Alcohol and Murders


It’s been my experience, perhaps yours is different, that you can never separate an alcoholic from their bottle, unless, and it is a big unless, they are making a concerted and conscientious effort to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The alcoholics certainly cannot do it by themselves.

The most difficult decision for an alcoholic to make, probably in their entire lifetime, is to give up drinking. The second most difficult is to make sure they don’t go back to drinking.

I’d like to say that AA has a 100% cure rate, but we know that isn’t true. There are a lot of successes, but some go for a meeting or two, and revert back to their old habits, and considering the vortex they find themselves in, can never get out. You’d think a vortex that has centrifugal force that spins in such a motion that it throws anything within the vortex outside the vortex, would do that to an alcoholic trying to climb out of their problem, but for some reason, it only seems to become a centripetal force for them, and inward force that does not let them out.

These are two stories involving alcohol and murder, the first one in 2012 in South Illinois, and the other in South Alabama in 1980.

Whether Danny Coston was an alcoholic only those around him knew. He certainly had a severe drinking problem. I’m not sure he was basically a rotten-to-the-core individual, but his drunken rampage one night according to ID TV took the lives of two people. No, not by drunken driving, but murder.

He was out on the Little Wabash River, trying to sandwich his pickup between two trees so that he could back his boat into the water, for what I would assume was a night of fishing. He must have become convinced that it was his pickup and boat that were drunk, and not himself, because he kept ramming his truck between the two trees until pieces of the truck began to fall off.

Finally, coming to the conclusion that this was not working, he started wandering and walking down along the banks of the river about a mile away. He ran across young Jake Wheeler, 22, an Iraq war vet, and Jessi Evans, his 18-year old girlfriend although other reports have her being 17.

The ID TV program prefaced their program with the fact that some scenes were dramatized, so it might not have taken place exactly as they depicted with possibly a little “dramatic effect” added.

What struck me as odd was that Jake offered Danny a beer, when Jake probably already knew Danny was drunk. Jake and Jessi were there for some night fishing as the heat of the day was waning.

I think Jake would have tried to separate Jessi and himself from Danny as quickly as possible, and urged Danny to go back to his boat and pickup and take a rest before he did anything else. The ID TV show indicated that Danny was going to ride in the back of Jake’s pickup until Jake took Danny home.

What then became a motiveless murder took place, as Jake stopped the truck, Danny climbed out of the back of Jake’s pickup, and instead of approaching the driver’s side door with a thank you, pulled out a .22 and shot Jake in the head.

He must have pushed Jake over in the middle and forced Jessi to go with him and the dead Jake. I’m not sure where this all took place, but it showed Danny driving Jake’s truck down a dirt road afterwards.

When Danny stopped, Jessi was begging for her life, and saying she would do anything, which Danny interpreted as her permission for him to rape her. He did outside the truck and then shot her in the head. I’m surprised Danny didn’t shoot her first, to do away with any possible resistance, and then rape her after she was dead. In his drunken condition, he wouldn’t have realized he was committing necrophilia.

When police were investigating the scene and that of surrounding areas, they found those pieces of his truck that Danny had ripped off, traced them back to his truck and him. In police custody Danny confessed to killing both Jake and Jessi. The reason they had not found Jake’s body was that Danny had put it in a distant location.

Perhaps in his sober stage, while in police custody, he realized what had happened, and on the police tape said, “What have I done?”  That sounded like remorse, what many killers do not have, but still no excuse for murdering two people in the first degree.

Sometimes I am a little mystified at the sentence judges mete out to murderers. Coston got 53 years. But it is what it is.

Two University of South Alabama students were very good friends, Katherine Foster, 18 at the time, and Jamie Letson, both from Pascagoula Mississippi, although neither one knew each other there.

Jamie solicited Katherine’s help on a supposed biology project. They went into the woods close to campus, with Jamie trailing Katherine. Jamie then took out a gun and shot Katherine in the back of the head.

The reason? Because Jamie thought that Katherine’s boyfriend should be her boyfriend.

Jamie even wept with the family at Katherine’s funeral.

If all of this is not bizarre enough, the crime took 30 years to solve, which would have been 2010, and might not have been solved except for AA.

I’ll have to take ID TV’s word for it, because I do not know the 12 tenets of AA. One of them is that if you have wronged someone, you need to correct it.

Katherine was dead, and Jamie could not correct the wrong by speaking to her. She wrote a letter of confession, and went to the cemetery to read it. She mentioned the letter to someone at AA, and that person called the police, and told them about the letter.

Again according to ID TV, the police went to Jamie’s stepfather’s house, and asked if he were familiar with the letter. He had a copy of the confessional letter, and showed it to the police.

Jamie was convicted in court, although she pled not guilty, and if I had my guess, the defense lawyer claimed some outrageous reason as to why the letter should not be accepted as evidence.

Alcohol and murder.

One murder because one person could not drink in moderation on that one night, and the other because she had become an alcoholic.

In the bars I frequented on the road, I saw some very angry drunks, almost to the point of violence. The bouncer tossed them out of the bar. I remember one lady, can’t recall the location because on the road all places blend together, who was sitting at the bar drinking herself into oblivion. The only word I ever heard from her was, ”Another,” Jack Daniels straight, directed at the bartender, who knew her by name. He must have known whom to call to collect her when her night was declared at an end. I heard her and the bartender, because I was sitting with a couple of clients close to the bar.

Some people can drink, and the misery is only within themselves. Others can drink, and cause a great deal of misery to a great number of people.


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