guarded - parts 1-4
A Las Vegan who guarded Charles Ng talks about the man who now is accused of killing at least 12 people in California. Brad Chapline still hears the voice. The Las Vegan says he never will forget the moment 14 years ago when Charles Ng, a military prisoner Chapline was guarding at the Marine Corps air station in Hawaii, turned to him and spoke the words that authorities say foreshadowed Ng's life. "He said, 'If I can't be famous, I'll be notorious,' " Chapline, 43, said. "I took him quite seriously." More than a decade later, Ng stands accused as a serial killer. He is expected to go on trial later this year on charges he masterminded the killings of at least 12 people, mostly women, at a remote, mountainous torture chamber in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Authorities say they also suspect Ng may be connected to at least 22 deaths in Northern California. Ng has pleaded innocent to the charges, but the case remains bogged down in legal entanglements involving judges assigned the case, Ng's defense attorneys and the location of the trial. Ng has had more than half a dozen attorneys, and the trial was moved from Northern California to Orange County after one attorney argued the suspect would otherwise not get a fair trial. "Usually, with military prisoners, you will establish small talk, talk about relationships, yo u know," said Chapline, now a 10-year veteran with the Nevada Department of Prisons. "But this guy, he never mentioned anything. No relations whatsoever. He was very cold." As an assistant regional director of prison se curity at Hawaii's Kaneohe Bay military base in the early 1980s, Chapline was responsible for transporting prisoners to the mainland. Ng, 36, is a former Marine. He was stationed at the base and was arrested by military police on charges he led a break-in at the base armory in which several high-powered rifles were stolen. He was later convicted of those charges and sentenced to four years at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan. While jailed in Hawaii on the burglary charges, Ng, a martial arts expert, was able to overpower two military guards and escape. He was apprehended in California and brought back to Hawaii, where Chapline was assigned to guard the Hong Kong native.
Chapline later escorted Ng to Leavenworth. I made it quite clear to him if he ever expected to try and escape, I would take the appropriate action," Chapline said. "Most of the prisoners I took to Leavenworth, you were quite relaxed when you did it. But not Ng . There wasn't a moment of relaxation. The most nerve-wracking part was when you were taking his chains off." Chapline said Ng had a certain aura that scared him. "All of my guards on detail were very leery," Chapline said. "He was, in fact, very intelligent, very well-spoken, very well-educated. But once you were exposed to him there was no denying it. You knew something was going to happen." Chapline said he approached several Marine supervisors to tell them he considered Ng a dangerous man. But even though Ng was supposed to be deported to China after he served his sentence in Kansas, he was allowed to go to California. Ng received national prominence as a suspect at the time of his 1985 arrest in Canada, and he and his close friend Leonard Lake were eventually charged in connection with the 12 deaths in Calaveras County. The two are accused of luring victims t o a 2.5-acre mountain retreat in the Sierra Nevada foothills, then torturing and killing them. Lake eventually killed himself while in police custody. Nearly 12 years later, Ng has yet to stand trial on the charges. The trial is expected to be the longest and most expensive in California's history. Chapline said Ng is a veteran in orchestrating delays in criminal proceedings. While in Hawaii, Ng broke his leg by sticking it into an in dustrial device, hoping to avoid his transfer to Leavenworth, Chapline said. "This guy is an artist at delaying, evading and escaping," Chapline said. "I'm speaking out because I feel it's important for the public to monitor this case, to be aware of this man and his future."
Las Vegan tells of being killer's guard A witness in the penalty phase of Charles Ng's trial remembers the murderer as a quiet but intelligent loner.
Las Vegan Brad Chapline stepped up to the witness stand, looked out into a crowded Orange County courtroom and saw the grim harvest of a serial killer. Chapline faced a room full of tormented faces, the grief-stricken expressions telling the 11-year state of Nevada prison guard who they were and why they were there. "It was just a very strange feeling in my heart, looking at all those people who had lost their family members," Chapline said last week. "It's something I will never forget." Chapline then glanced over to the defense table and there, amid a cluster of public defenders, was the face of a man Chapline has been trying to forget for the last 16 years. It was Charles Ng. "Charles and I nodded at each other," Chapline said. "He wanted to acknowledge my presence." A jury convicted Ng this year of murdering six men, three women and two babies from 1984 to 1985. Ng is widely regarded as one of the most prolific serial killers in the state of California. Ng's defense team is now trying to save him from the death penalty and part of that effort involved the calling of Chapline to the witness stand on April 13. Closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial are expected to start today. During a recent interview, Chapline recounted how Ng seemed to be an intelligent but quiet loner when Chapline knew the killer in the early 1980s, while both were in the Marine Corps. "He had all the tools to be a good Marine, but for some reason he went a different way," Chapline said. "He never talked about partying, chasing women, any of that stuff. He had told me it had always been his dream to be a United States Marine." At the time, Chapline was the assistant regional director of prison security at Hawaii's Kaneohe Bay military base and was responsible for transporting prisoners to the mainland. Ng, 37, was stationed at the base and was arrested by military police on charges he led a break-in at the base armory in which several high-powered rifles were stolen. Ng was later convicted of those charges and sentenced to four years at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan. Shortly after Ng served his time, the killing began.
While jailed in Hawaii on the burglary charges, Ng, a martial arts expert, was able to escape. He was apprehended in California and brought back to Hawaii where Chapline was assigned to guard the Hong Kong native. Chapline later escorted Ng to Leavenworth. The two conversed little, but one conversation still stands out in Chapline's mind. "We were talking about what he was going to do with his life and he looked at me with a very calm look on his face and he said, `If I can't be famous, I'll be infamous,' " Chapline said. Chapline believes he was called to the witness stand by Ng's attorneys in a desperate attempt to minimize prosecutors' contentions that Ng has always been a threat to society. To do that, they used Chapline's contentions that he was misled by the Marines regarding Ng's proclivity to violence at the time. For example, Chapline was told when Ng escaped from the base he had physically overpowered two Marine guards. In fact, Chapline said he later learned Ng had simply walked away during a lapse in security, and he believes the Marines labeled Ng "a dangerous man" at the time to cover up for their own mistakes. "I think they (Ng's attorneys) were trying to prove that the dangerous label the Marines had put on him was unjustified," Chapline said. "But I will tell you today that my feelings are the same they were back then -- I still think he's dangerous. I think he deserves the death penalty." During his questioning, defense attorneys also brought up the issue of racism on the base and asked Chapline whether Asian-Americans were discriminated against. Chapline said he thought there was a certain degree of tension between soldiers from the mainland and those of Asian decent. Chapline said he couldn't speculate on how the questioning about racism could have helped Ng's cause. Since he testified, Chapline said he has been struggling with the fact that Ng's attorneys, through his words, tried to save the life of a man who took the lives of so many others. "It was extremely awkward," he said. "I didn't want to hurt the victims' families by what I was saying, and that was really tearing at me. It still is."
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"Guarded" Is A True Story