How Scrooge McDuck Helped Connecticut Detectives Solve a Murder

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Sept. 12 2013 3:17 PM

How Scrooge McDuck Helped Connecticut Detectives Solve a Murder

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Name: Lorenza Christian

Alleged crime: Conspiracy to commit murder.

Fatal mistake: Leaving a cartoonishly obvious trail for cops to find and follow.

Advertisement

The circumstances: On July 13, a Hartford, Conn. man named Miguel Rodriguez was killed in a street-corner shooting that initially baffled police. Eventually, though, investigators came up with a lead: When he died, Rodriguez had been wearing a distinctive gold chain and medallion featuring the likeness of Scrooge McDuck, the Disney character known for his great wealth and avarice, and for his habit of bathing in a pool of gold coins. Though Scrooge McDuck-themed trinkets are a dime a dozen in Duckburg, they’re relatively rare in Hartford, and detectives theorized that finding the jewelry might help them find the killer.

Sure enough, the cops located the items at a local second-hand shop. And since Connecticut state law requires pawn and second-hand shops to record the names and addresses of the people with whom they do business, the cops were also able to locate the man who allegedly sold it: a habitual criminal named Lorenza Christian. From there, as David Owens at the Hartford Courant reports, it was only a matter of time before they linked the murder to Christian and an associate, Tyquan Turner, who was allegedly the one who pulled the trigger. Both men are currently being held on seven-figure bonds: a pittance for the world’s wealthiest duck, but a fortune for an uncautious schnook from Hartford.

How he could’ve been a lot smarter: Christian could have found a less obvious way of obtaining cash for gold, such as, I don’t know, going to one of the many, many shops in Connecticut that exist solely to offer cash for gold. Though Connecticut recently passed a bill requiring precious metals or stones dealers to keep a record of all people from whom they purchase goods, the law doesn’t go into effect until October 1. Christian could’ve sold the medallion without leaving a trace.

How he could’ve been a little smarter: Used some sort of false identity at the pawn shop. “Huey,” “Dewey,” or “Louie” would’ve done nicely.

How he could’ve been a little dumber: I guess Christian could’ve decided to just start wearing the medallion around in public. In one sense, this might have been smarter than selling it, since it wouldn’t have involved any paper trail. In another sense, though, is it ever really a smart decision when a grown man goes out in public wearing a big gold likeness of a children’s cartoon character?

How he could’ve been a lot dumber: He could have tried to blame the whole thing on those devious Beagle Boys.

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): This wasn’t stupidity so much as carelessness. Christian should have listened to the sage advice contained in DuckTales’ very own theme song: “D-d-d-danger! Watch behind you! / There’s a stranger out to find you.” In his case, that stranger was a member of the Hartford Police Department. A smart criminal takes steps to make it harder for the cops to track him down. A dumb criminal makes it much, much easier. 5.5 out of 10 for Lorenza Christian.

Previous Dumb Criminals

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.