Derek Funk

I found this article about Derek Funk, who’s been missing from Knoxville, Tennessee for ten months now. It’s a very good article, and I’m happy this case got some media attention — most missing young men get zilch.

It sounds like Derek had a lot going for him. He was only 19 but he was living on his own, renting a house with an option to buy, and he had a good job. I doubt he’s still alive. The $64,000 question, to my mind, would be where is his truck? Vehicles are a lot harder to hide than bodies. But because of the mix-up with the license plate number, this one might be relatively easy.

Dexamethasone still holding

The pain has yet to return — though I keep mentally examining every inch of my skull. And thanks for all the well-wishes. 🙂

I hope to start updating Charley regularly again now. (I am so far behind, gah. NamUs is kicking my ass.) But I am at my boyfriend’s and his connection is really wonky this week. His wireless router pooped out so he had to order a new one. While we wait for it to arrive we are stuck with wires, and my computer doesn’t like those for some reason and the connection keeps going out on me. I am at the library at present, but it closes in only three hours and that’s not nearly enough time for me to do the huge update I will need to do.

So you and I must wait awhile longer. I confess I’m not all that distressed about it. I’m catching up on my reading.

My head doesn’t hurt anymore

So I finished my three-day course of dexamethasone yesterday and today I am COMPLETELY pain-free. I have yet to pronounce the dexamethasone an unqualified success — there’s still a significant chance the pain will return — but right now I’m feeling rather extraordinary. When you’ve been in pain for this long, it actually feels kind of weird not to hurt.

It would be really cool if the dex kills the pain for good. If it does, I’ll tell everyone about the Cleveland Clinic: “I had a severe headache for months and my doctor and my neurologist couldn’t do anything for me and I went to the Cleveland Clinic and they gave me ONE PILL for THREE DAYS and I was cured!”

Obviously the pain was being caused by some kind of inflammation of the blood vessels in my head, or the dexamethasone wouldn’t have worked. The question is: why? You may recall that, back in January, my regular doctor had this theory and prescribed a steroid that didn’t work. My guess is that it wasn’t strong enough. Dexamethasone is a pretty strong steroid.

Even if the blood vessels re-inflame and the pain returns, I feel hopeful again.

Cesare Beccaria: Essay on Crimes and Punishments

I think I had heard of this man Beccaria at some point, but I have just had to read his essay on crime and punishment for my European history survey class and I am very impressed by it. Especially since it was written in 1764!

The essay.

Some good quotes from it:

“No man ever gave up his liberty merely for the good of the public. Such a chimera exists only in romances. Every individual wishes, if possible, to be exempt from the compacts that bind the rest of mankind.”

“The end of punishment, therefore, is no other than to prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society, and to prevent others from committing the like offence. Such punishments, therefore, and such a mode of inflicting them, ought to be chosen, as will make the strongest and most lasting impressions on the minds of others, with the least torment to the body of the criminal.”

“Crimes are more effectually prevented by the certainty than the severity of punishment.”

“Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves?”

Blessed dexamethasone!

The Cleveland Clinic doctor gave me three days’ worth of dexamethasone to try to “break” my headache. Unlike most of the meds I’ve tried before, it’s not a painkiller but a fairly heavy-duty steroid drug.

And unlike most of the meds I’ve tried before, it actually seems to WORK. My head barely hurts at all, and it will probably hurt a lot less after I eat, which I plan to do as soon as I finish this blog entry. And all this without the painkiller side effects of sedation, loopiness, etc. I mean, I love a good loopy, punch-drunk afternoon as much as the next person, but it’s pretty inconvenient when you have to do things like drive and study and other activities of daily living.

One missing teen and a handful of murders

This is not related to missing people, but it reflects another interest of mine — juvenile crime and juvenile justice. A higher court has reversed the decision to try 12-year-old Jordan Brown as an adult for the murder of his pregnant stepmother, a crime that took place when he was 11. The county judge had sent the case to adult court because Jordan refused to confess to the crime and claimed he was innocent — ergo, he was refusing to take responsibility for his actions and was probably unsalvageable even in his tender youth. But the district court was like, “Um, kid has not been tried yet, and there is such a thing as the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.” But the case has been bounced back down to the same county judge and he might, I suppose, find another excuse to send Jordan back to adult court.

I believe that if Jordan had freely confessed to the crime, the judge would have used THAT as an excuse to try him as an adult — “He shows no shame at all and even seems to brag about the shooting.” I mean, I’m as horrified as anyone else by what this child is said to have done, but eleven years old is not an adult by any stretch of the imagination and it strikes me as pretty cruel and unusual to send him away for life.

Doug Stewart has been convicted of murdering his wife, Venus, who went missing last April. Ain’t no surprise. The prosecution’s case, even without Venus’s body, was very strong, and the defense didn’t produce any witnesses and just relied on an appeal based on the whole “reasonable doubt” thing.

There is an article about Shantelle Hudson, whose case I just updated yesterday and will now have to do so again. The article has a few shreds of new info. I have to wonder if Shantelle ran away from home only to meet with foul play weeks or months later. If that’s the case she may very well be a Jane Doe somewhere.

And as the entire world knows, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Christopher Chichester, aka Clark Rockefeller, has been charged with murdering Jonathan Sohus, who disappeared with his wife Linda in 1985. Many of the articles on the case say Jonathan’s body was found in 1994. As I note in his casefile, the police found bones, strongly believed to be Jonathan’s — I’d be shocked if they weren’t his — but there were no teeth for dental records comparison and as he was adopted they didn’t have any relatives for DNA comparison either, so the body was never 100% identified as far as I know.

One article says Jonathan’s body was identified “recently” but doesn’t say how, and I can’t find anything else on the subject. Unless authorities were able to locate one of Jonathan’s biological family members, I don’t see how they could have done it. Unless I find more info on this alleged recent identification, I’m keeping him on Charley, the same way I’ve still got Cornelia Meyer up still even though they’ve probably found her remains too.

Article about victims’ compensation in Canada

I found this Toronto Star article about the parents of murdered children who have applied for monetary compensation from Canada’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. The money is supposed to help pay for things like funeral expenses, medical expenses, counseling, lost earnings, etc., for crime victims and their families. However, several people whose children were killed did not get compensation, supposedly just because they did not witness the crimes. One woman quoted in the article had to wait three years after she filed her application, before they would even consider her request.

Meanwhile, says the article, law enforcement officers routinely receive thousands in compensation payments even for minor injuries.

That’s really cold. And disturbing.

Back from the Cleveland Clinic

I am too tired to go into detail, but the doctor says I have New Daily Persistent Headache. Thank you, Captain Obvious! This is an actual, official diagnosis, believe it or not. As with most cases, my NDPH is idiopathic: that is, they have no idea what caused it. AND it’s incredibly difficult to treat.

But all hope is not lost. The doctor has prescribed a new prophylactic that will take at least a month to kick in, and some more medicine that might help with the pain until then. And he gave me an injection to deal with today’s headache. And he says I must stop using all those painkillers because they’re making things worse. As for the three-week pain management program, I might well do it — it looks like a very good fit for me, everyone thinks so — but there are no spots open till May at least.

I may write more on this.

In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by taking a look inside my skull. These are a few of the 818 images from the MRI they did:

Brain #1
Brain #2
Brain #3
Brain #4
Brain #5
Brain #6
Brain #7
Brain #8

Possible lead in South African cold case

I found this article from a news site out of South Africa that says the police got a lead in the disappearance of five-year-old Florencia Langenhoven. She was abducted while playing in her front yard. A neighbor later confessed to kidnapping her and served ten years in prison, but he never disclosed her whereabouts. (Rather like Jillian Cutshall or Melissa Brannen.) According to the tip, Florencia is alive.

Why the headline says “girl missing for 20 years” is a mystery to me. Florencia was kidnapped in December 1993. That’s not even 18 years ago.

In any case, I hope this is a real tip and Florencia is located. She would be 22 years old today.