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The search for Russ Whitney' "wicked stepmother" by John T. Reed I am a real estate investment expert. I therefore do not care about the childhoods or personal lives of real estate gurus. For example, you will find nothing about Carleton Sheets" childhood in my discussion of him. However, some gurus insist on talking about their childhood in their materials. Robert Kiyosaki is the classic. His book title Rich Dad Poor Dad refers to his childhood which he discusses at length in the book. See my analysis for details. Russ Whitney also insists on talking about his childhood, so it is relevant for me to comment on it as a measure of his credibility as well as to explain his post-childhood behavior. Here are pertinent comments about his childhood from Russ Whitney' 1994 book Building Wealth. "¢ ""[I was]"¦a high school dropout with a bad attitude." p.17 "¢"I easily could have used my lousy childhood as an excuse for never achieving anything significant." p.18 "¢ "My mother left my father and me when I was 3 and then he died when I was 14." p.19 "¢ "Not only was I emotionally devastated, but I had to get a job to support myself and wound up quitting school in the eleventh grade." p.19 "¢ "I was very naive, and I was desperate for something or someone to believe in." p.19 "¢ "Because he believed I needed a mother, my father remarried." p.22 "¢ "Unfortunately, the woman he chose turned out to be the stereotypical wicked stepmother. She was sweet and loving until they married, then her attitude toward my father became one of grudging accommodation. To me, she was negative and abusive. She told me repeatedly that I was no good, that I would never amount to anything, and that I would probably wind up spending most of my life in jail. She also physically abused me. I remember clearly how she held my hands over the flame of the gas stove to discipline me." p.22 "¢ "I lived with my aunt for about a year, then ran away from her home and moved in with my 18-year-old half sister. She couldn"t afford to support me, so I quit school and went to work. I lied about my age to get a job as a short-order cook from five o'clock in the morning to three in the afternoon. I"d clean up from the restaurant and dash across the street to put in a few hours as a minimum-wage telemarketer. Then, using a fake driver' license, I drove a taxi until one or two in the morning. I needed all three jobs, because none by itself would pay enough to cover my share of our living expenses." p.22 Here is one of the comments I made about that childhood stuff in my review of his book Building Wealth. "Well, that sounds pretty rotten, but I would like to talk to [the stepmother] and get her side of it. It may be that he did some bad stuff and that the stepmother behavior he describes was appropriate, especially for the time"”around the early sixties. Maybe the gas flame thing was to persuade him to stop endangering himself and his family by playing with matches after he had been told several times using less dramatic, and less effective, teaching aids. Maybe the jail comment was in response to his repeatedly getting in trouble with the police (I do not have any evidence other than his mother' comment and his own vague references that he was in trouble with the police as a youth). "And maybe neither the gas flame nor the jail accusation ever happened." So I set out to find the "wicked stepmother." Mind you, I was not sure she ever existed to begin with or, if she had existed, whether she was still alive. And if she was still alive, she might have remarried and changed her name. I did not even know her original name other than Mrs. Whitney. All-in-all, it appeared to be a daunting task"”especially considering the trail was 40 years cold. Brooklyn and Queens Whitney tells people he was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens in New York City. So while in New York City to watch my son play football for Columbia, I went to Queens to research his family. I did not find a trace. The father"”Russell Walter Whitney"”never had a listed phone number in either borough, never owned real estate in Queens, and had no obituary in the October or beginning of November, 1970 Long Island newspaper that covers Queens. In the early sixties, unlisted numbers were rare. I believe you had to pay extra for

them. All I was able to confirm was that his father had died in October of 1970 from Social Security records online. Schoolmate But as each week passed, I added to my Web site information about Russ Whitney and more and more people came out of the woodwork to tell me about him. One person said they thought they might have attended high school with him"”in Highlands, NJ. That would be Henry Hudson Regional Junior-Senior High School at One Grand Tour, Highlands, NJ 07732. I called there to confirm that he was a student and learn when he left. They did not call me back as promised. Highlands, NJ is the setting for the James Fenimore Cooper book The Water Witch. It is about a boat with that name which is hidden in the coves of Highlands. Highlands is on the "shoulder" of New Jersey within sight of Manhattan. Whitney living in New Jersey would explain why I could find no trace in Brooklyn or Queens. But I was skeptical. Why would Whitney say he grew up in Brooklyn and Queens when it was really Highlands, NJ, a seashore resort? The email correspondent and I went back and forth on details trying to nail down that this was the same Russ Whitney. This guy had played baseball with Whitney in high school. He said Whitney was left-handed. I talked another source who know Whitney. He confirmed that Whitney is left-handed. After that and several other crosschecks, it became apparent that it was the same Russ Whitney. Now I was intrigued. Last time Whitney tried to obfuscate his location"”his using the phrase "upstate New York" when he meant Schenectady"”I found a bunch of negative information about him there. I suspected that maybe Highlands, NJ offered similar information. I tried calling a childhood friend of Whitney in the Highlands area. He did not return my call. My email correspondent asked around and got Whitney' high school home address. He also discovered that a woman still lived on that street across the street and appeared to have known Whitney and remembered him. My oldest son graduated from Columbia on 5/21/03. I went to New York for the graduation arriving on Sunday, 5/18/03. Nothing much was happening on Monday, so I told my family I wanted to go to Highlands to see what I could learn about Russ Whitney"”who is continuing to sue me and therefore forcing me to continue to investigate him to prepare as good a defense as possible. Seastreak I had asked my email correspondent in Highlands if there was a ferry or commuter train from New York City to Highlands. He told me Seastreak ran a ferry. I went to its Web site and got the schedule for 5/19/03. On the Internet, I also printed out the Web pages of the high school, county libraries, county clerk' office, county courts, and so forth. Old stomping grounds Highlands, NJ was in my old stomping grounds"”Monmouth County, NJ. I had been a radio officer student there in the Fort Monmouth Signal Corps School in 1969 and had returned to be a company commander in the Signal School in 1970"”both about the same time Whitney would have been in public school there. Also, as bachelor officers, a college classmate and I had devised what we called "The System" for meeting girls quickly as the Army transferred us around for short stays. That involved finding photos of attractive girls in local newspapers and tracking down their phones numbers and addresses through various phone books and local directories like Polk'. I met my wife of 28 years this way. So I was well familiar with the people-tracing resources of Monmouth County"”albeit 30+ years out of practice. I took the large, catamaran ferry from Pier 11 in Manhattan"”just south of the Seaport complex at the foot of Wall Street"”to Atlantic Highlands, the adjacent town. Very nice 40-minute ride. Worth taking just for the ride even if you have no business there. I was going against rush hour traffic so I had the boat to myself. In Atlantic Highlands, I called Enterprise Rental Car. They pick you up. Once I got my rental car, I headed to the main resource we used in our bachelor days: the Main County Library which is now in Manalapan. Obituary I figured it best to start with the obituary that had eluded me in Queens. My Highlands email correspondent found mention of Whitney' father' death"”put up by Russ Whitney himself"”on the Internet. It said his father had died on October 1, 1970 in Red Bank, NJ and was buried in Navesink, NJ"”both Monmouth County communities. I explained to the reference librarians what I was looking for. She directed me to the Asbury Park Press on microfilm for the appropriate dates. She suggested I start with October 2, 1970. No luck. But there it was on October 3rd! "Russell W. Whitney HIGHLANDS, NJ"”Russell W. Whitney, 39, of 42 Ocean Avenue died Thursday at Riverview Hospital, Red Bank. He was born in Brooklyn, NY and had lived here for the past five years. "Mr. Whitney was employed as a mechanic with the Otis Elevator Company, Newark. He was in the U.S. Marines during the Korean Conflict. "Surviving are his widow, Mrs. [still living] Whitney, a daughter Charline, and a son, Russell; his mother, Mrs. Mary Whitney, Wyckoff [NJ]; two sisters, Mrs. Lynn Nelson, Wyckoff [NJ] and Mrs. [still alive], Reno, NV. "Posten' Funeral Home, Atlantic Highlands, is in charge of arrangements." I later learned that some of this was inaccurate. The deceased lived in Highlands over six years, not five. He worked for Otis elevator all right, but in Manhattan, not Newark, NJ. He was in the Marines during the Korean War, but never left the United States. The most helpful parts of the obituary were the duration of his living in Highlands and the names of his survivors. Finally, I had the first name of his wife"”guru Russ' alleged "wicked stepmother." Deed I asked the reference librarian if I could search any deeds and such in that library or did I have to go to the County Recorder' office. She thought they might have some deeds in the basement archives section. I took the elevator down there. They did have a copy of all the deeds for certain periods"”including the early sixties. I did not know if Russell W. Whitney had been a home owner or a tenant. Guru Russ says he went from "rags to riches." People who are in rags generally do not own homes. But then Russ has been known to exaggerate. So we subtracted five years or so from 1970 and came up with 1964 as a starting point. Deeds back then were recorded in handwriting. They recorded them chronologically, but also sort of alphabetically. I say "sort of" because it goes by the Russell [no kidding] Index system that breaks down the person' last name into many subcategories which are then broken down by the first letter of the person' first name. It would take me three pages to explain it and you don"t need to know. Roughly speaking, you have to find the page where the other names starting with "Whi" are. I had to fight through the same system in Schenectady when I was researching Whitney there. The librarians, God bless "em, understand this goofy system and could instantly say that the Whitney deed, if there was one, would be on page 1340 or wherever, of the microfilm. And there it was. Book 3339 Page 291 of the County deed records. On May 29, 1964, Russell W. Whitney and his wife of 64-57 Springfield Boulevard, Bayside Queens, NYC had bought one lot and half of another adjacent lot in Highlands, NJ from a widow out of probate. The deed did not mention the block number or the street address. $4.40 in Internal Revenue stamps on the deed $4.40 in United States Internal Revenue document stamps were affixed to the deed. I have a vague recollection that the stamps relate to the purchase price and that it was 55¢ or $1.10 per thousand dollars of price. Would someone with a better memory please remind me what purchase price $4.40 in IRS stamps signified back in 1964? We then wondered when or even if it was resold. After all, it had been 33 years. So we started searching subsequent microfilm of deeds for a sale by Mrs. Whitney. We got up to 1982 and still had not found any such sale. We wondered if it meant she still owned it or perhaps she had remarried and changed her name, then sold it. Search by address I asked if we could search by property address rather than owner name. They had the assessor' records in the library as well. One big problem was that they had originally used the wrong numbering system for lots and blocks in Monmouth County and had changed it radically to the right way. So we had an out-of-date lot number and no block number. Eventually, we found a sort of Rosetta Stone map that showed both the old and new lot and block numbers. I knew where to look because I had previously located the house by Mapquest on the Internet. The new map recognized the consolidation of the two lots that occurred when Russell W. Whitney and his wife purchased them. We then looked at the assessors records to see who currently owned the property, figuring we would work backwards from the current owner in the deed records to the sale from Mrs. Whitney. So who was the current owner? Mrs. Whitney. Apparently she had never remarried or moved. She was still there 39 years after she bought the property"”or so the assessor' records suggested. Cemetery On my checklist of stuff to do in Monmouth County was to search for Russell Walter Whitney' tombstone. Sometimes, when searching for information about someone, his tombstone provides missing information. I asked the archivist if the library had anything on cemeteries in Navesink. Turned out they did. She said there was only one big one and that the owner was not cooperative like most cemetery owners. He would not provide a list of the persons buried there. However, an enterprising genealogist had gone to the cemetery and made a map of every single grave there taking the information off the tombstones. The library had the map and list of persons buried there which was very professionally done. But no one named Whitney was there. Since guru Russ said he planned to move Russell W. to West Kill, New York, where guru Russ believed his ancestors were from, I figured he probably had already done that. But on May 19, 2003, the woman who knew Whitney is still living on the street where he lived. However, she plans to go out in the early evening to take some papers to her husband. If I want to talk to her, I need to get there soon, but, of course I do not know about that in the early afternoon as I am researching in the basement of the County library in Manalapan. Government buildings The archivist recommends that I visit the surrogate' office to see if Russell Walter Whitney left a will when he died. If so, it would likely provide useful information about his net worth and heirs. I had already planned to visit the County Court and Clerk' offices. The surrogate' office is in the same area. I"ll add that to the list. I plan to get back to Highlands soon, but I have to go to the government offices first because they close at 4 PM. Also, the government offices are sort of near Manalapan"”the location of the main library branch. Highlands is much farther away. It is now about 2:30 PM. I hop back in my rental car and head for Freehold, NJ"”the county seat. Surrogate When I was a delegate to Jersey Boys State in 1963, one of the other delegates on my floor of the Rutgers dorm ran for surrogate. His campaign promise was, "If elected surrogate, I promise to find out what it means." The surrogate is the person who administers estates, handles probates, and takes care of will records. At the surrogate' office, I ask how to look up a will. They want the name of the deceased and the date of death. I give them that. They look him up in a handwritten book similar to the above-described deed records. And there he is. But it says there was no will and that his widow filed an affidavit of assets. I get a copy. It says the value of his entire estate does not exceed $2,500"”a legal limit for using the affidavit of assets method. Apparently, the home is not counted because Mrs. Whitney' name was already on the title before he died. According to Mrs. Whitney' affidavit, Russell Walter Whitney' entire estate consists of one asset: a four-year-old Volkswagen valued at $500. Death Certificate Attached to the widow' affidavit is the death certificate of the NJ Office of the Registrar of Vital Statistics. It is hard to read, but appears to confirm guru Russ' statement that Russell Walter Whitney died of a heart attack. Court I try to look up Russell Walter Whitney in the court records of criminal and civil cases. But the dates are too old. "Those are in Trenton" (the state capital), I am told. Back to Highlands It' getting late. I figure I"d better head back to Highlands. Enterprise Rental Car closes at 6 PM. You can return the car after that by dropping the key in a night box, but you cannot avail yourself of their "we will pick you up and drop you off" service after they close. There is a ferry to Manhattan within walking distance of Enterprise Rental Car in Belford, but I had asked my email correspondent about a ferry to Highlands, so he did not mention the Belford ferry. Plus I have a round-trip ticket on the Seastreak ferry out of Atlantic Highlands which is about a ten-minute drive from the Belford office of Enterprise. I need to try to make contact with Mrs. Whitney and/or the other lady soon enough to be able to get back to Enterprise in time to got a ride to the ferry. I head straight for guru Russ' boyhood home and apparently still the home of his "wicked stepmother." Whitney' boyhood home The house is one of the newer homes on the street. I park in front of it and walk up to the door, not sure of the best way to introduce myself. There is no door bell. I knock. No answer. I knock louder. Still no answer. After a third try, I give up. I wonder if she is not home or is home, but too old and frail to answer the door, or maybe she is there, but sees that I am a stranger and chooses not to answer the door. If she was the same age as her husband when he died, she would now be 39 + 33 = 72. Oh, well. I figure I gave it the old college try, earned my journalist' "E" for effort, and return to my car. Just before I get in, I remember the other lady. Might as well try her while I"m here. I cross the street to her address and ring the bell. From an upstairs porch, I hear a woman' voice, "Who is it?" I move over to where I can see upstairs and she can see me. "I"m Jack Reed, ma"am. I"m looking for a woman [I heard knew about Russ Whitney]."" "That' me." She holds the door open for me and beckons, "Come on up." As I enter her kitchen, she says, "I"m his stepmother." To be continued (I have received numerous emails from people who can"t stand the wait for the article on my interview with Whitney' stepmother. One guy said it was like waiting to see who shot J.R."”a cliff hanger episode of the Dallas TV show years ago. I appreciate your interest, but here' the deal. First I have to write it. The interview was lengthy. I am almost done that. Then I have to let her see it to make sure it represents her side accurately. Then I want an attorney to look at it. Then I want to show it to Whitney for his comment"”although every time I do that they just snarl at me and say stuff like, "We"re not going to do your homework for you." Russ did not give her side when he trashed her in Building Wealth. But I am going to try to get Russ' side with regard to the new information she gave me. I am also trying to get corroboration from other sources for some stuff. However, I can just leave those items out until I get the corroboration.) The continuation of this article including a redacted version of my interview with Russ Whitney' stepmother is at https://www.johntreed.com/Whitneysilence.html. John T. Reed Copyright 2003 by John T. Reed Last update 7/7/03 John T. Reed, a.k.a. John Reed, Jack Reed, 342 Bryan Drive, Alamo, CA 94507, Voice: 925-820-7262, Fax: 925-820-1259, www.johntreed.com

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