Praying for the Stephanies

While reading a 2006 article about difficulties the State of Michigan experiences in keeping track of runaway children under their care, I saw the story of Stephanie Draheim.


In 2001 at age 15, Draheim ran away from her foster care family in Michigan and fled to Florida. 

After locating her in Florida, human services officials decided that she could stay there, and evidently some sort of arrangement was made where representatives from the two States would check on her well-being.

Unfortunately, this did not occur and both agencies lost track of her. 

And later, Stephanie became a star in pornographic movies--some of the work believed to be done while she was still considered a "ward of the state."

The article provided background on the girl's (now woman) difficult life. 

At two-years-old, her mom dropped off Stephanie and her young half-sister at their grandmother's house. 

Stephanie's mom then told the grandmother that she was unable to care for them any longer:

...In a handwritten letter to Genesee County Family Court, Rushton, formerly of Montrose, said her daughter, Kristen Walton, called her in an "unstable condition in 1988, asking her to come immediately and take Draheim and her older half-sister back home with her.

"I flew the next morning and returned the same day with the understanding I would care for them until she could put her life in order," Rushton's letter said.

Neither her mother nor her biological or legal father did.

One caseworker wrote in a report that Draheim had "no contact whatsoever with her mother. ... No gifts ... no financial support ... no telephone calls."

Rushton, who could not be reached for this story, told the court that her granddaughter needed to know someone would be there for her.

"This baby needs love and stable living conditions," she wrote soon after taking Draheim in.

But Rushton, who had money problems, was later evicted from her own home. By 1996, Stephanie was living with her biological father, Robert Draheim, in a Flint mobile home park.

Court records indicate a caseworker started the process of taking her from her parents and putting her up for adoption after tips that Robert Draheim was leaving his daughter at home alone and driving drunk with Stephanie in his vehicle.

Like most children over age 11 in foster care, Stephanie Draheim was never adopted. She lived in six foster homes and ran away from at least two.

"She was intelligent, but the more intelligent they are, the more trouble they can get into," said Rodger Mead of Burton, one of the last foster parents Draheim stayed with...

Looking through some of the public arrest records for Florida, I saw that Stephanie was arrested at least seven times between 2006-2008.

The arrests were for driver's license infractions, assault, and fraud.

But I did not see any criminal charges in the last three-plus years. 

This offers a glimmer of hope that she may have overcome the many obstacles she has faced since age two.

The article ends with Michigan authorities stating that they have made improvements to reduce the chance that others fall through the cracks in the future.

Let's hope so.

I am sure my life journey would have been much different had I walked in Stephanie's footsteps.

So my prayers are with the many "Stephanies," "Stephens", "Jaivers,"etc., that enter this world without stable family support systems.

As well as the organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters, trying to make an impact in young lives.

Because being a child and then teenager is difficult enough with parents/guardians who love and care about you--what an uphill climb it must be for those with very different realities. 

More Brianna Maitland Reader Questions

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments and emails regarding Friday's music post. 

After such a positive response, I may have to reconsider my blogging goals--should I become the Internet destination for those interested in fabulous cello performances?

Ha, don't answer that. 

In any event, for those who were left wanting more from Rebecca Roudman, reader "Jason" sent me this YouTube link ( http://youtu.be/szL6F5bsm88 ) to Ms. Roudman blazing her cello to Guns N' Roses Sweet Child of Mine.  Fun stuff. 

Now to this week's offering of my Missing Person Monday segment.
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The following are additional responses to questions submitted to me from those interested in the Brianna Maitland disappearance case.


In 2004, then 17-year-old Brianna vanished from Vermont--authorities found her vehicle backed into an old abandoned farm house less than a mile from where she worked at a local inn/restaurant.


Brianna's Abandoned Car: Morning of March 20, 2004

Maitland case guest blogger BobKat continues to help me with his insights as well:

QUESTION #3: The vomit on the passenger's side was it fresh?

BOBKAT: The vomit was considered to be from that night, though previous occurrences may have been possible. Brianna had not been feeling well in general, and getting beaten-up didn't help.

ME: My initially response was that "no", it was from a previous occurrence, but BobKat would have better knowledge on this one.  I think I am just confusing what is probable with all the discussion that centered around the interior of Brianna's car; though as Bob states, Brianna had been sick before she went missing.  It is also important to remember that law enforcement did not process Brianna's car for potential evidence until several days later--since there was confusion as to her being missing and that police had towed her vehicle as a potential hit-and-run. So, how old the vomit was at the time of her disappearance is unknown.

One additional note: in a previous post, BobKat asked the individuals who found and photographed Brianna's car early that morning if they had noticed vomit in or around the vehicle (the thought being that perhaps she did not feel well and pulled off the road by the farmhouse).  They replied that they did not. 

QUESTION #4: The boyfriend. I am having a problem with the ex boyfriend being on the scene. Does his alibi hold up?

BOBKAT: Truth be told, the ex-boyfriend, if at all involved, is but a fragment of what occurred the night Brianna disappeared. I believe several individuals were involved. I believe it was planned in advance. I believe some experienced criminal minds were involved. By now if the ex-boyfriend knew anything, the VSP would know it too. He hasn't held anything back that i can tell. It's up to VSP to interpret it now.

ME: Investigators did not release much about her ex-boyfriend's statement, but it is believed that he was returning from a trip to Canada early that morning and noticed what he thought was Brianna's car crashed into the farmhouse (as is depicted in the photos). Police then verified his story and cleared him as a suspect in her disappearance. Obviously, anytime a person goes missing under suspicious circumstances and a former love-interest is known to have been at the scene it is concerning. It is unclear what additional investigation was done involving this apparent coincidence.

I'll have more questions and answers on this case in a future post.

My prayers remain with the Maitland family.
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For a list of all posts on the Maitland case (more than 20) that feature myself and/or BobKat, you can go here.

Also, for information on Investigation Discovery's recent segment on Brianna's Disappearance, go here.

Tuber of the Week #49: Diverse

Diverse musical talent.

What is an example of an individual with diverse musical talent?

Hmmm...

How about this for diverse.

This musician performs the early 20th Century ragtime love song "Oh You Beautiful Doll" in a cello-piano duet with her mom.



And then dons a black t-shirt, shades, props her Fender amp in front of a dilapidated building, and blazes on her electric cello to the 1980s metal tune by the Scorpions "Rock You Like a Hurricane"--hair flying everywhere and all.



Yep, Rebecca Roudman is an excellent example of a diverse musical talent.

When not having fun with music videos, she is a member of the Oakland East-Bay Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony and also performs with the groups the Jazz Mafia and Dirty Cello.

Makes me wish I had learned to play the cello.

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Have a good weekend everyone.

Note: I got the idea for this post indirectly from reading talented writer and musician E.C. Stilson's book entitled The Golden Sky.

Unwanted Cooking

I guess those looking for humorously dressed shoppers at Walmart did not expect to observe this:

Tulsa police arrest a woman for mixing chemicals to make meth inside a south Tulsa Walmart on Thursday.

Elizabeth Alisha Greta Halfmoon, 45, also known to go by Alisha Halfmoon, was arrested for endeavoring to manufacture meth at the 81st and Lewis store.

Police say surveillance video shows Halfmoon had been in the store since noon.

Six hours later security noticed she was acting suspicious, so they called Tulsa police...

”When I saw her she had just finished mixing sulfuric acid with starter fluid in a bottle,” says Officer Shelby.

They immediately got her, and the ingredients, out of the store before any of the shoppers got hurt.

No one was evacuated...

A responding officer didn’t know the bottle was active. As he was discarding the bottle the chemicals burned through the bottle and through his gloves.

Wow, I hope Ms. Halfmoon gets the help necessary to overcome her substance abuse issues. 

But, I am not sure there is a more troubling drug than meth.

If the user is not dumping their homemade lab components on the side of the road, they are hanging out all day in Super Wallyworld (that is punishment enough for anyone, right?) trying their hand at "chemistry" as other shoppers buy groceries. 

Now, tweakers have a new approach to overcome laws and enforcement efforts against their drug of choice: the meth shake-and-bake.

Not good for any of us.

Unfair

What is the cruelest trick that nature can play on an elementary school student?

Well, I guess it is not so good for middle school or high school students either.

Give up?

A big storm that includes snow and ice.

One that drops its wintry load as predicted.

But does it on a SATURDAY or SUNDAY.

Poor weather that does NOT result in a school cancellation or delay.

By Monday morning, area roads are clear and school doors are wide open to welcome sleepy pupils.

This happened here last weekend--Saturday morning accumulation.

Of course, I get an earful from older boy about how unfair life is.

I respond with a typical show of my maturity.  I throw several snowballs that strike his upper body.

Happy Saturday kiddo.   

Rivera Report

I offer this for a Missing Person Monday.
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Last week, authorities in Canton, GA released an independent report regarding their police department's handling of a missing person investigation conducted in December of 2011.

The case in question was that of seven-year-old Jorelys Rivera.



Jorelys was lured into a vacant apartment (at the complex where she lived) by one of the complex's maintenance workers, Ryan Brunn.  She was sexually assaulted and murdered there.

Brunn then dumped the child's body in a nearby trash compactor.

A few days after she was reported missing by her mother, authorities found the girl's body and arrested Brunn.

Brunn pleaded guilty in January, but was found dead last week in his prison cell after committing suicide.

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As with other cases, I would rather read the cited reports myself rather than depend on media summaries, and after some digging, I found what is entitled the Rivera Audit Report.

The consultant and author of the report is LaGrange (GA) Police Chief Louis Dekmar.

You can go here to read it (19 pages), but the following are three items that jumped out at me:

1) First Impressions

The responding officer told the consultant that, from the initial information, he believed the girl was a runaway.  She had been missing more than once before.  Seemed like a runaway.  It appeared to be like many of the dozen or so other missing persons cases that the agency had handled previously that year.  Those persons had all returned, and why would this one be any different?

In sum, the officers were looking for a what they believed to be a girl who had left by her own choice and not as someone who could be a potential crime victim. 

At incident/potential crime scenes, first impressions are important, but keeping an open mind is essential.

As things aren't always as they seem.

When the young child was characterized as someone who had disappeared before, rather than leap to a label like "habitual runaway" (a seven-year-old habitual runaway makes little sense anyway), there is a more reasonable consideration. 

A seven-year-old who goes missing regularly is one that likely suffers from lack of supervision.  Not having responsible eyes on her regularly would make her a more appealing target for an offender looking for an opportunity to abduct.       

2) Supervision

The responding officer is fairly criticized for several shortcomings.  Those include failing to follow departmental policy on securing the scene, and for not entering the missing girl's information into registries in a timely manner.  But, I think the officer's supervisor should have shouldered this burden as well--even more so.

When the call was dispatched, the Canton Police Department was staffed with three officers and a supervisor--this was two officers below their minimum staffing level of five.

Because two of the on-duty units were out on other incidents at the time, the sergeant acted as the back-up officer on the missing girl call.  So, the sergeant had to focus on other duties besides supervising the investigation of a missing girl.

In any event, it was the sergeant's job to ensure that the child's room was secured and processed, and that her information was entered into national databases in a timely manner--evidently this was not done.

The need for proper supervision does not vanish just because an agency is short-handed.

3) Location of the Command Post

When officers realized that this was going to be a prolonged incident involving multiple agencies, personnel established a command post to better coordinate activities.  They chose the apartment complex's leasing office as their HQ.  Unfortunately during the incident, the leasing office was open for business and security at the site was limited/non-existent.

Who was charged and convicted of killing the little girl?

Ryan Brunn was--a maintenance worker at the complex.

This is an individual who had access to the leasing office and in theory, the command post.

Could Brunn have overheard tips and information about the case?

Could he have learned what police actions were going to be and then moved evidence or planted false information to hinder officers?

You can see where this is a serious problem. 

NOTE: The little girl was abducted and murdered prior to police arrival, so the issues discussed in the report were related to the investigation and not to actions taken to protect her.  Nevertheless, Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance resigned shortly after the report's release--several parts of the review did not make him look professional.

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

I hope the Canton Police Department and other departments will learn from this agency's mistakes, and where applicable, make changes to investigative practices as well as provide better training to improve services related to missing persons in the future.

My condolences to the family, and my appreciation to Chief Dekmar for his honest insights on what was a horrible crime.   

Black Hills and Yellow Creeks

Winter for us means our older son playing in basketball tournaments, and we make lots of drives to the Coal Region in January and February. 

This is what it is like.

Note: None of the follow are my images--see the links for originals.

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Past the rolling hills and open fields where current New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski used to bulldoze those who dared try and tackle him.


Near the town that is on fire. I mean really on fire. Underground. Since 1962.


Beyond America's largest free admission (pay per ride) amusement park--a place well off the beaten-path.



Along side the mining operations that have dominated the landscape for so many years.


Past the hidden secret of the ugliest side of unchecked strip mining: acid-mine drainage.



Yes, that water is yellow.   

We cross the bridge and enter coal town.


Win or lose, we'll play two games, and then make the long drive home.

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

Since we did win one, we will start our trek to Coal Town over again tomorrow.

And who said parents with kids don't get to see the world?

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Have a good weekend everyone.

No Thanks

I am not certain about Jonathan Parisen's mental status, but I am surprised that the question of his gratitude is even an issue after this life-changing event:

The indie filmmaker saved from certain death after falling on the Staten Island Railway tracks repeatedly refused to thank the man who rescued him.

“I have nothing to say,” sniffed Jonathan Parisen, 40, at the 120th Precinct station house.

A Post reporter gave Parisen...several chances to say thanks to Steven Santiago, and he instead said, “No, no no.”

Parisen later made $2,500 bail on a criminal-trespass charge.

Santiago, 39, remains critically injured from the head wound suffered when he was hit by a train after pulling the drunken movie maker to safety at the New Dorp station at 1:30 a.m. Sunday...

Evidently, an intoxicated Mr. Parisen jumped down on the tracks to retrieve his shoe, fell, and was struggling to get up when Mr. Santiago assisted him and was struck.

After this NY Post article appeared, Mr. Parisen did issue two tweets about praying for his injured rescuer.

Whatever his motivations, the negative publicity will certainly not help his current film project entitled "Terrobot"; a film about a giant robot that attacks NYC.

Maybe I have a limited vision, but I don't think the disorderly robot-thing will have a large following.

My prayers are with Mr. Santiago.

A Zelda Mystery


The text on the above Eukanuba advertisement image is:

She can swim to a life raft 1 1/4 miles offshore and swim back pulling it, and the thirty stranded passengers, with her.


Zelda. Half dog, half powerboat.


Bring out the extraordinary in your dog.

The ad had me hooked.

I wanted to know more about Zelda.

I went to Eukanubu's site to read additional about this amazing dog, and found...

Nothing.

I then turned to the trustworthy Google and searched for Zelda information.

Still nothing much; mostly repeats of the advertisement.

Finally, I found something useful.

Evidently, Eukanuba is partnering with others to create a new television show entitled "Extraordinary Dogs."

But after a brief search, I didn't see anything on Zelda--just a few clips and press releases on the program.

My message to company execs with this post?

Stirring consumer interest through an ad is fantastic, but it is only half of the process.

For those of us who want more on Zelda or whatever, always give it to us.

Because when you do, you'll have an "in" as to selling me your product or service.

Brianna Maitland: Reader Questions

I am going to take a hiatus from the Nikki LaDue January death case.

My posts are beginning to get redundant, and I don't believe I am currently adding anything to the discussion.

When I have something to say that I believe is pertinent, I'll go back to it.

In contrast, the crime blogger over at Cold No More is discussing an excerpt from an interview conducted several years ago by a private detective who interviewed Nikki's husband Phil about the night he found her body.

It is a good read, and leaves a reader with lots of questions.

For today, I wanted to mention this missing persons case.
_______________________________

A reader recently asked several questions regarding the Brianna Maitland disappearance case.


In 2004, then 17-year-old Brianna vanished from Vermont--authorities found her vehicle backed into an old abandoned farm house less than a mile from where she worked at a local inn/restaurant.

Maitland case guest blogger BobKat graciously helped to address three (all related) of the reader's questions:


QUESTIONS: How was it that employees saw her drive off in the car? Were they outside? If they were inside how was it that they were able to see her in her car outside?

ME: The specifics of the witness' statement (an employee) that discuss allegedly seeing Ms. Maitland leave the restaurant late that night were not released by investigators. The media's consensus is that he saw Brianna enter her vehicle just prior to midnight and drive away from the restaurant.

BOBKAT: The story goes a guy Brianna worked with was out having a smoke break. Where he was he could follow Brianna to her car, see she got in, and drove off.

BobKat also told me that he is not aware of the family speaking with this witness--as no additional details regarding his vantage point or other observations are known.

The witness' statement is essential in verifying the established timeline on the missing woman. If later it is learned that the employee was mistaken about what night he saw Brianna drive away from the restaurant and she did not leave around midnight, it could obviously open the door to other explanations as to her route and intentions the night/morning of her disappearance.

I'll have more questions and answers in a future post on the sad and strange case.
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For a list of all posts on the Maitland case (more than 20) that feature myself and/or BobKat, you can go here.

Also, for information on Investigation Discovery's recent segment on Brianna's Disappearance, go here.

Now that is Charitable

I thought I would end the week on a positive.

I read lots of news, but did not see that this item attracted much attention.

Too bad.

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There are those who are charitable, and there are individuals like Stephanie Grant who deserve our utmost respect and admiration:

MIAMI, Fla. - A search that began on Craigslist.org has led Selina Hodge to a Miami operating room.

Hodge, 28, posted a plea online in July, looking for someone--anyone--to donate a kidney.

"That's when I turned to Craigslist, because I didn't know where else to turn to," Hodge said, adding that the first few responses arrived this summer.

Hodge received more than 800 responses from around the world -- one of which came from a woman who lives just miles away from her Palm Beach Gardens home.

"It just amazes me that somebody would actually lay down their life for a complete stranger," said Gina Evans, Hodge's mother.

Stephanie Grant, 23, was the person who saw Hodge's story on the news and decided to step in to help. Doctors say that is a very difficult decision to make.

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"Living donors are very unique individuals," said Dr. Linda Chen of the Jackson Memorial Hospital on the University of Miami Medical Center Campus, where Hodge and Grant arrived for transplant surgery Tuesday. "They are the true heroes in society because they are completely selfless and they have nothing to gain from the procedure and it's actually a gift of love."

Before any surgery, prospective donors and recipients must take a series of psychosocial and medical tests.

Hodge and Grant drove together to the Miami hospital several times to complete the evaluations. After months of waiting, the hospital gave the transplant the green light and early Tuesday, the women were prepared for surgery.

"It's never easy, and it's always difficult," said Chen.

Hodge and Grant will remain in the hospital for the next several days - possibly longer - to closely monitor their recovery.

So far, the families said, the women are doing fine.
Ms. Grant's selfless act should have been a national front page story.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the weekend.

Fashion

To further diversify my blog, I thought today I would delve into the world of fashion.

Specifically, jewelry.

Now, I was thinking about a gift for a certain someone. 

Something that was unique yet versatile.

Something natural yet made in America.

Like maybe these earrings.


And I thought poop's best use was as fertilizer. 

So, do you think the Mrs. would enjoy these earrings?

Or a better question may be: how long would I be banished to sleeping in the garage if I presented these treasures gift wrapped?
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This may have been my first and last fashion post.

Making Kids Laugh

I enjoy making kids laugh.

One of my go-to gags around the house is sudden falling.

Do you remember the clumsy baker from Sesame Street?

The guy who climbs down a set of stairs, holding a dessert, and declares something like "Five Banana Creme Pies" before falling and launching the pies into the air?

My falling uses that model.

Well, but the Mrs. won't let me use real pies or cakes, so I usually employ papers and/or books.  Wearing a hat that flies through the air as I crash to the floor is a valuable accessory as well.

Anyway, a sudden fall that includes paper, boxes, books, and a hat works for a giggle every time.

Because parents are supposed to be mature and not do such silly things.

I guess I ignored that memo.

This sight-gag also covers my klutziness in that when I really do trip and fall, everyone just assumes it is part of a clever routine I am rehearsing.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.  I know I could have made it big in vaudeville.

Criminal Injustice

I am not finished with my next installment on the Nikki LaDue January case, so instead I offer this.
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In 2010, 19-year-old John Anczarski joined friends and began riding his bicycle across the United States.


The former Eagle Scout, published poet, and honor society student was in his second year of an engineering program at the University of Colorado.

And, John and friends were not riding for personal glory.

Instead, they rode daily to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research through an initiative called "The Pink Pedal."

In June of that year, John's ride and life ended much too soon while cycling when he was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by Gilbert Waconda in Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico.

Because the collision occurred on tribal lands, tribal police investigated.

The accident scene was examined, witness statements were taken, evidence was collected, and the case file was given to a Federal prosecutor for review--since state authorities do not have jurisdiction on tribal lands.

But last week, a year-and-a-half after young Anczarski's death, Federal authorities announced that they would not pursue charges in the case.

Now, it would be unfair for me to criticize the US Attorney's Office for not prosecuting the felony charges against the driver since so little is known about the case.

Instead, I'll applaud the Tribal Police and thier local prosecuting attorney who made a meaningful announcement as well: they will pursue prosecution.

But, there is one problem.

A large problem.

Tribal authorities are only permitted to prosecute crimes as misdemeanors--meaning that the most punishment that Mr. Waconda could receive is one-year in the local jail.

Despite this, Laguna Pueblo Police Chief Michelle Ray had this to say to the victim's family:

"I want them to know that we haven’t stopped investigating this, we haven't stopped working on this, and something will happen with Mr. Waconda..."

Glad to hear that someone is fighting for victims and their families.

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What if he the driver is convicted for vehicular homicide and sentenced to a whopping 365 days in jail?

That would be a clear example of the American Criminal Injustice System.

Either way, I would hope that Mr. Waconda would become the most charitable individual in Laguna Pueblo.

That he grows from this experience and dedicates his life in service to others.

A terrible mistake that could be the starting point of something positive.

Cheering Cheaters

While reading this Huffington Post article on accusations of cheating surrounding about 200 high school students in Texas, I noticed a Tweet that featured the story.

Huffington Post, like many websites, now shows a changing sample of persons who use Twitter to send the Post's news to others.

Anyway, this was the Tweet from a user named NotesforGirls:

NotesforGirls (01/03/12, 4:05 PM)
Dear Teachers, You call it cheating ... we call it teamwork. Sincerely, Students.

Insightful statement.

I think it says quite a bit about what others can expect from this person in all aspects of life.

Deceit.

Unfaithful romantic relationships.

Academic cheating.

Dishonesty with your employer and coworkers.

Lying to those who love you.

Looking to take the easy way out.

And best of all, encouraging others to do the same.

It does not sound like the most desirable way to live, eh?

And I believe I can discern all that from one Tweet.

At least the person behind NotesforGirls is smart enough to post anonymously--but I can still dismiss any other Tweet as something potentially deceitful.

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Have a great weekend everyone.

Will Never Lie Again

In 2010, Lorene Turner's fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Jakadrien, ran away from home.

Recently, Dallas Police investigators helped her locate the missing teen.

Another case solved.

Except this one is different.

Really different.

Dallas Police detectives found Jakadrien in South America.  Colombia to be exact.

She had been deported by US Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials to Colombia after being detained by authories in Houston.

Evidently, the young teen gave officers a fictious name--one that they matched to a 22-year-woman who was a Colombian native with active warrants.

Somehow, fingerprints or other identifiers were not compared.

And in 2010, Jakadrien, who does not speak Spanish, was flown to Colombia.

Based on the new information by Dallas police, federal officials investigated and learned that Colombia had issued the teen a "work card" and released her there. 

The Colombian government has yet to return the teen, and is evidently still examining the case. 

In the meantime, Ms. Turner waits and wonders how the system failed so miserably in this instance.

For her part in this fiasco, I doubt that Jakadrien will be telling more untruths anytime soon.

And for her, I hope she at least gets book and movie offers out of this ordeal.   

What to Avoid in the Bathtub

Note to self...

When playing hide-and-go-seek with kids, always remember to remove your socks prior to hiding in the bathtub.

Squishy cotton on the feet is never a good feeling.

Tuber of the Week #48: Crazy Train

What is for certain?

No matter what generation, any song from the "teen years" that was associated with "extreme cool" and "rebellious" will be nothing more than future elevator music and corporate commercial jingles.



I thought this was very creative.*

People either enjoy the ad or hate it--which advertisers love, since it creates discussion.

I was curious to see how many takes it took to "get" this commercial, but I didn't see that information.

I am guessing more than a few.

*Note: The video is the extended version that is not usually shown on television.

A Resolution: Raven Run

The youngest recovered from the coughs and sniffles so he was fresh for a stomach virus.  Poor guy.

Anyway, I'll have my regular missing persons/crime series post next week.

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On January 1, 1975, Robert Kraft of Miami Beach, FL began keeping a New Year's resolution.

He had pledged that he would run eight miles daily for a year along the white sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Not a regular runner, Robert had been training for more than a year to achieve the eight-mile goal.

He had returned to Florida after an unsuccessful career as a songwriter--an experience that left him angry and depressed.

But on that January day Robert finished.

He found running to be good for his physical and emotional well-being.

Most of all, Robert wanted to teach himself discipline.

Then on January 2, he ran another eight miles. Despite weather, physical ailments, and other challenges, Robert met his goal--365 days of running eight miles.

So what did Robert complete on January 1, 1976?

An eight-mile run of course.

In fact, Robert never stopped. For more than 36 years he has run the same stretch of Miami Beach.

Every day. Eight miles.

A run that often includes a sunset.

For the first several years he ran alone.

But then others saw his daily commitment and asked if they could join him.

Robert creates a nickname for those who run with him--complete one and you are in the club.

The Raven Run was born.

Over 700 runners from more than 60 different countries and 48 states have completed at least one run with him.

Here is how one of his regulars describes the experience:

He runs eight miles on the beach in soft sand each afternoon. Beginning and ending at the same place...the sixth street lifeguard stand. What is so special about that?

...Perhaps more than the sheer doggedness of never failing to appear, of always finishing, is the manner in which this gentle man conducts himself. You see, this run takes place under the most beautiful skies....alongside the Atlantic Ocean...each day is a celebration of all time, of all days, each one special in itself, individual. ...

...It is as if by the act of running, Raven is drawing a portrait of each day, dignifying its grace, beauty, temporality, its thereness. Well, I guess you gotta be there. The thing is, it is not a race...this is a way of being, THERE...

So as we welcome a new year, I hope we all can commit ourselves to something positive.

Running or whatever.

Exercising our physical and mental well-being.

Fellowship with others.

And enjoying each day.

And the sunsets that we are blessed to see.

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This is the Raven Run group for New Year's Eve 2011.