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Hans Reiser: Did He or Didn't He?

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Hans Reiser was interviewed on 20/20 last night and it was quite disturbing. His shifty eyes, monotone voice, and shallow cheeks gave all appearances of guilt. His answers didn't help his case either.

Hans Reiser, the programmer behind the reiserfs used in many Linux systems, is being charged with the murder of his estranged wife, Nina Reiser. Held without bail, Reiser waits for trial scheduled to begin Monday.

During his interview with 20/20, Reiser tried to look sincere and calm, but his actions only made him appear more guilty. When asked if he killed his wife, his eyes shifted to and fro as he struggled to find an answer. Surely this question was no surprise, yet he still couldn't seem to appear truthful. When asked where was Nina, he stated he didn't know. He said he was concerned, but he couldn't talk about it before the trial.

Friends and family of Nina believe Hans' guilt without reservation, while family of Hans supported him. Few excuses for Hans erratic behavior after Nina's disappearance even made common sense. They did little to support his innocence. His father stated he had been the one who told Hans to avoid capture from the police as it may not actually be police. He believed whomever killed Nina would likely try to harm Hans and his children next. To me this sounds like make-believe. Not many assassins drive city police vehicles.

The father also stated that the reason for the murder manuals, that were purchased five days after the disappearance was reported, were for research purposes. Hans knew he was beginning to be suspected and needed to learn of the crime investigative process. To me, this almost sounded reasonable and likely, unless Nina's death was not premeditated and perhaps a crime in the moment or of passion. Then Hans might have needed to quickly get some tips on covering and disposing of evidence, but why wait five days? Perhaps it came as a surprise to Hans that he would actually be considered a suspect. For me, the books don't really carry too much weight due to the time lapse.

However the excuses the father postulated as to why the front seat of Hans' car had been removed and the carpeting was freshly shampooed is far-fetched. Mr. Reiser stated it was because Hans had moved out of his mother's home and had been living in the car. The reason for this shocking behavior from someone of means was because he was told he could not qualify to get custody of his children while living with a parent. So, he lives in his car? Come on. Someone who is believed to be a genius comes up with this plan? To me this whole scenario is ridiculous. I believe he removed and disposed of the seat because the blood content was too great to remove and the carpet had been shampooed to remove other blood splatters. Traces of her blood were still found in the passenger seat area. I feel these actions indicate an attempt to destroy evidence of a crime.

It is also reported that Hans, who had left the mundane parenting tasks to his wife, stopped by the children's schools right after Nina's disappearance and finally left an emergency contact number. Why then? Coincidence or did he know that she would be unavailable? To me this is very suspicious.

Hans and his father both speculated that Nina had disappeared of her own accord. They stated she got pregnant with Hans' son to trap him into marriage and to escape the post-cold-war Russia. Much of Russia had been in turmoil and many citizens were suffering during the early days of the transition, but Nina was a third generation physician and her family enjoyed prosperity and a comfortable lifestyle. I can't entirely discount the possibility of a green card marriage, but I can't fully believe it either. However, I can't believe someone who had been such a loving and attentive parent would abandoned her children. For me this is the element that discounts Hans' claim she has disappeared on her own.

Hans further interjected that Nina had been unfaithful with his best friend. Attempts to disparage Nina's character only really added another dimension to the chain of events that lead to what I believe to have been murder. In other words, that's just another reason he may have wanted to kill her. This is the second oldest reason for murder since time began.

It was stated that one of the, if not the key reason for the couple's separation and eminent divorce was theories and methods on child rearing and the entire family dynamics. Hans wanted to live an old-fashioned family model of husband working, wife staying home to have and care for the children. This isn't unacceptable in itself but it was stated that while Hans wanted more children, Nina wanted to resume her medical career. Most of the strife however came in the cruel demands of Hans on his children. One example given was Hans insistence that his children work on their computers for four to six hours daily and things of this nature caused many arguments between the couple. It was said that Hans had a terrible tempter and was given to daily verbal abuse and shouting at Nina and the children. Nina was going to divorce Hans and there was little question she would be given sole custody. This is a motive. Hans appeared clearly obsessive about his children during interview as he wept over their time apart and even read poems he had written to them.

I don't know Reiser personally and am not privy to any information not been exposed by the press. I respected his work and for several years swore by the reiserfs. Many respectable members of the Linux community are staying deafeningly silent on this whole topic, but I can not. It was a travesty of justice when O.J. was acquitted. Crimes of men against women are grossly under-prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced in comparison to crimes of women against men in America. For these reasons I can't help but to watch (and perhaps comment) from the sidelines with great interest.

Based on what the public is allowed to know, I believe he did it. I don't think it was premediated. While the evidence is all circumstantial, I'm not so sure he will walk. I feel he should be convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 30 years, eligible for parole in 15.

How it happened.

I think what happened is that the night Nina dropped off the kids at his house, she told him she planned to move with the kids back to Russia sometime in the near future. Hans got mad and killed her. That's my opinion.

Another thing and sorry for going off topic. I might be wrong here as I haven't been to the USA. But the Hans news and many other unrelated news articles seem to suggest or at least promote to the rest to the world the idea that the US is a dangerous place to live where murder or illegal criminal activity happens too often or a bit more easily than the rest of the world. I mean, I'm always watching this sort of stuff on CNN via satellite. Any of that true? I certainly hope not.

Back to Reiser, I do hope things progress much faster than they are now.

re: How it happened.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too - that they got into a heated argument, possibly over the children and he killed her in the heat of the moment. He would have been better prepared if it'd had been planned in advance - he wouldn't have got blood all over the car and such. If those books had been bought before the disappearance, it'd definitely looked planned. Yeah, manslaughter or 2nd degree at the most. Manslaughter if there was an argument, or second degree if he just decided to kill her on the spur of the moment. His little boy said he heard them arguing, so manslaughter I'm thinking.

He looks awful. He's skinny and disturbed, and now he's fighting with his lawyers. That's a terrible secret to have to live with, especially with the kids asking 'where's mama?' in every letter.

Crime in America? Well, I don't know how it is elsewhere, but I get the impression that it is worse here. It's so materialistic and so many act like they don't have a soul or conscience. This is a turn-key generation raised by tv and video games. Too many will shoot someone down for their car or wallet without breathing heavy. All they care about is money. It's amazing how many murder for profits you hear about. If it's not a robbery, it's for insurance. Most don't make the front page or the evening news. I don't why this Reiser case has gotten so much mainstream press. It's far from an isolated event.

"Deafeningly silent"

I'm definitely ignoring this stuff until the trial starts because, until then, it's mostly just speculation.

If you're wondering why it looks to the rest of the world why the US is such a dangerous place to live, look first to the media, which knows what its viewers want and gives it to them (there's a saying: "If it bleeds, it leads"). I absolutely hate that our news media spends so much time pandering to its viewers by spending so much time on lurid stories.

Here's an example. You may remember the Tonya Harding scandal from the 1994 Figure Skating Championship. I happen to live in the same metro area that she lives in. Our local TV news shows typically give any story around 3 minutes of airtime. But after the scandal broke, it was all Tonya, all the time. The day the FBI released its investigation into Tonya's role in the affair, one station spent the entire first half hour of its hour-long newscast on it.

News about the Tonya Harding scandal was so lucrative, the local newspaper wrote and sold a book about it.

One would have to look up and compare crime statistics to have a truly meaningful discussion, but from all I hear, the rate of violent crime in America's actually been on the decline for years.

P.S. About OJ Simpson: They simply did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Before you jump all over me (and I know that's an unpopular opinion), read what lawyer and author Scott Turow said about the OJ verdict on Frontline.

Which is not the same thing as saying I think he's innocent - I don't - but that's another discussion.

re: How it happened.

I think the reason the Reiser case got so much maintstream press because of two reasons. The first reason is that Reiser is a known Linux developer. The next thing is that the media likes to concentrate on problems relating to know people or celebrities.
To be honest, I mostly feel bad the kids. People really don't judge how their acts affect their children.
It's the same in Oprah's school situation. The kids are the ones the get hurt and not Oprah. Check out this news link.

re: How it happened.

hussam wrote:

The first reason is that Reiser is a known Linux developer.

Well, I don't know. How many folks out in the real word have heard of Linux? And of those, how many would recognize the name Reiser?

The geek press may have

The geek press may have pushed the media interest up to a certain point, where the mainstream media (really, the tabloid mainstream media) ran with it. This is a tabloid story, and this is the kind of story the tabloid press loves: A man at the top of his field brought low by a crime of passion with a beautiful victim. It's a trifecta.

The beautiful victim always clinches it. If you live in the states, you remember Lacy Peterson. During her lifetime, Lacy Peterson must have been the most .photgraphed murder victim ever. I can't tell you how many pictures of Lacy Peterson I saw, but she always had that winning smile that broke your heart.

Yes and no.

More easily than "the rest of the world"? I don't think so. More easily than, say, Western Europe? No doubt.

I live in the USA. I'm almost 50 years old, and in my whole life I've known 1 person who was murdered, so it's not a major cause of death.

One thing is certain, never kill your estranged ex wife, or your wife, or your girlfriend, cause you're going to be suspect number 1 right away, and with good reason. It's always the boyfriend, husband or ex husband.

Re: Yes and no.

Ok, I see your point. In any case, it is the media that always makes people in whatever country look worse to the rest of the world than what happens in reality.

I agree

about refraining from speculating on the outcome of a criminal trial in progress. Attempts to divine his guilt or innocence by reading his body language during a TV interview seem especially futile. Leave that irresponsible crap to Nancy Grace.

What interests me is whether anyone thinks that this scandal has anything to do with why certain distros have dropped reiserfs as the default filesystem. I'm talking about opensuse, which switched to ext3 with 10.2, and Slackware, which switched to ext3 with 12.0... at least, this is how I think it used to be. Mind you, reiserfs is still easily available for these distros, as with most distros, but its no longer the default.

For a while, reiserfs seemed to be on a fast track to dominance, even though the word-of-mouth I was personally getting on reiserfs wasn't that good. Now it seems to be falling out of favor. Can anyone think of a possible technical reason for that, or maybe name a distro that has gone another way?

I've mostly stuck with ext3, but just lately, when I started using a seperate partition for /home, I would use resiserfs for /root, and ext3 for /home.

If Reiser is convincted, what will that mean for Reiserfs? It would definitely be a black eye for FOSS. I can't think of anyone else whose name is actually on the software on my computer other than (sort of) Linus Torvalds. My guess is that they'll try to get his name off it somehow.

Hans Reiser trial !

When and where is the trial scheduled ?
Are there any net based text on the trial proceedings once it finalises and proves a judgement?


Some odds-and-ends

Very good summary!

I'm from the northeastern U.S. and were it not for my interest in Linux, I probably would not have heard about the alleged killing until the 20/20 program. Check and most of the articles are from CA media.

The U.S. homicide rate is roughly twice that of the EU nations average.

Given the uncertainty, I would not use Reiserfs. He demonstrated that he is a "flight risk". (And I had already switched to LVM/ext3 anyway.)

A number of people seem to have concluded that Nina married him as the easy route to U.S. citizenship. But why was Hans looking specifically for a Russian wife? Since he did contract with Russian programmers and apparently didn't know the language, a wife who was fluent in both Russian and English would have been an obvious advantage. Nina's family is relatively high income/status, which may have had other business benefits. The marriage may have been at least in part one of convenience. But for both of them, not just her.

Hopefully the trial will provide some answers.

On the other hand...

No body. It's easy to take a bunch of odd facts and make them fit many different scenarios. Although Reiser is definitely a freaky person, it doesn't necessarily mean he killed her.

My daughter's cheerleader squad practices on the back patio - so I'm sure you could find blood samples from several of it's members there (and in the house where they went to get the bandaids). I've had an old Corvette for several years that doesn't have a passenger seat in it. I had the rug's shampoo'd in my SUV just last week. My library is very eclectic (including 18th century books on black magic).

I'd hate to have someone I know disappear after a short visit to my house and have to account for all my time, odd bits and pieces of things that might or might not be evidence of a crime, and the testimony of a 8 year old that might not be all that happy with his dad to begin with, and has had several months of coaching by the maternal grandparents.

Like the whole OJ debacle, I doubt that facts or justice will be a big part of the trial.

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