Calif wife who killed, cooked husband seeks parole

Posted Oct. 04, 2011, at 8:52 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 05, 2011, at 5:27 a.m.
Omaima Nelson in court in Santa Ana, Calif. in March 1993. Nelson, who killed her newlywed husband and chopped and cooked his body parts over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 is seeking release from a California prison.
Clay Miller | AP
Omaima Nelson in court in Santa Ana, Calif. in March 1993. Nelson, who killed her newlywed husband and chopped and cooked his body parts over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 is seeking release from a California prison.

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A woman who killed her newlywed husband and chopped and cooked his body parts over Thanksgiving weekend in 1991 is seeking release from a California prison.

Omaima Nelson, an Egyptian-born former model and nanny, is set to appear before parole commissioners Wednesday at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla where she has been serving a life sentence.

Nelson was convicted of murdering her 56-year-old husband William Nelson in a grisly killing that authorities likened to the fictional slayings of Hannibal Lecter.

Prosecutors said the then-23-year-old killed Nelson and likely plotted to steal from him as she had done with other middle-aged men she had seduced in the past. Authorities said she tied up her husband of less than a month, killed him and dismembered the body, churning his parts through a garbage disposal that neighbors said ran nonstop in the hours after the murder.

Authorities found some of Nelson’s body parts stuffed in garbage bags and mixed with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. His hands had been fried in oil and his head boiled and stuffed in freezer, said Randy Pawloski, a senior deputy district attorney in Orange County who prosecuted the case and will argue against her release.

“She’s tremendously dangerous,” said Pawloski, adding that Nelson sought help from two different boyfriends to try to remove her husband’s teeth and dispose of his remains to cover her tracks.

During the highly publicized trial, Nelson took the stand and said she stabbed her husband — a former pilot and convicted drug smuggler — with scissors while he sexually assaulted her. A psychiatrist testified that she confessed to cooking her husband’s ribs barbecue-style and tasting them but later denied engaging in cannibalism. He said he believed she was psychotic when she killed Nelson.

Defense attorney Thomas Mooney argued his client was circumcised as a child growing up in a squalid section of Cairo, which made sex extremely painful, and was repeatedly raped and abused by her husband in the weeks after the couple wed.

Jurors found Nelson not guilty of first-degree murder, citing insufficient evidence of premeditation, but convicted her of second-degree murder. They also found Nelson guilty of assaulting a former boyfriend with a gun.

She is serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Culprit sought after whale shot, washes up in NJ

BRIGANTINE, N.J. — Federal wildlife officials are looking for whoever shot a whale at sea, leaving the animal to wander the ocean in agony for a month or more before it beached itself in New Jersey and died. The culprit could get a year in prison and a hefty fine.

Scott Doyle, an agent in charge of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s New Jersey shore office, said his agency is hoping someone comes forward to report the shooter.

“Sometimes what we find is months down the road, you get a disgruntled crew member on a boat, or someone who had an argument with someone else, and then you get a phone call,” Doyle said.

The nearly 11-foot-long short-finned pilot whale, which was near death, weighed about 740 pounds but should have tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds. It died shortly after police responded, but it wasn’t until a necropsy was performed that the cause of death was revealed.

Someone had shot the whale.

The wound near its blow hole had closed and faded somewhat, indicating the animal had been wounded as long as a month ago, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. The bullet lodged in the whale’s jaw, causing an infection that left it unable to eat.

“This poor animal literally starved to death,” Schoelkopf said. “It was wandering around and slowly starving to death because of the infection. Who would do that to an innocent animal?”

That’s what federal law enforcement authorities want to know, as well. Whales are among the species protected by the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. Violators can be fined up to $100,000 and sent to prison for a year.

The whale washed up on the beach at Allenhurst, a small Monmouth County town just north of Asbury Park, on Sept. 24.

Schoelkopf said the whale could have been shot anywhere on the East Coast, given the amount of time that it spent losing weight before dying. He said authorities think the bullet, which was recovered from the animal’s jaw, came from a .30-caliber rifle.

Truck bomb kills dozens in capital of Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Al-Qaida-linked militants launched their deadliest single bombing in Somalia on Tuesday, killing 70 people and demonstrating how the group that blocked aid to famine victims can still mount devastating violence even after most of its fighters fled the capital in August.

A truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded outside the Ministry of Education on one of central Mogadishu’s busiest streets, where students and their parents were registering for scholarships offered by the Turkish government.

Rebels of the al-Shabab militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was striking government officials and foreigners — referring to African Union peacekeeping troops supporting the U.N.-backed regime.

Although the Islamic fighters made what they called a “tactical withdrawal” from their bases in Mogadishu amid an AU offensive in August, they had vowed to carry out devastating suicide attacks.

The thunderous blast covered the city in dust more than a half-mile away and left blackened corpses sprawled amid burning vehicles. One woman used a blue plastic bucket to pour water on a charred and smoldering body.

Rescuers rushed scores of victims with burns and severed limbs to Medina Hospital, said nurse Ali Abdullahi. Even in a city beset by war and anarchy for two decades, the bombing horrified medical workers.

“It is the most awful tragedy I have ever seen,” he said. “Imagine — dozens are being brought here minute by minute. Most of the wounded people are unconscious and others have their faces blackened by smoke and heat.”

Duniya Salad sobbed over her brother’s burned body after he died while undergoing treatment. “They killed him before he started university! Why was he killed? Damn to al-Shabab,” she said.

At least 70 people were killed and 42 wounded, said Ali Muse, chief of Mogadishu’s ambulance service.

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