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Monday, March 31, 2014

Sore Losers at the University of Arizona

     Tucson police officers said Saturday night, March 29, 2014, that they shot pepper spray at several hundred fans who took to the streets and threw beer bottles and firecrackers at officers after the University of Arizona's basketball team's overtime loss in the NCAA tournament. There were no reports of injuries to fans or officers, but 15 people were arrested for offenses such as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly….Of those arrested, 14 were released, and one was sent to the Pima County Jail….

     Tucson police sergeant Pete Dugan said crowds leaving bars and restaurants near campus after the game filled University Boulevard and wouldn't leave despite urging through a public address system and social media declaring it an unlawful assembly.

     Police brought in cruisers and a unit of officers with batons, helmets and face masks to block the street when people started tossing beer bottles, cans, and firecrackers, hitting police vehicles and endangering officers. Officers fired pepper spray, pepper canisters and pepper balls, which disperse into the air….

"Police Fire Pepper Spray at Fans Upset With Arizona Loss," ABC News, March 30, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Get A Room

     A Florida man was arrested for lewd behavior after a 6-year-old girl found him naked in a Walgreens bathroom--where he was having sex with his girlfriend. The little girl went into the restroom of the Winter Haven, Florida drugstore just as a nude Christopher Mahurin, 24, emerged from the stall where he was having sex with Jenna Lynn Frey, 22, about 8 PM….

     Mahurin pushed the girl toward the door when she began to scream….But when her father heard the yelling, he burst into the bathroom and grabbed the girl. Cops arrived a short time later and found Mahurin and Frey sitting in a car parked in the lot outside the drugstore. The couple later admitted that they were having sex in the stall before the little girl walked into the restroom.

     Mahurin was slapped with charges that include lewd exhibition, indecent exposure in public and battery….

Joe Kemp, "Naked Florida Man Scares Girl, 6, After Having Sex in Walgreen Bathroom," New York Daily News, March 24, 2014 

Another Secret Service Drinking Scandal

     Three Secret Service agents in President Obama's detail were sent home from the Netherlands after reportedly spending a night out drinking in Amsterdam ahead of the president's arrival Monday, March 24, 2014. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Fox News that the agents had been sent home "for disciplinary reasons" and had been placed on administrated leave pending an investigation.

     The Washington Post reported that the three agents, all members of the Secret Service Agency's Counter Assault Team (CAT) went out in the Dutch capital Saturday night. Staff at their hotel alerted the U.S. Embassy after finding one of the agents passed out in a hallway Sunday morning. According to regulations recently adopted by the Secret Service, agents on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol 10 or fewer hours before being on duty….

     The incident is the latest incident of bad behavior among members of the elite agency. Most notoriously, 10 agents were removed from their jobs after agents and officers engaged in heavy drinking and brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms while in Cartagena, Columbia for an economic summit in April 2012. Mark Sullivan, then the director of the agency apologized for the conduct of his employees and stepped down months later. Obama then appointed Julie Pierson to be the first female director of the agency….

"Secret Service Agents Sent Home From Netherlands," Fox News, March 26, 2014 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Catching Corrupt Politicians: A Never Ending Job

     The fact that so many politicians are crooked begs the question: are people drawn to public office crooks at heart, or are they simply naive narcissists who, once in office, realize they're members of what the humorist P. J. O'Rouke called the "parliament of whores?" If these civic do-gooders didn't know going in how corrupt a profession they had entered, they learn early on how easy it is to get rich on taxpayer money, lobbyists eager to pay for their votes, influence peddling, and inside information. And the corruption isn't limited to state and local politicians, it flourishes on the federal level. The money these people steal from us every year is in the billions.

     One could define government generally as organized crime. (It's also orchestrated stupidity.) That's why there is so much governmental secrecy and official lying. Politicians who claim they are "transparent" in their official dealings are lying through their teeth. And anyone who believes that our government is transparent is stupid. Nothing can get a politician in trouble quicker than telling the truth. If you aren't an accomplished liar, that is, if you can't tell an obvious lie with a straight face, politics is not for you.

     It's no surprise that a vast majority of Americans have an extremely low opinion of politicians in all levels of government. Dishonest used car salesmen, ambulance-chasing lawyers, and even journalists are held in higher esteem. The only people reviled more than politicians are pedophiles, rapists, and sadistic serial killers. (I think.)

Four State Legislators From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

     In 2010, undercover investigators out of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office began offering bribes to Democrat and Republican members of the State House of Representatives. In the course of that sting operation, investigators amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape recordings depicting four representatives accepting bribes from a lobbyist who secretly recorded the transactions. Each of the bribe takers, on numerous occasions, allegedly had his or her hand out for cash, money orders, and in one case, a Tiffany bracelet.

     Charged with taking bribes to vote against a Pennsylvania law that would require voters to possess photographic identification, were Ronald G. Waters ($7,650), Vanesa Brown ($4,000), Michelle Brownlee ($3,500), and Louise Bishop ($1,500). All of the suspects are black Democratic representatives from Philadelphia. Investigators had also offered bribes to Republicans but there were no takers. (One could hope they refused the illicit offers because they are honest. I suspect they refused because they smelled a rat. Am I cynical? Yes.)

     In the fall of 2013, the new Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane closed the public corruption case and announced there will be no prosecutions stemming from the three-year sting operation. In justifying her decision not to pursue the four Philadelphia Democrats, Kane said the operation had been poorly managed and that investigators didn't utilize traditional police techniques. She also accused her predecessor, Tom Corbett (now governor), of racial targeting.

     A watchdog group has called for an independent counsel probe of Attorney General Kane's motives for dismissing the corruption cases. One shouldn't be surprised if her decision was political. Her critics believe that if the representatives had been four white men from Philadelphia, the case would have gone forward. Justice is not always blind, especially when politicians are involved.

A California State Senator From San Francisco

     Leland Yee emigrated to the Untied States from China when he was three. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley then earned a Masters Degree from San Francisco State University. In November 2006 he was elected to the California Senate.

     As a state senator, Yee allegedly did business with Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a former Chinatown gangster who operated out of the Gee King Tong Free Masons in the city's Chinatown. On March 26, 2014, FBI agents arrested Senator Yee and Raymond Chow for illegal gun trafficking and wire fraud. As a Democratic senator, Yee has been a strong proponent of gun control. (Hypocrisy is the lifeblood of politics.) Senator Yee also faces federal charges of accepting inappropriate campaign contributions, influence peddling, and money laundering. A few days after his arrest Senator Yee dropped out of his bid for the job of state secretary.

     Yee's arrest made him the third Democratic California State Senator to be arrested for corruption by the FBI in 2014. The three earlier FBI sting operations involved taking cash bribes and other perks in exchange for supporting or opposing various legislation.

The Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina

     Patrick D. Cannon, a radio host and owner of a parking management company, was elected to the Charlotte city council in 1993. In August 2010, the FBI began a sting operation involving undercover agents posing as real estate developers with plenty of money to hand out in return for favorable treatment from the leaders of the state's largest city.

     In November 2013, the voters of Charlotte elected Patrick Cannon to the office of mayor. He had been on the job just a few months when on March 26, 2014, FBI agents arrested the 47-year-old Democrat on charges of extortion and bribe taking. The mayor stood accused of accepting, in the form of bribes, $48,000 in cash, a junket to Las Vegas, and the use of a luxury apartment. The day after his arrest, Cannon resigned from the mayor's office.

     While dishonest Democrats are currently in the news, Republican politicians have not escaped charges of political corruption. So, how do you like your crooks, Republican or Democrat? I like them behind bars. But for every one they put away, ten people just like them fight to take their place in the parliament of whores.    


Hellementary Education Quote: When Grade School Failed to Protect His Son, Father Filed Protection Order Against Bully

     ….A father in California filed a restraining order against a 9-year-old for bullying his child. Stephen Feuder said it was his last resort. He went to court to protect his son. Feuder said he complained about the bullying to the school district near Sacramento, but the district didn't respond. Feuder says the boy ran up to his son and punched him in the face.

     The local sheriff's department says it's never heard of a restraining order against a person so young as nine, but a spokesman said "I guess as a parent, you have to do what you have to do."

     By law, the restraining order must be delivered to the person within five days, but the school district won't tell Feuder where the bully lives. Now Feuder says he's going to try to get a judge to force the school to give him that information.

Craig Thomas, "Father Files Restraining Order Against 9-Year-Old For Bullying His Son," Tucson News Now, March 24, 2014. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Innocent Woman Locked Up in California For 32 Years

     A 74-year-old woman was released from prison on March 24, 2014 after serving 32 years for a murder committed by her abusive boyfriend. Mary Virginia Jones walked out of Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California to the tears and cheers of family and friends….

     Jones was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in a 1981 shooting death, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan set aside those convictions….The district attorney's office has agreed to accept a plea of no contest to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for Jones' release. Jones has already served 11,875 days, which exceeds the 11-year maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter.

     Jones' case was taken up by the University of Southern California's Post-Conviction Justice Report. It contends Jones' boyfriend, Mose Willis, kidnapped two drug dealers and forced the woman to drive to an alley, where he shot both men. One of them was killed….

     For years Jones maintained that she "did not willingly participate in the crime." A week before the shooting, Willis shot at Jones' daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie, and threatened to kill both of them if they contacted the police….Law students at USC's Post Conviction Project argued Jones would not have been convicted if the jury had heard testimony on the effects of intimate partner battery, previously known as "Battered Women's Syndrome."

"Woman, 74, Freed After 32 Years in Prison For Murder She Didn't Commit," CBS News, March 25, 2014 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: In Cops Versus Dogs, Dogs Lose

     The Browns say a patrolman wielding a shotgun killed a member of their family. Cali, a gentle and loving pit bull was shot to death after jumping the backyard fence in Ardmore, Oklahoma say her owners, who have started a massive social media drive to get the officer disciplined.

     Sarah Brown says a neighbor witnessed the shooting and heard the cop boasting about how "awesome" it looked when the dog's collar blew off from the blast.

     Ardmore Police Captain Eric Hamblin said the March 2014 shooting was justified because animal control officers were unable to collect the dog after receiving phone complaints that a pit bull was acting aggressively in the neighborhood. According to Hamblin, the policeman who shot Cali has received death threats….

     Brown says the neighbor told her the cop had laughed after shooting her 2-year-old dog….The dog joined the family as a puppy and had no history of bad behavior, family members said….

Deborah Hastings, "Oklahoma Family Says Cop Shot To Death Their Beloved Dog For No Reason," New York Daily News, March 25, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jim Fisher's Upcoming Talk About His New Book, "The Mammoth Book of Murder"

     For true crime buffs, armchair detectives and aspiring murderologists in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, Jim Fisher, true crime writer and publisher of this blog, will be discussing his new book at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.

     The March 31, 2014 presentation will be held at 6 PM in the McKelvey Building's Witherspoon room. There is no charge, but please leave your guns and knives at the door. (Just kidding.)

     The Mammoth Book of Murder: True Stories of Violent Death is comprised of 200 murder case accounts arranged according to the many ways different people find to commit criminal homicide. It features criminal investigation, criminology, forensic science, and plenty of courtroom drama. There are chapters on murder-for-hire, serial killers, arson-murder, convictions based solely on circumstantial evidence, murders solved through forensic science, cases involving junk science, historic cases, drug-addled and insane murderers, and cases reflecting the current murder-sucide epidemic in the U.S.

     The Mammoth Book of Murder is not for the faint of heart or people who don't like the sight of blood. During the presentation on March 31 an ambulance will be standing by outside the venue. (Just kidding.) There will be time left for questions and comments.

     All of Jim's books are available on and other online book selling sites.

Hellementary Education Quote: Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Girls at Christian Elementary School

     A family says their eight-year-old granddaughter has been pressured to leave her Christian elementary school in Lynchburg, Virginia for being a tomboy. Sunnie Kahle's grandparents, Doris and Carroll Thompson, received a letter from Timberlake Christian School after they had an issued with the eight-year-old's "biblical lifestyle."

     "We believe that unless Sunnie and her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education," principal Becky Bowman wrote in the March 14 letter to Thompson.

     Doris and Carroll Thompson are furious with the school's assertions against their granddaughter…."Sunnie realizes she's a female, but she wants to wear jeans and a t-shirt. She didn't want to wear her frilling dresses anymore," said Doris. Kahle.  Her appearance led to students asking if she was a girl or a boy. This was eventually noticed by the administrator at Timberlake Christian School.

     Although Sunnie is a good student, a school administrator says the situation is causing a classroom disruption. The school claims they just want Sunnie's family to follow guidelines and understand Sunnie is a girl and dress her appropriately….[Sunnie now attends a pubic school.]

"Family Says Girl Was Kicked Out of School For Tomboy Appearance," MyFox News, March 25, 2014 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Esteban Manzanares: Border Patrol Agent Allegedly Raped 14-Year-Old Honduran Girl

     Before becoming a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2008, Esteban Manzanares, a resident of McAllen, Texas, a town on the Mexican border, worked as a jail guard and served in the Army National Guard. He had been married two years to his wife Susana, a woman he'd met online in 2000.

     In August 2013, Esteban and Susana separated. He moved from their home in Edinburg into an apartment in nearby Mission, Texas. The couple's two children, a girl and a boy, one and six-years-old respectively, remained with their mother. The divorce became final in February 2014.

     After the separation, the 32-year-old border patrol agent and his 30-year-old ex-wife remained on good terms. As far as she could tell, he was mentally sound and remained devoted to his children who both suffered from cystic fibrosis.

      But at work, agent Manzanares had gone rogue. Two women who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas illegally reported that they had been raped by a border patrol agent. The details of the crime and the victim's description of the rapist led FBI agents and border patrol personnel to suspect Manzanares. They did not, however, have enough evidence to charge him or place him on administrative leave.

     Working with a cloud of suspicion over his head, a few hours prior to the end of his daytime patrol shift on March 12, 2014, Manzanares encountered a young woman and two 14-year-old girls in a Hidalgo County park a few miles from Mexico. The woman immediately identified herself and the girls as Honduran nationals who had just entered the county illegally.

     Manzanares handcuffed the females and put them in his patrol truck, but instead of taking them to a border patrol station, he drove them to a remote spot a few miles away. In this scrub-filled no-man's land, Manzanares sexually assaulted the women and the girls, one of whom was the older victim's daughter.

     Following the assaults, Manazanares put one of the girls back into his truck and drove off leaving the woman and her daughter in the wilderness. The border patrol agent drove to his apartment in Mission where left his victim tied up. Later that night he returned to his apartment and raped the girl.

     In the meantime, the mother and daughter had been picked up and taken to the McAllen Medical Center. Their description of the man who had assaulted them led to a search of Manazanares' patrol truck. Inside the vehicle searchers found blood stains and pieces of duct tape.

     During the early morning hours of March 13, 2014, two FBI agents showed up at Manzanares' apartment in Mission. They knocked on the door and heard, from inside the dwelling, a gunshot. The agents called for backup. Members of the Mission Police Department's SWAT team broke into the apartment. Inside officers found the 14-year-old Honduran girl. She was nude and bound, but alive. Manzanares had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Criminal Justice Quote: Innocent Man on Death Row Thirty Years

…..Glenn Ford, Louisiana's longest-serving death row prisoner, walked free on March 11, 2014 after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit….According to the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, a judge ordered that Ford be freed after prosecutors petitioned the court to release him. New information corroborated what Ford had said all along: that he was not present at nor involved in the November 5, 1983 slaying of Isadore Rozeman….Ford had been on death row since 1984, making him one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States….

Dana Ford, "Louisiana's Longest-Serving Death Row Prisoner Walks Free After 30 Years," CNN, March 11, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Father Kills Boy in His Daughter's Bedroom

 A father in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas is accused of fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy he found in his teenage daughter's bedroom early Thursday morning, March 13, 2014. Harris County investigators said the suspect's 16-year-old daughter let the boy into the house….Her father told investigators he heard noises coming from his daughter's bedroom about 2:30 AM and went to investigate. He found the 17-year-old in the bedroom, and there was an alteration before the boy was shot once….The accused shooter was not arrested or charged with a crime. A Harris County grand jury will decide, what, if any, charges will be filed against him. [When confronted by her father in the bedroom, the girl said she did not know the boy which led the father to believe he had a rapist in the house.]

Phyllis Stark, "Dad Kills Teen Hiding in Daughter's Bedroom," 13 News Houston, March 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: No One Charged in Deadly Baseball Brawl

     San Francisco prosecutors have declined to file charges in a stabbing case stemming from the Giants-Dodgers rivalry that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old Dodgers fan near AT&T Park in 2013. District Attorney George Gascon said on March 21, 2014 that his office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Michael Montgomery, 21, of Lodi, California, did not act in self-defense when he stabbed Fort Bragg, California resident Jonathan Denver in a brawl on September 25, 2013.

     Authorities say subsequent interviews with witnesses and fight participants conducted over the past six months revealed that Denver and his brother had teamed up against Montgomery before he used the knife to defend himself. Denver had left a Giants-Dodgers game that night with his father and brother in the eighth inning to go to a bar. They encountered Montgomery and his friends in front of a liquor store…around 11:30 PM. One of Montgomery's friends was wearing a Giants cap.

     The two groups argued about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, and the squabbling escalated into a brawl. Authorities say both groups were intoxicated: Denver's group on alcohol and Montgomery's group on marijuana.

     Montgomery was booked into the county jail on suspicion of homicide, but he was released two days later when prosecutors concluded there was not enough evidence to file charges….The two brothers collectively weighted about 150 pounds more than Montgomery and they double-teamed him….Witnesses told investigators that Montgomery had a bottle in his hand for self-defense when Denver's brother grabbed an aluminum chair…and hit Montgomery in the head with it. Montgomery dropped the bottle and stabbed Denver who had been punching him during the assault….

Vivian Ho, "No Charges in Fatal Stabbing Fueled by Giants-Dodgers Rivalry," San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2014 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prostitutes and Cops: Freebies Are Legal in Hawaii

     You don't have to be a hardcore libertarian to question the wisdom of arresting and prosecuting adult prostitutes. Aside from cases involving the trafficking of underage sex slaves, this form of crime fighting is a waste of limited law enforcement manpower. Moreover, this type of vice control fosters police corruption and unprofessional behavior.

     The criminalization of prostitution has affected law enforcement more than it has altered the oldest profession in the world. A recent study conducted by a professor at the University of Chicago and a professor from Columbia University revealed that a prostitute is taken into custody once every 450 tricks, and only one in ten of these arrests leads to more than a few days in jail. That doesn't mean, however, that police officers aren't bothering whores. One in every 30 tricks a prostitute performs is a freebie with a cop as payment for not being arrested. According to this study, a prostitute is much more likely to have sex with an on-duty police officer than to be arrested by one. The law enforcement freebie is simply a cost prostitutes pay to stay out of jail.

     A former Massachusetts police officer pleaded guilty in 2013 to extorting sex from prostitutes he threatened to arrest. In August of that year, a passerby called 911 in Portland, Oregon when she saw a 50-year-old detective having sex with a prostitute in a vacant lot. The authorities threw the prostitute into jail but merely cited the detective for the minor offenses of patronizing a prostitute and indecent exposure. The cop was suspended without pay.

     In West Sacramento, California, an officer was convicted of raping prostitutes in his police car. All over the country hookers who refuse to cooperate are raped by cops. A vast majority of these crimes go unreported. This is another price prostitutes pay for selling themselves for sex. While it's a rough business, there has never been a shortage of hookers. It's a matter of supply and demand, pure capitalism. Cops demand their cut which is often in the form of free sex.

     In Hawaii, vice cops are allowed by law to have sex with prostitutes in order to make their cases. This incredibly stupid law was intended to solve the so-called "cop check" problem involving hookers who employ tactics to identify undercover cops to avoid arrest. Apparently in Honolulu vice cops are too stupid or lazy to pull off prostitution stings without going all the way. Vice cops in every other state have managed to get the job done without dropping their pants.

     Recently a bill that would nullify the legal exemption that allows cops to commit what for civilians is a crime, passed the state's House of Representatives. The measure is being argued in the Senate.

     Under Hawaii's vice law exemption, cops not only get free sex, they get it under the banner of crime fighting. It's amazing what these crime fighting warriors are willing to sacrifice on our behalf.

     The Hawaiian vice exemption encourages police behavior that in every other state is considered unprofessional and illegal. Moreover, it couldn't be good for marriage and other domestic relationships. Johnny, what does your dad do for a living? He arrests whores he has had sex with. Are they hiring down at the Honolulu PD?

     The existence of taxpayer paid sex for Hawaiian vice cops is yet another reminder that you can never underestimate the stupidity of some legislators and police administrators.

Criminal Justice Quote: The Houston Church Caper

     Thousands of dollars in cash and checks--along with written credit card information--were stolen from Houston's Lakewood Church on Sunday, March 9, 2014….The total amount was somewhere around $600,000….[Whoa--forget bank robbery, hit big churches.]

     Someone broke into the church's safe Sunday evening, taking cash, checks and envelopes containing written credit card information….A church employee made the discovery Monday morning. Lakewood, which is led by Pastor Joel Osteen, encouraged those who made contributions to the church on March 8 and 9 to monitor their bank and credit card accounts closely for fraudulent charges….[The stolen funds were fully insured.]…

Craig Hlavaty, "Church Tithes Stolen From Lakewood, Fox News, March 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Norway's Angel of Death

     Arnfinn Nesset managed the Oakdale Valley Nursing Home in Norway, and between 1977 and 1980 he murdered 22 of his elderly patients by the administration of the drug curacit (a derivative of curare, which is used by the natives of South America to tip their arrows). During a preliminary interrogation Nesset confessed to the killings, adding, "I've killed so many I can't remember them all." At various times he gave different reasons for the murders, including euthanasia, pleasure killing, schizophrenia and a morbid need to take life.

     By the time Nesset came to trial, he had retracted his confessions and pleaded not guilty. He was eventually convicted of 22 out of a final 25 counts of murder, plus charges of forgery related to the embezzlement of the deceased patients' money--not for his own use, he was quick to emphasize, but to swell the funds of missionary charities. Nesset was sentenced to 21 years' imprisonment, the maximum permitted under Norwegian law.

Brian Lane, Chronicle of 20th Century Murder, 1995 

Criminal Justice Quote: Big Case Talking Heads: The Art of Second Guessing

     ….Whenever a sensational murder case takes over the headlines…legions of law enforcement specialists populate television shows, providing endless insights, theories, and especially I-would-have-done-it-a-better-way rebuttals concerning the methods being used to solve the crime….

     I have frequently been one of those professional talking heads, giving my forensic two cents' worth on a number of tabloid homicides. It can be, I blush to admit, agreeable to give one's opinion on another person's errors.

Frederick Zugibe, M.D. and David L. Carroll, Dissecting Death, 2005


Monday, March 24, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Accused of Mailing Bomb to Sheriff Joe Arpaio

     Federal agents have arrested an Oklahoma man accused of mailing a package bomb last year addressed to Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona [Maricopa County] lawman who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff."…

     Gregory Lynn Shrader, 55, is suspected of dropping off the parcel, filled with gunpowder and other materials at a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in Flagstaff, Arizona, but the package was intercepted by state authorities before it reached Arpaio….The device was rendered harmless by the police.

     Shrader was arrested in March 2014 and is being held without bond at the Tulsa County Jail, where he is awaiting release to the custody of U.S. marshals….He was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of willfully making a threat through the U.S. mail. Arpaio has drawn criticism for his aggressive stance on illegal immigration. He was the subject of a U.S. Justice Department probe over his office's treatment of HIspanics and has been scrutinized for housing county inmates in a Spartan "Tent City" jail. He has also been the subject of multiple threats of violence….

Laila Kearney, "Man Charged With Mailing Package Bomb to 'Americans Toughest Sheriff'," Associated Press, March 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: School Cop Breaks Student's Arm

     A public school police officer was suspended after chilling video footage caught him breaking a high school student's arm. Steve Rivers, an officer with the Beaumont Independent School District in Beaumont, Texas, was attempting to break up a fight between two students. Another officer wrestled the student to the ground and he was pinned when Rivers attempted to handcuff him….

     Rivers snapped the student's arm forward. It can clearly be heard to break during the video which was filmed by a bystander with a cell phone. The student began screaming almost immediately but the officers continued to push his head against the pavement. After a parent complained Rivers was placed on unpaid leave pending the results of an investigation….

Robby Soave, "This Video of Cop Snapping a Kid's Arm Will Make You Scream," The Daily Caller, March 18, 2014 

Johnny Cash's Great Niece Murdered

     Meth could have played a role in the stabbing death of Johnny Cash's great niece….Courtney Cash, 23, was found dead Wednesday, March 19, 2014, inside a wooden chest in her Baxter, Tennessee home. Putnam County deputies arrested Wayne Masciarella soon afterward and charged him with first-degree murder. Masciarella is also suspected of stabbing Cash's boyfriend William Austin Johnson. Masciarella had gotten into a fight with Johnson and Cash at their home before stabbing them and fleeing.

     The three are believed to be friends….Witnesses had seen them together hours before the stabbing. After the attack, Johnson drove himself to a hospital in Sparta along with his and Cash's 20-month-old daughter. The child was not injured.

     Masciarella was booked without bond into the Putnam County Jail….He has been previously arrested 20 times in Putnam County. Courtney Cash was the granddaughter of Tommy Cash, the brother of Johnny Cash….

Adam Tamburin, "Murder of Johnny Cash's Relative Could Be Tied to Meth," The Tennessean, March 21, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Pope Versus the Mafia: My Money Is On The Mafia

     Pope Francis has launched a stinging attack on the mafia, warning gangsters that they will go to hell unless they repent and stop doing evil. "Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent," he said.

     The Pope was speaking in March 2014 at a prayer vigil for relatives of those killed by the mafia. He has spoken out frequently about the evils of corruption and wrote a booklet on the subject in 2005 when he was archbishop of Buenos Ares….

     "This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness," he said. "There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path."…[Preaching God to degenerate sociopaths is like trying to shame politicians for their dishonesty.]

"Pope Francis Denounces 'Evil, Blood-Stained' Mafia," BBC News, March 21, 2014 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: No Free Lunch for Roche Harris

     A Georgia man who is accused of impersonating a police officer in order to get a free continental breakfast from a Dunwoody hotel has been arrested. On March 16, 2014 Roche Harris was charged with impersonation of a police officer, simple battery, theft by taking, and loitering and prowling.

     In December 2013, Harris went to the Straybridge Hotel and attempted to eat the continental breakfast even though he was not a guest at the establishment. When he was confronted by staff, Harris allegedly threw hot water in the manager's face.

     In February 2014, Harris returned to the hotel and displayed a badge in an attempt to pass himself off as a law enforcement officer in order to get free food….Harris returned to the hotel on March 16 and began taking food again. Employees called 911 after recognizing the 36-year-old….

Evan Bleier, " Police Arrest Man For Impersonating Officer in Order to Get Free Continental Breakfast," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Lawyers, Legislators, and Judges Have Destroyed Accountability

     Discussing the virtues of accountability is a little like talking about the joy of taking exams. It's not exactly what we look forward to in life. Accountability is scary--someone else judging how we're doing….But accountability is an essential part of a healthy life and a healthy society. We all know this. In this age of legal insecurity, however, we are no longer free to act on the obvious--as with our obsession with safety and with rights. We want a perfect world, without failures or disagreements.

     In striving for this utopia we don't notice all the vital benefits that we lose. The freedom of people to make accountability judgments is vital to just about everything important and joyful in work life….

     To see ourselves as we really are, we need the mirror of other people's views. Scientists tell us that most people are incapable of accurately judging themselves, because humans are hard-wired by nature to be self-centered. Our founders believed this as well--that a human being was an atom of self-interest. By protecting against the judgment of others, modern personnel law [employer-emplyee relations] fosters these worst tendencies in humans, starting a downward spiral….

     One federal judge told me about presiding over a discrimination trial in which the facts of the worker's incompetence were overwhelming. As the trial progressed, it was clear to everyone in the courtroom that the worker had no claim. When the verdict came in dismissing his claim, however, the employee still couldn't see it. He sat in the courtroom in disbelief, crying in frustration at the injustice that had been done to him. Inside a legal cocoon, people let their imaginations replace reality.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Writing Quote: Useless Writing Advice

Over and over since I've been working on this book, I've been making notes to myself: Don't forget to tell about eating raw broccoli or drinking black coffee or dancing around the room to raise your energy level. Or, should I mention that a very famous novelist masturbated thirteen times a day when she was writing--should I pass that information on? [No, you should not pass that information on because it's a load of crap and not helpful.]

Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life, 2002

Criminal Justice Quote: Armed With a Tattooed Handgun

     Police armed with assault rifles descended on a Maine man's home after members of a tree removal crew... reported that he had a gun. Turns out the "gun" the tree crew had seen on Michael Smith of Norridgewock was just a life-sized tattoo of a handgun on his stomach.

     Smith, who works nights, was asleep when the tree crew contracted by a utility company to trim branches near power lines, woke him up at 10 AM Thursday, March 19, 2014. He went outside shirtless and yelled at the workers to leave. When he's not wearing a shirt, the tattoo looks like a gun tucked into his waistband….Police didn't charge him.

"Gun Tattoo in Maine Prompts Heavy Police Response," Fox News, March 19, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: An Accused Serial Killer's Whacky Defense

     A transgender woman recently accused of killing three prostitutes in Washington state nearly twenty-five years ago is blaming the crime on someone else--her pre-op self. DNA and fingerprint evidence links Donna Perry, who was born Douglas Perry, to the serial murders of Yolanda Sapp, Kathleen Brisbois and Nickie Lowe. The bodies of the three, who worked as prostitutes, were found on the banks of the Spokane River in 1990.

     Police also recovered a .22-caliber bullet casing in the vehicle Perry was driving at the time of the murders….But Donna Perry has told investigators that she is not to blame…."I'm not going to admit that I killed anybody, I didn't. Donna has killed nobody. Doug did."…

     Perry, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand in 2000, had told detectives back in 2012 that she underwent the operation "as a permanent way to control violence."…Perry is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond. Jail records list Perry as a female, through under her birth name, Douglas R. Perry.

Chuck Ross, "Post-Op Transgender Woman Blames Serial Killings on Pre-OP Self," The Daily
Caller, March 19, 2014 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Jailing the Mentally Ill

     ….In the 1950's, more than half million people lived in U.S. mental institutions--one in 300 Americans. By the late 1970s, only 160,000 did, due to efforts by psychiatrists, philanthropists, and politicians to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill.

     Today there's one public psychiatric care bed for 7,100 Americans--the same ratio as in 1850. The motives behind this trend were varied. Emptying the asylums was going to save money. And who needed hospitals with all the antipsychotic drugs on the market? Deinstitutionalization was going to restore citizens' rights and protect them from deplorable conditions like those portrayed in movies like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," conditions in which an insane person was unlikely to be cured. Wouldn't it be better if the mentally ill were treated at home, given support, therapy, and medication via community clinics? It sounded good, but the reality was quite different.

     In 1961, a joint commission of the American Medical and American Psychiatric Associations recommended integrating the mentally ill into society. This plan depended on the establishment of local facilities where mentally ill people could receive outpatient care. In 1963 Congress passed a law providing funding for these "community mental health centers". States, under pressure from the patients' rights movement, downsized their psychiatric hospitals faster than anyone had anticipated….

     As of 2006, 1.3 million of America's mentally ill were housed where they used to be until the late 1800s: in prisons. Between 1998 and 2006, the number of mentally ill people behind bars more than quadrupled. In some county jails, rates of inmates with mental illness have increased by nearly 50 percent in the past five years. It's not uncommon for individual jails to report that 25 to 30 percent of their inmates are mentally ill or that their mentally ill populations rises year after year….

Mac McClelland, "Schizophrenic Killer My Cousin," Reader's Digest, February 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Forensic Anthropologist

Forensic anthropologists, unlike medical examiners, cannot actually determine cause of death because they are not medical doctors. In a forensic case, it is the forensic anthropologist's job to determine…from bones race, ancestry, sex, and age. [Physical stature can also be determined.] Through their examination of human remains, if there are definitive markers that seem to contribute to a person's death, like bullet fragments embedded in bone, then [forensic anthropologists] can determine what is called the "manner of death." [Not really. How could the anthropologist know if the deceased was murdered, committed suicide, or accidentally shot himself?]

Jarrett Hallcox and Amy Welch, Bodies We've Buried, 2006 

Whackademia Quote: Academia Versus Free Speech

     Perhaps nowhere are First Amendment values more imperiled than at the modern American college campus--the very place where free speech should be the most clearly cherished and vigorously upheld. So argues Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate which was released in paperback [in March 2014]….

     "It's becoming quite easy to get in trouble for just questioning the administration, depending upon who your university president or administrators are," [Lukainoff said in a Daily Caller interview].

     Many people have the wrong impression about the state of discourse in academia, falsely believing that Supreme Court decisions settled the matter decades ago. While it is true that courts have consistently upheld college students' First Amendment rights, the rulings have not stopped enthusiastic censors at both private and public universities from criminalizing free speech.

     Sadly, society isn't paying enough attention. When Lukianoff tells people of the plight of the modern college campus, he often hears the opinion that the censorship is acceptable because it's well-intentioned--an idea that "just scares me to death," he said. According to Lukianoff, "A previous generation, if you told them you were going to get in trouble for your opinion on college campuses, the generation of the 60s and 70s, it was completely outrageous to them. You didn't have to explain why it was a big deal. Now when I go to campuses I hear a lot more from students saying, 'Well it's well-intentioned. It's not that big a deal.'"…

     College and university administrative bloat is partly to blame….The ranks of the bureaucratic class has grown exponentially at universities [and in society at large]. A report by the American Institute for Research found that on most college campuses the majority of workers are people who do not teach students. What are all these low and mid-level administrators doing instead? Many of them are censoring students….

Robby Soave, "'Unlearning Liberty' Author Interview: How College Administrators Murdered Free Speech," The Daily Caller, March 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: 1977 Ft. Leavenworth Escapee Caught

     James Robert Jones, who had escaped from a military prison in Kansas in 1977, has been found in Florida. He was convicted of murder 40 years ago. Authorities said that Jones was arrested in Pompano Beach when he arrived at work on Thursday, March 13, 2014. US. Marshals said that he has been using a Florida driver's license since 1981 and used the alias Bruce Walker Keith since 2005. He was living in Deerfield Beach.

     Jones reportedly told law enforcement officers that he expected his past to catch up with him eventually….He did not try to flee when arrested.

     Jones, a former Army private, was convicted of killing another Army private in 1974 at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. He was sentenced to 23 years in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas at the maximum security prison. The marshals service was brought in by the Army in January to help on the case. They used facial recognition technology to find that Jones was living in Florida….

Daniel S. Levine, "Military Prison Fugitive On The Run Since 1977 Found in Florida," Associated Press, March 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Killed in Argument Over Movie

     A Texas man who argued with two other movie goers on March 16, 2014 about the ending of a film was struck outside the theater by a truck driven by his adversaries. He was killed….The men's discussion of the film grew more heated as the three left the theater and went to the parking lot after the late Sunday evening film. Two of the men then got into a pickup truck.

     The driver of the truck put the vehicle in reverse striking the victim and knocking him to the ground. The truck they sped away. The victim died at a Houston area hospital….The film…was "300: Rise of an Empire," a Greek-era film steeped in battle scenes….

"Texas Man Killed in Cinema Parking Lot After Argument About Movie," Reuters, March 17, 2014 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Bias in the Autopsy Room

Unfortunately, many medical examiners think of themselves as part of the prosecution team. It's so easy to fall into that frame of mind. The cops say, "Hey, if you can place the time of death at 3 AM, we've got this guy cold. After that he's got an alibi." And then you start hearing about all the hideous things the "bad guy" has supposedly done in his life, while viewing all the bad things that someone did to this body on the table before you. But I have to be alert to what will guide me and what might mislead me because sometimes, of course, the cops have got it wrong.

Michael Baden, M. D. and Marion Roach, Dead Reckoning, 2001 

Criminal Justice Quote: Blood Spatter Patterns

     Drip and flow patterns are the infamous O.J. Simpson patterns that became known worldwide. A drip pattern occurs when a drop of blood drips into another liquid, usually more blood. If a person is bleeding and the drops are hitting an already formed puddle on the floor, a drip pattern will result. A flow pattern is blood that has been dropped in a trail. Though these types of patterns can be caused by other occurrence, they are traditionally represented by someone bleeding on the move, fleeing the scene of a crime.

     Splashed stains are similar to drip stains, though usually a little larger. They result from blood being projected with little force exerted on them and they usually disperse in a radial pattern. Think of splashing in terms of a mud puddle. If you jump in the puddle, the mud splashed in a radial pattern away from itself….

     Projected patterns are associated with a larger volume of blood that is acted upon with a significant amount of force. One of the classic examples of this pattern is an arterial spurt, seen in violent crimes when there is sharp force trauma or, in other words, a stabbing or slashing. If the all-too-familiar jugular vein is slashed, it will most certainly create this pattern.

     Satellite patterns are created when blood that was originally part of a bigger stain leaves that stain through some type of force. A drop of blood that is flying through the air will not separate without another force acting upon it. Think of it in terms of dropping blood at a significant height. When the drop hits a surface, it goes through four actions: contact, dispersion, displacement, and collapse. When blood contacts a surface, it flattens out. If there is enough volume and force to break the surface tension of the blood drop when it hits, it will disperse, sending blood out in all directions. If the force is great enough, it will displace. The displaced blood leaves the original parent stain, causing what is called satellite spatter. Satellite spatter is merely small stains leaving a larger stain. Finally, the blood drop will collapse back on itself with the vast majority of the blood collecting back together….

     Cast-off patterns are patterns that are created by blood being slug off an object, such as a bloody baseball bat, that is in motion or when the object suddenly stops….These patterns are traditionally found in a linear fashion, representing a swinging or chopping motion, and can help define where a person was when the pattern was created….These patterns are one of the three patterns that have caused the most debate among the bloodstain experts….

Jarrett Hallcox and Amy Welch, Bodies We've Buried, 2006  

Hellementary Education Quote: "My Little Pony" Fan Bullied

     If you are a person who was alive in the 1980s or 1990s, you may remember a line of friendship-happy toy figurines called My Little Pony. You may also be surprised to learn that the toy line is still going strong today. On Thursday, March 13, 2014, officials at Candler Elementary School in Buncombe County, North Carolina allegedly told nine-year-old Grayson Bruce and his mother that the boy needed to leave his My Little Pony paraphernalia at home….

     The boy's mother, Noreen Bruce, said school officials asserted that the My Little Pony trappings are a "trigger for bullying" and had become too distracting to other students. More specifically, other kids have been picking on the boy with flurries of insults and physical assaults because the Hasbro-generated franchise is geared toward girls….

     While Grayson Bruce does admit that most of the characters on the show are female, he is a huge fan. He has My Little Pony backpack and at least two My Little Pony action figures. One appears to be Fluttershy, who represents the element of kindness. The other is Rainbow Dash, who keeps the skies blue and generally maintains the weather in Ponyville. The boy also has a My Little Pony lunchbox….

     For now, Grayson Bruce has stopped taking his My Little Pony stuff to school. This incident is far from the first time that school officials have stepped in to prevent a boy from carrying around things that are typically associated with girls. [What about girls carrying around GI Joes?]

Eric Owens, "Bullied Boy Forced to Stop Toting Around My Little Pony Merchandise at Grade School," The Daily Caller, March 15, 2014 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hellementary Education Quote: Principal Mopped Up Floors with Kids

     ….School surveillance video…shows an elementary school principal dragging kindergarteners down school hallways on two separate occasions. The principal is Carmen Perez Dickson. At the time, she was the chief administrator at Tisdale School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. So, America, guess what happened to Dickson. Was she fired? Was she arrested? Is she rotting away in prison?

     Of course not. Don't be silly. Principal Dickson got suspended for all of six months. She is still employed. And when her suspension ends next month [March 2014], she will return to work in the Bridgeport Public Schools (though at least not as principal at Tisdale.)

     Both the kindergartener-dragging incidents occurred in the spring of 2012. The details which led to Dickson to drag the two separate kids down the hallways have not been disclosed. The mothers of the dragged children made the videos public….[At Tisdale Elementary, when they say a kid has to be dragged to class, they mean it.]

Eric Owens, "You Won't Believe the Lenient Punishment For This Kindergartener-Dragging Principal," The Daily Caller, February 22, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Execution by Lethal Injection

The first lethal injection was carried out in 1982 when Texas put Charles Brooks to death. But this method of killing inmates has not proved to be any more humane that the electric chair or gas chamber. Much like the guillotine in France, adopted in the eighteenth century as a more benign form of execution than boiling or burning at the stake, lethal injection hasn't lived up to its hype. It, too, has produced horribly botched executions.

Billy Wayne Sinclair and Jodie Sinclair, Capital Punishment, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Body Bag

     A good body bag gives up no clues. Little about what it contains should not be detected by any of the five senses of the observer. And nothing should be presumed--not even the length of what's inside. Death, after all, changes everything. And unnatural death changes everything absolutely.

     The Office of the New York City Medical Examiner orders about 8,000 body bags each year; Philadelphia's M.E., about 3,000; and Milwaukee's about 2,000. Massachusetts offices prefer shrouds, which are more like plastic envelopes folded and welded at the ends. They order 5,000.

     The same polyvinyl chloride used to make pipes can be woven into flexible fabric of varying degrees of strength. Some body bags will be dragged over long distances of rugged underbrush; others will be hoisted on the rocker legs of helicopters. Bags may need to be nothing more than short-term storage compartments, or nothing less than unconditionally leakproof vessels of somber transport. Zippers can swoop around the edges of the bag or run right down the middle. Handles, rivets and locks are optional.

     These days most body bags are white. That way you don't miss much--the red carpet fiber, the black hair, a chartreuse fleck of paint. You can see a lot, if you know how to look.

Michael Badin, M. D. and Marion Roach, Dead Reckoning, 2001

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Home Invaders Rape Pregnant Woman

     A nightmarish scenario played out in Madison, Wisconsin on February 13, 2014 when three burglars repeatedly raped a woman who was six months pregnant in a horrifying home invasion. The Wisconsin woman and her blind husband were awoken around 5 AM by three assailants who charged into their bedroom with weapons drawn. "Someone's gonna die tonight!" one of the robbers threatened as they entered the room. One of the attackers yanked the male victim from the bed and viciously beat him….The female victim pleaded that she was pregnant and told the robbers that they could take whatever they wanted.

     But another burglar dragged her from the bed and into the hallway, pointed a gun at her stomach and grunted, "You're going to die tonight." She then had to allegedly endure all three men raping her, with one forcing her to commit oral sex during the attack.

     The suspects stole electronics, credit cards and the couple's wedding rings while they stuffed the bloodied victims in the house laundry room before fleeing the scene….In addition to the three men who broke into the home, three were arrested for their roles in assisting in the crime. The six suspects charged are African Americans--five are male, and one is a female who helped plan the crime, but did not participate in the actual home invasion.

     Shockingly enough, the assailants are thought to have targeted the wrong house….They were planning on robbing a man carrying large sums of cash in the same neighborhood, but went to a different home instead….

Scott Greer, "Horror: Pregnant Woman Gang-Raped in Vicious Wisconsin Home Invasion," The Daily Caller, March 13, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Are College Students Starving While Their Professors Live High on the Hog?

     The promise of the public university has long been that students could receive an affordable education, subsidized by the taxpayers. But with out of control tuition costs and mounting loan debt, students everywhere are now so poor that they resort to food shelters to keep from starving to death….

     Food banks affiliated with the College and University Food Bank Alliance have appeared on over 50 campuses, according to Nate Smith-Tyge, who directs the food bank at Michigan State University….

     Stony Brook University, a public university in New York, opened up a food bank to help hungry students supplement their meals. When the food bank opened up last September, it already had 50 students waiting in line. Tuition as Stony Brook is almost $20,000 per year. [As the president of the university and the school's professors are living like kings and queens, the students are starving.]….

     Other students rely on their attendance at university events where food is provided free of charge. For many, "free pizza night" at the inaugural events of certain student clubs saves a costly trip to the grocery store….

     Meanwhile, universities have driven up tuition to fund such luxuries as expensive sports stadiums, opulent dorms for rich out-of-state students and permanent professional bureaucracies. But if it's any consolation, at least now students can pick up a free can of soup or box of macaroni at their campus's local food bank.

Robby Soave, "Your Tax Dollars at Work: Tuition So High That Students Rely on Food Shelters, Charity," The Daily Caller, March 15, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: The Art of Safecracking

     The first and easiest way to gain entry into a safe is, if the safe is small enough, to remove it from the premises where it can be worked on without worry of detection….

     The safe door is the strongest point of a small safe. By turning a small safe upside down, you can often use a sledgehammer and chisel or a pick and axe and, by brute force, smash a hole into the bottom of the safe.

     If you drill a small hole in one corner of the safe door, thereby missing all of the extra anti-theft protection, you may be able to peel back the layer of steel [covering the safe insulation material] exposing any locking mechanism. This peeling is accomplished with a pry bar, chisel and hammer. [It's a matter of popping the spot welds.]

     To make certain that the safe contains valuable items, you may first want to go on a scouting expedition. This is accomplished by drilling a small hole into one of the four walls of the safe and inserting a small video camera with a light unit to illuminate the contents of the safe….

Mauro J. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino, Modus Operandi, 1995 

Criminal Justice Quote: The High-Tech Cop

     ….As recently as the mid-1980s, a police officer was equipped with the bare basics--an in-car police radio, a pen, notebook, baton and a six-shot revolver with a strip loader and a few extra bullets. Back then many old-timers eschewed bulletproof vests and even hand-held radios, which were just coming into fashion….

     Cops of today have far greater resources at their fingertips, including hardware and software that used to reside at the station house. A police cruiser now typically is equipped with at least one laptop, giving instant access to national criminal databases, as well as portable fingerprint scanners, Breathalyzer units and automatic license-plate-reader technology that can identify stolen cars while cruising down the street, even at high speeds. And while not department issued, personal smart phones and specifically, policing-related apps are expanding officers' one-stop data search capabilities.

     Cops are also toting far more firepower, typically high-caliber semi-automatic pistols and rifles with assorted magazine clips, as well as less-lethal beanbag shotguns and tasers….

Andrew Blankstein, "Meet the Mega Cops: High-Tech Crime Gear Transforms Police Work," NBC News, February 8, 2014


Monday, March 17, 2014

Malaysian Flight 370: The Ultimate Missing Persons Mystery

     The Malaysian Airlines Boing 777, an hour after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur after midnight on March 8, 2014, disappeared without a trace. The plane and the 239 people aboard are still missing. Searchers from 25 countries utilizing 43 ships and 58 aircraft have not turned up one piece of physical evidence in the case.

     Without a single eyewitness account, or physical evidence, no one knows if this mystery is a mass murder-suicide, tragic accident, or something worse in the realm of terrorism.

     Except for tidbits of electronic evidence regarding the plane's erratic flight path, the media has little to report on. This has led to wall-to-wall speculation. A week after the disappearance investigators are directing their attention to the flight crew, particularly the pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 57 and his 27-year-old first mate, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

      This line of inquiry, which should have been undertaken much earlier, suggests the authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a hijacking. This has led to speculation that the plane is sitting on some remote and abandoned airfield. If this is the case, it raises the question of whether or not the passengers are alive. If the hijackers are terrorists, probably not. If they are for ransom kidnappers, who knows?

     And if the plane is on the ground somewhere, what is step two of the plan?

     Even if the plane is eventually found on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the case will generate, for generations, conspiracy theories that in number and imagination will surpass the speculation that currently surrounds the JFK assassination. When major crime narratives are riddled with gaps, conspiracy buffs fill in the blanks. Many of the dots they connect will have been created by them.

     This case will end up, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, as one of the greatest mysteries of modern time.


Criminal Justice Quote: Right Tattoo, Wrong Man

     On January 24, 2012, a man walking in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island [NYC] before 9 AM was approached by a stranger with a knife. The stranger, the man later told the police, took his bag and the chain around his neck, then ran away. The victim was able to get a pretty good look at the robber, and told detectives that he was young and white. And one more thing: he had a big tattoo of a red lightening bolt running down the side of his face.

     The police searched their database of photos of young white men with big red lightening-bolt tattoos on their faces, and they found a match. The name on the picture was Dylan Vok, 28, a Staten Island resident with a short criminal record….The mug shot was released to the press. Word of the search for Dylan Wok and his big red lightening-bolt tattoo spread online, all the way to Detroit and to one incredulous reader in particular: Dylan Vok.

     "In October 2011, I left New York for Detroit," Mr. Vok said in a recent telephone interview. That was months before the robbery. "I had lots of proof of that. I was using a food-stamp card. I had time stamps." He said he could even produce video footage of himself at his job at a New Age chiropractor's office….

     And the tattoo? Mr. Vok said he was briefly in the Army, but had been discharged. "I had flat feet," he said. "I got depressed after." In 2009, his best friend was on his third tour of Iraq. Mr. Vok decided to have the symbol of the devision he himself had briefly been attached to tattooed on his face….

     Mr. Vok offered all sorts of proof of his whereabouts [on the morning of the robbery]. It seemed to have worked. The police informed Mr. Vok that he was no longer a suspect in the crime….

Michael Wilson, "A Suspect With an Incriminating Tattoo Saves Face," The New York Times, March 7, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Where is 2-Year-Old Myra Lewis?

     The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information regarding the whereabouts of a missing Mississippi toddler who disappeared March 1, 2014. Authorities began looking for 2-year-old Myra Lewis after family members realized she was missing. She may have been gone from her rural Camden home for hours by that time. An Amber Alert was issued Sunday, March 2, 2014 and family members said they believed she was kidnapped. But Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said that authorities aren't sure.

     Tucker said he is still conducting the investigation with the belief the 2-year-old is alive….FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said the reward money might encourage someone who knows Myra's whereabouts to come forward….

     Sheriff Tucker told the Associated Press that the arrest of the girl's mother, 35-year-old Ericka Lewis on a probation violation was not connected to the disappearance. Tucker said she faced a warrant for a probation violation following a welfare fraud conviction. She also faced a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm…

"FBI Offeres Reward for Information on Missing Mississippi Toddler," Fox News, March 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The FBI Indexing System

     One of the most important aspects of an FBI field office is not actually in the office: indexes. At one time, these were little more than 3 by 5 cards, maintained in scores, if not hundreds, of file cabinets in every FBI field office. For example, the New York Office of the FBI had over 7 million such cards before the system was automated. The FBI has long prided itself on information management, and under Director J. Edgar Hoover, the development of the index system was a notable first for the FBI. The Bureau had many complex rules about indexing, and laborious though it may be, it is one of the most important things an agent does. If, for example, an agent conducts an interview of a witness to a bank robbery, the person's name, address, and phone number are indexed. So, too, are the names and information developed during the course of the interview.

     This indexing is now done on a computer system, so that all FBI field offices share the same information. If, years later, only the phone number came up in another investigation, it could be traced back to the original interview. Indeed, many cases have been made or advanced over the years through the ability of the FBI to retrieve information from its own files. [When I was in the bureau, each criminal complaint that came across an agent's desk had been "indexed." That is, all names, vehicles, and addresses mentioned in the complaint that were in the index file were noted. Quite often this cross referencing provided an agent with his first lead in the case.]

Joseph W. Koletar, The FBI Career Guide, 2006 

Fat Thief Goes to Prison

     Facing five years in prison after being convicted for his role in a real estate scam, a Florida man says he's too fat to be incarcerated. [If they can keep hippos in zoos, they can keep fat criminals in prison--Benjamin Franklin--just kidding]

     In March 2014, James Olivos told an Orlando TV reporter that he couldn't serve hard time because he wouldn't get the proper treatment for his obesity if he was behind bars. [Nonsense. A sparse prison diet is just what the doctor ordered.]….This marks the third time that Olivos has cited a medical condition to avoid surrendering for prison following his conviction on bank fraud and money laundering in December 2013. The swindler missed his previous surrender dates, claiming he was suffering from rectal bleeding, was coughing up blood, and suffering foot pain.[Generally the rectal bleeding comes after one is sent to prison.]….

Chuck Ross, "Convicted Scammer Says He's Too Fat For Prison," The Daily Caller, March 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Teen Father Bites Infant's Nose

     A teen father in Northern California is under arrest after police say he bit the nose off his one-month-old son because he was frustrated with the infant's crying. Fairfield police say18-year-old Joshua Cooper was being held Friday, March 14, 2014 in the Solano County Jail on suspicion of child cruelty and aggravated mayhem.

     Police received a call the day before by a distraught woman who said her baby was bleeding from his nose. Doctors later determined the child suffered a skull fracture, a brain hemorrhage and that one third of the child's nose had been severed. The child is in stable condition at Oakland Children Hospital. Investigators are trying to determine how the skull fracture and the baby's brain hemorrhage occurred.

"Police: Teen Father Arrested in Northern California For Biting Nose Off 1-Month-Old Infant," Fox News, March 14, 2014 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Congressman Alan Grayson: The He Said/She Said Domestic Violence Case

     Alan Mark Grayson grew up in the Bronx, New York. In 1975 he graduated from the city's prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Four years later Harvard University awarded Grayson a Bachelor's degree in economics. He also acquired a law degree from Harvard, and a Master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. By any standard Grayson is a well-educated and erudite man. He is also a reminder that you can't tell a book by its cover.

     In 1991, Mr. Grayson founded the Grayson and Kubli law firm in Washington, D.C. His practice of law in Washington made him a multi-millionare. After serving in the Florida State legislature, Grayson, in 2008, was elected to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the 9th congressional district of Florida, a solidly Democrat district covering Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk Counties in the central part of the state.

     In 2010, Grayson lost his re-election bid to Daniel Webster. But two years later he regained his seat in congress by defeating a Republican named Todd Long. True to his reputation as a gutter campaigner, Grayson unnecessarily highlighted information in his opponent's divorce file in which Long's wife described her husband as "abusive and manipulative."

     Grayson, a large, intimidating, heavy-featured man with a resemblance to Huey P. Long, Jr., the corrupt U.S. Senator from Louisiana who was assassinated in 1935, quickly attracted attention in the national media with his over-the-top attacks on Republicans. (This made him the darling of the so-called mainstream media.) Speaking in the well of the House of Representatives, he accused opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) as wanting old people to die, and die quickly.

     In January 2014, Lolita Carlson-Grayson, after being married to the bellicose politician for 24 years, filed for divorce. After the divorce filing, the congressman moved out of their home near Windermere, Florida. Grayson and his wife have five children.

     On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Lolita Grayson called 911 to report an incident of domestic violence involving her estranged husband. She had been about to take their twin 8-year-old boys on a play date when he showed up at the house unannounced. She told the dispatcher that she wanted deputies to arrest Alan because he had been unfaithful to her. The dispatcher asked Mrs. Grayson if her husband hurt her physically. "Um, no," she said. "I pushed him because he's coming into the house and he's disturbing my peace."

     To deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Lolita accused her husband of assault. According to Lolita's version of the events, he had come by the house to pick up his mail and some vitamins. This led to an argument outside of the dwelling. (A congressional aide, a witness, was sitting in Grayson's car at the time.)

     Lolita Grayson told the police officers that Alan pushed her against the front door of the house. As a result of the push, she fell to the ground. During the scuffle, as an act of self defense, Lolita kneed her husband in the stomach. When he drove off with his aide, she called 911.

     On Monday, March 3, 2014, Mrs. Grayson's attorney filed a petition with an Orange County Circuit Judge for a temporary protection injunction against her husband. In the affidavit in support of the request, Lolita alleged that Alan Grayson had assaulted her in the past, crimes she had not reported. Her attorney submitted photographs depicting recent bruises on the petitioner's leg and shoulder. The judge granted Mrs. Grayson a temporary protection order.

     On Tuesday, March 4, the Orlando Sentinal broke the Grayson domestic violence story. Congressman Grayson's spokesperson, Lauren Doney, released a damage control statement making it clear that the congressman denied his wife's "frivolous" allegations referred to as "outright lies."

     Doney insisted that after Lolita Grayson attacked her husband, he retreated from the scene. According to the spokesperson, "Since filing for divorce, Mrs. Grayson's behavior has become increasingly erratic, and she had demonstrated her alarming disconnect from reality. Mr. Grayson is deeply concerned by her recent behavior and is profoundly pained by her accusations." In other words, the woman is crazy.

     The next day, one of the congressman's attorneys, Mark NeJame, released to the media a videotape (without the sound) of the incident recorded by Grayson's Director of Constituent Services, Juan Lopez. The footage, shot from the congressman's car, shows Grayson and his wife arguing outside the house. While the video doesn't show him doing anything violent, the couple are off-camera for four seconds or so. When they are back in the frame, Lolita is seen pushing or striking her husband.

     To reporters, attorney NeJame said, "Alan was hoping that this matter would stay in the courts and outside the press, but since horrendous accusations have been made against him…he believes that the truth must come out. The attorney attributed Mrs. Grayson's bruises to her Taekwondo classes and blood thinners.

     Mr. NeJame distributed a statement written by the couple's 18-year-old daughter Skye Grayson that read: "At no time did my father hit or push my mother. In fact, my father backed away from my mother when she became physically aggressive." (On November 26, 2013, sheriff deputies arrested Skye Grayson on accusations she had thrown household objects at her mother. According to the criminal complaint, Skye had also pushed her mother, and when Lolita tried to call 911, her daughter ripped the phone cord out of the wall.)

     On March 5, a spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff's Office announced that no charges would be filed against the congressman. A week later, Mrs. Grayson withdrew her petition for a permanent domestic violence injunction. The case was over, but not before some unwanted publicity for the congressman. Once you enter national politics there is no such thing as a private life.

Criminal Justice Quote: Charles Manson Follower Wants Out

     A California board once again approved parole on March 12, 2014 for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis, but before he's released he'll have to get past Governor Jerry Brown….Davis, 71, made his 28th appearance before a Department of Corrections Board of Parole Hearings at the California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo.

      Davis has been in prison for nearly 43 years, sentenced with Manson and others for the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea. He has long maintained that he was a bystander in the killings, but in recent years he has acknowledged his shared responsibility. Davis was granted parole by the same board in 2012, but Governor Brown rejected it last March, saying he was convinced Davis still hadn't revealed all he knew about the Manson Family….

     And just three years before Brown's rejection, Davis got the same treatment from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who refused his release on parole in 2010. Wednesday's decision now triggers a 120-day review period for the board. The governor then has 30 days to approve, reverse, change or decline to review the decision….

"Ex-Manson Follower Gets Parole, But Hurdles Loom," Associated Press, March 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Sex Slave Trucker

     A Utah truck driver kept sex slaves in his semitrailer for months at a time while he traveled the country, filing down their teeth, forcing them to alter their appearance and beating them until they nearly passed out….Timothy Jay Vafeades, 54, made an initial appearance on March 12, 2014 in U.S. District Court in Fargo, North Dakota, and will be transferred to Utah for further proceedings.

     The charges against Vafeades include kidnapping, transportation for illegal sexual activity, and possession of child pornography, and could bring a life sentence if he is convicted….An arrest warrant filed on March 11, 2014 in Salt Lake City claims Vafeades kidnapped a 19-year-old female relative who had come from Florida in May 2013 to work with him on the truck, the "Twilight Express." After a week, the teen told Vafeades she wanted to go home, but she later informed authorities that he strangled her until she blacked out and used threats and violence to keep her with him for the next six months while they traveled to Washington state, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee and other places.

     Despite her pleas, Vafeades forced the teenager to have sex with him more than 100 times during their time together. He chipped down the girl's teeth and made her wear a fake set of teeth. He wore his own false teeth that featured vampire fangs….

     Vafeades was arrested at a Clay County Minnesota weight station on November 26, 2013 after officers noticed bruises on the teenager and turned up a 1999 restraining order barring Vafeades from contacting the girl. After his arrest, a second woman went to authorities to report she had been held captive in Vafeades' truck….

Michelle Rindels, "Utah Trucker Accused of Keeping Sex Slaves Arrested in Minnesota," Associated Press, March 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Blowing Up Cadavers

     If you want to stay up late worrying about lawsuits and bad publicity, explode a bomb near the body of someone who has willed his remains to science. This is perhaps the most firmly entrenched taboo of the cadaveric research world. Indeed, live, anesthetized animals have generally been considered preferable, as targets of explosions, to dead human beings. In a 1968 Defense Atomic Support Agency paper entitled "Estimates: Man's Tolerance to the Direct Effects of Air Blasts," i.e., from bombs--researchers discussed the effects of experimental explosions upon mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, goats, sheep, steers, pigs, burros, and stump-tailed macaques, but not upon the actual subject of inquiry. No one had ever used a cadaver…to see what might happen….

     Aris Makris, who works for a company in Canada…which engineers protective gear for people who clear land mines…says dead people aren't aways the best models for gauging living people's tolerance to explosive blasts because their lungs, which are deflated and not doing the things that lungs normally do. The shock wave from a bomb wreaks the most havoc on the body's most easily compressed tissue, and that is found in the lungs: specifically, the tiny, delicate air sacs where the blood picks up oxygen and drops off carbon dioxide. An explosion shock wave compresses and ruptures these sacs. Blood then seeps into the lungs and drowns their owner, sometimes quickly, in ten or twenty minutes, sometimes over a span of hours.

Mary Roach, Stiff, 2003

Criminal Justice Quote: Rapper Intended to Plow Into Festival Crowd in Austin, Texas

     Austin, Texas police said a rapper with a criminal history "intentionally" drove into a crowd Thursday morning, March 13, 2014 at the South by Southwest music festival, killing two people. Rashad Owens, 21, who police say was behind the wheel, faces charges of capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police are awaiting on blood tests to determine his blood alcohol level….

     Owens, who was supposed to perform later that night, reportedly has a lengthy criminal history. It includes a 2010 arrest for criminal trespassing in Killeen, Texas, a 2011 conviction for DUI in Alaska and in 2012 he was arrested in Fairbanks for criminal mischief. The Honda Civic he was driving at the time of the deadly crash had been reported stolen out of Killeen….

     Austin police said officers tried to pull Owens over at a gas station near Interstate 35 for suspected drunken driving, but he drove off. He crashed through festival barricades and mowed down more than two dozen people….Police said Owens tried to make a run for it after hitting a taxi and a parked van. Officers stopped him with a stun gun.

"Driver in Deadly South by Southwest Crash  'Intentionally' Drove Car into Crowd," Fox News, March 14, 2014.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beverly Hills Officer Sues Department Over Whitney Houston Death Scene Incident

     On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston and her entourage were in Beverly Hills, California. The 48-year-old pop singer was there to attend a pre-Grammy party thrown by her mentor, music producer Clive Davis.

     That afternoon Houston's personal assistant left the Beverly Hilton hotel room to pick up items from the Neiman Marcus store. When the assistant returned to the suite at 3:36 PM, she found Houston nude and face down in the bathtub. The assistant summoned Houston's bodyguard and the two of them pulled the unresponsive woman out of the water. A front desk hotel employee called 911.

     Officer Brian Weir, the supervisor of the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) SWAT team, responded to the 911 call. Shortly after arriving at the scene he placed a sheet over the dead woman's body to protect the potential crime scene evidence from contamination. (In reality, the sheet itself contaminated the corpse. Pursuant to California law, police officers are not allowed to touch or in any way alter death site bodies.)

     The forensic pathologist with the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office determined that Whitney Houston had died of accidental drowning. Contributing factors to her death included cocaine use and heart disease.

     Backing up a bit, after officer Weir covered the corpse, Detective Sergeant Terry Nutall arrived at the hotel. What happened at the scene after the sergeant's arrival is in dispute.

     BHPD officer Brian Weir, shortly after Houston's death, filed a complaint with the department against Sergeant Terry Nutall. According to the complaint, Sergenat Nutall had pulled the sheet back from Houston's body and made comments about how good she looked for a woman her age. In so doing, officer Nutall not only acted inappropriately, he contaminated a potential murder scene.

     Following an internal departmental inquiry into the complaint, a high-ranking police official announced that Sergeant Nutall had not acted inappropriately at the Whitney Houston death scene. Sometime later, officer Weir was removed from his position as head of the BHPD SWAT team.

     In September 2013, Weir's attorney, Dmitry Gorin, filed a preliminary civil suit on the officer's behalf against the Beverly Hills Police Department. The former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney told reporters that, "If proven, officer Nutall's actions were highly inappropriate and demonstrate very poor judgement by a senior BHPD officer. A law enforcement officer more interested in what a decedent's body looks like than securing a possible crime scene may taint the original placement of DNA and fiber evidence, causing investigators to miss data and draw incorrect conclusions." (As a potential murder scene, the site had already been compromised by the removal of the body from the bathtub and the placing of the sheet over the corpse.)

     On March 10, 2014, officer Terry Weir filed a formal lawsuit against the department. The legal action, filed on his behalf by attorney Christopher Brizzolara, seeks unspecified damages for the plaintiff's pain and suffering and loss of overtime and special unit pay. Officer Weir alleges that since reporting Sergeant Nutall (who has since been promoted to lieutenant), he has been harassed and ostracized for snitching on a fellow officer. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Unintended Consequences of the Individual Rights Revolution

     Every culture, wittingly or unwittingly, has a public philosophy, a frame of reference by which people relate to each other. Many among us probably think that the last half of the twentieth century will go down in history as the Age of Individual Rights, or some such high-minded name. There are certainly heroes who'll get credit for breaking the bondage of racism and gender discrimination. But those triumphs may be tarnished, if in the name of rights, we lose our ability to raise healthy children or run our schools. Just as the defenders of laissez-faire hoped to be remembered as defenders of freedom, but ended up being remembered as apologists for industrial abuse, so too the age of individual rights may be remembered as a period of bullying by using law.

     Our governing philosophy is not, in truth, fairly characterized as one of individual rights, except in a mutant version that removes our freedom to act. Our governing philosophy is to strive for the least common denominator--a belief that society will somehow achieve equilibrium if it placates whoever is complaining. Our monocular focus on the individual, like our obsession to eliminate risk, makes it impossible to achieve any of our stated goals, including fairness.

     The rights revolution was doomed from the start. It didn't account for a truth of human nature--that people are wired to be self-centered. "The power of self-interest," Richard Niebuhr argued, colors all human activity. As Neibuhr put it, "reason is aways the servant of interest." Our founders understood this well. "Since man was an unchangeable creature of self-interest," historian Richard Hofstadter observed, our founders "would not leave anything to his capacity of restraint." That's why they created a government structure that in various ways could be insulated from the passions of what they called faction. Modern rights, by giving legal powers to some groups over others, basically institutionalizes faction. The effect, predictably, is to draw out the worst of human nature. Give me, give me more.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

Writing Quote: Getting Into Print: Big Deal

Outside of having children, or dying, nothing more dramatic or life-changing can happen to you than to see your work in print. [I wouldn't call dying "life-changing." I would call it "life-ending." Big difference.] Oh, maybe winning the U.S. Open or the American's Cup, but I'm not sure about that, because those are fleeting moments, gone almost as soon as they happen. When you have something in print, even if it's a recipe for heirloom tomato aspic [I have no idea what that is], you've bought a ticket in immortality's lottery. Part of you is floating in another universe, and until every last copy of whatever -it-is, is burned, smashed and gone, you are, because of that little scrap, not bound by the rules of time. [Good heavens, get a grip. Usually getting into print is a letdown. Immortality? What a load of crap.]

Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life, 2002

Criminal Justice Quote: Sadistic Girls Torture Autistic Boy

     Two Maryland teenage girls were charged on March 20, 2014 with assaulting an autistic boy and recording him on their cell phones performing sex acts, including with some animals….Authorities in St. Mary County said the two girls, ages 17 and 15, admitted to police that they assaulted the boy, 16, with a knife on "multiple occasions."…

     A news release from the sheriff's department said the girls also kicked the boy in the groin and dragged him by the hair. They also got him to walk onto a partially frozen pond. When the boy fell through several times, they made him get out each time by himself….

     Prosecutors charged the 17-year-old, Lauren A. Bush, as an adult. The 15-year-old was charged as a juvenile. Police didn't release her name. Each was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, child pornography and false imprisonment.

"Police: Teenage Girls Used Knife to Force Autistic Boy to Perform Sex Acts," Associated Press, March 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Mother Poisons Down Syndrome Son to Death

     A Louisiana woman has been charged with first-degree murder after police say she injected alcohol-based hand sanitizer into the feeding tube of her 17-month-old son who was afflicted with Down Syndrome. Erika Wigstrom, 20 was being held without bond on March 12, 2014. Police say she told them she wanted to end Lucas Ruiz's suffering….Lucas died on January 21, 2014.

     Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Commander Eric Becnel said the child also had been poisoned with alcohol in October 2012 while hospitalized for treatment of a heart defect. The child's father, Cesar Ruiz, allegedly confessed in that instance, but Becnel said Wigstrom has now confessed to poisoning the child in both cases.

"Louisiana Mother Charged in Poisoning of Son With Down Syndrome," Associated Press, March 13, 2014 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Colleges and Universities Are Pricing Themselves Out of Business

     ….Harvard University business professor Clayton Christensen…predicts that half of all universities will be bankrupt in 15 years….Colleges and universities haven't done themselves any favors by allowing costs to skyrocket. Between 1970 and 2010, U.S. median family income grew 22 percent….During the same period, the cost of a degree at a four-year school rose nearly 200 percent, and at private four-year schools, prices climbed almost 150 percent….

     Student loan debt topped $1 trillion in 2012, surpassing credit card indebtedness for the first time last year. If students were flashing their new degrees and walking into good jobs, that might not be so worrisome, but that's not the case….

Anne Michaud, "Selecting a College is Now a Matter of Dollars and Cents," Newsday, March 9, 2014 

Gabriel Martinez Arrested for Murder and Dismemberment of Hervey Mendellin

     Police have made an arrest in connection with the high-profile murder of a retired flight attendant whose dismembered body was found near the iconic Hollywood sign in 2012….Gabriel Campos Martinez, 38, was arrested on March 9, 2014 on suspicion of murdering 66-year-old Hervey Coronado Mendellin, a retired Mexicana Airlines employee….

     Mendellin's severed head was discovered in January 2012 by two women who were walking their dogs on a trail by the Hollywood sign…Additional body parts were found in close proximity to the head….

     Martinez is being held without bail in San Antonio, Texas, and awaiting extradition. He was described in an April 2012 affidavit as Mendellin's live-in boyfriend. Mendellin lived in an apartment complex south of Bronson Canyon Park, about five miles from the Hollywood sign…He was a retiree after working 25 years with Mexicana Airlines

Andrew Blankstein and Elisha Fieldstadt, "Suspect Arrested for Body Parts Found Near Hollywood Sign," NBC News, March 10, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Bad Cops Hate to be Videotaped

     A Massachusetts man who recorded video footage of a profane cop was arrested and jailed, even though state law explicitly permits the recording of public officials. The video evidence was taken into police custody and mysteriously destroyed….

     George Thompson, a 51-year-old citizen of Fall River, Massachusetts, was sitting on his front porch when he noticed Officer Thomas Barboza sitting in a patrol car and having a heated, profane cell phone conversation. Thompson began recording the officer's call using his own cell phone. When Barboza noticed, he approached Thompson.

     Thompson freely admitted that he was filming Barboza--something that state law explicitly permits. But Barboza arrested him anyway….

     Police Chief Daniel Racine has launched an investigation to determine who deleted the footage, and said the guilty party will face justice. "If a Fall River police officer erased that video, he's fired and I would suspect the district attorney would take out charges," Racine said in a statement.

     Thompson had complained about Barboza before. The officer regularly parks on the street and conducts profane phone conversations within earshot of other people--something Thompson doesn't like. "I said to  him, 'Why don't you cool it with the language there?'" said Thompson. "He says, "Why don't you shut the [expletive] up and mind you own [expletive] business?"…

Robby Soave, "Cop Wrongfully Arrests Man For Recording Him, Jails Him, Destroys Video Evidence," The Daily Caller, March 11, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: Convicted Pedophile Jerry Sandusky's Wife Says He's Innocent

     Dottie Sandusky is the wife of the former assistant football coach at Penn State Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of sexual abuse against children. She insists her husband is innocent and did not do those horrible crimes that put him behind bars. Sandusky has been married to her husband for 47 years and spoke for the first time on the "Today Show." She said her husband was innocent and claimed that the victims had been manipulated. She said the case against her husband had been built on lies. She said the parties involved were influenced by money…..

     Jerry Sandusky, who is 70, is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years for being convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse of boys over a 15 year period. Mrs. Sandusky said she believed he showered with boys, but that was how her husband's generation grew up, using group showers and people coming and going all the time. [Give me a break.]

     In her interview on the "Today Show," Dottie responded harshly to a story in a national newspaper that said predators like Jerry Sandusky choose spouses that can be counted upon to suppress unpleasant ideas that might occur. She said she was not a spouse who was weak, referring to her nickname of Sarge, because her husband said she kept everyone on the straight and narrow. [Not everyone.]…

     Dottie said her husband spends 23 hours per day in his cell and can leave handcuffed for one hour daily. She calls her husband a happy person. He reads, writes and meditates and spends two hours each week in the prison's law library.

David Smith, "Sandusky's Wife Calls Him Innocent," DC Progressive, March 12, 2014