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Man dies after comic book collection stolen

A 77 year old man died of heart failure after being roughed up by burglars who entered his home to steal his comic book collection.

According to an article posted on Huffington Post, Homer Marciniak was looking for buyers for his collection that he started when he was six years old. The collection was valued between $40,000 to $100,000. Police suspect that Homer approached Rico Vendetti, a tavern and restaurant owner who once owned a collectibles business and that Vendetti and an accomplice entered Homer’s home to steal the collection. During the robbery Homer was allegedly hit in the face requiring a hospital visit. After police questioning the next day, Homer died of a heart attack.

Community Comments

#1 Jeff P.
October/20/2010
@ 9:40 am

Anyone hitting an elderly person for any reason is wrong, but this is particularly despicable.

#2 Ted Rall
October/20/2010
@ 9:50 am

Needless to say, hitting anyone is wrong. Unless they’re a CEO.

#3 Alan Gardner
October/20/2010
@ 9:56 am

Hitting is wrong. Even if they are a CEO.

#4 Drew Beran
October/20/2010
@ 10:02 am

Now it’s just disagreeing to be disagreeable. Can we lighten up a bit, please?

#5 Stephen Beals
October/20/2010
@ 10:13 am

So he started collecting comics in the golden year of 1939, managed to hold on to them all this time, and died as a result of trying to sell them.

This is the saddest comic book collecting story I’ve ever heard.

#6 George Ford
October/20/2010
@ 11:24 am

Man, that is terrible. I know how hard it is to go for a lengthy amount of time holding on to something dear, then deciding to let it go, only to have forcibly taken away from you. That is indeed one sad story. My heart goes out to this fellow collector’s family.

#7 dan reynolds
October/20/2010
@ 11:48 am

That’s terrible… love for cartoons from youth, stolen, and the man died from a broken heart as well as the battering. I’m sure it was much more than the money aspect, but he probably felt like he also had his youth stolen at that moment.

#8 Henry Clausner
October/20/2010
@ 11:49 am

::::pounding fist on the table…”This is a shame, waiting for the follow up story on this one Alan….”

#9 Steve Greenberg
October/20/2010
@ 12:12 pm

What a heartbreaking story.

If the victim had advertised his collection by specific title, then hopefully police will have a starting point in trying to find anyone who might suddenly be selling the same collection of specific books.

#10 Pedro Molina.
October/20/2010
@ 1:12 pm

Let’s hope they find the burglars.

#11 Steve Skelton
October/20/2010
@ 2:50 pm

Very sad indeed.

#12 Shane Davis
October/20/2010
@ 3:04 pm

I hope Homer has a grandson who is in great shape that’ll decide to seek revenge by dressing in a mask black tights, hunt the b@$t@rd perp down and beat him into a soggy, red pulp after breaking his kneecaps off. Then tie him up for the police.

No jury would convict him if they got the irony..

#13 Rob Tracy
October/20/2010
@ 3:41 pm

The article says that Homer was a life long bachelor. He wanted to sell the collection and leave the proceeds to his sisters and nephew (I think).

And they already caught the perps. One is an older guy who used to own a memorabilia business and the other was a kid in his employ. The older guy posted bail and is walking around the kid is in jail (couldn’t post bail).

#14 Tiki Carol Leach
October/20/2010
@ 9:37 pm

Life imitating art.
See the 2002 movie Comic Book Villains.

It saddens me that he may have died due to the loss of his “stuff”.
We all may want to take a moment and re-evaluate the importance and value of the “stuff” in our lives, then go and spend some extra time with loved ones.

#15 Joe Vissichelli
October/21/2010
@ 10:06 am

Let’s hope his survivors can sue for the value of the tavern/restaurant to make up for the cash they may have lost.

Poor Homer.

#16 Jerry Zee
October/22/2010
@ 11:34 am

This is murder as far as I’m concerned.

#17 Ted Rall
October/23/2010
@ 10:03 am

Legally, Jerry, it’s probably manslaughter. But it ought to be punished severely.

#18 Rob Tracy
October/24/2010
@ 7:11 am

Legally Ted, it’s probably not even that. The guy died of a heart attack. Days after the assault. While one could argue that the assault and robbery caused the heart attack there’s a legal burden of causation which no coroner or doctor will support (at least none you won’t have to pay unscrupulous amounts of money and none that are ethical in their field). It’s been tried before.

Generally it’s still almost impossible to get a murder conviction for the fetus of a pregnant woman who was murdered… even if you can prove the woman was murdered, because the healthy birth of the child is only a speculation. Even though the death of the mother ensured the death of the child there’s no way to prove that the child would have been born healthy and alive beyond a reasonable doubt.

And that’s the problem. Those pesky burdens. Most judges wouldn’t even let a criminal trial of murder (or manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide or whatever attributable death statute the prosecutor would charge the plaintiffs with depending upon state and severity) go forward without scads of new and interconnecting evidence showing a clear causation from the assault/burglary to the heart attack.

It’s great stuff for a wrongful death suit where the burden is much much lower. And if Homer had died during the robbery there might have been a chance for prosecution (but even then with a heart attack… tough to prove and the bad guys could say he was dead when they broke in) but in these circumstances Homer had been examined by a doctor and released. It was days after the crime. There are a million other things that could have kicked off his heart attack and then there is the problem of intent.

Mens rea or the guilty mind. It’s impossible to prove that the men who robbed him had intended for Homer to have a heart attack. Unless they confess or the police have them recorded saying a statement against interest like “hey I hear this Homer guy has a bad ticker so if we beat him like a rented mule hopefully he’ll have a heart attack and then we can take his stuff and no one will blame us for his death if he bites it.”

Not only do I doubt that was the intent because death by heart attack is some pretty sloppy operating but I also doubt either of these clowns would have wanted to face a homicide charge for 40k worth of comics. Roughing up some old guy for comics is pretty small time when you think about it.

So legally speaking they will most likely plead out to high level counts of assault and grand theft. The prosecutor will keep the counts high to make it look like he’s making a statement about Homer’s death but he’ll toss the defense a bone by letting the sentences run concurrently.

All told they will probably end up with a nickel each. Less for the kid if he cracks and agrees to testify against the older guy. They will most likely do about 4 years inside and will be out before 2015.

#19 Ted Rall
October/24/2010
@ 8:36 am

Why did two people mark my last comment as “inappropriate”? Did they actually approve of Homer’s death?

@Alan, this “system” is absolutely absurd. All over the site I find negative reactions to perfectly intelligent comments, and positive reactions to comments anyone, including you, would think inappropriate. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, get rid of it.

#20 Stephen Beals
October/24/2010
@ 12:28 pm

@Ted, Good question. The only thing these buttons have shown me is that they mimic the very online poll that cartoonists hate.

I agree that comments should be moderated for personal attacks, SPAM and language, but I also think Alan should at least make as much money as the unfortunate soul who has to babysit threads at newspaper and magazine sites. I can see what motivated the buttons.

Imagine living in a world where a handful of people can bury and hide words they don’t like (or is it really the people they don’t like?) Ha, just kidding. We do live in that world.

#21 Rob Tracy
October/25/2010
@ 6:35 pm

@Ted this is just a shot in the dark but maybe they downmarked it because it was incorrect. Not being a jerk, just making a suggestion for the way some people may think the system works. They may think it’s like Facebook…. Like or Unlike or something like that.

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