A black-on-white rape and murder, which a movie changed into a white-on-white murder

Adela G. writes:

Before Anne Pressly, and before Christa Worthington, there was Marcy Conrad.

Marcy Conrad is the real name of the victim whose murder was the basis for the 1986 film River’s Edge. By chance, I watched the movie last night. Afterward, I googled the case. I knew it was based on fact because I remember reading about it years before the movie was released.

What I didn’t know until last night was that in the real case, the murderer was black and his victim was white and also that he raped her. I didn’t know these things because back then, I only had access to our local newspaper, which ran no photos with the article nor mentioned race—and because, in the movie, the race of the murderer was changed from black to white. Here are photos of the murderer and his victim:

Charges of sexual assault against two other girls were dropped so they’d be spared the ordeal of testifying. Here’s a New York Times article on the sentencing of the killer in 1982.

LA replies:

Just to get this straight, is this what you’re saying: that the local papers 27 years ago didn’t mention rape or race; that the movie told about the rape but concealed the race; and that only on the Web last night did you learn about the race.

And note this, from the NY Times article Adela linked:

The staff report said that Mr. Broussard had no remorse…. Dr. Howard H. Lee, a staff psychiatrist, characterized Mr. Broussard’s many complaints of mental problems as ”overkill.” He said Mr. Broussard appeared to be without feelings ”about human life” and was ”without emotion, as if nothing touched him.”

That’s the nature of a significant subset of the black population that lives among us.

Adela G. replies:

I lived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1981, the year of this rape/murder. I distinctly recall reading about the case in either the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or the St. Louis Globe -Democrat and discussing it with my boss, who shared my interest in true crime stories. (I read about it at his home and he took both local papers so I don’t recall in which paper I read the article. Unfortunately, the Globe folded in 1986 and the Post online archives only go back to 1988.)

In the movie, there is no mention of rape or race and the killer is played by a white boy. I don’t recall seeing any blacks in it, even in supporting roles.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for the movie mentions the real killer by name but does not mention that he was black.

The contemporaneous Time article likewise does not mention the race of the killer or the fact that he raped his victim.

Since the murderer/rapist was only 16 at the time of the crime, the media and movie-makers were able to spin it as a sad and shocking story of callous, disaffected, amoral youth and omit any mention of race.

Of course, there’s the argument that the movie is not meant as a factual recreation of the case. But it draws many of its details and particulars from the case (e.g., the motive being given that the killer was angry with his girlfriend for insulting his dead mother, the killer’s lack of remorse, the location of the body being near a river, etc.) So why change just the two particulars (rape and race) that lend credence to the stereotype of the violent, sexually predatory black male?

And can anyone imagine that had the real killer been white, his character would have been changed to black for a movie?

LA replies:

Here is the beginning of the Time magazine article that Adela sent. The murder of Marcy Conrad is not the main subject, but the lead-in to the main subject, which is whether young offenders should be punished as adults.

Age of Accountability
Monday, Dec. 14, 1981

When do juveniles become adults?

Authorities in Milpitas, Calif., had never seen such a case of bleak amorality and callousness. Last month, they report, Anthony Jacques Broussard bragged to friends about strangling his former girlfriend, and then invited them out to see the body. One onlooker tossed a stone at the corpse; another helped to hide it; for two days no one notified the authorities. These were not hardened ex-convicts or members of a motorcycle gang. They were teen-age students at Milpitas High School. Anthony Broussard was 16, and the dead girl, Marcy Renee Conrad, was just 14. Even while they try to understand the nature of such a horror, California juvenile officials are now considering a confounding legal question: Should the alleged killer be tried as a juvenile or as an adult?

It is a question that is increasingly posed by a society that has become terrified of its young. When is a juvenile no longer a juvenile? To a growing number of lawyers, politicians and citizens, the answer is that youthful offenders who commit “grownup” crimes should no longer be treated as children….

Notice the phrase “bleak amorality and callousness” in the first sentence. Was the word “bleak” the way the author of the unsigned article playfully, for his own satisfaction, snuck in the truth that the killer was black? Clearly, the behavior described in this story is not merely bleak amorality and callousness, but a specifically black amorality and callousness, a type of behavior that would not be seen in any other race. Certain pathological or savage behaviors are typically or exclusively black, like the Knoxville Atrocity, like the Wichita Massacre, like the Central Park Wilding (in which a gang of blacks and Hispanics chased down a white female jogger, beat her in the head with a rock to within an inch of her lfe, gang-raped her and left her for dead), like the swarm of blacks chasing a white man at that Minnesota park last summer which a VFR reader personally witnessed, like the group attacks on passengers on St. Louis commuter trains last summer, like the woman who left a severely injured (white) man, who was begging for help, embedded in the windshield of her car where he died, like the crowd in Mogadishu dragging the body of a dead U.S. soldier through the streets, like a mob gathering around an already-prone victim and kicking him in the head or beating him on the head with garbage cans, like a mob of blacks pulling from his bike a white man bicycling through a black neighborhood in Charleston and beating him into a state of permanent brain damage, like the killer of Anne Pressly demolishing her face in the act of killing her.

In 1776, the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain because, among many other abuses, the British King had “endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Has not the regime of modern liberalism, our own present day King George, unleashed on the white population of this country merciless black savages who are a danger to any human, especially any white human, who comes within their reach? And not only unleashed them on us, but covered up their savageries, and prohibited any discussion about it, and calling us unfit for human society if we do talk about it? At least the British King did not take away the colonists’ right and ability to defend themselves from the savages, but liberalism has done that to us.

LA continues:

I’m only just now taking in the fact that the movie portrayed the killer and his friends, to whom he displayed the body over a period of two days, as white. That would be like having a movie about the Central Park Wilding and showing all the members of the gang as whites! This wasn’t just the standard thing of changing the race of a criminal from black to white; it was portraying a specifically black kind of pathological callousness as white.

* * *

Here’s the New York Times article that Adela sent:

The New York Times
December 5, 1982, Sunday, Late City Final Edition
DATELINE: SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 4

On Friday, just three days before his 18th birthday, Anthony Jacques Broussard was sentenced here to 25 years to life in prison for the strangling of a 14-year-old girl in a case that became a stigma on the town of Milpitas, a few miles east of here.

The sentence came after a hearing on a psychiatric evaluation that determined Mr. Broussard would not be helped by treatment at a juvenile center and should be sent to a state prison. He will be eligible for parole after serving 16 years and eight months.

The case drew widespread publicity a little more than a year ago because the body of the girl, Marcy Conrad, had been dumped in the foothills outside town and remained unreported for two days while Mr. Broussard brought his friends to see it, after bragging of the killing. Other teen-agers went on their own to see ”the body in the hills.”

Two other youths were charged in the case. Kirk Rasmussen, 16, was sentenced to three years in a juvenile center for attempting to conceal the crime by covering Miss Conrad’s body with leaves. Mark Fowlkes, 17, Mr. Broussard’s best friend and a former boyfriend of the victim, was charged with being an accessory because of statements he gave to the police. The charge was dismissed after a closed juvenile hearing.

Pleaded Guilty in July

Mr. Broussard was 16 when he killed Miss Conrad on Nov. 3, 1981. He was ordered to stand trial as an adult but pleaded guilty last July 20, after Judge John A. Flaherty of Santa Clara County Superior Court decided to admit evidence that Mr. Broussard had bragged about the killing to a cellmate.

Mr. Broussard pleaded to a single charge of first-degree murder in the attempted commission of a felony, rape. Under California law, an adult would have faced execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, recent state court decisions have voided those sentences for defendants under 18 years of age.

Two felony sex charges against him were dropped. The parents of the 13- and 14-year-old victims reportedly wanted to spare their daughters the ordeal of testifying in court.

Because he was a juvenile, Mr. Broussard underwent a 90-day psychiatric evaluation before being sentenced. Judge Flaherty had a choice of sending him either to a state prison or to a juvenile center, where he could be held only until his 25th birthday.

However, the staff at the California Youth Authority in Sacramento decided that Mr. Broussard was not ”amenable to treatment” at a juvenile center. The defense lawyers, Robert Perez and Jerome P. Mullins, then requested the hearing Friday to question staff members about their decision.

Appears to Have No Remorse

The staff report said that Mr. Broussard had no remorse. Eric Saylor, a case worker, testified that Mr. Broussard gave innumerable presentations of different aspects of the slaying.

”He changes stories daily, hourly, whimsically,” Mr. Saylor said. Dr. Howard H. Lee, a staff psychiatrist, characterized Mr. Broussard’s many complaints of mental problems as ”overkill.” He said Mr. Broussard appeared to be without feelings ”about human life” and was ”without emotion, as if nothing touched him.”

Dr. Samuel G. Benson Jr., a psychiatrist hired by the defense, testified that the defendant had been ”his mother’s delight” and had been devastated when he came home from school at the age of 8 to find her dead. Dr. Benson said Mr. Broussard’s ”maturation process” stopped and he developed a ”pathological fantasy life” that included talking to inanimate objects and seeking advice from his dog.

He diagnosed Mr. Broussard as a chronic paranoid schizophrenic with transient organic brain disease caused by drug abuse. He acknowledged under cross-examination, however, that he had relied solely on Mr. Broussard about his drug use.

- end of initial entry -

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 07, 2008 11:55 PM | Send

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