Animals might have had quite a bit to say about both rampage killer & alleged character assassin––if they could talk
PORTAPIQUE, Nova Scotia; FRANKFORT, Kentucky; SANTA CRUZ, California––Denturist and hunter Gabriel Wortman, 51, of Portapique, Nova Scotia, on April 18 and 19, 2020 shot 13 people to death with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, including a former hunting buddy, and killed nine more in 16 arson fires before a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer shot Wortman himself dead at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia.
Responding to the killings, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on May 1, 2020 ordered that, “Effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in this country.”
“You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” Trudeau told an Ottawa news conference.
That may have outraged National Rifle Association members in the U.S. more than it did most Canadians. In Canada, where opinion polls showed 80% support for Trudeau’s weapons ban, Trudeau had been taking political flak for months for promising to strengthen gun control without acting.
Violence is violence, legal or not
The Wortman rampage followed a pattern familiar to people who study the relationships among violence against humans and violence toward animals.
Wortman, like almost every other mass murderer and/or serial killer of rural background preceding him in either U.S. or Canadian history, used hunting skills and weapons to wreak havoc against humans.
Wortman’s crimes shocked Canada, where access to firearms was already relatively restricted compared to the United States. But a close U.S. parallel had occurred as recently as August 31, 2019, when recreational hunter Seth Ator, 36, randomly shot seven people to death in West Odessa, Texas, before police gunfire killed him.
Alleged murderer pardoned
Pardoned by former Kentucky governor Matt Bevin in December 2019, Delmar Partin, 64, allegedly used his hunting know-how to kill only one person, his co-worker and former girlfriend Betty Carnes, in 1993.
“Bevin, who lost his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear,” despite a last-minute campaign visit on his behalf by U.S. President Donald Trump, “issued several controversial pardons and commutations during his final days in office,” acknowledged Mike Brest of the right-leaning Washington Examiner.
Few of those pardons, however, shocked the public, and even many of Bevin’s political allies on the right, more than the pardon of Partin, 64, who had served 25 years of a life sentence for the Carnes killing.
Continued Brest, “The coroners were unable to determine if Carnes died via asphyxiation or by repeated blows to her head from a metal pipe. Her severed head was found in a 55-gallon barrel. She was a mother of three.”
Rejecting an appeal of the life sentence in 2010, Kentucky Court of Appeals Justice Laurence VanMeter conceded that “evidence of Partin’s guilt was circumstantial.” VanMeter concluded, however, that the “evidence as a whole was sufficient to uphold the jury’s verdict and the trial court’s denial of a directed verdict.”
“Testimony was adduced that Partin was an experienced alligator hunter, having killed them by wires or ropes around the neck, hitting the head and separating the spine,” VanMeter mentioned.
428 pardons in all
This is believed to have been the manner of Carnes’ death.
Altogether, Bevin pardoned 428 people between losing the election and leaving office. Among those pardoned were at least seven convicted murderers and at least three convicted rapists of children, one of whom also allegedly sent video of the crime to some of the victim’s schoolmates.
The family of one of the convicted murderers “raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year to retire debt from Bevin’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Animals are easily victimized
A hunter may kill animals with impunity in part because animals cannot speak on their own behalf, let alone lobby for criminalization of violence against their kind. Some violence against animals is recognized as criminal, for example poaching, but animals themselves cannot help to bring poachers to justice with eyewitness testimony.
A rapist of children might go unprosecuted for years, as in the cases of at least two of the individuals whom Bevins pardoned, but often the victims grow up to become able to testify on their own behalf.
The ability of victims––and of victims’ families––to speak out, albeit sometimes belatedly, makes committing crimes against even the least empowered members of human society inherently high-risk.
Animals are by contrast easily victimized, not only by those who openly elect to kill and injure animals, for whatever motive, but also by people who purport to be helping animals while misusing resources raised for the purpose, including the positive reputations that animal protection organizations have built up over many years.
Tara Reade, 56, has prominently accused probable Democratic presidential nominee Joseph Biden of sexually groping her when she was a U.S. Senate staff assistant to Biden in 1993.
Earlier, Reade allegedly misused the resources and reputation of at least one––some say both––of the two animal protection organizations she is known to have worked for.
This does not necessarily have any direct bearing on the veracity of Reade’s allegations against Biden.
On the other hand, some of Reade’s background involving animal charities may be illuminating.
Animal Friends Rescue Project
Reade, then known as Alexandra McCabe, was volunteer executive director for Animal Friends Rescue Project from circa November 2007 to approximately June 2009.
The Animal Friends Rescue Project is today a million-dollar-a-year dog-and-cat shelter located in Pacific Grove, California, serving the affluent mid-coast region of California, from Fort Ord in the north, to Pebble Beach and Carmel in the south, including the cities of Monterrey and Salinas.
When Reade joined the Animal Friends Rescue Project, it was less than a decade old, having been cofounded by Kelly Lehrian and three friends in 1998. Lehrian herself was later executive director, through 2016, when she was succeeded by Brian Contreras, who served until present executive director Darla Smith was hired in 2018.
Carie Broecker, however, who joined the Animal Friends Rescue Project board of directors in 1999, was actually the first executive director of the charity, using that title in emails as early as March 2006. Broecker in 2012 became also the first Animal Friends Rescue Project paid employee, as executive director, apparently in a second tenure.
The Reade/McCabe tenure at Animal Friends Rescue Project came between Broecker’s stints as executive director.
The Reade/McCabe tenure began, wrote Catrina Coyle in the summer/fall 2008 edition of Carmel Magazine, when “McCabe arrived last November  from Seattle, where she had finished law school and was working for a domestic violence nonprofit.”
The Coyle summary may have been garbled. Reade/McCabe had finished studies at the Seattle University School of Law in 2004, according to the biographical note published with her essay “Defying the Rule of Thumb: A Domestic Violence Survivor’s Story,” published by the Women’s International Perspective Internet News Service on February 13, 2009.
Reade/McCabe apparently never took a bar examination. She did, however, take a job as legal services outreach coordinator for the YWCA of Monterey County in Seaside, California, just 6.6 miles from Pacific Grove. The YWCA ran a shelter for battered women.
Reade/McCabe and three other former YWCA staff in January 2007 sued the YWCA of Monterey County, “alleging nepotism, harassment and financial misconduct,” reported the Monterey Herald.
The YWCA executive director resigned in April 2007. The lawsuit was either dropped or settled out of court.
“Defying the Rule of Thumb”
Whatever her actual background, Reade/McCabe, as Alexandra McCabe, was often mentioned in media reports as Animal Friends Rescue Project executive director, in non-controversial contexts, from her arrival until May 2009.
The biographical note accompanying “Defying the Rule of Thumb: A Domestic Violence Survivor’s Story” mentioned that Reade/McCabe “works as executive director of Animal Friends Rescue Project. The essay itself detailed alleged incidents of violence by her former husband against both a cat and a puppy.
A month after publication of “Defying the Rule of Thumb: A Domestic Violence Survivor’s Story,” Reade/McCabe testified as an expert witness on domestic violence at the trial of Aniano Olea. Convicted of 25 separate offenses committed during 19 years of sustained, sadistic spousal abuse, resulting in permanent disfigurement of his former wife, Olea was sentenced to four life terms in prison, and to serve at least 47 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Exactly how, when, and under what circumstances Reade/McCabe left Animal Friends Rescue Project is unclear.
“I should know what an abuser looks like”
In hindsight, however, the most remarkable aspect of her time there may be the opening paragraph of “Defying the Rule of Thumb: A Domestic Violence Survivor’s Story”:
“I should know what an abuser looks like. After all, I was working for then Senator Joseph Biden, who sponsored the Violence Against Women Act. But domestic violence is an equal opportunity offender. It was something I read about and discussed with colleagues, never knowing I would one day walk into a marriage filled with abuse and pain.”
Reade/McCabe, in “Defying the Rule of Thumb: A Domestic Violence Survivor’s Story,” and in several subsequent writings pertaining to Biden, appears to have made no mention of the alleged 1993 sexual harassment incident. Indeed, in print, Reade/McCabe praised and endorsed Biden for 26 years.
Reade/McCabe at last detailed her allegations against Biden in the January 9, 2020 edition of the online periodical Medium, writing as Alexandra Tara Reade J.D., making no mention of her work for animal aid organizations.
Pregnant Mare Rescue
That eventually brought forward Lynn Hummer, founder and president of Pregnant Mare Rescue in Larkin Valley, California, to testify against Reade/McCabe, in depth and detail.
Hummer furnished numerous supporting documents to writers and twin brothers Brian and Eddie Krassenstein, who detailed Hummer’s charges for Medium on April 22, 2020.
Opened Hummer, “Look, this isn’t about protecting women. This isn’t about the #metoo movement. This isn’t about Joe Biden. This is about truth. Tara Reade stole from me. She lied to me. She stole from my organization. She manipulated me and she duped me. I want that to be shared because it’s important information. And I have documentation, images and emails to prove it.”
Why Hummer chose Brian and Eddie Krassenstein to tell her story is unclear.
The Krassensteins, best known for trolling Tweets by Donald Trump, were in May 2019 reportedly permanently banned from Twitter for allegedly “operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions.”
They denied the allegations, but already had checkered history.
“In 2016, the Krassensteins’ Florida residence was raided by federal agents, who seized documents and computers and froze most of the brothers’ assets,” Todd Spangler of Variety summarized on May 24, 2019
“In a blog post in March 2018,” Spangler continued, “the brothers said the feds suspected them of being part of a ‘$500 million fraud ring being run by an organized crime syndicate in Russia’ by promoting ‘scams’ on their web sites, Moneymakergroup.com and Talkgold.com. The Krassensteins were not charged with any crimes and have insisted they did nothing wrong or illegal.”
Reade introduced herself by email
Be that as it may, Hummer and Pregnant Mare Rescue have enjoyed an excellent local reputation since Hummer founded the organization in May 2006, from a farm she and her husband own about 45 miles north of the Animal Friends Rescue Project shelter in Pacific Grove.
Hummer had previously been involved in many other local causes and charities, including opposition to nuclear power, animal advocacy, and volunteering in support of her children’s public schools.
Wrote the Krassensteins, “In June of 2014 Tara Reade began volunteer work for Pregnant Mare Rescue,” having introduced herself by email, four days following a Santa Cruz Sentinel article which suggested that Hummer might be seeking a successor after she and her husband suffered financial reverses. A copy of the Reade email, signed “Tara McCabe,” accompanied the Medium account.
“According to Hummer,” the Krassensteins continued, “it didn’t take long for Reade to begin manipulating her. Whether it was Reade trying to convince Hummer to allow her to hide her vehicle on the ranch in order to avoid repossession, or Reade’s repeated requests for money, Hummer began to see a pattern forming. At one point in time, Reade requested that Hummer start a Gofundme campaign and ask Pregnant Mare Rescue donors to contribute so that Reade could afford to flee to Georgia in order to escape her ex-husband. Hummer declined, but says Reade was able to convince another individual to create the campaign for her under an apparent fake name.
“In February of 2015,” the Krassensteins added, “Pregnant Mare Rescue held a charity event featuring singer and songwriter Lacy J. Dalton. The event raised money for the organization through a raffle as well as a silent auction. During this event, Hummer recounts:
‘Reade had helped me with the fundraiser. She was pilfering off the table and sticking the items under the cloth, under the table, trying to steal and take them home.’
“Thomas Bately, who was, and still is a volunteer at Pregnant Mare Rescue, also recalls that night, and Reade’s actions.
‘What I saw was that she wanted one of the (raffle) prizes, put her ticket in the jar, and then hid the jar until it was time for the drawing. She rigged the drawing so she would get the prize she wanted for the price of one ticket.’”
$1,420.40 for horse dental care
Also in 2015, the Krassensteins narrated, “Reade convinced Hummer to waive the adoption fees and let her adopt [a horse named] Charm free of charge.”
A year later, Reade had dental work done on Charm, which “included an examination, sedation and vaccines on April 5, 2016, and tooth extraction, sedation, nerve blocks, and the administration of medication, among other things on April 19, 2016. The total cost was $1,420.40,” billed to Pregnant Mare Rescue without authorization.
Medium also posted documentation of the billing, and the emails that followed among Hummer, Reade, and others when Hummer complained.
“We reached out to Tara Reade for comment on multiple occasions,” wrote the Krassensteins, “but she refused. She did, however, address some of Hummer’s claims on Twitter, by threatening legal action and claiming that Hummer was just trying to get money.
“Reade also went on the attack,” the Krassensteins said, and Medium also posted documentation of that, “after Hummer made a tweet informing Joan Walsh of The Nation that Reade had stolen from her. Reade seems to strangely accuse Walsh of paying Hummer to manufacture these allegations.”
80+ animal rescue scams per year exposed
Allegations of scamming and petty theft among animal rescuers, most involving much more money than $1,420.40, are both astonishingly frequent and seldom brought to justice, largely because the animals involved cannot testify.
Cases that have reached court, one way or another, included––just during Donald Trump’s first three years in the White House––14 instances of funds being raised and misspent by purported animal rescue charities that never existed, and 258 rescue hoarding cases (an average of 86 per year), in which “rescued” animals were abandoned and neglected.
This was up slightly from the pace of such cases (637 total, an average of 79 per year) during the Barack Obama years as U.S. president.
Tens of thousands of human lives at risk
Probably most people would not consider taking money from an animal charity under false pretenses, if this is what Reade did, to be remotely comparable to mass murder, as committed by Wortman and Ator, or individual murder, as allegedly committed by Partin.
Nor would most people put character assassination of a U.S. presidential candidate, if this is what Reade is doing, into a similar category.
But as the U.S. death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic soars above 72,000, it is clear that tens of thousands of human lives may depend on whom the U.S. elects as president in November 2020.
Animals’ testimony, if it existed, might have a bearing on that choice.