Elderly Man Beaten To Death On Highway


Victim Was Former Soviet Political Prisoner

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. -- Michail J. Makarenko survived 11 years in Soviet gulags only to be killed Thursday in an apparently random attack at a rest stop along the New Jersey Turnpike. Makarenko, 75, was punished in the Soviet Union for exhibiting works by banned artists at the gallery he owned. He spent his last 25 years in the United States, where he became a citizen and where he cherished freedom of religion and artistic expression. He lived in Hillsboro, Va. Then, police say, he encountered Brian K. White, who had his own ideas about religion and art. Makarenko was traveling with his interpreter, Gregory Burnside, to northern New Jersey and New York City to visit friends. After a stop in the restroom at the James Fenimore Cooper rest stop, he returned to the car while the interpreter bought a snack. White, 26, had left his home in Humble, Texas - near Houston - at 2 a.m. Wednesday. A DJ who has gone by the handle DJ Coldblooded, he was also heading to New York City. The reasons were not clear, though state police said he was "possibly delusional" and motivated by religion. On a MySpace page that his mother and sister confirmed was his, he said he had been given special powers by God. He also wrote, "Aliens are among us, the secret scrolls is real, We have a secret city the Gov has made, and the cloning of men is now and real. God is very angry with us, and he will soon change his face." His sister, Marsha White, said the rest of the family had not seen him much recently. He'd been having some troubles, she said. Public records show he had been convicted twice in the last few years of marijuana possession and once spent 22 days in jail. His mother, LaVerne Cavitt, said White is "a good Christian man." And he made Christian hip-hop CDs. On his MySpace page, he predicted the most recent one, "The Book of Brian," would become part of the Bible eventually. At the rest stop, shortly before 12:45 a.m. Thursday, he asked Makarenko to buy a religious CD, police said. Police said several witnesses described the same scene after that: The older man refused. White then picked up a rock and struck Makarenko in the head repeatedly before jumping back into his Chevrolet Camaro and driving off, leaving his victim bleeding on the ground. State troopers caught up with him about 15 minutes later near Trenton and pursued him for about an hour before he exited onto Interstate 80, pulled over to the side of the road in Teaneck, jumped out of his vehicle and charged at them. White was quickly subdued and was not severely injured, police said. There was blood on his hands. He was charged Thursday with murder, eluding police and weapons charges. A judge set bail at $750,000 and said he would not be released until he had had a psychiatric examination. Back at the rest stop, Burnside stepped outside to find a gathering of people surrounding his longtime employer. He read him the Lord's Prayer in Russian and prayed with him. But, he said, Makarenko, who had a hole in his skull, was not able to speak. By the time a medical helicopter could get there, he had died. Burnside said one person who knew Makarenko said "he died a martyr's death -- he was stoned." Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press (external - login to view).
And that folks, is why you involve yourself in your family's life, no matter how hard it is. As hard as it would be to push that young man to get mental help, it probably would have been easier than seeing him rot in prison because he came completely unhinged. And if it hadn't helped, at least you'd know you'd tried everything (as perhaps his family did).

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