*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
Some sad news, if you’re from Las Vegas (or Nevada actually) then you know about Lee’s Liquors. Lee’s Liquors was owned by Kenny Lee. I believe it was founded by his father who just died about 3 months ago (pancreatic cancer).
Kenny Lee was involved in a car accident last Friday, November 19th. It’s unknown exactly what happened, but he apparently veered into oncoming traffic. The other driver involved survived the crash but Kenny Lee unfortunately did not survive.
He is known for being a loving father, husband, and son. He and his father were very active members of the community, they founded Lee’s Helping Hands which has contributed millions of dollars to Nevada charities over the past 20 years. He was an avid golfer and a passionate fan of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Sad, sad news for Las Vegas. Rest in peace, Kenny, and I wish his family and loved ones light and peace during this difficult time.
This is my story of a close-call true crime story. No, I am not a celebrity, but this story actually has a connection to the Netflix Show, Making a Murderer. It also has to do with how people who hold a certain amount of power or have certain connections, can use that power and those connections to lure people with aspirations. So I decided this is something I want to talk about on the show.
Also, today’s my birthday! I’ve been celebrating a lot lately so I wasn’t able to completely research the other cases I was looking at.
We had a party Friday night and had an awesome time. Some of my musician friends came over and performed, and we had a cool little jam sesh. My friend Aldo Canta came, and also Kella T from the band Dead Money.
If you’re in Vegas, go check out Dead Money. Honestly I’m not just a friend of theirs, I’m a fan.
I uploaded a video or two of us playing if you wanna check it out, it’s on my facebook page-- Didi West. facebook.com/didiwest if you wanna give it a follow.
Anyway, instead of leaving you guys hanging, I figured I’d give you a little bite-sized episode in the meantime while I finish researching the next case.
First of all, I am going to use the real name of the guy who this is about. It’s not really to bash him, but to bring awareness about him in case he contacts someone else like he did me… This happened just a few months ago.
Let me give you a little background. If you didn’t already know, I live in Las Vegas NV and I work as a professional singer. I’ve worked on shows and musicals along the Strip and I’ve also fronted a few bands across the valley.
So I’m signed up on a page called BandMix, which is kind of like a social media platform for musicians to get in touch with each other. I created my BandMix account years ago. I haven’t updated it in forever, it doesn’t even actually show my stage name yet. I haven’t met many good leads on there so I rarely use it.
One day, I got an email telling me that I had received a message on BandMix. This was from a guy named Ken, and he basically said “I’m putting together an act in Vegas called “Live Band Karaoke”. We need a female vocalist who can sing all kinds of songs, so if you’re looking to get into music, getting a lot of exposure and performing opportunities this might be a good fit. Hit me up, let’s talk about it. Thanks. Ken.”
He left his phone number, so I texted him asking for more information. At first, he seemed legit. He asked me for my email so he could send me the song list and information about the band. This was like a whole slide show made into a PDF, it had like pricing to hire the band and shit. I mean, usually when a band asks to audition you, they just send you a list of songs-- maybe a track or a video if it’s kind of unique. But I had never seen a whole ass brochure like this. I wonder if he was sending me all the shit about prices and stuff to give me the impression that this band was a legitimate, working band.
Anyway, as this guy was sending me the info, he continued to text me. This has happened to me before and sometimes people are just extra friendly, but I got the vibe that this guy was being too friendly and texting me too much for someone I didn’t know.
For some reason, he sent me a couple of pictures of himself-- one onstage playing a guitar, and one of him at dinner with a woman he says is his wife. That was really weird, there was like no context leading up to this but then he goes “This is my wife, Leah. She was a backup singer in 2 of my bands… but wants to just chill. Social anxiety steals her joy of performing in public. So now she just supports my bands.”
At this point I’m kind of thinking “dude’s a little weird but let’s see where this goes.” So I was polite but kept asking about the audition.. So when and where are we doing this? He sent me an address and a time. I look up the address, and it’s a home address.
So I’m sitting there and I’m like, okay….. Rehearsals sometimes happen in a band member’s house. But I don’t know this guy or even the names of anyone else in the band.
So I googled him. This is like, bare minimum. My mom tells me to google any one I bring to my house or around my kids. So I dug through our emails and tried to find his full name. The emails came from Ken Kratz using the email firstname.lastname@example.org. My initial thought was “weird, a lawyer in a band.” But truthfully, I’ve got a few friends who are musicians and also like realtors or brokers or attorneys so, whatever.
But I googled “Ken Kratz” and kind of figured I wouldn’t find much. But I was shocked. There is a TON of information about Ken Kratz on the internet.
If that name sounds familiar to me, here’s why. If you’ve ever seen the netflix show Making a Murderer or are familiar with the Steven Avery case, Ken Kratz worked on it. He’s actually the uncle of Brendan Dassey.
I won’t get into the entire story of Making a Murderer. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch it. I tried and I kept falling asleep. I’m sorry, that might be insensitive but I’m just one of those people who falls asleep in front of the tv a lot.
But basically it’s about a rape and murder that was committed where two men were accused, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Both were convicted, and now people believe and argue that they were possibly falsely accused. So the whole basis of the show seems to be about Steven Avery and how he goes to prison, then gets exonerated, and then they keep pinning more crimes on him. Allegedly, like that’s what they’re trying to prove.
So Ken Kratz was actually the prosecutor in this case. Ken Kratz was pretty much the villain of the show. People believe that he like, did dirty work and convinced the jury to find Steven Avery guilty.
Anyway. When I found this I was like “wtf? What is this guy doing starting a band in Las Vegas?”
Then, I actually found a wikipedia page dedicated to Ken Kratz, and while I know that’s not a notable source, I decided to look at the citations on the wikipedia article and dig into the claims a bit deeper.
I also messaged a friend of mine who’s into true crime and a bit of a web sleuth, just to be like “yo, look at this crazy shit” and she couldn’t resist but to dig into this guy.
Shout out to my friend Mackenzie Erikson, she’s the owner of the Ellie & Fig bow shop and fellow true-crimer.
Between the two of us, we found really scary information. To begin, Ken Kratz resigned from his office in 2010 following a sexting scandal. (I guess this was talked about in Making a Murderer).
He had a client who was a domestic assault victim, and he was prosecuting her boyfriend for charges of strangulation.
A 26-year-old woman reported Kratz’s text messages to police, the first of which came 10 minutes after leaving his office, seeking counsel for her domestic abuse case.
Over two days, 29 further messages followed. Investigators reported that Van Groll felt “afraid that if she doesn’t do what he wants, Kratz will throw out her whole case.”
“It was nice talking with you! Feel free to text me (between 8 and 4) if you are bored. You have such potential. See ya. KEN (your favorite DA),” Kratz messaged the victim on Oct. 20, 2009
“No text yet today? I’m feeling ignored. Are you even up yet?” Kratz followed up with. According to Radar, the woman replied that she was ill and Kratz offered to bring her soup and a margarita — which she declined.
At 11:30 a.m. on the same day the victim told Kratz she was ill, his text advances became more aggressive.
“I know this is wrong. I am such an honest guy, and straight shooter…but I have to know more about you… Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better?” he wrote.
“Still wondering if I’m worth it? Can I help you answer any questions?” he persisted as the woman shut down his advances. “Why would such a successful, respected attorney be acting like he’s in 7th grade? Are you worried about me?”
The victim then told Kratz that she would not lie and she was uncomfortable with his behaviour, but Kratz persisted.
“You should never lie to me! Obviously we have talents and this to offer that the other is intrigued by [sic], or you would have called me creepy. You wanna accept.”
On Oct. 21, 2009, Kratz began to verbally attack the domestic abuse victim when it became clear that she was not reciprocating.
“It would go slow enough for Shannon’s case to get done. Remember it would be special enough to risk all,” he texted the victim, alluding to the fact his sexual fantasy about her would last the duration of her former boyfriend’s abuse case.
When the woman didn’t respond, Kratz kept the texts coming by demeaning her and talking himself up. “Hey..Miss Communication, what’s the sticking point? Your low-self esteem and you fear you can’t play in my big sandbox?[sic]
“You may look good at first glance, but women that are blonde, 6ft tall, legs and great bodies don’t like to be shown off or to please their men! [sic]” he wrote on Oct. 21.
“I’m the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 6-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize.”
His final texts came on Oct. 22, 2009.
“I would not expect you to be the other woman,” he wrote. “I would want you to be so hot and treat me so well that you’d be THE woman! R U that good?”
It seems the text messages were not an isolated incident either. Two other women have come forward with allegations against the District Attorney.
One of these allegations involved Kratz sharing details of an ongoing murder case with his date, going as far as inviting her to the autopsy of the woman.
The Associated Press shared details of allegations made by a third woman, who sought the help of Kratz over a decade-old drug conviction.
“A law student said Tuesday that a Wisconsin prosecutor under fire for sending racy text messages to a domestic abuse victim also sent her similar texts in 2008 after agreeing to help her seek a pardon for a decade-old drug conviction.
Maria Ruskiewicz said she believes Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz wanted sexual favors in return for supporting her pardon. She said she met Kratz in his office in 2008, and afterward, the Oklahoma City University law student said Kratz sent her text messages that soon turned harassing, including one that asked how she would please him in bed.”
Lawmakers, the governor, Kratz's peers and victims' advocates were outraged when they learned about the texts. Kratz apologized for his behavior but initially refused to resign, saying the punishment would be too harsh.
Doyle recently started a rarely used process to consider removing Kratz from office for cause.
Doyle started the process after local residents filed complaints with his office seeking Kratz's removal.
Three groups that advocate for crime victims called Kratz's resignation "an important first step to restore justice and safety for victims in his community."
The groups praised Van Groll, who did not immediately return a phone message, for coming forward.
"Ms. Van Groll ... had the strength to hold Kratz accountable for his actions," the groups said in a statement.
After the text messages to Van Groll became public, an Oklahoma law student told the AP last week she received similar texts in 2008 after Kratz supported her request for a pardon on an old drug charge. A woman complained to Doyle's office that Kratz invited her to a date at an autopsy. And two more crime victims who have stayed anonymous told a local newspaper and a civil rights attorney Kratz acted inappropriately toward them.
In his testimony, the disgraced Mr Kratz told Wisconsin's Office of Lawyer Regulations he suffered narcissistic personality disorder and that the illness teamed with his prescription narcotics addiction triggered his sexual compulsion and the inappropriate behaviour, according to Fox News.
said he became addicted to Xanax and Ambien, which were respectively prescribed for anxiety and sleeping problems.
He recognised his dependency when he was being treated for sexual compulsion and suffered harsh withdrawal symptoms.
The charges against Mr Kratz also included allegations that he made crude, sexually explicit comments to a Calumet County social worker.
Here’s what’s funny. The more we dug into it, the more we realized that there are biiiiig groups of people out there who hate Ken Kratz. There’s a reddit thread about how much of a creep he is, and people were actually saying things like “Ken Kratz believed to be hiding out in Las Vegas.”
There’s a facebook group called “Ken Kratz is a douchebag.”
Again I haven’t seen the show, but just from peeking into these groups, everyone collectively thinks Ken Kratz is a huge creep.
When we found these pages, we started thinking “if so many people hate him, what if someone is posing as Ken Kratz to make him look bad?” We really started to accept this as the truth, especially since we saw that his email address was @gmail.com and not like a private domain like @kratzlawfirm for example. We felt like, anybody could invent an email address like that. That is until we came across official court documents that listed his email address @gmail.com. So this was the real Ken Kratz who was texting and emailing me.
We did try to look up his address and phone number, but they seemed to belong to someone else. I’m not going to release that person’s name but we tried to find a connection but there wasn’t anything solid to connect them.
Also, I looked up “Leah Kratz” since he gave me her name and her picture, and sure enough, her facebook account shows photos matching the ones he sent me. Again, anybody could’ve saved these photos and posed as Ken Kratz, but it was all really spooky how it all connected.
As I retell the story, I’m seeing more and more the connection of him texting his client 30 times, and him now texting me what seems to be a little too much and too personal.
Two other woman actually came forward, saying that he began texting them and the messages quickly turned into sexual harassment.
Adding to Kratz's woes, a second woman came forward Monday to claim similar harassment, saying Kratz had offered to let her attend an autopsy. In an e-mail written to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle last week, the woman claimed to have met Kratz online in December 2009. On a dinner date, the woman said Kratz divulged to her the details of an ongoing murder investigation in which a woman was believed to have been killed by her boyfriend.
One woman complained that Kratz had invited her to a date at a slain woman's autopsy "provided I act as his girlfriend and would wear high heels and a skirt," and another woman said after meeting her in his office he texted her asking how she would impress him in bed. At the time, Kratz was serving as chairman of the Wisconsin Crime Victims' Rights Board, a quasi-judicial agency that he helped create that can reprimand judges, prosecutors, and police officers who mistreat crime victims.
Is it just me or is that weird? He invited his date to an autopsy and told her to wear a skirt and heels? Like, is he trying to fuck her in the same room as the dead body?
Sept. 21, 2010 — -- A third woman has come forward to claim she was harassed via text message by a Wisconsin prosecutor who has already come under fire for allegedly sending sexually charged messages to two other women on separate occasions, ABC News has confirmed.
Maria Ruskiewicz told The Associated Press she met Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz in 2008 about a previous drug case. Ruskiewicz said after she left the meeting, she received several texts from Kratz that escalated into sexual harassment.
"The reason why I'm coming forward is he abuses his power, not only with women, but with women in certain situations who are extremely vulnerable to his authority," Ruskiewicz, 31, an Appleton, Wis., native, told The Associated Press.
Kratz had also met a woman when he prosecuted her for shoplifting in 2006. According to an investigatory report, she said that in 2009 he called her "out of the blue," said he was getting a divorce, came to her apartment, and told her in a threatening manner that he "knew everything about her" and "if she did not listen to him, he could get her 'jammed up.'" "While Kratz was at [the woman's] apartment, [he] said he ties women up, they listen to him, and he is in control. [The woman] stated that Kratz wanted her to engage in bondage with him. She said he instructed her to give him a 'blow job,' and she did." Kratz then left $75 on her kitchen counter, and subsequently called and texted her 50 or 60 times, leaving angry messages when she ignored him. Kratz also allegedly put his hand up the skirt of another domestic violence victim in 1999, when he was prosecuting her husband. In addition, the initial complainant, in a later lawsuit, charged that Kratz told another domestic abuse victim 10 years prior that "he could have a dominatrix from Chicago with whom he was familiar train the victim/witness to be more submissive to his advances."
A lot of this is in court documents btw.
Kratz's role in the Steven Avery case was documented in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer (2015). Kratz did not cooperate with the producers or interviewers in the series. He later criticized them, saying they had left out key pieces of evidence. After the release of the series, Kratz began receiving death threats. His Yelp page was flooded with negative comments criticizing his tactics during the case.
So long story short about my experience-- I took all this information and I texted him and said “I’m really sorry, but I googled you and I’m not comfortable moving forward.” Then I blocked his phone number and his email address, and his account on BandMix (just because i know about his history and fully expected him to send me angry messages).
Me being who I am, I posted this story in a true crime group on facebook, it was probably a Morbid fan group to be honest. But I was like “I’m not paranoid, right?” I mean maybe I’m a little paranoid but I also know how these things go and at the end of the day, I can totally be ok with missing out on this “Live Band Karaoke” thing. Plus, with his reputation, I don’t think that would make me look very good. Like his name being associated with me would probably hurt me more.
But anyway, most people in the group agreed with me saying that this guy is an awful creep and fully believed I was a target. And then one person commented saying “I know Ken personally. All that hype was overblown. The Avery case was the worst thing to ever happen to him. He has made mistakes like other people, but he certainly is no murderer. Ken is very well connected. You may rethink your choice?”
Ok, and after that, I’ll reach out to Ghislaine Maxwell and see if she can get me some connections. And after that, I’ll try R. Kelly.
No but seriously, I responded politely saying that at the end of the day it would hurt my image, and I’m just not the type of woman to take the side of the accused over the victim.
Like I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. I’d rather be a rude bitch than a dead bitch.
And I’ll put that on a tee shirt. Sorry Ken but not worth it.
So that’s basically the whole story. This happened back in July and today I decided to look into this band and it… seemingly doesn’t exist. There is no “live band karaoke”. At least, not with him. Not to be confused with punk rock karaoke, the concept of doing karaoke with a live band isn’t new, but the band he was “auditioning” me for, isn’t playing anywhere in Las Vegas, as far as I can find.
So there you go. This may or may not have been a true crime but I’m not naive enough to find out the hard way.
If anyone else in Vegas has been contacted by this man the way I have, or like been offered a gig or something like that, please send me a message and tell me about it.
If you’ve had an experience like this with anyone else, or even someone posing as a celebrity or someone with connections, I’d like to hear it and maybe share it on the show.
I don’t know if you guys remember but I think it was in the Marilyn Monroe episode where I talked about a guy claiming to be like a big producer or Hollywood executive, and he was just some random creep who tried to attack her.
So like, this is why I wanted to talk about this. It’s a real issue and I think we all need to keep this kind of thing in mind. It’s a scary world out there.
Well I hope you enjoyed this mini episode. I’ll do my best to put out a second episode this week. This new episode is about Victor Salva, a convicted child molestor who went onto create Jeepers Creepers films AND work with Disney in the film Powder.
As always, remember to check out brokenlimelight.com for updates and additional information for each episode, merch, photos, shit like that.
If you want to get me a birthday gift, I would really love it if you would leave me a positive review on Itunes/Apple Podcast or on brokenlimelight.com, or you can send me money for beer at buymeacoffee.com/didiwest.