When the detectives solve a series of murders committed by a holdup male and female team in ski masks, McCoy must determine whether Leslie Harlan, the female member is an unwilling hostage or an active participant in the crimes. The investigation into a prostitute's murder leads to a married plastic surgeon as the obvious suspect, but Kincaid has a hunch that an elaborate frame-up is in play.
Based on the Susan Smith case . Teleplay by : I. A hidden anti-Semitic message in a high school yearbook offers a clue to an art teacher's murder and leads to a case that matches McCoy against "Klan lawyer" Roy Payne. Based on the Kitty Genovese case . The death of a show horse leads to a trial involving insurance fraud, a sting operation, and a wealthy woman's disappearance. Martha Mitchell.
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Bokassa's ego was titanic, even by the supersized standards of twentieth-century African strongmen. He married seventeen wives, converted back and forth from Islam to Christianity, and had an extra-long military jacket tailored to accommodate all the various medals he awarded himself. But it was not enough. It was an appropriate symbol, for diamonds had helped keep him in power. Bokassa had given several of his country's big-carat discoveries to his close ally and game-hunting partner, French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
An enraged Bokassa rounded up approximately one hundred children, innocent and guilty alike, and had them murdered. Bokassa killed many himself, and kept their remains in a refrigerator in his palace. In the same larder he kept the corpses of some of the political enemies he had liquidated, and Bokassa was said to have snacked on their brains and hearts. The testimony of the palace chef at a trial was damning. Bokassa was sentenced to lifetime house arrest in a small house in Bangui, where he was treated something like an aged lion in a zoo.
He died in The latest coup-the ninth since independence-toppled the government of President Felix Patasse in March He had made the mistake of leaving the Presidential Palace for a brief trip to Cameroon. The portraits on the walls of the Presidential Palace changed, but little else did. The treasury was bankrupt. The French ominously announced the deployment of a peacekeeping detachment. Soldiers with machine guns and rocket launchers cruised around Bangui in jeeps. Here is something you must understand. Diamonds are an illusion, diamonds are a dream," said joseph N'gozo, leaning back in his chair.
He used to be an economic official with the U. Now he was trying to make money in diamonds and not having a lot of luck. We were having dinner at Le Relais des Chasses, a restaurant near the center of Bangui popular with French expatriates. Its name means "The Hunting Club. We want to work hard, the American dream. The slurry is then washed in river water as the crewmen keep their eyes out for the glint of magic rock.
They can read a riverbank. According to the government, about 90 percent of the nation's diamonds were found by "artisans" -a euphemism for hired labor crews from rural villages. The work is dirty and miserable. The mines usually go no deeper than five meters underground, but the soil is unstable and walls often collapse, killing miners. It is the only real dream in sight. His buoyancy seemed unshakable. I ordered another beer and joseph had another Fanta. Earlier in the evening, he had showed me the logbook that each mine operator is legally required to keep, called a bordure d'achat, or book of sale.
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Each diamond was to be listed on the right-hand side, and there were columns for the name of the miner who found it, the place it was found, its size in carats, and the name of the buying agency where it was sold. Let's say a miner gets a diamond from someplace else? Like from a smuggler. Joseph spoke slowly. The first was the outbreak of a vicious civil war right across the river. The second was the growing awareness that diamonds-the elemental symbol of love-were responsible for mass murder. Kabila fought the rebels with his own sale of the country's vast diamond reserves, creating, in effect, the same kind of kleptocracy that propped up Mobutu for three decades.
Soldiers-often no more than twelve years old-frequently went to work themselves in the mines, and the shovel became as important as the Kalashnikov as a tool of war. Some of the stones were taken out of the country via midnight transfers at remote airstrips. And critics charge that it turned a blind eye for several years to the true source of all the gems being dug up by warrior children, which eventually found their way onto the fingers of American brides.
Though despicable, nothing about the diamond-based financing was technically illegal. And it was good business, too. The cargo of African wars made up as much as 14 percent of the world's entire diamond trade. There was no way to sort the bloody stones from the clean ones, and the diamond industry had no interest in separating the two. Once they were shipped to Antwerp or London, they were dumped into bulk sales pouches like wheat seeds poured anonymously into the bins of a Kansas grain elevator.
Jacqueline was right: there was simply no way to tell where my fiancee's ring had come from. Good intentions sealed the Central African Republic's fate. The phrase "blood diamonds" entered the Western vocabulary and De Beers was shamed into closing its buying offices in the war zones. Feeling the pressure, South Africa and forty-four 0ther diamond-producing countries developed a cursory method to stem the flow of blood diamonds known as the Kimberley Process. Now the daily loads of gems being flown to E urope had to come with a certificate declaring they were not mined in a nation in a technical state of war.
The diamond industry hailed it as a giant step in the right direction. But human rights groups criticized it as superficial and full of loopholes. And one of the many problems was this: The capital of the Central African Republic-with six buying agencies and a direct pipeline to Antwerp-is a ten-minute canoe ride from the edge of the Congo. I can take a stone and put it into my mouth. Under my tongue. Bam, it's gone. The statistics of production and sale are almost laughable when you line them up next to each other. The mines of the Central African Republic are capable of producing about , carats a year, at most.
This gap persists today, and it isn't hard to guess where the extras are coming from. Nobody knows the true volume. Three more pebbles, tossed into an ocean of dreams. I've had my share of truly awful moments-the kind that you wish you could blot out of your memory for good because they hurt so much-and one of them was the Tuesday night in February that Anne took the engagement ring off her finger and handed it back to me. We were sitting on my couch, in the midst of what would be the last of an agonizing series of discussions over whether we should go through with the wedding.
I stared at it in my palm. It was still a little warm from her hand. After she walked out the door, I put the ring back into the blue box it came in, the one that closed with a snap. I tucked the box in the corner of my top desk drawer, put some old phone bills over it, and promptly got drunk.
For the next week, I opened the box each night just to see it, and it made me cry each time. After that first week, I didn't look at it again for a long time. There are bullet holes in the garage walls at the buying agency, souvenirs of last year's revolution. The finance director pointed them out to me with something like pride. This was one of the first places looted.
This company was lucky. This agency was one of the most heavily fortified buildings in Bangui, outside of the Presidential Palace. There used to be a large illustration of a diamond on the front gate, but that had been painted over to conceal the true business of the place and the wealth inside. Not that it was a big secret in Bangui. This was the mouth of the pipeline to Antwerp, where virtually all of the Central African Republic's diamonds would enter the Western market. He was a Belgian, about thirty years old, with gray patches salted through his hair.
I didn't come here to build hospitals. I could say that I did, but I'm not that kind of liar. But I really think the government should stop paying these thieves and put the money into schools or a hospital. When you see all this misery and the people all around not getting paid wages, it breaks your heart. All over the world, people believe diamond buyers are making huge profits.
But those days are over.
Diamond in the Rough
We're fighting here like crazy, man. Almost as thoughtlessly, he dug out a piece of rough that had been sold to him not long ago. It was 27 carats, about the size of a big ripe blueberry. How much had he paid for it? I played with it idly in my hands while I asked him about the illegal flow of diamonds in and out of the country. He was quick to explain that he and his company were not involved, but readily admitted that it was common practice by others.
But we are taking a lot of risks to establish these offices in unstable places. Smuggling is smuggling. There is simply no better way to move around a large sum of money in a small place-almost no mineral is worth more per gram. This is the signature fact of a diamond, and its curse. There are lots of places on the body to tuck one away. I wanted to know. The finance director took the berry-sized diamond from my hand, held it upward, and fixed me with a stare that I was unable to read. Six stones, that's about the size of a small piece of shit.
Sell it to a gangster. Watch TV, man. That's what's happening in reality. You will always find people willing to do something for you the moment you offer the right price. I went down to the Ministry of Mines, which was in a motel-shaped building wrapped around a dusty courtyard. Certainly that could be arranged, he told me. There are two large mining districts, both along broad river valleys and both about a day's drive from Bangui.
But there was a small problem. I just want to see where they come from. In cash. I wondered. This was a mineral that underwrote a huge part of the economy. Wouldn't they want to show them off? M'baye now occupied a dingy two-story office with a stone wall out front and an empty flagpole tipping to the side. Street vendors sold cell phone covers, plastic dolls, and cooked goat meat from plywood shelves balanced on tires. I walked under it and up the gentle hill to the high gates of the s-era Presidential Palace, where a right turn would take me back to the hotel where I was staying.
I had gone several paces down a broad asphalt avenue-by far the smoothest in Bangui-before I realized the voice screaming in angry French behind me was screaming at me. After two minutes, I understood the word gendarme and he understood that I spoke extremely poor French.
He didn't answer. Then they both disappeared. I had a five-minute wait before I was taken outside the gates to a police station and made to stand against a plaster wall. Beside me was a rectangular hole where a light switch had been ripped out. He shrugged, and turned away. What hod I done?
I had just refused to pay a fee to the Ministry of Mines. Was that the problem? Or could they have somehow known that I had been sitting on a patio in the suburbs when a smuggler and his friends tried to unload three diamonds from the Congo? That would be a year in jail for me. The man with the patch of white hair came out of a room with a padded door. He took my hand in a limp mortician's handshake and said in careful English: "My work here is done.
He and two soldiers in camouflage led me out of the station, through the streets of Bangui, where the roadside market was in full clatter. A few of the vendors stared at me. I got silence for an answer. We walked south toward the port of Bangui, the one the French had built in the 1 s to ship cotton and diamonds down the river to the Atlantic.
It looked like it had not been used in decades. There was a blue-barred gate in front and soldiers standing sentry at the edges. They only waved me forward impatiently, across the concrete tarmac and around the back of a two-story warehouse. There was a door wide enough for large cargo that led into a dim chamber.
Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty
Dead electric bulbs hung from wires in the ceiling. The two soldiers behind me unslung their rifles. For the first time since being arrested, I began to get frightened. I could feel my hands start to tremble. Visions of an impromptu execution and a river burial began playing in my mental cineplex. They must have somehow found out I had met with diamond smugglers.
The policeman urged me forward, and we walked into the cargo hold together, down a dark hallway, and through a series of rooms. They were filled with trash, and loose wires hung from the ceiling. Though it was ridiculous-I had done nothing wrong-I felt twitchy all over, my back especially. If they were going to shoot me, would it be here, without warning? Or would I be talked to first, made to understand, spun around to face the rifles?
The soldiers led me to a cement staircase and I was motioned to climb. He wanted to know where I was staying, who I was working for, what my mother's name was, why I had walked in front of the Pres. In a nation without tourists or a U. Embassy, there were few other reasons for me to be there. Please do not kill him.
It was a magazine I had always enjoyed, that much was true. I pulled the letter out and showed it to the secretariat. I was handed off to another police official, this time by guards with Kalashnikovs safely behind their shoulders. He sat me down in front of his desk and began writing out a lengthy document in French. This was to be my "statement," he explained. I could see my name, my birthday, my hotel room number, and my parents' names in the jumble of words I couldn't read.
It looked as far away as Miami. I thought of Anne, my lost fiancee, and the ring I had given her. Had her diamond come across this same river, in the shadow of a dark warehouse that was really a police station? This was a world where a lone person walking outside the walls of the Presidential Palace was of much greater concern than illicit diamonds coming over from the Congo. The French had left the nation with almost nothing, except for their language, their bread, a few rotting military bases, and their rigid legal system, which strained out gnats while entire camels were swallowed.
Around this carefully inefficient house of law, a vast green anarchy groaned. After an hour had passed, the policeman finally put the finished document in front of me, lettered carefully in French. It was three pages long. He handed me a pen. I can't read it. I looked at the policeman and shook my head, unafraid of being shot anymore. If it was going to happen, it would have happened already, and the passage of time had probably calmed things down.
Either jail or the demand for. I shrugged apologetically and shook my head and did nothing. The policeman looked at me with unfiltered contempt, tossed me my passport across the desk, and told me, in words that I did not understand, but did, to get the hell out of there. And I obeyed. Anne and I maintained a careful friendship over the phone for a few weeks.
Then she stopped taking my calls. Then I stopped. But at the same time, I couldn't bear to have it near me. Half of a year went by. Our planned wedding date, June 1 6, came and went. One night in September, as the dreams were beginning to fade, 1 went over to my grandmother's house for our regular Monday night dinner. But it wasn't there. It was gone. I moved it to the living room.
I opened the shaker. It was empty. All the spit in my mouth had thickened to paste. Vincent de Paul the other day. I t was really the first time I had looked at it since the week she had left me. I felt as though I might vomit. I confessed to my grandmother what the fuss was about-that the ring wasn't Nonie's; that it had belonged to my lost fiancee, the one I had never wanted to talk about; that I had been keeping the ring at her house because it made me incredibly sad to have it near me; that I didn't blame her for almost losing it and that it was my fault for being so closed-mouthed about the whole thing; but that I was too upset to eat anything and had to leave right then.
And then I drove away. He was selling adapter cords for cellular phones, but not the phones themselves, from a small wooden platform next to the side of the road. They'll paw through their waste to find it. His name was Beinvena Yelbana, twenty-eight years old, and he used to be a nagbata, or diamond laborer from the city of Carnot, and he had certainly never shit a diamond into his palm. If he had, he might not be here on Avenue Boganda, selling adapters next to a drainage ditch.
He told me how he had made and lost an overnight fortune in his father's small diamond dig. It has big money, but there are big risks. I had so much money, I didn't know what to do with it. I spent it all on wives"-by this he meant girlfriends-"and alcohol. And other things. But I can't remember where it all went. He had hauled the dirt to the river himself from the mine, more than two kilometers away. But that didn't matter anymore. There was a huge party that night and he got drunk.
The stone was given to the collector who had fronted the equipment money. This, of course, made him exactly typical of any young man caught in the riotous flush of a mineral dig. There's a reason why prostitutes and saloons followed mining camps; why pickup truck dealerships offer such easy credit near the smelter. His diamond, it might be said, was not forever. You have to work by faith, or else it's just an illusion. Those were the words that the Central Africans kept choosing to describe the diamonds that lay under their earth.
They were hidden in the sands, in the ghost riverbeds, millions of them, an otherwise useless pebble that had no place in the cultural history or spiritual tradition of the region, but one that the white men valued supremely and were willing to pay rewards that far surpassed any other. And so Central Africa bent itself daily to feed that hunger. It sent a million carats a year to Belgium, and half of them were even legal.
But what was there to show for it when the digging was done and the diamonds flown out? There are bandits on the roads. Alexie had been a graduate student at the University of Bangui until his adviser quit and no other faculty member would agree to read his thesis. He had three children he was raising on his own, and he told me his wife had left him for the witch doctor in his home village the previous year.
He resembled a smaller version of Martin Luther King Jr. Alexie's slippery answers sometimes drove me crazy every other sentence seemed to begin with "The problem is. We looked at each other and shrugged. Before long, our dubious Ordre de Mission was dripping in official ink.
About twelve kilometers out of Bangui, we ran into trouble. We weren't the only ones having a hard time. Fieldworkers watched silently as the contents of their bags were dumped on the pavement. After half an hour of bargaining, Alexie was still unable to get him down from the outrageous figure he was wanting. I went over to talk to him.
Who is the minister? Off to the side, I watched as one of the workers from the junked van-an elderly man in the long robes of a Muslim-was ordered to his feet at the point of a gun. The soldiers went through his pockets. I pulled out a notebook. This received no answer, and so I asked again, uncapping a ballpoint. We will be talking to Parfait M'baye when we return to Bangui.
The pavement soon gave way to rutted ochre. We eased over a creek on a bridge made of wooden market pallets lashed together. Naked children waved and screamed to us from the water. The morning fog began to burn away, the cinder-block huts gave way to dirt, and the jungle closed in. Diamonds are strangers to the surface of the earth.
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Their true home is the iron silicate and magnesium soup at the mid-regions of the earth's interior known as the mantle. Pressures are enormous here. At temperatures approaching 2, degrees Fahrenheit, small grains of carbon that found their way here are pressed into something new. The heat and the weight of the mantle press sheet after sheet of new carbon onto the grain. The carbon atoms of a diamond share an extra electron with each of the four carbon atoms that surround it, and their bond with each other forms a tight cube.
This is the strongest linkage of atoms known to chemistry. It could not survive the lighter regions of the earth's crust, where carbon is expressed as a much flakier substance called graphite. The hellish foundry of the earth's innards, at depths approaching 1 20 miles, is the only birthing place for a diamond, which takes its name from the Greek adamas-which means "indomitable. What we wear on our fingers and around our necks are the lucky survivors, the sperm who won the race.
When the ancient volcanoes died and eroded away, the vertical dykes that carried the lava hardened into carrot-shaped fossils. These daggers into the earth are packed with a grayish-green rock called kimberlite. Pipes of kimberlite are sought-after prizes for geologists, but only those that moved their lava fast enough are worth anything.
Of the six thousand known kimberlite pipes on the planet, barely a dozen are known to contain enough diamonds to be "economically feasible" -that is, to justify a large mine. You simply dig a hole in the riverbed, sift through the sand, and hope to get very, very lucky. How did the inner kernels of diamonds-those seedlings of foreign carbon-find their way into the mantle in the first place? There are three theories. One is that the carbon occurs naturally in the mantle, in a way that scientists do not precisely understand. A second holds that the floors of some of the earth's oceans dumped a load of silt and organic material through diagonal cracks in the basalt crust.
This would mean that the heart of a diamond was once a living thing-a bit of seaweed, perhaps, or the speck of a trilobite. The negative numbers of isotopes seen in eclogite diamonds are DYING STARS 27 strongly reminiscent of life-based carbon, lending strength to the idea that humans and diamonds share a common ancestry. What could ruin steel quite like that?
It turned out the meteor was seeded liberally with diamonds. Scientists theorized that those tiny diamond chips buried in the mantle may have been planted there by ancient meteor strikes. Quite literally, stardust. How do you find a piece of star in a place like the Central African Republic? The customary way is to have a dream about it. We came to the town of Boda, which was a kind of supply center for the mines. Muslims owned most of the markets, where oil lanterns and giant sacks of milled flour were sold. Loud music came from a bar where men were getting drunk in the middle of the day.
There were a few buying agencies ringed with high walls. There was a wide main street, crisscrossed with rain rivulets and sloping down to an anemic creek. Boda reminded me of a rawer version of Placerville and Ouray and Park City and the other nineteenth-century boomtowns of the Sierras and the Rockies. I sat on top of the spare fuel drum lashed to the back of the Land Cruiser while Alexie bought bananas and bread from a store and Hassa, our driver, drank coffee from a jelly glass at a nearby stand.
A man in a beige shirt came up and spoke French to me. I quickly understood he was a police officer and reached for some coffee money. But he didn't want it. He had just taken a job as the police chief in a town fifty miles away. Could we give him a ride? We came to the edge of the Lombaye River in the middle of the night. It is too wide to be bridged with wood. There was an iron ferryboat on the other side-the only way across.
Two children who lived nearby volunteered to paddle across in their pirogues and unhitch it from its cable. A man from a village on the other side had a habit of locking it up for himself, they said, even though it was government property. It was the only way we could pass. The only sounds were the receding hush of paddles in the water and the croaking of frogs.
The river spread away like a lake under moonlight. Another vehicle soon joined ours at the water's edge. It was a battered station-wagon ambulance carrying more than ten people. I walked over to talk to one of the passengers, a fortyish man in torn pants and a filthy tank top. He introduced himself as N'Djiewa Sylvin, a nogboto, and said he was hitching a ride back into the mining regions. He was broke. I asked him how he knew where the diamonds were, and he said that he looked for maps in his sleep.
These dreams were sent from the ancestors and they would point the way. If I do this good deed, 1 may find a diamond the next day. If I don't find it, one of my neighbors will find it because of my dream. If you get a dream that you have a new flashlight, that means you're supposed to get that flashlight. We slept that night on the floor of a shack in a village whose name I never learned, where a kind woman fed us bowls of curried goat when we arrived. My sleep was patchy and broken. Before I left for Africa, I started taking an antimalarial drug called mefloquine, whose label warned ominously of "psychiatric side effects" and "vivid dreams.
One who spent months in India said he had strange thoughts about murdering his traveling companions. He concluded that if he had known how unpleasant the chemical blowback was, he never would have taken the trip. Other reactions I had heard about were milder, but the common experience was dreams that seemed uncannily real. I awoke from a polychromatic sludge that night, not knowing where I was, and heard somebody speaking in harsh and scratchy French. I twisted around for a look, but could make out nothing in the shack except for moonlight coming in through the slats.
Then: a small red dot about ten feet away.
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I became aware that it was the police chief, listening to Voice of America on his shortwave radio. I heard more about the diamond dreams the next day from a younger miner walking the road with a shovel over his shoulder near the village of Katopka. He had dreamed of having passionate sex with a rich white woman the night before a big-carat discovery the year before.
His friends next to him laughed, but he didn't appear to be joking as he told me the story through Alexie. Inside was a sickly yellow chip, a sad discolored liule half-carat. What was happening in the Central African Republic was the emergence of an entirely new folk religion. French corporations have dug diamonds out of the sand here since the 1 s, but the large-scale recruitment of the countryside into mining didn't gear up until the Bokassa era, when lust for imperial gliuer became a presidential obsession.
The president had died, but the mania hadn't. But they had changed even more than the dreams of young men-they were changing the culture itself. Most of them revolved around the spirits of the dead. Near a small village called Kate Bombale is an outcropping of black rock.
It is atop a hill, just north of the thin ochre track that leads to a nearby mine. Purple blossoms and twigs fell into our hair as the vehicle thwacked through the dense brush. The men ducked their heads. Pythons are sometimes known to fall from the trees this way. We came to a series of shallow excavations next to the Loame River. They reminded me of gravel pits dug next to highways. The men from the village said the first diggings had been done with a bulldozer commissioned by a diamond buyer from Boda.
It was like panning for gold in the California Gold Rush, except the Americans of a century and a half ago had better equipment. The chief of the mine, Yango M ichel, was a very old man by Central African standards at fifty-seven. I was proud. But I would have been prouder if it had been a better color. This is how you know if you have a good gem: If it looks like a candle, good.
If it is colored like a bottle, it is bad. Diamonds follow good deeds.