On the early morning of September 7, 1982 a grizzly discovery was made. A Gainesville, FL condominium bared the marks of foul play. Inside the body of a man was found. Bound in a sheepskin rug, with a name-plate inscribed with “Howard Appledorf” plainly visible to investigators. His stomach had been exposed and a ground out cigarette butt was imbedded into his flesh. Under a burlap sack that had been placed on Howard’s head were two neckties – one bound around his head as a blindfold, and another tied around his neck. The murders left a note located near several sandwich remnants that read “Howard, I wish you could join us”. Sprawled on the walls in red ink were the words “murder”, “redrum”, and “HOWARD, we love you sincerely. The slez sisters”. An additional note was found on a small notepad which read
“I realize murder is a felony crime, but I want whoever finds this body to know that I am criminally insayne [sic], and have no control over what I do. I know I won’t [illegible] be caught for this crime because I have [illegible] of getting away, but I am very sorry that this is how HOWARD APPLEDORF had to go. I didn’t mean it. Help me, X.”
Authorities were left baffled by this bizarre scene.
Professor Howard Appledorf, nicknamed “the junkfood professor” was a nutritionist most renowned for publicly defending the nutritional value of fast food. Authorities speculated that there may have been a connection to the movie The Shining, which had been recently televised, but otherwise came up short on initial leads. Later investigators came to learn that Appledorf had been involved in a legal struggle with several individuals.
These individuals – Gary Bown, Paul Everson, and Shane Kennedy, had reportedly met Appledorf while he attended a San Francisco soft drink convention in June of 1982. Appledorf allegedly picked up Bown and took him to his hotel room. There, Appledorf invited him to drink champagne and paid Bown for a weekend of sexual services. Once Appledorf returned to Florida, he invited Bown along with Everson and Kennedy to come to his condo. While in Florida, one of the three stole a personal check from Appledorf and attempted to cash it at a local bank, where a teller promptly called the police.
Bown claimed that Appledorf had set him up. The $900 check was for the sexual services the three boys had provided for him, and that he also wanted to expose Howard Appledorf for molesting Kennedy – who was only 15 at the time. Appledorf agreed to drop the forgery charges on the grounds that the three left Florida. Appledorf had flown to New York while the three were in jail, in order to attend another conference. Colleagues claimed that he seemed shaken and worried about the visitors he had at his condo.
Meanwhile, with Appledorf still in New York, the trio had been released from jail and broke into his condo. Bown, Kennedy, and Everson decided to camp out while Appledorf was away – looting the condo for valuables and eating his food. Appledorf returned to his condo and upon entering his home, was beaten in the head with a frying pan. Shane Kennedy, the youngest of the trio, alleged that he became “sick to his stomach” and fled the scene, while the other two continued beating, mutilating, and strangling Appledorf.
The three were promptly identified as suspects, due to their previous encounters with Appledorf. Bown and Everson were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, while Kennedy was sentenced to 4 years since he did not actually participate in the murder.