|Alleged murderess Jodi Arias and her now-dead alleged victim Travis Alexander cavorted here in Niagara Falls prior to the blood soaked slaying in 2008. Perhaps, had they stayed in the bucolic Cataract City, their love would not have turned homicidal and they'd have lived happily ever after.
Murder and Niagara Falls. They go together like bullets and guns.
Don Stefano Magaddino and Billy Shrubsall. Joseph Christopher, Helen Ray Fowler or the Little Dillingers; those are just a few of the famous ones.
And now, as the trial of accused murderess Jodi Arias continues in Mesa, Arizona, a Niagara Falls connection emerges.
The comely Arias faces the death penalty in the brutal June 4, 2008 murder of her onetime boyfriend, Travis Alexander, affectionately known as “T-Dog” to his palsie-walsies. He’d been shot in the face, stabbed 29 times and had his throat slit from ear to ear by some raging psychopath who didn’t know enough to either place a knife blade correctly or pick a decent handgun caliber prior to embarking on the senseless killing frenzy.
Nude and taking a shower at the time of his slaughter, there was no indication whatsoever that Alexander thought himself to be in any kind of danger. He allowed himself a moment of vulnerability and it killed him.
The Maricopa County, Ariz., medical examiner, Dr. Kevin Horn, testified that Alexander's jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe had been slashed. Alexander's hands also had defensive wounds. Dr. Horn further testified that Alexander "may have" been dead as a doornail at the time the gunshot was inflicted, and ruled Alexander's death a homicide.
His body was discovered five days later by concerned friends. They called 911, telling the dispatcher about Alexander’s crazy ex-girlfriend, who had gone so far as to hack into his Facebook account. The victim had described her as a stalker, they said. Her name was Jodi Arias.
Under questioning, Arias changed her account of her whereabouts three times. She originally told police that she had not been in the home at the time of Alexander's death. She later told police that two intruders had broken into Alexander's home and that they murdered him and attacked her. Finally, she stated that she killed Alexander in self-defense.
The gun used in the murder was a .25 caliber automatic, a near useless piece of hardware widely known as a “woman’s gun” among firearms aficionados. The whereabouts of the gun and knife used in the senseless slaying are unknown. They were not recovered at the scene.
A .25 auto was reported stolen from the home of Arias’ grandparents a month before the killing.
Various unsubstantiated reports refer to Arias as a “professional photographer,” and a camera found at the scene also yielded important evidence. The heavily damaged digital camera was located in the downstairs washing machine and, although images had been deleted, Mesa police were able to recover the pictures.
The recovered images included Arias and Alexander in sexually suggestive poses at approximately 1:40 pm on June 4, 2008. The last photo of Alexander alive, and in the shower, was taken at 5:29 pm. Moments later, images appear of an individual, believed to be Alexander, "profusely bleeding" on the floor.
According to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s office, the attack on Alexander began at approximately the same time. The camera had also been used to record other images. True crime journalist and author Shanna Hogan, whose book about the case -- “Picture Perfect: The Story of a Beautiful Photographer, Her Mormon Boyfriend and a Deadly Obsession” -- is already a bestseller, explained:
“This is a really interesting dynamic of the whole relationship. So Travis gets hold of this book, ‘1,000 Places to See before You Die,’” Hogan said. “And he and Jodi start checking off these places one by one. They go to Sedona, the Grand Canyon. They go to Niagara Falls and they take all these really elaborate weekend trips to cross off these places.”
Niagara Falls, “The Honeymoon Capital of the World.” A place where murder, mayhem and madness have walked hand-in-hand with romance and passion for more than two centuries.
The photograph of the young couple, taken less than six months before the horrific homicide, investigators say, shows a smiling Arias snuggling with her somewhat wary looking and baseball capped lover on the Canadian side, with the falls and the Rainbow Bridge servicing as a backdrop and the Seneca Niagara Casino and Carl Paladino’s Giacomo Hotel plainly visible over the accused murderess’ peroxide coiffure.
A love match made in heaven that ended up in a bad place somewhere else.
Our region became further involved in the case when Arias told cops she’d worked in one of the terrible singer Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville gin joints in the town of Yreka, California.
On the first day of her trial, prosecutors produced a witness who testified that, while there weren’t any of the shabby dives located in the great state of California, there was one in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where the photographic evidence proved Arias had recently visited.
The prosecution contends that Alexander dumped Arias a little more than one year into their relationship. On the night of the murder, their theory goes, she called him up, arranged for some cheap and sleazy sex, went to his residence, lulled him into a false sense of security and whacked him.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And make no mistake – Jodi Arias is all woman and then some.
The unwatchable hack television commentator Nancy Grace has brayed like a donkey that the Arias trial is the biggest true crime story to occur in America since Casey Anthony went on trial for the savage murder of her three-year-old daughter Caylee in 2011.
Casey Anthony was found not guilty in that case, despite overwhelming evidence against her. A similar outcome would not be surprising in the case of Jodi Arias.
This is America, after all, where everything from politics to hurricanes to murder is reduced to nothing more than reality television; where presidential ballots are no more important than votes on American Idol.
Like Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson before her, Jodi Arias is a celebrity now, and we have a whole different set of rules for celebrities.