OAKLAND, CA. – When I was young, between the ages of 11 and 13 years old, I had one major goal in life – to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
I read Boy's Life. I earned a sash full of merit badges – including the ones for journalism and photography. My father agreed to send me to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. During the summers, I spent my days near the Baiting Hollow Boy Scout Camp in Wading River, Long Island, New York. We were even able to walk across the hallowed grounds of the nearby Tesla Wardenclyffe Tower. Read about it here.
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Nikola Tesla had built the tower for various reasons. History tells us he wanted to supply the world with clean, limitless and free energy. The Hollywood film "The Prestige" focused on the seemingly magical powers of Tesla, the great Serbian inventor who was 150 years ahead of his time. The film, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson, features an other-worldly machine that results in limitless deaths over and over and over again. Watch the trailer here.
My scoutmaster – also named Anthony – in later years became Jessica Simpson's bodyguard. He adroitly navigated my path as I completed all of the requirements for Eagle Scout in the shortest possible time period, which is two years. But in the end, just before completing the Eagle Scout Service Project, I left the Boy Scouts. WND published that tale, "Burn Notice," in 2012. It can be read here.
And then, totally out of the blue, in May of 2015, a nice man named Dylan Hendrickson involved with the Boy Scouts in northern California, Googled "Burn Notice + Eagle Scout" and read my WND column. He called me right here in Piedmont. Over the phone, he detailed a process by which I could petition to have my Eagle Scout badge awarded under special circumstances. As such, I put together various documents, including a letter from my former (and still amazing) scoutmaster. These papers were sent up the chain of command at the Boy Scouts of America.
I never told anyone this – but my tent mate in the Boy Scouts, Order of the Arrow and other ancillary activities was none other than Mr. Richard Angelo. Yes, the Eagle Scout turned serial-killer nurse and "Angel of Death" who was convicted of killing several of his patients in 1989. He is ranked as one of the premier serial killers in human history. The New York Times published his story, which can be reviewed here.
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In a strange twist, the New York Times explained how, "Gerolamo Kucich … traveled … to testify from his native Yugoslavia" against Angelo at the trial. (Tesla himself was an emigre to the United States from Serbia.)
The New York Times also reported:
"In three written confessions and a videotaped one after his arrest, Mr. Angelo said he injected the muscle-paralyzing drug [Pavulon] into two patients to send them into respiratory arrest. He said he then would be the first to arrive at the bedside and would work frantically to revive the patients, hoping to be seen as a hero.
"The trial had been delayed because of the complicated pathological work that had to be done on 33 former patients at Good Samaritan whose bodies were exhumed to test for Pavulon. Traces of the drug were found in the livers and lungs of the patients whom Mr. Angelo is accused of killing or assaulting. Pavulon is only to be used when a patient is on a respirator."
The article continues:
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"In an emotional opening argument John B. Collins, deputy bureau chief of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Homicide Bureau, told the jury, 'Richard Angelo is the living embodiment of your worst nightmare. To unsuspecting patients at the Good Samaritan special-care unit, Angelo was a monster dressed in nurse's whites. He conducted uncontrolled experiments on unknowing, terribly vulnerable human beings for his stated purposes of improving his image and reputation.'''
Murderpedia.org fleshes out Mr. Angelo's saga in this piece. Here's another short explanation. He was viewed as a nice boy from a nice family. To be perfectly honest, he gave me the creeps for some strange reason I could never fully understand, nor articulate. But my instincts are never wrong.
At the end of his trial, Mr. Angelo was sentenced to 61 years to life in prison. One source on the Internet notes, "Angelo was convicted of two counts of depraved indifference murder (second-degree murder), one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of criminally negligent homicide and six counts of assault with respect to five of the patients."
Mr. Angelo was in Troop 54 with me. We were based out of the gymnasium at Our Lady of Perpetual Help grammar school in Lindenhurst, New York. What are the odds of a future serial killer being alone with you in your tent? He also graduated from my high school, St. John the Baptist, in West Islip, New York. Moreover, Mr. Angelo did his killing directly across the street from our high school at Good Samaritan Hospital. The facility takes its name from the gospel parable articulated by Jesus Christ Himself.
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I was often admitted to Good Samaritan as a baby and toddler and housed in an oxygen tent because of my asthma. Many a night, my mother and father, who had adopted me, were told I would not survive to see the following morning. My father was treated there for his kidney stones. My sister, Carol-Donna, went into labor there. I went to the emergency room there after breaking my left ankle and tearing a tendon at baseball practice during my freshman year in high school. I thank God none of us had the pleasure of encountering Mr. Angelo during our time at Good Samaritan.
Our football team was undefeated and won the New York state championship during our senior year. I caught a pass in the end zone during our homecoming game. Our coach, J. Byrne Gamble, was a brilliant, moral leader who was beloved by all. He was also one of the great influences as a mentor during my earliest years. I won gold medals as a sprinter on the track team at St. John the Baptist – inspired by Bruce Jenner's gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. (As noted, that was the year of Hurricane Belle – which fizzled out in comparison to the 1938 "Storm of the Century" – yet served as a harbinger to Sandy in 2012.)
It's positively horrifying that these beautiful memories are tarnished by what went on across the street from our high school. Out of respect for the dead – meaning those Mr. Angelo murdered as a male nurse – instead of helping them as was his job and ostensible calling in life – (again), I never mentioned why I really left the Boy Scouts. Mr. Angelo was unsettling from the very start.
My own late father, Anthony LoBaido Sr., often tested Mr. Angelo for his Eagle Scout badges. My father would not pass him because he didn't do the work. My father sometimes said Mr. Angelo wanted credit for work he did not do (on the badges). So when we read about his medical "exploits" in Newsday, meaning how Mr. Angelo would drug/poison and then pretend to "rescue" his "patients," my father concluded – yet again correctly – that he (Mr. Angelo) was still seeking to gain undeserved attention and approval.
Is it not highly dishonorable that I was driven from the Boy Scouts – at least in part because I felt creeped out by the future serial killer in my tent – while Mr. Angelo continues to hold the honor of Eagle Scout? The Eagle Scout badge is destined for the best of the best – the crème de la crème of America's youth. Former Eagle Scouts (who are a very small percentage of all Boy Scouts) have achieved great things in life. One might cite Bill Gates, H. Ross Perot, Gerald Ford and Neil Armstrong. (It should be noted that the very first Eagle Scout was Arthur Rose Eldred of Troop 1 in Oceanside, New York. He earned the badge back in 1912.)
Could any of us have imagined the trail of murdered bodies emanating from Good Samaritan Hospital because of Mr. Angelo? (Some say he suffered from a multiple personality disorder. Others wonder if he was, in fact, possessed by a legion of demons. In either case, were there any signs?) This trail of dead bodies rivals Telsa's strange machine as depicted in "The Prestige."
I have spent my life as an international journalist and National Geographic-caliber photographer trying to rescue abused and injured elephants in Southeast Asia, digging up land mines in Cambodia, tracking blood diamonds in Sierra Leone, helping the Hmong of Laos get visas to come to the United States, visiting a leper colony in Myanmar, and saving throw-away HIV- positive babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town.
My journalism series in Cuba was cited by the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. I was invited to attend the British Army's jungle warfare training in Belize – and given a 500,000 British Pound insurance indemnity in case of a helicopter crash – a good thing, since we flew in a Lynx helicopter through the fringes of Hurricane Chantal. In 2015, some of my photographs were auctioned off by St. Jude Children's Hospital at their "Miracles on the Bay" fundraiser.
The truth is, I never thought twice about doing such things – because these were the kinds of actions inculcated into me during my quest to become Eagle Scout. While working with Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia in 2014, I walked endless miles to and around the company's massive complex in unimaginable August heat. I hiked around with a 103.9-degree fever, kidney stones and pneumonia. I lost 19 pounds in 19 days – probably more. I was later told (in writing) by experts at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland – who carefully analyzed my records from Saudi Aramco's Johns Hopkins Hospital – that if had my fever had gone to 105 degrees, I would have "died and died quickly."
From 2015 to 2016, I went to work with a stress fracture in my left hand, a badly sprained ankle and nasty poison oak that sent me to the emergency room not once but twice. I dug out, alone, day after day, 7,000 pounds of heavy rock and mud for earthquake retrofitting and carried it 50 yards to a trailer. (Not many people know Tesla spent a year digging ditches after his fallout with Thomas Edison.)
When my late parents became ill, I cared for them for 18 months – cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry and catering to their every need. I did this as a man, as a Christian and as my parents' son. It was my honor to do this. They died within 16 weeks of each other. When they passed, I didn't say a single word for eight straight days. The silence was, as they say, deafening.
I have spent many a Saturday and Sunday walking along the banks of the Mississippi River searching for American bald eagles that might have fallen from their nests and perches. In St. Louis, Missouri, there is a sanctuary that will take in and care for these magnificent creatures so wonderfully created by the Supreme Being. (See my photo at the top.)
I was recently invited to the Tesla factory in Fremont and asked to write a detailed job-hazard analysis in an effort to help keep workers safe. (I hoped to impart all I learned while taking the OSHA 30, OSHA 500 and OSHA 510 courses.) I continue to do such things – in large measure – because a Boy Scout is supposed to be "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."
During my lifetime, much has changed. Long gone is the innocence of youth – the camping, hiking and songs around the campfire. The Boy Scouts have changed. The DEA, working in conjunction with the Boy Scouts right here in Piedmont, has actually offered an anti-drug badge. Visit the official DEA badge site here. What happened to orienteering, swimming and archery?
Long Island has changed. Katrina destroyed Mississippi. A reality-show TV star became president of the United States. The Soviet Union has been consigned to the dustbin of history. China has emerged at the world's dominant economic power. Artificial Intelligence, transhumanism (H+), the Internet, the cracking of the human genome, green energy and quantum physics are ushering humanity into a paradigm shift not seen since Marco Polo, the Magna Carta, Martin Luther, Columbus, Guttenberg and Magellan's brave crew.
I suppose I've spent my entire life trying to complete my Eagle Scout service project. I have various notions about what such a project should entail. Our oceans are full of plastic. I'd like to continue assisting and debriefing North Koreans making their 8,000 mile trek to freedom in Thailand. (I spent 15 years on a related white paper that can be deconstructed here.)
I have my own ideas for a "drug-free Piedmont and Montclair." This is where the whole drug culture began, at Haight-Ashbury in the mid-1960s. Imagine specially trained troops along Route 13 at every exit. Imagine fleshing out the fine work of the DEA and the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts in terms of teaching the youth about ecstasy (which can induce hypothermia), cocaine (any use is a life-threatening event) and LSD (which causes changes to your DNA and passes deeper into the brain as you age). Imagine Piedmont's multigenerational drug problems finally eliminated.
I spoke with a top person at Tesla about writing a safety newsletter for workers at its factory – in English and Spanish. There are the migrating whales off Point Reyes and fire-prevention projects at Yosemite. I've thought of training every woman in Oakland in self-defense and martial arts. People tell me that doing such things would make me, "beloved by all in Oakland."
My international journalism mentor at Baylor University, the late Dr. Loyal Gould, covered MLK, JFK, Nixon, the Vietnam War and the Kremlin. His first big break with the Associated Press came while covering the teenaged serial killer Charles Starkweather, who murdered 11 people across Nebraska and Wyoming. Thus, the Gould-Starkweather-LoBaido-Angelo bond was forged. Some people said I was the son Dr. Gould never had, and that I would carry on his journalism all around the world. At Dr. Gould's Chicago-based memorial service in 2013, Starkweather was discussed at length.
I've thought of creating new Boy Scout merit badges in full stack engineering, bioinformatics, internships at the Alphabet X Special Projects Directorate in Mountain View, training the younger workforce for the emerging technologies that will, by 2099, save the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley from rising (salted) seawater, social credit for brave actions helping those in danger, dealing with the famine and cholera in Yemen, establishing a workable dialogue between Christianity and Islam to address perplexing global problems, and helping refugees like the Hmong find their place in northern California. Again, like a magnet, I am drawn to such things because of my unfinished Eagle Scout Service Project.
Once upon a time, there were two nice little boys from a small town on the south shore of Long Island. Both wanted to become Eagle Scouts. Both joined Troop 54 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They both attended St. John the Baptist High School. Both became deeply involved with Good Samaritan Hospital. One became a serial killer. The other became a journalist who studied former Khmer Rouge child soldiers in Cambodia, tracked vicious serial killers in Sierra Leone via "Memorandum to a Cannibal" – the real story behind the film "Blood Diamond," and pieced together the steps of the killers who armed ISIS jihadists from Moammar Gadhafi's stolen weapons depots.
Coinciding with that cognitive architecture, while at Saudi Aramco in Arabia, Oman and Qatar, I spent 200 hours interviewing one of the world's most brilliant and best-funded collections of scientists about the emerging field of quantum physics. We often discussed the idea of parallel universes and even a multiverse. Read about it here. I sometimes wonder if somewhere in one of those parallel universes, the Boy Scouts of America – the organization established by Robert Baden-Powell in 1910 – will one day soon (in the cosmic sense) mail Mr. Angelo's Eagle Scout Badge to me.
That would be more than fair. And yes, that would do just fine.
Out of respect for those murdered by Richard Angelo, I now tell this story – for his possession of the Eagle Scout badge makes a mockery of the Boy Scouts of America, everything it claims to stand for, and all the values it taught me to strive for in life. It was the Boy Scouts that inculcated my initial training as a journalist and photographer. Beyond that, deep down I know the ultimate message of my whole Eagle Scout badge quest is this: If you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.