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The Week of What Was

This week is a big one for important anniversaries in the Palm Beaches and on a national level, two of them involving assassinations.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We began the week by celebrating the birthday on Sunday of the person who contributed the most to this country’s civil rights movement, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ironically, it came at a time when a controversy over treatment of blacks, and minorities in general, has crescendoed, with protests erupting nationwide. Just today, we in the Palm Beaches learned that a police officer who shot and killed a well-liked, law-abiding young black man was found, by combining videos and phone records, to have lied about why he shot the man, whose vehicle had been disabled.

The work week ends with the 40th anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s becoming president — on Jan. 20, 1977. Both Carter and King were from Georgia, and both were devout Christians devoted to peace.

President Jimmy Carter

In between these two events were the anniversaries of the highly sensational assassination of a prominent Palm Beach citizen and record-setting weather occurrences. For the only time in Southeast Florida history, snow fell on the morning of Jan. 19, 1977. It reached all the way to Freeport on Grand Bahama island. Children in the Palm Beaches gleefully formed tiny snowballs from up to a quarter inch of snow that gathered on cars. It melted quickly, but was great fun while it lasted.

Yours truly was on jury duty that day, but was dismissed early and arrived at his job at the Palm Beach Post around noon to 1 p.m. The city editor dropped on me the assignment to write the lead story of the day, and I frenetically

Three days before that, Jan. 16, was the 41st anniversary of the assassination of Richard Kreusler, a member of several civic organizations and uncontested candidate for the Palm Beach Town Council. He was mortally wounded by a shotgun blast through a window of the seven-member-family’s home on the near-north side of Palm Beach. It was a huge event, and a reward that rose to about $40,000 was posted. Police

I learned in 2002 that a former colleague of mine, who’d come to the Post from the Miami Herald, had investigated for years and learned in 1987 who the real murderer was. Even more important, he discovered who was behind it – a high-ranking national politician. But he couldn’t prove that, and the paper never ran a story. The reporter turned his information in to the Palm Beach County

In the thin guise of fiction, my novel MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died, relates the story of that event, which prompted five attorneys to work pro bono for years in futile attempts to gain a new trial for Herman, who finally was released in February 1992 by Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles and the Florida Cabinet. The killer never has been apprehended, and the politician died several years ago.

#DrMartinLutherKingJr #FloridaGovLawtonChiles #PalmBeachPost #SouthFloridasnow #PresidentJimmyCarter #RichardKeusler #MarkHerman

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