One Hairy Inmate

I did not have time to finish my missing persons post this weekend, so instead I'll offer something less serious.
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I was very glad to see that "Ralph Hunter" was apprehended in Flagler County, Florida last month.


An individual with this much hair can only be considered dangerous:


Ralph Hunter
3-19-2012


Personal Information




Ralph Hunter
Age31 Years OldSexM
Birth Date10-12-1980RaceWhite
Weight225 lbsEye ColorBrown
Height5'11"Hair ColorGray or Partially Gr
Birth PlaceBUNNELLCityPALM COAST, Florida
OccupationUnemployedZip32137
Arrest Information
Arrest Date3-19-2012

Total Bond$350




This mugshot and arrest record were actually posted in a database maintained by the Flagler County (FL) Sheriff's Office and made available to the public.  

It is humorous for an outsider (like me) to see when obvious employee pranking results in an "oops" that was accessible worldwide.

Yea for law enforcement and public information.


And, if Mr. Hunter is 5'11 and 225 lbs. as listed, then that is something I want to see.


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

Note: The Flager County Sheriff's Office evidently caught this funny mugshot and removed it from their site, but as they and all of us should know: nothing is ever completely deleted from the Internet--as in this case, it was recorded by multiple sites that search and capture mugshots, including this URL: Flagler County Mugshots.   

Childish

Recently, older boy and I were playing catch at a local park.

We had found a patch of open greenery between two young soccer teams--coed groups of energetic first-graders.

The football soared back and forth through the azure and cloudless sky.

Little Sissy would call for a turn and we would include her in the game as well.

Passing and kicking.

Quality family time.

A woman carrying a water bottle seemed to be watching us closely while walking to my left.

She appeared to be in her 30s sporting shoulder length blond hair and red-manicured fingernails.

As the woman past, I caught her eye, said "Hi," and then punted a low-line drive to older kid; trying not to make him run too far for it.

With an expression-less face she replied, "You kick like a little girl."

Stunned and embarrassed, I blurted out, "So you say."

She then disappeared into the crowd of soccer parents behind me.

Not my most witty retort.

Probably ranks up there with: "I know you are, but what am I?"

Doesn't she grasp the situation?

There are lots of innocent people around.

Folks who do not want to be hit by a flying ball, kicked by a "manly" dad.

I am directional punting and surrendering distance and form to keep an errantly aimed ball from disturbing parents or players using the park!

Can't she tell: I am kicking like this on purpose!

This internal Charlie Brown-like conversation that had hypnotized me ended when older son shouted: "Dad, I am open!"

I lowered my head, took several steps, and punted the ball as hard as I could.

The pigskin sailed well over older boy's head; fortunately hitting no one.

He raced to retrieve it.

Though unseen, I was sure that the lady was now standing next to parents and laughing uncontrollably.

I later apologized to older boy, but I did not mention the "you kick like a girl" accusation.

Humph...

Sometimes in our family it is difficult to distinguish the adults from the children.

Now pardon me why I go practice a more manly punting form.

_________________________________

Enjoy your weekend.

Assault by Orange

After reading this felony crime story from Florida, I was left with lots of questions:

FORT PIERCE — A 68-year-old former candidate for St. Lucie County Property Appraiser, dressed only in his underwear, is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly throwing an orange at a construction worker seven stories below him on South Ocean Drive, according to police reports.

William Wink was arrested 10 a.m. Friday at his seven-floor residence in the Avalon Beach Club condominiums in the 300 block of South Ocean Drive. He is out of jail under a $3,750 bail on the felony offense.

The road construction worker wasn't harmed, but Nathaniel Morris, 40, of Fort Pierce, "has a well-founded fear that the defendant (Wink) was attempting to strike him." Wink allegedly made contact with Morris and then threw the orange that landed within feet of the traffic-control sign operator. The report doesn't indicate what contact Wink allegedly had with Morris.

After the orange was thrown, Wink is alleged to have laughed and then gone back inside his residence, reports said.

Police went to Wink's condominium and quoted him as saying he didn't throw the orange maliciously and was just trying to get rid of it. "It was rotting and did not want the fruit" in his residence, according to police reports...


I am glad that no one was injured, but here are a few things that I wanted to know...

--Why was the defendant still dressed only in his underwear after being arrested?

--Did the construction worker see the flying orange and dodge it?

--Did the defendant rule out a watermelon toss thinking that it might hurt someone?

--What back-story exists between the defendant and victim?

--How far can a scantily-clad near-70-year-old toss an orange?

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But I guess the most important question is:

Should this incident serve as a warning for me to curtail my activities of fruit/veggie throwing into our back field while sporting boxers?

If so, the deer are going to be disappointed.

Well, maybe not about the boxers.

Vultures, Missing Persons, and an Oversight

Today's post for Missing Person Monday features an unsolved case from this past December.

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It doesn't matter how awful the situations for the families of missing persons, vultures are always present to make matters worse:

A promising lead about the whereabouts of Phoenix Coldon turned out to be a cruel hoax, causing the missing Missouri woman's family additional pain, their entire life savings and their home.

"Unfortunately, we will now be losing our family home," the missing woman's mother, Goldia Coldon, told The Huffington Post. "We have tried to explain the situation to our mortgage company but they don't care."

A tip that led the family to Texas came from a man who claimed to know Coldon's whereabouts and provided her family with very convincing details, Goldia Coldon said.

The family already had invested much of their money to search for Phoenix, she said, but spent the remainder of their savings on private investigators to follow up on the lead. It was not until after the family's money was gone that the man who provided the tip admitted he fabricated the story, Coldon said.

"They said he made it up to get attention," she said. "It cost us dearly and it led absolutely nowhere. It was just his idea of a joke."

...Phoenix Coldon, 23, was last seen in the driveway of the family's St. Louis County home at about 3 p.m. Dec. 18. Her mother said she was sitting in her vehicle one minute and the next, she was gone.

Coldon said she initially thought her daughter had gone to the store but when she did not return that night, Coldon said she reported her daughter and her black 1998 Chevy Blazer missing to police the following morning.
Sad that folks with evil intentions target the families of this missing; viewing the misfortune as an opportunity to scam.

They operate like burglars who read obituaries to determine when the deceased and family members of the deceased will be away from their homes at funerals--knowing that opportunities for break-ins await.

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

On a related note--reading the details of this disappearance reminded me of another one that I covered in depth.

Like that of missing person Brianna Maitland of Vermont, police also unknowingly towed Ms. Coldron's vehicle several hours after she was last seen (in this instance, three hours after her mom saw her) .  Authorities had found the Coldron SUV unoccupied on the day she vanished about 25 minutes from her residence.

Another sad similarity between the Coldron and Maitland cases is that the family and not authorities initially discovered the missing woman's SUV had been impounded.  For the family of Coldron, her loved ones did not realize that the vehicle was in government custody until nearly two weeks later.

They then notified police.

In other words, a potential crime victim's vehicle was contaminated (during the impoundment process) and then sat for fourteen days--a long time before authorities could begin investigating this disappearance.

One hopes that law enforcement will adopt new policies/emphasize existing directives to ensure that impound lots are checked and rechecked for the vehicles of those reported missing.

Because it is just not happening every time.

Iron Mike Tyson

I was recently reading collegiate sports player profiles from a university that I attended.

Each profile had basic information, and then included answers from other questions like "Who is your favorite athlete?"

As expected, baseball players like Albert Pujlos and Derek Jeter.

Football players love Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, or Ray Lewis.

Basketballers named Lebron James.

Male soccer players like Landon Donovan, while female kickers cheer Abby Wambach.

Except for one female soccer player.

Her favorite athlete?

Mike Tyson.

Iron Mike?

Really?

Former heavyweight boxing champ, convicted felon, and repeat violent offender?

The guy who was disqualified from a match after he chomped an opponent's ear?

Wow, now if I were a reporter in that market, I would certainly want more information as to why she would answer Mike Tyson.

Not sure I have ever been more curious about an answer from a ubiquitous question on a college sports webpage before.

______________________

Note: Tyson has been in the news lately with his one-man performance about his life entitled "The Undisputed Truth--Life on Stage."  The show appeared in Las Vegas this week.


Have a good weekend everyone.






Phone Death

On Monday, blogger and writer friend Dr. Lydia Kang featured one of my posts on a poisonous bead inadvertently being used to make jewelry.

 She thought she may have purchased a necklace with the deadly toxin similar to the one I discussed.


What does Lydia learn?  


You can go here to find out.


Now on to today's topic.
____________________________________________________________

After a hiking and general fun trip with the family this weekend, I was hauling armfuls of stuff from the family car into the house.

It always amazes me that since we became parents more than a decade ago, how many extra bags we have to pack.

Anyway, in one load, I hurriedly dropped my cell phone, wallet, and extra keys into the children's insulated drink bag and placed it on the counter.

Later while unpacking inside, I started removing items from that insulated bag.  My keys, wallet, two sealed kids juices, a cold pack, and saw something else at the bottom of the case.

Something that I did not expect.

A mostly melted cup of vanilla ice cream.

Ice cream with a black cell phone partially submerged in it.

KERPLOP!

Argh...

Well, I dried the phone off and it works; well sort of.

All the volume controls are broken.

I can barely hear the ringer, the alarm feature is no longer audible, and the call volume is so low that I need just about complete silence to hear what someone is saying.

We will see how long I can hold out before the Mrs. gets tired of hearing me say: "Eh, what was that?  Say again please."

I said my condolences as my phone is the equivalent of dead.

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

How about you--has one of your phones ever experienced a death by ice cream?


Or, what creative ways have you killed or lost a cell phone?

Kari Swenson Case in the News

I am being overrun with work stuff, so I am changing my posting schedule to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (instead of the previous 4 days per week).

Anyway, for today's installment of Missing Person Monday, I wanted to revisit a missing persons case that was solved. The victim, Kari Swenson, was kidnapped while trail running and later shot and left for dead.  Her survival story is nothing short of inspiring.

Her abductors were captured and convicted.  One was released in the early 1990s.  The other kidnapper, still imprisoned, is in the news.
_________________________________________________________________

Last year, I covered the Kari Swenson story extensively in a series of posts which can be viewed at the link here.



In July of 1984, then 22-year old Swenson was trail running near Big Sky, Montana. She was a world-class biathlete and was vying for a spot on the United States team that would compete in the World Biathlon Championship.

She was alone and on a break from her job at a local lodge.

Unexpectedly, she was confronted by two armed men, Don and Dan Nichols.

The father and son Nichols thought of themselves as "mountain men" and had been living in the heavily wooded and mountainous area there for almost a year.

The Nichols had decided to abduct young Kari that day--hoping that she would eventually become the wife of Dan and that they could start a family living in the wilderness.

To summarize the story, Kari was struck in the face by the older man when she tried to resist, and then immediately restrained with chains.  The group spent  the day walking deeper into the wilderness, and she was chained in a seated position to a tree at night; while the men slept.

Inadvertently the next morning, two volunteer searchers from the lodge where Kari worked wandered into the Nichols camp.  The search teams were expecting to find that Kari had fallen ill or had been attacked by a wild animal and was in need of medical aid--they had no idea that she had been kidnapped.

Quickly, the situation escalated.

In the commotion, Dan Nichols inadvertently shot Kari in the chest with his gun.

The father, Don Nichols, shot and killed one of the searchers. The other searcher was able to flee the camp and run for help.

While Kari was lying on the ground gasping for air and bleeding, Dan and Don Nichols packed their gear and fled the area.  Leaving the young victim to die with a life-threating wound.

In a testament of her strength and will to live, she remained alive for hours until authorities arrived.

After months of grueling medical treatment and determination, she able to compete in biathlons again--and was a member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. relay team at the world championships in Chamonix, France.

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

Fast forward to this past weeked, when the AP is running stories like this one about how convicted kidnapper and murderer Don Nichols will go before a parole board this month and make an appeal for his release.

He is currently serving an 85-year prison term for his crimes.

HELENA, Mont. — A notorious "mountain man," who abducted a world-class athlete in 1984 to keep as a wife for his son, comes up for parole on April 27...

The elder Nichols has had a good track record in prison, where he has worked on the yard crew, and over the years has reportedly become a bit more apologetic for kidnapping Swenson...


Wow, "a bit more apologetic"?

Now that is convincing.

If one reads Mr. Nichols' "manifesto" about the incident he blames anyone and everyone involved in Kari's kidnapping--everyone but himself that is.

Mr. Nichols even points a finger at his victim for the violent crime so many years ago--that she was only chained lightly, was treated humanely, never was hit, and should have just done what she was told.

Mr. Nichols should be glad that I am not on his parole board.

I think the safety of our society is being preserved with this "mountain man" imprisoned--he murdered one man and tried his best to kill a young athlete.

"A bit more apologetic", eh?

I say let him out.

Yes, let him out after he FINISHES HIS FULL 85 YEARS, and is what, like 130+ years old?

Makes sense to me.

Missing Sex Offenders

This arrest occurred in Maryland, but sadly similar situations happen far too often here in the US:

A peeping Tom who repeatedly spied on women in a Glen Burnie Panera Bread bathroom stall was arrested Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Michael Nicholas Villa was arrested Tuesday.

In the first incident on March 5, a 19-year-old woman reported seeing a man’s hand reach under the partition and attempt to videotape her with a cell phone, according to a press release from Anne Arundel County Police.

At the same Panera Bread three weeks later, a female customer reported seeing a man leaving the women’s restroom, laughing.

Surveillance tapes showed the suspect to be the same man in the March 5 incident, police said.

On Tuesday morning, an employee reported seeing the suspect trying to enter the women’s restroom.

The suspect fled, but employees followed him to his car and noted his license tag, police said.

Police identified the suspect as 50-year-old Michael Nicholas Villa, who police said was a registered sex offender with no fixed address.

Villa was arrested at a shopping center the same day. He now faces multiple charges of private place prurient intent.

I had two related comments from this story.

First, one can subscribe to every online service related to the residences of registered sex offenders, but when the felon is homeless or fails to report his/her home address as with the above suspect, it is best to assume that nowhere is safe for children.

Even though more sexual crimes are perpetrated by relatives rather than strangers, there is nothing wrong with being the over-protective parent, and watching for time-bombs like Mr. Villa waiting to go off.

Second, it is commonly cited that state officials have lost contact with over 100,000 registered sex offenders in the US (from NCMEC reports).

Yeah, 100,000 or 1/5 of these felons.

Recently, researchers with the Providence Journal tried to better understand the estimate of 100,000 missing offenders.

And, they feel that number is greatly exaggerated.

You can read why by going here.

Nevertheless regarding which data sets are the most accurate, the number of sex offenders bent on repeating their crimes, some of which are criminals that authorities have lost track of, should be of concern to parents and guardians.

 This is relevant no matter what mapping results the "best online registered sex offender locater tool" produce.

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Sorry to end the week with a negative crime story.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Dad Pants

Sometimes at the park, sprinkles from the night before or morning dew collect as water droplets on the slides.

What is a child to do?

Never worry, never fear, dad and his grungy sweatpants are here!

Yes, the kids watch as their father takes the first plunge on each of the slides and his pants act as an effective towel for moisture removal.

Dad is done.

With dry playground equipment, let the park fun commence.

Even if dad's clothing is now discolored and he walks awkwardly.

Hunger and Twilight: The Fans Want More

For someone with a Hunger Games vision and two million dollars, this could be an appealing business opportunity:

Whether you're a raging or closet "Hunger Games" fan... you'll be thrilled to know that District 12 is up for sale.

Yup that's right. You too, like Katniss Everdeen, can crouch by the Mellark family bakery... or trudge home to the Everdeen family shack after a long day in the woods.

But it'll cost you a cool $1.4 million. District 12, or the town formerly known as Henry River Mill Village near Hildebran, N.C., is owned by 83-year-old Wade Shepherd.

Though it's now world-famous for being the hometown of the movie's three protagonists, Katniss, Peeta and Gale, to Shepherd (who has never read the books) it's just a parcel of land that's attracting an excessive amount of (apparently unwanted) publicity.

 "I'm getting too many visitors," Shepherd told The Associated Press, of his decision to sell.

"Day and night, they're driving through, taking pictures, getting out and walking. I'm just bombarded with people."

 The situation has gotten so extreme that the local sheriff's department has been working with private security guards to keep the fans at bay, concerned about liability if someone gets hurt...


Certainly, there is a model for someone wanting to create a Hunger Games destination.

That is if one looks to a place in the Western United States that is described as the rainiest town in contiguous America.

With the Twilight series, I think business leaders in Forks, WA have done an excellent job in harnessing an opportunity for "popular" tourism.

They have a website that pitches the area to show/book fans.

In Forks, a visitor can get information and an audio tour of sites and related to Twilight or attend the annual special event: Stephenie Meyer Day/Bella's Birthday Weekend.

The folks in Forks even compiled a list of a Guy's List of things to do; a must for men entertaining themselves while female friends are lost in a different world.

It will be interesting to see the price Mr. Shepherd sells his "town" for; this potential tourist attraction.

Missing: George Milam

As well as some of the high profile missing persons cases, I also try to provide attention to a few of the thousands of investigations that for whatever reason have not received much media attention.

Like this one. 
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On April 19, 2004, George Edward Milam of Mississippi was seen in the area of Ingram Mills Road in the community of Olive Branch (MS).

He was 38 years-old at the time, and wearing a polo-style shirt, khaki shorts, a ball cap, and high-top work shoes.

Reportedly, he also has a surgical scar on his navel.

Mr. Milam has not been seen since.

In the US Department of Justice's NamUS database for missing persons under Mr. Milam's file, that is all there is about this case--no indication as to why he disappeared, no record of dental information, no vehicle stats, and no indication that fingerprints or his DNA is on file.

A quick Internet search reveals nothing much else of use about the George Milam disappearance (except for a nickname).

Not much to go on, huh?

With so little information entered into systems to help find Mr. Milam, would anyone know that he is actually missing if he turned up working in Massachusetts?

What if authorities in New Jersey find a corpse with similar body characteristics as Mr. Milam (he is listed as 6'0, 230 lbs.), would investigators there have enough to even consider that the found individual may be the missing man from Mississippi?

 --------------------

The use of national database systems like NamUS are excellent methods for compiling information on missing persons.

But obviously, with police agencies having only so much manpower to dedicate to these cases (especially small police departments like the one handling Mr. Milam's cases), it would make sense for the Feds to reach out to places like colleges and universities to harness the power of student researchers.

These young and energetic researchers could add pertinent details to cases and that would then offer better publicity; so that the family of Mr. Milam and other folks across the nation who are looking for missing loved ones can increase the chances that the "disappeared" are found.

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 All of my Missing Person Monday posts can be accessed by clicking here.

Tuber of the Week #47: Calm Child

The following occurred on January 4, 2010, but I think is a good way to end the week--on a positive.

Note: I was having problems getting the imbedded video to work with Blogger and my new Mac computer so I apologize for the layout of this one. I would have preferred to have the video first and then the text, but oh well. 


If you have trouble watching the video below you can find it here on YouTube.
 _________________________________________

Five-year-old Savannah Hensley is the calm voice on this 911 call to authorities in Hancock County (IN)--her father was having difficulty breathing and needed an ambulance.

"Dad" received treatment and is doing well now.

Did you catch little Savannah at about 3:29 telling the operator: "We're in our jammies"?

Honesty to a fault translates into good humor.

Congrats to Savannah for her inspirational performance in a stressful situation--she certainly deserved being given the 2010 Greenfield Fire Department's Civilian Life Saving Award.


Samantha Koenig Case: A Sad Development

I usually reserve Monday for my posts on missing persons, but a police blogger friend made me aware of a sad development to the Samantha Koenig case in Alaska that I had previously discussed.


If you recall, Ms. Koenig was working alone at a coffee shop in Anchorage when she was abducted. The business' video camera captured the incident:

Authorities are weighing whether to charge an Alaska man, now in federal custody, in connection with the kidnapping and death of Anchorage barista Samantha Koenig. Her body is believed to have been recovered Monday from a local lake.


Tests are still being conducted on the remains found by a team of divers in Matanuska Lake north of Anchorage, but authorities are confident the body is that of Koenig, police spokesman Lt. David Parker said by telephone Tuesday. 


The family has been notified, he said.“Investigators believe Samantha died within hours of her abduction,” Chief Mark Mew told reporters at a news conference Monday night. 


“Investigators further believe the person responsible for Samantha's death acted alone, and we are confident that we have that person in custody.”


The suspect in Koenig’s death is Israel Keyes, 34, who entered a not-guilty plea when he was arraigned March 27 on federal fraud charges. Keyes, who was returned to Alaska from Texas -- where he was arrested -- is charged with access-device fraud for allegedly making cash withdrawals with a stolen credit card...


Several years ago, I remember that leaders of the convenience store industry, weary of being the targets of violent crime, initiated safety improvements to improve employee safety and better protect assets.

One change was that many stores began requiring at least two employees to be staffed on all shifts.

The idea being that the solitary clerk was considered an appealing crime target.

Perhaps the tragedy involved in Ms. Koenig's abduction and likely death will result in similar safety upgrades for those trying to earn a living performing that job.

My condolences to the woman's family.

Solving the Zelda Mystery


Back in January, I posted on a great dog photo being used by the company Eukanuba in a marketing campaign.



The text of the "Zelda" advertisement is this:

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.

In that first post, I expressed my disappointment in finding nothing more about Zelda the dog--the ad was effective in that it got me hooked, but failed when there was no follow-up information.

Zelda was a mystery.

Well, during my blogging hiatus, I was contacted by Phil who provided the truth behind the "Zelda" photo:

The image was purchased from him by Eukanuba and features his dog "Sierra."  The description of Zelda that accompanies the ad was invented by the company.

In Phil's post on the topic at his blog Phil's Depth of Field, he includes some interesting facts about what part of the image was altered and what Sierra the dog really eats.

You can go here to read his post and see additional Sierra photos.

In sum, Phil takes great photos, Eukanubu officials were wise to use the image, but their text created a demand for follow-up information on Zelda, and I believe they failed to meet that interest.

Thanks again to Phil for taking time to contact me and solve the Zelda mystery.


Information Released on Susan Powell

As more information is being released by authorities in the Susan Powell disappearance/homicide, the public is becoming less and less satisfied that her husband had not been arrested and that it was still only a  "missing person case"--now, soon to be officially classified as homicide investigation:

TACOMA, Wash. — Authorities investigating the 2009 disappearance of a Utah woman found her blood in the family home and a hand-written note in which she expressed fear about her husband and her potential demise, according to documents unsealed Friday...

The article describes statements by one of the missing mom's children that she is "dead", and an acquaintance of husband/suspect Josh Powell who told detectives that Josh had made comments about killing someone and disposing the body.



In addition to the blood found inside the home, documents show police observed that a couch had recently been cleaned and two fans were setup to blow the fabric dry.

It also includes comments critical of the West Valley City Police Department by family members, and a prosecutor and a police official in the Washington State hometown of Josh Powell who spoke against that investigating agency.

Other commentators, like Susan Murphy-Milano who writes for Forbes, condemned authorities.

I can only hope that law enforcement can learn from these events.

That officials will overcome tendencies of being territorial or embarrassed.

That they will offer improved training, and not be afraid to consult and share with other law enforcement agencies involving cases.

Certainly, the dumbest and most embarrassing question is the one not asked.

In the meantime, two young children and the prime suspect are now dead, and the search for Susan Powell continues--though they are now looking for a body, despite what the investigating agency's official classification is.

The location of which, is likely only known by persons deceased.