Waggoner has been in jail for four nights here and is convinced that the entire ordeal is an attempt to extort money from him. In February, while volunteering at Haitian Community Hospital, Waggoner was witness to the death of a baby, Keevens.
The father of the baby refused to believe he died and refused to take the body home. Since then, by turns, he has accused Waggoner of drugging the baby into a zombielike state, using voodoo to steal the baby's spirit, kidnapping the child and selling his organs.
For his part, LP or "Little Paul," as he's known here, is not an entirely sympathetic character. As reported in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, he has a long rap sheet that includes charges, eventually dismissed, of kidnapping a former friend, holding him hostage and beating him with the blunt end of an ax.
Waggoner pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault and battery, and was issued an 18-month suspended jail sentence and two years' probation, the newspaper reported.
"He got the assault and battery charges because he beat up a pedophile," Sebring said in an interview with AOL News. "LP was on a construction site. This guy was talking about a little girl he molested, and LP lost it and beat the crap out of the guy."
Most new friends of Waggoner's, those he's made since his work in Haiti, were shocked by the revelation. The man Waggoner assaulted reportedly is a registered sex offender with a long criminal record, including, according to records, offering a 12-year-old girl money and jewelry in exchange for sex and, on a separate occasion, assaulting a mentally disabled female acquaintance.
On the Facebook group "Free LP," created to help raise awareness of his imprisonment, friends and family argued about how best to handle the news.
"I think we all have things in our past that we would rather not have everyone aware of," said one follower. "Let he who has no sin be the first to cast the stone."
His representatives in Haiti, Sebring and Nanci Murdock in Canada, have both been open about the news since it surfaced and contend it was an act of civilian justice.
Case Has Political Overtones
Among people familiar with the case in Haiti, there is little question that Paul Waggoner is innocent. With a criminal record in the United States, however, the chances for release look slim. Haitian media has already painted the case with political undertones, and in a country where justice is often decided on the radio airwaves instead of a court, he will likely face an intense and likely impossible battle.
Today Waggoner was moved to the main penitentiary, where inmates are less easy to reach and often don't leave for years.
Dr. David Villareal, the doctor who treated Keevens Philistin in February, said in an affidavit that when the baby arrived at the hospital, he was already very near death. He suffered from a fever and was painfully malnourished and dehydrated.
The main "evidence" in this case is the absence of the baby's body. Frantz Philistin, the father, came to the hospital the next day, took the shirt of the dead baby, took photos with him, but refused to take him home, saying he had no money for either a burial or a funeral.
Philistin is lucent, confident and articulate. He is clearly operating on a belief system that Americans can't understand but within Haiti is more familiar. Turning a person into a zombie, which basically involves putting them in an extended comalike state, is not just a rumor here. Many believe it actually happens.
"My son is not dead," he told AOL News. "When I tried to close his eyes, they wouldn't close. When I tried to close his mouth, it wouldn't close."
"Some people came up, they put something in his veins. I don't know what they put in his veins. Then he died."
The hospital administrator, Jean Adrien, has not been brought in on any charges, raising speculation here that the case is motivated by either politics or money. Following the earthquake, the removal of dead bodies was handled in a sloppy, ad hoc way. No one can attest to what happened to the body.
Waggoner's case may be just the first of its kind. Despite the overwhelming lack of evidence, it was decided Wednesday that the case will be moved to an investigatory judge, who has up to three months to investigate and rule.
Waggoner Had a Tough Life
Under normal circumstances, Waggoner is reticent to speak to the media. When Kitt Doucette, a writer for Men's Journal, came out to do a feature story on "the Pauls," Waggoner declined to say much. The piece characterized the guys as "cowboys" and "extreme humanitarians," for their "just do it" style.
Most of the work of MMRC does is in transporting medical supplies and providing emergency care to events like car accidents. It operates on a budget of $7,000 per month, and a single used pickup truck, donated by actress and humanitarian Patricia Arquette.
Organizations and individuals who have worked with MMRC say they are top-notch guys with a nontraditional approach that works. Others say their winner-takes-all approach seemed dangerous. At least once, they sneaked a sick patient out of a hospital in order to get the person better care.
Waggoner is himself an orphan and well-schooled in the college of hard knocks. He is intensely motivated by empathy. Both of his parents died suddenly, before he was 19 years old. He has a slight Southern twang, from growing up in DeFuniak Springs, Fla.
For some part of his life, he was raised by his stepfather, who suffered from a drug addiction, but has since made amends. Waggoner is mostly estranged from the little family he does have. Two years ago, he stopped going home for Christmas. Perhaps as a result of his own legal trouble, he sought to separate himself from his past life and old acquaintances.
He said he got tired of giving his family money when they were neither truly in need nor grateful. In Haiti, he found a way to give and, in turn, receive the meaning, family and gratitude he's been seeking.
Throughout the day's legal proceedings, which were confused, long and farcical, Waggoner never lost his cool. After it became apparent he would spend another night in jail, and that the process of investigation might take three months, he was pushed into the back of a pickup truck and threw up on the seat.
His face is always tense but steady. He has no press statement at the ready or prepackaged sentiments about the value of his own work or his organization's. At times, he seems to say and ask too little of all the people and the system around him. Until now, he has been a poor advocate for himself.
If he is released from jail, Waggoner insists he won't leave Haiti. Friends say he has an intuitive, deep bond with children, who love him.
"What the hell do I have to go home to? I left that life behind," he said in his cell Wednesday night.
*Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 by AOL NEWS