{August 19, 2008}   Stripper persists as rumor in a rumor

DETROIT — “Nikki” doesn’t have a face. Her name is just a rumor.

She is the elusive second stripper who supposedly danced at the Manoogian Mansion party that never officially happened. And though she is more legend than flesh, her specter will not go away.

Was there more than one stripper at the rumored party thrown by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Did “Nikki” suffer the same fate as exotic dancer Tamara Greene, who was murdered after the phantom bash? Did they have a friend named “Paradise,” who also supposedly danced at the party?

Those questions, long pondered by police and Web surfers alike, were brought to the forefront again when an emergency medical technician last week filed an affidavit in federal court claiming a bruised Greene told police she wasn’t the only dancer who was assaulted by the mayor’s wife during a raunchy party at the mayoral mansion.

“I have every reason to believe there was more than one dancer at the party,” said Norman Yatooma, an attorney who included the affidavit in his $150 million federal suit on behalf of Greene’s survivors.

Lt. Michael Kerns, a supervisor with the Detroit Fire Department’s EMT Division, claims he heard Greene tell undercover officers in fall 2002 that she “and her friend were dancing at the Manoogian Mansion and that the mayor’s wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, threw a fit, hit her and the other dancer, then kicked them out of the house.”

The lawsuit brought last year by Greene’s son, Jonathan Bond, and his father, Ernest Flagg, accuses the mayor, his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and other police officials of quashing an investigation into Greene’s murder.

It’s a claim that’s repeatedly been denied and decried by police, city officials and Attorney General Mike Cox, who called the rumors an “urban legend.”

Even so, his office is still looking into the claims. Kerns was interviewed by Cox’s office on Wednesday, spokesman Rusty Hills said. Notes from that interview will be turned over to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Hills said.

Detroit and State Police detectives have investigated whether Greene was the only dancer at the rumored party. Each probe turned up unconfirmed reports of a second stripper, possibly named Nikki, who was murdered near Atlanta around the same time Greene was killed.

Nothing concrete was uncovered — but in both cases, the detectives looking into the rumors said their investigations were stymied by higher-ranking law enforcement officials.

Greene, 27, was killed in April 2003 while she sat in her car with her boyfriend, Eric Mitchell, in front of his Detroit home. Mitchell told police a man in a white SUV fired at them with a handgun.

Homicide Lt. Alvin Bowman, who investigated the drive-by murder, said he suspected Greene had links to “high-ranking city employees” and was killed by a Detroit police officer. A Wayne County jury awarded Bowman $200,000 last year after he filed a lawsuit claiming police officials transferred him out of the homicide section because he was investigating Greene’s murder.

The legend of Greene’s murder was given fresh credence Friday when Kimberly McConnell, a witness in Kilpatrick’s assault case involving two court officers, was excused from testifying in court because she was afraid of the mayor, and she “didn’t want to end up like Tamara Greene,” said the mayor’s attorney, James C. Thomas.

Kilpatrick has denied a party ever happened, and Bully-Cummings has repeatedly denied her department had anything to do with the murder. Cox asked the State Police to investigate the claims and concluded there was no party.

City officials did not respond to calls for further comment.

Investigators told The Detroit News recently they believe they know who really killed Greene: Darrett King, a convicted drug dealer who is serving time in prison for possession of a firearm. Sources told The News that King was feuding with Mitchell and that he assaulted Greene shortly before her death, and later bragged that he killed her.

But the conspiracy theory that Greene was killed by a Detroit cop because she knew too much persists, along with whispers about a second stripper named Nikki who supposedly was also shot after dancing at the mayor’s party.

“The story about the second stripper is what got Bowman demoted,” said his attorney, Mike Stefani. “The State Police told him they were investigating the Manoogian party, and that they had information about a second dancer who danced there who had been murdered in the Atlanta area.

“This woman supposedly was killed with a .40-caliber Glock, the same as Tamara Greene. (Bowman) asked permission to go to Atlanta to check out what the State Police told him, and that’s when he was taken off the case.”

According to police reports, State Police Detective Sgts. John Figurski and Mark Krebs talked in 2004 to a woman named Andrea Gary, a friend of Greene’s who danced at the DéjÀ Vu club in Highland Park. Figurski asked whether she knew a stripper named Nikki. Gary said she didn’t.

Gary told the detectives she’d heard there was more than one dancer at the Manoogian party.

She said she knew a waitress at the former All-Stars Club where Greene worked who knew details about the party.

During the interview, Gary phoned the waitress, a woman named Charlotte, who told her there were three strippers at the party: Greene, a dancer who used the stage name “Paradise,” and a third woman who was killed in Atlanta.

“If some girls were with her at this party, (Greene) wasn’t the only dancer there, right?” Figurski asked after Gary relayed what Charlotte told her. “Why wouldn’t they come forward and talk to us?”

“Scared,” Gary replied. “They’re scared.”



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