In recent weeks two questions have perplexed the residents of Warrensburg, Mo., a humble town of about 20,000 people an hour east of Kansas City.
One question that has dominated local conversation is why local prosecutors suddenly and inexplicably dropped charges against Saudi national Ziyad Abid.
Nearly a year ago, Abid’s African-American roommate, Reginald Singletary Jr., told the police that Abid him paid him to kill popular local bar owner Blaine Whitworth, murdered in his driveway Sept. 1.
Warrensburg police arrested Abid on Sept. 5, 2012, and have held him in custody ever since. Circuit Judge Michael Wagner turned heads when he refused to release Abid despite the Saudi Arabian government’s willingness to post a $2 million bond.
According to Abid’s attorney, the police had coerced Singletary’s accusation. And now that he has changed his story, prosecutors had to drop murder charges against Abid. Singletary remains in jail.
Like many locals, Mike Bodenhamer, a friend and business partner of Whitworth, smells a rat. “He’s smiling on his way home probably,” Bodenhamer said of Abid to WDAF-TV’s Zach Tecklenburg. “The fix was in a long time ago, in my opinion.”
As testimony to the depth of TV news, local or otherwise, the WDAF anchor boasted that Tecklenburg had spent “all day” digging into the case. Despite the heroic effort, however, Tecklenburg misidentified Abid’s attorney “Pat Peters” as “Pete Peters.”
Now for the second question that perplexes the locals: Why did President Obama bring his traveling road show to Warrensburg on July 24, nine days before Abid’s sudden release?
For some reason, Obama chose Warrensburg to speak about his alleged economic initiatives, but what that reason was eludes everyone.
Obama lost the state of Missouri by 10 points in 2012, and he lost Johnson County, where Warrensburg is located, by 24 points.
Had not Warrensburg been home to the University of Central Missouri, where Obama spoke, the loss would have been greater still.
It was the university that drew Abid to Missouri. If your cynical self guessed that he was studying aviation, you would be correct.
As to why he was rooming with a “hit man,” as Tecklenburg described him, is anyone’s guess.
Then, too, Gov. Jay Nixon, who met Obama at Warrensburg, could not have been thrilled to see him. As a moderate Democrat in a Republican-controlled state, he would hardly benefit from the association.
Nor would Attorney General Chris Koster, the likely 2016 Democratic candidate for governor. “It is very telling that the Democrats’ 2016 standard-bearer for Missouri, Chris Koster, will not even be seen with President Obama,” said Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones.
Koster, who was invited, did not show as predicted. He cited an obligation to visit a crime scene for a case he is prosecuting.
Also absent was Jason Kander, the ambitious youthful Missouri secretary of state. His office did not respond to requests as to why he distanced himself.
To be fair, it is altogether possible that Abid was framed by Singletary and that, after 11 months, Singletary decided to come clean.
It is possible, too, that Obama had some justifiable reason for choosing Warrensburg out of all the towns in America to visit.
What is certain, though, is that, after Benghazi, we have no reason to believe anything the White House would tell us about, well, just about anything.