Thirty Minutes or Less

I have seen the trailer for the upcoming comedy 30 Minutes or Less, and am less than impressed.

Is the entertainment industry so desperate for ideas that they need to mock the victims (murder and robbery) of the "Collar Bomb Incident" in Erie (PA) by using that real crime story as the basis for cheap laughs?

What is the producers' next project, a satirical look at the fashion of Dylan Kleibold and Eric Harris during the massacre at Columbine?

Though I won't offer an unfavorable recommendation on a movie that I have not see (see Wednesday's post), the premise does not appeal to me.

More specifically, I think the concept is classless.

For those who are not familiar with the Collar Bomb case, it involved one of the strangest bank robberies ever.

In August 2003, middle-aged pizza delivery man Bryan Wells walked into a Pennsylvania bank and handed a teller a note demanding $250,000.  He then lifted his shirt to reveal a bomb. 

Bank employees handed Wells less than $10,000 and he fled the scene only to be surrounded by PA State Troopers a short time later.  Wells told troopers that he had been made to wear the explosive, but before bomb squad officers arrived, the device detonated killing Wells.

License Photo of Brian Wells
Several years later, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and Kenneth Barnes were convicted of multiple felonies involving the bank robbery and the death of Wells.  Prosecutors also argued that Wells was part of the criminal conspiracy. 

Despite that argument, some are not convinced with the closure offered by authorities, and continue to hypothesize about the case.

Strange crime, but certainly not what I would consider to be suitable material for a comedy on the big screen.
_______________________

Have a good weekend everyone.

Law Enforcement is Not Difficult

Who said that law enforcement is a difficult job?
Two pranksters from Evesham were arrested after accidentally locking themselves in a Pennsylvania constable's van in Delaware County early Saturday, police in Radnor, Pa., said.

Ryan Letchford, 21, and Jeffrey Olson, 22, left a party at a condominium complex with a friend and somehow got into a constable's vehicle on East Lancaster Avenue to take phony "arrest" photographs of themselves, police said.


The joke was over when the men could not undo the childproof locks that had snapped into place, forcing the friend to call 911 at 3:57 a.m., police said.

The interior of the van was damaged as the men frantically attempted to free themselves, according to Michael Connor, constable for the township....

Letchford and Olson were charged with criminal attempt to commit theft from a motor vehicle, public drunkenness and criminal mischief.

After reading this, I envision a new crime fighting strategy: park law enforcement vans around communities and let law breakers lock themselves inside.

What do you think?

At least it worked in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

I Will Not Do This

While reading through a discussion board on an otherwise tedious thread about policing and unions, a user posted this gem of a comment while trying to support his position:

...You guys want a good book to read. Pick up "Atlas Shrugged." Haven't read it yet myself but, plan on it soon. Saw the first part of the movie. Kinda cheesy but, love the principles they are putting out.

Recommending a book that you have never read based on an opinion formed from a snippet of a movie that was based on it?

Now that is what I call convincing.

Yikes.

Not to worry, this blog author pledges never to recommend a tune/book/article/movie that I have not personally listened to/read/watched.

I do reserve the right to recommend songs that I cannot sing well though.

Smart Guys Fall Asleep

After a weekend out-of-state trip that included lots of good eating and me dusting a group of inexperienced yet competitive eight-year-olds at the go-cart track (yes sadly I am proud), the older boy and I had a long travel day on Sunday.

This conversation may or may not have occurred on the final leg of the return trip--a 3 1/2 hour drive from big city airport to home.

________________________________________________________

SON: Dad, what time do you think we'll get home?

ME: It is after 9 pm now, so before 1 AM.

SON: Ok, I think I am going to try to sleep. I have never slept in a car except for a few minutes on our Arkansas trip. I don't think I can fall asleep with all of the truck noise, but I feel a tired. I remember when...

The one-side conservation went on for a couple of minutes and then all was silent.  The quiet was eventually replaced by light snoring.

Three hours later...


ME: Hey man, you awake.

SON: Yeah, sure. Why?

ME: You've been asleep the whole drive. We are pulling up on your neighborhood.

He presses his head against the rear window trying to see out beyond the glare of street lamps.

SON: No way. What time is it?

ME: It is 12:30 am.

SON: Wow, so I did go to sleep?  I can't believe it.

ME: Congrats son. Falling asleep at anytime while doing anything is a useful skill that men have been perfecting for centuries.

My son rubs his eyes and stares out the window.  I continue...

ME: In the future, you'll learn that dozing off at opportune times will prevent you from getting into trouble, delay unexciting work tasks, make boring travel fly by, and allow you to overcome the occasional time that 40 winks creates some grief in your life.

In any event, practice random sleeping and you'll generally be a well rested dude--but if your mom asks, we never had this conversation.

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

This masculine survival tip was brought to you free of charge by, well, a male survivor.

Honk

Just to set the scene:

Our kids are spoiled in that they are used to watching DVDs in the family vehicle.  A few weeks ago, our van was in the shop and the twins, young Sissy and Luca, had to travel "old school" with no video entertainment.

________________________________

"Honk!"  The sound of nose-blowing echoes from the backseat of our vehicle.

Sissy had been battling allergies all week.  Runny nose.  Coughing.  Watering eyes.  The works.

"Here, take the whole box," I direct and pass the tissues to her from the front seat.

After another nose blow, Sissy says: "But dad, I am booooooooooorrrrreddddd."

"Now we will be at the farmer's market in a little while.  Why don't you look at a book like Little Luca. He sure looks relaxed." Luca's barefeet swing from the seat and his shoes are just below in the floorboard.

Luca offers no expression as he focuses on the exploits of his favorite rabbits Max and Ruby.

Sissy continues: "Dad, when is the van going to be fixed?  I want to watch Dora."

"Tomorrow, your mobile video experience will be back in-service. Now find something to do so that I can concentrate on this road congestion.  You know the combines, tractors, and Amish buggies."

Twenty minutes go by.

I am only asked for a drink, but continue to hear the unpleasant honking sound of nose-blows.

"Ok, we made it," I announce breaking the silence.

"Nice job entertaining yourself Sissy," I say as I gather our belongings to exit the vehicle.

"Let me get Luca's shoes on real quick."

I grab the little boy's left shoe and straighten the tongue, but I stop before sliding it on his foot.

Cautiously, I reach inside the shoe and remove damp paper.  A used Kleenex to be precise. 

There are two more used tissues also inside the little boy's shoe.

Next to the sneakers, I notice the floorboard is littered with wadded Kleenexes.

"Sissy, any reason why your tissues are inside Luca's shoe?"

"Basketball Dad," Sissy explains.

"I was shooting baskets and Luca's shoe was the hoop for two-points.  You told me to find something to do."

Smiling I reply: "Sissy, let's call the three made tissue baskets or 6 points your all-time-record never to be broken."

Thankfully, the regular family vehicle with DVD player was back as promised the next day.

______________________________

Currently, I am out of state and plan to be back early Monday morning--so sorry email responses and planned blog hopping will be delayed. 

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.

Big Dog Mentality

Though I prefer large dogs, this little warrior deserves an applause:

ALTADENA, Calif -- Two robbery suspects ran into an unexpected obstacle during a hold-up at a cigar shop in Altadena -- a crime-fighting Chihuahua.

Deputies say the men entered Ace Smoke Shop on North Lake Avenue ordered the clerk to give them his money.

The clerk complied, putting his cash in a backpack brought by the robbers.

Just as the suspects were about to leave, the owner's pet Chihuahua, Poco, attacked the men by barking and jumping on them.

One of the suspects appeared so threatened by the pint-sized protector that he pointed his rifle at it.

The suspects hurriedly fled the location on foot, last seen running southbound on Maiden Lane from Mariposa Street, with the victim's money in their backpack and the dog chasing after them.

Later that night, I hope the Pup-Peroni was flowing for Poco the Chihuahua after his courageous display.

You can view hero dog and the 20+ second incident below:




____________________________

Update: Since YouTube removed the original version of the video, you can go here to The Sun and see the full 21 seconds of doggie action.

A Shocking Crime

I was reading the online version of the news in "big city" where I used to live and work in law enforcement.

Murders.

Shootings.

Stabbings.

Armed Robberies.

I really don't miss urban life or city policing at all; especially when I flip to the crime blotter page of our local newspaper on a Tuesday and there are two crimes the press sees as worth mentioning.

A DUI arrest and this shocker:

Police: Man hollered at woman passing by
Gary Matthews, 32, of 109 Book Ave., Apt. 1, yelled at a woman as he passed her on the sidewalk here...police said.

Sherry Manning was walking on Lower Darber Street with her daughter just before midnight when Matthews and his girlfriend approached, authorities say.

Manning told Matthews to watch where he was going, and Matthews began to yell obscenities at her, said police.

He was charged with harassment.

Cursing in public?

And the guy was cited for it? 

Scary stuff going on here in cornfield America. 

I just enjoyed that the press actually felt this crime was important enough to report.

My guess is Mr. Matthews was just letting off some steam in that it takes any of us locals 50 minutes of driving to get to a bookstore...

Prosecuting Casey Anthony: The Cost

Congrats to Japan for winning the World Cup on penalty kicks.

This is the equivalent of the NBA Championship being decided by a tie-breaking free throw shooting contest. 

Oh sorry, I already complained about soccer penalty kicks last week.

Back to today's post...

__________________________________

As Casey Anthony joined the general public on Sunday, The St. Petersburg Times published an interesting article on the aftermath of her trial--specifically the costs.

Since Ms. Anthony was declared indigent by the court prior to the trial (her family had already spent $300,000 on legal costs), taxpayers will be paying her legal bills.
The article describes:
  • $200,000 to select, house, feed, entertain and guard the 17 jurors who spent six weeks in Orlando for the duration of the trial. 
  • $138,000+ for defense attorneys to defend her (e.g. expert witnesses and private investigators)
  • $91,000+ for prosecuting attorneys
  • Officials from the Orange County Sheriff's Department are still calculating their costs.

In total, Florida citizens will absorb well over $400,000 in costs for the Anthony trial--as the bill for many death penalty cases exceeds a million dollars.
_____________________

Some believe Ms. Anthony will cash in on financial opportunities in the near future, and it will be interesting to see how many entities pursue her civilly.

Currently, the former defendant is facing two civil lawsuits: 1) The woman with the same name that Casey had accused of taking her daughter, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, filed a defamation suit; and, 2) Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery is trying to recoup $100,000 that the organization spent searching for Caylee in 2008.

In the end, a young child is dead, the public is left with few answers, an insane amount of money was spent to prosecute someone who was found not guilty, and taxpayers will be footing the bill for years to come.

For Sale: Doing Our Part

One of our next door neighbors recently put their house up for sale.

Curious, the Mrs. stated:

Slam, the next time you are out walking the yellow buffalo, sneak next door and take a quick look at one of the neighbor's "for sale flyers"--I want to know how much they want for their home.

I do as ordered and report back to the Mrs. an amount that we agree is about $50,000 more than what should be a reasonable expectation for such a home. 

In any event...

With any residential sale, location and having good neighbors is essential.

With that in mind, the Mrs. and I have implemented the following regulations to help our neighbors obtain maximum value on their home sale:

1) Postpone Kid Skinny-Dipping Ventures

The youngest prefers running through sprinklers and kid pools in the buff, but unfortunately prospective buyers may be deterred by a landscape view obstructed by a shiny hiney.  If the little guy does strip, emergency bath towels are located at both ends of the yard for immediate coverage.

2) Hide the Yellow Buffalo

Our yellow-lab mix believes that any property that he can see is his, and he should bark, growl, and otherwise intimidate persons nearby.  Nothing says "next house hun" more than a howling 95 lbs. looking ferocious behind a four-foot fence.

3) Cancel the Backyard Sports Schedule

Though the current neighbor's may appreciate showing how well constructed thier windows are after tennis balls, plastic baseballs and softballs, foam rockets, and other projectiles safely bounce off, the noise and shock may be too much for a potential buyer.

4) Temporarily Close the Shooting Range

For the time being, older boy is prohibited from firing his Mossberg replica pump-action shotgun (pellet gun) at targets in the field behind our houses.  Though fun, making aluminum cans fly using a shotgun-loooking weapon may not be seen as an appealing family activity by all adults.

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

If the kids, can abide by these simple temporary restrictions, I am confident that our neighbors will make a quick sale, and then I can request some kind of commission.

Or, it will be a good practice run for when we chase off the next set of neighbors, and the "for sale" scenario is repeated.

At least that is my opinion, and I am sticking to it.

____________________________________

Ok, so I embellished a bit in this post.  We are really not that bad of a family to have living next door .

He Is Exempt from My Whining

I dislike going to a bank.

The waiting.

Finding the required documentation.

The charges.  I mean charges for anything and everything including the air breathed while on-site.

Fortunately, with ATMs and online-banking, in-person visits are a rarity for me.

In any event, the only individual exempt from my whining and complaining about banks is Ikenna Njou.

Judging from his experience as reported by MSNBC, I think he earned it.

-----------

Note: The following was paraphrased from the linked article above--the original text was just too long for my blog.


Photo Credit: King 5

In Auburn, Washington, 28-year-old Ikenna Njou tried to cash a check at his bank, but was rewarded with a forgery charge, the loss of his car and job, and four days in jail.


After the ordeal, the only one with egg on their faces were officials with Chase Bank.


Last year Njoku qualified as a first time homebuyer for a Federal rebate, and opted to electronically deposit the funds into his Chase account.


Unfortunately, Njoku's account had been suspended due to overdrafts, so the bank deducted $600 from the rebate funds to settle their costs and mailed him the difference (over $8,400) in the form of a cashier's check.


When he tried to deposit the $8,400+ cashier's check at Chase bank, an instrument issued by Chase, workers became suspicious of him.


Eventually police were contacted, and bank officials, believing the check was a fraud, had Nkjou arrested for felony forgery.


After he was hauled off to jail, bank officials continued researching the check and determined that it was valid. The detective investigating the case was contacted, but because it was his day off, Nkjou spent the weekend in jail before being released and the charge dropped.


Life did not get much better for Nkjou after his release. Getting his $8,000 returned from Chase took months. He was unable to pay his impoundment fees due to the arrest, and his vehicle was sold at an auction.


With no transportation, he lost his construction job.


Chase Bank did issue an apology to Nkjou and evidently a settlement was reached--as Nkjou could not comment on any agreement reached with the institution.

To no one's surprise, Nkjou now banks with Wells Fargo and is likely provided with extra lollipop's when making the dreaded in-person visit.

On Penalty Kicks

Congrats to the US women's soccer team with their rousing come-from-behind-victory via shootout in the World Cup over Brazil on Sunday.  Megan Rapinoe's long pass to Abby Wambach for the tying goal in the final moments of the match was thrilling.

I did have one complaint about World Cup soccer: the "shootout" AKA "penalty kicks."

Why?

Why use one offensive player at a time versus a goalie to determine a 90+ plus minute team game?

A penalty kick is certainly not representative of the complex game that is soccer.

Was the US the better team against Brazil or did a few players just excel in a skill competition known as the shootout?

I don't know.

We would never decide the outcome of a tie game in other sports with an individual challenge.

What if a tie basketball game was decided by a free-throw shooting contest?

What about a tie baseball/softball game by a home run derby or a tennis match by a fast-serve contest?

We would not even allow a quick-draw of an "X" be used to break a tie tick-tack-toe game.

So, I believe an important game in the knockout round of the World Cup should be won by the best team--that is the first team to score during full competition (the concept of the last women standing).

Any thoughts?

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

Thanks for humoring me with this post and I feel much better now.

Best wishes to the US team when they play France on Wednesday.

Arrest of a Serial Killer?

As I mentioned previously, I have been researching several disappearance cases, but a recent arrest in Missouri caught my attention--as it may lead to further developments in unsolved missing persons and homicides.
__________________________________

Last week, Jeffrey Dean Moreland, a retired police officer in Missouri, was arrested and charged with murdering Cara Jo Roberts of Harrisonville (MO) in 2008, Nina Whitney of south Kansas City in 2010, and raping a third woman also in Missouri (a name I won't disclose).


Jeff Moreland (Photo Credit)

Moreland was a police officer in the Kansas City suburb of Grandview for 21 years until he retired in 2005; evidently due to medical reasons (the affidavit for rape describes the defendant as having "palsy" which plays into the victim's description of her attacker).

Prosecutors say they have strong forensic evidence linking Moreland to the murders.

Neighbors were reportedly shocked and had nothing bad to say about the school board candidate now defendant.

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

A few observations on this developing story:

1) Different Victim Characteristics and Modus Operandi 

Ms. Roberts, a 28 year-old married mother of a two-year-old, was shot in the head and found in her bathtub.  Much of the chatter on the Roberts case related to her work and a potential murder-for-hire plot.  Ms. Whitney was 75 years of age and found strangled and stabbed in her home.  The unnamed rape victim stated that she accepted a ride home from Mr. Moreland, but instead was driven to his house where he struck her and then committed acts against her will.

Shot? Strangled? Stabbed?  Coerced and then driven home? 

That is variety.

Strange.

Does the variance show an alleged serial offender searching for a comfort zone, or simply someone with law enforcement experience trying to confuse anyone investigating links among these cases? 

Maybe you have a different theory?

2) You Don't Start this Type of Behavior at Age 50

I won't get technical here, but serial offenders reflect a lifecycle of violence.  Committing similar acts becomes a way of life.  Typical.  For instance, serial killer Dennis Rader's ten murders (ten at least that is) occurred between 1974 and 1991. Where there is smoke there is fire--these three may only be the start of cases linked to the defendant.

3) Timeline Needed

Building on Observation #2, I am sure that investigators examining missing persons and unsolved homicides involving females will be interested in learning more about Mr. Moreland.  The sooner a detailed timeline is constructed of Moreland's whereabouts and activities during the past 35 or so years the better.  This was effectively done with convicted serial killer and sex offender Joseph Duncan III--as it is anyone's guess how many victims are his around the US.

What places does Moreland have family?  Where does he own other properties?  One of the articles mentions that he is a golfer--did he take trips to play?  Can authorities connect him to an area when a specific victim was murdered or disappeared?

The Moreland arrest could be a big break in several unsolved cases.

When more is available on this story, I'll post an update. 

Engagment Offer via the Mail

It was recently reported that professional football player Roy Williams, Jr. filed a civil lawsuit to force his ex-girlfriend to return an engagement ring.  Allegedly, on Valentine's Day this year, Williams surprised his then girlfriend by mailing her an engagement ring and a marriage proposal. 

She evidently refused the offer, and the ring was never returned.

The former girlfriend claimed to not know what happened to the ring, but insurance investigators concluded that members of her family were in possession of it.

Yesterday, it was announced that the ring was returned via attorneys; so at least that part of the story is closed.

Now, in extreme circumstances, a mail-order marriage proposal is permissible, but in general, that approach should...er...uh... be avoided...you know at all costs.

But, if you go with mailing your sweetie a diamond engagement ring and an offer of matrimony, you should use a tactic that is considered a sure-thing.

One that will knock her socks off.

Like this one:



No way the sender gets a "no" with that creativity?

Right?

Haha...

_____________________________________

Have a good weekend all.

Learning Curves

Note: I'll be out of town for the next couple of days--sorry I am slow to respond to emails and comments, but I do appreciate them.
____________________________________

In every occupation, there is a learning curve:

A Des Moines man allegedly broke off breaking and entering after severely cutting his ankle on the glass of a screen door he kicked in Tuesday night.

Carnell Vernard Williams, 29, faces an attempted burglary charge after police say he tried to kick his way into an apartment in the 1800 block of Mondamin Avenue.

Lacreta White, 30, called police at 10:33 p.m. when she saw a foot wearing a white shoe punch through her screen door. The man on the other end of the foot was Williams, who had previously threatened White, witnesses told police...

Police found Williams at Broadlawns Medical Center receiving treatment for his injuries...

Williams provided a voluntary blood sample to police, who arrested him after medical staff finished treating his wound.

From my patrolling days, I remember a wanna-be thug who did something stupidly similar. The guy was so embarrassed, after his arrest at the hospital, that I never saw him charged with another crime.

Hopefully, Mr. Williams' will have a similar epiphany, and transition into a more law-abiding profession.

The Westboro Folks and Quantico

For whatever reason, the following story never gained much national attention, but I think it is noteworthy nonetheless.
________________________________________________________

Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer

The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for picketing soldiers' funerals with signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God Hates the USA."

Yet the FBI recently invited leaders of the fundamentalist church to the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to talk to FBI agents as part of the bureau's counterterrorism training program. But after four sessions this spring, the FBI canceled the arrangement amid criticism from inside the bureau, while church leaders claimed that they had been misled...

The FBI first invited the church group to address the FBI's law enforcement training classes back in 2008. And initially, there were no apparent problems. But the most recent sessions, including three at Quantico and one in Manassass, Va., stirred up controversy.

I appreciate the FBI for being innovative with their training. Agents will be involved in investigating controversial groups like Westboro, and the more insights gleaned by personnel the better.

Westboro officials were not paid and no government funds went to the organization; which is good since they are almost unanimously despised by every person residing in the States.

I think the issue here is with the speaker, Timothy Phelps.

Phelps is an ACTIVE leader in the Westboro group.

Historically, when training like this is offered to enforcement agencies, the speakers are reformed or recovering participants in whatever criminal or domestic terrorism movement.

A former street gang leader.

A reformed white supremacist.

An repentant mobster.

This is based on the premise that the speaker wants to help others and will disclose insider information that is beneficial to law enforcement.

In contrast, when you have an active member of one of these organizations motivated to spread his/her message, you are more likely to get misinformation or simply rhetoric that is not helpful for agents trying to protect society.

So, in the future FBI training coordinators, please limit invitations for speaking engagements to "reformed" members of the groups that your agency deems as potentially dangerous to the country's populace.

Beach Dreams

Background for this post: I currently sleep in a twin bed that is situated in the hallway next to the bathroom and outside our youngest son's door.  The bed's location is convenient for kids to play around while waiting for their nightly bath.

With the youngest--he is getting to be a good sleeper, but tends to be a wanderer if left unsupervised, so my job is to intercept him if he decides to sneak into mom's bedroom for a 3 am bed jump or something.


Anyway...

______________________________

Ahh, the sound of nothing.

No little kid laughs or screams.

No blaring television or requests for backyard football.

No thump of the front door as it resists being opened due to the summer's humidity.

Just darkness and solitude in our quiet sleeping house.

Ok, silence except for the audible low groan of our lab mix snoring.

It is the end of another day.

Yawning then rubbing my red eyes, I pull back the worn sheets on my hallway bed.

I wonder how many times I'll get awakened by curtain climbers tonight?

I dive under the sheets and close my eyes in the dark room.

My thoughts race and arrive at a serene scene: a bright summer sun, a blue ocean with a sailboat bobbing near the horizon, small waves dancing on a secluded beach, and the warm sand on my bare feet.

I stretch my toes and continue the pleasant thought.

Wait...

This dream has an element of realism.

I shift my legs back and forth under the covers, and something feels abrasive.

Scratch.

What?

No.

Sand.

Lots of it.

My bed is littered with sand.

Golden powder from our backyard sandbox.

Transported by one of the kids prior to bath time.

And deposited in my sleeping quarters.

On this night, I certainly did not get the last laugh. 

The children did.

Beach dreams?

Argh...

Sgt. Patrick Rust and Ray Gricar?

JJ in Phila has spent years studying one missing person case--that of former Centre County, Pennsylvania district attorney Ray Gricar.

His blog continues to be the best resource for information on the Gricar disappearance.

JJ's most recent post begins a series contrasting the wealth of information that has been released in the Sgt. Patrick Rust case to the dearth of details made available publicly on Ray Gricar.

You can go here to get to JJ's place; it is worth the visit.
______________________________________

My regular computer is in the repair shop, so email responses and visiting other blogs will be sporadic over the next week.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday, and happy 4th of July--I'll be back posting on Tuesday.