Tuber of the Week #38: Hand Dancers

Note: I believe the following video attracted attention last month in the media, but I saw it for the first time this week on PlanetJan's blog.___________________________________________

As a person who has always tapped and fidgeted his hands while sitting, why did I not translate all of that energy into something creative like this:



Ok, maybe I just lack the talent that Irish performers Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding have.

Anyway, how many times did Mr. Harding blink in that clip?  Now that is focus.

-------------------

Have a great weekend everyone.

Mom, Could You Handle this Situation for Me?

This is one moment that a parent would dread having to handle:


A horrified 8-year-old boy watched as his pet turtle disappeared into an alligator's jaws at an aquarium in the Florida Panhandle.

Colton Guthrie had donated his pet red-eared slider, Tomalina, to the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach when the turtle outgrew her home aquarium. ... the family saw workers place Tomalina in an exhibit Thursday with other red-eared sliders and an alligator. 

Though the alligator had long ignored the other turtles, Brenda Guthrie said the gator ate Tomalina as Colton shouted, "Oh no, alligator, let it go!" 

The Gulfarium has apologized to the Guthries' and gave them a special meet-and-greet with the dolphins.

 What could happen at the aquarium during a family visit that could be worse?

Oh yes, falling into an aquarium's shark tank like these folks did, of course.

Tokens of Affection

The following illustrates the change in tokens of affection as my marriage has matured.  For other married readers, perhaps you see some similarities, or maybe you don't...
____________________________________________________________

Engaged ------------------- Tickets to a Broadway show

Newlyweds ---------------- Sapphire bracelet

1st Yr. of Marriage ------  Romantic weekend in Vermont

3rd Yr. of Marriage -----  Dinner at a chain sit-down restaurant and a movie at the theater

7th Yr. of Marriage ------ Carryout from a chain restaurant and watching a movie at home

10+ Years of Marriage -- Me scraping dog poop off of the Mrs. sneakers. 

Over thirteen years of marriage, and we have no complaints at all.

___________________________________

Update: After reading the comments, I wanted to clarify that though my anniversary was a few weeks ago, the above list of gifts is not entirely related to our anniversary.  With the post, I wanted to show how our appreciation of and desire for tokens of affection has changed over the years, and not to illustrate how I have become a cheap-skate with the Mrs.

Though it helps that we both are frugal folks.     

The Dingo Ate Your Baby

My Missing Person Monday offering today discusses a case from the 1980s.
_______________________________________________________________

Does anyone remember when Elaine on Seinfeld said, "Maybe the dingo ate your baby"?

Did you know the origin of that saying?

I didn't until I read about what was likely Australia's most famous missing person case.

Case Summary


On August 17, 1980, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain were camping with their family, that included 9-week-old Azaria Chamberlain, in Ayers Rock, Northern Territory, Australia.  

The family's site states this:

...three people heard the cry of Azaria on the night she disappeared from the tent in the camping ground at Ayers Rock (Uluru).


Lindy saw a dingo coming out of the tent and dingo tracks were seen around and inside the tent. Blood from Azaria was found in large quantities - for an infant - on the tent mattress and other items, on the tent itself, near the carry-basket she had been sleeping in, and next to dingo tracks.


Shortly after the alarm was raised, Aboriginal and white trackers following the dingo prints (until they could no longer, as it mixed with shoe prints of humans on the road) saw drag marks in the sand; in two places were there was a shallow depression in the sand, where a bundle had been set down, apparently while the animal rested.

The depressions contained the imprint of a knitted garment, and next to one, small, dark patches in the sand, which they took to be blood...
The baby's body was never found.

Prosecutors eventually tried to discredit the "dingo took my baby" story and charged Azaria's mother with murder and her father as an accessory. 

In 1982, with the help of some questionable forensics, Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor.

And perhaps she would still be imprisoned today if not for a chance discovery in 1986--authorities searching the Ayers Rock area for a missing hiker who had fallen to his death, found part of Azaria's clothing in an area full of Dingo lairs.

With the new evidence to bolster the dingo attack explanation, Ms. Chamberlain was released from prison, and two years later all convictions against the parents were overturned by one of the nation's court of appeals.

Update

This case is in the news again as Azaria's family reportedly petitioned the court with jurisdiction to have the child's death certificate changed from an unknown cause of death to listing the dingo attack.

-------------------------

So Lindy Chamberlain's 9-week-old baby is taken from her, authorities accuse her of lying, she is convicted of murdering her child, and then she spends 4 years in prison as an innocent person?

Now that I understand the origin behind Elaine's quip: "Maybe the dingo ate your baby", it is apparent how inappropriate and lacking in humor that line really is.
_____________

*Note: A movie starring Meryl Streep entitled A Cry in the Dark was released in 1987 about the incident.

Embarrassing

During a conversation last week, the Mrs. reminded me that my initials are short for an embarrassing medical term. 

Since I am an anonymous blogger, I'll leave it to your imagination as to which one. 

My well intentioned but somewhat naive mom (I can say this with a smile since naivety runs in the family) would get the letters monogrammed on sweaters and stuff as gifts for me.

Mom passed away many years ago, and I never had the heart to tell her about the other meaning of those initials.

With the monogrammed items, I would slide them into the back of the closet and only wear the attire when no one else was around to make fun of me. 

How about you: anything embarrassing about your initials, name, or a nickname, or am I the only blogger hiding a nomenclature skeleton in the closet?
_________________________________________

Have a good weekend everyone.

But She is Inexperienced

I had a post ready for today, but I saw the following story and had to comment...
___________________________________________

Twenty-year old student and mother of a young child, Marisol Valles Garcia, just accepted a new job. 


It is not any ordinary job, in fact, the mayor was unable to find anyone else who would accept the position; that of chief of police of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, Mexico.

Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero with a population of only about 8,500 residents, is considered one of the country's most violent towns.

The town's mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero de la Pena, recently asked for suggestions from the community regarding how to combat the violence that terrorizes residents.  The young Valles impressed the mayor so much with her ideas centered around community policing that he offered her the chief of police's job.
 
So what are people saying about Chief of Police Valles?

Well, it has not exactly been supportive...


1) Criticize Her Age

"Inexperienced police chief, 20, ready to take on drug gangs"


"Let’s see what a woman can do... things can’t get any worse."


"Let's hope it is not a reckless act on her part."


"Whether her decision is courageous or foolhardy, the appointment shows how desperate the situation has become in the Juarez Valley."

*Note: There are many other negative comment categories on the new chief--I don't feel comfortable in listing them.

-----------------------

To her critics?  Well, I did not see anyone else jumping with arm straight up in the air yelling "Pick Me!  Pick Me!"  She loves her community, and wants to improve it.  Residents are encouraged by her bravery.

So let her go...

Throughout history, great young inexperienced leaders were the folks not afraid to confront seemingly impossible odds against success and take risks during  the process.

I wish Chief Valles the best and hope that she is able to institute positive changes in her dangerous little neck of the woods. 

Inflatable Business Attire

In trying to improve cat-napping for male professionals, two entrepreneurs offer this:


As fashion goes, neckties may be the least-utilitarian clothing item ever invented, save for perhaps the codpiece.


However, two guys in Utah have managed to do the impossible: make the necktie actually functional.


To do that, they had to make it inflatable, and now sales are blowing up for their Pillow Ties.


A Utah company has created the "Pillow Tie," an inflatable tie designed for comfort while sleeping through boring business meetings.


The Pillow Tie is an invention of Tom Bowen, a former business student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. According to the Daily Mail, it looks just like a normal tie, but has a larger knot. can be blown up with one breath and deflated in seconds. 



Bowen's friend and business partner, Shawn Baxter, said Bowen came up with the idea after his sister told him about a bad habit her son had of sleeping in church. 


Inspired by his sermon-snoozing nephew, Bowen came up with the idea of sticking a pillow inside a normal tie and told his professor about the concept...


"The professor didn't think Tom could do it," Baxter said. "In fact, he laughed. However, Tom went to China and had it designed within four months." 


Sixty-two varieties of Pillow Ties are available at the "inflated" price of $19.95, but the blow-up bit can be removed in case the wearer wants a normal tie.

--------------

I'd give an A+ for creativity to Bowen and Baxter and I wish only the best for his company, but I have a hard time buying into this product.

Based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, I think most guys can sleep anywhere at anytime--dudes don't need a pillow. 

Our eyes close and then our heads droop forward or fall carelessly backward with face to the sky--we goofy guys can grab 20 minutes of shut-eye with little concern for anyone who might be watching. 

Maybe a water-proof tie that could be used for wiping slumber slobber would be a better sell; I mean this is not based on me personally, but strictly from seeing other men napping.

Umm... Yeah...  

For the Missing: Shattering the Thought of Impossible

Last week, I said that citizens searching Sauvie Island near Portland for evidence in the Kyron Horman case was a good thing.

With today's installment of Missing Person Monday, I offer what supports my believe in these citizen-driven searches.
____________________________________

In a previous post entitled Tent Girl: A Lesson in Tenacity, I discussed how citizen Todd Matthews spent 10 years searching before he discovered the identity of a female homicide victim whose decomposed body had been found in Kentucky in 1968. 

Similar to Todd's accomplishment, Stephanie Dietrich made a discovery that had baffled law enforcement from more than three states.

-------------------------------

Case Summary: Sarah and Philip Gehring (formerly missing persons)


In July of 2003, Manuel Gehring of New Hampshire was seen arguing with his children: 14-year-old Sara Gehring and her 11-year-old brother Philip.   Evidently, Manuel feared a custody fight with his ex-wife, so he shot his children and then drove across the country.

Almost a week later, Gehring was arrested in California where he confessed to the killings and told investigators he buried the children's bodies in a remote location off Interstate 80.

Gehring provided details about the gravesite, but stated that could not remember exactly where he had hidden the bodies.

Investigators searched an expansive area of over 700 miles from Grove City, PA (where he had purchased digging equipment) to Iowa City, IA. 

Despite multiple efforts, no trace of the children's graves were found.

In February of 2004, Gehring killed himself while in prison awaiting trial.

--------------------------

Searching

Over the summer of 2004, the victims' mother Teri Knight led a five day search for her missing children, and then pleaded with the public for help.

Enter mother and grocery story clerk Stephanie Dietrich of Ohio:

...She has always loved mystery shows like CSI, and since she was familiar with the terrain being searched, figured she could put her sleuthing skills to the test. "I've always been very observant," she says. 

Dietrich chatted with FBI agents and pored through hundreds of pages of online agency reports and news articles for clues.

One report said pollen found on Gehring's clothes and shovel could be from northeast Ohio, so that's where she concentrated her search. Another mentioned landmarks Gehring detailed—including several willow-type trees, a 6-ft.-high wire fence, concrete sewer pipes and gray-colored firewood.

With her dog Ricco for company, Dietrich scoured the area several times a week, taking off work, and eventually focused on a smaller area around Hudson, Ohio.


On Nov. 29 she came across a secluded area she hadn't searched before.

"There was the massive concrete sewer pipe, the green pump surrounded by a chain-link fence, and the pile of weathered firewood," she said.

And when she returned two days later, she noticed something else: A drooping tree that might have looked like a willow in the summer. Ricco lay down under the tree, which Dietrich considered a positive sign.

After digging just a bit, "I hit black plastic," she says. "Then I found duct tape and twigs and I said, 'Oh Lord.' " Dietrich alerted police, who quickly unearthed and identified Philip and Sarah's bodies...

Citizen Todd Matthews matches the identity of a missing woman with the body of a "Jane Doe" that had been discovered 30 years earlier. 

Citizen Stephanie Dietrich locates the remains of two missing children.

Citizen James King finds missing 11-year old Nadia Bloom in a Florida swamp.

What can a citizen do to help with missing persons cases?

Is answering "a lot" enough of an understatement?
_______________________________________

*Note: For anyone interested in pollen analysis as evidence and how the technique was used to narrow the search location in the Gehring case to Northeastern Ohio, the FBI and USGS published an excellent 10-page article that can be viewed here.    

A Revealing Shirt

I'll give you one guess as to what James Johnson was arrested for on September 30, 2010.

The text on his shirt offers a strong clue.


As you probably deduced, Mr. Johnson's was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)--it was his 4th DUI.

He is alleged to have crashed his pickup into the front steps of a house near Boston, MA. 

I wonder if the arresting officer listed the words on the defendant's white T in his report as evidence in the case?

*Note: For a related mugshot post, check out Hello Kitty Regrets.
______________________

Have a great weekend everyone.

First Bedbugs at Hotels, Now This?

A few weeks ago, I posted about bedbugs in hotel rooms.

Now, I discuss another issue that a traveler may encounter when looking for a motel.


_________________________

Blogger Bob G. over at The PA-IN Erudition recently found an interesting article on an Indiana program that deals with registered sex offenders:

...Since 2006, the Indiana Department of Correction has used federal grant money to house some sex offenders recently released from prison in motels across the state.


The program has been dubbed “DOC Assist” by prison officials and is designed to help offenders with no place to go and no support system to get back on their feet...


A motel housing a sex offender through the program typically receives money from the Department of Correction to cover three weeks’ worth of room fees... He said that in some cases the department might extend payments an extra week if needed.


At least one sex offender staying at Travelers Inn...said that is not the case.


“They’ve paid my bill since March 8,” said Willard Ernie Ritchie, a 58-year-old who was convicted of child molesting and served two years in prison.


After being released from prison, Ritchie said he was put up by the Department of Correction at Hallmark Inn. He lived there nearly three months...

Nothing like trying to save a few dollars while traveling on a family vacation, and checking-in to a hotel where a crew of registered sex offenders secretly reside.

I can see arguments from the opposing perspectives. 

On one side, the public wants to know where registered sex offenders are living--especially when government funds are being used to pay for the housing.

It is a matter of public safety.

You know, while you watch your kids do cannonballs into the pool at a Motel 6 or Super 8 (two Indiana hotels participating in their program), and are not really wondering who else is viewing the water play.

From the other side, corrections officials want these released offenders to have a residence so that they can properly monitor them.

Often, local restrictions prevent sex offenders from living just about anywhere within a community.

So, with nowhere to go, the offenders then become homeless (like in several Florida cities)--living a transient lifestyle that makes if difficult for officials to know what these folks are doing.   

And obviously, making it dangerous for citizens. 

----------------

Regarding the government-financed motel rooms for sex offenders, I don't think this program has much of a future.

The more publicity that "DOC Assist" receives, the fewer hotel/motel owners that will want to participate. 

Also, the funding for such an initiative would be limited, and possible liability concerns with the offenders would be troublesome as well.

Well then, what should society do with registered sex offenders knowing that some/the majority/many (depending on your perspective) will reoffend?

Currently, officials and experts do not have many answers to that question, but it should be noted that officer and former sex crimes detective Momma Fargo and I previously offered our opinions. 

And we both only lost a few blog followers after doing so.

Additional on Kyron Horman

For this delayed segment of Missing Person Monday, I had a few more thoughts on the disappearance of eight-year-old Kyron Horman

Kyron was reported missing from his elementary school on June 3, 2010.
__________________________________


(1) New Searches--Same Area

Authorities are still focused on the area that they traced cell phone pings from Kyron Horman's stepmother,Terri Horman, and hope to conduct another search of Sauvie Island near Portland:

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office hopes to carry out another search of areas of Sauvie Island next weekend (Note: OCT 9) in hopes of finding Kyron Horman, who disappeared four months ago.

“It depends on the weather and who we can get,” said Lt. Mary Lindstrand, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. “Most of the resources on the weekend are volunteers.” 

On Saturday, nearly 170 people, including searchers on foot, ATVs, horseback and with dogs, scoured sections of Sauvie Island and then more than 110 people returned for a new search effort on Sunday...

Sauvie Island includes 26,000 acres and just over 1,000 year-round residents.

Along with its expansiveness, the island has several lakes and ponds that make it very difficult to search.

One thing to note--citizen volunteers are doing quite a bit of looking on the island and I think that is a positive thing.*  With police having no specific places to search, finding any evidence pertaining to Kyron's disappearance is imperative.

*Note: Authorities did search the island again this weekend, and a related story is here.  Also, next week's Missing Person Monday post will provide an example of how one citizen can make enormous contribution in a case.

(2) School Safety Plans and School Reality

On August 12, 2010, an article about a groundskeeper named Dave Stensen working at the elementary school was posted. 

Apparently, authorities interviewed him about if he had seen Terri Horman's truck parked on an access road near the school.  Stensen stated that he did not see the vehicle in question, but was done mowing a field near the building at 8:30 am--15 minutes before Ms. Horman is said to have left the school.

Stenson did say tell the media this though:

“It seemed like just a pretty normal day,” he said.

“It was kind of damp and wet. It had been wet for a while and the fields were hard to mow.

(I) noticed that there was some children that came out the back door, and I thought, ‘please don’t come down and play soccer.’ But they came out and looked at some plants that were in the raised bed.”
Since there was a science fair that morning, students and other adults onsite were not subjected to the regular security provisions. 

In these cases, it is important for police to digest what security measures the school had in place, and then investigate what safety practices were actually followed that day.

For instance, school officials may have policies that state that certain exterior doors are secured and only supervised students are permitted to enter or go outside--when in reality and as Mr. Stensen described, kids were able to come and go from the school without attracting attention on that morning.

And if children were able to do this, it certainly can be argued that adults could have accessed the school unnoticed.

Certainly investigators can't afford to close their minds to all alternatives that could explain the disappearance, though there are many reasonable yet unanswered questions about Kyron's step-mother.
__________________________

Note: To read my guest blogger Crime Buff's thoughts on the Horman case from a few months ago, you can go here.

Photo was used from here.
 

Karen Owen in the News

My Missing Person Monday post will be ready tomorrow, so I offer this instead...
_________________________________________________________

Since Karen Owen was a lead topic of discussion on television and the Internet last week, I was tempted to offer an opinion.

What do I think of Karen Owen's situation?

No wait.

On second thought, I don't believe I can describe the background of the story and develop a cohesive post without turning this blog X-Rated, so I am hesitant to say anything.

Well, except for this: it has to be at least troubling for all of the talented writers in the blogosphere trying to obtain book deals, to learn that Ms. Owen reportedly attracted two book offers and a possible movie deal with just a PowerPoint presentation.*

*Note: I am not even going to offer a link for this story.  Anyone who does not know what I am talking about is welcome to use their favorite search engine for the details. 

-------------------------

Since I won't say much about the Ms. Owen in the news, I wanted to mention another Ms. Owen who received very little media attention (the following is from 2009):
Karen Owen, the leader of the Houston school district’s alternative training program for aspiring teachers, died Friday. She was 57. 

Owen began her career in the Houston Independent School District in 1983 as a teacher...

Owen later turned her attention to training teachers and was tapped to run HISD’s alternative certification program, which trains college-educated professionals from other fields to be teachers. 

The program, the oldest in Texas, enrolls several hundred people a year, helping the school district fill a void, particularly for math, science and bilingual teachers. 

“She realized she could change the experience that kids were having by recruiting those people and then getting them into the classroom well prepared,” Koonce added. “There’s hardly a school in the district that has not hired somebody at some point that has come through alternative certification.” 

In 2007, Owen launched a similar alternative certification program for principals, making HISD the first school district in the state to have such a program. 

Owen’s mother, Rosa Kathryn Gupton, also was a teacher, at the University of Houston. 
The daughter of educators, Owen emphasized the importance of lifelong learning with her own children, Jennifer Owen-White, 29, of Rockport, and Kristen Owen, 24, of Wyoming. 
“She loved reading and loved learning, and that’s what she taught us,” Owen-White said. 
The sisters recall their mom staying up late and waking up early to read — educational texts, mysteries, adventures books. She also enjoyed the outdoors, taking her children camping and traveling to national parks with her husband...
No book or movie offer for this Karen Owen. 

No NBC Today Show feature for a mother of two who fostered a love of reading and learning in her daughters.

Did this dedicated professional who spent her life improving the educational system in Houston garner even a hundredth of the attention that Duke University grad Karen Owen did last week?

I doubt it.

I am sure of one thing: I am happy to be discussing the life of a leader and loving parent in Karen Owen who passed away in 2009, rather than anyone else in the headlines who might share that name. 

Last Try

Did you ever read an excellent blog post, but fail to immediately recognize the discussed topic's significance in relation to your own life?

That happened to me last week.

I've been reading the works of inspiring blogger Expat for more than a year now.

On Wednesday, he posted a story about life through a baseball memory.

In sum, it is about how he struggled as baseball player, but was able to hit the winning home run during a for-fun game--at a time when many changes were going on in his life including a move.

A short time later, the pitcher during the game who was also a good friend, died with his wife in a traffic collision.

Expat said that he has not played baseball since that glorious game with friends.

But he treasures how good it felt to "connect" on that sunny day.

------------------

So, I read Expat's post, thought "that was really good," and went on with life.

Later, while walking the dog in the dark and thinking, it hit me.

Unlike Expat, my last baseball try was a strike out. 

One.  Two.  Three.

I took a big swing at the third pitch, but was not close to hitting it.

I was out.

The memory of that failure is vivid. 

I can still see the opposing team's red uniform, and the pitcher's jet black hair. 

I remember the heat of a late afternoon sun causing sweat to run down the side of head. 

I recall the unforgiving wind blowing dirt across the diamond and into the faces of the contestants--the breeze being synonymous with the plains states. 

I remember jogging back to the dugout, dejected with bat-in-hand, knowing that the season and my time as a "baseball player" were over.

Why had I not played baseball since that afternoon?

--------------------------

Watching our dog sniff each rock and pole for clues as to what other canines had walked by earlier in the day, I thought about the question.

And developed this answer:

Perhaps, my last at-bat, is symbolic for me as well.

I want to hold onto that lousy memory, and make sure that I don't end any other parts of my life with a swing and a miss. 

I never want to finish with a dejected retreat back to the dugout.

I don't want to be a failure as a father, husband, employee, or a son.

Maybe, the image of me striking-out on that day so many years ago acts as motivation.

I just hope that it is not fear.

On second thought, moving forward due to some fear is not so bad.
_____________________

Thank you to Expat and all of the other inspirational bloggers who daily challenge me to think and grow.

Tuber of the Week #37: Incredible

Sometimes I feel incredible.

Like how "Jimmy the Dog" must feel while watching a Lake Laberge sunset in the Yukon (also referred to as the Yukon Territory).

Photo Credit: Picture Imperfect

Other times, I feel...well...like Mr. Incredible:




And so are the peaks and valleys of life.

"...And some rice cakes?"
______________________________________

Note: Many thanks to Krista, the talented photographer behind the blog Picture Imperfect, for allowing me to use one of her images. Following Krista and Jimmy's experiences in a territory that stretches for 186,000+ square miles yet only has a population of just over 30,000 people is quite the adventure and worth a daily visit.

Definitely Not a Job Perk

Every job has perks.

When I worked as a police officer and then as a supervisor, I had a take home vehicle.

It was great.

At the consulting firm where I was employed, the agency regularly entertained VIPs with catered lunches. 

Fortunately for employees, we would then get to help with the leftovers.  Needless to say, I needed to run laps during lunch hours on most days there.

I have never worked at Wal-Mart, but I am sure their workers get perks as well.

Maybe they are offered employee discounts over the holidays.  Or possibly, workers have access to damaged items considered trash that are in salvageable condition.

Whatever the case, I have to believe that 24-hour access to the Family Restroom should NOT be a reward for Wal-Mart employees.

The other day while hanging at our local Wallyworld, it became evident that our youngest son was in need of a diaper change.  His sister then announced that she could use a potty break as well.

Unfazed by the parental challenge, I directed our three-child crew to the family bathroom in the back of the store.

Unfortunately, I saw employee "Walter", as was the name printed on his name tag, closing the door to our destination. 

Since it was not an emergency, we waited for him to complete his business. 

I patiently counted ceiling tiles while the little ones took the opportunity to punch keys on a keyboard at an adjacent hiring kiosk; probably applying for a job at the deli counter or something.

A short time later, "Walter" emerged from the bathroom with a smile followed by a powerful cloud of funk that must have been what the prison sewage tunnel smelled like when Tim Robbins' character used to escape in The Shawshank Redemption.

Knowing that failure in this mission was unacceptable, we all gasped one last breath of uncontaminated air and entered the restroom.

Well, we survived--misson accomplished.

I really wish that Wal-Mart made one thing clear to "Walter" and any other employee indulging in the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet before work: The regular bathrooms will suffice for your adult bodily functions.

Five Days Lost: The Missing McCanns

This is my Missing Persons Monday offering...
_______________________________________________

A common criticism of policing in the United States is the decentralized approach used. 

In the States, there are over 16,000 law enforcement agencies, and as one can imagine, communication and coordination between agencies can be a serious problem.

This is an issue that impacts victims and their families searching for answers.

But does a strong national police force, like that which is present in other countries like Canada and Israel, eliminate mistakes in missing persons and probable abduction cases?

Not quite.

While reviewing the details of the missing persons case of Lyle and Marie McCann of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, one glaring oversight caught my attention.

----------------------------------

Case Summary


Seventy-eight-year old Lyle McCann and his seventy-seven-year-old wife Marie left St. Albert, Alberta on July 3, 2010 traveling via motorhome.  The couple had planned a week-long trip that included camping at several stops along the Yellowhead Highway, and then meeting their daughter in British Columbia on July 10th.

On July 5th, the McCann's motorhome was found by police abandoned and engulfed in flames at a campground several hours southeast of their departure city.  The couple's SUV, which had been in tow behind the RV, was missing.

The McCann's failed to arrive for the meeting with their daughter and were reported missing on July 10th.

On July 16th, the McCann's Hyundai Tuscon (the SUV that had been with the motorhome) was found abandoned in a wooded area about 45 minutes from where police recovered the RV.

In September 2010, a local man named Travis Vader was named as a suspect in the disappearance of the McCanns.  Police believe foul play is involved in the couple's disappearance, and arrested Vader on unrelated charges.

Authorities continue to build a case against Vader, and recently used divers to scour a pond on property that is owned by an acquaintance of the arrested man.

--------------------------------

So what is odd about the handing of this case?

Police located the McCann's motor home on July 5th. 

Missing persons reports were not completed on the couple until July 10--after their daughter contacted authorities.  

Five days? 

One-hundred-and-twenty-hours before reports were taken?

After police found the couple's motorhome ablaze?

In essence, authorities lost the equivalent of a work-week in a missing persons and likely homicide investigation--time they certainly wish they had back.

After digging on this issue, I found one instance where a reporter pressed police on the missing five days angle, and got this response:
..."That certainly is a concern of ours. We are looking at how it was found, how it was reported, how it was investigated," said Sgt. Patrick Webb with the RCMP.


RCMP say an Edson RCMP officer came across the burning RV and was able to pull information from the registration card. The officer attempted to to call the registered owner of the RV, but that was unsuccessful.


At that point, the file was then passed along to the St. Albert police detachment. Police would not say if the St. Albert detachment followed up on the case.


"We make no hesitation in saying there are ways we do investigations that some people may not agree with," said Webb.


Bret McCann believes the RCMP are fully engaged in the current investigation, but thinks there should be more done to locate owners of burned-out or suspected vehicles.


"The relationship between vehicle registry and the emergency contact apparently there is not. I think there should be," he said.
Similar to what happened in the Brianna Maitland missing person case, authorities stated they attempted to contact the listed owner of the vehicle, but were unable to do so.  Understandably, the parents of Brianna were not pleased that their daughter's vehicle sat for days in a location after police had towed it from the Dutchburn place.

But, unlike in Brianna's case where I argued that it was reasonable for police to consider the scene as just a traffic collision, finding a burning 1999 Gulfstream Voyager in a camping area would scream suspicious, and certainly require more immediate follow-up.


Follow-up activities that evidently were not conducted.

------------------------

Communication and coordination issues are not solely an American policing blight; it is a problem with national law enforcement as well.

Last year, the Vermont State Police, after collaborating with the Maitland family, announced improvements to the agency's procedures in handling abandoned vehicles in relation to missing persons cases.

It is my hope that police agencies in Canada will cooperate in a similar manner with the McCann family so that necessary corrections are made to prevent a precious five days from being lost in future investigations.

In the meantime, the family of the two missing persons wait.
________________________

*Note: Thanks to the talented writer and photographer Stina Lindenblatt who referenced the McCann's case in a comment on one of my posts last week.

Failure to Move

What happens in downtown Providence, stays in downtown Providence:
..Bret Lockett was arrested this morning between the hours of 1-4 a.m. for failure to move and disorderly conduct outside of a club in downtown Providence, according to the Providence Police Department.

Lockett was arrested and released and is expected to appear in court at a later date to answer to the charges...
Not that I want to turn this blog into a series of "true confessions", but as a young man I was guilty a time or two for "failure to move" near a club or place of dancing.

Failing to move rhythmically that is.

---------------

Have a good weekend everyone.