On Memorial Day: One is Remembered

No missing person post for today, as I thought with the Memorial Day holiday it would be more appropriate to feature a story like this...
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On December 17, 2009, fifty-six people attended a graveside service held for Delbert E. Hahn and his wife Barbara in Bushnell, Florida.

What was strange about this funeral?

  • Not one person in attendance knew Delbert or Barbara.
  • Delbert died in 1983 and his wife passed away around 2003.
  • Delbert, a World War II US Army veteran who had received five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, and his wife's cremated remains were found in the trash by teens.
You can read the well-written full version of what happened at the St. Petersburg Times website, but here is the summary:
A teen looking through a pile of trash finds a fishing rod, and tells his older sister.  Carol Sturgell then brings her boyfriend (both are also teens), Mike Colt, and additional searches of the discarded items produce one of Delbert's purple hearts, the certificate for a Bronze Star, and three filled urns (the third is believed to be the remains of Delbert's mother-in-law).

The recovered Bronze Star Certificate includes the notation:

  "...for heroism in ground combat in the vicinity of Normandy, France ... June 1944."

Delbert had survived the Normandy Invasion.

The items are turned over to the Tampa Police Department where investigators learn about US Army Staff Sergeant Hahn's courageous military service record, and piece together how his remains and the others were left in a pile of garbage (that information is here).

The Tampa Police Department, the Florida National Guard, employees of the Florida National Cemetery, and others made sure that Delbert receives a burial with full military honors (his wife was also buried with him, but unfortunately officials have been unable to lay the third person to rest).

Despite all efforts by authorities, not one relative or friend could be located that would attend the Delberts' funeral.
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Thank you to Sturgell, Colt, and all of the officers involved in this case and their extra efforts to ensure that this soldier was not forgotten.

Have a safe Memorial Day--I am thankful to be able to set aside some time to reflect on those who have given so much for me and my family. 

Guest Blogger and a What's Wrong with This?

Today, I am the guest writer for police officer and blogger extraordinaire Momma Fargo at her site: The Boogie Man is My Friend.

She graciously allowed me to speak to her audience about a topic that is very close to my heart: crime and um... mullet hairstyles. 

Ok, maybe I like talking about crime and just have hair envy.

Momma Fargo's blog is full of wit and wisdom--with a healthy dose of humor.  In a recent post entitled Port-a-Potty Party, she offers a glimpse into the the type of strange calls that law enforcement professionals are asked to regularly resolve.

In any event, Momma Fargo is a very entertaining writer, and it may take her a few weeks to reclaim the followers she will lose by allowing me to guest blog. 

I had just one quick item for today...
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Radio guy Neal Boortz posted this graphic from a WGN (Chicago) news show to his site a few days ago.

Do you know what is wrong with the image?


I confess, it took me longer than it should have to spot the problem.

Happy weekend to all.
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I saw this initially here.

A Deadly Deception

Recently, blogger ADoc2Be left a comment on one of my crime posts that relayed a story about a young person that she was concerned about.  The teen had been having explicit conversations with someone that she believed to be a peer via social media. 

Despite, ADoc2be's warning that folks on the Internet are certainly not always who they say they are, the young person was not worried.

I replied that I believe teens could use specific examples of the Internet preying that goes on--to help some of them realize that the world can be a dangerous place.

When I saw the following story, I immediately thought: Now this is a story that could be used to meaningfully illustrate danger to teens pursuing online love interests.
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March 30, 2010
Caddo Parish, Louisiana

A twelve-year old boy, spending the night at a friend's house during spring break, is excited about a new girl that he met via Facebook. 

His friend sees the teen texting someone at around 3 am before the friend falls asleep.

The last text reads: "I will send a cab over for you."

Pumped, the teen slips out of the house and waits outside for his transport to a romantic rendezvous.

A short while later, the cab arrives, and the teen enters the vehicle.  A male driver and his young passenger then disappear into the darkness.     

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Unfortunately, authorities believe the kid, twelve-year old Justin Bloxum, was strangled to death within two hours of getting into the cab. 

They allege that registered sex offender Brian Douglas Horn was behind the gruesome ruse.


Police assert that Horn was posing as a young girl via Facebook to attract young boys, and that he baited the young Bloxum into the meeting that fateful morning. 

What was Horn's job that allegedly allowed him to facilitate this evil?

Brian Douglas Horn was cab driver.

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You can read more about this horrible story by going here--including a sheriff's deputy that encountered Horn after seeing his cab parked near a wooded area and that Horn had previously served prison time in both Missouri and Louisiana for sexual assault (reduced from rape) and indecent behavior.  

The photo is from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office.

Parents Score First, but Kids Rally

Note: Dee over at Say Anything was kind enough to interview me for her blog. 

What is my favorite post?  What is my unofficial motto?  When did I perform with the Boston Pops?

Ok, the answer to the third question is "never," but you can read about the first two here.

In the meantime...

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With the daylight hours growing longer, the three-year-old twins decided that restful sleeps are simply an unnecessary annoyance designed to prevent them from their desire for non-stop fun and playing.   As a result, the 8 pm or so bedtime was becoming a dismal failure. 

Much to my surprise, with all of the kid goofing around after 8 pm instead of, well, sleeping, the little Energizer Bunnies began waking up ready to start the day before 6 am--despite mom and dad's desperate attempts for a few additional fleeting moments of sweet slumber.

The Mrs. and I discussed the situation and realized that it must be the sun's fault--setting later in the evening and then offering a sunrise early in the morning to wake-up our little people.

Brilliantly, mom located and purchased cheap blackout curtains for each kiddo's room.


We can't change the seasons, but we can fool the little ones into not knowing that it is morning yet.

After a week of use, the blackened rooms were working well--all loud munchkins were sleeping past 7 am (when they are scheduled to).  Making the established bedtime had also improved.

Ecstatic, I gleefully reported the weekly score of us parents versus the children as:

 Parents = 1 & Curtain Climbers = 0 .

A few days after my declaration, my oldest son had this for me:
OLDEST SON: Hey, dad.

SLAMDUNK: Yes.

OLDEST SON: What does 25 degrees Celsius mean?

SLAMDUNK: You want to know what 25 degrees Celsius is in Fahrenheit?  I don't know. I will have to look it up.

Oldest son looks disappointed at Dad's lack of intelligence and continues staring at me.

SLAMDUNK: Why do you ask?

OLDEST SON: 'Cause mom said that the little kids were pushing buttons on the dashboard of her car and changed all the (digital) displays to Celsius and metric or whatever.  She wants you to fix it now--it is driving her nuts.
After having to read the vehicle's ownership manual to decipher the sequence of commands necessary to reprogram the Mrs.' dashboard display back to Fahrenheit, I reluctantly conceded defeat and updated the weekly scoreboard:

Curtain Climbers =1 &  Parents = 1

What is it they say: A tie is like having to kiss your sister? 

Argh...
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The image was used from here.

Missing Persons Potpourri

Periodically, readers ask me if there are any new developments in one of the seven missing persons cases (well six are active missing persons cases and one, Beau Ramsey, has morphed into a homicide investigation) that I have discussed here on the blog. 

I plan to offer this type of update regularly as a part of my Missing Person Monday series, and the following is a first installment.

Of the updates below, I think last week's news story on the Morgan Nick case may be the one to watch.
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1) Brianna Maitland

Case Brief: Seventeen-year-old Brianna was last seen leaving work in Vermont around midnight in March of 2004.  Her vehicle was found the next day crashed into an abandoned farmhouse less than a mile from her employer.

What's New:  Last week, Vermont State Police searched the Prive Hill Road area, which is close to where her car was recovered, but reportedly uncovered no new information.  Authorities have been visibly pursuing leads over the past few months.

2) Christine Walters

Case Brief: On November 12, 2008, twenty-three-year-old Christine Walters was transported to a hospital after being found nude and confused on the doorstep of a rural home in Arcata, California.  She was later released from the medical facility, checked into a local hotel, but then vanished two days later--after stating that she believed people were following her. 

What's New: A follower of the Walters disappearance, who has been in contact with the missing woman's family, recently launched a website with a blog  that is devoted to the case.  It contains many of the related news articles, and specific information that I have discussed in my posts.  Having one place to read about case's like Christine's can only be helpful in building awareness about her situation. 

Also, I have received information on the case via email that I am sorting through to determine its relevance.

3) Morgan Nick

Case Brief:  Six-year-old Morgan Nick vanished from a baseball field in Alma, Arkansas in June of 1994.  She was last seen walking to her mom's car after catching fireflies. 

What's New: A news story last week stated that representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have been assisting the lead investigative agency (Alma Police) by digitizing the boxes of documents that are part of Morgan's case file.  Once all of these records are available electronically in a database, police hope that leads can be generated using statistical software that will search the volumes of information and look for connections.

I can't imagine how many pieces of paper are currently part of Morgan's file, and it makes sense when the family says that they believe relevant leads are buried somewhere in the mounds of fifteen years of paper files.

4) Ray Gricar

Case Brief:  At the time of his disappearance, Ray was the District Attorney for Centre County, Pennsylvania (home of Penn State).  He vanished in April of 2005, after telling his girlfriend that he was taking a day off from work.  The next day, his car was found abandoned next to some antique shops that are about an hour's drive from his home.  His laptop computer was also recovered from an adjacent river. 

What's New:  Last month, newly elected District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller established a review board comprised of seasoned investigators and herself, to review the Gricar investigation using the "fresh eyes" approach.  They are hopeful that this will lead to new developments.

Gricar case blogger JJ from Phila continues to do a fantastic job in covering every aspect related to Ray Gricar's disappearance. 

5) Susan Powell

Case Brief:: Mother and Utah resident, Susan Powell, was last seen on December 6, 2009.  Susan's husband Josh Powell reportedly told authorities that he had taken their two children camping to a remote area on the night of December 6th and left the missing woman at home--despite it being very cold for a camping trip; especially one involving small kids. 

What's New: In April, trained volunteers organized by the victim's family searched the area where Mr. Powell had told authorities that he went camping the night of Susan's disappearance.  The family wanted to involve the public, but decided to restrict the search to persons with experience after authorities advised against the idea arguing that the search location was dangerous and could present problems for volunteers not used to difficult hiking. 
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I am unaware of anything new in the Sheila Kathleen McBroom or Beau Ramsey cases.

Inspired by David

David is a boy on my son's grade-school soccer team.

He is of average height with short dark-brown hair, and very skinny.  He is not the fastest kid on the team, is a so-so ball-handler, and does not kick the ball particularly hard. 

He has not scored one goal this year.

David is also still recovering from an injury--he broke his arm late last year while playing on the playground, and was not sure he would be allowed to participate in soccer this spring.   

What makes David's role on the team special?

He has what coaches diligently seek, but rarely find.  David has "heart."  He is an overachiever.

When on the field, he gives everything he has.  The kid runs everywhere and regularly slides at the out-of-bounds line in attempt to keep the ball in play for his team.

Oddly for someone so young, when the soccer ball seems big and the kids are small, David fearlessly throws his body around to block shots.  On defense, he annoyingly presses attackers on opposing teams until they make a mistake and turn the ball over.

During one exchange at the team's last game, he moved in front of a big-legged opponent who had the ball in an attempt to keep the action on his side of the field.  The opposing player then blasted the ball into David's stomach from about five-yards away.

The "thud" generated when the ball impacted David's chest was loud, but the crowd of parents' chorus of gasps was more shocking. 

David's hands dropped to his knees.  He tried to hold back tears while searching for air.  Despite his pain, the game continued, while the referee ran over to David: "You ok son?"

Just as he asked the question, other players skirmishing over the ball knocked it back to David's feet.   The injured player gritted his teeth, somehow sucked down half a breath, dribbled the soccer ball forward for several yards, and then passed to a teammate--fighting through his pain with each step.

Near the end of the game, with the scored tied 3-3, David came from nowhere, threw his body in front of his goal as a talented scorer for the other team thought for sure he was going to kick the winner.

The rising fast ball struck David in the upper back, and careened out of bounds--he had prevented what looked to be the deciding goal.

Fortunately and at the other end of play, one of David's teammates kicked the winner with 30 seconds left in the contest.  The rest of the team showered the goal-scoring hero with cheers, pats on the back, and high-fives.  David was in the middle of them enjoying the moment, cheering the kid who scored, and smiling for all to see.

After David's fantastic game, I walked over to his mom and passed on my congratulations. I wanted them to know that someone there had recognized his unselfish and uplifting performance--even if he had not scored a goal or an assist.

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What can be learned from an overachieving nine-year old with "heart?"

In life, both professionally and socially, it is wise to identify and then surround yourself with Davids or the competitor whose gives maximum effort, does not complain, is fearless, and looks for no self-recognition.

Not only will you be able to marvel at the successes of these persons, but you'll find yourself emboldened by their efforts and likely achieve greatness that you had not considered even possible.

Branding: A Family Affair?


Police officer, photographer, and poet Raindog (his blog is an excellent daily read) sent me this article that I think exemplifies how kids are viewed in too many domestic disturbances that police are called to mediate:

PORT ANGELES, Wash. -- Trial is under way for a Sequim man who is accused of permanently scarring his three children by branding them like ranch cattle.

Mark Seamands is on trial for two counts of assault, accused of branding his 13- and 15-year-old sons.

Seamands' ex-wife told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News that she was horrified 18 months ago when she saw that Seamands had branded their sons and their daughter with the mark "SK," for Seamands' Kids.

"My youngest boy, it's on his chest. My middle boy, it's on his arm and my daughter -- it's on the back of her leg," said Alison Davis, the children's mother.

"I don't know if you have seen an animal being branded, but I have. They squeal; they yell; they scream. It's nothing pretty," Davis said...

The two boys are expected to testify and are expected to defend their father...

It's an idea their mother and prosecutors reject.

"I think it's child abuse in every way shape and form," Alison Davis said.
The video at the link includes information that this couple had been embattled in a heated divorce.

What is the message here?

That children in too many domestic disputes are viewed as simply property. Property in this case that was labeled as such: branded "S.K." for Seamands' kids.

Sons and daughters are viewed as merely pawns in a game of "gotcha" with a significant other.

Something like: "I want them so you can't have them."

For the officer, it is sad and frustrating to see these real life dramas play out on a nightly basis.

For the kids, it is life-altering.

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Additional details on this story and the local news video is worth watching and can be found here.

Note: the image is from Wikipedia and is not the brand used in this story.

Tagged and Awards

First, I send my appreciation to writer and blogger TJ Carson for honoring me with the Sugar Doll Award.


Yes, stop laughing...

I am comfortable with my masculinity--though I did pause while typing this to wave my smelly socks in the air and clasp my hand around my armpit to make several loud "gas passing" noises before proceeding further with this post.

Back to TJ--she is an avid writer who has completed one work of over 100,000 words and has two other books in progress that will both be over 50,000 words.  I wish I had her energy as I labor for too long on these 600+ word blog posts.

Thanks again to TJ.

I also am appreciative to Clara who gave me the Happiness 101 award.


She also enjoys writing and recently confessed to being part nerd, dork, and geek.  I am still fooling myself into thinking that none of those labels fit me.

Well, to accept this award I have to name ten things that make me happy:
  • Stepping in the backyard and narrowly missing a dog poo on the ground (versus splatting in one). 
  • Seeing an inverted rainbow (like the one linked). 
  • Skipping rocks with the kids. 
  • Losing to my oldest son at a growing list of games--he is the Wii champ in the house. 
  • Remember the two family dogs and all the ball playing time that we had during my childhood. 
  • Snorkeling in the clear blue waters of Maui and swimming close to a large sea turtle. 
  • Reading interactive children's books to the kids--they laugh at my funny voices and don't care that I am a dreadful dancer. 
  • Reading concise posts by other bloggers that offer inspirational messages--msgs. that I could not effectively relay using three times the number of words.
  •  The smell of freshly baked cookies from the oven. 
  • When someone responds with a "thank you" during the course of a day.  
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Second, Tara at Feel of Something New tagged me to answer five questions. 

She is an excellent writer and I am very jealous to learn that she lives in the mountains of North Carolina as my older son has requested a trip sometime to a dig-your-own ruby and sapphire mine in Franklin, NC

Her questions are:

Where were you five years ago?

1) Enjoying the time I was spending with just one child--then a four-year-old boy.  He was a good traveler which meant guy trips that included short travels to battlefield parks, sporting events, and corn mazes.

2) Pounding my alarm clock when it went off at 3:10 am for work.

3) Trying to decipher what the locals mean when they pronounce certain terms.  For instance, any word with a "t" in the middle is treated as silent in this area--as in carton becomes "car'in" and Hilton is pronounced "Hil'in."  I have yet to figure it out completely.

4) Relishing in a good night's sleep or two on weekends.

5) Watching my aging Springer Spaniel best friend slowly lose her hearing, her vision, and her cognitive abilities.

Where do you want to be 5 years from now?

1) Watching my older son excel in sports competitions; whatever sport he pursues.

2) Still visiting and walking with my father on the beach near his home on North Padre Island, Texas.

3) Rediscovering a good night sleep--even if it is just on weekends.

4) Training for a marathon (that is after the kids learn that their dad is really not cool and want little to do with him).

5) Have a job where I can ride my bicycle to work.   

What is on today's To-Do list

(Note: I completed this part on Sunday)
  • Take the wild kiddo (the youngest with PDD-NOS) to the park for fun, while the rest of the gang goes to church. 
  • Finnish relocating the brush pile away from our yard. 
  • Walk the dog. 
  • Research online the gila monster since one of the kids asked about it. 
  • Fill the kids bicycle and tricycle tires with air for our afternoon ride.
 What are your favorite snacks?

Salt and vinegar potato chips is my weakness.  We never buy it, but beef jerky is appealing to me as well.

 What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Try to figure out how not to let anyone know that I had a billion dollars.  There are certain safety advantages to not being of elite wealth; I'd be especially be concerned about protecting my little ones. 

Once I got passed the safety issue, I sure would have some great blog giveaways.  Like maybe this:

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Ok, today's blog prize will be a winner's choice: $100, 000 gift certificate to Tiffany & Co. or Bass Pro Shops.  Or, if the winner is an outdoor enthusiast with marital plans on the horizon, I'll allow him to split the prize between the two stores so that he can purchase the ring for his bride and secure a MAKO Offshore fishing boat for his weekend entertainment.
 
Here is where I get to pass the love along. 

The following folks can accept both or one of the awards, just the tagged questions, or try to create a post as long as I have by accepting the awards and tagged questions.  You also welcome to ignore this and accept none of the recognition (I won't be offended).
 
Here are five bloggers that I award/tag: 
Susan at City Girl Moves to Oz Land 

Alyssa at My Husband's Watching T.V.

Natalie at Martin Enterprises

Herding Cats

Lisa at Peripheral Perceptions
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Thanks to everyone who stops by here.

The Solo Attacker: Does it Fit the Brianna Maitland Case?

A reader and talented blogger from the site Me, Myself, and Aphrodite, suggested that I discuss the Brooke Wilberger missing person/kidnapping case.  Her request included the observation that randomness plays a part in a number of these attacks--or crime victims are targeted just because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. 


What can be learned from the abductions of Ms. Wilberger in Oregon and that of teenager Anne Sluti in Nebraska in relation to the Brianna Maitland missing person case?    

I believe the same modus operandi (MO) used in the Wilberger and Sluti attacks should not be completely discounted when discussing theories as to why 17-year-old Brianna vanished leaving very little forensic evidence at the scene of her abandoned vehicle.  

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Summary of Case #1: Brooke Wilberger 


On May 24, 2004, Nineteen-year old Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger was working a summer job at an apartment complex that her sister managed in Oregon.  That morning, she was last seen cleaning lamp posts in a parking lot which bordered the Oregon State University campus.

Sadly, her remains were recovered five years later after Joel Courtney had agreed to plead guilty to her abduction, rape, and murder.  As part of a deal, he showed police where he had hid Wilberger's body.  Evidently, Courtney had tried to kidnap two other students shortly before attacking Wilberger, but they had escaped.

Courtney's MO: From the evidence, he targeted Wilberger as a crime of opportunity.  Acting alone, Courtney was able to attack the woman in a parking lot in broad daylight, place her in his van, and restrain her, without anyone seeing the crime and leaving behind no evidence of the incident.

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Summary of Case #2: Anne Sluti


On April 6, 2001, seventeen-year-old Anne Sluti was walking through a mall parking lot in Kearney, Nebraska, when she was attacked and dragged to a Chevrolet Suburban.   

The kidnapper, later identified as Tony Zappa (whose real name was Anthony Wright), then fled the scene with his victim.

The daylight struggle lasted only seconds,  but several witnesses saw the altercation and called 911 (see note #1 below).

Ms. Sluti's courageous survival story is remarkable (and was later made into a movie entitled Taken in Broad Daylight) as she was able to leave multiple clues for the FBI and other authorities searching for them across several states during her six-day ordeal.  Finally, law enforcement caught up with Wright/Zappa at a cabin in Montana--arresting him and freeing Sluti. 

Wright/Zappa's MO: He also targeted Sluti as a crime of opportunity. Acting alone as well, Wright/Zappa attacked in daylight (striking her until she was unconscious), quickly placed her in his suburban, and restrained her later when she began to wake up (see note #2 below).  

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Could one kidnapper have targeted Brianna Maitland in such a manner on the night she went missing?

A similar random attack does not seem to make sense in Brianna Maitland's disappearance.  On the night she vanished, a coworker observed her drive away from the restaurant where she worked.  It is difficult to develop a scenario that Brianna would have made an unplanned stop at the abandoned farmhouse (where her car was later found crashed into a building) less than a mile away from work to then be randomly attacked.

So, what can be learned from the MOs used in the Wilberger and Sluti kidnappings?

That a determined attacker acting alone, can quickly take someone against their will and leave no evidence behind. 

In Brianna's case, going with the attacker theory, it is likely to have been someone that she knew.  Then, it is certainly possible that she could have been taken against her will from the deserted farmhouse without anyone seeing anything--as it is a rural area.  Further, the ground was frozen which could have helped to hide indications of an altercation.

I have favored the multiple attacker scenarios, with at least one person that she knew, to explain Brianna's disappearance, but I certainly should acknowledge what one abductor can do. 

If a solo perpetrator is responsible for Brianna's disappearance, it would certainly explain why no credible leads have allowed police to solve this case--the one kidnapper who knows what happened is not talking.

Does this exercise mean that I have changed my mind about what likely happened to Brianna that night/morning? 

No, but the ability of a solo attacker in missing persons cases is worthy of consideration.

Thanks again to Me, Myself, and Aphrodite for the suggestion.

For more on my coverage and thoughts on the Brianna Maitland case, you can go here.
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Note #1: In the Sluti abduction, mall cameras captured the crime.  I have seen the footage before on television, but could not locate it online to include in this post. It would have been a worthy example of how quickly these kidnappings can occur--and perhaps why people go missing without a trace.  

Note #2: Reading the news accounts of the Sluti court proceedings reminded me why I hate court.  Having to listen to Wright/Zappa's defense attorney, David Stickman, argue that the victim was a willing participant in the crime and that she could have easily stabbed him or tried to escape more frequently would have made me vomit--nothing like being kidnapped, beaten, raped repeatedly, and almost murdered, and then to have relive the experience with "the evil" sitting across from you while facing his "lawyer" who goads you in open court that this whole incident was your fault.  At least, Wright/Zappa became so enraged (he believed he was innocent) during the trial that he slapped his attorney Stickman in the courtroom.  

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Ms. Sluti's photo was used from here.

When a Drunk Student is Arrested: So What?

This post is not for everyone, but I wanted to state that I don't believe officials at the University of Virginia understand all the facets involved in creating a law that would mandate student arrest information be reported.

Despite the good intentions, they could be launching an initiative doomed to fail.
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On Tuesday, it was reported that University of Virginia President John Casteen met with Virginia's governor Robert McDonnell to discuss legislation that would mandate police agencies in that state to report to colleges and universities when students were arrested. 

This is in reaction to the the recent murder of University of Virginia student and lacrosse player Yeardley Love--her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend and fellow UVA student George Huguely is charged with the crime.

Yeardley Love 
President Casteen has argued that: if university officials had known about Huguely's arrest for drunk and resisting back in 2008, the school could have been more proactive in dealing with him--hence the impetus for a new law requiring the reporting of student arrests.

Here are four problems with such a statute:

1) Most of the information collected from arrestees is self-reported.
Does an arrestee have to tell police where he/she works or attends school? 

Absolutely not. 

The biographical information on the arrest report is based on: voluntary participation, any identification that is inventoried, and of course fingerprint matches (well in many instances).  If the arrestee does not report that they work/attend school or if the officer does not ask, it is typically marked as "none" or "unemployed" on the report. 

How often is nothing or "unemployed" listed on reports? 

For example, on May 13, 2010, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department (FL) arrest list includes 53 offenders.  Twenty-five reported that they were employed/a student/or disabled.  Twenty-eight of the defendants were listed as unemployed or the field was left blank.  How many of these 28 simply did not want their employer or school listed?  I would guess a significant number.  
2) When students are arrested outside of their college town--it can be difficult to track. 
One reason why George Huguely's arrest was under the radar was that it happened not in his college town, but in a community an hour away.  In the US (with some exceptions), each county prosecutes its own cases--so in general, the farther away from campus an arrest occurs, the greater the chance that it will go by unnoticed. 

In addition, out-of-state student arrests would not apply to this law--even though they still could be a problem for colleges and universities. 
   3) Many universities lack the infrastructure to manage the volume of information created.
There are at least hundreds of police agencies in Virginia, and there could be more than a thousand.  They range in size from one-officer departments to big city police agencies. 
Large universities could be swamped with arrest information related to public drunkenness and other petty crimes after months of reporting, and it would certainly burden the small offices on campus that are taxed to deal with student offenses.    
4) Administrators would need case details--as in offense and arrest report narratives and not just charge descriptions.
If administrators only receive charge summaries about student arrests, it simply would not add much value.   To best assess a situation, officials would need to review the specifics of the arrest--so an appropriate response for each case could be designed.

For instance, if university administrators had known that George Huguely had been arrested for drunk and resisting (two misdemeanor offenses), would the reaction have been, "ok no big deal?" 

The temptation to take the arrest lightly would have been less strong if more information was available.

Is it not important for college officials to learn the specifics of Huguely's case to understand that not only was the student drunk and resisting arrest, but that he had been Tasered after threatening to kill the arresting officer and had hurled sexually demeaning threats at females on the scene?

I think so.
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I believe university leaders should:
  • Invest the time and energy to build relationships with law enforcement agencies in the state--in other words sell them on the system.  The change is more work for police, and if police get the impression that colleges are not using the information, this system will quickly fail.
  •  Review case specifics by obtaining arrest/offense reports instead of just the charge summaries to understand these incidents (as stated above).
  • Communicate the standards and expectations to the students so that behavior and repercussions are clearly defined.
  • Expand staffing and make the resources available to on-campus disciplinary offices so that they can investigate student arrests and make the proper determination.  If the university is planning to just make due with current staffing levels and hope that the loads of extra work can be handled internally, it would likely be a mistake--one that could result in the institution failing to take action prior to another violent incident occurs.
In sum, I am hopeful that universities and law enforcement in Virginia can develop a system that helps prevent future campus-related murders and violent crime. 
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I discussed this case earlier this week in this post.

The photo was used from here.

Tuber of the Week #34: Virtual Homeless

Raising money for non-profits to do their good work is an arduous task that requires tremendous effort and creativity.  Mailers, telephone campaigns, car washes, charity golf events, dog walks...  The list is endless; and obviously includes some ideas that are better than others.

Recently, Pathways to Housing, a non-profit that provides housing to the homeless so that specific psychiatric needs can then be addressed, launched an innovative idea: a virtual homeless man. 

The intent is to raise awareness and solicit support for their program.

With the concept, the image of a street person appears on a building wall in a high pedestrian area.

While watching the man, viewers can send a text message (a number is also displayed) to interact with the video, request more information, or make a donation to the cause.



I think the agency's graphic  here is most telling--emphasizing society's cost per day to to house a homeless person with psychiatric problems:

Jail = $164
Emergency Room = $519
Psychiatric Hospital = $1,185

Versus their agency's daily rate = $57.

So, where the video builds awareness of the homeless problem, the informative cost comparison graphic educates boring eggheads such as myself.

Now that is creative fundraising.

I wonder if the idea could be used to raise money for abandoned pets?

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I first saw this story here.

Dancing with Shadows

Last year, our three-year-old son, the youngest of our three, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder called Pervasive Development Disorder--Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

The diagnose is like many "Other" labels in that medical professionals recognize him as different, but can offer few specifics or effective treatments.

He has a follow-up appointment soon with the same specialist, and I thought it was fitting to post this about his life.

I have been playing with this post for months, and finally just decided to go with it as is.  

As a result of the delay in publishing, some of the descriptors of him are no longer accurate--like the Binky use referred to was true 6 months ago, but not now.

 In any event, "Luca" is not our son's real name.
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The world hears you as loud, and wonders why you won’t conform and be quiet.
  • We hear you celebrating your happiness with shouts of joy.

 The world sees you running carelessly oblivious to danger. 
  • We see someone with amazing focus; a child who can filter out anything considered to be an unneeded distraction.

 Older brother’s friend watches you and asks your brother: “What’s wrong with that strange kid?” 
  • Unashamed, older brother smiles and replies: “That’s just Luca.”

 A neighbor is surprised to see you join their grandson’s outdoor birthday party uninvited and sporting no clothes. 
  • We now understand that a fence can be jumped, several lawns can be traversed, and mom can be outrun—that those obstacles are simply not enough to impede your willingness to participate in what looked like a great celebration.

 The world wonders why you would want to watch the same funny video clip repeatedly. 
  • We realize that your laughter brings happiness--to you and others.

 The world wonders why you don’t say much. 
  • We cherish each word and are overcome with emotion when we hear your greet us with even the simplest stuttered “Hi Daddy” or "Hi Mommy."

 The world sees you sucking on a Binky and declares you too old for it. 
  • We understand that the Binky serves a purpose—to protect your mouth from injury at the playground.  Some of the falls and collisions that you have suffered, a few that even resembled the old Vinko Bogataj Agony of Defeat clip, have been... well... unbelievable.

 A large group of teens at the playground is confused as you walk and dance into their midst just as two guys square-up to fight.
  • We watch the group's confusion turn into smiles and laughter as I retrieve you from the center of the ruckus, and then observe the near-combatants and spectators disperse with no punches thrown.

The world focuses on your limitations: your quick temper, your stumbled speech, and your seemingly lack of attention. 
  • We look beyond what is on the surface and observe. Understanding that in the right environment, you outperform your driven and sometimes know-it-all twin sister.

The world sees you as odd; someone who seems to stare and smile at nothing. 
  • We see you as one of the loving souls who is unafraid to dance with his shadow—unconcerned if anyone is watching.
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Each child is a gift, and we realize that we are blessed to be a part of our son "Luca's" life as he dances with shadows.

George Huguely and a Police Officer (Who Happens to Be Female)

I don't have a missing person post for Missing Person Monday completed, but I'll be ready to go with a new one next week.

Instead I offer this...


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What do you see in the photograph above?

I see police officers--not male and female police officers, just officers.

I think this perspective sums up the following post well.

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One aspect of the media's coverage of the tragic murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love has really bothered me.

Last week, it was widely reported that the man charged with Ms. Love's death, fellow UVA student and lacrosse player George Huguely V, had previously been arrested for public drunkenness and resisting arrest after an encounter with police in Lexington, Virginia--a community about 70 miles away from where the Love homicide took place.

Every media account on the drunk and resisting arrest of Huguely seems to emphasize that the arresting officer, Rebecca Moss, was a female.

In general, Officer Moss' account of the incident is that she encountered an intoxicated Huguely outside a frat house and he became belligerent after she told him to call a friend to come get him. Moss then tried to take the 6'2, 210 lbs. subject into custody, but he began resisting.  She, being considerably smaller in stature, proceeded to use a Taser gun on Huguely, handcuffed him,  and several officers placed the student in the back of a patrol car for transport.

In the media's seemingly concerted effort to cast the big and athletic Huguely in as evil a light as possible, they repeatedly refer to Officer Moss as a small female-- which unfortunately characterizes the patrol officer as being less effective than...well... a male cop (something that is obviously far from the truth).

For instance:

1) This article is entitled: Murder Suspect George Huguely Threatened to Kill Female Cop.

When officers deal with intoxicated persons, they are regularly threatened with bodily injury as well as death.  It is part of the job.  Most of the defendants are what I would call "fighting drunks" in that they become combative when under the influence, and that anti-social behavior does not reflect their usual demeanor.  But, there are a small few who really mean the threats--intoxicated or not.  In any event, Officer Moss' encounter with Huguely is what I would expect to see with a drunk and disorderly arrest--not something out of the ordinary as the press is trying to portray it. 

2) Another article includes this: "In 2008...Huguely "had a run-in with a Lexington, Va. police officer, a female officer who felt so threatened she had to use a Taser to take him into custody..."

I have yet to see an officer describe his/her using a Taser when he/she did not feel threatened by the target.  After reading the officer's statements and various articles on the incident, I believe that Huguely would have resisted arrest and been belligerent whether the arresting officer was female or male. 

3) This video clip describes the female police officer Moss as "terrified."

I have not read one account where Officer Moss states that she was "terrified" by Huguely.  Is it really necessary to embellish the facts of the incident in an attempt to show that Huguely had a history of being disrespectful to women?

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Did the "poor" and "defenseless" Officer Moss scream for help and hide under her car when confronted with the big thug Huguely?

Did she run away or wait until a male officer arrived to take action?

Absolutely not.  Officer Moss bravely took Mr. NCAA Division I athlete to the ground with a tool of the trade.

I am sure after dropping Mr. Huguely off at the jail, Officer Moss completed her paperwork, and checked back into service; ready to handle the next large intoxicated oaf that citizens would need the police to handle.

The emphasis on trying to find examples of  Huguely's previous violence against females by offering this encounter with police just seems to denigrate Officer Moss and the fine work that male and female police officers do. 
 
Officer Moss did not handle the encounter as a "female cop" or a "patrolwoman" would, she handled it professionally like a "police officer" would.   

Officer Rebecca Moss did her job that day, and I am thankful to have the courageous men and women who battle so much adversity to protect our communities.

It is sad that the media has used this typical police encounter to create drama and unknowingly promote the stereotype of a helpless female public servant who was simply lucky. 

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The photo was used from here.

Tuber of the Week #33: Sleepless Nights?

The kids are eagerly anticipating the children's movie Toy Story 3 from Disney-Pixar due out this summer.

Our little ones must have watched the first Toy Story and Toy Story II hundreds of times. 

Since the original was released in 1995, it is funny to think that fans who are excited about the new adventure are far from being children anymore--many being more than 20 years old now.   

I can understand why it took so long to get the third sequel completed--with a big-name cast that includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Whoopi Goldberg, scheduling conflicts (not to mention a complete script rewrite) must have been the norm.

In any event, the trailer for Toy Story 3 looks funny.

Personally, I thought the short movies that accompany the Pixar creations have been very well done.  Knick Knack and For the Birds were hilarious, but my favorite is entitled Lifted that accompanied the movie Ratatouille

After viewing the Lifted short again (below), I realized that this may explain why I never seem to feel rested after a night's sleep:



Or, then again, I can just continue to blame my sleepiness on our three little people and the regular 3 am wake-ups.

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Note: If you have trouble playing this video (this is my first time embedding from Google Video), the YouTube link is here.

Sex Offenders and Social Networking

What can us regular citizens sitting in front of home computers do to prevent registered sex offenders from targeting new victims?

Chris Yarbrough over at the CrimeShadows News (CSN) has an innovative idea.  He refers to the concept as the CSN Smackdown and describes it this way:

Despite the very public efforts of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to eliminate profiles created by registered sex offenders, the sex offenders keep signing up. CSN Smackdown is a project aimed at countering sex offenders on these sites in a proactive way.

The goal is to locate sex offenders operating in our online neighborhoods and report them to the site administrators. When the sites remove these offending profiles, we think the Internet becomes a little bit safer.
He and another crime blogger who runs this site have already had more than 10 accounts for sex offenders removed from social networking sites.

For instance, they found that Christopher Dustrude is on the Montana Sexual Offender Registry after being convicted of a felony sex crime. He was also maintaining a MySpace page with, reportedly, lots of text describing himself in the hope of meeting someone special.


Dustrude's MySpace page was reported to the provider and deleted shortly thereafter. 

Several years ago, when my state first publicized a registered sex offender list, I remember finding three of the males listed also had active MySpace accounts.  I'll have to go back and research that group again.

An additional step could be to notify the law enforcement agency in charge of monitoring the offender of the social networking account--in case new criminal charges are warranted. 

In sum, Yarbrough's effort is an excellent example of how one person can contribute to making online and traditional communities safer.*

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*Note:  I realize that sex offenders can still register with fictitious names or using only part of their identity on MySpace and Facebook, but I think at least the annoyance to these felons caused by the good folks over at CSN is time well spent.         

An Unexpected Plea

Last week, I took the little ones to a small park in a neighboring town.

Next to the playground there is a well-maintained and fenced tennis court.


Take some sort of ball or cars and tennis courts somehow transform into magical play areas for children.  

While running around the courts, I glanced at the hard surface and noticed some writing. A small white rock was lying off to the side.

I examined the temporary "sidewalk graffiti" more closely; fully expecting to read an inscription from "Edgar" proclaiming his undying love for "Stephanie," a negative description of the area's school lunch program, or some other silly kid-type message.

Instead, I read this:

We miss you and we love you dad.
Please come home again.

Instantly, my mind filled with questions: 
  • Did this father leave the family after a dispute?
  • Is he away while serving in the armed forces?
  • Is he in prison?
  • Did "dad" die and this is simply a child wrestling with grief?
  • Does "we" refer to the child and mother or was there more than one child present when the message was composed?
Well, needless to say, I'll never learn the answers to my questions. 

For me, the image of a hurting child or children, uncomfortable in speaking to a loved one or friend about their feelings, while sitting on the tennis court composing such a sad message was powerful.

The experience did reiterate to me how much children (even young ones) internalize, and of the heartbreaking burdens that are carried by some--robbing them of what should be a fun and carefree experience at the park.

My prayers are with that lonely little boy or girl.

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The photo is not of the park we visited, but was used from here.

Part IV: Christine Walters Missing Person

Unless new details become available about the case, this is my last planned post on Christine Walters.
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Case Summary

On November 12, 2008, twenty-three-year-old Christine Lindsey Walters was transported to a nearby hospital after being found nude and confused on the doorstep of a rural home in Arcata, California.

Evidently, Christine would not disclose any details to police as to her previous whereabouts, but did contact her mother in Wisconsin stating that she had been involved in a "ceremony", and believed that someone was following her.

She was treated medically, allegedly tested negative for drugs, and released from the hospital.

Christine, with the help of her parents, rented a room at a local hotel. Once she was settled, her parents then began arranging for a flight back to her home in Wisconsin.

On November 14th, Christine retrieved some paperwork at a local copy center that her mother had faxed to her. Workers described her behavior as paranoid.

Christine left the copy center and has not been seen since.

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Last week, I made suggestions, based on the information available, regarding what aspects of the case would be worth additional study. Today, I'll speak on two theories used to explain Christine's disappearance.

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Two Indicators of a Voluntary Absence

1) What the Police Must Know

From the media reports, investigators have hinted that Christine chose to disappear. To support this, authorities offer her:

--interest in finding the meaning of life;

--new friends, association in fringe groups, and participation in "ceremonies;"

--travels from Wisconsin to Oregon to California; and,

--decreasing lack of contact with family and friends.

To refute any of the crime theories related to Christine's case, authorities simply say that no evidence exists that indicates Ms. Walters fell victim to a crime.

In other words, one can believe that the investigative folder on the case contains lots of information on why Ms. Walters would have left her life situation voluntarily.

2) The Tribe

Prior to disappearing, Christine was associating with persons who like to keep the specifics of their gatherings secret. It seems plausible that she could hide from the world in one of these groups, and not be noticed by anyone from the outside.

With that in mind, it is essential that as many people as possible who Christine associated with in California and Oregon be spoken to--as it could result in new leads.

What can be learned?

For instance, fourteen days after Christine's disappearance, a woman posted a message on a bulletin board site of the "Ayahuasca Tribe" trying to find information about Ms. Walters' whereabouts (for more information on Ayahuasca, go here). The woman provided her email address for direct responses.

The poster referred to Christine as a "star sister of our family," and included details of the case (name of the hotel, coffee shop involved, and that she had participated in a "gathering") that were likely obscure at the time--as widespread coverage of the disappearance came later.

The poster also added a photo of Christine, but no replies were made to either post (the original poster did make one comment, and I am guessing that it was to clarify information that she had received from readers through some other means).

Did this woman learn anything about Christine's disappearance from the "tribe?"

If so, it could mean that Christine is safe.

Sites like Tribe.net are important in understanding Christine's activities prior to vanishing as she had a profile there (under the name Airystar), and last updated her page about 16 days prior to disappearing.

Note: Ok, so I was curious and tried to contact the woman, but unfortunately I have not received a reply yet.

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Why Does the Voluntary Absence Not Quite Make Sense?

Her Mental State

I believe one of the most problematic issues with a "she walked away" theory is Christine's apparent mental condition prior to vanishing.

Several different witnesses (including her parents after speaking with her by phone) described Christine's behavior as paranoid. Paranoia is not what one would anticipate from someone who is making a life-changing decision to join an underground movement or fringe group.

In contrast, paranoid behavior is what I would expect to cause Christine, standing outside the copy shop, to accept a ride from someone she barely knew in order to avoid seeing persons that she feared were following her; hence, making a crime victim scenario a plausible alternative.

I did find it interesting on the Tribe.net board that a current discussion topic involves a male "shaman" or spiritual advisor who allegedly solicited/coerced sex from female gathering participants involved in the ceremonies--while these women were under the influence of the schedule narcotic.

I am sure the accused shaman is not the only one using such an approach.

This sounds like the type of situation that would cause a young woman, believing that her life was in jeopardy, to run naked through the woods.*

Perhaps, Christine's paranoia was not based on fiction.
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*Note: Though news sources stated that Christine was tested for drugs by the hospital and none were found, I was curious if the hallucinogenic chemicals of an ayahuasca concoction would even show-up on a standard test.  

Can any of the medical professionals shed some light on this issue?  Thanks. 

To view all posts in this series on Christine Walters Missing Person go here, and the photo was used from this site.