Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Howard Appledorf

A secret life

Bates asserted that Appledorf maintained high academic standards. "Howie did get in trouble with people from one of the major sports teams here because he had some slackers who wanted an easy grade and he wouldn't budge on the grade. It wasn't a snap course," Bates said. Bates remembered Appledorf as "an awfully nice person, who would go out of his way to do anything for students or fellow faculty. He was very friendly with people. If people were hard up, he'd loan them money, he'd loan them his car."

University of Florida food science professor Ron Schmidt also knew Howard and described him as "a real mentor to students, very popular with students and involved in fraternity and sorority activities."

Howard was closeted to many who knew him. "I did not know he was a homosexual," Schmidt recalled. "He used to bring female dates to departmental parties." McCall quotes a student saying, "He was the last person you'd think was gay. He wasn't macho, but he was really one of the guys." Attorney William N. DeCarlis, who defended Shane Kennedy, worked out at the same fitness center the nutritionist did. "He was very well known for his outlook on fast foods and very well liked," DeCarlis said. "I had no idea he was gay but when I found out after his death it didn't make any difference to me."

However, there were some who knew. McCall quoted a waiter who claimed he had had an affair with Appledorf as saying, "He would look for relationships out of town. He went to California, to San Francisco a lot. He really let loose there." Bates and Appledorf never discussed the latter's sexuality but Bates "suspected" Appledorf was gay. "He wasn't out of the closet but it was reasonably clear to me that he was homosexual," Bates said. "He used to head to San Francisco a lot for vacations and he would link up with someone I knew was of the same persuasion."

Appledorf taught an extraordinarily large group of students. In any large group of people, there are bound to be some who are mentally unbalanced and even some who are potentially dangerous. Shortly before Appledorf's death, he made a remark that Bates attributed to Appledorf's interactions with such a vast number of pupils. "There are a lot of crazies out there," Appledorf told Bates. "Maybe I should get a gun."

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