The Daily RFT mourns Mickey Carroll, looks into a report of police brutality and catches up with Catherine Hanaway

May 20, 2009 at 4:00 am
Honorary Pallbearers Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds No-Shows at Munchkin's Funeral
A smattering of about 200 people attended a funeral May 13 for Mickey Carroll who, until his death last week, at the age of 89, was one of the last remaining Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz.

At a service in the cavernous Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Carroll — born Michael Finocchiaro — was remembered as a man who was charitable with both his time and money.

"Many of you, if not all of you, are here because of Mickey's tremendous charity and his focus on others and not himself," said Monsignor Joseph Pins. "Mickey lived life bigger than this world, and now we pray that God will give him that life bigger than this world and forever."

In a eulogy long-time friend Bob Cradock recalled how he and Carroll both grew up the sons of stone carvers, and that Carroll was a consummate salesman when he later took over the family business.

"Just try to get out of Standard Monument without buying a headstone," said Cradock, who encouraged everyone in attendance to "follow Mickey on that yellow brick road of helping others."

Perhaps more interesting than the funeral service itself were the names of those who didn't attend the service. Listed in the program as "honorary pallbearers" were current and former Cardinals players: Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds. (Carroll was an advocate and donor to the slugger's Pujols Family Foundation.)

Pujols was in Pittsburgh with the ball club and could not attend the ceremony. As for Edmonds? Who knows?

Carroll's long-time caretaker, Linda Dodge, arrived somewhat last minute to the funeral. Last week Carroll's niece, Janet Finocchiaro, of Dallas, Texas, filed suit against Dodge over the ex-Munchkin's estate — estimated at $1 million. Prior to his death, Carroll signed over his estate to Dodge. 

According to court documents, Finocchiaro filed a temporary restraining order against Dodge, who, after the funeral, declined to comment on the case. Finocchiaro sat in the front row with her family during the service and promptly departed from the front of the church following the ceremony.

R.I.P., Mickey.
—Chad Garrison

Man Alleges Police Caused Him Kidney Damage ("My pee was blacker than me!")
Terrell Wilhite, 31, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, tells Riverfront Times that a Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department officer beat and Tasered him, then drove him across state lines and left him for dead under an Illinois viaduct earlier this month.

Wilhite's St. Louis attorney, J. Justin Meehan, says he has been in touch with the St. Louis County Police Department, which is apparently investigating the incident.

"I want this shit to come to light, so folks know this shit really does happen," says Meehan, who is handling the matter pro bono. "I don't want it to happen anymore, and if it does, I want people to suffer the consequences."

A spokesman for the county police department declined to provide RFT any information unless charges against the police officer are filed.

Lt. Tom Sheehan of the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department also declined to provide any details, saying, "It'll be over when it's over, and when it's over, there will be a statement."

Wilhite and his long-time girlfriend Keishawn Randolph say they had an argument in their driveway on the night of May 2, and neighbors called police.

Wilhite, who is on probation for marijuana distribution, gave chase. An hour or so later, he says, a Bellefontaine Neighbors police officer apprehended him in a neighbor's yard. Wilhite showed Riverfront Times scar marks and bruises he says stemmed from the officer beating him in the yard.

"He tried to put the Taser in my mouth, and when I wouldn't let him, he Tased me in the back."

Wilhite says he was hauled to the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department but not arrested. Soon after arriving there, he says, the officer loaded him back into the car and proceeded to drive him, on I-270, into Illinois. Wilhite says the officer pushed him out of the car next to a viaduct in Granite City.

Wilhite says he then stumbled half a mile or so to a Waffle House and lay on the floor there until a relative was able to pick him up.

Wilhite tells RFT he did not plan to report the incident to police. But he was startled by what he saw when he went to the bathroom the next morning. "My pee was blacker than me!" he exclaims.

Hospital records show Wilhite spent the next four days in Christian Hospital being treated for kidney trauma.

"I've been shot in the leg, stabbed in the stomach, but never did no police beat me up," Wilhite says, explaining why he eventually decided to report the incident to police.
—Kristen Hinman

Former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway Now Advising Company at Center of Complaints
Well, that didn't take long.

Last month Catherine Hanaway left her post as the federal government's top prosecutor in St. Louis to take a job with the law firm founded by former Missouri governor, senator and U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

Now comes word that Hanaway has landed one of her first clients for the law firm. It's none other than Wentzville-based U.S. Fidelis, the auto-warranty company that the Better Business Bureau claims is the target of more than 1,000 complaints in the past three years. Some 40 states are now investigating the company's business practices, and last month Missouri sued U.S. Fidelis when the company failed to respond to a subpoena request.

On May 13 Hanaway told the St. Louis Business Journal that she is helping to conduct an independent, internal review of U.S. Fidelis' policies, practices and procedures. "We have been asked to give a candid assessment of their compliance with the law," said Hanaway.

U.S. Fidelis markets itself as a "faith-based company" with a "commitment to treating every customer with honesty and integrity." The company even uses an angel's halo in its logo.

One of the founders of U.S. Fidelis, Darain Atkinson, is a convicted thief, burglar, check-forger and counterfeiter. He's now building himself a $17 million mansion in Lake Saint Louis.

Let's pray Hanaway can get him off the hook.
—Chad Garrison

WTF? North Carolina Passes Smoking Ban, but Missouri and St. Louis Can't?
The nation's top tobacco-growing state is about to go smoke-free. On May 13 the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill already approved by the Senate that would prohibit smoking inside restaurants and bars.

The state's governor, Beverly Purdue, says she'll sign the bill into law.

More than 30 states and the District of Columbia are expected to have laws banning smoke from workplaces, restaurants, bars or some combination by the end of the year.

Bill Hannegan, your thoughts?
—Chad Garrison