The Deepest Cut 

Friends ponder filicide, Mills College memorializes its murdered student, and a faux bomber faces fifty years.

After becoming violent while trying to protect her big-eared baby, Mrs. Jumbo — Dumbo's mother in the Disney film Dumbo — is led away and locked up. Through her cell's tiny barred window, the distraught elephant strokes him with her trunk, crooning: Baby mine, don't you cry/Baby mine, dry your eyes/Rest your head close to my heart — never to part. Friends say that's the lullaby Misti Hassan used to sing to her son, Amir, at Albany Village. Now that she's been charged with killing the friendly nine-year-old this month, and given how it allegedly happened, those lyrics ooze irony. After allegedly overdosing the boy whom she called "sweet pea" with the anticonvulsant prescription drug Klonopin, Misti attempted suicide and lay down beside him: close to my heart — never to part. Perhaps her mental illness made her feel, like Mrs. Jumbo, locked in a cell. She's now being held in a real one at Santa Rita without bail.

"I think that she has entered a new, deeper, more profound level of hell with this heinous and pathetic act," muses Stafford Gregoire, whose kids played with Amir and who was among Misti's Albany circle of friends. "For some — the troubled — there is never enough pain, scorn, or opprobrium, though I think Misti's found the mother lode."

Now teaching English in New York, Gregoire has been reading online discussions of the case. He tells Apprehension that they make him "sad about the amount of prejudgment and vituperation." But he remembers: "Misti always was a self-mutilator. I remember talking to her about it. I reckon that I was probably less kind than I should have been." Misti told Gregoire "that the cutting was a way of punishing herself and reminding herself that she was alive. I know that there was a positive veneer that she put on the act of slicing her flesh. ... I believed her. I was into the vainglorious masochism of riding my bike up Grizzly Peak repetitively at that time, so I loved pain, too."

He gives Apprehension permission to quote from his journal: "I am sure that the sobering pain and scarlet blood of the slices on her arm always brought [Misti] back to what passed for the quotidian, the daily, the mundane." But then it stopped working, Gregoire suspects, and "she needed a bigger pain to bring her back. I know that as the little deaths of arm-wounds stopped working, she began to worry that she would lose the little prince." He imagines her twisted reasoning: "To rescue Amir from those who [did] not love him as well as she did, in the exact way proscribed by her mania, she had no choice but to send him beyond pain. To think of your child sitting in someone else's house, at someone else's table, on someone else's couch, dancing to someone else's music, while having poison poured in his ear about you, his mother, is a fate too terrible to conceive of."

Foul ball: Dante Suguitan's lawyer says he didn't actually plan to kill anyone. He just pretended to, and the Newark man now faces up to fifty years in federal prison for making fake bomb threats during two 2005 San Francisco Giants-Atlanta Braves games. Suguitan pleaded guilty this month to telephoning Atlanta's Turner Field repeatedly, claiming that hidden near the dugout were not just bombs but at least one atomic bomb. He was traced via his cell phone. Commenting on this case, exasperated US Attorney David Nahmias says: "We have no tolerance for false bomb threats, which divert resources from the very real terrorist threats that exist."

ove lies bleeding: Michael Cordero confessed in August to murdering his girlfriend, Mills College student and anti-prison crusader Boitumelo "Tumi" McCallum, in a New York City apartment in a jealous rage. Mills is now collecting funds for a memorial scholarship "to provide opportunities for other young women to continue Tumi's legacy of activism," according to a college press release. Its first recipient will be an undergrad "majoring in political, legal, and economic analysis (Tumi's major) or in ethnic studies, where Tumi found passionate allies for justice." Meanwhile in Manhattan, McCallum's mom has been sleeping in the murder room. And in his speech at a recent memorial service, NYU art instructor Rob McCallum announced that his murdered daughter, who lived in Berkeley's Casa Zimbabwe co-op last fall, was "a constant source of support, emotionally and spiritually," to her many friends. "I know this is true because I have had to pay her large cellphone bills."

The Case of the Small Stolen Simulacrum: On October 19, a Berkeleyite summoned cops to report that a three-inch statuette of a cat had been stolen precisely one minute after midnight.

Geriatrics gone wild: On October 18, a Walnut Creeker reported to police "an elderly male ... in his garage walking on his treadmill in the nude," according to the report. The 83-year-old in question was discovered to have actually been wearing underpants. Two days later, an "elderly female," as the log put it, called 911 to tell WCPD "that there is a boy who steals donuts from her." Heartless little beast.

Latest in News

  • Sheriff and DA Challenged

    Progressive Black women seek to unseat Alameda County's Ahern and O'Malley
    • Jan 20, 2021
  • Anti-Social Media

    Oakland police investigate allegations of officers' objectionable social media
    • Jan 13, 2021
  • Pantry Level

    How food banks are coping with the pandemic's hunger crisis
    • Jan 6, 2021
  • More »

Author Archives

News Blogs

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay


© 2021 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation