Crime and Punishment Gangs LAPD

The Death of Lily Burk….What We Do NOT Know – UPDATED


After spending way more time than was likely sensible
talking on the phone and exchanging emails with various people from the LAPD, the DA’s office, and the police union, this is what I can tell you thus far about the criminal past of Charlie Samuel, the 50-year old vagrant who is accused of the soul-wrenching murder of 17-year-old Lily Burk:

1. Samuel’s most recent felony conviction appears to be in July 2006,
for petty theft, a misdemeanor charge that was bumped up to a felony because of a prior conviction. He went to prison for the theft and was paroled in February of this year.

2. Just exactly what that “prior” conviction or convictions plural was
—and when it/they occurred—has yet to be confirmed. Over the years, Samuel is reported to have committed at least one burglary and/or a robbery, maybe both, maybe a number of burglaries.* [NOTE UPDATES ON OLD CONVICTIONS AT END OF POST]

What we also do know is that, between 2003 and now, other than the one petty theft, Samuel committed some very small crimes:

3, In August of 2003 he was convicted of driving with a suspended driver’s license.

4. In July of 2006, , he was convicted of putting a non-coin slug into a parking meter.

5. After he was paroled in February of 2009 for the theft, in April of 2009 he violated the terms of his parole by being found with a crack pipe.

So does all that add up to someone whom we should have spotted as a man so bad or crazy that he would kill a 17-year old girl? Or is there lots more?

When the case goes to the D.As office—which may occur today— we may be able to get a better idea, as the prosecutor will need to acquire an accurate listing of Samuel’s prior criminal activity.

Until then, it would be good to stick to what we know.

It was, for instance, not helpful when early Monday morning, Richard Winton reported for the LA Times that Samuel had a “history of violent crimes.” Winton wrote:

A law enforcement source said Samuel had a previous history of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and kidnapping.

At first look, this was dramatic news. The man had a prior kidnapping conviction? And an assault with a deadly weapon?

Except that when the assertions were probed, it appears that the kidnapping and the assault were merely arrests, not convictions.

Yet because the Times did not differentiate but instead gave the blanket impression that all were convictions, the error was reported as fact by many in the local electronic media—and then further spun to make a political point by former Daily News editor turned blogger, Ron Kaye, and to a lesser degree, by the LA Weekly.

Finally at 6:30 Monday night, the Times corrected the story to read:

Sources familiar with his criminal past say [Samuel] has been arrested previously for assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and robbery. He has spent several years in state prison. However, his convictions are more limited and include robbery of an inhabited dwelling, burglary and petty theft.

But by that time the correction was posted, the toothpaste was not only out of the tube, it had sprouted legs and was running down the road.

Ron Kaye wrote:

Charlie Samuel is the poster child for the kind of thugs classified as “non-violent offenders” despite a history of violent behavior — the kind of hopeless criminal who would be included in the governor’s planned release of 27,000 convicts to reduce prison cost.

The Weekly’s report was similar in tone and questioned why Samuel was “allowed to remain on the streets.”

(Oh, gee, I don’t know. It’s that pesky rule-of-law thing again. Troublesome that.)


Just to be clear: Speaking purely personally, if I had the foresight and the opportunity to make Charlie Samuel disappear from the earth by, say, 2 p.m. on Friday July 24, I would do so in heartbeat.

And, when everything is finally known, I’m sure we will find the actual facts of this case are quite ghastly and alarming enough.

But, until that time, no good will come of spinning, generalizing, inventing or exaggerating the truth in order to serve anybody’s personal, professional, or political agenda. No good ever does.
NOTE: This morning’s LA Times story headlined “Collision of 2 L.A. worlds may have led to girl’s death” by Ari Bloomkatz, Joel Rubin and Richard Winton, is well reported and heartbreaking.

And for those wondering if the LAPD definitely has the right guy, this LA Times story answers that question.
*UPDATE: This morning’s LA Times reports that:

In July 1987, Samuel was sentenced to six years in prison for robbing a residence in San Bernardino County, according to the California Department of Corrections. In the years that followed, Samuel was paroled several times and repeatedly returned to prison when he committed other crimes or otherwise violated the terms of his release, records show.


Here are more details on Samuel’s three felony convictions based on CDCR records:

TO RECAP: Charlie Samuel’s most recent felony conviction was in 2006 and was for petty theft, meaning he probably stole something minor from a store. As I mentioned before, because he had two prior convictions the misdemeanor charge was pushed to a felony, and he got prison time: 2 years 8 months.

His prior offenses were:

1. 2nd degree burglary in January of 1998, 11 years ago. (2nd degree means it involved a store or commercial establishment, not a home). He received 2 years, 8 months of which he served 2 years, paroled in Jan 2000.

2. In 1987—22 years ago— he was convicted of robbery of an inhabited dwelling. He got 6 years of which he served not quite 3 years, released in 1990. However he cycled back in three more times between March 1991 and April 1992, for what appear to be parole violations. Each time he spent 2-4 months locked up, suggesting that whatever it was, it was not minor. Although I cannot tell for sure.

If there are violent crimes, I have not yet seen them in his records.
But we do not yet know everything.


  • Celeste I really hope the LAPD has the right guy here. The family deserves justice and if Samuel’s is the guy then we are all lucky he’s off the street.
    But, once the bullshit artists, the reactionary white man’s burden types like Ron Kaye, the fourth estate lynch mobs, and all the other get tough on crime types have expelled all their hot air, it might be just be another case of a pitiful, no account, lifetime petty thief, wino crackhead, homeless skid row bum, who was jacked by the LAPD, due to the criticism put on the dept for supposed lack of action when informed buy the parents of the young girls disappearance, and community pressure to get the killer at all costs and PDQ at that.
    Sometimes LE gets lucky and the guilty party just falls into their laps, but not often when a killer is just a random bum with no connection to the victim and no eyewitness’s.
    I’m anticipating the press conference by the DA’s office and hopefully they have the right guy and some substantial evidence, for the sake of the grieving family.

  • Making the guilty “disappear from this earth” is called capital punishment by us right wingers.

  • Don Q the Racist and Xenophobe blurbs…
    “But, once the bullshit artists, the reactionary white man’s burden types like Ron Kaye, the fourth estate lynch mobs, and all the other get tough on crime types”


    D.Q. hate for gavachos and mayates is obvious to all who read his rants about the Robber Barons and
    Hipsters in the Eastside. Who will be D.Q. next imginary enemy? Run Don Culo Run the migra and the gavachos are all over the Eastside, run to your abuelita’s house, and hide under her falda.

  • Celeste: …if I had the foresight and the opportunity to make Charlie Samuel disappear from the earth by, say, 2 p.m. on Friday July 24, I would do so in heartbeat.

    So, assuming that Samuel is found guilty, would you have the same willingness to make him disappear from the Earth via, say, lethal injection, or would he become one of your social justice causes?

  • DQ: See the LA Times story linked above. They’ve got the security camera video from several locations showing Samuel with Lily Burk.

    Woody (and Pokey), The answer to your two questions is: No, and No. Neither of the above.

    As a mother, I would have done anything within my power to have prevented Lily Burk’s death.

    I do not, however, believe the state should kill people. Never have believed it, never will—no matter how tempting it might become at times. If something happened to someone I love, my opinion would not change. (Although my emotions assuredly would.)

  • Thanks Celeste, a video and fingerprints, and blood on his clothing sure makes a case for Samuel being the culprit, and I’m relieved that there is some hope for justice for the family of that beautiful young girl who’s life was snuffed out so prematurely.

  • Geeleekie! DQ can believe in the LAPD if Celeste blesses off on an arrest? Maybe she can replace Bratton when he moves to London.

    But what would the Arm Chair Cops have done to keep Lily Burk alive?

    Perhaps someone can explain the benefits Lily and her family have enjoyed from the consent decree.

  • DQ: Actually, I think the LAPD did a great job on this. Yes, they caught a break, but those detectives ran with it and worked their butts off with very little sleep at all until they had it nailed.

    RCJP, I didn’t bless the arrest. The facts did that. About me being chief after Bratton, while I think I’d look fetching in the uniform and the sidearm, I suspect the bit about being non-sworn would get in the way of my appointment. Pity, that.

  • Today’s brutal murderer becomes tomorrow’s social cause. If this guy gets the death penalty, Celeste would protest for his life.

    Could the State, at least, give the murderer an injection that would make him really, really sick…and, then, have him treated under Obama’s socialized medicine plan, which would stand a good chance of finishing him off?

  • Cabbee, the police have said they’ve held back his photo so as not to taint photo line ups still to come with witnesses. When he’s arraigned we’ll see his photo, trust me.

  • Woody, what is the point of your last comment? First, you pretend that there are no arguments worth taking seriously against the death penalty. Fine, disagree with them, but to pretend that people oppose the death penalty because they enjoy joining social causes is just arguing in bad faith. It’s pointless, unless your point is piss people off.

    Second, after being asked to be respectful and keep gratuitous liberal-bashing out of an extremely sensitive topic about which many people are sick with fresh grief, you go ahead and turn this girl’s death into another opportunity for you make wingnut jokes about a totally unrelated topic. What the hell is wrong with you?

    Having read WitnessLA and Marc Cooper’s blog for quite awhile now, I know that your behavior in comment sections is often beneath contempt, but I find your callousness and, frankly, stupidity here below even your usual behavior. I would have banned you long ago.

  • Oakwood, the timing of our last two comments coincided well.

    Please, spare the lectures. But, as a liberal, rather than ban me, shouldn’t you oppose censorship?

  • I see D.Q. has to bring the “white man” into the topic of being tough on crime. I gues D.Q. knows for a fact, that no Latinos or Black are have a toough on crime policy.

    Funny comment by Robert Perry about D.Q. not trusting the LAPD arrest of the perp, unless Celetse Celeste blesses off on the arrest. 🙂

    Glad the LAPD didn’t check with D.Q. or Celeste on where or how to look for the suspect.

  • Oakwood Alum, I know it doesn’t help, but Woody is just a huge asshole.

    I thought WBC’s questions on that other thread were basically reasonable though I think Woody (and to a much lesser degree Pokey) could turn down the snark a little bit. If you want to make a point about the death penalty, that’s all well and good, but nasty insinuations that tragedies like this only happen because of liberals are unfair, untrue, and unseemly.

  • Liberals have nothing better to do than talk about how much they hate conservatives. Get over it, guys. Your comments make snark love like love letters.

    Mavis, liberals aren’t necessarily those things that you listed, but they are emotional, short-sighted, and covetous.

  • Why would anyone argue his criminal history or priors? He murdered an innocent 17 year old girl because he felt that getting his next hit of crack was way more important than a human life.
    What the debate should be centered around is why a convicted felon is not serving his orginal sentencing time as ordered by the court. Felons in custody are being released on parole earlier than they should be all because the state and local counties refuse to built more jails…..
    The state is telling every citizen that their financial troubles is more important than the safety of its own people…
    We as law obeying citizens have to pay with our children lives because of our state’s financial mistakes, liberals lawsuits, and tweeked policy to undermine court ordered punishment and sentencing guidelines for criminal acts – forcing hundreds of parolees out of jail – due to over population limits and cry baby liberals and civil rights avocates…..THIS IS BULLSHIT!
    I guess leaving and residing in any other state except California is becoming the greatest idea..
    Let the bottom of social classes be preyed upon and killed. Just so happened that in this case – it was a daughter of a higher social class family. So, its was on channel 2,4,7,9,11, and 13. Dont forget LAPD held a press conference for a criminal that fell on their lap.

  • “About me being chief after Bratton, while I think I’d look fetching in the uniform and the sidearm …”

    Yes my dark hair angel Celeste, a black uniform!
    You would be holding a whip, a dagger and a cigarette. I’d worship your stiletto’s, fondling them, embracing them, even kissing your feet … O Cara Mia I would die for you.

    Querida to live without you, only that would be torture!

    You bewitched me. I proposed that very night. Oui, mon amour … with a sidearm!!

  • California and Topanga need to establish a program like “Adopt-a-Highway,” but allow do-gooders to adopt criminals that the prisons can’t handle. Maybe call it “Adopt-a-Highwayman.”

    Shouldn’t people who say that they care about crowded prisons actually show that they care by taking in some felons and drug users? It would be like having another cat in the house…something that expects you to take care of it but shows no appreciation.

  • Hey, can we get everyone to clean up thier own mess around here please. We could do it very quickly if everyone just cooperated. There is no need to be shell fish around here.

  • Teen shot at Norwalk shopping center dies
    1:01 PM | July 17, 2009
    A teenage boy shot Thursday night in a Norwalk shopping Center has died, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said today.

    The 17-year-old and his two brothers on Thursday night pulled into a shopping center in the 12500 block of Alondra Boulevard, being followed by two men, Deputy Aura Sierra said. The shopping center is near Cerritos College.

    The two men climbed out of their vehicle and one began firing, hitting the teenager, Sierra said. The two men then got back in their car and fled.

    No suspect or vehicle descriptions were available. A motive for the shooting is still under investigation. Homicide detectives are asking for the public’s help. Anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

    — Ruben Vives

    ************************************************************Here is the story of the twin brother if anyone really cares to read about some good soccer kids getting shot at.

  • Oh, yes Celeste, pity that you’re not sworn, indeed.

    I’d love to see you as the chief, but with two caveats. First you’d have to spend a year pushing an L car in South East. Second, for every major decision you make as chief, you have to go back to SOE and push that L car for another month, and live with your own decisions.

  • I don’t know who you are Celeste but would take issue with this statement of yours.

    The Weekly’s report was similar in tone and questioned why Samuel was “allowed to remain on the streets.”

    (Oh, gee, I don’t know. It’s that pesky rule-of-law thing again. Troublesome that.)


    Can you show me any law that says he had to be released at the time he was? A decision was made to release him but no law I’m aware of required his last release. Parole is ridiculous, the stats show the amount of major felony crime committed by parolees and we do nothing about it.

    House them all for their entire period of commitment and see how crime stats go down.

  • Sure Fire, we don’t entirely disagree. Our parole system is hopelessly broken and helps neither the parolee nor public safety. Rather than natter on here, let me refer you to this 2006 Op Ed by Joan Petersilia who is one of the best of the nation’s experts in parole and reentry policy. She says it better than I can.

    About Samuel, his last prison worthy crime was committed and sentenced in July 2006 and was petty theft, meaning he probably jacked something very, very minor from a store. But because he had two prior convictions it was pushed to a felony, and he got prison time: 2 years 8 months.

    His prior offenses were one for 2nd degree burglary in 1998, 11 years ago. (2nd degree means it involved a store or commercial establishment).

    The other conviction was in 1987 for robbery of an inhabited dwelling—22 years ago. He got 6 years.

    In any case, if he had served the full term he was given for the 2006 conviction, instead of getting parole, he would have been released in April of 2009 with zero supervision.

    Now of course we all wish to God that somehow Charlie Samuel had been locked up instead of killing Greg Burk and Deborah Drooz’s only daughter. But he had committed no crime that mandated it—parole or no parole. That’s what I meant about the rule of law.

    I think all this righteous shrieking about “how could he be walking this streets?” is disingenuous political posturing that has no interest in actually addressing real and complex problems of our messed up and very expensive corrections system. And I resent those who use this terrible, terrible tragedy to do it, quite frankly—especially when they offer only self-righteousness and no solutions. (That was not directed at you, BTW.)

  • I’m relieved that the ult-liberal thought police of Mavis and Oakwood Alum have more or less deemed my comments previously as “generally reasonable” but I’m tired of everything having to pass muster with the ult-lib thought police in the first place, or get jumped on. So much for respect for others’ opinions and the freedom of expression you all supposedly stand for.

    This plays into the gameplan of the far right and certainly fuels Woody to be even “snarkier’ and intentionally more offensive. A bad game of polarizations feeding upon themselves. I believe the vast majority of us don’t fall into either extreme, just aren’t represented on this blog — where there’s the Celsste/ Marc Cooper faction (he and his kind thinking Hillary is fascist and writing dozens of “articles” on the theme before being fired from the Weekly in the one reasonable thing that jill Stewart has done that I can think of), and then the extreme right of Woody and Ann Coulter/ Rush Limbaugh, and more or less Pokey and John Moore (I think that’s his name?). We’re not represented because we’re jumped on or at least scrutinized by the “thought police” and are just sick of it.

    This is a horrible tragedy and the underlying fact remains, as Poplock says, that the killer was a junkie recently released from a lowest-security level drug rehab program under the lowest-level parole supervision, who was arrested for armed assault and kidnapping even if there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial with certainty — as often happens, frustrating the cops — who slashed a young girl’s throat because she failed to get him a few bucks to fill his crack pipe, and he got scared or impatient or… Anyway, the fingerprints say he did it. And if there’s anything we can learn from this to prevent anything like this happening again, exposing what went wrong while this tragedy is in the public eye IS the only good that could come out of it. NOT THAT THAT is any consolation to the bereaved parents now or possibly ever.

    To that end, I’ll say something that will get the thought police all over me for sure. There is speculation on blogs like Ron Kaye mentioned here, that maybe Lily didn’t regard a homeless guy like this as a threat initially, but being raised in a very liberal home and private school environment to see the homeless as objects of charity, like those she helped in the needle exchange program, she might not have acted with the self-preservation instincts that might have made someone hardened by the realities of a less rarified atmosphere to run instead of try to help. Sorry but I don’t see anything necessarily disrespectful in asking that question — unless it’s used for some political purpose and distorted, as the Jamiel’s law case was against illegals and SO40 and lA’s “sanctuary city major” and all Democrats etc. etc. — because if teaching our kids realism instead of PC “we’re all the same” pieties will keep them safer, it’s something to seriously consider. NOT that we know WHAT happened in those tragic moments when Lily first met Samuels, NOT that anyone is blaming this school and certainly not her parents, who taught at the school and clearly went to the area regularly herself. And the last thing we need to do is suggest anything that could make her feel guilty or worse than she must already feel now.

    What we do need to take away from her parents is what they’re quoting saying in the Daily News: the tragedy is a reminder of how fleeting life is, how unpredictable, and we should all treasure more preciously every minute we share with our loved ones.

  • The LAT’s “Collision” is well written, but the hed is wrong. It wasn’t a collision, ala a Spike Lee movie. Samuels moved into Lily’s world and slashed it open.

    I live downtown (not the Westside, not Topanga, not Santa Monica), and my kids know that if some junkie on 7th knocks on the window of the car, run the red light and take off. As long as Skid Row is allowed to be the drug Walmart of LA, junkies will go there, straight out of “rehab”.

    Samuels was a violent offender–a what point did anyone qualified decide he was no longer a danger?

    ” in April of 2009 he violated the terms of his parole by being found with a crack pipe.”

    Shouldn’t this have been a tip-off that perhaps Samuels was no longer interested in the rule of law? I’d love to meet his last attorney.

    And I don’t know that we’ll see his photo. LAT hasn’t published the face of the USC hit and run driver in Sybil Brand.

  • WBC, your attitude just perplexes me. When I offend your sensibilities (by asking people to be respectful, more or less), I’m the goddamn ult-lib pc thought police whatever. But when you offend my sensibilities, that’s just sensible centrist middle american common sense? bullsh*t. And what is this, “well, we don’t know for sure, but maybe the mom taught her homeless people are beautiful flowers” crap? Come on. If you don’t want to be told to stop being a jerk, then don’t act like a jerk. yeesh.

    As for Woody, I really would like our hostess to articulate why she hasn’t banned that evil clown from commenting. His racist joke at 12:14pm alone seems like sufficient grounds to me.

  • I don’t know about being the thought police but a statement like WBC makes below is tantamount to saying in code, something along the lines of “those Liberal parents should be ashamed that they didn’t keep their daughter inside the guarded gated community, didn’t teach her to fear minorities and especially if they are from the “lower class’s”, and to always keep a stiff upper lip when faced with one of the wooly wooly’s, after all one should be taught to recognize class distinctions as Divine provenance, kindness is a sign of weakness in “those” peoples eyes.

    “To that end, I’ll say something that will get the thought police all over me for sure. There is speculation on blogs like Ron Kaye mentioned here, that maybe Lily didn’t regard a homeless guy like this as a threat initially, but being raised in a very liberal home and private school environment to see the homeless as objects of charity, like those she helped in the needle exchange program, she might not have acted with the self-preservation instincts that might have made someone hardened by the realities of a less rarified atmosphere to run instead of try to help.”

    Sick f”’g attitude and cloak to throw on the parents of Lily Burk no matter how one tries to dress it up.
    Maybe we’re doomed as a society.

  • Oakwood Alum, I’m not much for banning people. When they get really out of hand I spike—AKA disappear—their comments.

    As for Woody, consider it theater. (If Woody wasn’t doing Woody who would?)

    Besides, he often sends me great story tips via email.

    But I understand the question. You’re far from the first person who has asked it. I even have friends and colleagues who bring him up.

  • Does anybody care about Don Quackers comments. We already know he hates gavachos and “mayates” especially if they decide to move to the Eastside.

    Don Quackers you should go back to posting as Santiago, Hiroshi, Jimmy Tummors and the other of your wacky characters. Have you been stalking Mary Cummins or Walter Moore lately?

    If anyone is bored google the words “mary cummins and don quixote”, it’s a comedy riot.

  • No Oakwood alum, you wouldn’t get it – but you can take solace that don quixote agrees with you. You just get smugger and smugger. Just follow Conchita’s links and you’ll find you’re in good company. If you have the time. Given your idea of what’s offensive, you’ll find plenty of other blogs and papers to police for things that “offend your sensibilities.” I don’t think you’re helping the situation by this, but you’re clearly compelled to confirm every worst stereotype.

  • Well thanks WBC, and check yourself in the mirror, see what kind of company you keep, you and Conchita are a real swell pair. Maybe you can share your meds.

  • Just google mmmaryinla, or mary cummins of animal advocates, is a bigger riot. the girl is a total lunatic.

  • About Samuel, his last prison worthy crime was committed and sentenced in July 2006

    For which he was caught. How abut the estimate 10x that number of crimes for which he wasn’t arrested? For that matter, how about his arrests, which were likely for crimes he actually committed, for which he was not convicted.

    I don’t know how we can better detect scum like this so we can get them off the streets, but so far, we do a poor job.

    It’s this sort of guy who was responsible for the three strikes law. The public quit rightly figured that folks who are convicted three times of crimes have preyed on their fellow citizens 30 times, and will keep doing so until they die. Hence 3 strikes.

    I know a 3 strikes guy in CA who, I guarantee you, will commit the next time he gets out, which is actually finally going to happen. It’s a real tragedy – he has never done anything violent, but he is irreversibly a criminal and harms other people through his crimes, even though he has no malice. What to do with someone like that? Australia is no longer an option.

    But it isn’t the solution (it didn’t deter this guy).

    One thing we don’t know is why this guy got violent this time. Was it because he has been working up to it under the radar? Was something special that day – bad drugs, unhappy events, or some behavior of the victim?

    This is why people move to suburbs and live in gated communities – so they can segregate themselves better from potentially dangerous people.

  • People who ask for a little decency (not censorship, just some decency) when tragedy strikes, and are concerned about friends and family who may be actually be reading these posts and comments are somehow the thought police? Have you read 1984? I assure you, the thought police were not blog commenters who merely suggested a little respect and milder tone in the wake of a horrible tragedy.

    Calm down. Everybody isn’t out to get you.

  • Celeste, I have 30 years of law enforcement on board, I’ve seen this crap way to often and the suspect is almost always a probationer or parolee. I would bet money Samuel has been a problem since childhood. His April 2009 violation could have had him still behind bars. I have parole agent friends who are as frustrated as I am over their inability to violate these thugs for more than the time they get and than their right back doing these types of crimes, it’s a pathetic way to treat our citizenry just trying to go about their lives.

    I appreciate your comments but society, thanks to the absolute abdication by the left to any real effort to keep criminals locked up will continue to lose some very bright young people. Something like this will take place again soon, it always does and turning our back on what we really need to do to make our streets safe will come second to the thought that people who go to jail, time and again, can or want to do better. It’s a fairy tale and any I think most people realize that.

    An opinion piece in the LA Times about 20 years ago and written by a shrink whose name I can’t remember said that in all the years he had done evaluations on death row inmates he came to the realization that there are some people who are born evil or that type of force takes them over. He had found no other explanation for their behavior.

    People need to wake up to the fact a lot of these people are walking among us waiting to unleash their fury, and not all of them are listed as “violent offenders” but have a long history of arrest and conflicts with law enforcement and others. Those conflicts should be a big red flag to the system…WHY DO WE DO NOTHING ABOUT THEM?

    Her parents did nothing wrong and I mourn for them.


    I have let things go as they will here these past few days because this is deliberately a public forum, and I figure people express their anxiety about the implications of a tragedy such as the death of Lily Burk in different ways.

    I have dealt with my own painful feelings in the matter of Lily’s death by obsessively writing about it.

    But, what I haven’t said is that, while I really only know Lily’s dad, Greg, to say hello to him, he worked at the LA Weekly for 25 years during the same years that I wrote regularly for the paper. He, his wife, and his only child, Lily, are/were extended family to a great many of my friends.

    This is a tragedy that has lacerated many, many people in my personal circle. And it has smashed the lives of two very decent people.

    So here’s the point:

    A spirited, even quarrelsome discussion on the topic is fine. Necessary even.

    But please know that your words are being read by a number of people who are dealing with much grief. And act accordingly.




  • Sure Fire, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think if we had problem solving people from your side of the fence (law enforcement et al) and ditto from my side (bleeding heart but wanting actual solutions), we could creat policies that worked, that we both could live with happily.

    I have far less faith in our legislators, unfortunately.

  • If I had suffered such a loss as have the parents of Lily Burk or was close to her, I don’t think that I could even watch the news, and I sure wouldn’t want to go to a blog where the issue of the child’s death is discussed from various points of views.

    I’m very sad for the parents, but their daughter can’t be brought back, but other lives might be saved if the response to her murder isn’t more of the same coddling of criminals and throwing open the prison gates.

    Also, I sincerely feel badly for you and your pain on this, too, Celeste. Maybe a satisfactory end will result from this.

  • Perhaps, you saw this, Celeste.

    Poet Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno’s new collection of poems, Slamming Open the Door, documents the aftermath of the murder of her daughter Leidy Bonanno.

    It may be healing for her to write these poems, but it’s painful to read them.

  • I’ll go check them out. Thanks Woody. And, luckily for me, my pain is nothing. It is all felt from a distance. Many I know fall into a very different category.

  • I just read the Bonanno poems posted at the NPR link. They’re completely astonishing. Completely.

    Rageful. Drenched in the deepest kind of grief. Totally cleansing.

    Thank you.

    Oakwood alum, you asked why Woody’s here. This is why.

  • Well, if you think Woody’s poem recommendations and news tips outweigh the racism and sheer hate, it’s your call. It’s your blog, after all. Which is not to dismiss the powerful poems.

    To address Woody’s point at 8:42am, Celeste’s point was clearly not that Lily Burk’s parents are reading these blog comments, but rather that they ARE being read by the community to which her father belonged. That’s why people should think twice before making this tragedy about themselves or their issues. To the extent that I’ve distracted from that point by the manner in which I’ve requested that, I’m regretful.

  • Oakwood, that former comment wasn’t racist. It showed a news reporter who looked similar to the artist’s rendering of a criminal suspect. It takes a person like you to find something offensive in everything. Why don’t you try to enjoy life?

    Did you know that the IRS hates black men? What other possible explanation could there be for expecting a black man to comply with tax laws?

  • As I read more about this case, it reminds me even more of an attack on my niece a few years ago. It happened in the country, though, not in the city. But the perps are basically interchangeable. In my niece’s case, it was her sunny and charitable nature that put her in harm’s way (she went up to a guy whose truck hood was up, asking if she could help. It turns out he had been stalking her, had leg irons in the back seat he tried to put on her, etc.

    The point is that while her loved ones wish that her good-spiritedness had not led her to approach that particular monster, in fact no one–her mom, her dad, her siblings, her boyfriend, me–has ever wished that she were less good-spirited. And though she still has shocks of fear when she sees a certain kind of ravaged, toothless kind of guy, she has not lost her good spirit. She is beginning her internship as a school psychologist this summer.

    It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her parents’ fault for teaching her to respect people and want to help them. A gun wouldn’t have helped. The perp–who had served a term for some sort of kidnapping 3 decades before–was turned in by his own son…and the impact on him and his loved ones is just another ripple from this terrible crime.

    I’ve meandered here…my point was don’t blame the victim, don’t blame the victim’s parents. Let them grieve, let them rage, support them.

  • Hey Michael, a gun in the hands of someone who knows the proper way to use it along with the proper time to use it would certainly help in certain situations. Your niece and her parents sound like very good people, but we need to at times temper our “spirit” to help those in need with our common sense that tells us that helping a person that appears OK, especially when your young and female might not always be the best choice to make.

    Good luck to your niece in the future.

    Thanks for the comments Celeste, there are plenty like me around, we just down get the press. The whole system needs a major fine tuning but not by politicians or higher ups in PD’s or social engineers. That’s where we make our big mistakes, a group of common people working towards a worthwhile goal with the experience to make the right choices that puts societal safety first can be found in people like that before most others.

  • Celeste, I couldn’t listen to the interview of Sheeder Bonanno, but I finally did. It’s even more revealing.

    In going to her daughter’s apartment, with the police there and the crowd waiting for the parents to arive to view them, she realized that she played, as in a movie, the role of “Mother of the murdered daughter.” She mentioned that she felt the obligation to spare the policeman the difficult duty of having to say the words, so she asked simply for a “yes” answer that she knew was coming.

    Her poem “Nighttime Prayer,” asking about her daughter’s suffering in her final moments and how long it lasted, is so sad and equally painful.

    She discusses her reaction to the trial and the victim impact statements at sentencing. She read one of her poems to the murderer in her statement.

    There is also her reaction to wanting the man to die even though she didn’t support the death penalty. If there wasn’t a justice system, she would have sought him out and killed him herself…out of love for her child and family. That was interesting. The murderer was sentenced to life in prison without parole. She couldn’t feel free of her rage until he was incarcerated, plus she didn’t have to deal with the guilt of the death penalty.

    The poem “Forgiveness” is about the minister being obligated to ask her to forgive. The church helped her to move forward.

    She has another poem for when the verdit “Guilty” was announced and what she felt. She also shares her emotions when the mother of the murderer came meekly to her to say that she was sorry. At first she despised that mother for bearing the child who would kill her daughter, and then she realized that they were the truest sisters and mothers with children they lost.

    She had to write about her daughter’s death, because that story stood in the way of other writing. She wanted to pull the readers on board for a ride with her, where they couldn’t step off, until the book was over.

    Celeste, I don’t have a command of adjectives and emotions that you do and I can’t do this topic justice with my business vocabulary, but this was a moving interview and worth the 47 minutes to hear it.

    As with most things in life, one can’t begin to understand how someone else feels without having experienced something similar. She brought us as close as she could with her writings.

  • Woody, was that you out there near Lecompton? I thought it was a red neck gang that had beat my best friend half to death and was going to do it to me.

    Oh well.

    PS – he got his revenge. Not much later, he was a cop, and they came to his town.

  • I think Samuel was probably released in part because the state lacks the funds to keep him locked up. Are those who insist the problem is with “the bleeding heart left” willing to pay higher taxes to support longer prison terms? Last time I checked, the state was bankrupt.

  • If only Capital punishment was as aggressive and predicable as parking enforcement is in LA.
    But it not because of all the silly hand-wringing. And anyone that thinks the piece of human garbage only committed the crimes he was caught for is naive and foolish.

    Here’s what the “social safety net” should really be. Lock up forever or just exterminate the perpetual criminals of society.
    All the Money and good intentions cannot keep us safe from these scum. No doubt, in-time, it will be revealed Samuel skated on lots of felony charges , that were plead-down, that kept him from being snared by the CA three-strikes law earlier. Now he gets Four strikes at once and the victim is DEAD. And even if this piece of human refuse gets death row, society wouldn’t exterminate him for at least another quarter century. Right about the time Lily Burk would have been beginning menopause. That is if she were still alive…

    Sorry Lily.
    But the progressives, the ACLU, the homeless advocates and rest of the let-the-repressed-criminals-go-free crowd deemed last Friday that you and your parents had take one for the team.

  • Gee Betzee, I wonder if our being broke has anything to do with the over 56 billion in entitlements we’ve been handing out yearly? Or maybe having 12% of the nations population and 32% of it’s welfare recipients? we don’t nee3d to be taxed any more, we need to vote all the cowards out and reallocate funds to where they’ll do the most good.

    Tom’s right in his comments and I’m sure some on the left would agree with him but don’t have what it takes to go against their friends. Wasn’t it Mark Leno that thought possessing a little bit of child porn was no big deal? People like this are the leaders of our state?

    As long as we have justices who worry about the little bit of pain a condemned prison goes through more than the barbaric act that put them on the gurney in the first place we won’t be safe here. It’s a ridiculous set of procedures that have been set up to make it almost impossible to execute a prisoner in this sate.

    This is supposed to show how caring a people we are while on the other hand we eventually throw to the side the memories of people like Lily Burk.

  • Non-violent offenders” despite a history of violent behavior — the kind of hopeless criminals should be left in jail & the 27,000 who were convicted of murder should be killed! to reduce prison cost. And all of you who disagree” i BET you WONT when your MOM or Daughter,Son ETC is murderd or maybe even YOU! Give me a good reason why we should not Kill murderers????? . It doesnt make any sense to keep paying tax money for these Basters to live, shit, & eat & pleasure one a nother by having anal sex! they are good for nothing but to destroy other peoples life! We need Jail SPACE!! I hope a new law comes to affect that they would KILL all MURDERERS to REDUCE PRISON COST!

  • You put things so delicately Manica. Not a likely happenstance. Put your bra and shoes back on and get back on the street corner pig.

  • don quixote, the first poster, is spewing out his usuall white men being the fault of everything philosophy. Of course he is well known for supporting illegal immigration, which allows unchecked millions of people, with criminal records in Mexico and elsewhere into the U.S. These criminals have already killed many, many Americans, but for Mr.quixote, it’s just “petty crime”. A family man and father along with two of his sons, was cold bloodedly gunned down in broad daylight, in San Francisco, a city that follows don quixotes’ non-reactionary policies. Lily Burk could have been killed by any number of thousands of Mexican and other criminals roaming L.A. This doesn’t matter though, to the non-reactionary, Don Quixote leftists. Instead, just like he says, and I agree but for different reasons, it’s up to the white man, to get his hands dirty cleaning up the mess the far left has made of society. What could illegal immigration possibly have to do with Lily’s murder?? Well, Mr. Samuels was released from prison, because of the financial collapse of California. It’s too expensive to monitor and keep criminals in jail now, because the leftists that run California allowed illegal immigration to bankrupt the state. Well, at leftists like Don Quixote, can be satisfied that criminals aren’t being treated too harshly and are being released early. All of that television in prison and the swimming pools and books, get kind of boring.

    P.S. Don’t kid yourself folks, it is the lefts policies that have made life in big city America, dangerous and intolerable. Afterall, what have all of their social programs accomplished? Bring down the crime rate? NO. Lily was the victim of a devious and faulty life denying philosophy and agenda by some very evil people.

  • # 57 Betsy, yeah, Betsy, the State is bankrupt because of the leftists you mention. Please. The democrats cause the problem and then you ask if conservatives want to pay more taxes? Sure most conservatives support paying taxes to keep people safe, but not for the thousand and one other things liberals make them pay taxes for–like supporting Mexico. Give me a break.

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