Felonious Breakdancing

Introduction: The following conversation with my father is not true.

I simply wanted to develop, or better yet attempt to develop, a creative intro for the ridiculous crime story that follows our fictional exchange.

Thanks for humoring me, and I hope my reasoning for this odd approach makes sense in the end.

Background: A conversation from 10 years ago.

SLAMDUNK: Thanks Dad for taking care of this.

DAD: Son, let this be the last time that you embarrass this family.

SLAMDUNK: Yes sir. I don't know what happened. I was there, just having a good time. I won the mechanical bull riding competition. They gave me this brass five and a quarter inch Western Belt Buckle with a spur that actually spins and a ring as well. I put the buckle and ring on for the two-step contest, and everything was kosher. I was all bling when...

DAD: Tell me again how you damaged the dance floor and drywall of this cowboy dive?

SLAMDUNK: Dad...Like I said... I was steppin fast, tripped and did a sliding header on the floor. My buckle caught on something and caused the floor damages. As folks helped me to a stool, I stumbled again and this "brass-edged weapon" with the spur sliced the wall--how do guys actually walk regularly in these fancy boots?

{Father pauses, looks down at the ground and shakes his head}

DAD: Well, if you had not displayed twenty-years of clod-like dexterity, I might question your story.

DAD: I took care of the damages this time. You will pay me back ASAP. Understood?


DAD: One more thing. Promise me that you will never damage anything again by showing off your Fred Astaire-side. Deal?



Fast Forward to the Present: The conversation was forgotten for more than a decade, until I received this message:

DAD: Son, do you remember our deal about you, dancing, and damaging private property?

If so, please tell me that Ryan Baczkiewicz is not one of your aliases:

The Buffalo News reports that 18-year-old Ryan Baczkiewicz was arrested Sunday night.

The charge?

Breakdancing while wearing a diamond-studded belt buckle at a house party in nearby Elma.

His (presumably sick) moves resulted in $3,000 worth of "gouging damage" on the hardwood floors. Apparently, there was no cardboard to lay down and get up on.

The charge was criminal trespass and criminal mischief - a felony...
Fortunately, I am not Ryan Baczkiewicz or use the name as an alias, and I simply do not have the skills to dance--now or as an undergraduate.

Honestly, as a young college freshman, a very patient and obviously misguided friend spent hours trying to develop my lackluster dance skills so that I could accompany her to some big university event.

Though her effort helped me look presentable and allowed me to survive other such events during my time in school, I was and am still a fish out of water on the floor.

And, I don't want to remember how long I practiced slow dancing as to not embarrass anyone at my wedding.

In any event, Baczkiewicz's diamond-belt buckle sporting bootie-shaking felony should certainly earn him five-minutes of fame.

And just for the record: anyone that knows me would attest that I don't attempt body rock or belly swim breakdance techniques without being in full performance attire that would include a large brass belt buckle, jeweled rings, and my gold grill bling as depicted below.


*Note: After sharing the goofy arrest article with friend and superblogger Jenny Mac of Let's Have a Cocktail, and commenting that even she did not have a life experience that could equate to Baczkiewicz's gyrating mishap, she essentially challenged/dared me to create a post using this odd crime story and include the terms "Bling" and "Grill." I think she simply enjoys tormenting us junior varsity writers.

**Additional Note: The images were used from here and here.

I'm a Guest Blogger...

I am "pinch-hitting" today for the injured Rebecca over at Just Cherish Today.

As a substitute author on another blog, conventional wisdom dictates that I stick to a topic that I comfortable with--like crime, policing, or missing persons.

My post is on a dog movie. One that I have not even seen.

Game plan for disaster? Maybe.

Stop over at Rebecca's blog and wish her a quick recovery, and maybe the excellent trailer I attached to the post will compensate for my novice writing.


I am sports fan.

I enjoyed participating in sports for many years, and now that my time to play is short (not to mention my skills have faded), I relish in marveling at the athletic abilities of others.

American football or the NFL is my favorite sport.

Now that the season is over, the speculation for fans begins about next year.

What player will my favorite team try to sign? Who will they select in the upcoming collegiate draft in April?

To help the franchises decide which players to draft, the National Football League holds an annual skills combine this week in Indianapolis.

During the scouting combine, future NFL players will lift weights, run, throw, interview, be quizzed, and be poked and prodded in an effort to determine the best athletes.

Guys who underperform are labeled as “having baggage” and will likely see their draft expectations fall or perhaps realize that they will not be drafted at all.

What qualifies as “baggage?”

Some of the players will have some sort of hidden injury that negatively affects their ability to run or excel. Others will fail drug screenings. A few players will score poorly the Wonderlic Test, and be thought of as unintelligent.

Surprisingly, three or four competitors will exhibit a poor attitude, and be labeled as a potential behavioral problems for a team.

Despite all of the expert opinions at the combine, the performances and assigned baggage result in a guessing game as to the players potential.

One excellent collegiate player who’ll participate in the combine, Myron Rolle from Florida State University, has evidently already been assigned “baggage.”

With Rolle, he does not have an arrest history or pattern of delinquency. He did not fail any drug tests. He has not been an attitude problem anywhere he has been. In contrast, Rolle is described as an excellent team player.

So why would an organization hesitate to select Rolle with one of their precious draft picks?

Well, Myron Rolle is considered too smart.

You see, Rolle is a Rhodes Scholar. He has aspirations to be a doctor after his playing days are complete, and has spent the last academic year studying at Oxford.

While in an undergraduate, an assistant coach told the scholar-athlete that he studied school work too much and should be spending more time on football. The criticism did not impact Rolle, as he graduated from college in 2.5 years while being a star on the team.

Team executives may be concerned that Myron could become frustrated with lack of playing time in the NFL, and choose to pursue his other career aspiration.

Being a football fan, I like sports, but I also understand there place in the grand scheme of things.

In the end, athletics at any level are only games.

There are many greater achievements in life than scoring touchdowns.

Rolle has unlimited potential to succeed as a physician or whatever career he chooses and his choices should be celebrated.

His current plan is to work with his family and eventually open a health clinic that serves the underprivileged in the Bahamas. They have already started their own foundation.

If Rolle excels at the combine, and he is predicted to be a high draft pick, there is no way I would not select the young man just for being too smart--afraid that he will leave the team prematurely.

I would want players on my team that are intelligent; who know how to simultaneously excel on the field, academically, and in their community. These are the performers with heart.

Players like Myron Rolle will give 100% of themselves on the field of play knowing that it is for a just short time, and that there are greater aspirations in life than entertaining me and millions of others on Sunday afternoons.

I'll enjoy watching Rolle shine on the football field and beyond.


Note: The photo was used from here and I got the idea for this post from the bloggers at Pro Football Talk.

Part III: The Disappearance of Beau Ramsey

Albeit a week behind schedule, this is the third installment in my series on the disappearance of Beau Ramsey.


Case Summary:

On August 17, 2004, twenty-three year old Beau Ramsey, was following his employer to a construction site in Benton, AR. Beau’s coworkers reported that Ramsey fell behind in traffic and never made it to the job’s location.

A few days later, Beau’s motorcycle, with the keys in the ignition, was found abandoned on a dirt road near the county line. After several intensive police and volunteer searches, no helpful information regarding the missing man’s whereabouts were ascertained.

Nine-months after Beau had been reported missing, his decomposed body was found in a heavily wooded area about three miles south of where his motorcycle had been recovered.


In the last post, I discussed several confirmed witness sightings of Beau after he mysteriously left work, as well as describing interest by authorities in childhood friend Jon Thibeault’s alleged phone discussions with the victim and possible involvement in the case.

With this entry, I’ll start with the victim’s motorcycle.

Similar to two other missing persons cases that I have discussed, Brianna Maitland and Kathleen McBroom, officers encountered Beau's transportation without realizing there was a connection to a missing persons case.

Prior to his disappearance, Beau had only recently purchased the 2001 black Honda 250 motorcycle.

This is how one article described the confusion and delay in recovering Beau's bike:

...The bike was propped on its kickstand, key in the ignition, as if its owner had just stepped through the underbrush to answer a call of nature, expecting to return momentarily.

The land is leased to a deer club, and hunters were in and out all week, preparing for the upcoming season. Tracy Manning spotted the cycle when he came out to work on the gate to the property, which is owned by International Paper and used for clear-cutting.

Ed Dodson and Bob Clay, president of the deer club, also saw the bike. “

We called the sheriff’s department and talked to a dispatcher,” he says. “They said someone would be right out. We waited around for two or three hours, but nobody showed up, so we left.”

Cpl Mike Frost, with the sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), says, “There is no record that we ever received a call about that bike being out there.” Dee, however, says a dispatcher told her about taking Clay’s call.

Benton firefighter Russell Evans saw the bike on Saturday, Aug. 21, when he went out to set up digital game cameras. The next day, when he returned to find the bike still there, he called his brother-in-law, Ryan Jacks, an Arkansas State Trooper.

Jacks ran the license plate, and then called a wrecker to tow the bike...
For missing persons, authorities gather and record relevant personal information. Height, weight, scars, tattoos, as well as vehicle information is then entered into state and national databases--to assist law enforcement in matching case details later.

With that, why was Beau's motorcycle not listed with a "hit" in police databases to link it to his disappearance?

Was the cycle recovered prior to a missing person report officially being filed or was the information omitted from computer systems just by an oversight?

The published reports do provide clear answers to these questions.

Another factor may have complicated the process of obtaining fingerprints and other evidence from Beau's motorcycle.

It was rumored that, since the keys were with bike, several men had been using the Honda for joyriding prior to police arrival; thereby contaminating the scene.

In any event, not being able to properly recover and then process Beau's motorcycle as related to a crime certainly hindered the investigation. Missing persons cases can be difficult enough to solve, but when potential evidence is not able to be collected, it presents an enormous obstacle.

The bike's discovery did provide authorities with a new opportunity--a place to search for additional traces and evidence of the missing man.


For the previous posts in this series, click here.

On the Campus Shooting in Alabama

Last Friday, Dr. Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), was charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder after she allegedly opened fire on colleagues at a department meeting.

The motive for the shooting appears to be anger--Dr. Bishop was not going to be given tenure, and for tenure-track positions, that means the professor has to leave.

This week, several stories on Bishop have painted a disturbing and violent image of the defendant--including that she had been under investigating in a pipe bomb incident, she shot and killed her brother (it was declared accidental) back in 1986, she pointed a gun at another colleague, and was arrested for assault after a fight at a restaurant.

I had just a few observations on this unfortunate incident:

The Moron Detector

When I read stories that try to link the behavior of one violent sociopath to a political group my "moron detector" rings loudly.

This story describes Bishop as an "obsessed" supporter of President Obama.

In contrast, this story characterizes the rhetoric of Joe Stack, the man who is believed to have crashed the plane into an IRS building in Texas, as "could have been taken directly from a handwritten sign at a tea party rally."

What is my take-home message with this garbage?

Am I to assume that all Obama supporters and all Tea Party participants are likely to commit violence and should be incarcerated immediately?

It is amazing how quickly and shamelessly some folks will try to use tragedies for a contrived political gain.


The Witness Statements

I was interested in reading some of the witness statements on the UAH shooting.

One person in the room when the gunfire erupted was Dr. Debra Moriarty and her statements about the incident included that it was unexpected (the defendant stood-up and started shooting), there was little time to think, and that she tried communicating with the shooter (appealing to her as an acquaintance and as a grandmother).

Her attempt at conversation was unsuccessful as Bishop pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger--fortunately the gun misfired.

Moriarty's statements raise important issues on active shooter scenarios in general.

During these incidents, it is necessary, whatever your occupation, to have thought about what to do before the violence happens--there simply is not time to think when the gunfire starts.

Also, one has to understand that in situations like the UAH shooting, the shooter is intent on killing people. Therefore, it is not necessary to warn or reason with them--if the decision is to fight, you have to go at them with 100% of your will with the intent that "I will survive."

If the shooter is a 300 lbs. body builder and his gun jams, at least my ball point pen and I will keep him busy (I include the guy pummeling me as busy) giving a chance for authorities to arrive, instead of allowing the shooter to freely try to clear the jammed firearm in a meeting room or permitting him to wander the halls looking for additional victims.


Campuses Are Unprepared for These Incidents (but it is not necessarily anyone's fault)

Finally, colleges and universities are ill-prepared to handle active shooter scenarios.

Unlike K-12 schools, access to administrators, faculty, and students is unhindered. Campus buildings are largely open and only those law-abiding citizens who care about "no weapons rules" abide by them.

I am sure campus police and other agencies did a wonderful job in responding to the shots fired call, but they were still in no position to help the meeting attendees during the 120 seconds of violence.

Last year, the Mrs. was mandated to attend a campus safety lecture designed for faculty. The retired police officer providing the training primarily offered a history of school violence and safety tips including call 911 immediate and how to discern cover versus concealment.

Nice, but the institution really does not want faculty to consider the reality: if a there is a shooter in your classroom, you and the students are on your own.

Tuber of the Week #28: School Uniforms

Mention school uniforms to a young person and you are likely to receive a frown.

Similarly, convincing parents that a dress code can reduce gang activity and/or violence at school may also present a challenge.

An advocate of mandatory uniform policies could develop an impressive written report that includes promising research and highlights a few success stories.

He or she may also develop a flashy presentation to try to persuade an audience that uniform dress by students is necessary to create safe learning environments, but I doubt it will alter many opinions.

In contrast, a supporter of this approach may just think "outside of the box" and present their argument based on the premise that a picture (or in the following case multiple pictures) is worth a thousand words--thereby creating a video clip like this that has a lasting effect on the audience.

After viewing the video segment, it is difficult to argue against the advantages that school employees have when they get to control student apparel; including being able to mandate that all pupils' shirts will be tucked into their pants.


Note: I saw this video originally on a blog of the Houston Police Department that is managed by Officer Mike McCoy.

It's Not the Content, But the Author

Rather than publish an entry with key information that I am still trying to verify, I need to table my next installment in the series on the disappearance of Beau Ramsey.

I hope to have the accurate information ready soon.


A blog entry from January 29, 2004:

5:30 am, radio alarm goes off, the blaring static of some intentionally half tuned in radio station pulls me up from the depths of blissful sleep. I hit the snooze.

5:39 am, alarm goes off again, I hit the snooze again.

5:48 am, alarm goes off one more time, I let rag on for a moment so it will wake me up, then turn off the alarm.

5:55 am, after laying in bed awake for a few moments I get up, find my car keys and hit the autostart to warm up my car, get dressed, shave in the bathroom sink, brush my teeth, brush my teeth again with my “sonic care” toothbrush because of a sore in my mouth from a trapped piece of food the other day.

6:08 am, decide to skip breakfast, I’ll have a granola bar out of my desk at work. Check my email, and make sure my web cam is up and on line. Pack my laptop, put on my coat. Pet my cats, “good day.” Check to make sure they have food and water.

6:15 am, out the door. Car has stopped running, I thought for moment that it didn’t start, but it is warm so it must have just run its 15 minute course. Good. Use the new snow sweeper broom and brush off a thin layer of snow from my car.

Notice Ice on the hood, but only on the hood, figure that’s because that’s the only place warm enough to melt the snow so it can form ice when it re-freezes again. Unplug the heater block, get in, start the car, turn on my lights as always, back out.

Opps, forgot the power cord so I can plug my car in at work. Get out, leaving car halfway into the alley, get the cord, which is frozen stiff, literally, put it in the back seat with my computer bag, get back in, and I’m off...
Seems like a relatively normal yet long-winded blog entry, right? Just an "Average Joe" starting his day.

The blog author continues to detail his life until 12:28 pm including this observation:

12:06 pm, Police car in front of me at stop light. I notice that I’m not as nervous as I used to be pulling up behind a police car. I marvel for a moment about how much time the officer must spend concerning himself with registration laws, when he could be doing something else.

I wonder if he recognizes me?

Not likely, probably doesn’t even consciously see me behind him. Just heading back to the station, probably not even aware I exist. That thought makes me feel better...
Shockingly, the author of this blog is the notorious serial killer and sexual predator Joseph Edward Duncan.

Duncan is highly intelligent and the member of at least one national honor society.

Currently, he is on death row for several of his offenses, and it is difficult to comprehend the pain and suffering that he inflicted on his victims.


Why is the blog of a heinous felon important?

Along with other documents, it has helped volunteer researchers detail the whereabouts of Duncan during his lifetime--with the hope that his name will be considered in more unsolved criminal cases.

These killers seem to always leave victims where ever they have lived. I am sure Duncan's past is no different.

I discovered this valuable timeline while researching Duncan's whereabouts with regard to six-year old Morgan Nick (as part of the blog series that I was writing) who was abducted in Arkansas.

From the information available, it appears that Duncan was on the West Coast during the weeks that Morgan went missing.

Certainly not overwhelming proof that he was not in Arkansas in 1995 (despite allegedly having relatives in the area), but a good place to start.

Note: Image was used from here.

Race and the Sheriff of Cowlick Crossing

Note: I was out of town this weekend and plan to have my next missing person post ready tomorrow on the Beau Ramsey case.

In the meantime, I offer this.



Kelvin had just completed his first year as a police officer, and we were both assigned to patrol on the overnight shift in a large city in the Southern United States. In general, all of the patrol officers in our agency worked solo (one officer per vehicle).

Kelvin, a young African-American who had started law enforcement career after a few years in the US Army, had good instincts, was a martial arts black-belt, and was well-liked by his colleagues.

Kelvin’s primary challenge with the citizenry was communication-—but it wasn’t his fault.

In our area, where locals often uttered phrases such as “fixin to”, “y'all”, and “pert near”, Kelvin’s Northeastern US (the Big Apple to be precise) vocabulary simply did not include these regional terms.

In fact, when speaking to residents, Kelvin’s brash and rapid sounding New York City accent resulted in citizens regularly responding with blank stares and/or intense noggin scratching followed by a witty replies like “Huh?”

The following exchange occurred on a summer Saturday night/Sunday morning when Kelvin was assigned to an area of the jurisdiction nicknamed “Cowlick Crossing”. Cowlick Crossing, dominated by farms, country folk, and open land, represented the largest patrol zone (in land size) for our agency.

The proprietors at the handful of cowboy dives and biker bars in Cowlick Crossing took care of themselves and, outside of a homicide, rarely contacted authorities for anything.

Since the area was isolated, rural, and distant from other law enforcement personnel, the cop with that assignment, Unit 24, was very much a one-officer show and was jovially referred to by coworkers as the "Sheriff of Cowlick Crossing."




KELVIN: 24. Go ahead.

DISPATCHER: 24. I’ve got a call on a group of disorderly subjects. White Birch Road near Seesaw Circle. Two truckloads of male subjects throwing objects at cars, cursing, squealing tires, and waving Confederate flags from the truck beds.

{Long moment of silence}

DISPATCHER: Car 24; Were you direct on my traffic at Seesaw Circle?

KELVIN: Yes. I was waiting to see what other car you were going to send as backup. I really don’t think the flag-wavers are going to be overjoyed with my tan or my small talk about the best pierogies in Queens.

DISPATCHER: Er... Yes... Sure...

{Unit 22 interrupts and saves the dispatcher from additional stuttering}

UNIT 22: {laughing}I heard that call and I’m in route with car 24.

DISPATCHER: Ok.. Um… Thanks.

Kelvin is now a detective assigned to an urban part of the jurisdiction. It would not surprise me to learn that Kelvin has not been back to Cowlick Crossing since his 12 months of "sheriffing" there.


On a related topic: Prior to spending time as a police officer, I could not imagine citizens encountering a cop, and based on his or her nationality, requesting another officer--but it happened regularly.

I remember a black officer showing up on a call and the citizen demanding to talk to a white cop.

In turn, I have been the white officer responding to an incident and have had someone demand to speak with an African-American officer.

Unsurprisingly, the services provided by either "type" of officer were the same.

I'll have to ask Kelvin if a citizen ever refused to talk with him and demanded to be speak to a non-Yankee cop...

Sharing a Special Blogging Experience

If your like me, you started a blog with no real expectations.

Actually, my blogging goals were selfish personal--to improve my writing, practice constructing arguments, and to discuss topics and ideas that I felt were important.

I never really considered the potential that blogs offer to connect with folks near and far.

That is until last weekend.

Two weeks ago, I posted on the inspirational survival story of Judith Sleavin.

Judy was the sole survivor of a horrific crash at sea off the coast of New Zealand that claimed the lives of her two children and husband. The crew of the cargo ship that caused the accident was fearful of what repercussions might result from the collision, and fled the scene—-failing to notify anyone of the Sleavin family’s situation.

With multiple life-threatening injuries and clinging to a partial-inflated raft in the ocean, Judy was able to make it to shore where she was later spotted by a passing aircraft and rescued by ground personnel.

In response to my post, the insightful Ann T. commented that she saw that Judith Sleavin now lives in New Zealand and designed jewelry.

During the week that my post went public, a blogger friend, the multi-talented and kind-hearted Australian Sean Fraser of the Dolls Point Blogger, just so happened to be in New Zealand visiting his daughter.

Inspired by Ms. Sleavin’s story and interested in learning more about her craft that involves flame-working glass beads, Sean located Judy's New Zealand shop, and got to meet with this courageous woman.

To describe his visit, Sean posted a moving entry entitled

His post is complete with photos, and includes this image of Judy demonstrating her work:

It is well worth your time to stop over and read Sean's entry.

Through blogging, I have learned that the world truly is a small place.

I realize that there is much good that can result from sharing with individuals and communities online.

I now understand how blessed I am to have connected with a few of the kind and talented individuals that live not only in nearby states, but also those oceans away from my home in a small town in the Northeastern United States.

Thank you to all as it has been an amazing and rewarding experience.


*Note: Thanks to Sean for allowing me to use the image.

Divine Intervention?

The Mrs. was scheduled to give her students their first exam in statistics this morning, but classes were canceled due to snow.

Should I assume that many of the students participated in an all-night vigil in hopes that this would happen?

I don't remember catching any similar breaks...

Part VIII: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

With the new developments in the Kathleen “Beany” McBroom missing person case, I wanted to post an update.

I’ll have Part III on the disappearance of Beau Ramsey ready for next week.


Case Summary:

Kathleen McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 near her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Four days later, family members discovered her abandoned truck on a highway south of Anchorage. The vehicle contained her cell phone and other personal items, but offered no sign of Kathleen.

Prior to disappearing, Mrs. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.


Update #1: Ms. McBroom Was/Will Be Listed in Two Directories

Previously, I discussed how discouraged I was that Ms. McBroom’s case had not been well publicized.

In contrast to the other active disappearance investigations that I have written about on this blog (Ray Gricar, Brianna Maitland, Morgan Nick, and Susan Powell), Ms. McBroom was not listed in the applicable state and national databases.

My argument: It is very difficult to find someone who has disappeared if the public has no clue that he or she is missing.

I am happy to announce that after sending a request to the Anchorage Police Department, Ms. McBroom’s missing person information is now listed in the US Department of Justice’s NamUs database and is in the process of being added to on the State of Alaska’s missing persons website.

Thanks to personnel in Anchorage for taking the time to publicize Kathleen’s disappearance—-hopefully, I was not too much of an annoyance.

Update #2: Ms. McBroom Was Evidently Declared Legally Dead

Also, I was told by a reliable source, but have been unable to verify, that Ms. McBroom’s family had her legally declared dead around January of 2009.

Why have the missing woman declared dead after three months?

Would using a court-appointed guardian to manage her affairs in the short term be a more reasonable approach? (Note: Credit crime blogger JJ in Phila for this insight)

I am trying to get a legal opinion on this issue, and will provide an update when I have a more informed answer.

In researching what legally declared dead in terms of Alaska law meant, I noted this:

--A missing person can be declared legally dead in Alaska if a report has been filed and clear and convincing evidence, which can include circumstantial evidence, exists to support such a conclusion (paraphrased).

--Without clear and convincing evidence, a missing person is assumed dead if he or she has been “absent” for five years (paraphrased).

How often are missing persons declared legally dead and what is the usual time frame?

This is a great question that, unfortunately, I was unable to convincingly answer.

In general, it appears that legally dead labels are not typically assigned to missing persons until years after they have disappeared.

Since it was only three months or so between the time that Ms. McBroom vanished and then was declared legally dead, I believe this indicates two things:

1) The family believes and has some type of evidence that Ms. McBroom died near where her truck was recovered.

2) Since the family is convinced that Ms. McBroom is deceased, then it answers why investigators have, in my opinion, not aggressively promoted her case.
The squeaky wheel...
Previous posts in this series can be accessed by clicking "Kathleen McBroom" on the right margin of the home page or a list of historical posts is here.

*Photo was used from here.

A Forensic Artist's Final Contribution

I'll have an update on the Kathleen McBroom missing person case tomorrow, but saw the story listed below while half-watching the end of the Super Bowl and wanted to comment.


(MEBANE, NORTH CAROLINA) Authorities hope a 3-D facial reconstruction of a boy who was found dead on the side of a Mebane road more than 11 years ago will bring them closer to finding the child’s identity.

The sculpture, perhaps one of the last works by renowned forensic artist Frank Bender, will be unveiled during a ceremony Saturday night at N.C. State University, said Leslie Denton...

Denton said the group, which provides forensic technology services to law enforcement agencies statewide in missing and unidentified cases at no cost, contacted Bender last year after learning about this cold case.

The artist, who has assisted the FBI and the “America’s Most Wanted” television program on several cases across the country and around the world, agreed to make the sculpture at no cost, Denton said, adding that the group was responsible for providing Bender with the necessary materials.

Denton said the unveiling will have a dual purpose: to show the new 3D image in hopes that someone will recognize the boy and as a tribute to Frank, who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in September...

The boy’s body was partially clothed when it was found.

A pair of underwear, khaki shorts, black and white sneakers and white socks were found with the bones. Patches of dark brown hair could be seen near the skull.

In his pocket, $50 was neatly folded. His legs were together and the arms were slightly extended above the head...

Though the body was not found until September 1998, it was estimated that he could have been dead as early as April of that year...

After several forensic analyses, authorities determined the boy’s age to be between 8 and 11 years.

His weight was estimated to be 50 to 80 pounds and his height 4 feet 7 inches to 4 feet 11 inches. Based on the bone structure, he could be white or Hispanic...
As alluded to in the article, Frank Bender's service to police, the families of crime victims, and the community is matched by few.

Using clay and sometimes pastels, the self-taught artist recreates images of the dead as well as predicting the faces of fugitives who have not been seen in years.

For more than 30 years, Bender's sculptures and other works of art have been credited with helping to solve 9 homicides and have resulted in numerous fugitives apprehended.

He is also a founding member of the Vidocq Society in Philadelphia--a world renowned volunteer group that assists police in solving crimes.

One of his most famous cases was fugitive John Emil List--a man who had murdered his family in Connecticut 1971 and lived under an assumed name for 18 years.

Bender created a eerily similar facial model of what he thought List looked like that was included on a segment of America's Most Wanted in 1989. After a viewer of the program recognized List from the sculpture, the fugitive was arrested in Virginia.

Due to his progressing cancer, Bender confirmed in another article that the missing boy's image would be his last.

It is heartbreaking to think that despite our "advanced society," an 11 year old boy can vanish and seemingly no one would look for him.

You can see Bender's final work listed here.

In addition, a book entitled The Girl with the Crooked Nose was released in 2008 that details Bender's work on a series of homicides in Mexico.

Frank Bender's creative forensic artistry will be greatly missed.

Traffic Ticket Fiasco

I read two similar versions on this story from Miami, Florida, and beyond the obvious issue, there is another significant problem within the Florida Highway Patrol not being discussed:

(Miami-Dade County) - The trooper's victims were befuddled when they learned they had pending traffic tickets.

Most weren't even on the road during the time of their supposed infractions, they told prosecutors.

One said his wife was driving the car that day. Another had just returned from a trip to Illinois. A third hadn't even been in the United States for two years -- he was in the midst of a divorce dispute in Peru.

Now the Florida Highway Patrol trooper who issued those tickets is being written up himself, accused of trying to boost his ticket output by writing hundreds of fake citations to scores of drivers.

Paul C. Lawrence, 38, an FHP trooper based in Miami-Dade County, was arrested Tuesday on 22 counts of official misconduct, a third-degree felony. In addition, 203 traffic citations that Lawrence issued since November have been dismissed.

Prosecutors think there may be even more.

In each case, Lawrence used information from drivers whom he had previously stopped. Then he manufactured new charges. The citations were not signed by the alleged drivers.

Prosecutors said Lawrence started writing the false tickets to boost the number of citations he was reporting to his bosses.

In November alone, he submitted 397 citations to FHP -- 82 of them missing a signature (emphasis added)...

Capt. Marshall Davies, of Troop E in Miami-Dade County, noticed something was amiss two days before Thanksgiving, documents show. That day, five people called to complain they were being solicited by traffic ticket clinics for citations they knew nothing about...
One essential role of police field supervisors is to review the paperwork/electronic documents submitted by troopers/officers. Not every document requires a supervisory signature, but every item should have a second and third set of eyes on it before being sent for processing.

Since a driver refusing to sign a ticket does happen sometimes, but is considered a rarity, how do 21% (82) of Trooper Lawrence's tickets for November 2009 being unsigned by the cited "drivers" go unnoticed by his supervisors?

It is embarrassing enough for this to undermine the authority of the other good troopers that work for the agency, but to read that the problem was not identified internally by supervisors reviewing paperwork, but by a Captain after he had to handle five citizens calling on the same day is disturbing.

What if only one or two folks called to complain?

Would the Captain have considered the possibility that the trooper was at fault or that the "drivers" were simply confused or lying?

This troubling story reveals a glaring problem with oversight within the agency.

I hope that the director of the Florida Highway Patrol, Colonel John Czernis, holds the feet of this trooper's supervisors to the fire and makes them explain, in uncomfortable face-to-face exchanges, how this problem went unnoticed for so long.

Citizens expect and deserve professionalism in policing.

It will take years for FHP to recover from this serious yet preventable (at least to the extent it did occur) breach of the public's trust.

Tuber of the Week #27: Overcoming Evil

There are plenty of inspirational stories in professional sports, but I am not sure any top that of recently retired American football player Warrick Dunn.

Through high school, Dunn and his five younger siblings were raised by a single mother.

In 1993, Warrick unexpectedly became the legal guardian of his family at age 18 after his mom, Betty Smothers, a Baton Rouge (LA) police corporal, was killed in the line of duty.

The oldest son went from the typical teenage worries about cars, football, and dating to being submerged in adult tribulations--attempting to fill the void in a family lacking maternal and paternal leadership.

Over the next dozen years, Dunn and his brothers and sisters succeeded. He was strong on the outside, but secretly battled severe depression.

It was not until the mid-2000s that a friend suggested the sports star try professional counseling. With the help of trained therapists and a strong faith, he started to understand his pain.

Warrick is now an ardent supporter for men to overcome the negative stereotype in asking for help and to seek psychological assistance.

Two years ago, Dunn returned to Louisiana and visited "Angola" State Prison's death row to meet the man convicted of shooting his mother during the botched robbery:

In 1998, Dunn started The Warrick Dunn Foundation with one goal being to provide new homes to single parents who could not afford them otherwise. The idea was to offer home ownership to a struggling family--the goal his mom was working to achieve the night her life was taken.

As of 2009, the foundation has provided 86 new homes to single parents and their dependents.

In our lives, we all are challenged to overcome some degree of evil.

Warrick's tale of shining in the midst of darkness, and in the end, offering forgiveness to those responsible for his pain is nothing short of exceptional.

Stolen Words

Lying on the floor near the back of his bar, the old man coughed and gasped for air.

In his 60s, the man's face was well wrinkled, and his gray hair was coned from wearing a ball-cap. The hat that had caused this effect had fallen from his head and was next to him.

“Joseph” had been operating this drinking establishment for about 20 years.

I offered him some encouragement, but there was little I could do to ease the pain caused by multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and neck.

The tavern was empty; except for the victim’s middle-aged son, who had called the police, and was standing in front of me.

Pool balls chipped and scratched lay uniformly racked in a triangle on an adjacent table ready for a next game. Empty glasses and beer bottles were scattered about on the top of the bar and on tables to the side.

Prior to being dispatched to this robbery and shooting, the night had been quiet. As a patrol unit covering the expansive area, I just happened to be close and arrived on the scene first.

No suspects to be found here; just the son who had arrived to help his father clean the tavern, and found dad lying on the ground bleeding.

“Who did this to you Joseph?” I asked the victim in a loud and authoritative voice.


The man’s eyes closed. He turned his head toward me, and with all the strength he could muster replied: “Two guys...masks.”

“What did they say to you?”

“Which way did they leave?”

“Do you think you have seen them before?

None of my subsequent questions to the dying man received any response.

The medical techs arrived shortly thereafter. They stabilized the victim the best they could, and transported him to a trauma center.

Joseph never regained consciousness and died a brief time later.


Whatever occupation an individual performs in life, the training can never prepare you for everything that you’ll encounter as an employee.

Policing is certainly no different. Despite the six-month academy and then four months of direct supervision, as a young officer, I was quickly exposed to the unexpected.

I did not comprehend the significance of my brief conversation with Joseph until weeks later.

It was almost as if I had stolen those last three words--there was so much more that I could have allowed him to say.

He was not able to tell any of his family members goodbye. He did not have a chance to tell his wife, his sons, or his grandchildren how much he loved them.

His last moments on this earth were not of peace, but filled with agony.

I have always regretted not allowing Joseph's final utterance to be a cherished moment with his son.

Instead, "Two guys... masks" represents the last sentence spoken by an elderly victim of a homicide case that was never solved.

Part II: The Disappearance of Beau Ramsey

Programming Note:

1) There were some new developments in the Kathleen McBroom missing person case, and I'll have a new post soon.

2) I hit an obstacle for my next update on the Brianna Maitland case in that I have been unable to find a short video clip from another disappearance that I wanted to include--as a result I am still working on that one.


This is a continuation of my series on the disappearance of Beau Ramsey.

A summary of the case is:

On August 17, 2004, twenty-three year old Beau Ramsey, was following his employer to a construction site in Benton, Arkansas. Beau’s coworkers reported that Ramsey fell behind in traffic and never made it to the job’s location. This was only Beau's second day on the job.

A few days after the disappearance, Beau’s motorcycle, with the keys in the ignition, was found abandoned on a dirt road near the county line, but no other evidence was discovered.

Nine-months later, Beau's decomposed body was found in a heavily wooded area about three miles south of where the motorcycle had been recovered.

Last week, I talked about the victim and provided the basics of the case. For this post, I'll discuss two reported sightings of Beau on the same day he left work, and someone who evidently spoke to him by phone.

A Search of the Victim’s Residence

When authorities searched Ramsey’s basement apartment they found several items including his wallet, money, checkbook, bank debit card and backpack.

Also recovered was a Wal-Mart receipt dated 8/17/2004 at 1:30 pm, and a bag of syringes. Detectives viewed store video and verified that Ramsey did make a purchase that day.

What did Ramsey buy?

Authorities stated that he purchased items consistent with methamphetamine use. They felt that the young man could have quickly become frustrated with his labor intensive job in the hot August sun, and the Wal-Mart trip and syringes perhaps indicated that the victim had relapsed.

The victim’s mother admitted that her son had battled with an addiction to meth previously, but that his two month stint in a rehabilitation clinic had allowed him to kick his habit.

She raised the possibility that the syringes may have been for steroid use and unrelated to meth problems.

The Witnesses

It was reported that a young woman and a 12-year old girl, saw Ramsey walking on the side of the road around 5 pm on 8/17. The woman was visiting her grandparents, and after she stopped and got out of her truck, she stated that the man asked if she had a gasoline can.

She retrieved a can, offered him some gas, and watched him add fuel to a tank that already looked near full.

The witness reported that the man seemed scared and acted if he was being watched--almost like he was expecting someone to confront him.

He then, without any additional conversation, gave her the gas can back and a $5 bill, and rode his motorcycle in the direction toward his home.

This appeared to be the last sighting that authorities had of Ramsey.

A Person of Interest

It was reported that childhood friend Jon Thibault spoke with Ramsey by phone shortly after he disappeared in traffic. The two evidently talked about meeting later in the day, but Thibault stated that he never saw Ramsey again.

Cell phone records indicated that Beau's phone was used to contact Thibault several times on the day he went missing. An examination of Thibault's criminal history revealed that he was a convicted felon with an outstanding warrant.

Thibault claimed that after he was arrested, authorities attempted to pressure him into revealing additional information about Ramsey's disappearance, but it is unknown if any new leads were gleaned. Thibault bonded out later, and has since referred all questions to his attorney.

In sum, an unfortunate set of circumstances that included the victim quitting a new job, purchasing items consistent with meth use, and being described as fearful and somewhat disoriented, led police to initially favor the possibility that Beau Ramsey had voluntarily left behind his life in Benton, Arkansas.

How did that impression impact the investigation?

I'll cover that next time.


Previous posts in The Disappearance of Beau Ramsey series are here.

Additional Note: The primary source for information contained in this post is from articles linked and contained on this website.