My first two news stories come from 20/20. They aired Monday,
February 15. The first is about a man named Michael Backman. He is a
thirty-one year old who lived most of his life stealing, forging, conning,
lying, and deceiving. He wrote hundreds of checks for hundreds of
thousands of dollars. He stole hundreds of cars. He got a letter of
recommendation and attended West Point because he claimed he was Diana
Ross’s nephew. After leaving West Point, he went to a reform school, where
he learned about going back to the last thing he did right and starting over.
He realized that for him, the last thing he did right was during high school.
He decided to end his life of crime with one last scam. He forged a transfer
document and enrolled in his old high school that he had attended twelve
years earlier under the name of Diandre Diangelo. He made straight A’s
except for in Advanced Spanish where he made a B, even though he had
never taken Spanish before. He sang in the choir and was involved in
student government. He became popular and had many friends. However,
the police were tipped off by an anonymous phone call and he was arrested
where he awaits trial.
The second story I watched was also on 20/20. It was about testicular
cancer. It is the most common cancer in men between the ages of eighteen
and thirty-five. It is easily diagnosed and ninety percent curable. The
problem with the cancer is the natural diffidence of men. Men are often too
shy or embarrassed to have themselves examined. Also, men think they are
too macho to admit there is something wrong “down there.” When a lump is
found in the testicular region (as I will refer to it as), it is almost one
hundred percent likely to be cancer. Scott Hamilton, an ice skater who won
an Olympic Gold medal, found out he had testicular cancer and had a tumor
twice the size of a grapefruit removed from his lower abdomen. He is now
back to skating. Testicular cancer is not the same as prostate cancer.
Tuesday, February 9, 48 Hours did a show on a young man from
Franco County in Georgia named Sterling Barber. On November 27, 1995,
at the age of seventeen, Sterling killed Douglas Wyatt, a family man and a
deacon at his church in very small town close by the one that Sterling was
from. Douglas Wyatt had a son, a daughter, and a wife named Pat. His
family saw him as a kind, caring person, whereas others saw him as evil and
a predator.
Sterling claims that Douglas tried to sexually molest him. He did this
by going to the Petro, the truck stop where Sterling hung out (it was the only
place where kids could socialize in that town), where Sterling had gone after
his night school class. Douglas told him that he was a private detective and
that he needed Sterling to show him around town. Douglas offered him forty
dollars to do so. Sterling agreed. Douglas then drove him outside of town
and pulled over and said he had to “relieve himself.” He did so and came
back with his pants down and forced himself on Sterling. Douglas choked
Sterling with his forearm while Sterling struggled to get away. After a few
minutes, Sterling began to pass out and stopped struggling. Douglas
loosened his forearm, and Sterling reached for his knife and stabbed
Douglas six times, once in the shoulder and five times in the groin. In a state
of shock, Sterling drug Douglas’s body out of the car and drove home. He
never told the police, although they received a tip and he confessed. Sterling
was then found guilty of murder, armed robbery, theft by taking, and three
other offenses. He was sentenced to life in prison plus forty years.
It was later brought to the surface that several other young boys had
either been sexually molested by Douglas or he attempted to sexually molest
them. For every one, he used the same “relieving himself” tactic. In all, he
either made a move on or actually molested five boys, dating back as far as
thirty years. One boy was a six year old who lived next door. Not only did
he molest children, but he also took advantage of elderly people (not
sexually). He supplied one elderly woman with pills and alcohol and in turn
forced her to deed over her house and other possessions to her.
In the first trial,