This Saturday marks the 45th anniversary of the infamous ‘Saturday Night Massacre,’ when an embattled President Richard Nixon fired the special Watergate prosecutor, but only after both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General refused to carry out the President’s orders, and resigned from their positions. The move by President Nixon came during an ongoing legal dispute over the release of the Watergate tapes – recordings made in the Oval Office by a secret taping system that the President had installed – which ultimately contained evidence that forced Nixon from office. Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox wanted all the tapes for his investigation, but even with the backing of a federal court order, President Nixon refused to turn them over, instead offering summaries, an offer that Cox refused to accept. “I’m not looking for a confrontation,” Cox told an October 20, 1973 news conference at the National Press. “I’m certainly not out to get the President of the United States.” Several hours later, Nixon ordered that Cox be fired. The President first asked Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and quickly resigned. The same request the went to Deputy Attorney General Williams Ruckleshaus. Like Richardson, Ruckleshaus also refused and quit. Finally, the firing of Cox was carried out by Solicitor General Robert Bork. It’s a scenario that some have focused on, wondering if President Donald Trump might try to end the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. In an op-ed in August of 2018, Ruckleshaus drew parallels between Watergate and the current battle over the Russia investigation. “President Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington,” Ruckleshaus wrote. “45 years ago when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.” “Nixon was fixated on ending the Watergate investigation, just as Trump wants to shut down the Mueller investigation,” Ruckleshaus added. It took until late July of 1974 for the U.S. Supreme Court to finally order Nixon to turn over the tapes – in a unanimous 8-0 ruling. Nixon resigned soon after, on August 8, 1974.
Prosecutors announced Friday they’ve issued seven arrests warrants, including for a former Fort Valley State University official, for prostitution and sodomy that allegedly began a year ago. >> Read more trending news Warrants were issued Tuesday for Ernest Harvey, 47; Kenneth Howard, 56; Ryan Jenkins, 35; Charles Jones, 57, of Fort Valley; Devontae Little, 26, of Warner Robins; and Arthur James Nance Jr., 46, of Cordele, each are charged with pandering and solicitation of sodomy stemming from conduct alleged to have occurred in 2017 and 2018. Former Fort Valley State University executive assistant to the president Alecia Jeanetta Johnson, 48, of Fort Valley, is charged with six counts of pimping on allegations she arranged to provide a prostitute to the six men. Johnson also is charged with six counts of prostitution on allegations she performed, offered or consented to perform a sexual act for money or other items of value, prosecutors said. Johnson additionally is charged with conspiracy to commit fiduciary theft stemming from allegations she conspired to take scholarship money, a book scholarship, that had been granted to a student in October 2015, prosecutors said. >> Trending: Convicted killer charged in 1988 cold case murder, suspected in up to 8 more slayings The investigation was conducted by the GBI, with assistance from the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and at the request of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. Officials announced in April they were investigating sexual misconduct and hazing at Fort Valley, about 30 miles south of Macon. Adrian Patrick, the attorney representing Johnson, told the AJC at the time that she has not done anything illegal. Fort Valley State released a two-paragraph statement Friday afternoon saying its first priority is the safety of its students. Jones was the university’s chief legal counsel until he was fired a few months ago, university officials said. “We have consistently and aggressively worked with the University System of Georgia and law enforcement to ensure that anyone who allegedly puts our students at risk is investigated thoroughly and expeditiously, and have advocated for the most appropriate standards to be applied. While we cannot comment on the details of an ongoing investigation, we expect anyone who has compromised the trust of our students to be held accountable with all deliberate speed,” it said. >> Trending: Man charged with killing girlfriend released from jail when police find new suspect by chance Additionally, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. was conducting its own inquiry into “unauthorized activities and misconduct involving current and former members,” according to a letter it sent to the Fort Valley State sorority chapter. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution received a copy of the letter in April from the university through the Georgia Open Records Act. Johnson was a graduate advisor for the sorority’s chapter.
A Pennsylvania man in prison for killing his wife and stepdaughter in March has been charged with another slaying, this time of a man who witnessed a burglary he committed in 1988, and investigators say he’s a suspect in at least six more murders. Regis Andrew Brown, 59, has been charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of Bryce Kenneth Tompkins, 45, whose body was found by hunters the day after Christmas, partially submerged in a creek near New Castle. He is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault and a single count of witness intimidation. WPXI in Pittsburgh reported that police officials said Brown admitted his involvement in the slaying, telling cold case investigators he shot Tompkins, a neighbor, because he had witnessed a burglary Brown and another man, Paul Michael Ayersman, committed in New Castle. Ayersman is now dead. Pennsylvania State Trooper Joe Vascetti said during a news conference Thursday that Brown is also suspected in a string of homicides in the southwestern portion of the state between 1986 and 2016. “He’s either been arrested for or confessed to or is a strong suspect in eight homicides right now,” Vascetti said. “We’ve done extensive interviews with him. He was in or around Lawrence County back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. He associated with a lot of individuals that we are looking at that are involved in some other homicides back in that era. He may be tied to or have knowledge (of) an additional six to eight homicides from that area.” If that is the case, Brown could be tied in one way or another to as many as 16 slayings. See the news conference on Brown’s latest arrest below. Vascetti declined to go into further detail about those cases because they are ongoing investigations. He said Brown confessed to at least two additional homicides besides that of Tompkins. “He has a checkered past,” Vascetti said. “He is a violent offender. He was involved in a lot of violent crimes back then.” Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said during the news conference that Brown and Ayersman were arrested in December 1988 for a series of burglaries they’d committed in New Castle. Taken in one of those burglaries was a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver -- the same caliber of the gun that was used to kill Tompkins. Tompkins was shot twice in the back, Lamancusa said. Lamancusa said that detectives questioned Brown about the Tompkins slaying March 19, shortly after Brown had been arrested in connection with the deaths of his wife and stepdaughter. According to Erie News Now, Michele Brown, 53, was bludgeoned to death and her daughter, Tammy Greenawalt, 35, was stabbed to death. “It was a horrendous scene,” Vascetti said Thursday. “He’s just a vicious individual.” The New York Post reported that Brown tied Greenawalt to a chair before beginning to stab her. He beat his wife to death in their garage when she returned home later that day. Greenawalt’s 14-year-old daughter witnessed portions of the killings before her grandfather tied her up in a bedroom of his Fairview Township home for most of the weekend, Erie News Now reported. When she went to school the following Monday, school staff noticed marks on her wrists and the girl admitted her grandfather had tied her up. Police officers who went to the Brown home for a welfare check when neither woman showed up for work found Michele Brown’s body wrapped in a rug in the garage. Greenawalt was still seated in the chair and covered with a blanket, the news station reported. Officers found a sledgehammer and a broken pair of scissors, both of which appeared to have blood on them, the station said. Regis Brown, who pleaded guilty to the murders last month, was sentenced to life in prison. Lamancusa said Brown confessed to killing Tompkins during that interview in March. “He described where the killing occurred, the motive for it, the disposal of the body and the subsequent burial of the .38-caliber pistol,” Lamancusa said. The district attorney said that investigators tried on two separate occasions to find the buried weapon but could not because the area had been built up in the intervening years with dirt and fill. “However, several witnesses have been developed in this case throughout the entire investigation and are prepared to testify to their knowledge of the killing,” he said. Those witnesses’ identities are being kept secret due to Brown’s affiliation with at least one motorcycle gang, Lamancusa said. >> Read more trending news Vascetti said Brown was a person of interest in Tompkins’ slaying from the beginning, specifically because of the burglary spree he and Ayersman committed. When Brown was arrested, he was in possession of a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun stolen in the same burglary in which the .38-caliber revolver was taken. “(Troopers) knew it was from a burglary near where the victim lived and knew Regis Brown lived two doors up from the victim, and, you know, things started to click,” Vascetti said. He said Brown did not know Tompkins, who had a habit of walking around the neighborhood at night. “Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Vascetti said. The men confronted him a few nights later and shot him execution-style, the trooper said. “Just a brutal murder,” Vascetti said. “Ruthless.” Tompkins’ family expressed relief that the case has finally been solved. “After 30 years, I’m completely relieved for our family that we can have this closure and my dad can rest now,” his daughter, Stacey Harding, said, according to WPXI. Brown’s stepson, Alan Greenawalt, said he wishes the arrest had come much sooner. If it had, he told Erie News Now, his mother and sister might still be alive. “I just wish things were different,” Greenawalt said. “Whatever he gets, he gets. He deserves it.”