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Perlious Journeys

Brief histories of incidents involving magazine subscription crews.
By the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Staff
Last Updated: July 31, 1999

1. Janesville, Wis. – Seven agents died and five were seriously injured when a driver with a suspended license who’d admitted to smoking pot earlier in the day tried to switch seats at 80 mph when police pursued. Interstate 90, March 25, 1999. Crew: Y.E.S. of Iowa, a subsidiary of Subscriptions Plus of Oklahoma.

2. Champaign, Ill. – Three agents were severely injured and two others were hospitalized when their van bounced off a bridge and spun out around midnight during a strong rainstorm. The driver was cited for driving too fast, but one survivor alleges that an unlicensed driver switched out of the driver’s seat after the crash to fool police. Interstate 57 north of the city near Buckley. May 22, 1998. Company: Mountain Subscriptions, Mountville, Pa.

3. Kansas City, Kan. – Part of a crew headed to a big Christmas bash, Amanda Spurr, 20, of Joplin, Mo., was killed Dec. 20 1998, on Interstate 35 when the van she was riding in slid on ice and flipped over. The driver was faulted for imprudent speed and improper lane change. The driver and six agents suffered minor injuries. Crew: Kay’s Naturals, a subsidiary of Subscriptions Plus of Oklahoma.

4. Des Moines, Iowa – A driver with no license and very little driving experience piloted a van that hit the median and overturned after midnight on Interstate 80 west of the city, ejecting nine people. Five agents killed and six injured. May 3, 1992. Crew known as Total Dedication Inc., linked to American Community Services, both of Michigan City, Ind.

5. Madison, Wis. – Kevin Bissell of Concord, Ohio, a veteran magazine crew driver, drove the wrong way onto the freeway and died in a head-on collision after getting drunk with fellow crew members on his 28th birthday, July 25, 1992. He held the job despite a horrible driving record and an expired license. He told his family he was provided fake ID and birth certificate. Bissell worked for Summit Publishers of Spring, Texas, and for Publishers Clearing Group of Atlanta.

6. Jackson, Miss. – Amber Stankovich, 19, died Oct. 26, 1997, when an All-Star Promotions sales van rolled off the road after the driver tried to pass another car. Another agent’s legs were crushed.

7. Batavia, N.Y. – Two sales agents beat two fellow crew members to death with rocks for refusing to help rob a convenience store. All were employed by All-Star Promotions, of Pilot Point, Texas. Aug. 27, 1996

8. Boston– A 76-year-old retired beautician was stabbed to death by a Detroit sales agent with American Community Services of Indiana. The salesman, who had a prior rape conviction, had sold a subscription to the victim earlier in the day in suburban Woburn. July 13, 1990.

9. Corvallis, Ore. – Two agents for American Community Services beat a former alderman nearly to death on the courthouse steps after an argument. Aug. 12, 1998.

10. Plano, Texas – An American Community Services salesman raped a 67-year-old woman after pushing his way into her home and threatening her with a kitchen knife. Feb. 19, 1998.

11. Peoria, Ill. – A magazine seller for Worldwide Reader of Miami was charged Thursday, July 29, with murdering a customer. Police say the woman was selling subscriptions door-to-door. The man invited her inside, where the two eventually shared a drink, smoked crack cocaine and had sex before she stabbed him to death with a butcher’s knife.

Journal Sentinel Research
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