Part XXII: Brianna Maitland Missing Person


I have guest blogger Bob working overtime now with his second post of the week on the Brianna Maitland missing person case. I think we were all happy to see State Police officials on television and in the newspapers publicizing the investigation this week.

I also appreciate the emails sent to me regarding the case. If you have a question or comment and would rather not post it to the blog, my email address is to the left of the homepage.

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Brianna Maitland – “the Crime-Scene”

Part Three

Photo: Simulated “Night-Scene” by Bob, Picture Courtesy of the “World Travelers”

Let’s first imagine that there were no pictures of Brianna’s car – where it was found on the morning of March 20, 2004 - seen and photographed by the World Travelers, J. and T., around 8AM, March 20th, 2004.

What we have is an official log by a Vermont State trooper noting the scene of the “crash” at around 1:30AM. The trooper, near the end of his shift, with a couple of days off coming up, got another call he had to respond to.

The assumption was it was an accident, the driver probably drunk, and took off. By some accounts, no foul play was considered in the days and even weeks that followed. But her parents were already taking action, and the stories, or rumors, started.

It’s not until the following Tuesday that the Maitlands heard from the police. Jillian had found Brianna’s note when she returned late Sunday or Monday. She assumed then in the next couple of days that Brianna may have been at her parent’s home. She called them around Wednesday asking if they’d heard from her, which they hadn’t.

An obvious question that comes to mind is why the Maitlands didn’t call Jillian… though they may have and she wasn’t home.

The Maitlands, by now, had learned about the car, filed a missing person’s report, while at the same time a friend of Brianna’ brother had called him to ask why Brianna’s car was at such and such garage? Her brother was older, had his own place and often saw Brianna with mutual friends.

By coincidence, Waylon, called his parents around the same time they had found out about the car and Waylon and Bruce drove down to the garage themselves to inspect the car.

What they find is an unlocked car, items strewn about on the seats, no car keys, and the trunk of the car closed and unopened. Since no foul play had been considered, the trunk was never inspected… so Bruce and Waylon had the unfortunate job of prying open the trunk expecting the worse.

No Brianna… still hope! What they found according to what I was told was stuff Brianna had been safe-keeping for Jillian. Plus other assorted stuff. It was stuff her parents knew for certain Brianna would not put at risk by backing the car into a house.

As a side-note here, one of the stories told to anyone who would listen, and we are grateful the person posted the story here on Slam Dunks, in a comment to an earlier post, was that “Brianna’s body had been placed in the trunk by friend’s she’d been with, and they drove her to a farm and disposed of her in a manure pit… then the friends drove the car back to the Dutchburn place, rear-end crashed it into the house, and left.”

Many problems with that story… among them: 1) Police did do a thorough forensic inspection of the car. 2) With Jillian’s stuff in the trunk of the car along with other things, was that really place to put her “alleged body?”

There was another possibility presented later… a tip from one of Brianna’s friend’s that she had bought the car that was used to transport Brianna’s body, she had bought it from one of those involved in her death, had taken it to the VSP for investigation.

Brianna’s parents were well aware of this tip, and had been getting help by then from a retired Texas police detective, now a criminal profiler, active in many other missing person’s cases. I was asked to work with him as the Maitlands had so many other tasks they were working on.

Glen, his middle name, and I still correspond, and he believed that car was crucial to Brianna’s case. Unfortunately I was told it was not investigated and the owner junked it. It is long gone.

The question that doesn’t seem to have an answer to yet is, was this an accident, or was it purposely done or staged to look like an accident? How could Brianna’s car have been seen according to witnesses around midnight, if it was at a party in Richford, when Brianna not only didn’t drink/party and drive, as I have stated previously, and have been used to transport her body, as has been stated by some?

It couldn’t, is the simple answer… especially when there is no reason to return the car to the Dutchburn place, that I can imagine, and to stage an accident there, when there are so many ravines along the many miles of highway all this would have encompassed, it’s simply ludicrous to consider, in my opinion.

Additional observations of the car from the outside – viewing the photo’s provided to me by the World Travelers I can add:

The rear of her car is hung up on a high stone foundation. Being as the car is rear-wheel drive there is every chance she was stuck. There is no apparent ruts caused by spinning tires, and though the ground was probably frozen still in mid-March, one would expect if a crisis were in progress there would be indications of that. All the flattened grass around the vehicle is likely a result of snow packing from the winter.

It looks almost as if the scene has no story to tell… just a car backed into an old vacant farmhouse.

Well, we know that’s not the case. Brianna was working, not getting intoxicated. She left work just after 11:30 PM, and as far as the one witness said, she appeared to be alone when she left. She had two paychecks on her front seat, medicine for migraines, and contact lenses. It was below freezing, but not snowing.

There was reference made of a witness who saw her car at 12 midnight at the Dutchburn place, that her head-lights were on. By 1:30 they probably weren’t… they may have drained the battery by then.

Signs of a struggle?

J. and T., the “World Travelers”, noticed pocket change and a necklace – costume jewelry like her mother made, on the ground near the driver’s door. Brianna wore such a necklace, a green glass type emerald necklace. Likely she had change in her waitress pocket pouch, which she may have been wearing.

The fact that change and her necklace were on the ground indicates a struggle to me, albeit, a quick one. Who would have a mind to “plant” such items?

Next week… a closer look at her car – inside it with pictures.

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Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

Ludicrous Police Policy


What may be more problematic for police professionals than crafty criminals?

Meddling politicians of course:



Perhaps, Wellford Mayor Sallie Peak's heart is in the right place and Chief of Police Chris Guy does do an admirable job by not laughing out loud at his boss' policy on camera, but forbidding foot pursuits by officers as a method to reduce injuries is simply ridiculous.

When I saw this initially posted on the General Blog of Crime, I tried to make a humorous comment with this:

As the mayor of Slamdunkville, I now realize that my officers are involved in way too many vehicle collisions. As a result, I just issued a memo informing all officers here that driving on patrol will no longer be permitted. Instead officers will be issued Heelys for use during the course of their official duties.
Ok, I tried, but a funny comment that definitely hit the mark was by a commenter named "Trailing Spouse":

City Jail is going to be full of fat criminals.


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Note: Under pressure, the mayor evidently reversed the no chase policy.

Special Update: This Week's Search for Brianna


This past week, multiple news outlets in Vermont reported that authorities searched the area around the Dutchburn farm for information related to the Brianna Maitland missing person investigation. Bob wanted to express the thoughts listed below.

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I have watched the news lately, and I want to thank Vermont State Police for their present renewed investigation into Brianna’s disappearance. The following are my interpretations of what I am hearing and understanding – I have other persons who I correspond with who are doing everything they can, to also find the truth.

The statement read by Bruce Maitland on behalf of Brianna’s mother Kelly was courageous and means a lot for those still working to publicize the case.

Some comments I have related to recent news:

I observed on the WPTZ film footage “Search and Rescue” teams searching the cornfield by the Dutchburn place. Back in 2005 I asked Bruce Maitland about that cornfield. At the time, I was either in my first or second search with my metal detector in the area, a hobby I’d perfected over some 20 years. Bruce told me it was unlikely I would find anything in that cornfield as the farmer uses “spike tilling” to prepare the field for the next years planting.

So, I spent minimal time out there, and concentrated especially around the area where Brianna’s car was crashed into the farmhouse. I didn’t find much, but what I did find was a quarter… the World Travelers (citizens who photographed the scene) told me they saw a necklace and a small pile of change on the ground by her driver’s side door. The spot where I found the quarter – at a depth consistent with the 9 months that had passed, corroborates the WT’s statement to me.

It is a mystery to me why they’re searching there… but I’m not going to go there… I’m simply happy VTSP is continuing their investigating.

I’d also like to speak to a visitor here at Slam Dunks blog, a person who has provided excellent comments and insight, who also commented to one of the news stories under the name "cbcklr". I want to respond to that person especially to say you’re welcome to here, and to e-mail Slam Dunk… there’s a link on his blog. If you’d like to contact me, let Slam Dunk know in your e-mail.

I’m aware of most of what you posted. There were some surprises however! I’ve love to discuss them with you if you wish to. Essentially I am fairly sure I have spoken to your daughter, and I know the others you speak of in your posts. I am aware of the controversy with the search of the manure pit and the idea that the wrong area was searched.

There were two farms … and the word was the wrong one was searched. I hear you. But there are contradictions in your story. We do not believe, for example, that Brianna was smoking crack that night or doing anything but driving home from work as the timeline does not appear to fit in that … It is believed that she left her job at 11:45 pm and the ”crack smoking” story, for one, simply does not allow enough time for her to be at the Crossroads in Richford, VT, nor does it jive with other information that you have suggested.

Either James is not telling you the truth, or you need to have a new talk with him and get the real truth. We are here if you need to talk, or vent… we appreciate your concern… we want the same thing.

My “CRIME-SCENE” Posts will be continued next time.

Bob

Alleged Child Abduction Prevented in Virginia


If this story proves to be accurate after police conclude their investigation, neighbors catching and restraining a child abductor in the act is an amazing tale:

...A 47-year-old man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly tried to abduct a 3-year-old boy in Newport News, Va., WAVY.com reported.

According to police, Wesley Stuart Brown approached the child as he was playing outside, put him in a wagon and rolled him away, all in front of the toddler's grandmother, Angie Craig. She began to scream and neighbors quickly came to the rescue. They surrounded Brown and two of them took the boy and put him in their car until police arrived...
I believe that some academicians and their efforts to downplay child abductions by strangers (by contributing pages and pages of work to academic journals discussing how stranger abductions are media hyped and are a rarity when compared to family member abductions) are doing a disservice to the public--whereas studies should be focused on developing useful information for criminal justice practioners trying to arrest these types of offenders.

Walking to School Alone at Age 7


Author Vox Day recently had a humorous yet understandable fatherly response to an article posted in the NY Times regarding the push by some parents to allow their young children to walk to school alone (he recommends finding high ground and bringing a rifle with a scope to provide adequate protection for young children on the morning stroll).

In the Times article, an anonymous mother from New York discusses wanting to encourage independence in her 7 year old daughter by allowing her to walk the short distance daily from home to school.

...Katie, too, is tormented by the abduction monsters embedded in modern parenting. Yet she wants to encourage her daughter’s independence. “Somehow, walking to school has become a political act when it’s this uncommon,” she said. “Somebody has to be first.”

It has been 30 years since the May morning when Julie Patz, a Manhattan mother, finally allowed her 6-year-old son, Etan, to walk by himself to the school-bus stop, two blocks away. She watched till he crossed the street — and never saw him again.

Since that haunting case, a generation of parents and administrators have created dense rituals of supervision around what used to be a mere afterthought of childhood: taking yourself to and from school...
We live nowhere near our son's school, but even if it were a few blocks, he would have mom or dad tagging along on a walk to 3rd grade. As the "experts" in the article like to regurgitate, child abductions involving strangers are rare:

...About 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics; 250,000 are injured in auto accidents....
It should be noted that the cited numbers involve confirmed stranger abductions and do not include the unknown offender abductions--which most assuredly would make the totals greater.

Further, as stated in the article, the number of kids walking or biking to school dropped from 41% in 1969 to 13% in 2001. Do you think the presence of parents driving kids to school or waiting at the bus stop is a significant factor in reducing the number of opportunities that strangers would have in snatching a child?

Stated in terms of criminology's routine activities theory to explain why a crime did not occur with a parent present--there is a motivated offender but no crime opportunity due to the lack of an appealing target and faced with the presence of a guardian.

I think anonymous mom is taking an unnecessary risk in encouraging the solo walk by a 7 year old. There are plenty of other ways to ensure that a 7 year old develops independence.

Obviously, mom being anonymous in the story reinforces that the fear expressed by most parents for their children is reasonable and not unwarranted.

The Ballad of Big Mike


Note: My computer is back, and I have been busy reinstalling programs that were lost. Got to love technology, but I am happy to be playing catch-up now.

Fortunately, several readers have sent me posts or post ideas during my absence. This fantastic story was sent to me by the excellent police blogger Raindog.

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Michael Oher's story is so much more than simply being drafted in the first round of this year's NFL draft. He and the people in his life reveal an inspiring story of hope and overcoming obstacles that few can match.

A favorite author of mine, Michael Lewis,(Moneyball) released the book Blind Side: Evolution of the Game in 2006 describing Oher's life up to college. A movie starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw that is based on the book is scheduled for theaters in late 2009.

Also in 2006, Lewis wrote a condensed version of Oher's tale entitled "The Ballad of Big Mike" for the New York Times Magazine .*

Here is an excerpt:

...In his first nine years of school, Michael Oher was enrolled in 11 different institutions, and that included a gap of 18 months, around age 10, when he apparently did not attend school at all. Either that or the public schools were so indifferent to his presence that they neglected to register it formally.

Not that Oher actually showed up at the schools where he was enrolled. Even when he received credit for attending, he was sensationally absent: 46 days of a single term of his first-grade year, for instance. His first first-grade year, that is; Michael Oher repeated first grade. He repeated second grade, too.

And yet the school system presented these early years as the most accomplished of his academic career. They claimed that right through the fourth grade he was performing at “grade level.” How could they know when, according to these transcripts, he hadn’t even attended the third grade?

Simpson, who had spent 30-plus years in area public schools, including 29 in Memphis, knew what everyone who had even a brief brush with the Memphis public schools knew: they passed kids up to the next grade because they found it too much trouble to flunk them. They functioned as an assembly line churning out products never meant to be market-tested.

At several schools, Michael Oher had been given F’s in reading his first term and C’s the second term, which allowed him to finish the school year with D’s — they were giving him grades just to get rid of him. And get rid of him they did: seldom did the child return to the school that passed him. The year before Simpson got his file, Michael Oher passed ninth grade at a high school called Westwood.

According to his transcripts, he missed 50 days of school that year. Fifty days! At Briarcrest, the rule was that if a student misses 15 days of any class, he has to repeat the class no matter his grade. And yet Westwood had given Michael Oher just enough D’s to move him along.

Even when you threw in the B in world geography, clearly a gift from the Westwood basketball coach who taught the class, the grade-point average the student would bring with him to Briarcrest began with a zero: 0.6.

If there was a less promising academic record, Simpson hadn’t seen it. Simpson guessed, rightly, that the Briarcrest Christian School hadn’t seen anything like Michael Oher either.

Simpson and others in the Briarcrest community would eventually learn that Michael’s father had been shot and killed and tossed off a bridge, that his mother was addicted to crack cocaine and that his life experience was so narrow that he might as well have spent his first 16 years inside a closet. And yet here was his application, in the summer of 2002, courtesy of the Briarcrest football coach, Hugh Freeze, who offered with it this wildly implausible story: Big Mike, as he was called, was essentially homeless and so had made an art of sleeping on whatever floor the ghetto would provide for him.

He crashed for a stretch on the floor of an inner-city character named Tony Henderson, who at nearly 400 pounds himself was known simply as Big Tony. Big Tony’s mom had died and as her dying wish asked Tony to enroll his son Steven Payne at a “Christian school.” Big Tony had figured that as long as he was taking Steven, he might as well take Big Mike, too...
I enjoy Lewis' style--humorous, yet able to effectively hammer points.

Oher's story illustrates the need for much more than simply throwing money at problems, but by becoming directly involved in the lives of the "Big Mikes" or "Little Annes," we can recognize the value of each child.

I realize that becoming involved does not guarantee a happy ending, but I certainly recognize the chances for success when no one offers help.

The full article on Oher can be read here.

*Note: the picture is from the NY Times article and was evidently provided by his adoptive family.

Money Earned the Kid-Fashioned Way


Note: Surprise: my computer still resides at the repair shop...

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While stopped at a red light in front of a financial services office the other day, I discussed the meaning of the various numbers posted to their front window with my eight-year old son.

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closing refers to the day's total of the stock value of thirty large and widely-held companies. The Standard and Poor's 500 or S&P 500 Index is a better measurement of how equities performed on that day of trading--since the sample size and diversity of companies is greater," I instructed.

"YAWN," I hear from the youngster in the backseat.

Let's go Dad you are losing him, I think to myself.

"Wow did you see the .72% near the bottom of the list? If you give those financial experts $100 for 12 months, at the end of the year they will earn some additional money as profit for themselves, give you your $100 bill back plus a whopping seventy-two cents!"

As we discussed this depressing concept further, and how the rate of return has fallen for the most part over the last thirty years, it allowed me to talk about the importance of saving; since our country has become a nation of spenders--with little emphasis placed on building for the long-term.

To add a practical exercise to this economics discussion, we agreed on a challenge.

During the next day's mundane family errands, we would both look for unclaimed coins scattered in the parking lot or wherever, and see how much we could collect in our three stops.

How would our one-day return stack-up against the financial whizzes?

On Saturday, one motivated third-grader carefully checked the parking lots, the vending machines, the coin-operated toy dispensers, and the area around the cash registers, at Super Wal-Mart, a hardware store, and a small grocery store. At the end of our travels, I had found some change, but he had found more.

We pooled our money and counted. Our take for the day: $1.11.

After returning home, we rested comfortably knowing that even if we only find $1.11 total for each month during a 12 month period, the little guy would earn $13.32 for the year--stomping the financial firm's return on his $100 with an earned interest rate of %13.36 versus the advertised paltry .72%.*

The only negative associated with this practice is the need to wash your hands frequently. Money is a very dirty thing.

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*Note: I realize it is a little more complicated than this description with taxes, minimum investment rules, and other factors--I was just trying to keep it simple.

Part XXI: Brianna Maitland Missing Person


Thanks for the comments of condolences about my malfunctioning computer. I am hopeful that it is only the hard drive and that it can be fixed Friday (hope is such a great thing right?).

I am very much lost without Internet access.

In the meantime, Bob is graciously continuing to pinch-hit for me and here is the second installment in his series of posts on the Brianna Maitland case.

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Brianna Maitland – “the Crime-Scene”


Part Two









“DUTCHBURN HOUSE2”, Morning of March 20, 2004– Picture Courtesy of “the World Travelers

In Part One of the “Crime-Scene” I discussed the day Brianna had leading up to the night she disappeared.

March 19, 2004: Brianna had been working at the Black Lantern Inn for about 5 weeks. She washed dishes and when it got busy waited tables. It was a second job, and she liked it. She could wear jeans or a skirt, and wore an apron as a money pouch. After work the owners and staff would often chill out with food and drink, next door. This night, Brianna was invited to join in with them too… she declined.

When her shift ended she did exactly what her note to Jillian said, she left to go home. The question that comes into play here is an important one. The question is: what time did her shift end?

Many of us might think of a work day as 9 to 5, 3 to 11, etc. For a restaurant worker, Brianna didn’t know what time her shift would end. It depended on how busy the restaurant was. It might have been as early as 10:30, or as late as 12:00.

It just happened she left around 11:30. If she had stayed liked she often did to party with staff, she might have stayed until 1:30.

11:00PM to 1:30AM… two and one half hours… Think about it!

When Brianna left work out the side door to the parking lot (I’m unsure if she warmed up her car first – I would assume she did) a coworker talked to her at the door.

To our knowledge, Brianna neither made nor received any phone calls, nor did she have any “friends” stop by while she worked.

The coworker recalled seeing her leave, turning left, which would be towards home and past the Dutchburn house. It wasn’t snowing, but it was cold, below 30.

What happened next is the mystery we all would like answers to.

The drive from the Black Lantern to pass by the Dutchburn place was about a mile or so, less than 10 minutes away. She’d have passed by two left turns leading to covered bridges… passed cornfields, a few houses, a large storage barn, a public works building and a public park (not in that order).

The town in which the Black Lantern was located is a small town, a small town commons as the center; a big, beautiful white church across the road; a few stores, a construction firm, a cemetery, all very quaint.

There is plenty of area across the street from the Black Lantern Inn where someone could have parked also and watched for her to leave. The church is there as well as the town commons, with trees to hide next by.

It seems more likely to me that someone would be waiting and watching there, across the street, than nearly a mile down the road planning an ambush.

There was a report of a truck parked and idling down by the second covered bridge just before the Dutchburn place. But if this is the case, it means the person knew or expected she would turn left that night, and pass by that bridge… and the person was willing to not only wait, and watch every car passing by, but wait within a 2½ hour time-frame.

Next Time… a closer look at the scene where her car was found. There’s a close-up of her car above, look closely at the way the wheels are turned, at how the rear end is hung up on the house foundation. Was it an accident or was the car purposely backed into the house?

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Bob will have more on the subject next week.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

Laptop is Broken


Sorry folks, my laptop broke this weekend and I will only have limited access to a computer until it is fixed. Argh...

On Children's Safety in Public Restrooms


A few days ago, I was escorting our little girl (3 years old) to a restroom at a local public park. The eight year old was with us. As we turned the corner to the men's room, a woman was standing outside the door and her seven or eight year old son emerged alone from the isolated multi-stall bathroom.

"Be careful," the woman said to me. "There was an older man hanging around. Oh, there he is driving away."

She pointed to an older model compact that was driving at a normal pace to the main road.

I asked the lady a couple of more questions and it seems the guy was doing nothing more than looking in the mirror at himself. She seemed unconcerned now that he was gone. I thanked the woman and my crew went about our business in the now-empty men's room.

The Mrs. and I are not shy about bathroom assignments when only one parent is available as the sex of the escorted kiddo doesn't matter: the little boys go into the women's restroom with my wife, or I escort the little girl and the other boys to the men's room as necessary.

Unfortunately, we feel strongly that this practice is essential to protect children in our society. Sending kids into public restrooms alone is dangerous. We tell the older boy, to close his eyes when he walks through the female bathroom with the Mrs. Similarly, the guys at the urinal "get over" their discomfort as I walk little girl to a stall.

A good 1998 article from Salon magazine offers perspectives from police professionals advocating this safety point, as well as listing several cases where unescorted children were victimized in restrooms.

Included in the list of cases is the horrible murder of nine-year old Mathew Cecchi in a Northern California public restroom by drifter Brandon Wilson--the crime that came to my mind when the woman told me about the (maybe or maybe not) loitering man at our public restroom.

I always want to error on the safe side.

Part XX: Brianna Maitland Missing Person


Instead of the question-answer format that we have been using, I am going to let Bob describe the scene in which Brianna Maitland's car was recovered at the Dutchburn house. He adds depth to my related posts in the series III and IV.

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Brianna Maitland – “The Crime-Scene”

Part One








“DUTCHBURN HOUSE”, Morning of March 20, 2004– Picture Courtesy of “the World Travelers”

It’s the early morning of March 20th, 2004, around 8AM. A trio of skiers visiting Jay’s Peak Ski Resort happen upon what they feel is something very odd.

They’re driving down rte. 108 just outside Montgomery VT, when they see this car backed into the side of an old abandoned farmhouse. They pull off the road, and stop. Snap a picture – the one above.

Two of three are curious, cross the road to inspect the scene… ‘Creepy, strange – foreboding’ are terms they used to describe it. They walk across the street and snap another picture.

Now they are really feeling a sense of foreboding, of ‘being watched’. They look around, see stuff on the ground, and see a sheet of plywood atop the rear window of this car. One of them is bold enough to open the driver’s side car-door; he remembers, the window was up, the door unlocked. The other person looks nervously at that open window into the old house…

The introduction is courtesy of a group I call “the World Travelers”, without them there’d be no pictures of the “crime-scene”, and a lot less insight into what the scene was like early the next morning. The story of how I finally corresponded with them is an interesting one. But first, we need to begin with events on the morning of March 19, 2004 – the morning before.

Brianna woke up to good news – she got a letter in the mail confirming she’d completed her GED. It wasn’t the actual diploma, but rather, it was confirmation she was done with HS and able to move onto other things in life, like college, and a fulltime job.

To celebrate, her mother, Kellie, and her went out for breakfast and shopping at the mall. Together they started shopping, then Brianna went off on her own for awhile. They agreed to meet back at the car at a certain time.

When that time came, Brianna met her mother at the car and as her mother recalled, Brianna was visibly shaken, anxious about something – Kellie had asked her if everything was okay, and Brianna had responded with a weak ‘yeah, fine’, or something like that. Her mother let it go… but it was a moment that would come back to haunt her a week or so later.

Sometime after noon, Kellie dropped Brianna off at Jillian’s, where Brianna was living. She had to work that night at the Black Lantern Inn, and needed time to get ready. I don’t recall what time Brianna left for work, but before she left she wrote a note for Jillian that she’d see her that night after work. Jillian, as I’d noted previously wouldn’t see the note until Sunday night – she’d gone to stay with her grandmother.

The Maitlands, Brianna’s parents, would later go to a popular restaurant for dinner. They hadn’t been out for awhile just for fun and they had a good time. On their way home they passed by the Black Lantern Inn, and saw Brianna’s car in the parking lot. They discussed visiting, but then thought better of it – Brianna had just started the job and "didn’t need her parents bugging her".

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Bob will continue his thoughts in the next post.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

To Untweet: More on the Merriman-Tequila Case


I am not a Twitter user, but I understand the concept's usefulness for some folks (celebrities, groupies, persons wanting to social network, those providing updates to multiple family members, etc.).

Building on my last post regarding the domestic dispute this weekend where professional football player Shawne Merriman was arrested by police and charged with assaulting his girlfriend television personality Tila Tequila, I saw where Ms. Tequila allegedly posted several comments about the case via her Twitter account.

She then allegedly deleted the posts, but as is with the Internet--nothing posted is ever really removed.

Is there a online place of disposed Tweets?

Of course, interested persons can go to Tweleted.com. For Ms. Tequila's messages, just go to the Tweleted site, at the top of the page click to go to "Evil Mode" (I know--it is a bit odd), and enter her user name "officialTila" into the search space.

To summarize Tila's not so deleted messages, it appears that she will claim that she was not driving on the night of the encounter (she had a a car and a driver) and that she is allergic to alcohol and had not been drinking. She also makes some references to steroids and aggression and a few other more cryptic posts.

After reading Ms. Tequila's ill-advised running Twitter commentary on her legal situation, I am sure her attorney was the one leaving work early with a serious migraine--perhaps he was heading to a bar for his own self-medication.

Note: I saw this reported initially on ProFootballTalk.

Merriman, Tequila, and Citizen Use of Force


The big sports and crime story this weekend involved San Diego Chargers' star football player Shawne Merriman and his television-star girlfriend Tila Tequila:

...Merriman was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of choking and restraining MTV reality show star Tila Tequila, police said.

Shawne Merriman is accused of restraining reality TV star Tila Tequlia as she tried to leave his home, police say.

However, Merriman's attorney denied the allegations, saying more than a dozen other people were at Merriman's house in suburban San Diego, California, at the time of the incident...

Authorities responded to a disturbance call about 3:45 a.m. Sunday from a woman who said she had been choked and restrained by a male, the sheriff's department of San Diego County, California, said in a statement.

When police arrived, "the reporting party identified herself as Tila Nguyen, aka Tila Tequila, and her alleged assailant as Shawne Merriman," the statement said.

"Nguyen told deputies she had been choked and physically restrained by Merriman when she attempted to leave his residence," the statement said.

Nguyen signed a citizen's arrest at the scene, and Merriman was taken into custody on suspicion of battery and false imprisonment, according to the statement.

Deputies didn't see any physical injuries on Nguyen, but she asked to be transported to a local hospital, sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said....

Merriman's attorney, Todd Macaluso, told reporters that Nguyen was "extremely intoxicated and inebriated" and that the player tried to make arrangements for her to leave the house..."
Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk scooped the mainstream media and posted Merriman's probable defense (trying to prevent his intoxicated girlfriend from driving) first.

Florio also had this interesting comment:

...The situation raises an interesting point regarding the lengths to which someone can or should go to stop someone else from driving drunk. In this case, Merriman will claim that he did not cross the line, and the other persons who were at his home are expected to testify to that end...
So what is permitted by law for an individual to prevent another person who is believed to be intoxicated from operating a motor vehicle?

The answer will vary by jurisdiction. I would argue that, in general, unwanted physical contact against the potential driver could be enough to technically violate a law.

Now, I am saying that one should not grab the car keys away from an intoxicated friend? No, I am simply stating that an unwanted touching could be considered illegal.

Fortunately, this is where police officer and prosecutorial discretion enters into play. When I arrived at the scene of a disturbance and found a combative drunk who was being held down next to his car by friends preventing him from driving, the last thing on my mind was charging anyone doing the restraining.

In contrast, if I arrived at the same scene to find the guy on the ground with multiple broken bones and internal injuries, the "just trying to stop him from driving" story would have been much less persuasive.

Tuber of the Week #22: Great Save

Though I recognize free speech and fight to protect it, I have always been bothered by individuals who want to burn the US flag in this country.

Perhaps it was being raised in a military family, as I can certainly see the argument that desecrating an American flag in front of a veteran who watched fellow soldiers die for that symbol could be equated to other behaviors consistent with "inciting a riot."

Since it is legal to burn a flag here, I'll pick my battles elsewhere.

For this week's YouTube video of the week, I am going retro: April 25, 1976 to be exact. That is when Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday prevents more than a simple misdemeanor.



Obviously, I am in favor of enforcing other laws, if applicable, that lead up to torching a flag.

My favorite story of this type was the two young guys who were stopped at a large college-based protest torching a flag. When one of the educated but not so smart subjects complained to police that "flag burning was legal," the officer had all he could do to control his laughter while explaining why the fellows were being arrested.

It involved differentiating between burning a US flag (legal) and burning someone else's US flag that the law-breakers grabbed off of a porch on their walk to the protest (illegal).

Good grief....

Part XIX: Brianna Maitland Missing Person


After three postings of my conversations with Bob about the Brianna Maitland case, we thought it would be good to summarize his main points,

• Initially, Bob did not know anyone involved in the case and read that Brianna’s car-keys were missing from her vehicle. Having experience with a metal detector, he contacted the Maitland family and assisted them in searching the area around the Dutchburn house.

• He feels that Brianna did not attend a party on the night of her disappearance due to lack of enjoyment at previous parties, and that she had left a note for her roommate stating that she was going home (to the roommate’s residence) after work.

• Around December of 2003, Brianna, evidently wanting more freedom and to attend a different high school, moved out of her parents’ house and in with her boyfriend.

• After the relationship ended with this man, she moved in with an old friend/new boyfriend named James who lived with his father near the location where she went missing.

• Brianna’s experience at the new high school apparently was not pleasant and she dropped-out. She then enrolled in a GED program at a community college, and began working at a restaurant. Bob’s interviews with friends of the missing woman indicated that other girls in the school were jealous of the attention that Brianna received, and the tension resulted in her leaving high school. He’s describing a scenario involving “bullying”.

• The relationship with James seemed to have ended, though they remained friends; after a month or so, she’d moved in with a childhood friend named Jillian. During this time, Brianna introduced a 26-year old man named Nathanial "Low" Jackson to Jillian and Jillian’s father.*

*Comment from Bob:”Low” was a friend to many in the area at the time. I wish to clarify, the only reasons that I made mention of him are, 1) Low was 26 years old and much older than Brianna; 2) Despite being known in the area, Low was not a local; 3) the family Brianna introduced ‘Low’ to perceived him as "different" and they remembered him.

• Brianna was allegedly assaulted by a friend/peer at a party three weeks prior to her disappearance. The motive for the assault may have been jealousy. She decided to press charges against her attacker the following Monday, but the case was dismissed after Brianna disappeared.

• Asked why she did not fight back during her assault, Brianna is reported to have replied that she was “afraid of hurting them, they were friends”.

• Bob believes the fight, which left Brianna with facial injuries, was a sign of the increasing troublesome behavior displayed by some of the area’s young adults—-no longer were these folks just children.

************************************************************************************

With our next discussion posts, Bob will discuss his impressions as to what may have happened to Brianna Maitland on the night that she left work and disappeared.

I thank him again for his willingness to keep the case discussion going.

Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Brianna Maitland" on the left margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

Keeping an Open Mind on a Homicide


I think the media reports about the recent murder of a pastor at her church in Anadarko, OK offer insight into the challenges of police investigations.

When I first heard the story headline, I immediately pictured the rural pastor being confronted by a transient or two in search of money.

During undergrad one of my jobs was a "host" at an urban church--which meant I was part security, part greeter, as well as general jack-of-all-trades. I was surprised at how regularly visitors would arrive looking for a minister and to score a quick few dollars with their best sob story.

This was prior to the computer records that are now used by many churches to keep track of these folks. The opportunists liked to show up at a church after closing time to take advantage of the extra staffers. It was a wonder that pastor assaults did not occur more regularly.

My transient theory seems much less relevant with the information released by police officials today:

A 61-year-old Oklahoma pastor likely died from "multiple sharp force injuries," according to an autopsy report CNN obtained Friday.

Carol Daniels, a pastor from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, had injuries to her back, breasts, hands and neck, the report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said.

The report called the death a homicide...

A local prosecutor has described the crime scene as "horrific."

Daniels traveled many Sundays to Anadarko, Oklahoma, about 50 miles southwest of her home, to Christ Holy Sanctified Church "in case people came in to worship," her son, Alvin Daniels, told CNN.

Investigators found her body inside the church around noon on Sunday.

District Attorney Bret Burns called the crime scene the worst he'd seen in 17 years as a prosecutor, but he would not say why. He also declined to comment about a possible motive.

Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for Oklahoma's State Bureau of Investigation, said the body was "staged" after the killing, but she declined to say more...
Despite the physical evidence that seems to indicate some sort of religious or racial motive for the killing (one report had both of her arms extended), investigators won't stop there.

They have to keep an open mind and consider all possibilities including that the crime scene was manufactured to look like something other than a domestic violence incident.