Features

The Year in Review-May

The Nation | Top news stories for May, 2002

Issue: "Year in Review 2002," Dec. 28, 2002

Candlelight vigilante

As the furor over pedophile priests dragged into its sixth month, the controversy turned bloody for the first time. Police had already led some perpetrators away in handcuffs, but one alleged victim couldn't wait for legal justice. On May 13, Dontee Stokes pumped three bullets into Maurice Blackwell, the priest he'd accused of molesting him in 1993. A polygraph suggested his charges were credible, but the Baltimore archdiocese ignored them, and Mr. Blackwell returned to the pulpit. Further allegations emerged in 1998 and Mr. Blackwell was placed on leave, but no criminal charges were ever filed against him.

The last girder

It took from mid-September to late May, but then, with a simple ceremony and a final Mass, the cleanup at Ground Zero officially came to an end. After some 100,000 truckloads of debris, the final girder from the twin towers was covered in black cloth and hauled away. The 16-acre hole in Manhattan was no longer a cleanup site, but rather a construction site, awaiting some fitting memorial to the 3,000-plus victims who died there.

Return to sender

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The poor U.S. Postal Service. In September 2001 anthrax mailings turned ordinary letter carriers into unarmed combatants in the war on terror. In May of 2002, it was pipe bombs that had mailmen clamoring for hazard pay.

Over five nerve-wracking days, 18 of the crude, homemade devices were found in mailboxes in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas. The bombing spree ended after a 40-mile, high-speed chase through Nevada, where authorities arrested Lucas John Helder, a Wisconsin college student. In a seven-page letter to his student newspaper, the 21-year-old grunge band member sounded like a slightly addled terrorist: "I will die/change in the end for this, but that's ok, hahaha paradise awaits."

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