Below is the story of what happened to him - which was during my senior year of high school. Tomorrow... I will blog about me - but tonight, I wanted to share Brandon's story with you:
Background of Teena BrandonTeena Marie Brandon was born December 12, 1972 in Lincoln, Nebraska and was murdered December 31, 1993 in a run down farm house on the outskirts of Humboldt, Nebraska. She was the second child born to JoAnn Brandon, a sixteen year old widow whose first child, Tammy, was born when she was only thirteen years old, and whose husband and Teena's father, Patrick, two years older than her, was killed in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident while JoAnn was pregnant with Teena. Teena was named after the family dog.
Teena Brandon Evolves into Brandon Teena Sometime after Brandon obtained puberty, she began to reject her own sex. She began dressing like a boy, cut her hair short, bound her breasts, and even put a sock in her pants to simulate male genitalia. She began posing as a boy and started dating girls. She was repelled at the thought of being touched by a male.
After her expulsion from high school, Brandon began a series of unskilled jobs including working in a lumber yard and selling vacuum cleaners, posing as a male. She was consistently short on money. She began having brushes with the law which culminated in her being charged and convicted of a felony check writing offense in Lincoln, and was subsequently placed on probation and was instructed to have psychiatric evaluation because of the transsexual ideation that she displayed. It was during this counseling that the history of incest first appeared.
In 1991, Brandon attempted suicide. In January, 1992, after having been charged and convicted of second-degree forgery, Brandon ended up at the Lincoln Crisis Center and was diagnosed with a gender disorder, possibly transsexualism, as well as an adjustment disorder. In April, 1992, Brandon was placed on probation by the district court, and was required to go to a mental health clinic as part of her probation. In October, 1992, Brandon was terminated from the clinic, indicating there was no change, and in December, 1992, she was terminated from the program for failing to follow treatment. In November, 1993, Brandon was diagnosed by another counselor with transsexualism and a personality disorder.
Brandon goes to Richardson County, Nebraska Richardson County, Nebraska, is one of the poorer counties of the state, located in the extreme southeast corner of the state, a town of approximately 4,800 people.
In the late fall of 1993, Brandon violated her probation and a warrant for her arrest was issued. Fearing that she would ultimately end up in prison, Brandon, posing as a male named Brandon Teena, developed a friendship with an unwed young mother named Lisa Lambert. Lisa lived with her baby in a dilapidated old farmhouse on the edge of Humboldt, Nebraska in Richardson County. In November 1993, Brandon moved to Richardson County and began living with her new friend, who assumed that Brandon was in fact a male.
After Brandon commenced living with Lisa in the Falls City area, she began associating with a number of her friends, most of whom did not work on a regular basis. Two of these were a couple of local ex-convicts, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen. Lotter had just been released from prison a short time before meeting Brandon. Nissen was also a small time convict, also in his early twenties, who was married and had children but apparently no job.
Brandon immediately took a liking to Lana Tisdale, an attractive seventeen-year-old woman, and a former girl friend of Lotter. There were indications that Brandon and Lana had sexual contact although the exact nature of same remains a mystery. Lotter didn't seem to be upset about his new male friend dating his old girlfriend. This group of friends partied regularly, did not work, and basically got into trouble. Lotter and Nissen took Brandon in as another male friend. It did not dawn on any of these people that the boy they knew as Brandon Teena was, in fact, a girl named Teena Brandon.
Brandon Teena is discovered to be a female named Teena Brandon Brandon's difficulties began on November 30, 1993, when she was arrested in Richardson County for a minor in possession charge while carrying a drivers' license of a man named Charles W. Brayman, her cousin. On December 15, 1993, Brandon was again arrested on forgery in Richardson County for stealing checks and forging the name of the owner of the checks for the purpose of buying gifts for her then girlfriend, a repeat of the conduct that got her into trouble in Lincoln the year before. Brandon, who could not make bail, was held in the Richardson County jail for safe-keeping. On December 17, Brandon gave a signed confession to the bad checks and wanted to accept blame. After being taken to jail and put in the usual jail uniform, it was discovered that the male who they thought was Brandon Teena was, in fact, a female named Teena Brandon. Brandon was then placed in the women's section of the jail. Word soon got out in the community Brandon was in fact a girl. The fact did not set well with either Lotter or Nissen who felt that they were made to look foolish. On December 18, 1993, Tammy, Brandon's sister, called the Richardson County Jail, talked to the sheriff, Charles Laux, and advised him that the person they were holding named Brandon was in fact her sister. On December 22, 1992, Brandon was bailed out of jail by Marvin Nissen with money he had received from Lana Tisdale, who was too young to bail her out, using money Lana had received from her father.
Lotter and Nissen were both what might be appropriately classified as classic ne'er-do-wells, both from broken homes, both ex-convicts, neither employed, and both used alcohol to the excess.
In March, 1987, Lotter was charged in Buffalo County, Nebraska, with escape, theft by unlawful taking and operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest. He spent some time in prison. In March, 1990, he was then charged in Richardson County, with Class III felony escape, a habitual criminal charge, and virtually attempted to escape from jail while wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles while visiting with his attorney. He was immediately subdued and taken back to jail. In April, 1993, Lotter was charged with flight to avoid arrest and resisting arrest when he tried to outrun a Missouri state highway patrolman. He was returned to Richardson County and in June, 1993, was incarcerated in Richardson County. That same month, Sheriff Charles Laux, took him to Lincoln for safe-keeping because he didn't want to keep him in the Richardson County jail while he was out of town, when the sole guard would be a female jailer. In other words, he was well aware that Lotter was extraordinarily dangerous and did not trust him to be alone even in jail with a female jailer unless he was there.
In May, 1992, Nissen was charged with escape and sentenced to a year for burglary and arson in Richardson County. In June, 1992, a temporary protection order was entered in Richardson County against Nissen by a family that he threatened to harm. In September, 1992, Nissen was sentenced to prison for three years by the district judge in Richardson County
In short, in December, 1993, the authorities of Richardson County were well aware of both Lotter and Nissen and knew that they were both dangerous.
The Rage of Lotter and Nissen It was against this backdrop that Teena Brandon found herself on December 22, 1993, when Nissen bailed her out with money that he'd received from Lana Tisdale. By this time, Lana knew that Brandon was in fact a female or at least had strong suspicions of it. The rumors were flying in this small community of unemployed young adults that Brandon was really Teena.
On December 24, 1993, Nissen had a Christmas Eve party. Among the guests were Lana, Nissen, Lotter, Leslie Tisdale (Lana's sister), Teena and a number of others. In the early morning hours on Christmas Day, Lotter and Nissen took it upon themselves to take Brandon into the bathroom and "undress" her to determine whether she was really a male or a female. During this time, Nissen hit her in the face and kicked her in the back. Lotter and Nissen forced her back to the Nissen house and again assaulted her in the bathroom. This time they forced her to go to their car, left the house, and drove to a country road. There they were actually stuck and were pulled out by a farmer who sent them on their way. They then went to a remote place and both Lotter and Nissen savagely beat and raped Brandon. After the assault, Lotter and Nissen again drove Brandon back to Nissen's home and locked her in a bedroom and told her to stay put and not tell the authorities or be killed. They also took her shoes. At somewhere around 5:00 to 6:00AM, Brandon pried open a window, crawled out and, barefoot with no coat in 20 degree weather, virtually ran from Nissen's house a distance of approximately a mile to Lana Tisdale's house where she was obviously in an extremely distraught condition. Lana's mother called the authorities and ultimately Brandon was taken to the local hospital where a rape kit was performed (and subsequently lost). The Falls City Police Department was called, and the investigation began.
Brandon meets Sheriff Charles Laux The original investigation was done by the Falls City Police Department. Photos showed that she had been beaten in the face and kicked in the back. The rape kit indicated that she had been raped. There was little question that this woman was the victim of a brutal sexual assault. At this point in time, the Falls City Police Department decided to bring in the Richardson County Sheriff's Office because the rape had occurred in the county outside of the jurisdiction of the small police department. Enter Sheriff Charles Laux, a typical small town sheriff who had some law enforcement training, but no experience with transsexual people. It soon became clear he did not like or trust Brandon because of her sexual orientation. The local police probably should have immediately had a warrant issued for the arrest of Lotter and Nissen, and obtained a search warrant, if nothing else than to preserve the evidence, but they did not. Brandon ended up with Sheriff Laux, who began interrogating her at approximately 3:30 PM on Christmas Day. The interrogation started with a deputy but during the middle of the interrogation Sheriff Laux took over and began the interrogation of Brandon in such an abusive and repulsive manner that plaintiff's expert, Dr. Mario Scalora, would later testify it was "like pouring vinegar in an open wound." His interrogation of Brandon was, at the least, intimidating and was later the foundation for a lawsuit involving intentional infliction of emotional distress. He concluded by asking her "why do you make girls think you're a guy." The deputy testified he was so concerned about what was going on, he left the interview room in disgust. At the conclusion of the interview, Brandon agreed to testify against Lotter and Nissen. By this time, she had been up all night, had no sleep, and was completely disheveled and distraught.
Laux refused to arrest Lotter and Nissen after the interview. Instead, he dispatched the deputy to the location to where Brandon had described the rape and he came back with corroborating evidence including beer cans, used condoms, and a pair of socks that Brandon had actually put in her pants to simulate male genitalia. Still no arrests were made.
During the next two days, the police and sheriff's office interrogated a number of witnesses, all of whom corroborated one way or another Brandon's story. On December 26, during one conversation with the mother of Lana, Linda Gutierrez, Sheriff Laux referred to Brandon as an "it".
Despite the overwhelming evidence, including the local knowledge of Lotter and Nissen, the corroboration from the witnesses, the physical evidence and the photos and examination of Brandon, and Brandon's statements, still no arrests.
In the meantime, Brandon had telephone conversations with her mother and sister, and was extremely frightened. Thinking she would be safe, Brandon then returned to Lana's home because she virtually had no place else to go nor did she have a motor vehicle or money to go anyplace else. She was under the mistaken impression that Lotter and Nissen were arrested. She was scared for her life.
On December 27, Tammy called the sheriff and advised that both Lotter and Nissen had threatened to kill Brandon if she reported the incident. Laux replied to Tammy "mind your own business, I'm doing my job." Two other calls to Richardson County by Tammy were refused.
On December 28, both Lotter and Nissen were finally interviewed by the sheriff's deputy. Lotter refused to talk, however, Nissen admitted essentially trying to "depend Brandon to get to the truth", and assaulting her. Nissen later admitted that Lotter and Brandon were in the backseat of the car out at the remote location where she allegedly was raped, but denied he did any thing. At the conclusion of this interview the deputy and the police investigator thought they should be arrested. Laux refused.
On December 29, the sheriff again wanted Brandon to come for a further interview. Because she was afraid of Lotter and Nissen, Brandon did not show up. Why she did not show up is a little unclear, but she told her sister she saw Lotter and Nissen sitting by the courthouse, and was afraid to go in.
On December 30, the deputy requested Laux contact the county attorney for an arrest warrant but Laux still refused to do so.
The matter came to a tragic conclusion on News Years Eve, December 31, 1997. Brandon had returned to Lisa's home in Humboldt and was there with Lisa, her baby, and a student named Philip Devine, a friend, who just happened to be visiting in Falls City during Christmas break. She thought she would be safer in the country than in the city. However, Lotter and Nissen tracked Brandon down to this remote location, where they brutally murdered Brandon, Lisa, and Philip. They did not harm the baby. The bodies were discovered by Lisa's mother later that morning. When the bodies were found, the authorities did not have any trouble pointing a finger at Lotter and Nissen. On Jan 1, 1998 Lotter and Nissen were finally arrested for rape (not murder).
Both Lotter and Nissen were charged with first degree murder. Nissen agreed to testify against Lotter in exchange for a life sentence and ultimately Lotter was convicted and sentenced to death. He is currently on death row. State vs. Lotter, 255 Neb. 456, 586 NW 2d 591 (1998). Nissen was imprisoned for life although he too had a lengthy trial. State vs. Nissen, 252 Neb 51, 560 NW2d 157 (1997). Recently, Nissen has written a lengthy letter to Mrs. Brandon accepting responsibility and apologizing for his grotesque actions. Lotter still maintains his innocence and the matter is working its way through federal court.