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New Orleans Police Homicide Detective featured in Susan Fleet's New Orleans crime thriller series




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  Dumb Criminal Tricks  

March 12, 2013 14:48      

permalink   A Cookie Caper and a Spurned Ballerina 

My last post was a bit of a downer so I decided to lighten up this time and delight you a pair of dumb criminal tales. First, the cookie caper.

A yen for Girl Scout Cookies

Christopher Maurice Morton, 37, had a yen for Girl Scout cookies. Not just any cookies. Thin Mints and Shortbreads were the ones that made his mouth water. Christopher worked as a truck driver for Carey Moving and Storage in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

On February 26, 2013, the business owner conducted an inventory and found a lot of Girl Scout cookies missing. To be precise: 450 cases of Thin Mints and Shortbread cookies. As you can see in the photo at right, more Thin Mints have been eaten ...


 The owner contacted police and reported them stolen. The cookies were worth $19,000. Did Christopher have a plan, or did he just love Girl Scout cookies?

Whatever his motive, he soon came under suspicion. Maybe workers in the warehouse saw him munching Thin Mints.

On March 7, police arrested Christopher Maurice Morton (that's his mug shot on the left) and charged him with breech of trust more than $10,000. The owner fired him. Later, Greenville County sheriff's deputies discovered 352 cases of Girl Scout cookies behind an abandoned business.

But where are the other 98 cases of those yummy cookies? Did Christopher go on a cookie binge and gobble every last one of them? Are those Thin Mints and Shortbreads languishing in some hidden location, awaiting consumption? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let's hope the Spartanburg folks find them. If they do, I hope they ship them to Moscow, because the folks at the Bolshoi Ballet are pretty stressed-out. Maybe a few Girl Scout cookies will help.

The next blockbuster movie?

If you thought the backstabbing and intrigue in The Black Swan was creepy, check out the soap opera at Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet. For 240 years, plies, pirouettes and jetés by Bolshoi dancers mesmerized adoring Muscovites seated in velvet seats beneath crystal chandeliers at the glittery Bolshoi Theater.

But now the glitz and glamor are gone, replaced by a sinister plot worthy of a dark Russian novel. A scorned prima ballerina. Her solo-dancer husband. A heartless artistic director.

The cast of characters

If you're like me, you keep a list of characters handy when you read a Dostoevsky novel, and this story is just as complicated, so here goes. First, the stars of the drama, left to right.  

Anzhelina "Angelina" Vorontsova, 21, prima ballerina, coveted the star role in Swan Lake. Pavel Dmitrichencko, 29, principal dancer, who often starred as the villain Ivan the TerribleSergei Filin, 42, former Bolshoi principal dancer, appointed artistic director in March 2011

On the evening of January 17, 2013, the temperature in Moscow was a frigid 10F. At midnight, Sergei Filin went to his apartment where his wife, Bolshoi dancer Maria Prorvich, and their three young sons slept. Before he could enter the security code to get inside, a menacing voice behind him said "Hello." When Filin turned, a masked man threw liquid in his face and ran away. The liquid was sulfuric acid. Even a small amount in the eyes can destroy the cornea and cause permanent blindness.

The pain was so excruciating the Bolshoi artistic director thought he might die. Filin later said: "I started grabbing fistfuls of snow and rubbing it on my face and eyes." Blinded by the acid, he stumbled through a parking lot to a security booth. The guard opened the door, took one look at his face and called an ambulance.

The plot thickens

In the weeks before the attack, Filin had received several telephone threats. Someone slashed his tires and tried to hack into his Facebook page. Moscow detectives interviewed people who might have a grudge against him. They discovered cell phones that star dancer Dmitrichencko had registered in other people's names. On March 5, they raided a neighborhood outside Moscow where Bolshoi Theater personnel owned cottages. In addition to Dmitrichencko, the villains are ...  

On the left, Yuri Zarutsky, the acid thrower

At right, getaway driver

Andrei Lipatov

 Zarutsky, left,  was well known to police. He had served 7 years in prison for beating someone who later died. When police questioned him, he ratted out Lipatov and Dmitrichencko.

A half-baked confession

Dmitrichencko admitted he told Zarutsky about his grudge against Filin, but claimed he never believed Zarutsky would throw acid in Filin's face. "When [Zarutsky] said Okay, let me beat him up, I agreed, but that is all I admit to doing." In court, he remained defiant. When the judge asked if he wanted to apologize to Filin, Dmitrichencko snarled, "For what?"

Police say he paid Zarutsky 50,000 rubles (about $1,600) to attack Filin. Zarutsky told police he bought battery acid at a car parts store. To increase the potency, he heated it to evaporate the water.

Lipatov admitted driving Zarutsky to Filin's apartment but insisted he had no idea Zarutsky was going to throw acid in Filin's face. A judge ordered the three men held until April 18 while the investigation continues. If convicted, the three conspirators face up to 12 years in prison.

A tangled web of motives

Turns out the Bolshoi is a cesspool of intrigue. Some say the attack was triggered when Filin refused to give Dmitrichenko's common-law wife, ballerina Anzhelina "Angelina" Vorontsova, the star role in Swan Lake.

Angelina told a newspaper that Filin told her she was not slender enough for the part. This infuriated Dmitrichencko. At right, the couple in happier days.

But many claim the motives are far more complicated. Bolshoi general manager Anatoly Iksanov accused veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inciting the attack. He says Tsiskaridze wants his job. Others say recent artistic directors tried to introduce more modern repertoire, but dancers and teachers devoted to legendary choreographer Yuri Grigorovich opposed this. After leading the Bolshoi for three decades, Grigorovich was forced out in 1995, but he remained on the Bolshoi staff.


Case closed?

Following the arrest, police declared the crime solved, and it looked like all was well at the Bolshoi. Spokeswoman Katerina Novikova praised the arrests, saying this was important "so nobody acts like this again, because they will know they're going to be punished."

But not so fast. The intrigue continues at the glittery Bolshoi Theater.

General manager Anatoly Iksanov doesn't believe the mastermind behind the attack has been found. He says Dmitrichencko is only a puppet and someone else is pulling the strings. Has he been seeing too many performances of Petruchka?

"Dmitrichencko is not the actual instigator," Iksanov said. "He is one of the perpetrators, [but] there is a mastermind, and the investigation should find this person."

Meanwhile, Hollywood is drooling. I see a blockbuster movie in our future. 

The good news

What about the poor victim?

Sergei Filin, left, his head and neck bandaged, in a hospital.

Doctors at a German clinic treated Sergei for the disfiguring burns to his face, neck and eyes. It may take six months for him to fully recover from the burns.

But here's the good news. Doctors performed a second skin graft and, after a second surgery, they were able to save his eyesight. At right, Sergei leaves the hospital.

So there you have it, folks. Please leave me a comment. Tell me which Girl Scout cookie is your favorite! Thin Mints? Shortbreads? I'm partial to Caramel Delights myself. What's your guilty pleasure? While you're at it, chime in with your favorite ballet. The Nutcracker? Swan Lake? My preference is Petruchka. You can't beat Stravinsky and it's got a great trumpet part.

NOPD homicide detective Frank Renzi signing off.

Sources: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-07/entertainment/37511214_1_sergei-filin-bolshoi-dancer-bolshoi-theater


 Dumb Criminal Tricks   comments (1)

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[ Posted by Jinn Stockton, March 13, 2013 13:00 ]
     Thin mints, yum!
I love Swan Lake.
I need another Frank Renzi book length fix. Can we have a Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras or Super Bowl event. Hurricanes just suck, but there is a lot that happens when they hit the Gulf coast, I'd suffer through another one with Frank!

[ Posted by admin, March 14, 2013 19:18 ]
     Frank will return by summer's end. Enjoy Jazz Fest. Frank will try to prohibit Hurricanes and the ugly evacuations that accompany them. However, Frank will not be donning a tutu and dancing in Swan Lake.

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