I can tell you that much of it is animated by this idea that good stories contain some essential truth, regardless of whether they’re actually true. Or, that in some situations, true accounts may in fact be less true than fiction.

One of the people who I’m hoping will help me understand what’s real and what’s false is John’s son, Jake Wideman.

Prison phone message system: This call will be recorded and subject to monitoring at any time.

Beth Schwartzapel: I talk to people in prison all the time. I’m used to the noise, the terrible sound quality, the robot lady constantly interrupting to warn you that you’re talking to a prisoner and it’s costing a small fortune and your calls are being recorded and you’d better hurry up.

Prison phone message system: …one minute remaining…

Jake Wideman: I think, Oh, okay, we’re going to get cut off…

Beth Schwartzapel: But ever since we started talking, in phone conversations I could record, and at in-person visits the state of Arizona wouldn’t let me record, I’ve tuned all of that out to focus on Jake — on the details he unspooled over weeks and months.

Jake and I spent more than a dozen hours on the phone, in 15-minute increments, and I visited him twice, for three or four hours each time. He’s a big guy, 6’1”, 195 pounds, and like all the other prisoners, he wore an orange jumpsuit with the letters “ADC,” for Arizona Department of Corrections, in big black letters stenciled on his back and leg. His head is shaved bald and in the midst of a COVID surge, he wore a janky facemask homemade from old T-shirts.

Jake seemed to have earned a certain amount of respect and affection from the other prisoners. During my first visit, people kept walking by and handing him things from the vending machine: snack cakes and a little microwaved hot dog and a bottle of water.

Jake Wideman was sentenced to 25 years to life. He spent 30 years in prison before being released on parole. Then, less than nine months after he was back out in the world, Jake was yanked back into prison. And now nobody knows if Jake will ever get out again. There’s no end in sight.

The details of that part of Jake’s story — the parole violation that landed him back behind bars — well, for now we’ll just say they were very unusual.

Much about Jake’s case is very unusual, but much about it is also all too common. And looking at this case, there is a lot we can learn about how the system works, and doesn’t, for everyone.

In spending all this time with him, his family, lawyers and others involved in his case, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened.

I’m Beth Schwartzapfel. From The Marshall Project and WBUR, this is “Violation”: a story about second chances, parole boards, and who pulls the levers of power in the justice system.

“There was no motive, just murder.”

Beth Schwartzapel: This is Part 1: Two sons, lost.

Jake’s case takes all the dynamics at play in a typical murder case, and cranks the volume way, way up. Victims’ rights. Political influence. Race. Privilege. Mental health. Senseless violence. How mass incarceration has morphed into mass supervision, with all the same pitfalls and politics.

Jake’s family did not relish opening their personal lives up for public consumption. But with some prodding from Jake, his sister and brother and father each spent time answering my many questions, including: Why agree to talk to me?

Daniel Wideman: This definitely is both, I think, for the love of Jake, but also for the love of justice.

Beth Schwartzapel: That’s his brother Daniel.

For Jake, talking to me was a leap of faith. I mean, he has a famous writer for a father. It would have been much safer to let John tell it. John would without question see things from Jake’s point of view. But Jake was clear: He wanted a reporter to look at what happened.

Jake Wideman: It’s time for the truth to come out and I want to stand on the facts. I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I don’t want anybody to, you know, take my side out of sympathy or say anything like, “Well, you know, he’s been in since he was 16 and 36 years and poor guy.” … I want people to have a conviction that justice needs to be done because of the injustice that has been done so far.

Beth Schwartzapel: I’m a reporter, so I believe in facts. I believe that if you talk to enough people and do enough research, you can get to the bottom of something. I’m also aware that some facts are unknowable, or what passes for a fact is just a matter of opinion. That you can stack up all the facts, and still disagree about what they mean.

In this case, here’s what we know: Jake Wideman killed a boy when he was a boy. There are mysteries in this story. But the victim, and who committed the murder, are not among them.

ABC15 Arizona’s Dave Biscobing: In 1986, as a teen at summer camp, Jacob Wideman murdered fellow camper Eric Kane. As Eric slept, Wideman stabbed him twice in the chest.

Beth Schwartzapel: The crime devastated two families.

Ted Bartimus: Two fathers have lost their sons and don’t know why.

Beth Schwartzapel: This is reporter Ted Bartimus.

Ted Bartimus: I was a news reporter for the Arizona Daily Sun back in the 1980s.

Beth Schwartzapel: I asked him to read from an article he wrote in October of 1988.

Ted Bartimus reading his article: Sanford Kane lost his son to murder in 1986 and noted Black writer John Edgar Wideman lost his son Wednesday to life imprisonment for the same murder.

Beth Schwartzapel: Now, recordings of court and parole hearings are often comically bad to the point of being almost unintelligible. And you may be shocked to learn that recordings of police interviews from 40 years ago are also not exactly high quality, or captured with audio journalism in mind. So in this podcast, you’re going to hear bits of these recordings, but you’ll often hear me repeating what’s being said. And in some cases, where a recording is not available, you might hear a colleague reading what was said.

With Jake, you’ll hear our phone conversations more than anything else, because while I can record phone calls, Arizona wouldn’t let me record inside the prison. I needed special permission just to bring a pen. But I promise that whenever I can, I’ll play you the words of people in their own voice.

Now, In 1988 in Arizona, life imprisonment actually meant 25 years to life, which meant that after 25 years, Jake was eligible for parole. In 2011, at 41 years old, he could go before a board and try to prove that he deserved to be free. I first connected with Jake after he’d been before the board more than half a dozen times.

Ellen Kirschbaum during a clemency board meeting: Good morning, Mr. Wideman.

Jake Wideman: Good morning, ma’am.

Ellen Kirschbaum: We are now in session, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency is about to commence…

Beth Schwartzapel: Jake told the board he had spent years in therapy, earned multiple degrees, that he worked for decades to make himself a model prisoner and a good man. That something causing him anguish and suffering went unidentified and untreated for decades of his childhood and young adulthood, until he had already spent years in prison. We’ll talk more about that later.

Jake Wideman: All the work that I have done over these years to understand why I did what I did and to heal from my mental health struggles was done to become the best man that I can be and to ensure that I never commit another act of violence in my life.

Beth Schwartzapel: The parents of Jake’s victim, Eric Kane, still shattered by their son’s murder, looked at the same set of facts and told the parole board they saw only danger — all those words the sign of a master manipulator, Jake’s accomplishments belying a killer who could not be trusted to walk among us.

This is Eric’s mother, Louise Kane:

Louise Kane: This year the murderer has been packaged by professionals. How can one tell what is the real truth, what is his, and what belongs to the lawyers? … If Wideman can do well in jail, then so much the better, but that is where he belongs.

Beth Schwartzapel: Whose version of the story is the right one?

To some, justice is and will only ever be served when people who kill or harm other people go away and never come back. Or, at least don’t come back until we can be absolutely certain they will never harm anyone again. Which is, y’know, never.

This is Bryan Shea, a deputy county attorney in the office that prosecuted Jake, at a parole board hearing.

Bryan Shea: What will it take for Wideman to have paid his debt to Eric and Eric’s family and to society as a whole? What amount of prison time is enough for this terrible, senseless murder?

Beth Schwartzapel: I’ve been covering parole boards for years, and answering these unanswerable questions in tens of thousands of cases each year is their very reason for being. And lots of people have plenty to say about how good or not good they are at doing that.

When I published my first big investigation into parole boards, in The Washington Post in 2015, this dark, often secretive corner of the criminal justice system was largely unknown and unexamined. But it’s become increasingly clear as states grapple with ballooning prison populations that these un-elected bodies of mostly political appointees with little or no legal training have, in some states, more power over how much time people serve in prison than judges or juries do.

But before Jake Wideman ever faced a parole board — before Eric Kane was dead and buried and Jake was a grown man trying to tell his version of his story — they were two boys on an adventure.

It was the summer of 1986.

“Matlock” had recently premiered on NBC. President Reagan was in his second term. The fashion of the day included teased hair and giant shoulder pads.

Jake Wideman and Eric Kane had just finished their sophomore years in high school, Jake in Laramie, Wyoming, where his dad was a professor at the University of Wyoming, and Eric in the suburbs north of New York City, where his dad was an executive at IBM.

The two boys had, for years, attended Camp Takajo, a sports camp for boys in southwestern Maine.

It was a high-end camp with all the things: swimming, boating, overnight trips, arts and crafts, woodworking. It was pricey and very exclusive. The camp’s owner, Morty Goldman, didn’t advertise, and filled the 400-someodd spots on word-of-mouth alone. Jake had been spending summers there since he was a toddler because he was Morty Goldman’s grandson.

Later, as police and lawyers tried to piece together what had happened, they interviewed people at the camp. Here’s fellow camper Todd Miller and counselor Bill Hammond describing Jake and the other campers.

Todd Miller: I think basically Jake and maybe one or two other kids are Black.

Bill Hammond: These kids came from backgrounds with private schools.

Beth Schwartzapel: It was an annual tradition at Takajo that the oldest campers got to go on a tour of national parks in the West at the end of the summer. Early that August, Jake, Eric, two other boys, and counselor Bill had flown into Salt Lake City, rented a blue Oldsmobile, and launched on an epic road trip — to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Bryce Canyon.

About two weeks in, a mixup in their itinerary en route to the Grand Canyon unexpectedly landed them about 80 miles southeast, in Flagstaff, Arizona, a small college town in the mountains 7,000 feet above the valley where Phoenix sprawls. Because of its elevation, the weather in Flagstaff resembles New England more than it does the hot desert climate that people associate with Arizona. There are pine trees and crisp fall days and, in the winter, snow.

Ted Bartimus, the Arizona Daily Sun reporter, lived there for years.

Ted Bartimus: Flagstaff tends to be kind of a time-warped community. … A lot of dead heads, you had a lot of cowboys, a lot of lumberjacks. You could walk in certain parts of the community and there’s like a time warp. You go back to the ‘60s.

Beth Schwartzapel: Because of its location on historic Route 66, the town was something of a crossroads. Like the group from Camp Takajo, people often passed through Flagstaff on their way to somewhere else.

John Verkamp: Millions of people are going through there all the time. And a lot of them are fine people, but some of them aren’t so fine.

Beth Schwartzapel: This is John Verkamp, who was, at the time, the county attorney in Coconino County, where Flagstaff is located.

John Verkamp: So we do have more than our share of strange incidents and this was kind of an example.

Beth Schwartzapel: To Jake’s family, to his teachers and coaches and friends in Laramie, this incident was more than strange. It was shocking. Jake murdered someone?

Jake was the second of his family’s three children. Tall, athletic, a talented basketball player. His complexion reflected his family’s mashup of heritages, Black on his dad’s side, part Jewish and part WASP on his mom’s. His hair was improbably blond as a kid, his skin a pale tan. This is John, describing him in an essay he wrote years later.

John Wideman: You were blond then. Huge brown eyes. Hair on your head of many kinds, a storm, a multiculture of textures: kinky, dead straight, curly, frizzy, ringlets; hair thick in places, sparse in others. All your people, on both sides of the family, ecumenically represented in the golden crown atop your head.

Beth Schwartzapel: His family was part of a close-knit group of families of professors at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and as a young kid and later a teenager, Jake was known among them as unassuming, bright, and polite.

Janice Harris: There was this tall gangly kid. Very leggy. Just a very sweet, gentle, smiling kind of kid.

Beth Schwartzapel: This is Janice Harris, an English professor and a good friend of the Widemans’, some years later in an interview with attorneys.

Janice Harris: A very sweet child, a very curious child. Always interested in things. I can remember a particular way he had, if we would be doing field trips, of always asking, “What if this? What if that? What if this?”

Beth Schwartzapel: As a teenager, Jake was friendly and well-liked. Camper Todd Miller again.

Todd Miller: He seemed like a pretty, pretty normal guy. If you were not in his bunk, seem like just a regular, you know, kid, he was a good basketball player. Nice, nice guy.

Beth Schwartzapel: But Jake says many of those relationships were superficial — he had very few close friends. That’s because he felt he had a lot to hide.

Todd Miller: Since I was in his bunk for two years, when you’re in his bunk and you lived with him a while, he would act strange sometimes for no reason, just bizarre behavior … be hyper, very hyper like he was almost possessed.

Beth Schwartzapel: In his own mind, Jake thought of these episodes as “adrenaline rushes.” He thought he was hiding them, fooling everyone about the turmoil inside his head. But it would be years too late before he told anyone about them, and many more years before he understood what they were.

Stay with us. We’ll be right back.

Beth Schwartzapel: We’ve talked a lot about Jake. But the other boy we’re here to talk about is Eric Kane. He had a mop of dark curls and a warm smile. He was the youngest of three children. As kids, his older brother and sister never needed dolls, their mom said, because they had Eric.

At a sports camp like Takajo, Eric Kane stood out for being not very sporty. He had a medical condition as a kid that left him sort of uncoordinated and clumsy. He would dictate his schoolwork to his dad because he found it hard to type.

Even 30 years after his death, there’s still a lot of information in the public record about the kind of boy Eric was, the kind of young man he might have grown up to be. That’s because his parents have made sure of that — gathered thousands of letters from family and friends, spoke about him at every public hearing.

And that’s important. I don’t want Eric to be a sort of black hole in this story — an absence instead of a presence. Obviously Eric’s not here to tell me about himself, and unfortunately the Kanes have declined to talk with me. I can understand why — judging from their testimony over the years, their grief is still real and raw. They sent their son off to summer camp and he never came home. As a parent, how do you ever get over that?

I’ve done my best to assemble some details from the letters and decades of testimony and public statements by his family. When he was small, Eric wanted to be a knight. He played piano and guitar. He loved science, and dolphins, and drawing. He had a poodle named Butterscotch. Eric loved to read, his mom said.

Actor reading Louise Kane: I remember, when as a small child, he was stricken with a migraine headache. He lay holding a book the way another child would hold a stuffed animal. He had an insatiable curiosity as long as I could remember, and from the earliest he would ask questions about everything.

Beth Schwartzapel: In elementary school, he and another friend who quickly outpaced the other kids in reading were pulled out of class to have their own little book group in the principal’s office.

Actor reading friend: We not only read books, we devoured them. We learned to read in the voices of the characters in the stories, we discussed the books, we wrote, and we laughed. He was so very sweet and so deeply kind and so terribly bright.

Beth Schwartzapel: On the quiet suburban street where they lived, one childhood friend recalled, “We all walked to school together, rode bikes up and down the block, and played in the streets until our parents called us in for dinner.” Another friend said Eric embodied the feeling of the town they grew up in: It was, and he was, “kind, caring, simple and sweet.”

On the Camp Takajo national parks trip, the kids more or less got along, besides for the kind of bickering you might expect when you coop four teenage boys up in an Oldsmobile for hours at a time. Eric in particular came in for a lot of teasing.

Here’s camper Todd Miller speaking to detectives later.

Todd Miller: I think it’s fair to say probably everybody at some point or another, just, you know, teased him, gave him a hard time. Nothing that really sticks out in my mind.

Beth Schwartzapel: On the night the kids landed in Flagstaff, they split up to eat dinner at different restaurants. Some of them went back to the motel to watch a Billy Crystal special on TV. Eric went to the movie theater to see “Top Gun.” Jake saw “Ruthless People.”

Clip from “Ruthless People”: Meet Mr. Stone. He wanted to kill Mrs. Stone. “My only regret, Carol …”

Beth Schwartzapel: Jake and Eric’s movies ended at different times, so Jake walked back from the theater by himself. Counselor Bill Hammond picked Eric up a little later and dropped him back in the motel room he was sharing with Jake. Bill was staying with the other campers Brian and Todd in the room next door.

Much of this information by the way comes from old and poorly recorded interviews with Bill, which we got from the county attorney’s office in Flagstaff. As bad as the recordings are, they do help us understand what happened that night.

Around midnight, Jake knocked on the door of Bill’s room. Could he borrow the car keys? He asked. He wanted to sit in the car and listen to his tapes.

Bill Hammond: I said, go ahead, sure, just bring them back when you’re done. … I trusted him. I had no problem trusting him and I had no reason not to trust him.

Beth Schwartzapel: Jake can’t remember what tapes he was listening to that night, but he remembers he loved Motown. Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, the Temptations.

Bill said that while they were on the road, Jake would put on “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding on in the car quite often.

Bill Hammond: I looked out there 15 or 20 minutes later and I remember seeing Jake in the car, and the car light was on, and he had the fold-out map in front of him…

Beth Schwartzapel: Bill figured he’d get the keys back later. It was late, so he got ready for bed. It was the end of another long day on the road. Except for the aggravation of the inadvertent detour, nothing was out of the ordinary. Bill couldn’t have imagined what would happen in the next few hours.

The next morning, when he went to wake Jake and Eric, he found their door ajar. When he pushed it open, neither Jake nor Eric was there. But the bed closest to the door was covered in blood.

He went to get the other campers. Brian, from the room next door, described the scene later to police.

Brian Richards: We looked in the room, there was blood on the wall, it was like a blood handprint.

Beth Schwartzapel: Bill tried in his mind to rationalize the situation to himself. Maybe someone had had a nosebleed. Maybe one of the boys had gotten sick or injured overnight and the other had driven him to the hospital. Jake liked to play basketball — maybe he had gone out to shoot hoops early that morning and hurt himself. That would explain why the car was gone.

Bill Hammond: And I stood there and thought a minute and looked at the bed covered in blood and thought, that can’t be just a nosebleed.

Beth Schwartzapel: Again, Bill is hard to hear right there in this 37-year-old microcassette interview, but what he says is, “I stood there and thought a minute, and looked at the bed covered in blood and thought, that can’t be just a nosebleed.”

He went back to his room and called the police. This is Detective Mike Cicchinelli. He’s now retired from the Flagstaff Police Department, but on that day in August 1986, he responded to Bill’s 9-1-1 call.

Detective Mike Cicchinelli: When we got the call, we went to a motel room. And what happened is we walked in and there was a knife by the bed and the room was empty and upon further checking it we found that Eric Kane was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom and he had been stabbed to death.

Beth Schwartzapel: Eric Andrew Kane was 16 years old. And Jacob Edgar Wideman, also 16, was missing.

For a while, police thought that some third party might have kidnapped Jake and killed Eric. What in the world else could explain what had happened?

But like I said, the mystery of this story is not who killed Eric. The mystery of this story is why. Do we understand — can we ever understand — what lived inside of Jake that night? To his friends, his family, to all those who knew Jake, this seems impossible.

Kenneth Ash: Totally surprised. Totally unexpected.

Elizabeth Goudey: Totally unpredictable and inconsistent.

Daniel Wideman: I think I was just in shock.

Beth Schwartzapel: Jake says he has spent more than a decade trying to understand it himself, and then another decade trying to explain it to the Kanes and the parole board. Years of therapy, and treatment. He’s told me about all of it. And I have hundreds of pages of psych evaluations and reports. We’re going to talk more about all of that. But none of that matters to the Kanes. To the Kanes, it’s all bullshit.

Sandy Kane: None of us know why he brutally murdered Eric.

Beth Schwartzapel: Their beautiful son is dead and all they hear is lies and excuses.

Sandy Kane: He’s shown other clear evidence of his manipulative behavior. He did this in an attempt to hide the truth: that he has a long term violent history, clear mental health issues from childhood to today, and that he is responsible for a vicious, premeditated murder.

Beth Schwartzapel: What should happen to kids like Jake? The Supreme Court has said that kids are different from adults — even kids who commit the most serious crimes are less culpable than adults and should be treated differently. Is Jake dangerous, and right where he belongs? Or is he the victim of a concerted campaign by people who hate him?

This story is also about families and the stories they tell.

You see, by the time their son went away for murder, the Widemans were no strangers to American prisons and jails.

John Wideman: I heard the news first in a phone call from my mother. My youngest brother, Robby, and two of his friends had killed a man during a holdup.

Beth Schwartzapel: Some people were already suggesting that violent crime ran in the family. John Wideman’s brother — Jake’s Uncle Robby — was already serving a life sentence for murder.

Maury Povich on “Current Affair”: Hello, everyone. I’m Maury Povich. Welcome to “A Current Affair.” … Our main story tonight is about the family of a respected author and academic Pulitzer Prize-winner John Wideman. In Wideman’s generation, the “bad seed” was his brother, Robby. …

Beth Schwartzapel: Had something been passed down through his family over generations? That’s next time on “Violation.”

If you want more information about Jake’s case, additional documents, photos, and related stories, head over to themarshallproject.org/violation, and, wbur.org/violation.

“Violation” is a production of WBUR in Boston and The Marshall Project.

Editing of the show comes from Geraldine Sealey, who is also managing editor of The Marshall Project, and Ben Brock Johnson, executive producer of WBUR Podcasts. Additional editing, project management and web production from Amy Gorel. Quincy Walters is our producer. Mix, sound design and original music composition by Paul Vaitkus. Fact checking help from Kate Gallagher at The Marshall Project. Illustrations for our project come from Diego Mallo.

Special thanks to Victor Hernandez, Susan Chira, Margaret Low, Mara Corbett, Laura Hertzfeld, Ashley Dye, Amory Sivertson, Nora Saks, Elan Kiderman Ullendorff, Grace Tatter, Samata Joshi, Marci Suela, Kristen Holgerson, Rachel Kincaid, Brilee Weaver, Dacrie Brooks, Nicole Funaro, Gabe Isman, Ruth Baldwin, Ebony Reed, AJ Pflanzer, Celina Fang, Bo-Won Keum, Terri Troncale, Jennifer Borg, Jason Criss, Celin Carlo-Gonzalez, Ed Klaris, Louise Carron, Ghazala Irshad, and Eli Stern.

I’m Beth Schwartzapfel, your reporter and host. I’ll talk to you next week.


Reporter & Host: Beth Schwartzapfel; Managing Editor: Geraldine Sealey; Executive Producer: Ben Brock Johnson; Producer: Quincy Walters; Editor: Amy Gorel; Production Manager: Paul Vaitkus; Sound Designers: Emily Jankowski and Matt Reed; Fact Checker: Kate Gallagher; Illustrator: Diego Mallo

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Newsweek covers our work: “Alvin Bragg’s ‘Soft on Crime’ Policies Face Scrutiny as Manhattan DA Goes After Trump”


“Bragg has been in office just a year, but Manhattan seems to be getting progressively worse in crime,” said John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, which describes itself as a non-partisan research organization with academics affiliated from Harvard University, The Wharton School, University of Chicago, University of Michigan and Emory University. Lott is also author of the book “More Guns, Less Crime.”


According to his group’s research, culled from the Manhattan D.A. Office’s Data Dashboard, from 2021 to 2022, Manhattan’s seven major felony offenses (murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto) rose by 26 percent to the highest since 2006. . . .


The payments to Daniels and McDougal are alleged violations of campaign finance laws since they were unreported, though such violations are typically the purview of the federal government, not a Manhattan DA, and they’re rarely called a “felony,” according to Lott.


“This is supposedly a violation involving a federal campaign, so it is only covered by federal law,” said Lott.


Lott notes that there were no calls to bring felony charges against Hillary Clinton after the Federal Election Commission fined her campaign and the Democratic National Committee for hiding their funding of the “Steele dossier” that accused Trump of colluding with Russia to win the presidency.


He also noted that Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, refused to bring a case against Trump. “Bragg himself declined to pursue this case when he first became DA. The US Department of Justice has also refused to bring this case, as has the Federal Election Commission,” he said. . . .


According to Lott’s group, the number of felony cases Bragg declined to prosecute rose 35 percent in 2022 compared to 2019, while the drop in misdemeanor prosecutions resulting in jail sentences fell by 78 percent. “What makes this all the more remarkable is that this huge drop occurred while the number of offenses was increasing,” said Lott. . . .


Alvin Bragg explicitly motivated his reforms to equalize the incarceration rate across racial groups,” said Lott. “But while Bragg is reducing the penalties on Black criminals, he is ignoring that the victims of these Black criminals are overwhelmingly Black. For example, Blacks murdered about 90 percent of Black murder victims. But whatever Bragg’s motivation, the bottom line is simple: if you make it less risky for criminals to commit crime, you will get more crime.”


Paul Bond, “Alvin Bragg’s “Soft on Crime” Policies Face Scrutiny as Manhattan DA Goes After Trump,” Newsweek, March 21, 2023.

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More Media Bias on Guns: CBS’s NCIS Los Angeles TV show with yet more Terrorists firing machine guns

As the Crime Prevention Research Center has often pointed out, television crime shows seem to think criminals constantly use machine guns to commit crime. Unfortunately, CBS’s show NCIS Los Angeles is no different (Season 14, Episode 11, January 15, 2023). This episode shows terrorists using machine guns.

In real life, criminals generally use machine guns so rarely that a 2016 survey of prison inmates only broke down the numbers for uses in crime of handguns (11.2%), rifles (0.8%), and shotguns (1.1%). There are few rifles, and the survey did not even mention fully automatic weapons. A similar finding is available from the FBI UCR report, where 2.6% of all murders involve rifles of any type and 0.3% of all murders involve unspecified “other guns.” There is a reason for that. Since 1934, there was only one possible known use of a civilian using a machine gun in a murder. And even before 1934, they were very rare.

Examples of similar television shows can be found here.

CBS’s NCIS Los Angeles (Season 14, Episode 11, January 15, 2023)

Here is a video on Hollywood’s bias against guns

The 2022-2023 season.

Paramount’s Tulsa King (Season 1): Episode 9, January 8, 2023

NBC Law & Order: Organized Crime (Season 3): November 3, 2022, Episode 6November 10, 2022, Episode 7.

NBC’s Chicago PD (Season 10): Episode 11, January 11, 2023

The Rookie Feds (Season 1): September 27, 2022, Episode 1; October 4, 2022, Episode 2;

CBS’ FBI International (Season 2): September 20, 2022, Episode 1Episode 13, February 21, 2023.

CBS’ Blue Bloods (Season 13): Episode 10, January 13, 2023, Episode 15, March 10, 2023.

CBS’s NCIS Los Angeles (Season 14): Episode 10, January 9, 2023Episode 11, January 15, 2023..

CBS’s FBI Most Wanted (Season 4): Episode 1, September 20, 2022; Episode 15, March 14, 2023.

CBS’s S.W.A.T. (Season 6): Episode 13, February 10, 2023; Episode 16, March 10, 2023.

The Rookie (Season 5): Episode 10, January 3, 2023,.

NBC’s The Blacklist (Season 10): Episode 1, February 26, 2023.

Shows from last season.

Amazon’s new “Reacher” Season 1, Episode 8 (February 3, 2022)

NBC’s Chicago PD (Season 9): E3, October 6, 2021

NBC’s The Blacklist (Season 9): Episode 10, January 10, 2022

NBC’s Endgame (Season 1): Episode 1, February 21, 2022.

NBC’s Law & Order SVU (Season 23): Episode 8 (November 11, 2021).

CBS’ The Equalizer (Season 2): E1, Oct 10, 2021E14 (April 10, 2022).

CBS’s “FBI: Most Wanted” (Season 3) E1 September 28th, 2021 & E2 September 28th, 2021Episode 12, February 1, 2022

CBS’ Magnum PI (Season 4): E18 (April 8, 2022).

CBS’ NCIS Los Angeles (Season 13): E22 May 22, 2022

CBS’s S.W.A.T. (Season 5) E1 October 1, 2021E2, Oct 08, 2021E7, December 3, 2021E10, January 10, 2022S5 E16 (April 10, 2022)

CBS’ FBI (Season 4): E17 (April 12, 2022)

CBS’s “FBI: International” (Season 1) E2, September 28th, 2021. In another “FBI: International” (S1 E1) criminals were shown carrying machine guns but not using them. E5, November 2,  2021E18 (April 26, 2022)

From past seasons, here are some of the shows with criminals using machine guns (this is not meant to be a complete list):

ABC’s The Rookie (Season 3): Episode 11 April 18, 2021; Episode 12 April 25, 2021; Episode 14 May 9, 2021Episode 3, January 17, 2021

NBC’s Law & Order: Organized Crime (Season 1): Episodes 1 & 2, April 1 and 8, 2021

CBS’s Bull (Season 5): E6, January 18 2021

CBS’s FBI Most Wanted (Season 2): E4 January 19, 2021E5 January 26, 2021.

CBS’ Coyote (Season 1): E2 January 7, 2021 and E5 January 7, 2021

CBS’ SWAT (Season 4): E7 Jan 13, 2021E8 January 27, 2021E9 Feb 17 2021

CBS’s Blue Bloods (Season 11): Episode 16, May 14, 2021

CBS’ Magnum PI (Season 3): E3 Dec 11 2020Episode 7, February 5, 2021

CBS’ The FBI (Season 3): E1 Nov 17 2020E4 Jan 24, 2021

CBS’s NCIS LA (Season 12): Episode 8, January 10, 2021

NBC’s Law & Order: Organized Crime (Season 1): Episodes 1 & 2, April 1 and 8, 2021

NBC’s The Blacklist (Season 8): Episode 1, November 13, 2020

NBC’s Chicago PD (Season 8): Episode 7, February 17, 2021

In last years’ season (2019-2020), we haven’t been keeping close track, but other recent examples include:

CBS’ SWAT (Season 3): E11 January 15, 2020; E21 May 20, 2020

In last years’ season (2019-2020), we haven’t been keeping close track, but other recent examples include:

CBS’ SWAT (Season 3): E11 January 15, 2020; E21 May 20, 2020

CBS’ FBI (Season 2): E12 January 14, 2020; Episode 18, March 24, 2020

Fox’s Deputy (Season 1): E1 January 2, 2020

FBI: Most Wanted (Season 1): Episode 4, January 28, 2020; Episode 6, February 18, 2020, Episode 9, March 24, 2020

Chicago PD (Season 7): Episode 10 January 8, 2020; Episode 16, March 4, 2020; Season 7, Episode 17, March 18, 2020; Episode 20, April 15 2020

Hawaii Five-O, Season 10, Episode 18, February 28, 2020; Episode 20, March 13, 2020; Episode 21, March 27, 2020

Magnum PI, Season 2, Episode 18, May 1, 2020

Blue Bloods, Season 10, Episode 19, May 1, 2020

The Blacklist, Season 7, Episode 18, May 8, 2020

Here is a list of shows from the 2018-19 television season that showed criminals using machine guns.

The Rookie (Season1): E2, E4, E9, E17, E20

Magnum PI (Season 1): E1, E15

Chicago P.D. (Season 6): E14

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Federal District Court in California strikes down California’s 2001 Unsafe Handgun Act

The Supreme Court’s Bruen decision is working its way through the lower courts, but Democrats hope they can delay cases getting to the Supreme Court until the court’s makeup changes. What will happen to crime and suicide rates? Without states considering microstamping, decisions like this may give them second thoughts.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney in Santa Anna, California is the latest in a line of decisions striking down state gun laws following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year expanding gun rights. The judge said it would not take effect for 14 days to give the state a chance to appeal. . . .

The 2001 law, known as the Unsafe Handgun Act, requires new semiautomatic handguns to have an indicator showing when there is a round in the chamber and a mechanism to prevent firing when the magazine is not fully inserted, both meant to prevent accidental discharge. It also requires that they stamp a serial number onto bullets they fire, known as microstamping.

Brendan Pierson, “Judge blocks California law requiring safety features for handguns,” Reuters, March 20, 2023.

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