Love Stinks

Our youngest needs special help at kindergarten.

He can do the work.

He can read.

But because of his condition, he is easily distracted.

He may spontaneously break into song and dance; which would be ok if it was prompted by the music teacher, but obviously less appreciated during circle story time or math.

As such, we have a helper assigned to him for most of his day, and the school fills-in with an assistant when necessary.

To help us understand issues that he has during a school day, we receive a daily written log describing his performance for each morning and afternoon activity.

A typical day would feature positives such as "played well during inside recess with two peers" or "client was asked to speak quietly which he did." The report also may include a description of problems that occurred like "refused to follow directions."

But occasionally, an unexpected comment needs more clarification.

Like this one:

During afternoon snack today, client was using a large pretzel stick as a microphone to sing "Love Stinks."

I mean how can they leave a dad hanging like this?

I need more information.

Did he sing all the words correctly?

Do we need to work on his octaves?

Is he making effective use of air guitar when appropriate?

The Mrs.' response was to laugh.

I'll do some more research and determine how I can better support little guy's snack time singing gigs.

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Confession: Unfortunately, I am to blame for the Love Stinks inspiration. Last year, I was showing someone the following clip  from The Wedding Singer movie where Adam Sandler offers his version of the 1980s J. Geils Band "Love Stinks" and the little guy thought it was the funniest thing ever. 

Sorry but if the embedded video is not working, you can go here to see it.



Deceased: Part II

This is my second post in the series on deceased career criminal Victor Wonyetye Jr., and his ties to several missing persons cases.

For today, I'll focus on Wonyetye as a named suspect in the case of a missing third grader.
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On November 13, 1984 at around 8 am, then eight-year-old Tammy Belanger was seen walking through town to Lincoln Street School in Exeter, NH.

She never arrived.



Unfortunately, no one realized she was missing until the end of the school day.

More than 200 volunteers then helped authorities search extensively for the missing girl, but she was not located.

Tammy Belanger has never been found.

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Last week, I posted about the death of Victor Wonyetye Jr.,  who was formerly employed in Exeter and had served prison sentences in New Hampshire (for aggravated sexual assault involving a child) as well as Florida (for multiple counts of peeping into the bedroom windows of children and burglary-related offenses).

Police still consider Wontyetye Jr. a suspect in Tammy Belanger's disappearance, despite that he was never charged.

Why?

Obviously, not everything known by police will ever be released to the public, but here are a few details that attracted law enforcement attention:

  • Convicted Sex Offender: Wonyetye was on parole in New Hampshire after serving 5 years for the aggravated sexual assault involving a child. 

  • Just Relocated to Area: A couple of months after being arrested and serving 30 days for a prowling charge in Florida (he had been living with his parents there but had not notified the New Hampshire Department of Corrections), he moved back to New Hampshire and reestablished contact with his parole officer. 

  • Employed near the Scene: Eleven days prior to Tammy's disappearance, he began working at Brad's Custom Auto Body in Exeter, NH. The business was located within blocks from where the young girl went missing.

  • Took a Sick Day: On the day of Tammy's disappearance, Wonyetye called in sick to work. His shift started that day at 7 am, but he did not speak to his boss, Brad Bissell, until around noon.  Bissell told authorities that he assumed Wonyetye had overslept after a wild night on the town and told his employee, "Well I hope she was worth it." He remembers Wonyetye not saying a word and responding only with silence. 

  • Vehicle Search: Six days after Tammy's disappearance, authorities searched Wonyetye's car and found a sex toy, a chainsaw, a patch of carpet, stolen stereo equipment, and other items that were collected.

  • Room Search: A search of Wonyetye's motel room uncovered a scrapbook of magazine advertisements and photos of children around the age of 10 wearing underwear. 

  • Manager Statement: The manager of Wonyetye's motel, Marge Leathe, said that he wanted her to tell others that she saw his car in the parking lot for the entire morning when Tammy had disappeared. Leathe evidently refused saying that she didn't have a view of his space and that she thought he might have left the motel that morning, but she was not sure.  

  • Coworker Statements: Some of his coworkers (from a previous job in New Hampshire) had started calling him "Chester the Molester" due to the number of underage girls that he was seen with. 

  • Another Statement: A coworker said that Wonyetye previously talked about knowing how to dispose a body. 

Strangely, this will not be the last time that investigators recorded a witness statement involving Wonyetye and boasts that he could discreetly dispose of a corpse without being detected.

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I'll continue next week with why Victor Wonyetye Jr. was considered a suspect in another unsolved case involving a missing 8-year-old: Christy Luna of Florida.

You can read my first post in this series by going here.

NOTE: Police had previously reported to the media that they believed they had recovered a photo of Tammy Belanger in the possessions of Wonyetye (during a search later in Florida).  This was widely reported as fact by several Internet sites, but authorities later clarified that the photo in question was not of Tammy, but someone who looked similar.

Also, since this is a blog and to save space, I don't list references, but would be happy to share those with anyone via email.

Teacher Arrested

Yesterday in Los Angeles, Robert Pimentel was arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse.

The activities allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2012 when Pimentel was a 4th grade teacher at George De La Torre, Jr. Elementary school.

Police began investigating in March of 2012, and school officials removed Pimentel from campus and began the dismissal process.

Instead, Pimentel retired.

Administrators are being applauded for taking swift action.

That may be justified, but it does not eliminate all concerns, some of which are described in the linked article from NPR:

...More than 70 interviews were conducted during the police investigation, and 20 female students were found to have been victimized, Los Angeles police Capt. Fabian Lizarraga said.

Another victim was a female teacher who complained that Pimentel had inappropriately touched her, police said. The alleged abuse occurred in Pimentel's fourth-grade classroom during school hours and in some cases was witnessed by other students...

Ok, so law enforcement identified 20 potential underage victims, and another teacher who may have been victimized?

Wow.

Wait, there's more:

...A previous report of sexual misconduct against Pimentel occurred four years ago at the school, and another complaint was made eight years ago at another elementary school where both a female principal and Pimentel had worked...
Really?

This accused teacher had two previous accusations of sexual misconduct in his file?

And there was a third one (via the teacher found by police) that was either not reported or reported and not documented in his file?

If I was an administrator in that district, I don't think I'd be seen high-fiving my colleagues.

Three sexual misconduct allegations against an educator would seem like a pretty loud warning sign for officials.

And sadly, the lives of so many young victims have been impacted.
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Note: LAPD officers used a different spelling of the accused's name "Robert Pimental," and sorry for ending the week on a down note.

Facebook Problem

You know you have a problem with social media when...
JACKSON, Miss. - This is one of those stories with a moral: When you're in the middle of robbing a business, don't stop to log onto facebook on the office computer.

Prosecutors say that's what Mississippi man Jason Smith did last summer, and that's why he got caught.

Authorities say Smith was rummaging around a U-Haul truck and rental service in Jackson in the early morning hours, when he took a moment to sign into the social networking site. Then, realizing he probably needed to cover his tracks, police say he came back days later and stole the computer he'd used.

The Carion-Ledger reports that after the apparent break-in, a company official told police a computer had been used and that Smith's facebook page was left on the screen. Five days later came word that the computer in question had disappeared.

Smith is charged with two counts of business burglary...
If Mr. Smith was convicted, I hope that he received the treatment that he needed for his problems; especially his apparent Facebook addiction.
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Note: Just a clarification. There is a difference between a "robbery" and a "burglary."

In the above story, Mr. Smith is accused of breaking into a closed business with the intent of committing a felony therein; this is a burglary. In general, a robbery is taking something from someone through force or the threat of force. Robberies involve confrontations between people, burglaries do not.

Next time, I hope an editor for the CBS NEWS' Crimesider site (where this story was found) catches this type of mistake and uses the experience as a "teaching moment."  

Deceased

Monday has always been Missing Person Monday on my blog. 

As such, I'll lead with this story from Florida.
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A few weeks ago, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement made a seemingly innocuous update to the online record of former Department of Corrections inmate #621378.

The offender, Victor G. Wonyetye, Jr. who appears on the Florida Sex Offender Registry, is now listed as "Deceased."

Wonyetye was 69 years old, and had been paroled in 2012 after serving more than two decades in Florida prisons for a string of burglary-related charges.

Just prior to his death in December, he evidently violated the terms of his parole and was rearrested in Marion County (FL).


Why is an elderly offender's death significant?

Police considered Wonyetye a lead suspect in two unsolved child abductions from the 1980s: 1) then eight-year-old Tammy Belanger disappeared while walking to school in Exeter, NH; and 2) another eight-year-old girl named Christy Luna vanished while walking to a grocery store to buy cat food in Greenacres City, FL.

Unfortunately, authorities were never able to gather enough evidence to charge this man (or anyone else for that matter) for either incident.

Followers of the cases always held onto hope that eventually Wonyetye would share information about these two missing girls, and that the victims' families would someday learn the truth about their loved ones.

Sadly, this suspect will now forever remain silent.

But, what if Victor Wonyetye, Jr. was linked to another active missing person case?

I have been researching him and hope to offer something useful in the near future.  

In several upcoming posts, I'll discuss how this man became a person of interest in the Belanger and Luna cases, and offer a previously undisclosed yet possible connection of this career criminal to another unsolved crime.  
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For more of my posts on missing persons, you can click here.

Active Shooter

If a parent has concerns about the safety of a school, there are many ways to wisely address those issues.

The following incident from Texas is not one of those ways:

Just as students were arriving to Celina Elementary School yesterday morning, one father made his way into the front office telling staff members they were dead because he was a gunman.

Officials say Ron Miller conducted his own "active-shooter" drill to test a school's security.

Officials said Ron Miller, who did not have a weapon, told staff he was testing the district’s security at his child’s school and wanted to expose weaknesses.


Miller, 44, was arrested Wednesday evening on third-degree felony charges of making terroristic threats and held in lieu of a $75,000 bond.

Superintendent Donny O’Dell said school staffers were shaken and upset.

“He went up to one particular greeter — and of course he is someone they know and have seen — and he basically said, ‘I’m a gunman and my target is on the inside, and you’re not going to stop me.’ Then he went to the main office and told the ladies there that each one of them was dead because he was a shooter.”

O’Dell said Miller explained to them that he was trying to see how safe the school’s security was...

I remember flying cross-country after 911, and every time someone got out of their seat to stretch or go to the bathroom, many of the other passengers nervously watched them; waiting to intervene.

On other flights at that time, more than one tipsy traveler joking about safety and sauntering around a plane found themselves tackled by other passengers and being restrained to their seat.

Understandably and in the same light, people around schools are on edge.

I am just surprised, after Mr. Miller allegedly acted in this manner, that he was not greeted with a brachial stun; an effective technique that can be viewed here.

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I hope everyone has a super weekend.

Reading Bible Girl... and Relating It to the Brianna Maitland Case

I am almost done with E.C. Stilson's book Bible Girl and The Bad Boy (her work The Golden Sky was fantastic). The book is an excellent read--characters are unique and interesting, and the story kept me guessing.

It is about a traumatic time in the the author's life when she was 17 years-old, graduating high school early, juggling three part-time jobs, and trying to find herself.

In one part of the story, she had just finished her waitressing job at midnight.  Exhausted, she focused on getting home and going to bed--as school started in a few hours.

As she went to her car, a guy friend suddenly appeared and invited her to go sand jumping.

He had brought her a large coffee (her favorite blend) and was charmingly persistent.

Eventually, she decided against sleep, and joined the boy and several others for sand skiing at an old gravel pit.  It was the kind of thing that young people do--make quick and sometimes irrational decisions and find themselves playing under the stars.

She had told no one about her change in plans.

Anyway, this scene from Elisa's book reminded me of an aspect of the Brianna Maitland missing person case. Between guest blogger BobKat and I, we have probably written more than anyone on the Internet about Brianna's disappearance.

In sum about the case, the 17-year-old Maitland was seen leaving her job at a Vermont bed breakfast around midnight.

Early the next morning, she was scheduled to work at a second job, but did not show. Unknown that anything was wrong, her vehicle had been found abandoned less than a mile from the bed-and breakfast. It had been backed into a deserted farm house (depicted in the image below).


  Brianna Maitland's Abandoned Vehicle (as photographed by a citizen)

Brianna has never been found.

So what does the excerpt from Bible Girl... have to do with a missing woman from Vermont?

Spontaneity.

Logically, one would think that Brianna would go straight home and get some sleep before starting her second job a few hours later; that she would contact her roommate or someone else if there was a change in plans.

I would--that is me thinking like an old guy.

But, perhaps a friend suddenly appeared with an appealing offer. Something that would not take long.

Brianna had lots of friends.

What is a few hours of lost sleep for a young person?

E.C. Stilson changed her mind and her plans. It is certainly possible that a spontaneous Brianna Maitland did the same.

Unfortunately, Brianna's case remains unsolved.
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You can read more about the Brianna Maitland case by clicking here, or visit Elisa's blog, The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom,  by going here

NOTE: Just a reminder to readers regarding any of the books that I mention in my posts--I only review or discuss books that I have purchased and have read (or am reading).


On Aaron Swartz

A few days ago, twenty-six year old Aaron Swartz committed suicide.

Described as a technology prodigy, at age 14, Swartz developed RSS--which quickly became used worldwide for Internet transactions.

Evidently, he had also struggled with depression for years.

In 2007, he delivered a conference address that included the following advice for those wanting to succeed:

  1. Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.


  2. Say yes to everything. I have a lot of trouble saying no, to an pathological degree -- whether to projects or to interviews or to friends. As a result, I attempt a lot and even if most of it fails, I've still done something.


  3. Assume nobody else has any idea what they're doing either. A lot of people refuse to try something because they feel they don't know enough about it or they assume other people must have already tried everything they could have thought of. Well, few people really have any idea how to do things right and even fewer are to try new things, so usually if you give your best shot at something you'll do pretty well.

Good sense advice, but I disagree with his #2.

From personal experience, learning to say "no" is essential to long-term success.

We have to learn selectivity in how our precious time is invested.

Prior to closing his conference address, Swartz described the immense stress in his life.

I can imagine always saying "yes" was a prime contributor.

 My condolences to the young man's family.



Tuber of the Week #48: Concert for a Painted Audience

Carlos Vamos of Amsterdam is a little-known guitar master.

I still believe that his improvised acoustic version of Satriani's Always with Me, Always with You is one of the most amazing guitar videos online.

He is a talented painter as well.

I'd also describe Carlos Vamos as a creative marketer.

For interested clients, they send him photographs, and he paints portraits.

He then uses the resulting art as an "audience"--a background for his guitar performance videos that he posts to YouTube.





This concert is a clever approach to promoting one's talent--both the listening and the visual kind.

Well done.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.
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Note: The video above is a short version. Carlos Vamos has done four of these video concerts, and you can see more by going here

Just Doing Her Job

In 1957, George Metesky was arrested and accused of being the most wanted man of his day--New York City's Mad Bomber.

George Metesky after His Arrest

During his interrogation, Metesky confessed to planting 33 homemade explosive devices in public places.

Obviously with the panic caused by bombs exploding at movie theaters and such, police officials declared The Mad Bomber "Public Enemy Number One" and dedicated all possible resources to apprehending the offender.

The tip that solved the case and implicated Metesky was provided by a file clerk named Alice G. Kelly who worked at Consolidated Edison.

Either on her own initiative or after being asked by her superiors to review employee files for anyone that might have motivation to harm others due to a conflict with the company (historical accounts vary), Ms. Kelly identified George Metesky as a person of interest.

Metesky had previously made threats against the company after becoming dissatisfied with a worker's compensation claim (he had been employed with the firm until being injured in 1931).

Once police had Metesky's name, they were able to gather enough evidence for an arrest--which led to a confession.

With the case's publicity, the reward money for helping to catch Metesky was enormous.

Multiple parties including one of the newspapers (The New York Journal American), applied for a portion of the reward.

One person who did not seek the reward money?

Alice G. Kelly.

When asked why not, she stated that she was just doing her job.

She was certain that it was something anyone else would have done.

Now, I am not sure what a file clerk's salary was in the 1950s, but I assume that the reward for assisting to apprehend the Mad Bomber would have allowed Ms. Kelly a life of luxury. New house. New car. Lots of vacation time. Lots of media attention.

Certainly, no more filing.

But she didn't take the money.

She did something good and refused all accolades.

Personally, I would rather read about and be inspired by more of the Alice G. Kelly's of the world.

I know they are out there.

I just need to push aside much of the other gossip news to find them.



Dad and His Pajamas

"Hey buddy, five minutes until we leave for school," I told the laughing kindergartener as he bounced on the mini-trampoline and watched television.

Diverting his attention to me from Little Einsteins and their use of the melodic Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, Luca replied "Ok."

Suddenly, he stopped jumping.

Looking at me, his head moved up and down and his eyes focused on the grid-pattern of my shirt.

"Dad...umm... Dad...ummm, you're wearing your pajamas!"

Oblivious as to how I was dressed, I glanced down at my buttoned-down 100% cotton long-sleeve shirt and said, "Ha, no man. This is a work shirt. Nana gave it to me for Christmas."

Unfazed. The little guy responded,"Pajamas! You are wearing pajamas!"

He paused, sucked in a full breath of air, and in a projecting voice, continued:

"...But the front door was open and his father's footprints went out into the snow--and it was 50 below zero that night. 'Yikes,' said Jason, 'my father is outside in just his pajamas. He will freeze like an ice cube'..."

I laughed.

And so, five minutes later we departed for school. Luca brought his backpack and lunch, and I wore my "pajamas."

In sum and just a warning for all of you parents out there: encouraging your children to read may have unexpected consequences. You may be subjected to the judgment of a young fashion critic--one who effectively incorporates children's literature into a conversation. 

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Luca enjoys several of Robert Munsch's books.



With the story referenced above (50 Below Zero), he has memorized the whole book; obviously waiting for an opportune time to zing dad.  

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Note: With this or with any of my posts, I don't receive any compensation for the books that I mention. 


Showing a Gun

Unlike most sites on the Internet, I have a different perspective on a Denny's restaurant in the news:


The chief of the Belleville, Illinois Police Department has reportedly ordered his employees to stay out of a Denny’s restaurant there.  The decision came after a group of detectives were reportedly asked by a Denny’s manager to leave the restaurant New Year’s Day.

The detectives were on-duty but not in uniform when a customer told a manager at the restaurant that at least one of the officers was carrying a gun... the manager continued to insist the detective either leave or secure the gun in her car, even after being shown badges and being told they were police.

Belleville Police Captain Don Sax said the badges were in plain view and that there were portable police radios on the table where the detectives were seated...


In the end, the officers left.

Some police agencies wisely avoid situations like this by mandating officers in plain-clothes cover their weapons by wearing jackets or something similar.

I worked plain-clothes for several years and my employer had that simple policy--if you were in public and not wearing your uniform, you were required (with some exceptions) to hide your gun and holster.

From a practical perspective, such a policy addresses the situation as a safety issue since non-uniform officers are not likely equipped with all of the usual tools of the trade, and therefore should try to avoid being readily identified.

Second, the residents of different areas of the US have varying tolerances for posessession of firearms.

In Alaska, everyone is assumed to be armed; while in Washington D.C., city laws prohibit owning and carrying guns.

Since Illinois sides with States that more actively restrict firearms, it would make sense for the chief of the Belleville (IL) Police Department to review and revise the agency's "carry" policy for non-uniformed officers--as with no jacket, the gun worn by an individual in "street clothes" may be much more visible than a badge clipped to a belt.

Wearing a jacket in Illinois in January is not too much to ask; especially in the name of officer safety and the agency's public image.


Decapitation

A few weeks ago as I was knee-deep in grading papers, one submission reminded me of when I had stayed up too late finishing a darn undergrad assignment.

I think I was a freshman and on a history paper stated something to this extent:

The President literally died in anticipation of the teletype's contents.

After the papers were scored, I remember the professor patiently yet with several belly laughs explaining to me the difference between "literally" and "figuratively."

Wow, was I red-faced.

Anyway, a current student gave me a good belly laugher as well when he wrote:

Preliminary research indicates that selective decapitation is a viable option for relieving some of the burden placed on modern correctional systems. 

I think the Mrs. would take that sentence and run with it. She is fully prepared to recommend selective decapitation for me if I continue to leave the toilet seat lid up.

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Note: The term the student wanted was "selective decapacitation" which means to properly assess criminal offenders so that corrections officials can direct certain low-risk individuals to alternatives other than prison.