The multi-faceted Denise Brown…. English Professor in Lyndonville, Vermont, mother of twins, former corporate wife“ to a former Connecticut senior executive, editor of “North Country Cooking” Magazine has yet another credit to her name… Homicide survivor and author of “The Unspeakable” based on the 1998 Connecticut Lottery mass murders.
After her husband Otho Brown was chased in his workplace parking lot, shot three times, laying dead on the pavement adjacent to the former Connecticut Lottery building and the woods…Denise Buel Brown did something unpopular in the aftermath. When an educational fund was initiated for her son and twin daughters, she actually asked for more…Whether you think how dare she…or good for her, Denise’s aftermath admittedly was colored by alcohol rage and brutal honesty.
In fact, Denise wrote about the mass homicide in her memoir called, “The Unspeakable” (December, 2006) begun as a compilation of journal entries.
Brown seemly makes no apologies…Rather, she readily admits, she “was no role model” even before the formerly most recognized mass murder spree in Connecticut. In a University of Delaware alumni article (March 2007) she is described as living the life of “a pampered corporate wife” thrust into the role of a bewildered widow.” At the time of her husband’s death Denise planned to earn her PH.D. in English at her alumni school, UD. Rather, she sought refuge at their Vermont home. “Unspeakable” gives detail to her romance with “Ott” Otho Brown versus the gruesome details of the crime. Author Brown sets the stage in her book by delineating its purpose in a straightforward manner: 1) “To contribute a counter voice to the love song of violence we so willingly sing in our society;”2) To illustrate the devastation of a family with a father suddenly gone; 3) To offer comfort to those who have suffered as well, to show how we survived.
Ms. Brown speaks occasionally on this topic after nearly15 years. She will be a featured speaker at the Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference on June 2013.
Prior to the Newton, CT mass shootings on December 14, 2012, the Connecticut Lottery shootings on March7, 1998 was the most heinous with the greatest number of fatalities to date, killing four senior employees prior to the perpetrator, Matthew Beck committing suicide.
The method, in which such events are reported, differs greatly in today’s world. In 1998, fact checking took priority over reporting “whatever you can get, as quickly as you can get…..and be damned with the details. It may be analogous to the difference between using a classic Royal typewriter and any social media website. There’s no comparison…
Referencing the series of Pulitzer Prize winning articles authored by 1998 Hartford Courant staff writers and the New York Times the following comments concerned television coverage of the lottery disaster:”
Deborah Johnson, Channel 3’s assistant news director, said it was more important to confirm the deaths and make sure families had been notified than to be first with that information.”
“Although stations provided much useful information, there also were some minor factual errors and a few other glitches. The danger of live television, especially in cases where reporters and anchors have a lot of time and little new information, is that correspondents make mistakes, offer uninformed speculation or discuss their own feelings about the sad event”
Here is a list of salient features of the mass shootings below. This story is indeed incredible as you will note at the conclusion, for it is so very illogical, begging the question, Is there any price in which a person’s life is worth taking? In a civilized society, we say never…but in practice, we witness something very different!
Circumstances of the Shootings…
Mr. Beck arrived at the office as it opened about 8 A.M., having made his 40-minute drive from his home in Ledyard. About 8:30, he showed up at an office where Ms. Mlynarczyk was meeting with several employees and discussing some new software, said Karen Kalandyk, who was at the meeting, She said Mr. Beck stood in an open doorway and directly faced Ms. Mlynarczyk. ”All of a sudden, he put his arm up and we saw the gun,” Ms. Kalandyk said. ”He just aimed the gun right at her, he said, ‘Bye-bye,’ and he shot her three times. Mlynarczyk. was found dead, in a seated position, with her face on a conference table in a front office.
Lottery President Otho Brown, 54, and former New Britain Mayor Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk, 38, were among the victims of what is believed to be the state’s deadliest workplace slaughter. Also killed was Frederick Rubelmann III of Southington, 40, vice president of lottery operations and administration; and Michael Logan, 33, of Colchester, the agency’s information systems director. Mr. Logan had denied Mr. Beck his grievance in a first hearing last year.
Friends of Michael Logan stated, “He was a computer wizard. He was constantly helping people with their personal computers. People at work did love him,” “He was a perfectionist. Everything he did was done very thoroughly,” “There was not a nicer guy you could meet anywhere.”
Linda Milynarczyk appeared to be irrepressible… (Similar to Ladyjustice) She combined number-crunching with a love of public service. As a certified public accountant, she took a job as chief financial officer of the state lottery in September 1996, 10 months after losing out on a second term as mayor. A month into her term, she managed to escape injury when a small plane flown by her future husband, Peter Mlynarczyk, sputtered and crash-landed in a Middletown cornfield. By the time a reporter arrived at the scene, the mayor was snapping photos of the plane and laughing about her good luck. [LJ-Wow!]
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that sometimes you can’t sweat the small stuff,” she said at the time. “Compared to New Britain politics, I would face this again any day.”
“We heard, ‘pop, pop, pop.’…Beck showed no emotion as he systematically sought out and killed superiors who had been involved in a union grievance he filed last year
Beck shot Rubelmann inside the building as he tried to direct workers to safety, police and witnesses said…. Outside in the parking lot, Brown was screaming for workers to run into the woods behind the building. From about 50 yards away, workers watched helplessly as Beck chased Brown into an overflow parking lot that was empty of cars.
Then Otho put his arm up in the air.” Brown, lying on the ground, pleaded for his life. Beck stood for a moment, breathing hard, one pant leg stained with blood. He leveled his pistol at Brown.
And then he just shot him, twice,” said accountant Marion Tercyak, her voice breaking as she recalled the scene. “People were screaming and crying in the woods. Ott was lying on the ground. Matt walked around him, still pointing the gun at him, and shot him a third time.” There was no expression on Matthew’s face,” “Nothing.”
Then, as a police car screeched to a halt nearby, Beck raised the gun to his own head. Two shots were heard. Beck crumpled to the ground.
Prior to the Shootings…
In the hours before Matthew Beck hunted down four top lottery officials, he would place at least two telephone calls. One was to a newspaper reporter; the other was to his union steward to find out how much longer it would take to resolve a grievance against his employer.
Beck was a 35-year-old man who friends say had tried to kill himself, who had taken four months away from work because of stress, who had a permit to carry a gun and boasted in a resume about being “skilled in a variety of weapons” and having “received tactical response training and situational analysis Beck had been very depressed for the past year and seemed to be harboring a lot of anger. He returned to his job only 10 days before the shootings.
His supervisor, Karen Kalandyk, said that when Beck returned to the office last week, he seemed different, shunning small talk with his colleagues. “He was like talking to a stone,” Kalandyk said. “Some people were afraid of him. I wasn’t, but I guess I was wrong.”[LJ “I guess I was wrong…I guess I was wrong… I guess I was wrong…”]
He cut his hair in a military style; he already was losing his hair,” said John Krinjak. “He seemed to lose weight. He had a very severe look about him. Beck, who never married, enjoyed guns and had quite a large collection,
At the Beck family home in Ledyard, a sticker on the front screen door of the light blue cape reads: “Warning!! Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.”
Said Joseph Mudry Jr., the steward at the Administrative and Residual Employees Union, “Beck gave no indication of any deep hostility when he spoke with him about 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Beck wanted to get out of the lottery division. He had applied for several other jobs, including positions at the state auditors office and Central Connecticut State University. “He just didn’t feel comfortable working with the lottery,” Mudry said.
Brown had steered the gunman away from frightened employees like herself.
“I think Mr. Brown knew what was going on. I think he was a hero,” said O’Neill. “I’m sure he saved a lot of people’s lives today.”
The Crux of the Matter: Exposing Flaws and a Two Dollar Raise…
Beck was performing a computer-related job in Logan’s division but was still being paid as an accountant, a position that generally is paid about $2 an hour less than the computer job, according to state records. Beck earned $45,400 a year.
State police believe that their investigation will showed that Beck was deeply resentful about the way his grievance was handled and the way he perceived he was being treated. The victims did not appear to be targeted randomly and were all involved in the grievance process.
Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk, who was the lottery’s chief financial officer, met with Matthew Beck on Feb. 27th, one week before the shooting to discuss his new duties working solely as an accountant.
Otho “Ott” headed the entire operation. His signature is on a letter offering Beck a job in 1996. “Congratulations,” Brown wrote. “I look forward to working with you in this new venture.”
In dollars and cents, Beck’s grievance does not appear to be about huge sums of money. According to state payroll records, the difference between the data processing jobs Beck was doing and the accounting job was, on average, about $2 an hour.
Beck had already won on a critical point — that he had been doing duties not in his job description, union officials say. The negotiations over how much back pay he was entitled to were just beginning.
“He was unsure when he was going to get his money,” said Joseph Mudry Jr, his union steward.
Lyn Bixby had the gambling beat at the Hartford Courant, conversed on the phone and met in person with Beck about “exposing the flaws in the system”.
Matthew Beck said he wasn’t working at the time because he was on a medical leave for stress. He was upset over the way he had been treated at work, but mostly he said he wanted to expose flaws in the system that compromised the integrity of the state lottery. One of Beck’s issues was the lottery’s long-time practice of using inflated jackpot amounts in Lotto advertisements to spur ticket sales. Another of his concerns was that some lottery clerks had been cheating the system by “fishing” for winning instant tickets. They would randomly punch code numbers into the lottery computers and take the cash when they came up with a winner.
“Who knows what would have happened if I had been in the office, Bixby said…
Postscript by Ladyjustice:
Such a sad needless loss of life and a failure of “systems to recognize and be proactive”…. But 15 years later Connecticut is reminded again. Is the very real credo of union’s language about “working out of class” worth a life? Not on your life!!! There is another relevant description for state employees’, which guides all of us in state government, reminding us that we need to pitch in at time … And other duties as described.” Those of us without a grudge know it’s there in our job descriptions, and do the tasks anyway…
- Sandy Hook and Pre-emptive Civilian Disarmament (informationliberation.com)
- “Nothing You Do For Children Is Ever Wasted.” The Connecticut Connection (donnagore.com)
- The Hartford Courant editorial: Sandy Hook pictures would change debate (pantagraph.com)
- Criminal Disarmament of the People (lewrockwell.com)
- A laurel to the Hartford Courant (cjr.org)
- UConn/Courant Poll: Post-Newtown, CT Favors Gun Control (connecticut.cbslocal.com)