"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Let's hear Dan Rassier with National Anthem!

(APM image)
Remember when Tommy Loy played the National Anthem on his trumpet at Dallas Cowboys home games? That was in the Tom Landry days - coach Tom with his outdated film noir hat. I once heard that hat sales were a real staple of the old men's clothing stores.
Mr. Loy played the patriotic song all alone. There's a big advantage to having the song done this way: a trumpet player can cover a full two octaves pretty easily. A singer cannot. The Star Spangled Banner has an excessive range of notes.
I was reminded of Tommy Loy when an idea entered my head recently. I was thinking of Dan Rassier, that very stressed individual who was the mistaken "person of interest" in the Jacob Wetterling case. I was familiar with Dan when we were students at St. Cloud State University in the 1970s. I was in concert band for a rather brief time. Dan was the star trumpet player. I too played trumpet, but by that time I had developed into too much of a "stylist" on the instrument. I was playing weekend gigs with the Tempo Kings orchestra, a group that had a style like Sammy Kaye. I no longer felt comfortable in a college concert band.
Dan was one of those prodigy-type trumpet players. Most people can remember such a person from their school days, so capable and self-confident on the instrument. You never had to worry about them flubbing anything. Our exhibit here in Morris: Terry Rice, 1971 Morris High graduate. Terry was showcased on "Portrait of a Trumpet." I drew a caricature of Terry called "Portrait of a Trumpet" in which his pants were falling down (among other things). Us non-prodigies felt a little jealousy.
I got to thinking recently that Dan Rassier should be invited to play the National Anthem on his trumpet for a Minnesota Vikings game. This would be a gesture to try to prop up his self-esteem and make a statement to the whole state about his purity as an individual.
Can you imagine the hell of being a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case? Yes, he is suing. Because of that, the case will linger.
I emailed my suggestion to Amy Klobuchar and got no direct response. Klobuchar's background is as a prosecutor. Because of that, I'm sure she isn't eager to acknowledge when investigations or prosecutors go wrong. We occasionally hear about people who are let out of prison because they are found innocent. Do they even get an apology? I gather they don't. The reach of law enforcement can touch many innocent people, in Dan's case as a person of interest owing to nothing more than the coincidence of his residence by the abduction point. He got drawn into that whirlpool of tension. It was a unique and foreboding whirlpool because a child had simply vanished, therefore anyone could be a suspect.
How would you like it if something like the Wetterling abduction happened in your neighborhood? In any neighborhood you're likely to find at least one person who doesn't fit the mold of the perfectly-adjusted American. If your lifestyle is unconventional in any way, if you have any sort of checkered background, if for example you've been treated for mental illness (like our Minnesota governor has), well, you might have hell to pay in terms of suspicion hovering.
A good attorney would probably tell you not to say much. Defense attorneys have a trait of encouraging clients to say little, and the Wetterling case presents a good argument as to why. Dan did not immediately gravitate to such an attorney, probably figuring like many naive people would, "what's wrong with talking to law enforcement, in effect helping them?"
Dan went under hypnosis. Why? Maybe law enforcement told him his subconscious might reveal something, something he saw or whatever. Instead his cooperation with authorities appeared to lead him down a road where his life became hell. He seemed on the verge of getting charged with the crime. Remember, this is the most heinous crime imaginable. If law enforcement is going to focus on anyone with an air of suspicion in a case like this, the grounds for doing so must be very firm. The grounds could not have been very firm because we now know Dan was nothing more than a person minding his own business, living a productive life at a place that happened to be where that guy out of hell committed his misdeed.
I attended Dan's recital at St. Cloud State. On a trivial note, I remember that every 3-4 days he'd wear a shirt that had the words "wild ivy" on the back. I remember him breaking down laughing the first time we rehearsed a medley of Walt Disney tunes that included the Mickey Mouse theme song, played by Dan with a Harmon mute pushed into the bell of his horn.
Our trumpet teacher was Al Moore, then with a full head of hair. I probably had no business being in college music. As I reflect, I realize that at age 17 I knew all I had to know about music and the trumpet. I had a nice intuitive feel. I actually played the French horn in the UMM band back in about 1968. The UMM band was short of french horn players at that time. I was junior high-age. Due to hanging around campus so much, I sat in on a couple "moratoriums" at Edson Hall, directed at the Viet Nam war.
Maybe I should have just stuck with the French horn. I took up the trumpet in order to play in marching band. Maybe I should have just taken up the guitar and learned about popular song structure and technique. Our education system isn't friendly to the guitar or even the piano, because they are instruments of individual expression, thus they can be "dangerous" (in the eyes of the "establishment"). We might start protesting things.
I have written two recent blog posts in the aftermath of the Wetterling resolution. As a 27-year mystery it was always ripe for journalists and book authors to explore. I wasn't going to write any more. Then I saw the extensive attention given in the weekend Willmar newspaper.
At present, all our efforts should be concentrated on helping Mr. Rassier resume a normal life in which he can hold his head high. It won't be easy. However, a sheriff fellow appears to be rubbing salt in an old wound. We must keep in mind that all investigating agencies will be striving to defend vs. Rassier's lawsuit. They have incentive to try to suggest that Rassier was sort of off-kilter, or however you want to describe it.
The confession of the murderer (and his pinpointing of the body) has exonerated Mr. Rassier. But "(Sheriff) Sanner said recently that, if he had to do it over again, he would have done the same thing based on the way Rassier answered questions, the fact that he was there alone that night and other details included in those search warrants," the Willmar paper reported.
He was there alone! Oh my, I have read that Rassier drew some suspicion because he was found to have some press clippings about the abduction in his possession. Oh, my! He cried under hypnosis when the subject of the Wetterling abduction came up.
I remember reading a couple online comment boards at the time the "person of interest" tag was attached to him. The media, incidentally, acted very cautious about this, as if many of its members harbored quite justified skepticism. How would you like it if those online comments were directed at you? Someone examined his jogging routes. Rassier was, and maybe still is, a committed runner.
Sanner said "shame on us if we don't do what we did."
Sanner seems to speak proudly about how the official investigation proceeded. Here's a simple question we could ask: If that investigation was so beyond criticism, why in the end was an unpaid blogger presented as a primary hero in the resolution? Why was a national media celebrity, John Walsh, presented as a primary hero? Walsh was a hero partly because he showcased blogger Joy Baker's work.
Thank God for the media. Minus that Walsh special (on CNN), the Wetterling case could have remained open indefinitely. The media pushed investigators to connect certain dots which apparently they were stubborn to try to connect. The investigation was set back ten years by the decision to conclude that the abductor was on foot rather than in a vehicle.
Investigators discounted Rassier's claim that there were two vehicles in his quarter-mile-long driveway that night.
The resolution of the Wetterling case has left many of us feeling rather empty and disappointed. First we have the "collateral damage" of what happened to Rassier and I'm sure others who submitted to investigators' questions, or were pushed to try to remember things. Good grief, I might have trouble remembering what I had for supper last night.
But primarily, we feel disturbed because the murderer was able to strike a deal. Who wants to make that type of concession? Jacob has been gone for 27 years. We are left now with the lives of so many people that have been disrupted, and that includes the investigators who could have spent that immense amount of time on other cases. They were suspicious of the perp right from the start. How tragic that the perp couldn't have been nailed early-on.
This is a unique case that haunts us. I'm not sure that prayer is going to give much solace. So let's try to put Mr. Rassier on a pedestal for showing his well-known trumpet flourish, playing the National Anthem for a Vikings game!
Addendum: Mr. Sanner, did your mother ever teach you the saying about how if you have nothing positive to say about someone, don't say anything?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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