The UT Campus Shooting: What Elements are Ignored?

Police in Austin identified the young man who walked the campus at the University of Texas (UT) and fired shots from an AK-47 before committing suicide as sophomore Colton Joshua Tooley

In campus shootings, I am always drawn to witness statements like this one:
Libby Gertken, an assistant French instructor, was giving an exam in a nearby classroom when she got an e-mail from the university notifying her of the gunman.

"We all got on the floor," she said. "We stayed on the floor for a while. A couple of brave male students got behind the door to stand guard."
She said the class came up with a plan to "all run at the person" if the gunman came into the classroom.

And this one:

Nathan Van Oort, a junior from Boerne who was taking a chemistry quiz when the shooting started, said students in his class near the library got text messages and told the instructor what was going on.

The teacher told students to keep taking the quiz, he said. Some, including Van Oort, stopped taking the test and ran out.

"She just thought it was a rumor," he said. "I couldn't believe it that she would blow it off."
Also, this one:

Laura Leskoven, a graduate student from Waco, said she was in a media management class when she received a text message from the university saying there was an armed person near the library.

For the next 31/2 hours, Leskoven and about 30 of her classmates sat in a locked conference room trying to keep tab on events through Twitter, blogs and text messages.

"We were kind of shocked," Leskoven said. "Our professor said, 'Well, we need to get upstairs' because we were on the first floor of the building."


I see two prevalent themes in these statements:

(1) University Faculty Lack Direction

One instructor ignores the breaking news of an active campus shooter, while another participates in a class discussion of a plan to rush anyone who tries to enter the classroom.  Still, a third professor debates relocating his class to a higher floor.

The majority of college and university faculty are not included in contingency planning for armed suspects on campus.  Unlike at K-12 schools, where administrators recognize the importance of the teacher in the classroom during one of these chaotic incidents and depend on them to react in a pre-planned manner, the academician at a higher educational institution is left to simply guess what the proper response should be.

My message to UT President Bill Powers: Ensure that every instructor in your classrooms knows what is expected of them, and that they are included in training for active shooter scenarios.

(2) Students, Instructors, and Employees are in Essence On Their Own

On airplanes and at K-12 schools, students, instructors, and employees can be on their own during a crisis, but the restricted access of these places, allow for better preventions and protections (stopping an incident from occurring and then resolving it quickly).

Conversely, college campuses offer open facilities.  Administrators can offer very little safety to those on school grounds when things go bad.

Simply stated, college students, faculty, and employees are in essence on their own when an armed and violent offender is running loose on school grounds.

Whether it be fight or flight, potential victims in these situations should be aware that they may have to act to save lives.

In this instance, it was fortunate that the gunman apparently chose not to fire at people or this story would have an entirely different sense of urgency (in the form of calls for action) attached to it.

Latin Kings?

Driving through our small town last week, I spotted a man waiting to cross the street. 

He appeared to be about 30-years-old, clean-shaven, holding a plastic bag, and dressed in blue jeans and a black t-shirt with white-block letters. 

I read the shirt while passing him: LATIN KINGS.

Latin Kings?


Traffic cleared.  I checked the rear view mirror.  Unhurried, the man reached the opposite side of the road, and then disappeared into an alley.

Latin Kings as in "The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation" also known as the largest Chicago-based street gang?

I was immediately curious as to why a guy would want to wear a shirt like that in a small-town (with little current gang problems). 

After some thought, I decided that the man's choice of Latin Kings' clothing could be explained by one of the following:

(1) He is a Collector

The curious pedestrian is simply a collector of gang attire.  He models it.  Maybe something like: Latin Kings on Wednesday, Bloods for Thursday, Friday features MS 13, while the weekends are reserved for Skinhead outerwear.  Other days of the week are open to mix and match.

Note: Zazzle seems to offer a wonderful service in helping to connect the buyers of gang items to sellers who advocate violence including robbery, rape, and murder.  

(2) He is an Attention-Seeker

I can't think of a more effective way to either get your teeth kicked-out (for displaying gang paraphernalia in another gang's turf) or meet lots of police patrol officers looking for someone potentially associated with criminal activity--since the shirt shouts: "POTENTIAL GANG MEMBER: STOP ME AND ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS!"

(3) Everything Else Was in the Wash

Back in the days of life as a single guy, I can relate to having few shirt choices; especially when my wardrobe was limited due to it being laundry day.  After several years of marriage, the Mrs. was really happy to see my old college undergraduate shirts and sweatshirts disappear (despite the lack of evidence, I think she had something to do with it).  I do admit that my fav college gear was getting a little faded, and um, undersized after all these years, but I could have squeezed at least another decade out out them.

(4) He Just Got Scammed

His pal who said he had a deal on memorabilia from that talented Swedish hip-hop group The Latin Kings was lying--the purchased shirt refers to the gang not the music scene.  At least the man can still brag about band members autographing his jar of ligonberry jam.

Ok, so I my explanations are a bit far-fetched, but I think me laughing at the options above are likely better than thinking about the real reason for the man's choice of t-shirt.

Photo is from here.

Part X: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person

Just a short update on this case for my Missing Person Monday segment...

Case Summary

Sheila Kathleen "Beany" McBroom has not been seen since October 27, 2008 near her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. On that morning she did not show up for work, but was stopped and interviewed by an Alaska State Trooper who was investigating a reckless driving complaint.

Reportedly, the trooper was the last person to see Ms. McBroom.

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, Ms. McBroom was an avid writer and her online journal can be viewed here.



An anonymous reader, recently left the following comment about the McBroom case on one of my posts:


Not sure if you've accessed the legal filings for the presumptive death action yet:

While the pleadings aren't online--her husband filed the presumptive death action within a month of her disappearance. There would be no reason to do that that I (a probate and tax attorney) can think of unless you KNEW she was deceased and the body was not going to be found.

It went to a jury trial and the jury gave them the ruling they wanted--it must have been very compelling evidence---and it should be public record, copies should be available at the court house and appear to be available by written request per the CourtView FAQs.

Hope that helps.....
*Note: After writing this, it seems that the Alaska's Court Records site listed above is down until sometime on 9/27.  When it is operational again, I'll verify the link to Ms. McBroom's case again and modify it, if necessary.


I appreciate anonymous' comment, and was surprised to learn that the family began civil process to declare Ms. McBroom deceased less than 30 days after she vanished (I had been told it was soon by someone close to the investigation and blogged about it, but did not think that it happened that quickly).

With the case, I am still of the same mindset--that the only reason that I would obtain and review civil court records on Ms. McBroom are rooted in curiosity. 

And, I can't see where satisfying this curiosity would be beneficial to anyone.

So, I have no current plans to pursue legal documents on the presumptive death action described above.

For her many online friends, I did want to highlight the information provided by anonymous so that they are aware of the court records.

In any event. "Beany's" disappearance is a sad story for the many folks who cared about her.

Additional Notes

(1) I encouraged the "Anonymous" commenter to email me, and am currently encouraging her to become a guest blogger on some of the other crime cases that she follows--she has lots to offer readers.

(2) To view my other posts in this series follow this link: Kathleen McBroom Missing Person.

Not in the Headlines: A Kind Act

Daily, the headlines are filled with negativity about movie stars, athletes, and other celebrities.


--Paris Hilton plead guilty

--Lindsay Lohan reportedly failed a drug screening

--Braylon Edwards, a NY Jets player, was arrested for DWI.

Many argue that these folks put themselves in the public eye and deserve any and all of the bad publicity.

If this is true, shouldn't the stars be loudly applauded for doing something that is good?

I guess not; since as a reader, I will likely have to sift through enumerable gossip and rumor articles on celebrities to find a handful of positive examples.

Good stories like this...

Vince Young is the quarterback for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

Last week, he played one of the worst games of his career. His coach benched him with lots of time left to play--deciding that Young's backup gave the team a better chance to rally and win.

On Tuesday, Vince Young missed a mandatory team practice as they prepare for their next game.

Was he arrested?  Did he oversleep?  Did he have to go to court?

No, no, and no.

Young's absence was excused because:
...Young was spending time with Steve McNair's sons.

Young has mentored McNair's sons since their father died...
Young took Tyler and Trent McNair to a "Dear Dads Breakfast," an event head coach Jeff Fisher gave him permission to attend several weeks ago.  
"He showed up, took them, brought them to school and was quite the hit,'' said Julie Dilworth, admissions director at St. Paul Christian Academy.
"He has been so good to those boys. He does a lot with them, great things. I love that it wasn't just words for him when he said he would help. He has stepped up and done it, and it is a blessing.''
Celebrity and athlete Vince Young missed a very important meeting at his workplace so that he could support two children ( whose dad was murdered ) by attending a "father and son/daughter" community event with them.

This is the type of positive news that I want to see in the headlines.

Why do I doubt that it will ever happen? 

Have a great weekend everyone.

Note: I saw the article at the site Pro Football Talk.

Coach Brings What to Practice?

I was surprised after reading the following story from September 10, 2010:
PALMYRA, Wis. -- The Palmyra police chief said a woman stole marijuana from the back of his truck.

Police said the plants were in Chief Charles Warren's truck after he helped officers remove them from an elderly man's field.

Warren said his patrol car was being serviced, so he was using his truck for work.

"A couple of my officers called me and said, 'Look, the plants - 89 plants - are too big to put in the cruiser,'" Warren said.

He parked it outside a high school football practice where he was coaching after he picked up the pot.

From the football field, he saw a woman taking plants from the back of his truck and watched a man pull up with a trailer...

The woman was cited for possession.
Police said she was the mother of one of the football players.

I just had a few observations on this one:

(1) Rank Means Everything

I bet the chief is glad to be the chief of his department since he has to deal with this embarrassing situation.  I believe if the incident would have involved just one of his officers and not the community's "top-cop", the responsible employee would have received a multiple-day suspension that involved losing a couple of paychecks.

(2) Property Comes in All Shapes and Sizes--Just Take Care of It

Periodically, every police agency has to handle large, explosive, or otherwise hazardous/odd evidence and property that can't be accommodated by the usual procedures.  There is always a back-up plan (likely included in a policy) or at least a precedent so these items are not dangling from the back of an officer's personal vehicle during youth football practice.

(3) The Two Important Jobs Will Conflict

Good grief, as police chief there will be times that your job will make attending practice impossible.  Call an assistant or parent or whatever, and let them know that you'll be busy--in this case securing illegal plants.  Don't drive to school, park, and--assuming no one steals your confiscated items--drive the illegal stuff home with you because its too late to do anything with them after practice (I am assuming that was the plan).   

(4) A "Snack Mom/Dad" Lesson

This story dove-tails well with my Little League Coaching parody video post from Friday--especially with the humorous behaviors of parents.  Remember the mom in the video prodding poor coach about a "Best Snack Time Award?"  Well, team officials in Palmyra will definitely not be soliciting any snacks or baked goods from the mom arrested in this incident, and I'd say she is out of the running for recognition as "Best Snack Mom."

A Suitable Punishment for a Child

While triple-knotting my soon-to-be ten-year-old son's soccer cleats, he casually announced that he had an assembly skit at school tomorrow and needed to bring a stuffed bumble bee as a prop.

As with most weekdays, part of our clan was leaving for his game that started at 6 pm in a neighboring town.  The rest of the family was scheduled to be elsewhere during soccer, and then the little twins bedtime is 8 pm. 

In sum, no one really had time to scour the house or conduct intensive reconnoitering of local store shelves (focusing on retailers still open at 8:30 pm) for this elusive furry bee.

After several cell phone discussions and me searching our home from attic to crawl space, with the assistance of a destructive fun-loving 4-year-old boy, I was able to locate a bee prop to use.

The stuffed bug was smaller than he wanted, but it did the job.

Why do kids do this to us parents?  Is it for entertainment purposes only?

In any event, I was thinking about a suitable punishment for our forgetful kiddo. 

(A) Make him hold-hands with his little sister and walk her to preschool this week--taking a route that passes his own school in sight of friends and classmates;

(B) Announce that the theme for his next birthday party is Dora the Explorer and show him the Dora and Boots invitations ready to be mailed;

(C) Wait several years and when he introduces a new girlfriend to his loving parents, we quickly cue select home videos showing him naked as an infant and eating cookies crumbs off the floor; or

(D) Serve lima beans as a side at dinner for the next two weeks and insist that he eat large portions.  We emphasize that this delicious vegetable contains antioxidants essential to preventing memory loss--hoping that he does not Google our contention and discover the truth.
So, what do you think?  Are any of these suitable punishments for unnecessarily stressing mom and dad out?

We are also open to suggestions that are not included in the list.

*Note: In reality, I had a discussion with older son about valuing mom and dad's time and how we need to know about school props and other life requirements well in advance.  We will see how my talk is received. 

When So-Called Closure is Anything but

A Missing Person Monday Thought

I was not surprised to see that Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway (the widely publicized missing person case involving the young American who disappeared from Aruba in 2005), was able to sneak into the Castro Castro Prison and speak directly with prime suspect Joran Van der Sloot.

Ok, I did not expect her to be able to have an unapproved conversation with Joran in what is supposed to be a maximum security facility, but I wasn't shocked that she tried such an approach.

Speaking with persons like Van der Sloot, who at the least I believe is a sociopath, is unbelievably frustrating.  This type of person lies often and effortlessly.

What did Joran say this time about Natalee's disappearance?  Will it include portions of his previous tales or be new information?

Only the folks who were there know that.

And unfortunately, trying to obtain the truth about missing persons from disreputable defendants and getting nothing but frustration is not uncommon.

In May of 2009, the family of missing (and presumed deceased) San Diego State University student Donna Jou met with the man who plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter involving their daughter (though no body has ever been found). 

John Steven Burgess, a registered sex offender, was sentenced to five years in prison in relation to Jou's suspected death. 

Here is an excerpt of the meeting via the press:

...John Steven Burgess, 36, met for two hours at a downtown jail with Reza and Nili Jou to answer their questions about how their daughter died nearly two years ago. The meeting came one day after Burgess pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Donna Jou's death.

"He said she went to sleep in a chair and at 6:30 or 7 the next morning, he felt something was wrong with her and felt her pulse and knew she was gone -- those were his words," said Jou family attorney Gloria Allred, who attended the meeting. "At one point he was crying."

Burgess said he met Donna Jou through an ad on Craigslist. He said she was looking for people to party with. He admitted giving her heroin and cocaine at his house, and panicked when he found her dead the next morning.

Allred said Burgess told the family placed the body in the trunk of his car and began driving to her home in Rancho Santa Margarita. While en route, he changed his mind and instead drove to the marina where he kept his sailboat. He said he dumped the body into the ocean then fled to Florida.

Burgess had just finished a three-year prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.

He was convicted of three counts of battery in 2002 and of performing a lewd act against a child the following year...

According to the family profile on Donna, she graduated from high school with a 4.4 GPA, scored over 1,500 on the SAT, and planned to eventually attend medical school.  She was a volunteer at a local battered women's shelter, and had placed the Craigslist ad (referred to above by Burgess) looking for side-jobs as a math tutor.  

It makes lots of sense with her achievements and dreams, that she was scanning an Internet posting board for guys in their mid-30s to "party with." 

Yeah, sure...

As Reza Jou, the woman's father, said after the interview: "there is nothing to prove or disprove of his statements..." 

Donna's mother, Nili Jou, was reduced to sobs at a press conference--pounding her fist on a table and asking "Why?  Why?"

I can't imagine the pain that these families of missing persons go through: from the disappearance, to the not-knowing, to the criminal justice system. 

Even sometimes, family members are afforded the opportunity to speak directly with a suspected abductor; only to have what is presented as "closure" is anything but that.

Tuber of the Week #36: Youth Coach

Coaching youth sports can be a challenging experience.

I mean working with the players is likely going to be the fun part--dealing with the parents, now that could be a different story.

From my experiences with over-bearing parents in kid sports, I think this short parody video of a Little League football coach for a team of five-year-old boys being questioned by "invested" parents contains plenty of accuracy...

"If every kid gets an award, is it technically still an award?"

Thanks for indulging me with this attempt at comedy.

Have a good weekend everyone.

P.S.: If you prefer an amazing video to my offering, writer and blogger C.L. Beck has a fantastic clip of a penguin's great escape from some hungry killer whales.  It is worth the view.

Knowing Your Spouse, Part II

The setting for this story is our dining room. The Mrs. and the kids are outside, when our soon-to-be 10-year old son enters the house through the back door near where I am standing.

Nine-Year Old Son: Dad?

Me: What's up?

Nine-Year Old Son: Mom needs you out back.  She is picking a paint color for the swing set and wants your opinion.

Me: Do you know which color she likes already?

Nine-Year Old Son: Yeah, she likes the brown, but I said the dark green looks better.

Me: Now that is a tip.  Thanks.  I'll go with brown then.

Nine-Year Old Son: Why? You have not even seen the color choices yet?

Me: Son, my sense of suitable fashion and color is, well, non-existent.  I am unconcerned whether the swing set is painted brown, green, or even purple.  So, brown will be fine with me, everyone can move forward with their lives, and I'll save my potentially adversarial opinions for a decision that warrants such an engaged response.

Nine-Year Old Son: Huh?  Whatever dad.  Does that mean we can play football now?

Me: Give me 60 seconds with the Mrs.


*Note: For the record, I said that "brown would work."

Part I of Knowing Your Spouse is here.

I am a Guest Blogger Today

I really enjoy being a guest blogger.  It allows me to try new approaches and topics just to see how they work. 

Fortunately, if my effort is a complete bomb, I am able to quickly abscond from the visiting blog, and leave the mess created for the site's owner to clean-up.

With that intro, Mama Cass over at Casa di Cass has graciously let me blog over at her place today.

My topic?

Images of smiling accused criminals set to the lyrics of an old but popular song.

In the post, I try to delve into the mindset of folks like Jonathan Brown:

Mr. Brown: Charged w/DUI, Reckless Driving, & Obstruction of an Officer

Well, if Cass ever invites me back, it will be unexpected.

If you are interested in my guest post, it's here.

Otherwise, Happy Tuesday everyone!

Part VI: Christine Walters Missing Person

I am glad to actually have a Missing Person Monday post on a Monday for a change.

No new developments in the Walters' case have been reported specifically, but the following two articles appear to lend credence to one type of theory explaining her disappearance.

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.


Additional Thoughts on the Case

A follower of Christine's case emailed me an article about a recent search for evidence not far from where she was last seen.

At the location, authorities were searching for body parts related to other missing persons cases and not Ms. Walters, but it is interesting to note the detective's belief that there are more human bones in those woods. 

This is at least the third instance of human remains being found in that area.
The Humboldt County Coroner's Office took advantage of clear skies Saturday to begin a search for human remains and, with a little luck, some answers in a years-old missing person case.

But a team of forensic analysts, cadaver dogs and volunteers from the coroner's office was unable to unearth any clues in the area known as Cooper Gulch. The search came after a resident reported finding a human pelvic bone earlier this month, said Coroner Dave Parris.

”You know the (missing) bones are down there,” said Parris while the crew packed up after more than three hours of searching and clearing brush with machetes. “We were hoping to find some additional evidence down there, so it's disappointing.”

In my last case post, I discussed some of "Brian's" opinions over at the missing person's site Peace 4 the Missing.  Though I did take issue with some of Brian's assertions, his concern that area homeless may been involved in Ms. Walter's disappearance is certainly reasonable.

This article describing the regular encounters of the county's two park rangers with the homeless and vagrant make-shift camps in the woods supports an "Encounter with a Transient" theory.

So what do these two articles mean in relation to the Christine Walters' case--the search of a wooded area where human bones have been found and the description of active homeless camps in that area?

That a young woman who enjoyed taking long hikes alone in the area's dense forests could possibly have encountered an individual or group of subjects far from the eyes and ears of anyone else.

The photo was used from Christine Walters' family site, and my previous posts on this case are here.

Paris Hilton: Arrested by Lazy Cops?

While surfing the blogosphere, I stumbled upon the following post written about celebrity Paris Hilton and her most recent arrest in Nevada:
Paris Might Escape Drug Charges Due To Lazy Cops
Paris Hilton better thank her lucky stars because it seems the man in the sky is shining down on her…

The heiress might escape a jail term – despite being caught with cocaine in a handbag she was carrying – because the cops who caught her failed to give her a blood test.

Paris is still claiming that the bag she was carrying belonged to someone else (despite posting a picture of it on her Twitter page a few weeks ago) and because the police didn’t bother to give her a test, there is no proof as to whether she did take the drug or not...
Wow, let me address some of the inaccuracies in this post. 

First, Ms. Hilton was not driving a vehicle when police stopped her. She was a passenger--so laws that are directed at preventing and dealing with intoxicated drivers which allow authorities to use breathalysers and blood tests, do not apply in this case.

Second, authorities charged Ms. Hilton with possession of cocaine, not use. A blood test would only prove that she had or had not consumed illicit drugs during a specific period of time prior to being stopped by police.  Even if a positive test was obtained, it would not mean a "slam dunk" case for the prosecution.

Finally, since Ms. Hilton was not driving, an officer would need a warrant to force her to take a blood test--something a judge is not likely to issue in a possession case.

In sum, it is ridiculous to characterize police behavior as "lazy" in this instance.

Officers did not administer a blood test on Ms. Hilton so as not to violate her constitutional rights.

Police simply prepared a case against celebrity Paris Hilton like they would against any other person caught in the same circumstances--a possession arrest for the local district attorney to prosecute.

Perhaps I should offer the other blogger a deal: I'll defer to her before deriding anyone regarding questionable fashion, if she will refrain from future derogatory name-calling, leaving questions of search and seizure to persons qualified to address such issues.


*Note: The report from Hilton's arrest is posted here.  It is an interesting read and offers a glimpse into how a simple traffic stop can quickly turn into a circus when more than a hundred spectators gather to watch a celebrity incident.

The photo was used from here.

Part XVI: Ray Gricar Missing Person

Ok, as I mentioned earlier this week, here is my Missing Person Monday post a few days late.

Fellow crime blogger JJ in Phila continues to dig into the strange disappearance of Ray Gricar. 

Reading his work, motivated me to post the following on the case.

Case Summary

Ray Gricar was a district attorney in Central Pennsylvania who mysteriously disappeared in 2005.

On the day he went missing, he told his girlfriend that he was taking a vacation day from work, and last spoke to her via cell phone while driving on a local highway. His car was found abandoned the next day in a town about an hour east of his home, and his laptop computer was later recovered submerged under a bridge near where his vehicle had been parked.

In addition, Gricar's hard drive was found months after the car and computer were recovered--submerged in the same river area.


Case Update: About the Witnesses

Unlike some of the other older missing person cases, Ray Gricar's disappearance includes numerous reported sightings of the missing man.  In a two-part guest post earlier this year, JJ detailed many of those witness accounts.

At least twelve persons claim to have seen Mr. Gricar between April 15th and April 18th, 2005.

A colleague and attorney reported to police that she saw him near the courthouse parking lot in the community where he worked.  An off-duty police officer and a bartender told authorities that they believe they saw Mr. Gricar at a restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA, a 90-minute drive from where his car was recovered, on April 18, 2005.

Recently, additional information was made public about two citizens who believe they saw Gricar in Michigan a month after he disappeared.

JJ from Phila offers this potential description of the account, known as the Southfield Sighting:

...The date was Friday, May 27, 2005. The place was a restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, MI. The witness was having dinner with his daughter when he noticed someone who looked vaguely familiar; he couldn’t place the other man and pointed him out to his daughter.

The man was with a woman, but one about 70 years old. The witness even said hello to the man, though the witness couldn’t place where he had seen him before.

When the man returned home, he caught a repeat of a news show about Mr. Gricar, one that showed his photo. The witness instantly recognized that the photo was of the same man he had seen earlier in the day. 
The witness was more than just a run of the mill witness. He was a retired Detroit police officer who also happened to be a composite artist...
If this was Gricar, why Southfield?  Why would he be drinking beers at a chain restaurant in Wilkes-Barre?

JJ has some interesting thoughts as to the Southfield Sighting, but I wanted to make one observation.

The more credible witnesses that authorities have documented in the case file, the more likely it is that Ray Gricar left his life in Pennsylvania voluntarily.  

Does it eliminate the other explanations for Gricar's disappearance like crime or suicide victim? 

Certainly not, but an unmarried man nearing retirement, with an adult child who lives in another state, and who seemingly had lots of ends tied-up prior to vanishing, could have fled PA to start fresh somewhere else using a different identity.

Back in April, I modified my percentages as to what I believe happened to Mr. Gricar--showing voluntary disappearance to be the most likely explanation (based on what is known by the public):
Left Willingly: 49%

Crime Victim: 44%

Suicide or Other: 7%

I still view Gricar being the victim of a crime as a reasonable possibility, but in my opinion, any of the latest information released about Gricar's disappearance, has only further supported theories that he is alive and chose to leave.


Photo credit.

Previous posts on Ray Gricar can be accessed here.

Knowing Your Spouse, Part I

After confirming that Hurricane Earl was not going to cause havoc in the New York City area, the Mrs. decided to take the older son for a quick trip into the Big Apple Saturday to visit her elderly grandfather.

The following conversation started fifteen minutes before she left our house.

One other note, an E-ZPass is stored in a vehicle and used to pay road toll charges in advance so a driver does not have to wait in line at the toll booths.

THE MRS.: How much is in our E-ZPass account?

ME: I am not sure.

THE MRS.: Would you find that out for me?

ME: (I look away and grimace). Um. I'll give it a try.

I hustle back to the computer room, trying to remember how to do that.

Ten minutes later..

THE MRS.: Any luck?

ME: No. I have tried every user name and password combo I can think of with no success. I can't get them to reset the account automatically because I don't know our account number and their customer service department is closed on Saturday.

THE MRS.: (Starts to grit her teeth, but then takes a deep breath to relax) Did you look in those desk drawers where you are always haphazardly tossing papers?

ME: (Frowning). Well, not yet.

The Mrs. leaves the room and I think to myself: should I waste my time looking in the drawers? I really don't think anything is there that will help. Maybe I should use my last few minutes trying a couple of more guesses at the correct user name and password.

I shake my head and begin rummaging through the drawers.

Five minutes later, I walk into the kitchen where the Mrs. is grabbing her keys.

ME: The E-ZPass total is $88.75. I found a notice in the bottom desk drawer and was able to reset the account.

THE MRS.: Yeah, thanks.

Epilogue: While they were in NYC and the kiddos were distracted, I organized my papers scattered about in the desk drawers--discarding most of them.  Glad my stubbornness did not influence my decision-making.  Well at least this time... 

Speak More, Say Less

With the three-day holiday, I'll hold my "Missing Person Monday"  offering until Thursday, but will have another post for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the following story caught my eye.

Happy Labor Day to all.

*Note: My purpose with this post is not to address the racial element involved in the incident, but rather to provide an example of how quickly a person can be reassigned for selecting a descriptive word disliked by the boss: the seemingly innocuous term "very" in this instance. 

This is from the Saturday edition of the Des Moines, Iowa newspaper:

Police spokeswoman moved after remarks on fairgrounds fights

Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw reassigned her department's spokeswoman Thursday, two weeks after Sgt. Lori Lavorato said it was "very possible" fights near the Iowa State Fairgrounds had racial overtones...

Bradshaw, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, raised concerns about statements Lavorato made after a series of fights outside the fairgrounds last month.

A supplemental report about the Aug. 20 incident filed by Sgt. Dave Murillo said, "On-duty officers at the fairgrounds advise there was a group of 30 to 40 individuals roaming the fairgrounds openly calling it 'beat whitey night.' "

While answering questions from the news media three days later, Lavorato said, "It's all under investigation, but it's very possible it has racial overtones."

Police commanders later said they found no credible evidence the fights were racially motivated.

"I had some real concerns with us making that leap and making a remark like that publicly," Bradshaw told The Des Moines Register in an Aug. 26 interview. "That's a huge statement that, quite frankly, can provoke emotions on both sides of the issue.

"People are very sensitive to remarks like that, so I had some real grave concerns about us stepping out and I wanted to make certain that we were right to message the State Fair events that way."

Lavorato, 36, a police public information officer since May 2009, will work in the department's traffic unit. Sgt. Jeff Edwards, 40, will transfer from the traffic unit to replace Lavorato effective Sept. 13.

Lavorato confirmed her new assignment, but declined to say whether the move was voluntary.

Lavorato said her pay was not affected by the move, but she will lose her take-home unmarked police vehicle and extra compensation she received for being on call seven days a week.

Being the public information officer for a law enforcement agency can be a difficult job.

Make one statement that causes grief for the chief, and you'll find yourself being called "former spokesperson" faster than green grass through a goose.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, I did laugh at a comment from one of the Des Moines newspaper site's readers who described himself as a retired big city police officer (using the name "Rocymet"):
It is not the job of a police spokesman or information officer to inform the public but to protect the mayor, city and police department.

As a retired big city police officer I know that a quick way to get to get into trouble is to lie but the quickest way is to tell the truth.

Any decent spokesman should be able to talk for hours without either lying or telling the truth.
Now that I think about it, my former agency hired a non-sworn (non-officer) to act as the agency media liaison, and his best asset was endless blabber that included little substance.   

I wonder if they market that talent to prospective undergradute communications students?

I mean the skill set: speak more and say less.


The following was a recent conversation between myself, our four-year-old daughter "Sissy," and the Mrs. 

Sissy is playing soccer for the first time this year.
SLAMDUNK: Hey Sissy, good coloring on the picture.  Who is that for?

SISSY: My soccer coach.

SLAMDUNK: But you have not even met him yet.  

SISSY: I am going to give it to him on the first day of practice.

SLAMDUNK: The season hasn't started yet and you are already showering the coach with gifts in an effort to persuade him for more playing time, eh?  I like that initiative.

Sissy stares at me blankly trying to decipher what I just said.  She quickly decides that it is unimportant, and goes back to coloring the picture.*

THE MRS.: (glaring at me) That must be how you "earned" your playing time for the letters in high school football--right boot-licker?

SLAMDUNK: perhaps if I had tried something other than crayon art, I might have started every game.     
*Note: My daughter's ability to ignore my comments is a coping strategy that I am sure she will be applying regularly during conversations with dad in the future. 

Harvest Moon

As the autumnal equinox approaches bringing the wonderful lunar spectacle, I look forward to seeing the grand and bright harvest moon. 

Wait, I am definitely not referring to this full moon:


State police arrested a... man early Sunday after the man "mooned" a trooper driving on Oregon 224, about 15 miles east of Estacada.

The man, Gregory Allen Holzer, 22, was on post-prison supervision and was arrested for violating probation.

...a trooper driving west on Oregon 224 near Milepost 40 around 12:05 a.m. saw a man with his pants around his ankles "mooning" his approaching patrol car. The trooper stopped and confronted the man, who was extremely intoxicated...

During his investigation, the trooper determined Holzer was prohibited from using alcohol as a condition of his probation from a 2007 conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a Class C felony.

...Holzer was arrested and booked into the Clackamas County Jail.

Clackamas County has not had this much fun with a pedestrian law-breaker since 2008, when Zack Kelly became frustrated after no driver would stop to give him a ride as he walked while intoxicated on Interstate 205 at 3 am,  so he began (reportedly) throwing snowballs at passing vehicles. 

Needless to say, Mr. Kelly was arrested as well.  

Anyway, a mugshot of Mr. Holzer from the jail appears with the linked story to enhance a reader's visual portion of this incident.   

Enjoy the harvest full moon--the real one that is. 

 Note: The photo is from Wiki.