Cornealious "Mike" Anderson: An Epilogue to the RFT Story Featured On This American Life


While putting together our original story, the fact that the crime happened so long ago presented certain reporting challenges. Although the St. Charles Police Department records and investigative notes about the robbery in 1999 are public, none of the contact information for anyone interviewed was current. It was important to us to try to contact the victim of the robbery, but we were unsuccessful.

Instead, the victim found us.

Two days after the story published, we received an e-mail with the subject line, "man that robbed the burger king man." "Just to let you know that I was that victim. Why don't you talk to me and I will tell you how bad it screwed up my life," it read.

His name is Dennis -- we've agreed to use only his first name.

mike_anderson_missouri_cover.jpg
"I got cigarettes and picked up the Riverfront Times...and I was sitting there back at work eating my lunch and reading this magazine," he says. "About halfway through I realized they were talking about me. The guy was a Burger King manager on a night shift, and he got robbed in St. Charles, and that's when I was like, 'Damn, that's the same thing that happened to me.'"

After the robbery in 1999, Dennis quit his job at Burger King and became increasingly paranoid that the men who'd held him up would find him and try to prevent him from testifying. He had a wife and small children, and he says he made them move more than once. But that didn't seem to calm his nerves.

"Once this happened, I shut everything out around me. Didn't care," he says. "I didn't want to be involved in anything. Stayed away from home, stayed away from the kids or the old lady. Would not even come home. Go get shitfaced, pretty much."

Eventually, after his marriage broke up, Dennis moved to Florida to be near his brother. About six years ago, he decided to come back so his now-teenage daughter could be closer to his ex. He says he mostly forgot about the robbery -- until he read about it in the RFT. Naturally, he'd just assumed that after the trial, Anderson went to prison.

"There are so many cracks he fell through -- how could that be possible?" Dennis asks.

In our first conversation with Dennis, he seemed angry at Anderson. But by the time we met him in person, he had a new, more surprising reaction.

"I think what really pissed me off is how our government dropped the ball. They didn't do what they were supposed to do. They were supposed to make sure he went to jail," he says. "[Mike] screwed up and he was supposed to pay for it. Our government screwed up. Who's paying for that? Does he have to pay for that again? Doesn't seem right."

Dennis shared another surprising anecdote -- his daughter read the story in a high school class, not knowing that her dad was the victim of the robbery. When she came home and started talking about it, Dennis let her tell him her conclusion -- that Anderson should get to go home -- before he revealed he was the Burger King manager.

"She sat down at her bed and was like, 'No way.' And I said, 'Read it,'" says Dennis. "Then she asked me my opinion and I told her pretty much.... 'They should let him go.'"

Dennis told Riverfront Times that although he has no interest in meeting Anderson or corresponding with him, he would be open to filing a letter with the courts stating that he believes Anderson should go home.

Tune in this weekend to 90.7 St. Louis Public Radio to hear Anderson and Dennis tell the story themselves. This American Life airs locally at 1 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.

After the jump, read Anderson's petition for release.

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
mktrrzs9
mktrrzs9

FAIR, JUSTICE. Really. Say these words to a judge, a lawyer, a probation/parole officer, prosecuting attorney. They will laugh at that. It is about the LAWWW. The law is about one thing, and has nothing to do with fair. The law is about FACTS, and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. The court system is about winning. Defense, and the prosecution. Do we stand in front of a court house, and see a building where justice is served? It's a business to make money, every time the state sends someone to prison, the federal government pays the state.In the 70's we had hundreds of prisons in the US. Now we have thousands.Since DNA, people in prison have been found they are in fact, innocent. The system is not perfect.Those released through DNA, get thousands, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ your tax dollars.People die every day due to DWI. This country refuses to do anything about it. Censors can be put in every vehicle in this country, the technology is cheap. If you have had more than 3 beers, your car won't start.DWI is multiply billion dollar money maker for the courts. Limit every establishment to 2 alcohol drinks per person. No they won't do that either. That would mean Billions of $$$$$$$$$, in lost revenue taxes. This would be call killing the cash cow.  None of this is fair, but the fact is he was convicted he needs to serve his time.  The chances of you or I dying of a drunk driver is high.

mktrrzs9
mktrrzs9

Are you people kidding? This man was convicted, by his peers.He needs to serve his time. Yes he fell through the cracks. If he would have told them back then. He would be done, but he did not. Why? Could it be maybe he was just hoping to get away with it? Could it be maybe he is dishonest? So all those in prison right now serving their time are thinking wow I wish they would have forgot about me.We have a legal system in place for a reason. We need to uphold it, and abide by, other wise we are a failure to our own society.

threeball
threeball

This is ridiculous,a young stupid kid commits a crime,is convicted and sentenced,waits for the incarceration to begin,dreading his fate for all these years should be punishment enough,even his victim agrees.While waiting for the MDC to come get him,he becomes an upright citizen and taxpayer,plus a coach helping kids,how in hell can Missouri justify NOW incarcerating a totally changed {no resembleance of that stupid kid} citizen.

nanaz
nanaz

Is there anyway to help support Mike and his family and to get this man who has turned his life around back home with his wife and kids?


mishagain
mishagain

Why hasn't this story gained national media attention? Even the victim recognizes the injustice of it all. Come on media, stop arguing about nothing and do something good for a change! I agree with Nanaz, how can we help his family until his release?

nanaz
nanaz

Is there anyway to help support Mike and his family and help get this man who has turned his life around back home with his wife and kids?

dclinda
dclinda

seems to me that incarcerating Mike would be a great miscarriage of justice.  If restitution to the justice system still needs to be paid, why not resentence to community service.  He certainly has the skills to help.

socialJustice
socialJustice

Putting Mike in prison 13 years later when he is now a husband, a father, and contributing to the society significantly increased the punishment. The mistake is made by the government, not by Mike, so why should he be punished? The court should take the several months Mike has served as the fair punishment and let him go home ASAP.

My Supernova
My Supernova

Happy Valentine's Day! - The My Supernova Team

kuliaikanuu
kuliaikanuu

@mktrrzs9  What good will it honestly do for him to serve all that time? This guy is an upstanding citizen. A business owner who is paying taxes and raising children. He's a benefit to his community. His community is suffering directly as long as he is sitting in prison. Seriously, please explain the public benefit of him being in prison right now. And by the way "but it's not FAIR!!" is not a public benefit. 

lidlebitz
lidlebitz

Just because the state of Missouri screwed up doesn't mean the man is dishonest! Obviously, he stayed out of trouble and created a decent life for himself in those 13 years or the state would have a figured out THEIR mistake sooner.

mktrrzs9
mktrrzs9

@nanaz support him. He needs to serve his time, like everyone else in prison. What are we going to let everybody go now, everyone we feel sorry for. If he was an honest person, he would have contacted the court house, but he did not. He would have been out by now. It's state prison. They gave him 13,. he only does half of that.

mktrrzs9
mktrrzs9

@lidlebitz  

My point is this, the law is the law. I don't care who you are. All those in prison serving their time, are paying their debt to society. He got 13 free years to start a family. He should be grateful for that, serve his time, be a man. He can probably get the
DA to settle for 2.,, or 3 yrs. Stop crying, is so lucky.

nontracau
nontracau

@mktrrzs9 @nanazBut he did contact the courthouse. The story says that he filed a post-conviction appeal that stated that he was not presently incarcerated. So now the government is going to put his man in jail at the cost of $20,000 per year at the taxpayers expense.  In addition, what if his wife cannot support the family on her salary.  What if she has to collect food stamps and other social services also at the taxpayers expense (although through no fault of her own).  If he has to serve some time I think it should be reduced as he has obviously rehabilitated himself, and I think the state should make arrangements so that he could serve his time on the week-ends, since he has shown he is not a flight risk. That way the state gets its pound of flesh and he can continue to support his family keeping everyone out of the taxpayer's pocket.

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...