Petty Theft: A Cat and Dog Story

We adopted two brother kittens a few months ago.

They were rescued by a local organization.

Left in a box on the side of a rural road.

It has been fun watching the constant mischief--between the children and pets--though I could do without the 3 am feline wrestling matches.

In any event, this occurred the other day.


Our youngest cat is always hungry. He usually hangs out in the kitchen waiting to beg from anyone opening the pantry or fridge.

This weekend, as I walked into the front room, I saw youngest cat creeping up to the computer table.

A treasure had been spied: a half-eaten ham sandwich.

Left unattended by a distracted kiddo.

Seizing the moment, cat jumped to the plate, grabbed the sandwich, and scurried back into the hallway.

Since the morsel was too big to eat in one chomp, he placed it on the hardwood floor to chew.

At that moment, our big yellow dog--also a rescued stray who is constantly hungry--came bounding down that same hallway.

Perhaps attracted by the "ham-in-the-air" scent or hearing the commotion or maybe he was just plain lucky, big dog observed the sandwich being placed at the cat's paws.

In one coordinated maneuver and barely missing a step, big yellow dog chomped the sandwich in one bite, and continued into the computer room to look for additional scraps.

I did not think that a pet, the youngest cat in this instance, could look so disappointed, but I am convinced that is what I saw when the ham disappeared.

It was almost like he was screaming, "NOOOOOOO. NOT FAIR!"

I smiled at my feline friend and said:

"There is no honor among thieves, buddy. Even those of the four-legged variety." 

Big dog definitely won that battle, but like me, he has to endure the early morning cat wrestling as well--I am sure the brother cats will win the war.

Hunting a Missing Person

I got the idea for this post from an article that blogger Lisa Buske had recently highlighted.
On June 26, 1995, the Virginia State Police worked a single vehicle collision in which two men were killed.

The driver, identified as a 21-year-old student named Michael Hager, is believed to have fallen asleep and his Volkswagen exited the roadway and struck two trees.

Oddly, the passenger in that collision has never been identified.

When authorities began asking about the other deceased man, Michael's friends and family had no idea who he was.

Sadly, the young passenger's face was severely disfigured from the impact, and police were unable to release photographs of him.

The only clues left behind were ticket stubs to a Grateful Dead concert (that had occurred just prior to the collision), some personal effects, and some home-made looking tattoos on the man's body. Also recovered was a mysterious note mentioning the names "Caroline" and "Jason" with the numbers "914;" a possible area code (NY) or prefix.

Detectives tried tracking the tickets' history, but believe that they had been scalped outside the event.

Authorities hypothesize that the unknown man was likely a hitchhiker that the driver had picked-up, and the coroner estimated that he was between 15 and 21 years old.

The individual was nicknamed "Grateful Doe" and the case remains open.


Thinking of Grateful Doe and looking at unsolved missing persons cases in Iowa, this one caught my attention.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Kellar was last seen in Muscatine County, Iowa in 1990.

His family reported that Robert had been depressed and wanted to pursue a music career as well as see the United States--possibly Colorado, Florida, California, or New York.

He had left and returned before, so family members were initially unconcerned. But after not hearing from him for some time, they reported him missing in 1992.

Mr. Kellar is a male white with brown hair and brown eyes, and would have been 26 years old when the unknown man was killed in the 1995 Virginia crash.

Here is a picture of Mr. Kellar, followed by a sketch and computer-generated image of the unknown man in VA.

Missing Man: Robert Kellar

 Unidentified Male, VA State Police: Sketch 

Unidentified Male, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: Generated Image

The weight range between the two is reasonable--135 to 160 lbs. with the missing man and 169 lbs. with the deceased. 

Unfortunately, the height is not close. Kellar is listed as 6'1, while the man found in Virginia was measured at 5'8. 

I looked at the VA man's record to see if there could have have been a mistake, but the recovered size 32 length jeans speaks volumes--a six foot guy would not likely be wearing jeans that length.  

It appears not to be a match. 

So then what is the point of my post?

There are thousands of people around the world who do the same thing that I was doing. 

They try to help police identify bodies. They use Websleuths, NamUs or another vehicle to discuss cases, and search the Internet for clues involving deceased and/or missing persons. 

They even occasionally find information to help police solve a mystery, thus bringing closure to a family. 

And they should be commended for their efforts.

In the meantime, a Virginia male remains unidentified, and a family in Iowa still waits for answers. 

What do you think? 

Could one of the physical measurements be off?

Could the unidentified man in Virginia be Robert Kellar, the hitchhiking musician with long brown hair who may have been heading to New York?

On the off chance that there may have been an error in Mr. Kellar's described height, I submitted an email to the listed contact.  

A Child Named Josiah

Rather than discuss an individual (Frank Mike Jr.) who was arrested in relation to a double homicide in New Orleans or a woman (Frieda Shade) charged in Ontario, Ohio with taking a stuffed animal that had been left by a mother on the grave of her deceased child, I wanted something positive.

Someone who inspires.

I'll talk about Josiah.

At an early age, Josiah Viera was diagnosed with Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome or "progeria"--a rare genetic disease that causes accelerated aging in children.

There is no known cure.

In 2005, doctors thought the 16-month-old had only hours to live, and while hospitalized, his family agreed to have his ventilator disconnected so that he could die peacefully.

But something unusual happened that night after the machines were turned off.

Josiah began improving.

Getting stronger each day.

He faced numerous challenges, but continued to impress everyone.

Medical science had no explanation, and by age seven, the 27 inch tall and 16 lbs. boy (yes, 15.5 lbs. to be precise) was pursuing his dream to play little league baseball.

In 2010, ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi did an excellent story on Josiah.

You meet his mom.

His grandparents.

And his sister.

And you get to hear from Josiah.

And see determination and joy epitomized.

Inspiration abound.

If you have a few minutes, Josiah's story is worth seeing.

If the video, does not work with your browser, you can go to ESPN's site and watch it by clicking here.

Or, you can read about him by going to PennLive's news site.

The life expectancy for children with progeria is typically between 8 and 13 years.

The last media story on young Josiah was when he attended the State College Spikes minor league baseball game (St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) in August of last year.

Here is a photo:

Whatever is not going my way this week.

Whenever I feel that life is treating me unfairly.

When I lack motivation.

I need to remember the strength of Josiah Viera.

A child who lives as I should: with grace.

Recognizing that each moment is a gift.

My prayers are that Josiah gets to attend some baseball games this spring and summer as well. 

Have a good weekend everyone. 

If Money Could Talk

In November, Hyung Yang was arrested for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended/revoked drivers license in DeKalb County, GA.

This was the official mugshot of Mr. Yang that authorities released:

 Mugshot: Hyung Yang

I expected the 170 pound Yang to be more visible in the image, but somehow he was able to blend in with his possessions. 

Not being able to find the defendant, I then focused on the $180 or so in cash. 

What if money could talk?*

What would it want to buy?

Corn dogs?

A fairy princess outfit?


Unfortunately, I think Mr. Yang's funds were used to secure his bond from jail, but there is hope for the money in your wallet or purse.

What is your money demanding to be spent on?

*Confession: Seeing the money in the photo triggered a memory of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode in which Mr. Krabs' cash speaks to him and demands to be spent on certain items like corn dogs, fairy princess outfits, and diapers.  

The transcript of that episode, Money Talks, is here

Mental Illness

As a child, I had books of baseball and football cards.

In one of those albums was a card of San Diego Chargers quarterback Jesse Freitas.

Freitas attended Stanford and San Diego State universities, and played for the Chargers in the 1970s.

Last Thursday, Jesse Lee Freitas was committed by a California judge to three years (max) in the Atascadero State Hospital.

The sixty-two year old former football player has battled mental illness for years.

This won't be his first stay at a psychiatric hospital, as Freitas was ordered there in 2012 as well.

Over the past several years, he has been arrested for a variety of crimes including theft, arson, hit-and-run, violation of protection orders, and has been under a variety of court-ordered supervision methods.

He has a reputation for refusing to take his doctor-ordered medications; even flushing them down the toilet while incarcerated.

During a 2012 court hearing, he told the judge he was through not taking his meds--that he wanted change.

Sadly, he was not able to deliver his promise, and his erratic and violent behaviors continued.


The US criminal justice system is well populated with those like Freitas.

Individuals struggling with mental health issues.

Individuals that families have tried unsuccessfully to help.

Individuals that police are then called to deal with at 3 am on a Saturday.

In an attempt to better educate police about the mentally ill, an important training session was held in February in Virginia.

At that class, former firefighter James Gibson told his personal struggles with mental illness to officers from Chesterfield County.

Gibson reminded officers how life can change in an instant, and discussed how his behavioral problems resulted in him being committed to a secure psychiatric facility.

I hope other police agencies in the US consider innovative training like Chesterfield County did.

Officers can then improve themselves for future encounters with the mentally ill.

And better support citizens with loved ones battling these illnesses; as the families of Jesse Freitas and James Gibson do on a daily basis.

Should Have Dated a Hygienist

I switched dentists recently, and the hygienist jabbing and scraping me at my appointment was named Kyleen.

She is very nice, and we have lots in common.

She runs and enjoyed talking about her previous "mudders" and other endurance challenges.

It made me think about how well that I always hit-it-off with those cleaning my teeth.

There was the twenty-something who laughed about her one-year stay at a big state university. And for just two semesters, she seemed to have an endless bag of stories. She said she did not study much, but sure had a load of fun.

Then there was the middle-aged artist. She had traveled extensively out West, and we shared favorite stops along Route 66.

Finally, the "mom" had lots to talk about as well. Her son wanted to be a police officer, and she expressed her hopes and concerns via long crime discussions, breaking the conversation briefly with an occasional order to "open wide" or "close just a bit."

Maybe I should have focused on dating dental hygienists exclusively when I was a single guy.

I do wonder something though.

Would my time with them be less enjoyable if I could get a few words in edgewise?

I mean the hygienists dominate the conversation during cleanings as I recline with a mouth full of metallic objects and spraying water.

Ha, perhaps that is for the best.

Is there a particular occupation that you have always had good rapport with?

Samo Returns Home

And crime news from where "the wind comes sweeping down the plain" as one who was lost has now been found:

(NORMAN, OK) “Samo Ducky,” the 200-pound, yellow plaster duck that was the prototype for a series of Fiberglas duck sculptures in parks across Norman, was discovered missing Thursday from its spot in Lions Park... Samo was stolen sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning but has been found.

A resident... saw the duck and called police officials about 5:15 p.m. A short time later, the duck was found near the roadway... Arrangements have been made to ensure that the duck returns home…
Norman police say they are investigating the theft. Up to four people probably were necessary to remove the sculpture from the park...
Dare I characterize Samo's recovery as "another case quacked?"

Perhaps Norman police will be assigning a "quack squad" of detectives to investigate this theft?

Do you think that this disturbing crime "ruffled a few feathers?"

Did I miss any duck references?

Are my attempts at humor lame or what?

I do ask that you cut me some slack today. I watched snow flurries fall last night. It is mid-April. That is wrong on so many levels...

Missing in Jacksonville

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida are investigating the disappearance of 39-year-old Vernon Stephens late Friday night.

Vernon Stephens

Stephens' car was evidently broken down and unoccupied on the Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville, when it was struck by another car. That driver was transported to the hospital, but police have not located Mr. Stephens.

Authorities are unsure if he fell into the water below.

Emergency personnel, including the Coast Guard, searched the bridge area on Saturday and Sunday, but nothing has been found.

In 2004, safety measures for the bridge were improved after a vehicle collision occurred, and one of the drivers (Donna Campbell) fell to her death.

Reading about the search for Mr. Stephens reminded me of how simply being stuck on an Interstate bridge with traffic whizzing by is such a lousy feeling.

Do you just sit there and wait or get out of your vehicle and look under your hood?

Now with mobile phones, it is much easier to stay with your vehicle and get help, but several years ago there was always the dilemma of: walk to get someone or sit and wait for assistance?

I remember as a young patrol officer helping a stranded motorist stuck on a busy tall bridge.

I had all my lights activated, but after watching the crazy driving in my rearview mirror, I made the wise decision to buckle my seat belt while waiting.

Not ten minutes later, a driver lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of my cruiser.

My reward was a cut hand and a trip to the doctor for a shot.

My prayers are with the missing Vernon Stephens and his family--that there is another explanation for his disappearance.

Since the location is a high traffic area, police are hoping that a witness will come forward and provide information about the incident--either reporting the man walking from his vehicle prior to the crash or that he was standing nearby.

Such details would certainly help with the search.

He was last seen wearing a pink shirt, gray pants, and dress shoes.

Click here to read more of my missing persons post or here for my missing person monday posts


UPDATE 4/14/2014 @ 7:30 pm

Jacksonville police confirmed today that the body found by a fisherman in the water this morning is that of Vernon Stephens.

Reportedly, the find was about 3 miles downstream from the bridge. Police continue to investigate, and described the other driver as "inattentive" and "speeding" when he struck Stephens' disabled vehicle. My condolences to the deceased man's family.

Will Searches for Cursive Documents Top Lady Gaga?

Should cursive writing still be required teaching in schools?

I was reading about that debate the other day.

I have not written in cursive since junior high, my signature is a combination of cursive and unique printed text (resembles an illegible doctor's signature), and I cannot remember the last time that I read something that was written in cursive.

As such, I am just peachy with cursive being taught at home or as an elective--I see it as one less topic that teachers are required to cover.

Representative Shelia Butt (R) is sponsoring a bill in Tennessee to mandate cursive be taught in schools.

I did laugh after reading this article where Ms. Butt explains her position:

...Butt said her motivation to craft the bill came after parents complained to her that their children were unable to read handwritten assignments…

"I found out that in my county there were high school juniors and seniors who could not read a cursive writing assignment a teacher had written on the board," she told "And there were juniors and seniors who did not have a cursive signature to write on a legal document."

Tennessee is one of at least six states with lawmakers urging that cursive by mandatory. Five other states -- North Carolina, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia -- already have laws in place to make sure students learn to read and write in script...

Wow, all this trouble for that?

Why not just have teachers print the assignment on the board and then give students a one-time 30 minute class that teaches how to create a signature?

The representative also added that students who cannot read cursive writing are unable to read the original images of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights online.

Yes, I am sure accessing the originals of those historical documents by individuals fluent in cursive ranks up there at the top of Google searches with "hilarious cat video" and "Lady Gaga."

What do you think?

Should cursive writing be a mandatory subject for 2nd/3rd graders?

I Got Rhythm

I was shocked to learn that on YouTube a video exists of me at a music lesson from a few years back.

In the following, I am the one with the hat…

Ok, so that was the much better looking Fozzie Bear playing the part of me.

When I was an undergrad back in the day, I took piano lessons.

My brilliant yet socially challenged piano instructor, graduate of the Juilliard School, told me that I had no rhythm. She said that my mother must not have properly bounced me on her knee when I was an infant.

I wanted to reply to Mrs. Fancy Music Pants that mom did pretty well with me when I was a baby considering she was alone in California, 1,660 miles from her closest family member, and only receiving periodic letters from my father/her husband who was then slogging through Vietnamese rice paddy fields and plucking leeches from his body as a Marine in his second tour of duty.

Instead, I just smiled.

Knowing that she was right about the no rhythm--and I never have found that elusive rhythm thing either.

Sad Ending: Katelyn Markham Missing

I was going through blog posts that I still needed to finish, and I saw that I had started a draft on a missing woman from Ohio named Katelyn Markham.

I remember a reporter had commented awhile back suggesting that I look into that case.

I get lots of those requests, and wish I could handle them all, but rather than just repeat information that is already online, I select missing persons and crime stories that I feel like I have something to contribute to the discussion.

This was one that I did not have a chance to research much.

Here is what was known...

On August 13, 2011, John Carter, Katelyn's fiance, received a message from Katelyn just before 1 am. Evidently, the contents of the message were normal and did not indicate any reason for alarm.

When the man learned that his fiancé did not show up for work later that day, and her car was found parked outside her residence, he and other family members entered her townhouse to check her welfare.

Reportedly, they found everything inside apparently in order--other than her dog having been put in the bedroom for what appeared to have been awhile.

There was no sign of forced entry. Katelyn's purse and keys were there.

The woman's cell phone was missing and authorities learned that it had been turned off around 1 am.

Ohio police had been investigating the case as a missing person since August 14, 2011.

Until April of last year when a man looking for scrap metal less than 30 miles from Katelyn's residence, found human remains instead:
CEDAR GROVE, Ind. —The man who found the remains of Katelyn Markham says it didn't appear anyone tried to hide her body…

Andy Hicks told...that he was searching for scrap metal along Big Cedar Creek in Franklin County on April 7 when he found a human jawbone.

 He said he then saw a skull inside a Kroger bag and some other bones nearby. Hicks said there was some hair, but it appears that the remains were almost completely decomposed.

Hicks said that it appeared that someone had dumped a load of trash on top of or near the body at some point, but not in a way that would have kept it hidden...
Authorities ruled the woman's death a homicide, and they are still trying to piece together what happened.

My belated condolences to the Markham family.

With some of the unreleased evidence that authorities have, I hope they are able to arrest the person responsible for this murder.

The family maintains a memorial page here.

Blissfully Unaware

I am a little jealous.

Jealous of those I see who seem blissfully unaware…

Like when I stop the traffic behind me to let another driver into my lane, and the beneficiary of my generosity does not offer a quick wave, smile, or otherwise acknowledge my offering.

Or at a child's sporting event, when a young player scores a goal or makes a great pass and then looks into the crowd where mom or dad are seated, only to see mom or dad with their head buried in a mobile device updating their Facebook status.

Or when colleagues simply laugh at that one student who battles to stay awake in morning classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Nothing funny about the situation as I know the back story: It is not because the student stays out all night socializing with friends, but rather she works full-time on the third shift at a gas station to support her education.

I don't want to be blissfully unaware. I want to be that person who sees the stray dog and tries to help or that individual who sees an American flag laying on the sidewalk and stops to set it back in place. Raining or not.

I never want to lose sight of my surroundings. Allowing others to go first. Holding doors for  anyone else near me. That the world does not revolve around me.

Perhaps, my jealousy is a reminder of what I should be doing. And the realization that...

the blissfully unaware probably don't sleep very well at night anyway.


Enjoy your weekend everyone.  

I Am Callous

So when I heard the following story, I confess that my first reaction was not: "oh, those misunderstood kids with red marks on their arms."

Or, "what can we do to better educate parents and prevent this new unsafe fad in schools?"

Well, here is the story first, and then I'll reveal my initial thought:

(BETHEL, CT) The principal of Bethel Middle School wants parents and school districts around the state to be aware of a dangerous game going around that’s become popular with teenagers. It’s called the ‘Eraser Challenge’.

Videos of the so-called game are popping up all over YouTube. It’s a dare where kids take an eraser and begin “erasing” their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter.

Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and compare their eraser burns with their friends. The challenge can cause pain, severe irritation, bleeding, scarring and even possible infection...

So what thought pops into my mind after hearing about this strange yet typical teen-type stunt?

Wow, I am impressed that young people are excited about a vocabulary-building challenge!

I wonder if we could invent and then get students hooked on a similar test that allows for the improvement of multiplication and division skills while facing the threat of a noogie?

What do you think?

Does the "Noogie Challenge" have a future in schools?

Whoa, I think the long winter is having a negative impact on me.

Good thing warmer weather has arrived here.