Saturday, August 04, 2007
BY LAURA YUEN and MARA H. GOTTFRIED
Article Last Updated:08/03/2007 11:41:32 PM CDT
The waiting started with something as mundane as a dropped call. But since Peter Hausmann's cell phone connection went fuzzy at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, his wife and children have been in agony.
"You don't want to hear any bad news, but you wish you had news," said Hausmann's 14-year-old son, Andrew.
Heading into the third day after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, though, some families have conceded that the only news left about the missing must be bad.
The waiting hurts the most.
Do they begin to grieve, or do they hold out hope?
What Hausmann's daughter Justina, 16, longed for: "Answers. Why this happened. To see him."
"Some people are hopeful, but I think the hope is, they will have information," said Scott Palmer, a psychologist and volunteer counselor at the American Red Cross family support center at the Holiday Inn Metrodome in Minneapolis.
At least seven people were unaccounted for Friday in the wake of the catastrophe.
Among the missing:
Sadiya Sahal, a Minneapolis nursing student who is five months pregnant;
Hana Sahal, her 20-month-old daughter;
Greg "Jolly" Jolstad, 45, of Kanabec County, a construction worker whose compact loader plunged into the Mississippi River;
Peter Hausmann, 47, of Rosemount, a former missionary who met his wife of 17 years in Kenya;
Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake, an active member of St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis.
Hausmann was on his way to St. Louis Park to pick up a friend for dinner when he called his wife, Helen. He complained about the molasses-slow gridlock that had cars creeping along at 5 mph.
Then the line went dead. Hausmann's family tried calling him back several times. He never answered.
His Rosemount home has drawn neighbors, family and friends helping run the house and take the family's minds off of the catastrophe. Four friends who happen to be priests held Mass on Thursday evening in Hausmann's honor.
It should have been a joyous week: Hausmann had just learned the government of Kenya had ordered a new investigation into the 2000 shooting death of his friend, the Rev. John Kaiser.
The Mass was tough, Justina Hausmann said.
"People talked about him in the past tense, and I wasn't ready to hear that," she said.
At the Red Cross station, the mood from Thursday to Friday changed from hope to distress, said Alan Brankline, a disaster and mental-health social worker. Families and friends have been wrestling with a range of emotions, he said.
"There's some anger," Brankline said. "They're angry because they're looking at their life in a whole new different way."
But that anger doesn't appear to be directed toward the bridge's troubled history, said Palmer, the psychologist.
"I think people think it's a horrible, freak accident," he said. "They want to find out eventually what happened."
By Friday afternoon, Dorothy Svendsen had no word about her son, Jolstad, a Mora native and construction worker for Progressive Contractors Inc. Many people, including Svendsen, presumed her son couldn't have survived the wreckage.
The waiting "isn't easy," said Svendsen, of Hinckley. "We're coping."
Sahal, 23, was driving her young daughter in a white Toyota Highlander on Wednesday evening on her way to visit her nephew, a family member said. She moved from Somalia to the United States in 2000 and graduated from Washburn High School in Minneapolis.
Sahal's husband, upset about her disappearance, went without sleep the first two nights. He hasn't been able to bring himself to speak about his wife.
His despair grows as the hours pass with no answers.
"It's a race against time," said Omar Jamal, a spokesman for the family.
Sacorafas, the White Bear Lake woman, was heading to her church near Lake Calhoun to teach children Greek folk dancing. She called another parishioner shortly before 6 p.m. to say she was stuck in traffic on I-35W, said the church's pastor, the Rev. Paul Paris.
The San Diego native moved to Minnesota one or two years ago, Paris said. At a service Friday night in preparation for the Dormition of the Theotokos - or the passing of the Virgin Mary - parishioners prayed for an intervention.
"A miracle is not looking very good right now," the pastor said before the service. "We're all trying to hold onto hope that she'll be all right."
Rick Alonzo contributed to this report.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
By Lucianne Limo
East African Standard
It is now official that Fr John Anthony Kaiser was murdered. This became obvious after a Nairobi court tore into shreds, a theory propagated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that the Catholic priest committed suicide.
"The suicide theory is replete with loopholes and missing links. The theory raises more questions than answers. On the whole this court finds the FBI report to be seriously flawed, superficial and lopsided," Nairobi Magistrate Mrs Maureen Doer said on Wednesday.
And the court ordered fresh investigations to establish conclusively the identity of Fr Kaisers killers, concluding that there exists sufficient evidence to show a third party involvement in Kaiser’s death.
The court also ordered the police to investigate Mr Francis Kantai, a catechist at Lolgorian Church known to be Fr Kaiser’s close friend at the parish.
Court wants three game rangers to be investigated
The magistrate ruled that Kantai knows more than he testified in court and needs to be interrogated further to establish what role, if any, he may have played in the death of the priest.
The court also wants three game rangers in Mara Serena, Mr Samuel Kortom, Mr Joseph Kupasar and Mr Daniel Suya to be investigated.
Odero said both Kupasar and Suya admitted that rangers are routinely issued with rifles as powerful as the one that killed Kaiser.
The court faulted the FBI saying they approached the investigation casually as evidenced by their failure to consider any alternative theory to explain Kaiser’s death.
Psychiatrist faulted over mental illness theory
The court also gave the Former Internal Security minister, Mr Julius Sunkuli, a lifeline when it trashed evidence linking him to Kaiser’s death.
The court further rubbished evidence that Kaiser killed himself using his own gun noting that the police and FBI made no Ballistic report available.
The magistrate also faulted psychiatrist, Dr Frank Njenga, for concluding that Kaiser suffered from mental illness without having treated him Kaiser, a Mill Hill Missionary was found dead on the night of August 24, 2000, at Morendant junction on the Nakuru-Naivasha highway.
Story by MARK AGUTU
Publication Date: 8/2/2007
Catholic priest Antony John Kaiser [sic] was murdered, contrary to claims by the world-renowned American Federal Bureau of Investigations and Kenyan police that he killed himself.
An inquest into the priest’s death trashed FBI’s report advancing the “Suicide Theory” saying it was based on a preconceived notion that the priest killed himself and not any concrete evidence.
It also ruled out possibilities of the priest having been mentally unstable saying no tangible evidence was tabled in court to back the claim.
But Chief Magistrate Maureen Odero said she could not — on the basis of evidence tabled before her in the inquest — point out with certainty who the priest’s killers were.
Consequently, Mrs Odero recommended that police carry out a fresh round of investigations to ascertain those behind the priest’s grisly death seven years ago.
She zeroed in on a number of people who should be investigated to determine whether or not they played any role at all in the death of Fr Kaiser.
Fr Kaiser met his death on the night of August 23-24, 2000 and his body was found at the Morendant Junction along the Naivasha-Nakuru High way. The cause of death was massive head injury due to a gun shot to the head.
According to the court, those who should face investigations are a Catholic Church Catechist Francis Kantai, who was serving under Fr Kaiser at the Lolgorian Parish within Ngong diocese at the time. Though it was stated that Mr Kantai was close to Fr Kaiser, his behaviour in the period leading to the priest’s death raised many questions.
His evidence was in the court’s view “unreliable, evasive and contradictory” besides a personal admission that he lied to the FBI. He also disappeared after Fr Kaiser’s death and never attended his funeral, as expected of a friend.
Others to be investigated are Kenya Wildlife Service game rangers at the Mara game park Samuel Kortom, Joseph Kupasar and Daniel Suya.
Their involvement in the disappearance of a rifle and a magazine from Mara Serena armoury around this time, raised many questions that beg for answers.
Loss of firearm
“It is not lost to the court that the rifle is a high powered firearm similar to the type used to kill Fr Kaiser. It is highly suspicious that close to the time Fr Kaiser meets his death a mystery still exists as to the loss of a firearm and a magazine from the Mara,” Mrs Odero observed.
But the inquest cleared former Cabinet minister Julius Sunkuli who it had been claimed in the inquest was unhappy with the priest’s involvement with two girls — Ann Suwayo and Florence Mpayei — who had lodged rape complaints against the Kilgoris MP.
“If Sunkuli wanted to eliminate a person because of these allegations, then in the court’s view, he would have targeted the girls themselves or his named political detractors and not Fr Kaiser who was not the source of the allegations.
“It is probably true that Sunkuli may have been unhappy that Fr Kaiser supported these girls but then many other people offered support to the two girls including the officials at FIDA who filed cases on behalf of the girls. Why would he target Fr Kaiser whose role in the whole thing was peripheral?” the court posed.
While trashing the suicide theory, Mrs Odero gave the FBI a tongue lashing, dismissing their report as “replete with loopholes and missing links and raised more questions than answers.”
Despite the priest being an American citizen, the FBI took a very casual approach to this investigation as evidenced by their failure to consider any alternative theory to explain Fr Kaiser’s death and their ignoring very blatant anomalies, Mr Odero said.
“On the whole this court finds the FBI report to be seriously flawed, superficial and lopsided.
She said her decision was based on evidence at the scene such as the state of the priest’s pick-up which bore signs of a knock with another vehicle and the body posture. Key police witnesses also testified that the scene looked interfered with.
Following the decision which is likely to pave way for fresh investigations, the court granted a request by Catholic’s lawyer Mbuthi Gathenji that the exhibits tabled before the inquest be preserved.
Amen! The truth at last!
While this was something all of us already believed, the validation and governmental admission is a wonderful bonus!