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Causing a Natural Disaster to Party: The Case of James Scott | Overlooked

In 1993, the Midwestern United States was submerged by extreme rainfall and historic flooding that resulted in tens of deaths, billions of dollars in damages, and a breach of levees up and down the Mississippi River. In the small river town of Quincy, Illinois, 24-year-old James Scott was convicted under an obscure 1979 Missouri law for intentionally “causing a catastrophe”. His alleged crime was causing the West Quincy levee to fail and his alleged motive was to strand his wife on the other side of the river so he could be free to party and go fishing with his friends. Though no one died in this levee breach, James is the first and only person in Missouri history convicted under this law and is currently serving a life sentence.

In this episode of Overlooked, Adam Pitluk, journalist and author of Damned to Eternity, returns to Quincy, IL to further investigate how James may have been scapegoated by local community and law enforcement officials whose tunnel vision firmly placed the blame on James, a crime which he maintains to this day that he didn’t do.

MRN Interview About “Damned To Eternity”

Muddy River News (Quincy, Illinois, USA), editor talks to journalist Adam Pitluk about his experiences with James Scott, the man who was found guilty of the West Quincy Levee break.

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