And today in Holocaust history

Sixty years ago today, five Jews were executed in the town of Sokal, Poland. (Now part of Ukraine.)

An aside: as I noted in the Executed Today entry, the diarist Moshe Maltz who was my source for the entry had his baby daughter killed by Nazis. The story of the baby’s death is worth telling as well: His wife and the baby were hiding in an attic during an Aktion while Nazis and Jewish policemen searched for hidden Jews. A Nazi sent a Jewish policeman up to the attic, who found them, but he came back down and lied and said there was no one there. At this point the baby cried out and the Nazi heard it and sent the Jewish policeman back up to get it. He told Moshe’s wife, “Look, I feel sorry for you, and I’ll let you go, but I’ve got to take that baby, he’s heard it already. You can go with it, or stay. I can say I found the baby abandoned up here.” And Moshe’s wife gave him the baby, and stayed, and lived. Moshe wrote that she had initially wanted to go with the baby, but decided to remain because she had another child to think about.

I wonder how many mothers would have had the courage — or was it cowardice — to remain in the attic. I wonder what decision I would have made, if I had been in her place. I wonder what Moshe thought of it all. He didn’t say.

Finally updated

I apologize for not having updated in ten days. I got addicted to Wanelo and started making all kinds of wishlists for items I have no serious intention of purchasing, and suddenly ten days had passed and there were 22 resolves and all kinds of updates to do. I updated twenty cases today. I will add new ones tomorrow.

I wrote a fairly detailed resolve notice for Amanda Slaughter. Read this feature article for the whole story. Her life and death could be seen as a cautionary tale for what might happen to you if you run away from home. She wanted to go back; if only she had swallowed her pride and her fear and picked up the phone! It’s a shame she wasn’t identified sooner, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped — everyone thought she was someone called Mandy Wells and only her boyfriend knew otherwise, and for reasons best known to himself he kept this a secret all that time.

I also did all the updates with the Shermantine/Herzog well discovery. It’s pretty huge, rather like a few years ago in New Mexico with the bodies on the mesa. It seems like half the MPs in California are going to turn up in those wells.

CBI updates

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has made a lot of updates to their missing persons page, with more photos, more info on cases, etc. A lot of this was taken from the Charley Project. CBI’s Julie Cunningham page, for example, now has Ted Bundy’s description of her gravesite. They got that from me. Their Teresa Schmidt page has information from me, too. Teresa (Terry) Schmidt is the only MP case I have a personal connection to. She was a good friend’s unofficial foster mother — my friend ran away in high school and moved in with his friend who was Terry’s stepson, and stayed with them until adulthood because his real family didn’t miss him and never bothered to go and get him. That friend provided me with some information about the case that wasn’t published in the papers. Now that info is on the CBI site, without one lick of credit.

I don’t mind people copying Charley information. The more places the info is at, the more useful it is likely to be. Heck, I’m flattered. But it would have been nice if CBI had, like, sent me a thank-you email or something.

Another MP from South Africa

Found this article about Edna Elaine Piercey, a sixteen-year-old girl who’s been missing from Rustenberg, South Africa since 2001. She was last seen walking to a friend’s house. The article has an AP drawing of her, as well as a letter written by her mother, Janine Lottering.

Just months after Edna disappeared, Lottering’s other daughter, Blanche disappeared and soon after her body was found.

Blanche was brutally murdered and her face was removed. “There was a hole where her face was,” Lottering said.

She also believes that her daughters’ tragedies are connected, that Blanche might have been taken by the same people who took Edna.

Holy crap. That’s horrible. Reminds me of the Debra Jean Cole disappearance and her sister Frances’s murder.

Josh Powell was cremated

According to this article, Josh’s death certificate has been released. The cause of death was given as carbon monoxide poisoning. He was cremated. That was a wise choice, as I think quite a few people would try to defecate on his gravesite if they had the chance.

Ann Rule to write about Susan Powell

According to this article, Ann Rule is going to write a book about the Susan Powell case. That is good news. I love Ann’s books. She’s an awesome writer and her books always sell well, which means this one could generate more tips. (Not that the case isn’t famous already!)

Susan’s sister thinks Josh poisoned her. He apparently cooked dinner for the family just before she disappeared, something he’d never done before, and she thinks he put something in Susan’s food. Either that or he was trying to lure her into a false sense of security before killing her some other way.

Got this email this morning

From one Детей Украина Поиск:

Hi, I volunteer organization “Search for missing children,” we are looking for missing children in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Some of our children aged 1 to 5 years are disappearing without a trace. We think that some of them could be taken abroad. We would like to appeal to you to put your photo of these children. If you need help from our organization, we also can help you.
We kindly ask for your help in finding the little Russian boy Maksim Korolev. He was born in 2006 and disappeared in December 8, 2010 in Urupiskiy district of the Volgograd region.
The kid went for a walk and disappeared, his footprints were broken at the side of the road.
The search for the four-year-old Maksim had failed – his whereabouts are still unknown.
We believe that Maxim could be taken out from the Russian Federation.
Signs of a missing child: has 5 years look, growth of 95-110 cm, medium build, oval face, light brown hair, blue eyes.
Special features: has a scar.
For information which will help to find missing child is announced reward.

A beautiful kid. Reminds me a little of the Ben Needham case.

Done with I-Match

Yeah, so this past week was my third week of the I-Match Program. I graduated and went home on Friday. I feel a lot more confident that I can manage the Headache from now on. The whole purpose of the program was not to cure it — they’ve given up on that idea and so have I — but to find a way to live.

We had two “Feedback Meetings” where everyone in the staff — the exercise trainers, nurses, doctors, psychologists etc — would get together with all of the patients at once. In front of everyone the staff would ask us how they thought we were doing, then tell us what they thought we were doing. This was not done privately, but in front of the other patients in the program, for transparency. At both meetings, everyone thought I was doing really well. Particularly impressive, to me and to them, were the biofeedback sessions. They hook you up to this machine that measures the temperature in your finger and you’re supposed to try to raise it just by thinking. The idea is to re-direct blood flow away from your head, which tends to reduce the pain.

In the first biofeedback session, the therapist told me to imagine a beach, and described me walking in the sand and sun and stuff. The second time you have to do it without guidance. Well, the first session I raised my temperature by twelve degrees. The second time, I was even more successful: I imagined myself in a hot shower, and raised my temperature by fifteen degrees. Perhaps this was because, while I shower almost every day, I haven’t been to a beach in years. Twelve degrees is apparently pretty high, never mind fifteen. The more so since I’m a very concrete thinker and was skeptical that I’d get this to work at all.

At the second feedback meeting, however, all of us got a nasty surprise. One of the other patients, Christopher (not his real name), got voted off the island! He was in the week before me and had been in the program a week and a half before that. When it was his turn to get feedback, Dr. Kraus, who normally speaks first, asked the staff at the other end of the line to start. Emily (not her real name), who was in my week, looked at me uneasily, because we both knew this was not normal.

And then the staff really criticized Christopher, which is also very unusual, because they’re normally very positive in their feedback. Christopher, the staff members said, was obsessed with pain relief, which the program could not provide and had told him straight-up they could not provide. He wouldn’t really talk during all the group meetings and was resistant to both patients’ and staff members’ suggestions. For example, during the exercise sessions, if the trainer tried to correct something he was doing, he would just like glare at her and keep doing whatever he wanted. He just had a bad attitude generally. So when Dr. Kraus finally spoke, he summed up the position of the staff and said this was something they didn’t do very often, but they had voted and unanimously decided to kick Christopher out of the program. It was pointless, even unethical, to keep him and waste his time and money when clearly he wouldn’t benefit.

This was all extremely awkward to listen to, but they did it in front of us for a reason: so we’d know exactly why Christopher had to go, and not decide he was being picked on or something. And in fact all of us understood. We’d observed the same things the staff had. Christopher never talked. I had taken an interest in him because he was much closer to my age than the other patients (he is 21) and also kind of cute. I was able to extract the information that he was a student at the University of Iowa, studying history like I did when I was in school, and I thought we could bond over our shared interest in history, but conversing with him was like pulling weeds. One of the group assignments was to write three nice traits each other person had, and none of us could think of anything to write for Christopher, simply because we didn’t know any of his traits at all. I’m sure he had some, but he wouldn’t share them with us.

I think I said before, there’s supposed to be three in each week. But one of the women in my week had to quit on the second day: during the drug infusions she suddenly forgot who, when and where she was, and had to be hospitalized for like a week. She didn’t come back. So that left Emily and me. And then in the week before us, someone had to cancel at the last minute so there was just Christopher and a woman from Oklahoma, Mary. (Not her real name.) Mary and Emily and I got on splendidly and really bonded and stuff and exchanged email addresses, but frankly I’m not sure we will keep in touch. I liked them both a lot but we really don’t have anything in common besides headaches. Emily is a middle-aged stay-at-home mother of two from Columbus. Mary is a late-middle-aged grandmother and self-described “Tea Party Republican evangelical.”

I’ve discovered that exercise will eliminate the headache pain entirely for awhile, plus it’s good for you generally, so I plan to start a regular exercise program. We had to exercise every day at I-Match. I liked being on the NuStep machine in the gym. Once when I got pulled off the machine prematurely cause of scheduling concerns, I was actually disappointed. And this from a person who had never voluntarily exercised before in her life! So I’ve looked into joining a gym. There’s a 24-hour one here in Fort Wayne and I got a free two-week pass off the internet; I will investigate tomorrow. I hope it has a NuStep because I could never afford to buy one of those things.

I-Match also gave me the name of a physical therapist they think I should see, to work on the problems I’ve got with my neck. During the program, twice a week I saw a PT named Ian who was very nice and prescribed a bunch of exercises for me. They take just a few minutes a day to do and my neck’s improved a lot already.

A lot of you have asked about diet. Well, we did have a diet talk and Nurse Debbie gave us a very, very long list of foods that could trigger headaches. Then she more or less told us to disregard the list and eat whatever we wanted. She said (A) If we avoided all those foods entirely there’d be almost nothing left to eat and (B) All of us had had headaches for so long that if there was a particular food that triggered it, we would have found this out for ourselves by now. Speaking of diet, the food in the cafeteria was terrible. No high fructose corn syrup to be found anywhere! Low fat this, diet that, low sodium something else.

For medicine, as I said before, DHE works for me, but they said to take it only twice a week. They strongly advised against taking painkillers, ever again, for anything, and gave us a list of pretty much every painkiller known to man and told us those could trigger the horrible “rebound affect” with our headaches. (This is why they don’t want me to take DHE too often, cause using it too much could also cause rebound headaches and render the medication ineffective forever after.) I finally did learn to inject the stuff without a hitch, but I can’t take it too often in any case because it costs $35 a dose. As for other meds, when I need them for anything else — color me skeptical. I am sure rebound headaches exist, but I’m not going to never take painkillers again just out of fear of triggering them. In fact, I’ve already cheated: I hurt my foot pretty bad while in the program and took Advil for a day or so. Four in all, I think. My headache level didn’t change one whit, and I told Nurse Jane about it, and she said that I should just not use painkillers several days in a row. If I have to get a tooth pulled or something and have to deal with pain after, I should tell the dentist or whoever to call the Cleveland Clinic for advice about what drugs to prescribe. Yeah, okay.

But no more Dilaudid. I had been taking that for my headaches and, frankly, it wasn’t working so well anymore. The maximum FDA-recommended dose, 8 mg, which is like horse tranquilizer for most people, wasn’t doing anything for me. And apparently Dilaudid is a particularly bad rebound-causing medication. Before my first weekend home, one of the neurologists asked what she could prescribe in case I had a crisis headache at home, and I said, “I usually take Dilaudid.” And she said, “I will prescribe Dilaudid over my dead body.” Don’t be shy, Dr. Tepper, tell me what you really think!

The other neurologist I saw was Dr. Stillman. He is Jewish and the whole older generation of his family are Yiddish speakers — which interested me a lot, given my interest in Judaism in general and Yiddish in particular. Dr. Stillman thought I was a riot. Just about everything I said made him burst out laughing. I wondered if he was going to asphyxiate himself or something, seriously. I will see him at my follow up appointment in June — also Dr. Kraus and Ian the physical therapist.

So DHE. And stop swallowing opiates by the fistful. (Followers of this saga know I was pretty sick of doing that, anyway.) And exercise. And physical therapy. And going BACK TO SCHOOL to finish that degree so I can get a real job that I don’t hate.

One last thing: The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. In that vein, on the first day we were told that thenceforth are not supposed to complain, or in any way show it, when we are in pain, and our loved ones are not supposed to ask. That includes all of you. It’s for my own good. 🙂

Yeah, life looks pretty good from here.

I totally missed this

In April 2011, Raogo Ouedraogo was convicted of kidnapping and killing Donald Dietz, who disappeared from Saranac, Michigan in 2007. (In June, Ouedraogo’s alleged partner-in-crime, Rami Saba, was also convicted.) However, I was just looking at the No Body Murder Cases website and found a link to this article and this one from back in December: Janet Neff, the federal judge who presided over Ouedraogo’s trial, has overturned the jury verdict and issued a judgement of not guilty.

You can read Judge Neff’s 36-page ruling here. I present the highlights:

The government acknowledged that Saba was the central figure in the scheme to kidnap and kill Dietz and steal his money and that so much of the government’s case was about Saba that the jury probably wondered at times who was on trial. Nonetheless, it was the government’s ultimate contention that Ouedraogo knowingly and voluntarily agreed to help Saba execute his scheme and helped his friend commit the crime, despite presenting evidence of only Saba’s wrongdoing. […] The government’s case against Ouedraogo was based entirely on Ouedraogo’s friendship and association with Saba, primarily their telephone call records and travel in 2007, which the government alleged increased significantly from past years. The record was devoid of evidence of any link between Ouedraogo and Dietz, either directly or indirectly through Saba. […]

Thus, the charges against Ouedraogo were based, at most, on his presence in Grand Rapids and association with Saba at suspect times. […] Aside from the fundamental deficiency of proof of a kidnapping or death, even if these events took place, the proof of Ouedraogo’s involvement is far too attenuated to sustain his conviction of crimes charged. Further, for a conviction of kidnapping, the government must prove intent. The government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ouedraogo knowingly and willfully kidnapped, abducted, seized or confined Dietz. There is no such proof. The circumstances of the presumed death in this case are completely unknown. There is no evidence of how, when or where the death occurred. The evidence is so lacking that at trial the government offered no specific theory, or even speculation, of how or where the death occurred. [emphasis hers]

Absolutely nothing connects these time and location dots to a kidnapping and death. Nothing. Mere idle time and Saba’s momentary cellular phone location near Saranac (an area through which a state highway runs from Grand Rapids) does not move the government theory of the date and time of death from speculation to a reasonable inference. As Ouedraogo argues, the government again fits the facts to the theory instead of having the facts establish the theory.

Um…she’s got a point. If all she wrote in this ruling is correct, I would totally have acquitted him too. In America they’re not supposed to find you guilty of a crime just because you associate with a criminal.

The prosecution is appealing.

Elizabeth Smart gets married

I wrote earlier about how Elizabeth Smart had gotten engaged and was talking about a summer wedding. Well, she decided to get it over with quickly — presumably to avoid media attention — and married in Hawaii yesterday, in the presence of only her immediate family. She and the lucky man, Matthew Gilmour, will honeymoon at an undisclosed location and then live in Salt Lake City.

I hope her honeymoon plans don’t conflict with her scheduled speech in Fort Wayne on March 8, which I plan to attend. I bought a ticket for both the speech and cocktail party — meaning I should get a chance to meet her in person.