Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And "Justice" was served, or something :( (LONG)

Posted By: Jim_Hogan On: 05-23-2008 @ 15:47:13

I'm not sure where to begin, or why I feel like writing something about it as if it matters to me or anyone else or as if anyone really cares - but maybe I just wanted to get this off of my chest and unfortunately for you, you clicked the wrong link and are now reading. If you have time - I think it's a worthy long few hours of reading and maybe this will be interesting, or maybe it will just bore you, in either case - this has been fresh in my mind for over 2 years now - and no one should be rethinking or reliving a year of their life over and over again every day for 2 years trying to figure out if anything could have happened differently. As some of you may remember, and others might just not know, back in October of 2005, October 23rd to be exact, my life changed from going pumpkin picking with my relatively new girlfriend and her son to sitting in a police station answering questions about a "missing persons" case that became a murder case - my gym partner George was accused of beating and strangling his wife.

What follows is my view of the story. It is as accurate and factual as I can recall and it is probably full of gross distortions of minor events that seem far more important to me than they ever were and distorted only in the sense of how unimportant these events really are, but how important they seem(ed) to me.

Sunday, October 23rd, at about 9am - give or take about an hour in either direction - I woke up at my girlfriend's apartment in Long Branch and over breakfast we decided to go out pumpkin picking. Just as we were about to walk out of the apartment, my cell phone rang and Bill (my older brother) was calling - had it been anyone else - I probably would have just let it go to voicemail like I always do - I generally don't talk to people on the phone and try hard not to answer any calls, no offense, I just don't like people and don't like talking to people, it's my personality and always has been.

I don't recall the specifics of the conversion but I remember Bill asking something along the lines of "are you ok?" "where are you?" and "why are there a dozen cops from Keansburg and Holmdel here [at my parent's house in Keansburg] along with some detectives and a Monmouth County prosecutor?"

To put it nicely, I think I may have asked myself 'THE FUCK?'. I wasn't out street racing and I was with my GF since Friday after leaving the gym and I knew i didn't do anything wrong - but when Bill told me "they need you to go to the Holmdel Police Station immediately - the wheels started turning - surely if I did something wrong, or they thought I did - they would be at my GF's apartment already and would bring me to the police station - so I knew I was in the clear - but I also knew there was only one person I knew from Holmdel, George Calleia, my workout partner for the past year.

After I hung up with Bill, I immediately called George. I had least seen George on Thursday night, October 20th, when we did a leg and forearm workout at the gym. We left the gym together around 6:30 and George asked "will you be here tomorrow?" - which seemed legit since I had bailed the previous two Friday's to go out with my GF. I answered "yes", we shook hands like we always did and he said "Chest and bis tomorrow", yay, my favorite day in the gym.

George never showed up Friday. I didn't think much of it - figure he had things to do and it was crappy weather anyhow - maybe he was just stuck in traffic. I ran on the treadmill for an hour while I waited and when he never appeared, I packed up my stuff and went to my GF's house, live for me just carried on like every other day.

So when I called George's cell phone Sunday, I was relieved to hear his voice, I had almost started thinking that perhaps George was in some horrific accident Friday and the police somehow needed me to identify him or something - perhaps in the long run - that would have been a less painful for many people.

"Hey George, is everything alright? My brother just called me and said there are a few dozen police looking for me and to go to the Holmdel police station immediately. You're the only person in Holmdel I know and I just wanted to make sure you were okay". Maybe the first mistake I made was making the phone call. The second was voluntary going to the police station but what George told me made me think I HAD to go. "My wife in missing" he said, "the police are trying to turn this thing around and make it look like I did something." Wife missing??? Shit, I have to help out - I mean, my pal George is looking for his wife, the police might think *I* did something - I can help out here - and off I went to the police station.

Somewhere along the way - my dad called me and told me he would be meeting me at the police station and NOT to go inside without him there. It still wasn't clicking what was really going on - I was thinking "missing person", my dad knew better (as did the police). When I got the police station, my dad was waiting outside for me and asked what was going on. I told him what I knew/thought and he insisted this was something big and no "missing persons" case, I think my dad knew something bigger was going on, what did I know - I was all of maybe 24-25, do the math yourself if you care... September 1980 and October 2005.

My mom and my gf went about life and did some pumpkin picking and I entered the police station with my dad. First the friendly police man told my dad he had to wait outside. My dad, not quite as friendly, told the police man where to stick it - really - and I quickly realized "holy shit, my dad is right - why the fuck am I at a police station getting questioned by the police". Catching on at about that second, based on how my dad reacted and the detective reacted to my dad, I told the detective "if he can't come with me, I'll go back home and you can come find me with a court order". The detective's tone changed pretty quick and into the interrogation room we went, my dad and I sitting in folding chairs in the middle of a 10'x10' room, two detectives sitting in their little rolling chairs next to us - a obviously one-way mirror to my side and a ceiling mounted video camera in front of me.

For about two hours - I answered their questions - again - maybe I shouldn't have said anything - but they told me they were investigating a "missing persons" case - George told me his wife was "missing". At some point I realized this was absolutely no missing persons case and was a murder investigation. I'm not sure if it was the questions about any bruises to George's hands, if I knew of any marital problems he and his wife might have been having, if he was strong enough to pickup a 100lb body.... like a dope, and a sell-out, I continued chatting with them, and really, I didn't/don't know anything - as i said - I generally dislike people, don't trust people and don't talk to people. I worked out with George for over a year - I didn't really talk to him much to be honest - I didn't know his wife's name, I didn't know his daughters name, the breed or the name of his dog. I didn't know where he lived, aside from the town he lived in, and I only knew where he worked because he got me a job interview with his company when I was between jobs earlier that year (June/Julyish?). I always do my best to keep my personal life rather quiet and I never really ask/listen/want to know about anyone else's personal life - not that I don't care about other people - more like I just don't give a shit about other people because I have my own shit to think about.

Among other things I told the police, I told them that I was pretty sure that George was getting divorced - I didn't know the details - but I told them I had invited George and his wife to come with my GF and I to a Halloween party at a night club at a local beach spot (Jenkinsens in Point Pleasant for the locals). I had invited him sometime in early October when he told me "I didn't want to say anything but my wife and I might be headed for a divorce". WHOA, heavy shit - I just work out with the guy - so I didn't press for details - figured it was none of my business. MAYBE this was another mistake I made - MAYBE I should have talked to the guy - asked questions, been a pal - maybe George wanted to talk to someone and he obviously trusted me enough to spot him on heavy workouts - but MAYBE I should have made sure he was alright outside of the gym, MAYBE jackass me should have been paying attention to thing he said, things he did, asked questions about his marriage, wife, kids - been a pal. No, instead, for the next month - I pretended that the guy I was working out with was in as good mental health as he was in good physical health. I call No Homo, but George is/was a magazine cover good looking guy - a big but shredded 175lbs at 5'8ish or so. Before I left the police station - the police man asked if i had any questions for them - I only had one question to ask "I plan to go to the gym tomorrow. George and I have a chest and bicep workout to do. Should I wait around for George?". I'm not sure if the smirk on the asshole's face was him trying to hold back a laugh as if I was joking or a smirk for some other reason - but he suggested "you should go workout and maybe look around for a new workout partner". I suppose the police determined his guilt at some point during the time I spent with them as I would come to learn two years later (just this past month) that immediately following my interview, all units were advised to find and arrest George Calleia for the murder of his wife, Susan Calleia.

I didn't sleep much Sunday night and when Monday came, I knew what was coming, but I went to work and basically sat in my cube refreshing every news website I could think of - knowing the news would break any second that day - either "missing wife found" or "Holmdel man accused of murder". At some point during the day - I think it was late in the afternoon - maybe 2-3ish but it could have been earlier, who knows - the news broke: is the first article I can find - BUT - this story was big enough to hit 1010WINS NY - for those outside of the area - 1010WINS is the "most listened to radio station in New York" - "News, Sports, Traffic, Weather - you give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world". Today, the world was a picture of my pal George - and a story accusing him of murder. I'm not sure which made it sink in and hit home harder - reading the story and details or seeing the picture - in either case - and maybe it's embarrassing to admit - I cried. Right there at my cube, in front of new co-workers at a company I started at only a month or two earlier. There I was, a big strong looking fella just crying like a sissy - over some dude - how gay. hrmmm, I should edit this part - or maybe I'll keep it since it shows I have something like a heart after all. The woman Laura who handled the day to day admin stuff for the company chatted with me for a bit - my GF called - I'm not sure if someone called her first or if I emailed her or called her or why she knew to call - maybe she saw the news too - and after i calmed down enough - I went home - or to my GF's apartment which was like home at that point - and cried some more - now not only did my co-workers know I was a big softy, but my GF too... When I got to her apartment - she wasn't home and I could have just used the key she gave me to go inside - but for some reason I took a walk down to the beach and just cried on a bench over there.... in the rain.

For the next week or two, everyday sucked. More and more news stories covering the case would popup and I figured the police would be looking for me again - sure enough - at some point in the next week or two - two Monmouth County prosecutors showed up in my office to serve me with a subpoena to appear as a witness in front of a Grand Jury. I think I might have gone back to my cube and cried some more that day too - and to answer the question - I don't know why I was crying, or what I was crying about. I didn't really know George THAT well did I? And I didn't do anything wrong and there was nothing I could have done to change things, except for maybe be human and talk to the guy when he told me he might be "headed for a divorce". Why I cried or what I was crying for is still beyond me - if I had to guess - I think I was just feeling guilt as if I could or should have been able to do something.

I attended their Grand Jury hearing - I think I posted about it here even - maybe someone can dig it up in an archive/search or some internet cache if they care. It was pretty crazy scary. You get paid $1 to board and park your horse, or at least that is why the $1 is the law, while you rat out your friends or enemies. You don't get a lawyer, or a judge, or anyone on your side when you're on the witness stand at a Grand Jury hearing. It's you, alone, sitting in front of 24 jury members, a court reporter to type everything you say - and a prosecutor/lawyer asking you questions, lots and lots of questions. You don't get a defense lawyer on your side or a judge - no one to say "you don't have to answer that" or "hey fatassdickheadlawyer, be nicer to the witness". And when the asshole lawyer is done asking questions - the jury members get to ask you questions. For a buck, you are tasked with remembering the fine details of your life for the past year. I challenge each of you right now to try to think of the details of every random conversation you have had with your friend over the past year. Try to think about little things they said or did that seemed like nothing important - those stupid little things are the details that mattered that day. "Did George seem nervous when you talked to him that Sunday?" Nervous? How the fuck do I know, am I a psychologist or some shit? "I guess, I don't know. I was nervous calling him thinking the police were looking for me, I suspect he'd be nervous if his wife was missing" - seemed like a legit answer and it is/was the honest answer.

That Grand Jury testimony was apparently on November 7, 2005. Every day for the past 2 years and a few months - I've thought about this, about George (again, no Homo) and about what I said, what George might have done, or not done, if there was a secret boyfriend George's wife had that might have murdered her, if there was something George said to me that would clear his name, or something George said to me that would end the waiting and be the missing link to convict him. Every day for those 2 years I checked the news, every day, just waiting to read something. Then, back in May of 07 - the news reported that after a few months, or maybe it was a year and a few months, George was FINALLY out on bail.... $3 million bail. IN-SANE.

First, it seemed insane that the guy had spent so much time in jail without being convicted of any crime, only accused. If you or I were accused of a crime - would we be left in jail for months without a trial? If George didn't have the bail money (his house), how long would he have remained in jail before he had a trial by a jury of his peers? If I was the one in jail - and didn't have 3 million, would I just be lost in the system and stuck there? Second - it seemed insane because no sooner than I finished reading the news, I had an email from my pal George...


I just wanted you to know that I received the message you gave my former attorney, when this nightmare first began (I had no way of contacting you until recently). I told her to tell you that "your thoughts are deeply appreciated, I will clear my name and that I considered you, my other little brother" (even though you were bigger than me). I'm pretty sure you never got that message, since I fired her (she's one of the reasons I couldn't get out) shortly after my initial court appearances.

I've been doing a lot of catching up and running around. I'm just starting to wakeup from the nightmare I've been living in. I still find it hard to comprehend all that's happened. The one thing that has kept me strong throughout, is knowing I have the love & support of my family & true friends.

Since I don't have any of my old phone records, it was difficult locating you. I just remembered you hosted a website for Camaro enthusiasts. I crossed my fingers that it was still active, searched the Internet, & lo and behold, I found which led me to & thankfully to you.

Your partner in "arms"


I sent him back an email (not going to share it) - and gave him phone numbers, addresses, etc to contact me. Maybe that seems like a bad idea to some people - but I trusted George then and I still trust him to this very day. I only spoke to him twice on the phone after that - once to try to schedule a lunch and once George telling me he couldn't make lunch as he was packing up his stuff, selling his house and moving in with his mom and didn't know how much time he had so he had much to do - he would call me when he had more time. He never called again after that day - I suppose he wanted to make the most of his time with his family. MAYBE I should have reached out to him instead of waiting for him to call. Thinking about it for the first time now, I didn't reach out the first time he was in trouble and I failed him again. For anyone here looking for a friend, I'm a sucky one so don't look for me.

Since May of 07 - I still checked the news every day... waiting for the mail to come with a subpoena... waited for an officer to show up at my job again... just waited - every day thinking about this - what could I have done, what could I do, am I responsible in some strange way. Where is George now? Where is his daughter now? Why do I workout in my dark and damp basement instead of in a real gym... ohh yeah cause now I find that i don't trust anyone and that I never wanted to talk to people in the first place coupled with this - I've gone out of my way to lead as solitude of a life as possible. I don't talk to my co-workers, I basically stopped posting here on my own website, I barely talk to my own family and the few friends I did have at one point I haven't talked to in years. I owe a few people apologies I guess - if you're one of them - here goes - its not that I don't like you or don't trust you - I just have shit on my mind, and a lot of it - and I'm not sure what or why its on my mind - but it is. I'm sorry I'm a shitty friend, maybe I'll try harder in the future. Don't expect a phone call from me... this is probably all you'll get for now.

Fast forward - or something - back to April 24th of this year - just last month - in fact, just about a full month ago now - and I had my next contact. Sgt Smythe - or a name like that - called me from the Holmdel police department. Again, I would have let the call go to voicemail like I always do but I had read in the paper that morning that the trial was getting underway - when I saw the area code/locality - I knew who was calling and why.... I was asked to appear at the Holmdel police station again that coming Monday to meet with the prosecutor. I did, reviewed the court records/police transcripts I was involved in - learned they arrested George after speaking with me back in October of 05, met with the lawyer guy so he could let me know procedure, what he planned to ask, etc. He told me I would be needed in court the following Tuesday or Wednesday but would need to be there again the following Monday to review. The reviews are actually legal and helpful (to someone). I forgot about some of the things asked/answered - things that I thought were no-sense/throw away questions were important. Things I thought were important were non-sense.

Since day 1 - I was lead to believe that the only reason I was important to the case was because I witnessed George's hands (forearm workout) at the gym Thursday, injury free, and the following day, they were bruised and bitten when the police talked to him. Seem important? Not at all. Apparently the important part of what I knew was that I was the only person George told/admitted to about his possible divorce. Again, I didn't know this was the important part until today (Friday, May 23) when I read it in the paper. Whodathunkit? If i wasn't such a shitty friend, and if I had offered or tried to help the guy out - MAYBE, just MAYBE - things would have been very different. I gave my testimony that following Tuesday - May 6) - wore my pinstripe suit, arrived at the court house 8:30 am - was on the stand by 10am - off by 11am... saw George for the first time in over two years... i didn't get to talk to him obviously - but I gave him a friendly wink and a smile on my way in and out - during defense questioning - I was able to talk to him indirectly - and i hope he was listening - when I responded to a trust question with an honest answer that I stand by even now - "I trusted George with my life every day. With the weight we were lifting, I could have been strangled by a bar or crushed under some weights any day. I trusted George with my life and I would still trust him with my life". I mean that, as silly as it may sound to anyone else who views him as a killer. I got off of the witness stand without issue - my GF who had come with me left the room with me, I made it passed the hundred or so "criminals" waiting for their hearing in the room next door and to the elevator before my eyes watered up and I think I may have had just one little tear. It was over. I was done. Nothing I could say or do would hurt, or help, my friend George any more. I think this tear was relief. I could get on with my life and clear my mind of this bullshit and get back to using my brain for important things, as if the life of my friend George and his family was somehow unimportant.

I followed the stories in the newspaper every morning. And online:

Reading the comments bothered me the most. But I dare not reply... I'm running for Congress... somehow this would be bad press - and yes - I think in this case - all press is good press does not apply. Whatever.... this is what I've wanted to say and get off of my chest for years now - if someone in the race wants to read and share this and use it against me - go ahead scumbag... and fuck you and your mother too - use that as well - I'm a human, and this is my life. It shapes who I am and what I think - and if someone i'm running against thinks me being a witness of sorts is a problem - I remind these people that the politicians I'm running against are witness to plenty of crimes of theft and treason every day - print that too if you have the balls....

But back to George.... I knew it was coming - but the news broke around 10:45 this morning:
"Calleia guilty on all counts"

I didn't cry this time. Maybe I should have. I'm still not convinced that George is guilty of murder. If George wasn't immediately brought to jail and wanted to go lift some weights again, I'd be there and think nothing of it. I still believe that someone else, not sure who but someone else, committed a crime and set George up. I suppose IF you take the time to read all of those news stories - the evidence is there to point fingers - but I'm not sure that there is no reasonable doubt that someone else could have committed this crime.

I suppose it's over now. George is in jail, probably for good - he's 45 and will get 30 to life plus up to 10 more for two additional BS charges. His now 10 year old daughter has lost both parents. Not that I matter, but I lost a friend. MAYBE my friend is really guilty. Maybe he's not, he's still a friend. Maybe I'm not really his friend - who would want me as a friend, I suck at being a friend, but even if I'm not his friend - he's still my friend. And maybe he's mad at me for being the guy who didn't help him when he was getting a divorce, or talked to the police just before he was arrested, or was the "workout buddy" quoted in the prosecutor's closing argument to establish motive - I just told the truth - I did nothing wrong - and somehow I have guilt thinking that my friend is in jail for life because of something I said.

Anyhow... I suppose now it's all over. I'll hopefully soon forget. I'll hopefully never have to be a witness in this case, or any case like it ever again. I'll hopefully read Mrs. Calleia graduates Yale, becomes Ruler of the World and not "Calleia girl arrested for _". I'll hopefully mend some friendships I put on hold because I just wanted to be left alone. I'll hopefully make some new friends who I feel comfortable trusting and hopefully I'll even learn to be a better friend and help friends before it's too late.

For those here who I used to chat with often and haven't in forever, again, I'm sorry. I'll be making an honest effort to get back to life as usual, whatever that means, in the meantime, and not that I'm a member of any specific religion, maybe each of you can say a prayer to who or whatever it is you pray to or talk to in your head, for my friend George, his wife and his daughter. Life generally sucks, but I'm happy that so far I have lead a generally healthy and happy life, and hopefully all of you, your friends, and your family also are fortunate enough to live long, healthy and happy lives.

Jim Hogan -

1 comment:

Melissa L. Gaffney said...

Forget Congress - write a novel. I have always been one to think that holding my own - no matter what the press says - is good enough for me. Screw the press, right? ;-) Good for you, for getting this off your chest. I know how much it takes to get these things out and how great it feels when it's done. And good luck with the blog, it's a media in and of its own. =)