By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The bottom line is that I did not find a pattern in the library attacks. That doesn't mean one was not there. It just means that I could not make it out.
One reason I gave up looking for literary clues was that, in the meantime, I discovered something much more immediate, visceral, disturbing and important. As luck would have it, I have a personal connection with the doo-doomeister.
Yes. Someone very close to me is a friend of a good friend of Nahidmobarekeh. Six degrees of separation and so on. I have to go a little carefully here, because Nahidmobarekeh's friend is a successful businessman and very solid family person, a father of young children, who spoke to me only on condition that I not identify him or his business. And I guess I'm not eager to explain the rest of the connection, either, although it's very innocent. Friend of a friend type of thing.
But...a friend of the doo-doo man. So strange. I guess I thought there had to be 600 degrees of separation. A shock. It's probably why I had this irrational compulsion to look for him among the carolers. Of course he's in jail now, awaiting his appeal, and couldn't have been among the carolers. I knew that. Holidays have always been difficult.
Nahidmobarekeh, 49, is a legal immigrant from Iran. The man who knows him, who knows the person I know, is also an immigrant from the same part of the world and knew him through the immigrant community.
"He used to be a decent person," his friend told me. "He used to keep a management job at a couple restaurants, from what I heard. Everybody in town knows him. He just went haywire.
"I know he was doing drugs off and on, but I'm not sure to what extent he was on them. I have known him for at least 16 years."
He told me Nahidmobarekeh has written him several times from jail. "He said that he did what he did just out of madness. He knows it was stupid. He feels sorry about it. He wishes that he could get out and change his life all over."
Nahidmobarekeh was assigned Clark Birdsall as his court-appointed lawyer. Birdsall gave Nahidmobarekeh what was probably a brilliant defense and one that may still get him off on appeal--that the microwaving of his feces, along with other factors, reduced the real physical threat beneath the threshold demanded by the law for conviction on two felony counts of tampering with a consumer product.
But Birdsall also urged Nahidmobarekeh not to take the stand. Nahidmobarekeh, however, insisted, thereby joining that long parade of defendants who, by opening their mouths, have slammed the jailhouse door shut on themselves.
Once Nahidmobarekeh was on the stand, prosecutor Taly Haffar opened the gate and led him straight down the primrose path to his jail cell. Nahidmobarekeh was assertive and maybe even a bit proud of his accomplishments, showing the jury exactly how he had worked the cheese grater. He showed off the hand-cupping technique he had used to get the sprinkles onto the doughnuts without detection. Eventually, however, he was caught on a surveillance camera.
Other very unpleasant details emerged--his heroin withdrawal, the fact that his apartment was littered with his own feces, his feeling that his feces wouldn't hurt anyone because he had eaten it himself without any ill effect he could distinguish from the withdrawal.
Haffar didn't have to introduce evidence he had of Nahidmobarekeh's history of violent aggression, including the severe beating of a 60-year-old man and an attack on a cop in New York years ago. After the clever hand-cupping demonstration, the jury had seen enough.
I called both Haffar and Birdsall. Neither one knew about the library attacks. They weren't sure what to say. I wasn't sure what to ask. Is there a significant difference between a regular feces sprinkler and a serial feces sprinkler?
I can think of one.
The man who was his friend told me: "I always tried to help him whenever I would see him being homeless, laying around City Hall."
CITY HALL? CITY HALL! I've spent half my life at City Hall! The noose tightens. I'm sure Nahidmobarekeh was never on the Dallas City Council. Could he have been, if only briefly, an assistant city manager? No.
I wrote him in jail, but he refused to see me. He haunts me, because he is a man, a human being, not so far from me as I want to think. Closer and closer, as a matter of fact. He changes the basic equation. I can't even tell you what my favorite food used to be.