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The Plane Truth

What happened to Flight 370? (Geek.com)

On March 8th at roughly 12:40 in the morning, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing with 239 people on board. The Boeing 777-200 ER was in good mechanical shape—damage from a clipped wingtip had been repaired years earlier—had a normal amount of fuel and carried no hazardous materials. As the plane neared Vietnamese airspace, one of the pilots said, “All right, good night.”

And with that—and more than five hours of satellite pings later—he and his plane were gone.

No one knows what happened to Flight 370, whose last satellite communication occurred around 8 a.m.—nearly eight hours after takeoff. And the mystery surrounding its disappearance deepens with each passing day—as do the many conspiracy theories being postulated to explain it.

Before sharing any of these theories—as well as my own—I should mention that the plane’s transponder—the so-called “little black box” in the cockpit that transmits information like speed, position and altitude to air traffic controllers—was turned off shortly after the last radio communication from the pilots. Transponders have been known to fail on their own, of course, which is why backup transponders are also used. Some kind of catastrophic power failure could knock it out, but this seems unlikely since the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) continued to send satellite signals for hours after the transponder “failed.”

In other words, someone switched it off manually… someone in the cockpit. And if that isn’t enough to get the conspiracy nuts talking, I don’t know what is.

An aviation transponder (Wikipedia Commons)

A Watery Grave

The most obvious explanation for Flight 370’s disappearance is that it crashed in the sea for whatever reason—mechanical failure, human error… who knows. Satellite data suggests that it crashed either in the Indian Ocean or the Bay of Bengal. And since the last known readings of the plane’s location show it changing altitude dramatically and flying erratically across the Malay Peninsula, a “water landing” seems perfectly logical… or so you would think.

Terror from Above

Another “theory” that also seems quite obvious involves terrorist hijackers, who either brought the plane down or flew it to some undisclosed location—with several hundred hostages, no less. Some fear a plane this size could be outfitted for some evil purpose and used as a weapon later. This seems unlikely, though, since a Boeing 777 requires at least a mile-long runway, none of which have been found in the area. Granted, it could be a hidden runway, but a huge plane landing anywhere would draw at least a little attention, right?

Some terrorism theorists also point to the pilots at the helm of Flight 370. Even though neither of these men have been linked to terrorist groups—nor have “checkered” pasts in any measurable way—there are some things that simply don’t add up. Switching off the plane’s transponder raises an immediate red flag. And new satellite information revealed that someone also disabled the ACARS system before the plane reached the east coast of Malaysia—which raises even more suspicion.

Something definitely smells fishy about this whole thing.

It Came from Outer Space

One of my favorite Flight 370 conspiracy theories brings with it a touch of Armageddon and some nice science fiction flair. Apparently, a meteor was reported in the area of the plane when it took off, so some believe there could have been an impact. I’m not sure how this might explain the aircraft continuing to fly for hours and hours—unless the meteor damaged some equipment that took its time to fail—but it seemed entertaining enough to mention. And I’m still waiting to hear how aliens play into all of this.

I think I know where to find the Flight 370 passengers… (ABC/Bad Robot Productions)

Can You Handle THE TRUTH?

I can’t be sure why no one has entertained the real theory—soon to be the real truth—behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: the plane and its passengers have been taken to The Island. Yes, I am referencing the mysterious island from ABC’s cult hit Lost—the one where passengers like Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley ended up being in Purgatory (as seen in its disappointing series finale). Isn’t this the most obvious explanation of all?

Think about it. Jack and his peeps were flying on Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 from Sydney to Los Angeles when they crashed on an island inhabited by “others.” No trace of the plane was ever found and until some of the passengers returned home later, all aboard the flight were presumed dead. Those familiar with the series also know that the island was a sort of “power point” for electromagnetic energy—energy that could be harnessed and used to move the island through time and space.

In other words—and suspending all disbelief for a moment—it is possible that the island suddenly appeared in the Indian Ocean, caused an electrical disruption powerful enough to incapacitate Flight 370, and brought the plane and its passengers where Sawyer, Sun and Charlie had gone before: Purgatory.

Look at the bright side, though: at least it’s tropical! Just watch out for the black smoke!

Hoffa Found… Again?

Hoffa rarely disguised his contempt (courtesy of Getty Images)

For nearly half a century, the disappearance of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa—reportedly from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan—has remained one of America’s most popular unsolved mysteries. Conspiracy theories involving mobsters, hit men and all manner of criminal elements abound. And it seems like every year, someone new comes forward with information that will supposedly lead to Hoffa’s final resting place, but inevitably leads nowhere.

The most recent disappointment came last September when someone in Roseville, Michigan claimed to have seen a body buried under his driveway in 1975, not long after Hoffa went missing. Unfortunately, experts drilled, tested soil samples and could find no evidence of human decomposition.

Before that Hoffa’s remains were alleged to be: on a horse farm; under an above-ground pool; in a Cleveland tavern; packed into compressed metal that was later used to build Japanese cars; sealed within a 50-gallon drum at a waste facility; buried in one of the end zones at Giants Stadium; and even melded within the concrete foundation of General Motors’ headquarters.

The truth is that no one knows what happened to Jimmy on that fateful day in 1975, but a recent claim seems to hold more merit than most. And it comes from a source that many law enforcement officials consider to be “highly reputable” and “the right man at the right time”: former Detroit crime boss Anthony Joseph Zerilli.

Tony Zerilli leads police to the site (courtesy of Tickle The Wire)

In 1970, Tony Zerilli took over for his father as head of the Detroit Partnership crime syndicate, part of the notorious Italian Cosa Nostra—you know… the guys that make sure you “sleep with the fishes” if you don’t pay your debts or do their bidding?

Think The Godfather, only for real.

Unfortunately for Tony, he got popped by the feds in 1974 for some shady casino dealings and went to prison. His father Joseph Zerilli came out of retirement to lead “The Partnership” again and in July 1975, the Teamsters boss went missing. It stands to reason that Joseph knew Hoffa’s whereabouts—after all, he was the Head Honcho of the Detroit mob at the time—so it is at least possible that Tony had this information.

And Tony not only claimed to know where Hoffa’s body was buried; he gave the exact location to an NBC reporter this past January.

After leaving prison in 1979, Zerilli allegedly spoke with a mob enforcer friend who told him about the contract on Hoffa—which came from Detroit’s crime bosses (including Joseph Zerilli)—and provided details about his fate. Hoffa was lured to a meeting, presumably at the Machus Red Fox restaurant, captured and taken to a farm roughly 20 miles away that a mob underboss owned. Here he was killed and buried in a shallow grave until his body could be moved later. Unfortunately, that day never came and for all intents and purposes, Hoffa should still be there.

At least that’s the story Tony Zerilli told. And it seems to have been enough since as I’m writing this, investigators are on-the-scene at the farm in Oakland Township just north of Detroit—somewhere near the intersection of Adams and Buell Roads—where Hoffa was supposedly murdered.

hoffa search map.jpg

A map of the latest Hoffa burial site (courtesy of David Pierce/Detroit Free Press)

I checked it out on Google Earth and it’s definitely a remote area. There is some development nearby, but that would not have been the case in 1975. Back then, I’m sure there was farmland as far as the eye could see.

What I find most interesting about Zerilli’s story is that it was convincing enough to secure a search warrant for private property, owned I’m sure by someone completely innocent of any Hoffa-related crimes. The FBI special agent in charge of the Detroit field office—Bob Foley—told reporters that the information Zerilli provided “reached the threshold of probable cause, which was sufficient to allow us to obtain a search warrant.”

In other words, there could be some truth to Zerilli’s claim. I seriously doubt it, of course—given all the rumors, wolf-crying and disappointment over the years—but I certainly hope it’s true. This mystery has gone unsolved long enough and the time has come to finally put it to rest.

That way we can focus on solving more important mysteries… like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot or why the makers of Vienna Sausages insist on packing their wieners in gelatinous goo. What’s up with that?

Murdered by a Man of the Cloth

There once was a time when people could trust priests. I know it’s tough to remember—especially since it was decades ago, if not longer—but I kid you not. Priests were among the most trusted members of any community in which they lived.

Of course, this was long before the stories of child molestation and sexual assault started to surface. Yes, there were likely priests fondling children and such, but it was much more discreet and, oftentimes, concealed by the church.

Actually, the church has been known to conceal quite a lot, even in the face of all these child sex revelations (for lack of a better word). And this has been going on for so long that eventually, the years pass quickly enough to dim the memories of past crimes and transgressions.

Such was the case for former Catholic priest John Feit of Arizona, at least until recently. His story allegedly begins with the disappearance of a 25-year-old schoolteacher in McAllen, Texas in 1960.

Irene Garza was a beautiful young woman and former Miss South Texas who was loved by many in her small hometown. The day before Easter, she decided to visit Sacred Heart Catholic Church to give confession.

No one ever saw her alive again.

Easter Sunday, Garza’s father finally reported her missing to police and a search ensued, one joined by numerous members of the close-knit community. Four days later, her body was found face down in a canal. An autopsy would later show that Garza had been raped while in a coma, suffocated and killed before being dumped in the murky water.

Irene Garza (courtesy of Noemi Ponce-Sigler family)

Near Garza’s body, police found a number of suspicious items. Among them were a candelabra—which authorities determined had come from Sacred Heart Church—as well as a Kodak slide viewer belonging to one of the priests there: Reverend John Feit.

Feit was immediately brought in for questioning and underwent numerous lie detector tests about the murder; he failed them all. Feit did admit to hearing Garza’s confession that fateful night, but claimed that he left the rectory shortly thereafter and last saw her standing outside the front of the church.

The cops weren’t buying it, though. In their official report, one of the interrogating officers wrote that “Feit was responding in a manner that would indicate beyond doubt that he was concealing facts and had guilty knowledge.”

The investigation continued and soon, police learned something very interesting. Mere weeks before Garza’s disappearance, Feit had been arrested for attacking a woman at another church a few miles from McAllen. In that case, he pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor aggravated assault and got only a slap on the wrist: a $500 fine and no prison time.

Pieces of the proverbial puzzle were starting to fall into place. And Garza’s family was certain they had found her killer.

Unfortunately, nothing would ever come of Garza’s case because—and bear in mind this is all hearsay—the church and the district attorney conspired to sweep this terrible crime under the rug, in a manner of speaking. Feit was insulated from prosecution and immediately transferred to Our Lady of Assumption monastery in Ava, Missouri.

He left the priesthood near the end of the decade and eventually settled in Arizona, where he currently resides. For years, the Garza case grew cold, despite the continued efforts of several family members to keep her on law enforcement’s radar.

A break finally came in 2002 when Texas Ranger Lt. Rudy Jaramillo and his cold case unit started investigating the Garza murder. After reviewing the case evidence, Jaramillo agreed that it pointed to Feit as the killer. The problem was that he had to prove it by finding something more concrete and substantial.

And that something came in the form of two surprise witnesses: Joseph O’Brien, a priest who once worked with Feit at Sacred Heart, and Dale Tacheny, a monk at the Missouri monastery where Feit was sent in 1963.

When John Feit was a 27-year-old Roman Catholic priest, he was questioned in Garza\'s killing.

Rev. John Feit in 1960 (courtesy of Bettman/Corbis)

Tacheny also served as Feit’s spiritual advisor.

According to both men, Feit confessed to killing Garza and basically knew that he got away with murder. He also seemed to understand how the church protected him from prosecution, sparing him from a life behind bars and granting him freedom even he knew he didn’t deserve.

O’Brien was working at Sacred Heart when Garza disappeared and was found murdered, and he suspected Feit was trouble. “We knew he was dangerous, so we shipped him off to a monastery,” the priest told CNN recently. O’Brien also mentioned how Feit confessed to him directly about the murder. Unfortunately, O’Brien lied to police, told them he knew nothing and carried this terrible truth for decades before finally coming forward.

Tacheny first met Feit when he arrived at Our Lady of Assumption in Missouri and began to counsel him spiritually. Soon Feit confessed to Garza’s murder, but unlike his confession to O’Brien, this one was much more detailed.

Feit told Tacheny that he heard Garza’s confession that April night in 1960 and invited her to join him in the rectory. She did and that’s where he sexually assaulted her, fondled her breasts, tied her up, gagged her and put something over her head. Feit then smuggled her out of the church and took her home, where he kept her overnight.

On Easter morning, Feit wrapped Garza in plastic—still bound and gagged—and put her in the bathtub. She complained about not being able to breathe, but he ignored her pleas and instead went to church to hear more confessions. By the time he returned, however, Garza was dead. He quickly tossed her body into his car, drove to a nearby canal and dumped her there.

She would be found four days later.

Given these new witnesses and their shocking accounts of Feit’s guilt, Jaramillo was convinced he could get a warrant for the former priest’s arrest. He approached the county district attorney, Rene Guerra, and presented his evidence. Unfortunately, the D.A. was not convinced.

Now living in Arizona, John Feit told CNN\'s Gary Tuchman he did not kill Irene Garza.

Feit today in Arizona (courtesy of Rich Brooks/CNN)

Guerra claimed that neither O’Brien nor Tacheny were credible and demanded more solid evidence that would result in what he called a “slam-dunk conviction.” In his opinion—and despite numerous others having different views—O’Brien was a senile old man who lied to police and Tacheny did little more than present evidence fed to him by Jaramillo.

It didn’t matter that McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez found O’Brien “very credible” or that Tacheny told his story to San Antonio Police detective George Saidler months before Jaramillo ever heard of him. Guerra would not issue a warrant for Feit’s arrest.

In 2004, a grand jury finally did hear Garza’s case again, only Feit was never called to testify. Neither was O’Brien or Tacheny, even though transcripts of their testimony were supposedly shared with jurors. Sadly, O’Brien died a year later and the grand jury decided not to indict Feit.

There would be no justice for Irene Garza, but her family has not given up hope. They still believe that someday Feit will answer for his crime. And since he was once a “man of God,” I hope he understands that while a human court may not get him, a certain archangel named Satan might.

We all pay the piper eventually. It’s just that for John Feit—who is elderly and basically has one foot in the grave already—the price will be especially high.

Jimmy Hoffa found?

Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man dying of cancer in Roseville, Michigan, recently told authorities that the body of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa might be buried beneath a driveway in suburban Detroit.

Hoffa disappeared more than 35 years ago under very mysterious circumstances, but his body was never found. And conspiracy theories about his ultimate demise abound. Was Hoffa murdered by mobsters and encased in the cement foundation of Giants Stadium? Was he dumped in a swamp? Dissolved in acid?

No one really knows. And none of these “leads” have ever panned out.

Is it possible this could change given this new discovery? Most law enforcement officials think not, but there is an investigation underway.

Last week, authorities used ground-penetrating radar on the site and discovered an anomaly in the soil below. This indicated that yes, the ground had been disturbed at some point. Soil samples are now being collected to determine if a decomposed body is buried there.

“We are not claiming it’s Jimmy Hoffa because the timeline doesn’t add up,” explained Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. “We’re investigating a body that may be at the location.”

Whether or not this is really Jimmy Hoffa’s burial place remains to be seen, but additional information should be available soon.

Jimmy Hoffa was last seen leaving a restaurant outside Detroit in July 1975 and getting into a car with a Teamsters boss and a mafia captain. The dying man who thinks Hoffa’s body is buried under that driveway said that he saw several men burying a large black bag in that location shortly after Hoffa’s disappearance.

Frame 352 from the film, alleged to depict a f...

Bigfoot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I hope this brings an end to the mystery surrounding Hoffa’s disappearance, I’m fairly certain he will never be found. It’s been 35 years and endless leads have been investigated, but still nothing has ever been found. Whoever disposed of his body did a thorough job and I seriously doubt they buried him under a driveway in suburbia.

Of course, I’ll still be waiting for the results of the investigation with great anticipation. And if it really is Hoffa, we can finally put his case to rest and focus on solving another mystery.

Watch out, Bigfoot, because you might be next!

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