20/20 on the Anne Pressly case

The segment on 20/20 last night about the murder of Anne Pressly in Little Rock was worth watching, mainly in order to get more of a feel for the place and the personalities, and for such details as the small detached house where Pressly lived alone like a sitting duck. Obviously no white woman in a racially mixed city or town—indeed no woman of any race living in any city with a black or Hispanic population—should reside alone in a detached house without a significant home security system in place, or better yet a firearm. The show offered some new details, such as that the accused killer, Curtis Lavelle Vance, had been seen stalking women at a Little Rock health club in the days before Anne’s murder. One woman patron of the club, a blond like Pressly and like Kristin Edwards of Marianna whom Vance also raped, had seen Vance standing by the parking lot outside the gym near her car masturbating. Apparently she didn’t call the police about it. If she had called the police, perhaps Anne Pressly would be alive today—that’s my observation, not the observation of 20/20. There was a lengthy interview with Kristin Edwards in which she explained how she did everything that Vance had told her to do when he was raping her, including not looking at his face, and she made clear that that was apparently why he did not harm her, while Pressly, who resisted him, was killed.

But the treatment of the crime was superficial. The program never stated that Lavelle is a black man raping white women, and that in the three incidents we know of—Edwards, Pressly, and the woman at the health club—his targets or prospective targets were blond. It did not address the question of why the police had covered up for over a month the fact that Pressly had been raped. Obviously they knew from the day her beaten body was found that she had been raped, but they described the crime as a “random burglary,” even as Anne’s mother, who had discovered her after the attack, had insisted from the start that her daughter had been targeted.

So what we have here is that local authorities concealed the racial rape—in addition to the disfigurement and murder—of a beautiful young white woman by a black man, until they couldn’t conceal it any more. But that is not mentioned on 20/20. The only reference to that issue is Anne’s mother’s complaint about the designation of the crime as a random burglary, about which there is no further comment.

In sum, the one lesson conveyed by the program was Kristin Edwards’s lesson that if you are raped, don’t resist but do what the rapist tells you to do, and you will live. Other possible lessons—such as that black predators roam our society, such as that black men often seek out white women to rape them, such as that white women should be especially on guard toward black men who behave suspiciously, such as that it’s not a good idea for a pretty young white woman to live alone in an unprotected, detached house in a city with a large black population, such as that the police and media tend to cover up and downplay the black rape of white women—were not stated.

Another notable oddity: the segment had many shots of Little Rock police officers, and in almost every instance the officers were black. [See Ken H.’s correction on this point below.] In the 2000 census, Little Rock is 55.1 percent white and 40.4 percent black, so the police department must be over half white. Why the attempt to give the impression that the Little Rock Police Department, particularly the officers working on the Pressly case, is overwhelmingly black? Obviously it was to mitigate the effect of the black on white rapes and murder, with the idea that there are good black people too.

So that is a second and possibly a third lesson conveyed by the segment: there are good blacks; and the rape and murder of Anne Pressly had nothing to do with race.

* * *

Here are other VFR entries on the Anne Pressly murder:

Anne Pressly’s parents, on Today, reject bland police account of murder

How the suspect in Little Rock murder was found

Between the motive / And the act / Falls the (liberal) shadow [About the NY Times coverage. Its headline on the arrest of the suspect, over a month after the rape and murder, is: “Robbery Suspected as Motive in Beating Death of Anchor.”]

Black man arrested in home-invasion beating-to-death of TV anchorwoman

- end of initial entry -

David B. writes:

The post about the 20/20 segment about Anne Pressly case was very insightful. I had wondered what her neighborhood looked like. I had inferred that it was an upscale location, which made Anne mistakenly think it was safe. The small house she lived in was somewhat isolated. One account I read admitted that the “bad section” of town was not far away from “the country club” which was next to Anne’s neighborhood.

It seems that Kristin Edwards is from Maine and came to Arkansas to “help the disadvantaged.” Kristin seemed to be living in a black neighborhood. I would have advised her not to appear on TV, but she wouldn’t have listened. The fact that the woman at the health club did not report to the police that a suspicious-looking black man (with his pants down no less) was hanging around is a staple of our liberal society. I suspect that she didn’t report it in order not to look like a “racist.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have read of white women living alone who had this happen to them, a lot of them in their homes or apartments. The Columbia grad student is another example, along with the Eastern Michigan student in her unlocked dorm room. They may have thought that walking alone after dark was dangerous, but that it was all right inside their living quarters. As usual, the 20/20 segment did not address any of these issues.

LA replies:


There was nothing upscale looking about Pressly’s small house or its immediate surroundings.

Ken H. from Houston writes:

One note of correction for you. The police chief that was interviewed on the show was from Marianna, the small, largely black town where Kristin Edwards lived. He was not from Little Rock. I also recall that the view into the office where two black officers were working was also Marianna, not Little Rock.

I found the most deceptive parts of the presentation were the Kristin Edwards segments. The woman went out of her way NOT to mention that she knew it was a black man who raped her. He spoke to her, she probably saw his hands, she knew and yet she insisted that she could not identify her attacker. This young woman (from Maine was it?) comes down to work in a black town in Arkansas and does not have any means of self-defense? As someone who has lived in rural Arkansas, my first question would be, “What, are you stupid?” That must be one of the textbook definitions of Eloi behavior. In that town, a voluptuous woman with red hair and peaches and cream complexion might as well have a flashing neon sign on her house that says Victim Lives Here.

It also seems to me that the rapist’s DNA should be able to determine, with some degree of certainty, his race. Again, both the authorities and ABC news went out of their way not to mention that they knew they were looking for a predatory black man. The police chief’s description of how he came to realize that Vance was the guy was disingenuous at best. In a small town like that, the police know who the bad guys are; who is a potential predator and who is not. A black police chief, when not on camera, is likely to have a very realistic attitude about black criminals.

Everyone involved in the piece, the victims, the police, and especially ABC News went out of their way to avoid saying what was obvious and needed to be said, as you have done.

Maryann B. writes:

You can determine sex from someone’s DNA but you can’t determine race. So originally the police did not know the perp was black.

Also, my parents live in Pressly’s neighborhood. It is actually one of the nicest neighborhoods in Little Rock. She lived blocks away from some of the most upscale homes in Little Rock. It is also nowhere near the bad part of town, and is about 99 percent white. So whether Vance was masturbating or not he stuck out like a sore thumb.

Another thing I would have liked 20/20 to address more is why he was in Little Rock. We keep hearing that he has a Little Rock “connection.” He was 100 miles away from his home and no one ever told us why.

Andrew w. writes:

Your correspondant Maryann B. is incorrect when she says that race cannot be determined from DNA. In fact, it is quite easy to do so and completely reliable. See this article about a black serial killer from Louisiana whose race was determined by DNA evidence before his capture. The use of DNA in this case was critical, as the police had been focusing on all of their efforts on finding a white serial killer, based on the belief that serial killers do not choose victims outside of their own race.

Mark J. writes:

Maryann B. wrote: “You can determine sex from someone’s DNA but you can’t determine race.”

I don’t think this is quite true. See this story: “A New DNA Test Can ID a Suspect’s Race, But Police Won’t Touch It,” which notes:

Frudakis’ test is called DNAWitness. It examines DNA from 176 locations along the genome. Particular sequences at these points are found primarily in people of African heritage, others mainly in people of Indo-European, Native American, or South Asian descent. No one sequence can perfectly identify a person’s origin. But by looking at scores of markers, Frudakis says he can predict ancestry with a tiny margin of error.

Since the Baton Rouge case, DNAWitness has been used nationally in nearly 200 criminal investigations. In several, the science played a crucial role in narrowing the suspect field, ultimately leading to an arrest. But its success hasn’t made the technology popular with law enforcement. Frudakis’ company, DNAPrint, has yet to turn a profit and may not survive much longer.

Part of the problem is cost—basic tests run more than $1,000. But the real issue? DNAWitness touches on race and racial profiling—a subject with such a tortured history that people can’t countenance the existence of the technology, even if they don’t understand how it works.

“Once we start talking about predicting racial background from genetics, it’s not much of a leap to talking about how people perform based on their DNA—why they committed that rape or stole that car or scored higher on that IQ test,” says Troy Duster, former president of the American Sociological Association….

Tony Clayton, a black man and a prosecutor who tried one of the Baton Rouge murder cases, concedes the benefits of the test: “Had it not been for Frudakis, we would still be looking for the white guy in the white pickup.” Nevertheless, Clayton says he dislikes anything that implies we don’t all “bleed the same blood.” He adds, “If I could push a button and make this technology disappear, I would.”

LA replies:

The liberal mind at the end of its tether! Rejecting a technology that helps identify criminal perpetrators, because, among other things, it identifies black perpetrators, and, further, because it shows that there are objective differences among the races that are correlated with crime. A society, a movement, a belief system, that says upfront, “We can’t handle the truth,” is not long for this world.

Hran writes:

I noticed that Maryann B., on the 20/20 on the Anne Pressly case, asserts that “You can determine sex from someone’s DNA but you can’t determine race.” On the contrary, there are genetic tests, and ones accepted in law enforcement, that do just that. I don’t know about accuracy, but one company, AncestryByDNA, does give some data on their test.

December 7

Homer Sapiens writes:

You wrote:

“Another notable oddity: the segment had many shots of Little Rock police officers, and in almost every instance the officers were black…Obviously it was to mitigate the effect of the black on white rapes and murder, with the idea that there are good black people too…So that is a second and possibly a third lesson conveyed by the segment: there are good blacks; and the rape and murder of Anne Pressly had nothing to do with race”.

This journalistic tactic has become requisite in cases where race is obvious or can be deduced. Over Thanksgiving, I watched the Fox News coverage of the case. They actually showed a photo of the perpetrator, but always accompanied it with a tough-talking black homicide detective or a black woman reporter commenting on the case. In local news videos about blacks gang-attacking whites, they always end up interviewing a kindly older black in the local neighborhood, usually as they are tending their petunia bed or raking leaves. They are always shown shaking their heads with an expression of sad concern, saying “I think it’s terrible—nothing like this has ever happened in this neighborhood before.”

LA replies:

A commenter above pointed out that several of the black officers who I thought were in Little Rock were actually in Marianna, which is a black city. However, your general observation is probably correct. Just as whites in American public life must, in order to be morally legitimate, have a black metaphorically attached to them at the hip, television programs and movies dealing with criminal nonwhites must, in order to be morally legitimate, balance the criminal nonwhites with good nonwhites.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 06, 2008 09:37 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):