The Teacher's Last Shocking Lesson
A remarkable woman reasons with her killer - and tapes it.
She used the miniature tape recorder for a graduate-school course she was taking. The device, though, would do much more than capture a lecture. It was a microcassette found in Kathleen Weinstein's shirt pocket that not only led police to her alleged killer but also revealed the New Jersey teacher to be a woman of extraordinary courage and compassion.
Weinstein, 45, was on her way to an exam at Toms River high School South on March 14 when she got out of her gold 1995 Toyota Camry to buy a sandwich at the busy Toms river Shopping Center. That's where her path crossed that of Michael LaSane, who, police say, wanted just such a car to celebrate his 17th birthday. Grabbing Weinstein by the jaw, the attacker told her he had a gun and forced her into the Camry. The car was then driven to Manitou Park, about two miles from the shopping center. It was there, police believe, that Weinstein was able to activate the recorder she kept in her bag. According to Ocean County prosecutor Daniel Carluccio, the taped conversation tetween Weinstein and LaSane took place as they removed personal items - bags, notebooks, her six-year-old son's belongings, from the car. "It wasn't hysterical," Carluccio says of the 24-minute tape. "It wasn't the kind of thing you would expect of someone who is facing a life-threatening situation. Mrs. Weinstein bravely and persistently used every skill and power she had to convince her attacker to simply take her car and not her life."
The excerpts of the talk released by the prosecutor show why Weinstein was a beloved figure at Thorne Middle School in Middletown, where she was a special-education teacher. "You haven't done anything yet," she tells her attacker. "All you have to do is let me go and take my car. For my life, don't you think I should be concerned and let you take my car? For my life! Do you really want to have that on your head?" At another point, the teacher tries to get him to open up.
"Why don't you just tell me? Of course, it's important. It's determining you whole life and the direction you're taking." Weinstein also talks about her son Daniel and her plans to take in a foster child with her husband Paul. "I want to give something to somebody, to give something back," she says.
Her powers of persuasion were to no avail. Weinstein's body, with hands and feet bound, was discovered by a hiker on March 17. She had been smothered with her coat. But before she died she somehow slipped the microcassette into her pocket without her killer knowing it.
Because Weinstein had asked LaSane about himself and his family, police quickly had their suspect, the son of a local official. "Our impression was that she was very aware she was leaving something behind," says Carluccio. He will not comment on LaSanbe's side of the conversation except to say, "When you hear the tape, it will raise profound questions about what is happening in our world with juveniles and our society. It goes beyond materialism."
Weinstein also helped leave behind a new program at Thorne Middle School in which students were encouraged to do nice things for others.
Every morning Weinstein would announce various good deeds over the p.a. system and she solicited prizes form local merchants and restaurants. Given her fate, the name of the program has a heartbreaking resonance to it: Random Acts of Kindness.
45歲的溫斯坦在3月14日去南湯姆斯河中學考試的路- ******上，她走出她那輛1995年豐田公司產的喀麥麗牌小汽車到繁華的湯姆斯河售貨中心買三明治。在那里，她遇到了邁克爾拉森，警察說，拉森正想要一部那樣的車慶祝他的17 歲生日。攻擊者托住她的下巴，并且告訴她他有槍，強迫她進入車里。然后車子開到了曼尼托公園，距離那個售貨中心大約兩英里。警方認為，正是在那里，溫斯坦才能夠打開她包里的錄音機。據海洋縣的檢查官丹尼爾卡魯齊奧說，所錄的溫斯坦和拉森的談話開始于他們扔下車上的個人物品時--包、筆記本，以及她六歲兒子的東西?？稱氚綠傅?4分鐘長的錄音帶時說："它并不歇斯底里，那完全不是你所料到的一個面對生命威脅的情景的樣子，溫斯坦太太運用各種她所具有的技巧、勇敢，頑強地勸說襲擊者只取走她的車而不傷她的性命。"