Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Starbucks Shooter

Conspiracy Theory

In the fall of 1997, a woman named Linda Tripp began taping her conversations with Monica Lewinsky, a former white house intern for Bill Clinton. The subject was a long-term affair that Lewinsky claimed to have had with President Bill Clinton. Tripp then played the tapes for members of the staff of Newsweek, but the magazine declined at that time to publish what appeared to be a potentially explosive story.

Linda Tripp & Monica Lewinsky
Linda Tripp & Monica Lewinsky

In the meantime, Lewinsky, 25, had left the internship and was looking for a job in New York (by some accounts, because Clinton wanted to get her away from the Washington media). In December, she was subpoenaed for a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton brought by Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee. At first, it appeared that the situation would remain moderately low-key, but the initial appearances were wrong.

Kenneth Starr
Kenneth Starr

On January 7, 1998, Lewinsky signed an affidavit denying that she'd ever had sexual relations with President Clinton. However, Linda Tripp had Lewinsky's admission on tape, and she gave it to her own attorney. Tripp then contacted the office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr, who was already investigating the Clintons on other matters. She discussed the tapes with him, along with allegations that Clinton had urged Lewinsky to lie under oath.

The situation grew more complex as Lewinsky obtained legal representation and obtained an immunity agreement, both for her and her parents. She then admitted she'd had an affair with the president. She had in fact visited the White House 37 times since leaving her position there, and the president's secretary, Betty Currie, admitted to a grand jury that Lewinsky and the President had been alone on several occasions. Others confirmed this.

Now Clinton was on the hot seat, with yet another woman emerging to make a claim about sexual impropriety, and he was required to answer some tough questions. His worst alleged offense, it seemed, was exploiting his authority with Lewinsky, and then instigating a cover-up. Clinton admitted he'd been alone with Lewinsky a few times and had given her some gifts, but denied anything overt: "I did not have sex with that woman." However, a certain blue dress came to light: Lewinsky had worn it while with him and had saved it. She claimed it bore a semen stain that would corroborate her story. The FBI performed a DNA analysis and confirmed that the stain had originated with Clinton. Seven months after his adamant denial, Clinton finally admitted to inappropriate encounters with her that involved sexual contact. People called for his resignation, but Lewinsky would not say that he'd coached her to lie under oath, so Clinton rode out the storm and remained president.

Although nothing concrete ever linked the Lewinsky scandal to Mahoney and the Starbucks shooting, Mahoney's prior participation in the White House intern program generated renewed interest in the crime, and additional reports about it in the newspapers generated more calls to the police tip line. One of them stood out: Caller 234 implicated a "Carl" who lived on Gallatin Street. He was short, brown-skinned, in his mid-twenties, with a beard. He drove a small car and carried two or three guns. He was "vicious" and had killed prior to the Starbucks incident. He'd even killed one of his partners.

Carl Cooper
Carl Cooper

With only this crumb of information, detectives went to work. Via the Department of Motor Vehicles, they had figured out that "Carl" was probably Carl Cooper of Gallatin Street, who drove a Honda Civic and seven arrests on his record. Now they had to work him. Yet the investigation was beleaguered by accusations of incompetence, which only made things worse.

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