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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Unitarian poet turns out to be killer on the run.

What a story:

In Chicago, [J.J. Jameson] is one of the city's most beloved antiwar poets, an author of two books and a congregation leader at [Third Unitarian] church. But in Massachusetts, he is notorious for executing a clerk at a Saugus clothing store in 1960, aiding in the murder of a Middlesex County jailer in 1961, and then escaping from a Norfolk County correction center in 1985.

Yesterday, his past and Massachusetts authorities caught up with Norman A. Porter Jr.

Porter aka Jameson was arrested at the church, where he was the church historian and a volunteer in the food pantry. ("Murderer's Arrest Ends Fugitive Life as a Chicago Poet," Donovan Slack and Eric Furkenhoff, Boston Globe 3.23.05)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 23 March 2005 at 8:06 AM

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5 comments:

Phil on the Prairie:

March 23, 2005 10:56 AM | Permalink for this comment

Yikes! I knew Jameson when I worked at Third Unitarian. The only suspicious thing about him was his name (sounds like something out of a comic book). Other than that, he fit right in with the rest of the characters at the church.

TransparentEye:

March 24, 2005 03:57 PM | Permalink for this comment

He's arrived back in Massachusetts now.

I guess those UU's involved with counseling prisoners will get to know him soon.

Paul:

March 25, 2005 09:11 AM | Permalink for this comment

Very sad indeed !!

CC:

March 26, 2005 07:05 PM | Permalink for this comment

Yikes!

Philocrites:

April 3, 2005 09:40 AM | Permalink for this comment

Here's a fascinating and complex followup story from the Globe: "Flight from His Past Never Complete" (Donovan Slack, 3.31.05). In it, Porter/Jameson talks candidly about his attempts to excise Porter from his personality:

"When I was arrested last week there was about 1 to 2 percent left," Porter said yesterday in his first interview since he was identified and arrested last week. "I wasn't completely transformed."

He describes the process he went through in trying to leave one life behind and invent another:

Unrecognized and unquestioned by authorities during a circuitous five-day journey to Chicago -- a city he chose after reading Nelson Algren's ''Chicago: City on the Make" in a prison literature class -- he spent hours sifting through his mind, dissecting himself and choosing the parts he wanted to keep and those he wanted to discard. No more stealing. He wanted to write. He wanted to inspire greatness in people. He said he was determined to live as his strict parents had wanted. . . .

Porter said he didn't live in fear of capture, concentrating instead on transforming himself, an act he compared with learning a foreign language.

"After a while, one starts thinking in that language, dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that language, and the behavior becomes different," he said. "Some languages don't allow for certain behaviors, because there aren't words for that behavior."

Additional information about his Unitarian Universalist connection:

Sometime around 1989, his life deteriorated. He showed up at the Third Unitarian Church on the city's West Side with rags wrapped around his feet and nowhere to go. A church member found him a place to stay, and another hired him to do odd jobs. He soon became a fixture at the church and eventually became president of the church board in the late 90s. When he was arrested last week, he was living in a church-owned apartment.



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