THE YOGURT SHOP MURDERS
by Mack White
One month later, Mrs. Garcia discovered that within days of being told her son no longer had a claim, her attorney and the attorney and adjuster for Nationwide Insurance covertly perfected an appeal on her claim, consummated a "settlement" of all her claims, including the children's derivative claims, then canceled the appeal that had just perfected.
"This activity," says Moebius, "took place on claims that Mrs. Garcia had been led to believe were extinguished. Mrs. Garcia was shocked and distressed to learn that her attorney had somehow separated her from her claims and then allowed third parties to make use of her claims, all without her knowledge or permission. Even more distressing, Nationwide and another carrier had issued checks to her former attorney with all moneys going from Nationwide's accounts to third parties unknown to her. Mrs. Garcia, believing that her claims were extinguished, never received a dime."
Mrs. Garcia sought out Moebius in February 1991. Moebius agreed to bring suit on her behalf, naming Nationwide, Nationwide's attorney and adjuster, and Mrs. Garcia's former attorney as defendants.
"In effect," says Moebius, "after Mrs. Garcia's son was injured on the site or premises of a construction zone, and after Mrs. Garcia's attorney brought suit ostensibly on her behalf, Mrs. Garcia was fraudulently separated from her claims. Mrs. Garcia's logical assumption was that only she could make use of those claims. However, she discovered she was wrong. Her claims were used post separation by third parties to transfer moneys from the insurance company's reserve account to her attorney's trust account. In short, all moneys that moved from one account to the other moved through her claims unreported--and tax free!"
Moebius says it was at first hard to understand how third parties could launder or move funds from one account to another through Mrs. Garcia's claims, all without her knowledge or permission. "Because the account to account transfer was accomplished through the covert and unauthorized use of Mrs. Garcia's personal injury claims," he says, "the account to account transfer was a non-taxable transfer. This one aspect--the fact that the account to account transfer was non-taxable and done through the agency of an attorney--is unique to personal injury and wrongful death claims and makes such transfers ideal for money laundering."
Even more troubling to Moebius was the possibility that a person could be intentionally injured or murdered on a specific site with the motive being the creation and pirating of a wrongful death claim or personal injury claim in order to launder money.
Moebius says this is more than a possibility; he cites the death of Diana Havner in an E-Z Mart Store in Sulphur Springs, Texas, as an example of murder perpetrated intentionally to generate a "site specific" death claim.
Within days of a new owner purchasing the E-Z Mart store, Moebius says, the silent alarm system was removed, the phone was altered so that out-going calls could not be made, and signs were placed over the windows. Also, a check cashing service was added, which increased the amount of money on the premises. Simultaneously, the drop safes were removed. Moebius says these changes increased security for the murderer, while at the same time making it likely that the murder of any employee on the site would be credited to the motive of robbery.
"Four months after buying the store," says Moebius, "a period of time that may have been used to conduct the temporary placement of money inside the participating 'host' carriers (called 'lag time'), Diana Havner was abducted, raped, and murdered. Once she was murdered, her death claim on the specific site had been created. Because she had two children, additional derivative claims were likewise produced, creating a total of three personal injury, site specific death claims.'"
In addition to Mrs. Garcia, Moebius also represented the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). In the early 1990s, LULAC had noticed a statewide pattern of reserve fraud--specifically, severe injury cases including murder and arson in which people were intentionally injured, murdered or burned on pre-selected premises with the intent of creating personal injury claims. The claimants were often "separated" from their claims by attorney fraud or court action, in the same manner as Mrs. Garcia had been. More often than not, the victims were Latino--hence LULAC's involvement in the matter.
"Notably," says Moebius, "their claims were left open and susceptible to covert settlements, like the covert settlement Mrs. Garcia experienced. In other words, the plaintiffs would be artificially and fraudulently forced into a 'loss' but the defendants would not gain an outright win. Nor would the defendants complain about the denial of an outright win, even when an outright win was a mandatory legal consequence of the court's ruling against the plaintiff. The fact that a defendant would refuse to seek an all-out win even when it was his right, suggested that other motives were dominating the proceedings."
Moebius says he was never permitted to try Mrs. Garcia's case, or even to get the deposition of Nationwide's lawyer. Nor was he ever permitted to file interrogatories and requests for production on either party. 'This was a remarkable achievement for my antagonists," he says," considering the fact that in the intervening three years, I had gone through two state courts and two federal courts seeking to do just that. At one point, less than three months after the girls were murdered, Jonathan Cluck, the attorney for Nationwide, told me that 'all hell will break loose' if I was ever permitted to take his deposition. By January 1994, I had served over 18 separate notices to depose Jonathan Cluck, Nationwide's lawyer. Each and every judge denied me the depositions of these parties. The judges would either provide questionable reasons, refuse to give reasons or issue orders that no discovery could be conducted; instead, they denied me all discovery and assessed enormous sanctions against me."
These obstructions, he says, were all traceable to attorneys [Lawyer G] and [Lawyer M], who in this same time period were the defense lawyers in the yogurt shop case. In addition, Moebius says, [Lawyer M] and [Lawyer G] subjected him to non-stop 'preemptive' disbarments and attempted arrest activity, and even attempted unsuccessfully to try his wife for fraud on the grounds that she had helped him evade arrest. Furthermore, he alleges that [Lawyer M] has used blackmail to control the actions of numerous judges and other officials in Central Texas.
This "highly unusual" intervention of [Lawyer G] and [Lawyer M] eventually lead Moebius to wonder if there was a connection between the yogurt shop case and the reserve fraud cases he was attempting to try. He also noticed that [Lawyer M] was often at the center of other suspicious cases.
For instance, Moebius implicates E--- G---, another developer represented by [Lawyer M], as the arsonist in another reserve fraud scheme, the Lost Creek Condominium fire which occurred in 1989 in Austin.
In an interview posted on the AntiShyster website, Moebius was asked, "Did G--- a get into financial problems prior to the fires, in the process of conducting development or land purchases in advance of the FM Properties development?"
Moebius answered, "G--- had just purchased the four corners of William Cannon and MoPac South, in the FM Properties development area of Austin for $2 million dollars when the bottom fell out of the Austin land market. . . . G--- had a call on his notes. On $400,000 worth of notes to be exact."
The date of the call was October 27, 1989-_the same day as the four-dwelling "Lost Creek Condominium Fires."
In time, Moebius came to believe that reserve fraud, or the site-specific death scheme, is a very widespread practice, with international implications.
He writes: "FM Properties, an entity represented by [Lawyer M] of Austin, has experienced the murders of 26 of its employees in Indonesia, with all murders taking place on FM sites or being conducted in trucks or shipping containers owned by FM Properties. Even these murders can be 'insured' here in Texas, allowing money to be downloaded through death claims that take place half a world away."
The Yogurt Shop Murders
One important difference between the Garcia case and the yogurt shop case, contends Moebius, is that the latter did not involve a separation of the claim from the true owner. Instead, he says, a plaintiff had to have participated in the fraud.
In a previous interview posted on the AntiShyster.com website, Moebius stated that the stepfather of the Harbison sisters may have been such a participating plaintiff.
"If [he] was 'plaintiff participating,'" says Moebius, "he would allow the claims of the Harbison children, and even his claim and his wife's claim, to be used to launder enormous sums of reserve fraud moneys out of the reserve accounts held by the mutuals."
In Moebius' opinion, the stepfather's movements prior to the murders were highly suspicious. Moebius told this writer: "This murder was about betrayal and power. Minutes before the murder began, . . . the stepfather of two of the murder victims, dropped the youngest victims off at the site. In subsequent statements, [he] explained that the girls had been dropped off to help with the clean-up as they were on their way to a movie. There are no movies at that time in that area. [He] subsequently stated that the two youngest were dropped at the site to help with the clean-up. Yet [he] dropped the two youngest off, turn around and left. If you bring two girls to the site to turn a ten-minute clean-up into a five-minute clean up, why leave? Not one of the parents were looking for their daughters that late Friday night. That is inconceivable to me. These murders took place after closing time on a Friday night. Nine times out of ten, it could be expected that parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters, someone would show up. And the use of multiple victims would grossly enhance that probability. All of these girls had parents."
Moebius continues: "At the outset, these appeared to be complicated murders. They appeared to have been grossly premeditated and carefully crafted. After all, they took place on a public site, immediately after closing time, on a Friday night, and consumed almost an hour. Two of the girls, the two youngest girls, were dropped of by . . . the stepfather of the two Harbison girls, moments before their murders began. And yet the murder scene suggested that their arrival had been anticipated. The murders of all four girls were "harmonious" in that they were all murdered in the same manner. The murders the two youngest girls did not seem to be an after thought. Their murders were easily integrated into the murder scheme as if all four murders had been planned. As if the delivery of the youngest two had always been part of the entire scheme."
As for the actual murderers of the girls, Moebius has this to say: "This site, this murder site was obviously the result of a cooperative effort. A viewing of the aspects of the site and the crime strongly suggest an extremely cooperative effort, one done with great planning. This is a significant aspect, for it is obvious that these murders were planned a long way out. These were grossly planned murders. That means that you have a murder site which tells you that there was a preexisting "cohort" or group of people, very presumably men and definitely mature men who have engaged in substantial criminal activity before. This murder was not accomplished by virgins or someone acting on the spur of the moment."
Moebius further contends that the girls knew their murderers, or at least one of them. He identifies an "unemployed gambler" as one likely suspect--a man who "lived seemingly rent free in a condominium" behind the yogurt shop, and who "spent night and day for six months hanging out at the yogurt shop, building trust with the girls."
Moebius says this man moved out of his condominium the day after the murders, then one week later "showed up with $40,000 cash, according to his girlfriend and her mother." The girlfriend also noticed a marked change in Mike's behavior following the murders; after he threatened her life, she fled to Oklahoma.
Moebius also identifies a man he calls "Mike" as a probable accomplice in the murders. On two occasions when Moebius was a guest on the Joyce Isaacs Show on KVET Radio, Mike called in to the show and displayed an intimate knowledge of the crime scene--four years before the autopsy reports were released.
In a transcript of the program obtained by this writer, Mike also claims to have known the Harbison sisters' parents and to have worked as a driver for a limousine company which had been hired by Brice Foods, the company which owned the yogurt shop.
Brice Foods was the defendant in a 1999 fraud trial, which Moebius says threatened to unravel the yogurt shop case.
Moebius explains: "The [murder] site is simultaneously connected and associated with two conspiracies or cooperative crimes. The murder conspiracy and the massive Brice Foods investor fraud conspiracy. Nine months before these girls' murders, Brice Foods (the employer of two of the girls) began a massive swindle, a fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy (cooperative crime) which ran for years and resulted in the theft of $20 million in stolen investor funds. The Brice fraud was a hard hitting, lie in your face, massive swindle. And despite three lawsuits and one jury verdict specifically finding fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy, the money, all of the $20 million remains unaccounted for. The money has been successfully concealed. But, does this mean that the two conspiracies, the murder conspiracy and the investor conspiracy, are related? The initial answer has to be 'maybe.' Two massive criminal events involving the same site, conducted during the same time period by the same people, with the subsequent civil litigation (wrongful death and investor fraud) being populated by the same attorneys."
"[Lawyer R]," says Moebius, 'played a prominent role in the yogurt shop wrongful death case, supposedly obtaining a "settlement" of $12 million. [Lawyer R] also played an extremely prominent role in the Brice case as [Lawyer R] had his court reporter B--- B--- pose (pretend) to be an investor who was stung. Playing this role, B--- B--- contacted over 100 investors, asking all of them to join a suit that [Lawyer R] was filing on B---'s behalf, suing the Brices.
"[Lawyer R] then went on to lie to all of his 80 clients in order to get them to settle for pennies on the dollar. This settlement occurred within days of a jury returning with a fraud, conspiracy and securities fraud verdict in San Antonio against Brice's corporate officers on the Crescendo Investments v. Brice Foods case. And that jury verdict was issued on October 5, 1999. Within hours of the jury verdict coming down, Detective Paul Johnson announced that he had solved the Yogurt Shop murders and asked for the arrests of these four boys. So October 5, 1999 is an extremely important date. Of all the days, of all the almost 3000 days that had passed since these girls murders, APD chose the hour after a San Antonio jury convicted the Brice group of fraud. $20 million disappeared during the same time frame that the $12 million 'insurance' settlement appeared.
"And this so-called settlement has always been suspect. Extremely suspect. What insurance company pays for the criminal conduct of third parties? How was Brice Foods responsible? There was no 'murderer in hand.' As a result, no one act or omission could be identified as having 'caused' the murders. There is no insurance liability, no causation."
A Crime Against Humanity
"Murder is an intentional act," says Moebius. "As such, it has motive. And motive often determines the manner in which the murders were conducted. Motive determines the identity of the victims, the timing of the murders, the location of the murders, the manner in which the murders are accomplished. So understanding motive is essential to understanding the murders."
Can a murder have more than one motive?
"Yes," says Moebius "Complicated murders, murders in which money is the primary motive, grossly premeditated murders in which money is the primary motive, can have the additional appearance of extraneous motive. A sort of "ride along" motive or vanity motive that is designed to not only accomplish the primary, monetary motive, but also designed to reflect the craftsmanship of the murderer. Sort of a signature motive, something that tells the public at large something about the murderer."
So, not only does Moebius allege that the girls in the yogurt shop were murdered to create the appearance of a $12 million 'settlement,' he is also fairly certain that sexual sadism played a role in the crime.
"Why," he asks, "did the murderers and people setting up the murders of the Yogurt Shop girls stray from the normal 'no monkey business' approach and risk everything by spending so much time on the premises or site murdering these children? But for that indulgence, the children's murders would have been passed off as a 'normal negligence zone' event. Instead, it was immediately apparent that the murders were not walk in, walk out murders, which in and of itself suggested an inside job. Reports are plentiful in Austin that the firemen suffered extreme trauma from what they observed. If the overt presence of 'display' is in fact the case, then the co-motive of sexual sadism, being directed toward young females, is present. But for whom? A video camera? Visitors to the site?"
Moebius believes the girls may have been hired by the yogurt shop for their physical attractiveness. The yogurt shop, may have served as the backdrop to an elaborate setting where young women were displayed serving ice cream as an inducement to those whose money was being solicited for the money laundering scheme.
Moebius believes that [Lawyer M] is a sexual sadist and psychopath who, along with like-minded accomplices, staged the yogurt shop murders (and others) as much for the thrill as for monetary motive. He describes [Lawyer M] as someone who enjoys setting up murder scenarios in which the victim feels a betrayal of trust by someone close to them.
He is also, according to Moebius, addicted to the sense of power these murders give him--the power to destroy lives, the power to blackmail parents into letting him humiliate and murder their children, and the power to traumatize society with an unspeakable crime.
Moebius says, "These murders involved the premeditated murder of children. The slow, easy murder of children. The pleasurable murder of children. As such, these murders constitute a crime against humanity."
In 1988, two men, Chris Ochoa and Richard Danziger, were falsely convicted of the murder of Nancy DePriest in an Austin Pizza Hut. Twelve long years of imprisonment later (during which a prison beating left Danziger seriously brain damaged), DNA analysis vindicated the two men. At the time of his release, Ochoa stated that Hector Polanco (the homicide detective mentioned earlier) threatened him with Death Row if he did not confess to the crime and implicate Danziger. Polanco then dictated the confession to Ochoa, feeding him details to make it believable.
Another case is that of 12-year-old Lacresha Murray, who was accused of murdering an infant she was babysitting. Basing his case on illegal interrogation tactics and a shoddy investigation by the county medical examiner, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle twice managed to convict the girl. However, after serving three years in an adult prison, she was recently released after a court ruled that her interrogation by APD denied her the constitutional right to counsel.
Given this history, one has to wonder about all the confessions that are the result of interrogations by the Austin police; this is especially so with the yogurt shop case, in which there exists a photograph of a detective holding a gun to the head of Michael Scott in the interrogation room.
Erik Moebius and others who have researched the yogurt shop case believe that the Austin police were paid off not to conduct an investigation, but rather to conduct a cover-up. This author is not in a position to know if this is true, or if that Moebius has to say is true. However, the prosecution's case is so weak, and so tainted by misconduct, that on those grounds alone it would appear that Moebius' allegations deserve serious investigation.
In 2001, Robert Springsteen Jr. was found guilty in the yogurt shop murder case and sentenced to death. Later, Michael Scott was found guilty and given a life sentence.
During the trial, Springsteen's friend Roy Rose was jailed for refusing to testify. In sworn affidavits, Rose and his wife Charlene described how he was coerced by police into implicating Springsten. SEE AFFIDAVITS
On May 24, 2006, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal overturned Springsteen's conviction, on the grounds that his defense should have been allowed to cross-examine his co-defendant Michael Scott, upon whose "confession" the prosecution largely based its case.
Fifteen years after the murders were committed, the yogurt shop case has still not reached a resolution ...
MORE INFORMATION ON THE YOGURT SHOP MURDERS:
Erik Moebius: A Preliminary Report on the Yogurt Shop Murders: Racketeering and Money Laundering through Site Specific Death Claims
Erik Moebius: The Bar, Insurance Fraud and Murder
Austin American-Statesman: Theory May Have Role in Yogurt Shop Case
San Antonio Business Journal: S.A. fraud case has `X-file' twist: Conspiracy-theory court filing reveals strange coincidences
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