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Friday, January 27, 2012

Random Acts of Crime: Snapshots 3

January 1, 2012
Sandringham, England

     Lidija Nesterova, a Latvian immigrant living in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, on September 6, 2011, reported her 17-year-old granddaugher missing. Alisa Dmitrijeva was last seen in the town of King's Lynn shortly after midnight on August 31. Witnesses saw her get into a green Lexus with two men.

     According to the missing girl's grandmother, Alisa, stuggling to learn English, had been recently arrested for theft. She had also been staying out all night, and using drugs.

     On New Year's Day, a man walking his dog in a wooded area on Queen Elizabeth's 31-square mile Sandringham estate 115 miles northeast of London, came across a decomposing human body. The remains belonged to Alisa Dmitrijeva, and according to a forensic pathologist, she had been murdered. Although Alisa had not been shot or stabbed, the exact cause of death remains undetermined.

      The Queen's estate, made up of several villages, orchards, tenant farms, and a 590-acre forest, is home to 500 families. Dmitrijeva's body was found outside the village of Anmer, about three miles from the queen's country mansion which sits on 59 acres. The dog walker found the body in an area open to the public. The hamlet of Anmer is inhabited by roughly by 200 people. The police have no suspects, and are looking for the victim's moble phone.

     The case has attracted international media attention because of the location of the murdered girl's body. Otherwise, the murder would have been a locally reported crime story.


     On May 1, 2012, the British police arrested two men suspected of the murder. Aged 28 and 31, they are from the nearby village of Wisbech.

January 7, 2012
Sidney, Montana

     Sherry Arnold, a 43-year-old Sidney, Montana school teacher, went out for an early morning run on January 7, and never returned. As of this writing, canine units, private planes, a helicopter, searchers on ATVs, and hundreds of volunteers on foot have not found her body. A searcher did find one of the missing woman's sneakers along a road.

     A week after Arnold went missing, the police arrested two men in Williston, North Dakota, an oil boom town on hour north of Sidney. Since the oil rush in Williston and neighboring towns, crime in that area has shot through the roof. (See: "Full Employment and Crime," November 10, 2011) The influx of workers has overwhelmed the real estate market. The Walmart parking lot in Williston has become a makeshift trailer camp.

     The arrested men have been charged with aggravated kidnapping in connection with Arnold's disappearance and presumed death. According to reports, one of the men has confessed to killing the teacher.

January 16, 2012
El Cajon, California

     In this community east of San Diego, a 10-year-old stabbed to death his neighbor friend, a 12-year-old boy. According to kids in the neighborhood, the young homicide suspect has a belicose and aggressive tantrum-prone personality. Although on medication, the boy, according to reports, is easily provoked. Under California law, children must be at least 14 to be charged as adults. As a result, this boy will be dealt with in the juvenile system. If found guilty of killing the 12-year-old, he can be incarcerated until he's 25.

     From 1976 to 2010, 242 kids 10 and under have committed criminal homicide. (During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, I would be surprised if 5 kids ten or younger commited murder.) In 2010, 12 children under twelve intentionally took another person's life.

January 2012
New Castle, Pennsylvania

     In February 2009, in a township near New Castle, Pennsylvania in the western part of the state, 11-year-old Jordan Brown allegedly killed his father's pregnant fiancee with a shotgun blast to the head. The district attorney wanted to try the boy as an adult, but a judge moved the case to juvenile court. The adjudication of the case has been delayed over this issue, and the fact prosecutors want the juvenile proceeding to be closed to the public. Various media outlets have filed suit to make this case resolution open to the public. In the meantime, the boy's attorneys have asked a judge to set him free. If found guilty as a juvenile, Jordan Brown could be incarcerated until he turns 21.      
January 17, 2012
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

     London Eley, 19-years-old and a participant in a murder for hire plot, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit murder. She received an immediate parole on her prison sentence.

     In May 2011, Eley posted the following messsage on Facebook: "I will pay somebody a stack [$1,000] to kill my baby father." Timothy Bynum, an 18-year-old from Darby, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia, responded to Eley's message: "Say no more...what he look like...where he be at...need that stack 1st [first]."

     The aunt of the murder for hire target, Corey White, Eley's ex-boyfriend and father of their child, saw the Facebook posting and called the police. Eley and Bynum were quickly taken into custody. Bynum, claiming that the whole thing was a joke, is going on trial in March. As for Corey White, the intended target, he was killed last August in a drug-related shooting.

     I don't understand the light sentence for London Eley. But I do know this: only an idiot would solicit murder on Facebook, and only a really stupid person would make a social media response. But if you are killed by a couple of idiots, you are just as dead as if you have been murdered by a genius.

January 17, 2012
Hollywood, California

     Two people walking their dogs in Bronson Canyon Park not far from the famous Hollywood sign, noticed that their pets were playing with a pastic bag. On closer inspection, the stunned dog walkers realized the bag contained a human head.

     The next day, detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department, assisted by officers on horseback, fanned out across the 7-acre park. The search led to the discovery of a set of hands and two feet. A few days later, forensic experts were able to identify the owner of the body parts. His or her name has not been released to the public. For me, the thought of murder and dismemberment in LA brings to mind the infamous Black Dalia case of 1947. It also calls to mind a James Ellroy novel.

January 18, 2012
Sharon, Pennsylvania

     Fred L. Parker walked into Lucky's Internet Cafe (where customers buy phone cards and play computerized games such as poker and craps) and demanded money from the cashier. The 41-year-old robber did not display a gun or a knife. Instead, he threatened to touch and infect the cashier with a highly contagious disease. Notwithstanding Parker's claim to have a deadly MRSA staph infection, the intended robbery victim called the police. Shortly thereafter, the police arrested the germ bandit. He is currently infecting the Mercer County Jail. Had I been the clerk at Lucky's Internet Cafe, the contagious Mr. Parker would have walked out of the joint with the money. I'm feeling a little ill just writing about this.   

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