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Intriguing people for January 5, 2010

By Jay Kernis, CNN
Casey Johnson, the daughter of New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson, was found dead Monday.
Casey Johnson, the daughter of New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson, was found dead Monday.
  • Johnson & Johnson heiress found dead at 30
  • Suicide bomber was Jordanian double agent, former U.S. official says
  • Philanthropist who named Ebony magazine dead at 93

Editor's note: Every weekday, CNN focuses on a handful of people in the news. This is a chance to find out more about what they've done -- good or bad -- what they've said or what they believe, and why we think they're intriguing.

(CNN) -- Casey Johnson
The 30-year-old heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune was found dead at a house in Los Angeles on Monday, People magazine reported.

Johnson's death was announced via Twitter by reality star Tila Tequila and confirmed by police, who said she apparently died of natural causes.

As an openly gay socialite, Johnson was a favorite of tabloids and paparazzi, People reported. Her purported engagement to Tequila put her on tabloid front pages, as did an alleged fight with an ex-girlfriend that reportedly ended with Johnson's hair on fire. In November, she was arrested for allegedly breaking into another former girlfriend's house.

Police said the coroner's office will investigate Johnson's death and issue a toxicology report. She leaves a toddler daughter, Ava.

People: Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson dies

Jordanian double agent
The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officials and a Jordanian military officer last week in Afghanistan was a trusted Jordanian double agent, a former U.S. intelligence official told CNN. The man had been used by both U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services in the past, and had provided information about high-value targets, the senior U.S. official said.

The security breach occurred because the bomber was met off-base by U.S. intelligence officials, who failed to search him before they put him in a car and drove him onto Forward Operating Base Chapman, the former intelligence official said. Both the Jordanian and U.S. intelligence services believed the man was loyal, according to the former intelligence official. The New York Times reports that the Pakistani Taliban identified the bomber as Humam Khalil Mohammed and that he was a Jordanian doctor. The Washington Post reports his name as Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.

CNN: Suicide bomber was Jordanian double agent

New York Times: Behind bombing, an agent with many loyalties

Washington Post: Suicide bomber was trusted informant

Carlos Allen
Remember that White House state dinner that a Virginia couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, allegedly crashed? Apparently they weren't the only unauthorized guests there. The Secret Service announced Monday that a third person who wasn't on the official guest list made it into the dinner by entering with the delegation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Secret Service didn't name the person, but The Washington Post quoted an anonymous congressional source as saying he was Carlos Allen, a Washington party promoter. Allen, the CEO of HUSH Society magazine, has denied he was at the state dinner, but reports that Nicole Almodovar, the 2009 Miss Maryland Galaxy, says Allen told her he was there and had a good time. The State Department says this incident is now under investigation.

CNN: Secret Service reports third White House party crasher

Washington Post: Secret Service confirms third crasher at dinner

Politico: Alleged third crasher denies report

Amanda Simpson
The aerospace and defense industry expert begins a new job today in Washington as senior technical adviser with the Department of Commerce. The Arizona Daily Star reports that Simpson is among the first transgendered people appointed to a position in the Obama administration. Simpson grew up in Chicago as a boy named Mitch and faced taunts while transitioning to female. She has worked for Raytheon Missile Systems and, in 2004, was honored by the YWCA for her professional accomplishments. A Democrat, she also ran for the Arizona state legislature, but lost the general election.

Arizona Daily Star: Equality key for transgender woman

Eunice W. Johnson
The philanthropist and widow of John H. Johnson, the influential founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, died Sunday at the age of 93. According to the Chicago Tribune, she not only named Ebony magazine, which her husband published beginning in 1945, but also created a fashion show -- the Ebony Fashion Fair -- that traveled across the country and internationally for five decades, bringing the creations of top designers to black audiences.

Chicago Tribune: Widow of Johnson publishing founder dead at 93

What makes a person intriguing?

There are people who enter the news cycle every day because their actions or decisions are new, important or different. Others are in the news because they are the ones those decisions affect. And there are a number of people who are so famous or controversial that anything they say or do becomes news.

Some of these people do what we expect of them: They run for office, pass legislation, start a business, get hired or fired, commit a crime, make an arrest, get in accidents, hit a home run, overthrow a government, fight wars, sue an opponent, put out fires, prepare for hurricanes and cavort with people other than their spouses. They do make news, but the action is usually more important than who is involved in the story.

But every day, there are a number of people who become fascinating to us -- by virtue of their character, how they reached their decision, how they behaved under pressure or because of the remarkable circumstances surrounding the event they are involved in.

They arouse our curiosity. We hear about them and want to know more. What they have done or said stimulates conversations across the country. At times, there is even a mystery about them. What they have done may be unique, heroic, cowardly or ghastly, but they capture our imaginations. We want to know what makes them tick, why they believe what they do, and why they did what they did. They intrigue us.