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A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

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A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby klondike » June 11th, 2010, 10:36 am

I'm struggling to believe this might be the fate of an old friend of mine:

Ex-Vermont Cartoon Writer Missing
By CHRIS GAROFOLO / Reformer Staff / Associated Press

Friday June 11, 2010
BRATTLEBORO, VT. -- Florida police say a former cartoon writer who once called Vermont home is missing and presumed dead after his van was found abandoned at a Tampa hotel in mid-May.

Authorities in Zephyrhills, Fla., located the van of Stephen Perry, 56, on May 16 with a severed arm inside. Police have not yet declared him a homicide victim, nor did they say if they knew the whereabouts of Perry’s body, but it has been one month since he was first reported missing.

His home was found ransacked. His two roommates, 46-year-old James Davis and 49-year-old Roxanne Davis, were arrested on unrelated charges. However, both remain "persons of interest" in the investigation.

Perry, who used to live and work in Brattleboro, became well-known in the 1980s for the popular cartoon series "Thundercats" and his numerous comic books. He also scripted the "Silverhawks" cartoon as well.

Even with his success with the "Thundercats" franchise, Perry did not make much money from his work. Friends said Perry, who is originally from Maine, did not receive royalties of any kinds from the popular television show. "Thundercats" debuted in January 1985 and produced more than 100 episodes until its cancellation in 1989. "Silverhawks" also was a marginal success, debuting in 1986 and running for 65 episodes, four of which Perry penned.

"The pay was far better than any comic book scripting freelance had ever reaped, but these jobs were done under far more aggressive work-for-hire terms than was the norm in comic books," said Stephen R. Bissette, a well-known comics writer and teacher at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, on his blog. "Despite having created a number of characters from the TV shows, [Perry] saw no royalties of any kind, and when the Kenner Toy lines featured action figures of his characters, he had to buy them for his sons," wrote Bissette. "More than once, I loaned Steve the money to do so." Bissette said he met Perry at Johnson State College in 1974, where the two sparked a friendship and oftentimes would collaborate on story ideas.

Soft-spoken, but very sure of himself, Perry was very devoted to his writing. His first milestone came with Bissette in 1981 when the two crafted a series for Marvel Comics, accumulating critical praise from within the industry.

"That was pretty much his primary focus, and that remained the case until later in his life," Bissette told the Reformer. "He took a real downturn in the 90s when he stopped believing he was a writer." Prior to his whirlwind career in animation, he ended up applying for a job at the now-departed Moondance Comics in Harmony Lot.

"Steve came in and applied," said Moondance’s former owner Alan B. Goldstein. "And I hired him. I know he timed it so he knew he would be the last interview of the day."

The two partners became close friends over the next four years working together in the comic book industry. Perry would go on to meet his wife -- they later divorced -- while employed at the comics shop.

Friends who knew him during his years in Brattleboro said he was an interesting fellow to talk with, but he still had to scrounge for money.

Goldstein described him as an intelligent, creative and innovative writer.

And a good friend. "We were teammates. We used to go to New York City or Boston for comic shows and conventions, we had a good time with our friends down there," said Goldstein. "He was a good person to be with."

Goldstein even credited Perry for coming up with the idea for First Run Video, Brattleboro’s independent video rental store on Putney Road. Goldstein is perhaps best-known in town for running the store until its recent sale.

"First Run Video was Steve’s idea," he said. At the time, Perry worked at Video Headquarters in Keene, N.H., when he and Goldstein became friendly with the owner. Perry suggested they open a similar store in Brattleboro, and the idea took off from there. The two had a slight falling out after Perry declined to participate in the video store, but Goldstein said they managed to repair their friendship over the years. In the last two decades, the old friends saw each other only once or twice, however they communicated via e-mail from time to time. Perry appealed to Goldstein, as he did with many of his closest friends last year. In one e-mail, Perry said "farewell, it’s been an honor" in what would be his final mass communication.

Diagnosed with potentially fatal bladder cancer in March 2009, Perry was fighting poverty and illness without health insurance. He reached out to his friends and family for assistance later that spring.

"I did what I could to help him. I still cherish his friendship," said Goldstein. "He did not deserve what he received, he just didn’t."

Bissette agreed, saying friends would help him by providing food, money or time assisting the single father. "Like a lot of Americans that don’t have health care, he avoided going to the hospital until the cancer advanced too far," he said. "No one forecasted where it was going, that it was going to end violently, as it has appeared to have."

He remembers last August making an appeal for financial donations to assist Perry. Several months later, The Hero Initiative, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping comic book veterans by providing financial aid in emergency situations, extended relief to for Perry.

Through the initiative, Perry was able to re-establish his contacts in the comics community and began shopping some of his more recent works.

"He was writing almost to the last weeks," said Bissette. "While being a single parent fighting bladder cancer."

Perry, Goldstein, & Bissette are all old friends/co-workers/business partners of mine from throughout the late 70's - early/mid 80's.
This has left me feeling shocked, negilgent, saddened . . and suddenly, very old.
:shock: . . . :| :( :| :( :|

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby movieman1957 » June 11th, 2010, 10:46 am

How awful. A sad last few years ending with a sadder fate.

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby MikeBSG » June 11th, 2010, 11:31 am

Is this the same Steve Perry who published a few short stories in "Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" in the 90s? I enjoyed his work there.


Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby klondike » June 11th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Yup, that was him, Mike.
Steve was really excited about getting more work published in F & SF, as well as digests like "Amazing" & "Fantastic Stories", & "Omni", as they offered better income prospects than comics or animated features.
I guess the cancer, and other health issues, really chewed him up this last decade.

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 11th, 2010, 3:03 pm

The poor guy, it's very sad. He's very young to suffer so. I can understand your depression with what has happened, 56 isn't old.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby silentscreen » June 11th, 2010, 5:56 pm

Oh how awful! My thoughts and prayers are with you and his family.

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby Birdy » June 16th, 2010, 8:07 am

How sad, Klondike. Please keep us posted if more info becomes available.

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 25th, 2010, 4:28 pm


This is so sad. I am very sorry. Prayers to you and all others who cherish Stephen Perry.
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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby klondike » July 18th, 2010, 10:52 am

For those of you who might still be interested, here is what would seem to be the end-note to this tragic farrago

Roommate charged in slaying of 'Thundercats' show writer



A dismembered arm found just north of Tampa.

A torso from the same man, comic book writer Stephen J. Perry, found in Wesley Chapel.

And Perry's former roommate, James "Jimmy" Davis, charged Wednesday with first degree murder in connection with the grisly slaying.

These are the circumstances surrounding what Zephyrhills police Chief David Shears is calling "an unusual and complex case" that began with Perry's disappearance two months ago.

Davis, 45, was already being held at the Land O' Lakes Jail on several charges, including drug trafficking, when the murder warrant was served, Zephyrhills police Capt. Rob McKinney said.

Krystal Carroll, who had a child with Perry in the eight years they were together, said Davis' arrest has brought her some closure.

"I cried when they first told me about the arrest," she said. "But this didn't have to happen. I'd like to know why."

Investigators are still trying to determine a motive.

"But there are drugs as well as monetary remunerations that are in consideration for this particular crime," McKinney said.

Davis and his wife, Roxanne, 49, were considered "persons of interest" in the case. Roxanne Davis is still under investigation, McKinney said.

She is being held without bail at the Land O' Lakes Jail on a probation violation charge.

Perry, 56, a writer for the popular 1980s animated show "Thundercats," went missing from his Zephyrhills home on May 13 under suspicious circumstances.

His roommates, the Davises, a married couple with criminal histories, also vanished from the home at 38046 Eighth Ave. in Zephyrhills, police said, adding that the home appeared to have been ransacked.Carroll said that Perry told her he lost trust in the Davises and wanted them out of his home.

On May 16, guests at the Quality Inn at Bearss Avenue in Tampa noticed a foul smell coming from a blue van. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office investigators found an arm in a trash container nearby. The van belonged to Perry.

Police said the body part found in the trash container was Perry's right arm.

His torso was found later on Foamflower Boulevard in Wesley Chapel by Pasco County deputies.

Perry's other body parts have not yet been recovered, McKinney said.

The police captain wouldn't comment on whether Perry was dismembered before or after he was slain. As to why his body was dismembered, McKinney said "maybe to make it easier to dispose of the body."

Gail Flatow, who used to live with Perry, said he was being treated for bladder cancer and was in failing health. Perry, who wrote seven episodes of "Thundercats," also had money problems, Flatow said.

Perry was waiting for a May 13 hearing on the custody battle over his 5-year-old son, Leo, which he was waging with Carroll, the boy's mother.

Carroll said Perry couldn't take care of their child because of his poor health and depression.

Flatow said she tried to call him on May 10 and the phone went right to voice mail. She kept calling, but there was still no answer, she said. Five days later, she called police asking them to do a welfare check on Perry. Zephyrhills police said the last time anyone had seen Perry was on May 9 - the same day Flatow last spoke with him.

Perry talked about the Davises for the last couple of months before his death; "According to Stephen, they were stealing his medications and they would steal money out of his wallet. That is what he told me," Flatow said.

Flatow says she doesn't know whether Perry was living in fear toward the end. "He told me that one day someone drove by the house, waving a gun out the window and yelling at Jimmy Davis, saying you 'owe money.' He was concerned about that kind of behavior around Leo," Flatow said. He told her he wanted the Davises out of his house, she said

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Re: A Grisly Mystery, w/Media Connections, Touches My Life

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 18th, 2010, 12:58 pm

How sad. I got married in Wesley Chapel, I've never heard the name from that day in 2002 until this day, what a thing for it to be linked to.

I hope you're feeling a better, Klondike :wink:
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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