Tuesday Jun 27, 2023

S2:E1 Burning Ember

We’re back with Season Two of Panic Button. This Season is called Operation Wildfire. If the monster who hurt you was still out there? How far would you go to warn others? And what would you do if the justice system was no longer on your side? 

You can find links to pictures, documents and all our sources at okappleseed.org/burning-ember

  • These cases serve as a reminder of the devastating consequences of domestic violence and the importance of seeking help if you or someone you know is a victim. 
  • If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or your local emergency number. 
  • For confidential support and resources you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
  • Learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed: okappleseed.org
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.
  • If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE.
  • Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent.
  • Follow the OKAppleseed on Instagram at @OKAppleseed and on facebook at facebook.org/okappleseedcenter.

Episode Transcript 

Colleen McCarty  00:00

An important note before you listen to this podcast. This series Chronicles real events as they occurred over the last 30 plus years, during the course of multiple court cases and criminal investigations. During the course of these events, there were many systemic failings and harm that could have been prevented. We ask that you reserve judgment until you've listened to the entire season, and that you consider the lives that were affected by these events. This podcast includes graphic accounts of domestic and sexual violence. So listener discretion is strongly advised.


Heather  00:38

It wasn't about jealousy was about loving him, it wasn't about what's gonna be in his life. This was about how do I make him accountable so that he can get to the next one. So at the beginning, there was a lot of more risky sexual stuff going on. And I didn't have a problem with that. But then after we got married, like the day we got married, we were driving the day after we were driving home. And he looked at me, we were still in Arkansas. And he looked at me and he said, you understanding my property now. And at that moment, everything just spiraled out of control. The sexual stuff escalated into pure torture, pure torture was systematically pulled away from my family. Looking back, it was classic, methodical abuse, you'd love to walk up and just backhand me in the mouth, to get my mouth, my lip to bleed. And then he pulled me in and suck the blood off my lip, it became very apparent, but no, he needed to be held accountable for everything that he had done. Oh, man lost trust, trying to love a good woman and that this was a methodical and iving pattern of behavior from him. It's not been taken seriously, like so many different agencies. The day that I got beat up in October, that was actually take him to a district attorney, and that she said that they weren't interested in pursuing it. Why life from this time I left him and tell probably April, was a complete whirlwind. My kitchen table was full of papers, trying to figure out how to stop him from getting to the next one. None of this, none of this ever has been about revenge, or about getting even or being jealous. None of this has ever been about that. It has always been about how can I make sure he doesn't get to do this to somebody else? I don't want somebody else to have to live like this, the wife after me. And so living with the same stuff, probably worse. Amen. I failed. That's where you look at this. And once you start to figure out the atrocities that he did, and it just thickens and the plot just gets bigger and bigger and you're like, oh my gosh


Colleen McCarty  03:02

that was Heather. She was the fourth wife of Jim Lumet. They met on plenty of fish in 2017. When Jim was embroiled in a defamation suit, he brought against a woman who claimed he was a serial abuser. Back then Heather was on his side, attending court with him and staring across the aisle at the women who were hell bent on taking her husband down. But at home, she would face physical punishment, whatever Jimmy didn't get his way. And sometimes even when he did, Heather and Jim lived in Iowa together where she works as a nurse. But Jim is originally from Cleveland, Oklahoma. Jim's abuses started as early as we can tell in northeast Oklahoma in the early 1990s. He moved from Cleveland to Tulsa after his first marriage, when that started when he was just 16 and didn't divorce. There was a darkness in Jim even back then. But he wasn't all bad. At least not yet. But the culture of non accountability. Jim was steeped in in Oklahoma, opened door after door for him to continue accelerating his violence against women. Violence that would go on to consume the physical safety, finances and mental health of over a dozen women. I'm Colleen McCarty, an attorney in Oklahoma who works to uncover systemic and justices. I'm the Executive Director of Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Last year, we launched this podcast to shed light on a decade's old murder case from Tulsa County, April Wilkens shot and killed her abuser after years of physical and sexual abuse. April is still in prison to this day, despite our numerous legal attempts to free her.


Leslie Briggs  04:53

And I'm Leslie Briggs, also an attorney and the legal director at Oklahoma Appleseed when we uncovered Brady violations in April's case last year through our podcast investigation. We filed for post conviction relief based on prior perjury. We discovered the arresting officer in her case had committed. But April's case got us wondering if a woman gets life in prison for fighting back. What kind of consequences are men facing for doing the actual abuse? That question led us to the cases of Jim lumen. Jim has had at least eight women accused him of serious domestic abuse and a police report or legal filing, and many others have simply shared their experiences with us or with trusted friends and family. But to begin unraveling this tangled web of survivors, we need to go back to 1998 right here in Tulsa, just a few weeks before April Wilkens would fatally shoot Terry Carlton and self defense. Welcome to Season Two of panic button. Operation Wildfire. This is episode one, Burning Ember.


Colleen McCarty  06:03

So the story is actually really a lot longer than I originally thought. And it spans across multiple decades, multiple people and multiple states, you would be surprised to learn that it actually starts a few miles away. And within a few weeks of when April Wilkins, shot Terry Carlton and Self Defense in April of 1998, in Tulsa, and we ended that story with her serving a life sentence in prison and having served the last 25 years behind bars and Mabel Bassett. So I think it's really interesting that we're about to examine a story of someone who has committed perpetual and chronic violence in the same place with the same court system and how differently that person has experienced the court systems then


Leslie Briggs  06:56

how April did, this individual has not been held accountable, not in Oklahoma, accountability has been fleeting,


Colleen McCarty  07:03

fleeting, to see belief, like invisible imaginary.


Leslie Briggs  07:10

So let's go back to April, April of 1998. We're at the University of Tulsa College of Law,


Colleen McCarty  07:16

which is interestingly, where we both went to law school streaming. So we have a fun place in our heart for this law school. And I think our listeners will appreciate what ends up happening


Leslie Briggs  07:24

there. Yeah. And we're gonna tell you the story of we're giving our codename. Yeah.


Colleen McCarty  07:29

So this individual that we're telling the story about does not want to go on the record publicly because of personal reasons. And so we're calling this person codename ember. To be


Leslie Briggs  07:38

clear, she has given us permission to tell her story on her behalf. But she did not want to give a recorded interview and wanted us to not use her real name.


Colleen McCarty  07:46

That's correct. However, everything that happens in the story is documented by either personal notes, emails, or court records. Codename Ember is actually a law student at the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1998. In April, Ember is dating and meeting, guys. And at that time, the Internet was relatively new. And online dating was like a brand new thing you would get on your AOL? Dial up internet, your AOL chat room? Yeah. So you can I can hear it now. Me too. She had met a man online. His name was Jim Luman.


Leslie Briggs  08:28

And he sort of builds trust with her immediately by telling her that his sister's a lawyer, right?


Colleen McCarty  08:34

Yes. Also, when you're a young law student, and you are really pretty new to the profession. It's kind of exciting and interesting to meet other lawyers who have been in practice for a while. That's true, too. So I think that was probably something that attracted her at


Leslie Briggs  08:49

first. So Ember actually goes and like confirms that fact, right? That this guy, Jim Luman, he's got a sister who's a lawyer, and she decides, Okay, well, I met this guy online, but he's telling me the truth.


Colleen McCarty  08:59

Yes. And they begin dating. And it's a typical dating relationship, it seems. And even though he was relatively young, he was already divorced from his first wife and had a young son. So she would sometimes meet his son on the weekends, and they would hang out and she would see him as a dad. And it seems like relatively early in the relationship, Amber started to realize that this wasn't going to be very serious of a relationship for her, but because of how well Jim charms people, and it's very romantic in the early phases of a relationship. She was like, kind of swept off her feet.


Leslie Briggs  09:38

Yeah, I mean, I think he's been described as just this really charming, interesting, romantic kind of guy. Yes.


Colleen McCarty  09:45

And also, like what we see in a lot of these relationships after we've talked to so many survivors is that it's called love bombing. Right? So you would just sort of really quickly in the relationship and really intensely be expressing Seeing your feelings and that you're in love and that this is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, and let's get married and never felt like this before. And this person makes you feel so special. And you're the one and all of these kinds of things that you say that in a normal relationship probably don't come on for maybe a couple of months. This is sort of like way faster than that. And way more intense than that.


Leslie Briggs  10:25

Yeah, I mean, because we see, we have letters, I thought it was interesting it also when we got these documents, we actually got a copy of the envelope that he sent the letter in. And he sent it in a letter addressed to Ember, but rather than using her last name, he wrote in lumen, his last name,


Colleen McCarty  10:43

so they've been together for a couple of months, and he addresses a letter to her in the mail to her first name,


Leslie Briggs  10:51

Mrs. Ember Luman. Okay, wow, Mrs. That's pretty a lot. And it's not even months, it's I mean, weeks, it's within a few weeks. So it says, "Dearest Ember, I thought I might give you a little surprise, since I'm going to be gone this weekend, I thought a little letter from me might pick you up. If you were in fact missing me. I already miss you. And I haven't even left town yet. I cannot believe that I am already lost when you are not with me. But I guess it means that everything is going good. Since I already feel this way. I'm sure you're getting tired of hearing this. But I truly have never felt like this before about anyone in my whole life. Nothing has ever felt so right and comfortable. I never thought that I would be able to choose the person I wanted to marry. And I certainly never thought that I would ever have the perfect match that I have with you. There is nothing more that I want in my life than to marry you and spend the rest of my life being partners with you. Then on to seven kids, you also need to think about that real hard. And be sure before you marry me, because after you've done it, there is no getting out. You never get to leave me after you're here. No divorces or separations or anything, you're just going to have to be stuck with me forever. So you had better be sure I am what you want. I really wish that you could go with me this weekend. I think it will be fun. Although it will not be as fun for me as it should be. Since I will be spending the majority of my time missing you. You know what? Promise not to tell anyone. I'll tell you if you promise, I love you. So anyhow, I better get to work so I can get out of here. You will be on my mind all weekend. And I hope that your weekend goes good. I'll be counting the minutes until Sunday when I can see you again. Have fun and be good. I love you, Jim."


Colleen McCarty  12:47

It's a lot. It's a lot. It's a real lot. I mean, I also like when I read this earlier, I didn't notice this part as much. But I'm noticing now that he says I never thought I would be able to choose the person I wanted to marry.


Leslie Briggs  13:01

I noticed that too. And we have to talk about Dawn. So Dawn is Jim's first wife, they're actually highschool sweethearts. They get married in November of 1991. But Jim's mom has to sign an affidavit of consent, because he's only 16 years old. There's not a consent on file for dawn. So I don't know how old Dawn was at the time. But seven months after they get married. Their son is born in June of 1992.


Colleen McCarty  13:32

And that's not to say they didn't really feel love for each other. They were teenagers, you know and love and they were expecting a child. So that's a lot for people who are really young. Yeah. And we tried to talk to dawn to see her impressions of her time that she was with Jim, but she has refused interview for this podcast. So yeah, and


Leslie Briggs  13:52

the reason that Dawn is relevant to Ember's story is that she serves as a warning for her. You know, it's not clear from embers memories of it now, you know, almost 30 years later, whether it was necessarily an intentional warning, or if it just was someone being honest about their experience and and about what to expect because we know that as Emperor reports it to us, Dawn warned her to protect her birth control so that it wouldn't be tampered with.


Colleen McCarty  14:20

That's a heavy,


Leslie Briggs  14:21

that's a heavy warning. Yeah. That he would attempt to get her pregnant as a means of control.


Colleen McCarty  14:27

Especially since we know that Dawn did get pregnant, probably unintentionally.


Leslie Briggs  14:31

Who knows? Yeah. Who knows? Because I mean, but Dawn


Colleen McCarty  14:35

also warned ember that she said to ember that she was physically abused.


Leslie Briggs  14:41

So Dawn is relevant to the story in that she really does serve as a warning for Ember and invert. She's a young law student. She's like a smart and savvy individual. She's actually not from Oklahoma. She's from the entire opposite side of the country. She's here to go to law school. She doesn't have family nearby. And yet she manages to get Out of this relationship after what transpires? So we'll walk through that in a minute. But she manages to get out of it by the end of August of 1998.


Colleen McCarty  15:09

Yeah. Be and she credits that largely to the early warning signs from non.


Leslie Briggs  15:16

Yeah. Then she credits, she credits the resources also that were available to her. But yeah, she noted for us that that Dawn was pretty instrumental. And


Colleen McCarty  15:24

she wanted the message to come through in this podcast that she was really grateful for that. That's right.


Leslie Briggs  15:32

So we get that letter from Jim to Ember. In April of 1998. We also have another letter from the April time period of 1998. And all it says is, guess what? I love you. And you better know who it's from. Smiley face, smiley, smiley face, exclamation point. We don't have a ton of detail about the April to June period of their relationship, but they do move in together. And then we get to June of 1998. So June 10 1998, the first incidence of physical violence, and I'll just tell you directly from her notes, they were in the car, he was upset. He felt that she was in a bad mood. And he didn't like that. He was taking her to a meeting for work, she finally insisted that he take her home. But he pretty much lost it, grabbed her hair, and started banging her head against the window. When they finally got home, he choked her. He took her car keys, so she couldn't leave. He finally calmed down, said he was sorry. And he talked her into going back to work.


Colleen McCarty  16:53

The deal with the car is really interesting. To me, that seems like a source of a lot of the things that happen.


Leslie Briggs  17:02

Yeah, we're gonna see throughout this season that many of his incidents of violence take place in moving vehicles.


Colleen McCarty  17:09

Yes, extra scary, really scary. Because not only are you being physically hurt, but you could wreck and hurt everybody. Other people too,


Leslie Briggs  17:17

right? But the idea that like he felt that she was in a bad mood, like, was she in a bad mood? Was she not? We don't know. But he certainly felt that she was. And he didn't like that. So I'm going to bang your head against the car window, choke you, and take your key and prevent


Colleen McCarty  17:39

you from going to work by the way, which when you're a summer associate, at a firm like she's not showing up isn't an option.


Leslie Briggs  17:47

And so the relationship, you can see immediately the cycle, right of like a period of romance, love bomb, charisma charm.


Colleen McCarty  17:58

Let's move in together. I've never felt like this before.


Leslie Briggs  18:02

Yeah. And then something that is seemingly so insignificant. If let's just say she was in a bad mood, like, how, how do we get from, you're in a bad mood to I'm choking you. And the first incidents of violence.


Colleen McCarty  18:18

That's the first time that he ever hurt her. Can you imagine being like a 20 year old law student from out of state who just got strangled and you're like sitting at your firm associate job like


Leslie Briggs  18:31

trying to write a brief? I don't I wouldn't have been able to do it full on breakdown.


Colleen McCarty  18:35

But I think the fact that like it gets normalized so quickly is a big part of this is it's like, Look, I'm sorry, I fell off the handle, just go back to work. It's fine. And then you kind of go back to work and you're sitting there in your head like Did that happen? Maybe it didn't happen. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was.


Leslie Briggs  18:55

There's so many different ways that we wind up staying when we should have left. And I think Professor Kate Waits, who


Colleen McCarty  19:01

is actually no longer teaching at TU, but she was the dean's wife and she was a law professor in her own right. And she was teaching a domestic violence law class at the time that this incident happened


Professor Kate Waits  19:14

because everybody has stayed quote, too long at something, a relationship, a job, a fraternity or sorority, a sports team, etc. And this again is a way sometimes to have men start to understand because men have stayed too long. So they list all the reasons money sometimes it's good, the devil you know, minimization denial on and on. I end up saying okay, these are all the reasons she stays plus leaving is dangerous. Just about all the abusers I'm aware of say you'll regret leaving me and she and the one thing she knows, either consciously or subconsciously is that the Worst incidents of abuse almost always follow some kind of assertion of independence on her part, because that means he's losing control.


Leslie Briggs  20:10

So like, That's June, and then we get to July and I'm just gonna read you verbatim from her diary that she shared with us. "July. I remember one fight in July, very vividly. Jim and I had both been drinking. On the way home. He burned me with a car cigarette lighter. I was upset, and he burned his arm to show me that it really didn't hurt and I was overreacting. Once we got home, we continued arguing. It was the same thing with hair pulling and poking at my eyes. He also choked me. He decided that I needed to leave and he took all my clothes out of the closet and threw them down the stairs. He then called the police. I was in the bedroom and Jim was downstairs. When the police arrived. The female officer came upstairs and talk to me. She saw his handprints around my neck and the burn mark and asked me to press charges. She offered to take me to the shelter. I would not press charges or go to the shelter. After the police left, he continued choking me, pulling my hair etc. Finally, he got his gun and left. He did return later that night. When I later asked him about the gun, he said he took it because he was planning to kill himself. This was the incident when I decided to leave. It took about two weeks, but I finally got all of my stuff moved out into a friend's house. I stayed with another friend that night. And the next day when she dropped me off, Jim was waiting. I got back in the car and we drove off. He called and I did talk to him. I also went that day to the divis shelter to talk to a counselor and decided not to stay because I had finals in the environment at the shelter is not very conducive to studying. I remained at my friend's house for several days. During that time, Jim convinced me if I would go back to him, he would go to AAA meetings and counseling. I believed him and we found a house and moved into it. You never attended an AAA meeting or a counseling session." And there of course, were other incidents in July that she describes of like hair pulling poking at her eyes, banging her head against the wall or floor or whatever hard surface was available. And one of those incidents he was banging her head so hard that she lost a contact or poking her eyes are poking your eyes. Yeah, like whatever was happening. Her contact came out.


Colleen McCarty  22:30

Let's break this whole thing down the July situation. Let's do it. Okay, so we've gotten from I Love You, I've never felt like this before. I want to move in with you. I want to marry you Mrs. Lumen, too. The banging the head in the car and the choking in June, then by the time we get to July, that's really only a couple of weeks the fighting has become so routine that it's difficult for her to pick out certain incidences, but one of them emerges pretty, like clearly.


Leslie Briggs  23:00

Yeah. And that, that that incident with the cigarette burns from the, the lighter in the car is gonna show up again in the protective orders.


Colleen McCarty  23:10

Yeah, I think that's really important to note that like this is her account shortly after things happened. And she's talking about how he just reached over and burned her with a car cigarette lighter. If you guys remember, like back in the day, some of you guys weren't well enough to know this. But like there used to be these lighters that you would push in, in a car you would like push it in, and it would heat up basically like fire. I mean, it was like fire, it was like a little electric electric electric coil lighter, that you could stick on the end of a cigarette, and it would light the cigarette. And that was what it was for. But also it was like, obviously very hot. And if you touched it with your skin, it would leave a mark. And so he takes that and he puts it on her skin while they're fighting. And then she you know, is upset and hurt, like physically hurt by that. And he then burns himself to show her that this doesn't hurt that bad, which I think is such like an act of gaslighting and manipulation to be like, Look, you're such a wuss, I can take the pain. Why can't you take the pain like trying to normalize physical pain as a part of your relationship?


Leslie Briggs  24:16

Yeah, which will we will we'll see that in later relationships as well.


Colleen McCarty  24:20

And then we have the female cop that comes in. I love her because she comes in and she says and he's trying he's the one that called right. So like this could have easily gone down the different way because if they believed his story, then she would have gotten arrested. Yeah, potentially. But instead, they actually investigated and they talked with her upstairs separate from him notice the marks on her. And they conclude that she's the real victim in this situation.


Leslie Briggs  24:46

I love when the police get it right.


Colleen McCarty  24:47

I know it's good, it's good. But then then we're gonna have something that happens all the time, which is that they say you need to go to the shelter and you need to get away from him and the victim says no. And the fact is you can't make somebody go I think like people work in victim services have this challenge all the time where it's like they know the person's in a dangerous situation, but they can't force the person to leave. And so that officer leaves. Jim actually continues the abuse of her after the police were there. And can I just to say that like offenders who strangle are 750% more likely to go on to kill someone?


Leslie Briggs  25:27

Wow, is that that's a that's a real stat. Wow.


Colleen McCarty  25:32



Leslie Briggs  25:34

What does that what does that really mean? Does that mean that like every choker eventually becomes a murder,


Colleen McCarty  25:38

it means that the people who end up getting killed 750% more likely that earlier in the cycle of violence, they were strangled.


Leslie Briggs  25:47

That's a terrifying statistic.


Colleen McCarty  25:48

It really is. So I just think that we know now like what we didn't know then was that choking is a really big warning sign for lethality.


Leslie Briggs  25:58

I think it's interesting that in one of her communications with us Amber noted that her prior attorney, Lynn Worley, the triumphant return of one more I am that return of Lynn Worley. Lynn, I don't know if you listened to our podcast, but we love you girl are fans, huge fans. So Lynn Worley represents her in her protective order hearing and like when they get all the way through the end of it and she gets the final order entered. Lynn tells her hang on to your your documents, because someday a district attorney is going to call you to testify in a murder trial.


Colleen McCarty  26:31

That was pretty much the most pointed thing I've ever heard. Yeah, and let's just remind our listeners that Lynn actually was one of the advocates that went into the jail with Davis in 1998, the same year to help counsel April Wilkins, and she ended up writing a letter to the Pardon and Parole Board in April's case that detailed how disappointed and shocked she was that April was prosecuted in the first place, and then a let alone convicted. And then it disturbed her to such a great degree that she almost left Oklahoma, and went to practice law somewhere else. And now we see Lynn again, who's representing another victim of domestic violence at the time, our friend Ember, and she is just as much of a powerhouse


Leslie Briggs  27:15

on that case. Well, I just think it's like, it stuck with ember. I mean, she did it, she did what her attorney advised her to do. She did,


Colleen McCarty  27:22

she kept boxes of every letter, printed out every email and had all of her notes that she kept from every incident of the violence that happened, which is at this point, 25 years old, and and kind of incredible that it's survived all of her moves. And every place she's ever been in some of the other


Leslie Briggs  27:40

ways that like Jim exerted control over her, I didn't realize this, but she she points out to us at one point, you know, he was driving me places, and that's when some of the abuse occurred. But she notes I had my own car, but Jim destroyed it. So I had to sell it and get rid of it. And you know, looking back, she realizes this was another method of control. Well, you can't leave somebody if you don't have a car. So Amber, after the July incident, she leaves for a little while, Jim, of course, makes these overtures of I will change, I will get help, I will go to AAA, I will stop the drinking, I will get counseling, I will be a better man for you. But of course, when you love someone, and they are abusive towards you, we know this from the experts that we have spoken to, all you want is that you want the abuse to stop.


Colleen McCarty  28:26

And you want the person to change and be better you want. You want them to live up to the potential that you see in them.


Leslie Briggs  28:31

That's right. And so in Burgos back and they move in together into a home.


Colleen McCarty  28:36

And of course, after they get back together. And we hear this from a lot of survivors as the reason I say of course, but in this situation. Jim did not go to therapy, and he did not start going to AAA.


Leslie Briggs  28:47

Yeah, so let's talk about August of 98. So there's a couple of incidents. And then there are these emails. So like, I would like to contrast what she describes as happening with the emails that she's getting from him. So I'll just set the scene with with what she describes there's, there's these two incidents of abuse that she remembers. One was an August 17. She and Jim had been drinking at the petroleum club here in Tulsa and Jim was way too drunk to drive. So she tries to she suggests, well, you know, I'm gonna drive us home, we're not gonna get a drunk driving accident, and he got upset. She refused to get in the car and he tried to physically force her into the car, who's pulling your hair poking at her eyes. And a passerby sees this and tries to intervene. And Jim threatens him, he's not really able to provide much help to Ember, but I think it does interrupt the violence because the conversation becomes embers embarrassing him public shame, and then he relents and lets her drive home. After all of that,


Colleen McCarty  29:43

in the process of him forcing her into the truck, she actually lost a contact again, and ended up with bruises on both of her arms and a really big bruise on her knee. So this wasn't just like, like shoving somebody into a car. It's like causing bruising, and then he finally just relented, let her drive home.


Leslie Briggs  29:59

But then Two days later, he sends her an email. He sends her a horoscope. I guess he found somewhere on the internet. Would you like to read it?


Colleen McCarty  30:07

Yeah, I really liked the horoscope a lot because I kind of like in my spare time, I'm kind of like an astrological weirdo. I don't know I kind of got on Instagram and got really into like those stupid horoscope posts.


Leslie Briggs  30:19

Hey, man, amen. Don't horoscope shame.


Colleen McCarty  30:21

Like I cannot tell you how many times I have like saved an Instagram post about being a Gemini. And because I'm a Gemini and everyone hates Geminis anytime. I don't know, you're so loving. It's a whole look it up on Instagram. So he finds this, I guess he subscribes to this email. And this is 1998. Remember, so he subscribes to this email horoscope update. And Ember is a Leo. So he sends her this horoscope and it basically says this is applicable to you. And the horoscope says, Love scopes for Leo from 817 to 823 1998. Leo, you have many people in your corner right now, Leo, the same isn't true for your sweetie. However, it's time for you to pay attention to your mates needs. He or she is confused. Now. It's up to you to reopen the lines of communication, you can easily do this being the warm hearted soul that you are. If a thoughtless remark has slipped from your lips, think first about the origin of the feeling, then you can make your amends.


Leslie Briggs  31:36

I don't think that that was from a horoscope website. I think he wrote it. I'm just like, that does not sound like a real horoscope. And it's two days after they have that very public physical fight. I mean, not a physical fight. He's physically abusive to her in public.


Colleen McCarty  31:49

I want you to like remember back to when like there were horoscopes and like the urban Tulsa weekly. And they wouldn't be like these tiny little paragraphs and it would be like you're having a lucky day to day your lucky numbers or 714 and 16 take a chance


Leslie Briggs  32:05

on a there you know like


Colleen McCarty  32:09

Sorry, and he wants you to make amends and pay attention is


Leslie Briggs  32:14

you have to open the lines of communication. Leo, your partner


Colleen McCarty  32:18

is struggling with communication. It just sounds and this is your fault.


Leslie Briggs  32:23

It's like I mean, if he wrote that that's psychotic.


Colleen McCarty  32:27

If he if he didn't write that that's psychotic.


Leslie Briggs  32:30

Yeah, if you just if you found it and decided it was applicable, psychotic,


Colleen McCarty  32:34

if someone in the universe wrote that horoscope that is not Jim. I feel fucking scared for horoscopes. And for everyone on this planet. For real 1998 Astro net. If you are out there,


Leslie Briggs  32:53

comment, let us know. Because I went to the the URL that's in the email and it didn't exist anymore if it ever did.


Colleen McCarty  33:01

Okay, so this is like a very chaotic week. You have the 17th where he's embarrassed in the street in front of that man and she has bruises from him pushing her into the truck. very chaotic. Then he sends her the Leo horoscope right. And it is like you are the problem. Please be better.


Leslie Briggs  33:15

What the fuck? I laugh I laugh because it's so fun as sofa. Like, if you're new to the podcast, please no. Like, we don't actually find this funny. It's just so fucked.


Colleen McCarty  33:26

It's fucked. And we say fucked a lot. Okay, so then she talks about August 22, which is just a few days after the Leo horoscope which says I do you remember being on the bed and he was choking me. My puppy started growling and barking at Jim. And he started hitting the puppy. After the Puppy stopped. He continued to choke me. Jim had not been drinking during that time. Man animal abuse.


Leslie Briggs  33:53

Yeah, we see that we see that in later relationships as well. There's a pattern is going to emerge as we go through this season of the podcast. And I mean, it's methodical. That's on August 22. Yeah. Then we have the August 25 email. What happens on August 25? Well, he's all he emails. Her is. I love you more. And I think of you all day every day. And it's like in big bold letters. It's like the it's centered into the body of the email, lots of exclamation points. And then on 826 Well, I tell you what, creep I am sure that I do love you more. I don't like being so stressed out either. And I'm sorry for the shit that rolls down to you sometimes. If you want to know what you can do to help. Just stay by me. I love you more than anything, and I am definitely yours forever. It's like, what a manipulation of like, I'm so stressed and I just need you to bear with me. Get through it with me stay by me.


Colleen McCarty  34:56

I'm so stressed that I'm beating your dog and choking you until you're unconscious. I'm Sorry for that rolling down to you.


Leslie Briggs  35:02

And that we also know from from embers notes that he was pushing marriage like early and hard. And she never had any intention of marrying her. But she gets this idea that as she's deciding to leave, for the final time, she finally like, tells him look, go for October. We'll get married in October. And she explains that says, like, I just thought it would get him off my back so that I could get out.


Colleen McCarty  35:24

Well, again, she believed that that was enough time for her to get out and leave. Like she was putting him on ice for enough time for her to make a plan and get away from him.


Leslie Briggs  35:34

And that's happening, I think, and I think that's happening in August here too. Because the day after that email of like, I'm sorry, the shit rolls down to you. He sends another email.


Colleen McCarty  35:43

What's that email say?


Leslie Briggs  35:45

"I have only one word for you. October. Better be marrying me. Love you." And again, that's like, it's all caps. It's like huge font. And it's centered in the body of that.


Colleen McCarty  35:56

I mean, when you just read that I got like physically sick and scared. Yeah. That doesn't feel like a romantic email anymore.


Leslie Briggs  36:04

No, it doesn't. It feels like a threat.


Colleen McCarty  36:08

It's like, you're with me forever. You've seen exactly who I am. And you have to be with me no matter what.


Leslie Briggs  36:14

Yeah. So let's talk about September. What happens in September? Again, I think it's best to just read it in her words. I mean, these are her words that she wrote contemporaneously, September 2 1998. I was late picking him up from work. He was upset because he had to wait on me. I did not question him about it until we got home. When I did question him about why he was upset. His response was that I was not appropriately Sorry for being late. I felt that I needed to study and could not do so in that environment. So I was going to leave, he would not allow me to. And that led to arguing and name calling. He kept telling me that he was going to hit me and then he would hit me. Finally he decided to leave. And as he was leaving, I told him not to come back. That was obviously a mistake. He was of the opinion that it was his house and he could do whatever he wanted. My opinion did not matter. At that point. I could see in his face that he was losing control. I ran out the sliding door into the backyard. The yard is fenced and before I could make it to the gate. He caught me and drag me back into the house by my hair. He was telling me he would teach me a lesson. He put me on the floor and he was on top of me. He was pulling my lips and poking at my eyes. He started to choke me. By this time, I am begging him to stop and apologizing for everything. I was trying to push them off me. He was telling me he was going to kill me. I am uncertain if I blacked out. But I do remember losing feeling in my body and my arms dropping. The next thing I remember is Jim still on top of me. And excruciating pain in the shoulder. He told me that he should just shoot me. Apparently, at some point during all of that he had bitten me on the shoulder. We both looked at the bite mark. And he tried to convince me that it wasn't that bad. After that, we sat on the sofa. And he told me how it was all my fault. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror his handprints around my neck and at the bytemark. I then tried to escape out the front door. He caught me and dragged me back in by my hair and started to choke me again. I was then put in the bedroom and told to stay there. I thought about trying to climb out the window, but decided that was a bad idea. He came back into the bedroom and I was begging him to let me leave he wouldn't. He decided he would leave but only if I promised I would be there when he got home. I promised that I would. He was planning to pick me up the next day and take me to my 2pm class. He packed a bag, filled the ice chests with beer and left. As soon as he got out of sight. I left through the back door. I walked to the service station and called a friend and then called 911. Officer bucks Ben was one of the officers that came out. This was his second visit. He remembered me from the first time I told him I was now ready to press charges and showed him the bytemark he and another officer with me why packed a bag. And then they took me to the police station and took pictures of the bike. I was then taken to diverse shelter where I spent two nights. My question is why were charges brought?


Colleen McCarty  39:29

I have a really big question about that, too. We've never seen any police reports or any any filings of charges on this incident


Leslie Briggs  39:37

two days after that September incident. She goes to get the protective order.


Colleen McCarty  39:41

So what does that look like Leslie when you go and file for a protective order?


Leslie Briggs  39:45

I don't know what it looked like in 1998. But I assume it looked pretty similar to today. you file your petition. Often you will file for an emergency order in addition to the final order. And in this case an emergency was granted It was started than it was served on Jim. So he knew about it. What do you have to say? I will tell you what the allegations were that she wrote, right? The allegations really mirror her notes. But she writes out what happened on September 2, that he choked her, he dragged her by the hair, he threatened to kill her, he bid her poked at her eyes pulled it or Matt pulled at her mouth. And so she describes it as pulling at the mouth. But what we know that Jim lumen does to many of his victims is something that is called a fishhook, where he will insert two, maybe three fingers into the mouth, and pull violently at the cheek, and it will rip your gum away from your teeth line and tear the skin of your cheek, often drawing blood. And so I want to be clear that when she says pull at the mouth, what we're talking about is a really violent act. And that's going to emerge as one of his kind of signature moves. And so she lays out what happened on September 2, her protective order, the emergency order is granted, it served on Jim. And then he does something interesting,


Colleen McCarty  41:13

something we see a lot of people who act violently do, especially those who are familiar with the court system and have been through this process in the past. Two weeks after the protective order is filed by Ember, probably right around the time he gets served. But with the protective order, he heads his ass down to the courthouse and he files his own protective order. And in that protective order that he files against Ember, he states,


Leslie Briggs  41:41

he puts in some, there's some fascinating things that he does with this. And I want to kind of go through his petition because it's so it's such a manipulation.


Colleen McCarty  41:51

There's couple important things about this document. He filed it two weeks after hers, September 16 1998. It is against Amber who we've been talking about. He is now the plaintiff and she is now the defendant. That's one thing that gets really confusing in these kinds of cases is they flip back and forth the plaintiff and the defendant. But he says the incident causing the filing of this petition occurred on or about September 2, July 13, of the same year of 1998. And he says do during an argument in home, the defendant or Ember became violent and began to repeatedly push me shove me hit me with forearm and elbow while I made various attempts to avoid confrontation and leave residence. Subsequently, after the fact the defendant stole numerous items from my house. Further on seventh 13th 1998, the defendant became violent burned my arm with a cigarette lighter, leaving a permanent scar while driving my automobile and repeatedly clawed me around my ribs and back drawing blood kicked me, I made every effort to avoid confrontation. Turn calling the police. But the police would not help me.


Leslie Briggs  43:24

I want to like talk about an interesting, I mean, remember earlier her version of the July event is he just like suddenly burned her and then burned himself to prove it, it didn't hurt. And he's now using that his own scar. What I mean, just it's a manipulation the whole way through. And I don't know if he had that planned in advance if he thought I'll burn myself and that'll be good evidence down the road if she ever claims that I hurt her. But he certainly makes use of it here.


Colleen McCarty  43:56

I think we'll see throughout the course of the season that things that happened in impulse often get twisted and used and manipulated in court proceedings much later. And I don't think it's premeditated at the time he committed that burn on himself. I think he just looked back and said this is something that I can obviously point to as violence against me, because look, here's the scar.


Leslie Briggs  44:23

Yeah. And also just like of note there, like her weight is listed, like on the form period asks for a physical description, so he like lists her weight, but then he makes this stupid little notation next to the listed weight. That says driver's license states that her weight is actually like 20 pounds lighter, right? Like I don't know, like, why are you I don't know why you're doing that other than to like, I guess the only plausible reason maybe is like if police are gonna stop her they're gonna know that. Like, they won't be fooled because her driver's license is I don't know we No Shame, shame tack because


Colleen McCarty  45:02

this document, like we said before it gets served on the person that you're filing against. So she would see this. And she would see that he wrote the weight on her driver's license on the line, and then made a note out to the side of what her actual weight is. And that the cops would see that, and the court would see that and that she would see that and she's supposed to be ashamed about that. It's just like continuing the abuse.


Leslie Briggs  45:27

Yeah, it's just another manipulation. And, you know, Amber described to us the process of going into the protective order hearings, and I guess she had given him a pen, like a nice fancy pen. And he decided to work to wear it that day. She describes, she described it to us as like, I can't really explain it. But it felt like a manipulation. And it felt like a fear tactic. And it worked. It made her very fearful, just like the sight of that pen, as if it were, I don't know,


Colleen McCarty  45:53

she described it as like a way of communicating to her without having to communicate to her and with a way of saying, I still have a piece of you or I still, like own you in some way. And like most people looking out from the outside, you don't know about these dynamics, would say like, it's just a pen. Right. But it's not just a pen to her. And he knew that, if he used it. Yeah. And at a time when he when would be the only time when he knew he would see her in person which was in court because they can't see each other because they have, she was granted the emergency protective order. And he had to stay away from her. Right, and


Leslie Briggs  46:37

then at the hearing on the final order, which she gets a final order entered. But it's not until February of 1999. And it's interesting, it's not a time limited order. There's no time limit on it. And that's that, I mean, today you have there are times you can get permanent protective orders, but usually it's in very limited circumstances. But in this situation, it appears that she got a permanent protective order against him. He actually filed in 2010. And 1111 years later filed to dismiss the protective order, stating that she lived out of state. And he had not seen her in all this time. And there was no longer a reason for it that was actually denied. So it's still still on the books. His protective order was denied in the court minute states that he had he failed to prosecute, so we just never followed through on it. So we don't know what the court would have done if he had


Colleen McCarty  47:32

Yeah, personally think like, I'm just thinking about this now. And after hearing it all like your you guys who are listening are hearing a fully encapsulated experience of like the court system and the police working properly. In a situation like this. And she got away as a result she got away she got the she got the supports that she needed. She had people to in her life to tell her where to go, what to do how to do these things. She got the support from divish. She got the phone. And then she got the protective order, his filing against her failed. And then she was granted a permanent protective order and even all the way into 2010. He wasn't able to get rid of it.


Leslie Briggs  48:13

So September, I mean, that's pretty gnarly. And this is where she starts to really lean on her resources. Right?


Colleen McCarty  48:21

Yeah. Yeah. So she ends up calling a friend from law school, she had several close friends in her law school class. And they came and got her and took her to a gas station. And that is where she called 911 from the gas station, and the friend's boyfriend actually ended up being the person to tell her to call police and she describes him as very, a very calming presence during this time.


Leslie Briggs  48:49

Yeah, he was also a volunteer with like a domestic violence hotline, right?


Colleen McCarty  48:53

He had volunteered with DVIS in the past. Yes. And so he knew, you know, he recognized the signs. And he knew that she needed to call at least call the police and get this documented.


Leslie Briggs  49:02

Good men. We love good men of good men.


Colleen McCarty  49:07

And actually, she looked him up recently. And I looked him up recently. And he is a law partner at a local firm here and doing well. And so


Leslie Briggs  49:15

she didn't give us his name. But anybody knows can identify this guy from the circumstances. We would love to send him a thank you card because we love good men.


Colleen McCarty  49:25

So things went bad really fast. And this relationship went from April to September and she finally gets out. She calls her friends she stays at a friend's house. She contacts her law professor who was Professor Kate weights. So Ember felt comfortable going to her and confessing to her everything that was happening. Ember remembers her getting a cell phone from Professor weights. Professor waits doesn't remember that but we aren't so we aren't sure which way that ended up happening. But somehow Amber ends up getting a cell phone in 1998, which was like scarce


Leslie Briggs  49:57

Yeah, yeah, not widely used. In 1988, it's like the Zack Morris phone.


Colleen McCarty  50:02

It is like the Zach Morris Phone. And it's she didn't have to pay the bill. It was someone else's phone that she borrowed for a couple of months. And the reason was because she was going to be staying at friends houses and people were concerned that if Jim Kim came looking for her, she wouldn't be able to have shouldn't be able to call 911 or call the police or get away fast enough. And so her having the cell phone made her feel a lot more safe. And so she slowly starts to rebuild her life. And she's able to stay in school. Honestly, it's kind of a testament to her brilliance that she was able to stay in school, get good grades, and graduate and, and she ended up passing the bar. And she practiced for many, many years as a Jag attorney in the military.


Leslie Briggs  50:44

Yeah, she had a great career as a military attorney.


Professor Kate Waits  50:47

And let me tell you another really important part of me and her story, which was she had a lot of support her law school classmates, including several men, she was close to, you know, helped her move out and didn't blame her and all kinds of other things. But talking to her and we were just there wasn't a desk between us. We were just across two chairs from each other. After as she was, you know, getting ready to go. I remember I patted her on the knee and said, you've done good to get out when you did. And she the look on her face. And she says I recall she said, you know, my friends have been very supportive. But you're the first person who said that, you know, it's the difference between sympathy. Oh, something bad has happened to you. I'm going to hell and saying you know what, you are strong.


Leslie Briggs  51:49

At first blush. Amber's story is just like a million other women's stories. She went on to live a normal life and luckily, she got away from the person who was hurting her. But Ember was far from the only woman that Jim lumen would terrorize. He's a bit of a huckster a carnival barker, well trained to lure in unsuspecting women who are down on their luck, and uses his big personality and seemingly endless supply of money to charm them in a sweet love story.


Colleen McCarty  52:17

It's not so sweet once you start to see through the lies. Here are just some of the occupations that Jim lumen has had or pretended to have since he struck out on his own. In the mid 1990s. Mortgage Broker, mortician used car salesmen, carpet salesman, pilot, lawyer, entrepreneur, personal injury consultants, perhaps most intriguing for the story that follows is Jim's only job that aligns with his college degree in mortuary science, and Undertaker. The rest are half baked ventures or outright frauds that as one survivor put it, allow him to make 1000s of dollars while he lays around in bed naked.


Leslie Briggs  53:04

We have spent countless hours researching his past calling his exes, neighbors, childhood friends, landlords and family. poring over his court filings digging deep into protective orders entered against him and reading messages between himself and others about the chronic abuse he has perpetrated across almost three decades. courts


Colleen McCarty  53:23

and law enforcement in Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas have allowed him to continue abusing women virtually unchecked since 1997. We've spoken to eight of his victims for this podcast and research the stories of even more.


Leslie Briggs  53:40

He's sued the people who have accused him of assault and battery for defamation. And his mother's homeowners insurance has actually been sued by one of the victims because he beat her on his mother's property. And his mother knew or should have known that he had a violent temperament.


Colleen McCarty  53:54

This man is what's called a chronic batterer in all the time he has committed all this abuse. He has only served 10 months in prison in Iowa. And that was on a 10 year sentence that he entered into as part of a plea deal.


Leslie Briggs  54:09

This season on panic button. Operational wildfire. We're detailing the chronic abuse of Jim lumen and exposing the good ol boy system of Oklahoma courts up close and personal. We're looking at what happens when women band together to stop an abuser. Does working together make them more credible, or does it undermine their efforts to community safety? Is misogyny really the only reason our court system lets abusers roam free? Could it be that simple?


Colleen McCarty  54:35

If the monster who hurt you was still out there? How far would you go to warn others? And what would you do if the justice system was no longer on your side? You can find links to pictures, documents and all our sources in the notes of this episode. During the season, we release new episodes every Tuesday at midnight. Get notified about new episode drops by subscribing and rate the podcast in your podcast listening app. These cases serve as a reminder of the devastating consequences of domestic violence and the importance of seeking help if you or someone you know is a victim. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or your local emergency number. For confidential support and resources you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Thank you for listening to panic button. Operation Wildfire and joining us and shedding light on the importance of ending domestic violence for good. I'm Colleen McCarty, and I'm Leslie Briggs. Panic Button is a production of Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. were recorded at Bison and Bean studios in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our theme music is by GYOM additional editing is provided by The Wave podcasting. Our music supervisor is Rusty Rowe. Special thanks to our interns, Kat and Allison to learn more about Oklahoma Appleseed or donate to keep our mission of fighting for the rights and opportunities of every Oklahoman reality go to OkAppleseed.org.


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