by Gwen Moritz
Posted 8/18/2003 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley says Mary "Lee" Orsini confessed to the 1981 murder of her husband, Ron Orsini of North Little Rock, just a couple of weeks before she died of a heart attack. Orsini, whose conviction for Ron's murder had been overturned, was serving life without parole for the infinitely more sensational murder of Alice McArthur, wife of Little Rock attorney Bill McArthur, in July 1982.
Newcomers and readers under, say, 35 may not comprehend the media circus that was created by the McArthur case (or the Orsini case, as those of us from North Little Rock preferred to call it). Think of Laci Peterson or Kobe Bryant on a local level, then throw in two blundering hit men, two hotly competitive daily newspapers and the incomparable Tommy Robinson.
The news that transcripts of Orsini's soul-baring will soon be made public started me thinking about other confessions I'd like to hear:
• Who killed Johnny Burnett? The Little Rock businessman's murder became the closest thing to a McArthur case Arkansas had in the 1990s.
• Who truly lost money invested with M. David Howell, and who actually made money off of him?
• Did Richard T. Smith know that Howell had persuaded Bank of America to continue honoring his checks despite insufficient funds when Smith and several of his relatives and business associates presented the checks for payment?
• Who at Bank of America authorized payment on those worthless checks anyway?
• Who bankrolled the anti-gambling lobbying campaign in Arkansas last year? Hold it — Mississippi casino operators have already confessed to that one.
• Which rural school superintendents would drop their opposition to consolidation in a heartbeat if they were guaranteed the job of superintendent of the new, bigger district?
• What percentage of Arkansas school funds are actually spent on athletics?
• How much money did Melanie Steele really clear from her stock in a California dot-com, and how much does she have left?
• Will Gen. Wesley Clark run for president?
• What is the Stephens Group Inc.'s annual revenue? I'd really love to get that nailed down for our list of the state's largest private companies.
• Ditto for Stephen LaFrance Pharmacy Inc. of Pine Bluff.
• Who is Juan Gomez? My employers have sued him for infringing on our trademark by incorporating something called Arkansas Business Publishing Group Inc., but we honestly don't know who he is or whether he even exists.
• What's going on at Pet Quarters?
• Which banks are under regulatory letters from the State Bank Depart-ment?
• Is the Summit Mall ever going to be built?
• How could Acxiom Corp.'s database be hacked without anyone knowing it?
• Did Little Rock attorney Keith Moser and his client, Dan F. Whitt of Maumelle, really try to extort millions from vendors to Anchor Bay Entertainment Inc. of Troy, Mich., where Whitt used to be president? That's what Anchor Bay claimed in a civil lawsuit that has gone nowhere.
• Are there really local churches that ask their members to submit copies of their W2 forms for the purpose of monitoring tithes?
• How much is the newspaper war in northwest Arkansas costing Wehco Media Inc. and Stephens Media Group?
• Is there any chance Dillard's Inc. will be sold?
• Finally, I'd like to know who stole my husband's beloved Fuji bicycle off our patio in 1989.
(Gwen Moritz is editor of Arkansas Business. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)