Heart Transplant Teen Arrested for Murder in US

by Gopalan on Aug 30 2008 11:13 AM

 Heart Transplant Teen Arrested for Murder in US
He received a heart to save his life, but he went on to plot to cut out the heart of another. The story of Andrew Busskohl of Minnesota has shocked the Americans.
Back in 2004 14-year-old Busskohl of Woodbury in the state told a reporter, "I plan on becoming a surgeon," showing off the scar on his chest while flexing his muscles for the camera.

And last fortnight the boy was booked into the Washington County Jail and released on $100,000 bail on the condition that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation at an area hospital.

Police say he had planned to sneak into a neighbour’s home and perpetrate a gruesome killing, for no apparent reason, evoking the image of Shakespeare’s Iago, the motiveless murderer.

As veteran actor Anthony Hopkins would say of the character he plays in Fracture, "He could have divorced her, but to kill her is a bit strange. I think he does it as a peculiar mental exercise to see if he can perform the perfect crime. I suppose there people around who have done things like that. A case in point: Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' (with) the motiveless murder or Shakespeare's Iago who just malignantly destroys peoples lives and at the ends says 'just because I can, I choose to.'

Busskohl's arrest followed a turn of events that began Aug. 6 when James Fratto called Woodbury police shortly after 1 a.m. to report that someone had shattered his patio window.

According to the complaint against Busskohl:

• The next morning, Busskohl's friend Eric Eischens came forward to report that Busskohl told him he had "come up with a plan on how to murder someone."

• The meticulously detailed plan included finding a man who lived by himself and within walking distance of his Woodbury home. Busskohl detailed to Eischens how he would break a window at the man's house at night, a day or two before the slaying, giving him access to the house the night of the killing.

• Then, dressed in dark clothes, a swim cap, latex gloves covered with cotton gloves and shoe coverings, he planned to enter his victim's bedroom and stab him in the chest or slash his throat. Then, he would "either cut off the eyelids of the victim or cut out his heart."

• Busskohl said he would then walk home before burning the evidence with acetone.

The next day, Busskohl was arrested, saying in interviews with police: "I'm not even sure if I would have gone through with it."

Surely his responses were chilling. He told police that he owns knives and started having thoughts of harming others months ago, and that "if at all possible, it would only be a complete stranger."

He said he broke the window of Fratto's home. When investigators asked if he did so to enter the home, Busskohl replied: "Not that night." When investigators asked if he planned to break in later, he responded: "Maybe."

Police secured a warrant and searched his home and vehicle, where they found a backpack with a swimming cap, heavy latex gloves, scrubs, gauze and Fratto's address along with a map to his house. Also in the backpack: shoe covers, a small pry bar, black mask, two bags, a knife and flashlights, as well as tweezers, scissors and a scalpel.

In additional interviews, Busskohl admitted the items would have been used in his plot, and said he didn't know whether killing the man would make him feel bad, or whether he "would have liked" it and been encouraged to kill again. Busskohl said he stood outside Fratto's window for a long time before breaking it that morning, and said he believed he would not have come back to finish the act.

Fratto, his intended victim lives just a few blocks away from Busskohl.

These days he sleeps with a baseball bat next to his bed and a flashlight on his nightstand. A 10-foot-long 2 by 4 barricades his bedroom door. He's installed lights with motion sensors on the outside of his home and added new locks on his doors, both inside and out.

Walking through his home, Fratto shows off the locks on his interior doors. They rattle and clang with every movement.

"He's going to have to bang a little bit to get in at me. And hopefully, I'll be able to wake up by then," he says through a wild-eyed gaze and booming laugh.

"If not, sayonara."

Not just Fratto, everyone out there seems alarmed in the quiet Minneapolis suburb of about 50,000 people. Residents say they survey their homes before entering, secure their windows and check behind curtains and other household items once inside. Once rarely used, alarm systems now are on constantly.

Defense attorney Joe Friedberg says his client is a threat to no one, though he could understand people becoming agitated.

"The evidence I received he [Busskohl] discussed very openly these things with the police," Friedberg said. "When you said bizarre, that's probably an understatement."

Busskohl was taking about seven or eight medications -- a combination of anti-rejection medicine for his heart and anti-depressants -- at the time of his arrest, according to Friedberg.

He said a doctor who evaluated him in jail recommended he be taken off one medication and two others be substituted in its place.

"Within eight to 10 hours, the bizarre type of thinking he was undergoing was gone," Friedberg says. "If anybody were to meet him and talk to him at this point, he represents no threat to anyone."

Attorney Johnson conceded that charging such a bizarre case was a challenge to Washington County prosecutors, who hadn't seen anything like it.

"This case is very disturbing to us," he said. "We see behavior that is very scary, and yet we're limited by the law as to how we can respond to it.

"We don't have preventative detention in this country, where we think somebody's going to commit a crime, and so then we're able to lock them up," Johnson said. "He's in a facility being examined by a very, very good psychologist to determine what his mental state is."

Johnson said prosecutors scoured Minnesota appellate court decisions, and that an act of serious violence or other substantial steps toward murder would be necessary to justify an attempted murder charge.

A 2002 article in a University of Minnesota Academic Health Center newsletter featured a 12-year-old Busskohl, nicknamed "Fuzz," for whom his classmates at Bailey Elementary School raised $6,000 for heart research in his honor.

According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article from 2004, Busskohl, who had a failed heart valve, received a transplant in 2003. According to his Facebook profile, Busskohl graduated from Woodbury Senior High School this year and attends Century College.

If convicted on the charges, Busskohl could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $17,500 for the first count and a maximum of 5 years and $10,000 fine for the second count. Busskohl has no prior arrests, and the prosecutor's office said under the sentencing guidelines of Minnesota it would be unlikely he'd serve more than 48 months if convicted.

His arraignment is set for September 3.


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