Nathan Isaacs Toastmasters Speech 6 (The Usual Suspect)

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This is a speech I gave Feb. 17, 2011 for my Walker Talkers Toastmasters Club. A TM speech typically attempts to tackle some objective related to public speaking. In this case, the purpose was to use …

This is a speech I gave Feb. 17, 2011 for my Walker Talkers Toastmasters Club. A TM speech typically attempts to tackle some objective related to public speaking. In this case, the purpose was to use vocal variety in the speech, which explains the italics and bold, as well as the pauses.

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  • 1. Toastmasters Speech 6 (Feb. 17, 2011) The Usual SuspectI love murder.I relish whodunits.I have always been fascinated with crime.I can’t tell you why that is exactly.Perhaps it was all the mystery novels I read over the years beginning with Encyclopedia Brown,and graduating to Robert B. Parker.I currently am reading John Sanford’s latest thriller.Perhaps it began with the daydream to become a mafia hit man after I watched the Godfatherseries.Or maybe, it started with the happy fingers in the candy aisle at the neighborhood five and dime.I worked six years as a crime reporter for a newspaper, writing about oddball characters like theyoung man, a wanted felon, who tried to sneak past detectives disguised as his grandmother.I have interviewed ominous outlaw bikers; as well as full-of-themselves hardcore gang bangerssoon headed off to long stints in prison.I have been tasered and pepper sprayed. I have gone on police raids wearing a bullet proof vestand armed with a notebook and pen.And I have shared tears with victims of tragedies, who were gracious enough to invite me intotheir lives and to share their stories with me.None of this prepared me, however, for the blinking red light on my answering machine theThursday evening of May 31st 2007.“Mr. Isaacs,” the message began; the man’s voice serious and businesslike. “This is DetectiveAnderson with the Yakima Police Department. Please call me back immediately.”What the heck is this all about, I thought, as I wrote down his call back number.What had I done? Why were police training their sights on me? Had I repressed the memory ofsome dark action?PAUSEUnfortunately, crimes occur everywhere, every day, and every minute of the day. In 2007, therewere more than 280,000 major crimes in Washington state. There were burglaries, arsons, rapes,robberies, and assaults. There were also 177 murders in the state that year.The evening before, Wednesday May 30 at around 8 p.m., 29-year old Juan Ramos, a father oftwo, was shot three times in the chest.BOOM!BOOM!BOOM! (use gun motion with hand, moving across the audience)He died there, sitting in his GMC pickup parked along an otherwise quiet neighborhood street.Police would suspect Ramos owed his killer $15,000 in an unpaid drug debt. 1
  • 2. Toastmasters Speech 6 (Feb. 17, 2011)It was Yakima’s first murder of the year and the first since October the previous year. The city,which one highway billboard boasts as the Palm Springs of Washington, would end the year with7 homicides.Police had several leads, but did not say who was a suspect.“Where were you last night, Mr. Isaacs,” Anderson asked.PAUSE“Do you know a Juan Ramos, Mr. Isaacs?”PAUSE“Why was your phone number one of the last made with a dead man’s cell phone?”PAUSEI was scared. I didn’t know what to say. All my answers seemed to ring untrue. My voicecracked, betraying me and revealing my nervousness.Anderson said he would get back in touch. He ended the call.I slowly hung up the receiver.PAUSEI waited that evening for his call, but it never came.I waited the next day, and the day after that, jumping at any unrecognized sound, waiting for aphone call or an ominous knock on the door.PAUSEA week later, police tracked down, shot and killed a man they claimed was responsible forRamos’s death. They said the suspect had more than eight aliases, but believed his name wasJose Alverez.Police shot Alverez after he grabbed for the 9mm pistol he had hidden in his waistband just asofficers closed in for the arrest.Tests later showed that bullets from the gun did not match those that were used to kill Ramos.Undeterred, police believe they got their guy. Alverez’s family say an innocent man was killed.“He was not a murderer,” a cousin told a TV news reporter. “The information you guys weregiven by the Yakima Police Department is not true.”The family believes the real killer remains on the loose.PAUSEPAUSENow, approaching the fourth anniversary of the shootings, I confess….I really don’t know why Ramos had called my numberMaybe it was misdial, or maybe a detective had incorrectly transcribed the numberI can’t be a suspectI’m innocent.You believe me.Don’t you??? 2