Sunday, 8 April 2012

Irene Silverman: Another Murder Victim in a Bag

There are two sides to the fact that the body of Gareth Williams was found in a large sports holdall, in the bath of his flat in Alderney Street in London. (Picture source: Daily Mail.)

There is a consensus that being placed in the bag was probably involved with the cause of death: slow suffocation either by CO2 buildup, or by the cramped position preventing Mr Williams from being able to breathe properly, which is like a crucifixion in reverse: the chest cannot move because of a compressed position rather than an extended one: the same slow death results.

However, it's also believed that the killer's plan was to leave the body in the holdall, in the bath, until it had decayed enough to obliterate any forensics inside the bag, the outside being easily washable. Then, of course, the body could have been removed in the bag without looking too much like a body. (If a body is not to look like a body, it really needs to be folded up before rigor mortis sets in, and that's obviously the case if the body is folded into the foetal position before death.) The flat heating was turned on, despite warm weather, to accelerate the composting of evidence.

There is a precedent for this: a wealthy former ballerina, Irene Silverman, had converted her multi-storey townhouse in New York City into a residential hotel, where tenants would rent rooms, usually for an extended period. The fraudster and murderess, Sante Kimes and her son, Kenneth, moved in, with the intent of defrauding Ms Silverman of the entire property and anything else of value that she might have had. (They had committed similar crimes in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and possibly Louisiana, too.)

This article contains the gist of Kenneth Kimes' description of how he and his mother bashed and strangled Ms Silverman to death, wrapped her in several plastic rubbish bags, and then placed her in a large duffle bag. It omits a telling detail, reported in the TV Documentary "Couples who Kill" that Kenneth Kimes then used a two-wheel sack trolley to get Ms Silverman down to the lobby of a quite tall building, and along the pavement to his car, under the gaze of several other residents and passers-by, without any of them noticing anything odd.

The main difference between Ms Silverman's murder and that of Mr Williams, was that in his case the holdall was of a rubberised material rather than heavy canvas, and therefore there was no need for plastic bags to contain odours and body fluids. The handles of a sports holdall would also make it easier for two men to share the load than would be the case with a duffle bag, especially as the body was was going to have to be lifted out of the bath.

It is probable that if the alarm had not been raised about Mr Williams when it was, his already meticulously clean flat would not have contained a body, and with all remaining forensic traces confined to the bath, the final stage of the cleanup would have taken a few minutes and a few squirts of "Flash" or "Mr Muscle." A sack trolley might have left a pressed track over the carpet, but so would the shoes of men carrying him. Probably, a small cordless vacuum cleaner would have been used to suck the carpet back into pristine shape by whoever was last out of the door.

The ultimate aim must have been to leave the flat looking as if Mr Williams had simply left without any clues, because otherwise it's very strange to remove all forensic clues- -except a dead body in a large holdall! As one of the least scrupulous defence attorneys in Texas has boasted in his cups, it's so much easier to successfully defend a client who manages to make the victim's body disappear!

The thing is, with decay inside and the outside washable, the holdall effectively became a sealed and removable crime scene in a bag.

It is also true that sewing a victim into a canvas bag, to slowly suffocate, was a means of exemplary execution for dissenting Nazi party members. And this may have informed the murderer about the refinement of using the holdall as the murder weapon as well as a forensically hygienic means of body removal. The modus operandi in the Williams case is an intriguing combination of Kenneth Kimes and Adolf Hitler.

PS: if the cleanup operation missed any forensic evidence, anywhere, then the gap between the toilet pedestal and the bath would be it.


Anonymous said...

How horrifying. I have not read all the background of this sad case but I do remember the NY socialite, Irene Silverman. I think this happens A LOT. At least a lot more than we believe or want to think about. In fact, I think that much of this mob-stalking revolves around people knowing something they may not even realize they know. By this pack of murderers covering up murders. It never strays from the subject, really.

stalking ->-> murder with the -> being only slightly different for victims or intended victims or maybe just as subterfuge held forth by "alleged victims" in order to feed the willingly gullible press the lies of the day.

Anonymous said...

Because these folks stalked this woman to her death. It was faster than what is happening to me but still it was stalking.

Over property and other holdings.

If we won't stay poor for them they'll rob us and kill us.

People will do horrifying things for amazingly small sums. I was so horrified when I read "America's Most Wanted" to find that people would take out life insurance policies on THEIR OWN CHILDREN or their wives (or a new boyfriend with the wife on the husband) and then ... and more than once it would be a mother and her son. Sometimes the sums would be as small as 7 thousand or less.

And, look at this poor gentleman, Murray Cohen. He's just another victim until you watch the video seeing his grandbaby the first time.

And I remember now when this first happened I related it to my own stalking experience which was bad but not AS BAD at the time.. no, I take that back, it WAS JUST AS BAD.

crystal rings bells said...

Sante and Kenneth were the epitome of evil. I remember this case well as i waa living on West 10 street in Manhattan at the time for work.