Just managed to squeeze in a small update

It’s 10:50 p.m. and I’ve updated for today. Only one new case, four updated cases, and a whopping ELEVEN resolves. It’s better than nothing, I suppose.

I remember back in the MPCCN days when five or six updates a day was not atypical at all. Times sure have changed.

Oh, and I checked the visitor stats and saw I got 24,652 unique visits on the 6th (up from 6,974 the previous day), 37,979 visits on the 7th, 19,054 on the 8th, 12,944 on the 9th and 10,599 on the tenth. After that it drops down to less than 9,000, which is closer to normal. Last month I averaged 7,018 unique visits a day.

Of that flood of visitors, 32,488 looked at Amanda Berry’s page, 10,335 looked at Ashley Summers‘s and 7,216 at Georgina DeJesus’s. Nicholas Barclay and Brenda Heist also got a lot of visits. I’m kind of surprised more people checked out Ashley’s page than Gina’s. I’ve finally removed those two casefiles. I still have to update Ashley’s page to reflect the new information. Until tomorrow…

Yet another blog post titled “I hate it when this happens”

I had a case awhile back which had several different sources for it, and there were two last names given. The difference was only one letter, but that didn’t just make it a different spelling; it made it a different name entirely. And I had an equal number of sources giving me both names. I had no idea which was the right one. Finally I just picked the more common surname. It was either that or not put the case up at all. I chose the lesser evil.

Well, turns out I was wrong. Sigh. I did the best I could.

Moan, whine, muttergrumble etc.

This case I had never heard of

On CNN there’s an open letter to the Cleveland girls by Ronique “Pepper” Smith. She was abducted by her babysitter at the age of four and didn’t get out of the situation until she was twelve. She got a nasty case of PTSD out of the experience, and didn’t reunite with her biological mother until she was well into adulthood.

I don’t know the details of this case and I’m not sure the police even investigated the case at all. The fact that it was 1974 and Ronique appears to be black or biracial probably didn’t help. But even twenty years later, kids have been kidnapped by their baby-sitters and nothing has been done about it.

Suspicious versus odd (I get a bit long-winded here)

In the Cleveland kidnappings case they’ve been running articles quoting Castro’s neighbors saying they had no idea what was going on. And we are now aware that the police did stop by the house on some pretext or another at least once, although it looks like they were never were allowed inside. Ariel’s brothers Pedro and Onil got charged right along with him, then were released for lack of evidence; they too claim they had no idea what he was up to and now they’re calling him a “monster.” Ariel’s daughter (not Amanda’s kid, another one) was Georgina DeJesus’s friend and one of the last people who was with her before the abduction, and of course she’s horrified about what happened and how her father did this. So is one of his other kids, who knew both Gina and Amanda. (There’s at least one more daughter here, who’s in prison in Indiana for attempted murder.)

Assuming these people are all telling the truth that they didn’t know, and aren’t just trying to cover their butts, I don’t blame any of them (with the possible exception of the police, I’m not sure about them yet) for not noticing Ariel Castro’s true nature and just what was going on inside his house. Because, let’s face it, the idea that your neighbor or relative might be a serial kidnapper and sexual abuser who’s got several girls chained up in the basement is something that simply would not occur to most people. If it did, my first thought would be to take you to a psychiatrist, not the police.

Anyway. What I’m getting into is this: the police always say that if you see any “suspicious activity” you should report it to them. But there’s a fine line between “suspicious” and “odd” and a lot of times people see something “odd” going on and don’t think to tell anyone about it, and then later on it turned out they saw something important and didn’t even realize it and then maybe they go to the cops, but the crime has already been committed.

I can think of three good examples of this, two from other sources and one from my own experience.

The first and most obvious one is Jaycee Dugard. The ultimate reason she and the two daughters she had with Philip Garrido were rescued was because Garrido was out with the girls in Berkeley, California (on a college campus I think) and two cops noticed the way he was acting towards the children was “odd” and in other words, “there was just something about the girls that wasn’t right.” This lead to the police stopping to have an idle chat with the three of them, which ultimately lead to Garrido’s arrest and the resolution of this terrible crime. Jaycee and her daughters might still be held captive with the Garridos today if it weren’t for those cops.

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Now for me, in detail, cause you know I love that:

When I was eighteen or nineteen I was attending college in Arkansas and lived in a dorm room. One Sunday night, in the wee hours of the morning, I went downstairs to the kitchen to get a Mountain Dew I’d left in the fridge. The kitchen was off the main lobby and there was a pass-through room which contained a piano. As I walked into the pass-through I saw a man sitting on the piano bench. I’d never seen him before; this was unusual, since the college is a very small one and we’re generally familiar with each other by sight at least. This was also a very “traditional” school in the sense that most of the students came there right out of high school and were not older adults going to get a degree having been in the workforce for awhile. This man was in his thirties, maybe early forties. Too old to fit the profile of a typical student. Too young to fit the profile of a student’s parent.

I really should have called security right then and there. I thought about it, but I didn’t do it because the mere appearance of a strange man in the pass-through didn’t strike me as suspicious, just “odd.” I was inclined to just mind my own business. I didn’t want to sound like a paranoid freak calling security and asking them to go Couch Hall at three o’clock in the morning to confront a guy who wasn’t doing anything, just sitting there. If he was someone’s invited guest, I didn’t want to be inhospitable.

Anyway, back to the story: I more or less instinctively crossed over to the other side of the room to try to stay as far away from the stranger as possible, but being as it was just a tiny little room with barely enough room for the piano, I couldn’t go very far. If anything my moving to the side like that attracted his attention even more. I went and got my pop and went back into the pass-through to return to the lobby, up the stairs and to my room. And the man said, “Aren’t you afraid someone put something into that?”

This was definitely an “odd” statement, particularly since we had not been properly introduced and there the very first words he’d spoken to me. In fact, it leans towards “suspicious.” But I myself have been known to walk up to complete strangers and say the most oddball things. I just said, “Uh, no, it hasn’t been opened, see?”

And I started back on my way again, but he waylaid me with conversation and asked me a lot of things about myself: what my name was, what my major was, where’d I live, etc. I tried to give vague answers; for example, saying I lived “upstairs” instead of “third floor, room 311.” I was really nervous about the guy now and trying to stay at arms’ length away from him, a difficult thing to do in that little room, and also he insisted on shaking hands with me. I remember opening up my bottle of pop as I was talking to him, thinking I could throw it in his face if needs be.

He told me his name was So-and-so, I forget what name he gave. Finally I got a chance to ask him a question of my own: namely, what was he doing here? He said, “I’m visiting someone.” Who was he visiting? He hesitated a second and then said, “Samantha.”

Without thinking I blurted out, “Samantha Reynolds?” (this isn’t her real name by the way)

“Yeah, her.”

Finally I managed to get away from the man in one piece, and bolted upstairs to my room and locked the door. I should have called security then because he was definitely being suspicious, even if he hadn’t really done anything untoward or illegal just by sitting on the piano bench and then making small talk with me. I didn’t call them. If it had happened now, I would have. I am older, sadder and wiser.

The next day I found Samantha and told her about the stranger. Not only did she not know anyone by that name or physical description, but she wasn’t even on campus that night. She’d gone off on a weekend road trip somewhere. I made up my mind that I would call security if I ever saw the man again, but I never did see him. It could have been anybody. Couch Hall did have locks on the doors, but they were kept unlocked almost all the time, even at night, for the convenience of the students. (They’ve got card swiper things now, last I knew, and you have to swipe your student or employee ID to get in.)

I think it highly likely that he was up to no good, either planning to steal something or wanting to attack someone. I suspect the former, because he had an almost perfect chance with me and didn’t take it. But he wouldn’t have had that chance in any case if I had just turned right around and went back up my room and called security the second I saw a person in the dorm whom I didn’t recognize and who didn’t fit the profile of a typical student. Even if that was nothing much by itself.

(And if you’re wondering why my hink-o-meter malfunctioned so badly in Washington DC, well, I was extremely tired. I’d been too excited to sleep for more than three hours or so the night before, then I’d been out on my feet all day. Sleep deprivation affects my judgement much the same way alcohol does; I might as well have been slightly drunk. This was also part of the reason I had gotten so upset about being lost, because I was too tired to think straight, and being lost and upset wasn’t helping my judgement either. Neither did having Asperger’s, but that was something beyond my control. There’s a reason such men are called predators: like animals they target vulnerable prey. The old, the sick and wounded, or the very young members of the species, whoever is easiest to get at. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but Rollo basically smelled blood. It took a very long time for me to realize this and stop blaming myself so much.)

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Now, my third example. This one was definitely just an “odd” thing and doesn’t cross into the boundaries of “suspicious” at all. It’s the kind of thing that’s perfect to illustrate my point. I read about this case recently, I forget where from. It goes like this:

In a major European city, I think either London or Paris, a local saw a man and a woman standing in front of a building. The woman was wearing a dress with wide horizontal stripes. They looked to be tourists and the man was taking photographs of the woman posing in front of the building.

Well, there happened to be some other important historic monument or museum or something just across the street, something that would have made for much better vacation pictures. So the local man approached the two “tourists” and pointed out this fact, and suggested they use that building as a background instead of this one which was just ordinary and not even very nice-looking as far as buildings go. The man and the woman brushed him off, and the man continued to take photos of the woman posing at various spots in front of the building.

The local man thought this was “odd.” And that’s definitely all it was; tourists, after all, are not noted for their intelligence and they could take pictures of any stupid old thing they wanted, and come home and caption them “random building in such-and-such city” or whatever. But the guy had a funny feeling, so he approached the nearest police officer and told him about the “strange” encounter he’d had with the tourists.

I’m not sure, if I were a cop, that this would have even merited my attention at all. This was not suspicious activity. But perhaps the police officer had nothing else to do at the time. Anyway, the cop went to have a talk with the two tourists and, long story short, the man was wanted for several bank robberies in several countries and the woman was his accomplice. The building they were taking pictures of was yet another bank they planned to rob, and they were “casing the joint” and getting some idea as to the exact size of the place by taking the pictures using the wide stripes on the woman’s dress to give a sense of scale.

True story.

Michelle Knight stonewalling her family

According to articles I’ve read, Ariel Castro’s first victim Michelle Knight has been refusing to see her family. I can’t pretend to comprehend what they’re all going through but it’s apparent that there were serious problems in her family from way back, maybe as far as the beginning of her life. This article says:

Michelle’s mother flew from Florida to Ohio once she heard the news, but Michelle’s refused to see her — her mom has consequently hired an attorney to gain access to her daughter.

Um, hired an attorney? How’s she going to work that out? Michelle is a grown woman, and she may be mentally traumatized but she isn’t mentally incompetent. I don’t see how she could be legally forced to have contact with anyone she doesn’t want to see. I wonder how much the mother is paying that attorney.

So, Michelle and Gina DeJesus are quite close and they’re thinking that maybe the DeJesus family could adopt Michelle. I don’t see how that could work out either, legally speaking, on account of Michelle being 32, but certainly if all parties agree they could accept Michelle into that family anyhow. Amanda and Gina are very fortunate in that they came from loving, supportive families; Michelle really seems to have drawn the short straw in all of this.

The aforementioned link sums it up pretty well:

The last thing anyone wants is for Michelle to return to a home in which she doesn’t feel safe. She, Amanda, and Gina have an incredibly arduous path to recovery ahead of them and require all the love and support they can get. And if the Knights cannot provide that for Michelle, or if she doesn’t (understandably) want anything to do with them, it sounds like the DeJesus family is more than willing to take her in.

The DeJesuses might be the godsend Michelle has been praying for her entire life.

I hope she gets SOME kind of godsend. She needs something.

In lieu of the MP whose name I’ve forgotten…

This week’s missing person of the week is Dawn Renee Silvernail, age 20, missing from the tiny village in central Michigan since 1991. I have exactly zilch on her; even the photograph is pretty bad. The only notable thing is that she’s quite tall — five-ten — and thin — just 125 pounds.

Cleaning house

I’m making another list for a future Make-A-List Monday, and the topic requires me to basically check every casefile to see if it makes my criteria. As I do this I’m seeing a lot of cases that probably need to be purged. I have therefore decided to concentrate on that for a bit. It’s a dirty job but it’s got to be done. So if you suddenly see a whole bunch of cases vanish without a trace, they were probably sent off for “re-education” in the Siberian slave labor camps. Long live our Great Leader, Comrade Stalin!

(That’s like the third time I’ve made that joke on this blog.)

I have been in another world

The Sims 3 is a total time vampire. Ever since one of my blog commenters told me the solution to Error Code 12, I’ve been utterly unable to stop playing it.

My Sim family are now millionaires and just bought their first vacation home in China. Mom has married twice; the first time was specifically so I could add “ghostly family” to her photography photo collection. I had her marry an elderly man who died hours into the marriage, immediately after the first Woo-Hoo. (I guess it was too much for him.) But alas, it turns out a ghostly spouse does not qualify as “ghostly family” and you need a shot of the ghost of a blood or adoptive relative. Then Mom’s adopted son went into -50 points mourning for two days for the stepfather he never met. Oh, well. Since Mom drank the Fountain of Youth potion to become a young adult again and then got enough lifetime happiness points to purchase the Age Freeze award, she will definitely outlive her family and be able to get the photograph and finish the “Family and Friends” photo collection.

So Mom married a second elderly man; I had a notion to make my own private graveyard in the back yard. But he’s stubbornly refusing to expire and they are now the parents of a toddler-aged son. Oh, and they’ve adopted a dog, whom I named Pavlov (get it? I can hear you groaning now), but it turned out Pavlov was a girl so I’ve renamed her Pavlova. She’s become a good hunter and more than earns her keep.

So…yeah. I’m pathetic.

Must. Stop. Playing. Must return to my shamefully neglected responsibilities, like answering emails. I feel like a turd for letting them sit like this for so long.

I’m telling myself it doesn’t really matter all that much. That I will never, ever catch up on the number of missing persons cases I’ve got to post, that I’ve got a right to take a break now and then. Which is perfectly true. I just wish the break had been to do something slightly more productive than getting sucked into a video game.

Oh, and another Executed Today entry guest-written by me was posted on the twelfth: Buck Ruxton, who murdered his wife in a jealous rage and then had to bump off the maid too because she saw.