NCMEC search becomes slightly less terrible, and more news

I first complained about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s search engine back in 2013, and things got even worse with later versions of it. However, when I checked today, they’d made yet another version, which is slightly better than the last. Like, you can now search based on how old the child was when they disappeared. That’s kind of nice, I guess.

You still don’t have the ability to search by category, which they axed in 2013. As far as I can tell it’s because the NCMEC decided to phase out categories. They did this because when people saw “Family Abduction” or “Runaway” they just automatically tuned it out. I can understand the logic of the NCMEC’s thinking there.

I added Duke Flores‘s case today. It’s pretty awful. Probably not as bad as Noah McIntosh‘s (I blogged about his case in March), but it’s still pretty bad.

The whole story about Duke’s murder being prompted by his attempt he was trying to kill his infant cousin looks a little sketchy at first glance. However, both women gave the police the same account of the alleged attempted murder, and I wonder if Duke, who had autism, was just unable to deal with the baby’s crying. Most people with autism (including me) are very sensitive to noises.

They tried to cover up his disappearance by saying they’d taken Duke to a psychiatric hospital. If he was indeed trying to kill his cousin, this would have been a perfectly appropriate action to take. Certainly much more appropriate than strangling him.

We’ll never know if he really tried to smother the baby or not; the only two people alive to tell the story aren’t exactly credible witnesses. But no matter what he did there’s no excuse for murdering a six-year-old child with a disability.

The thing about his mom and aunt taking the other kids along while they disposed of his body is horrifying. Though the alternative would have been leaving them alone at home, and they were both really little. Hopefully too little to remember this later.

I hope these women get what’s coming to them. They are probably not very popular in jail; most of the women prisoners are mothers too.

Apparently someone had the same thought I did

I hope all of you are safe and are taking appropriate social distancing measures. Michael’s classes are now canceled till May at least. Our friend Leslie, an aide at the residential center, still has to work and says there’s a lot of board games and coloring going on, now that the kids aren’t in class. Anything to keep them busy.

Everyone I know is well.

Not much else to say here, except that Rachel Snyder, author of an awesome book I’ve read called No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, has done an editorial about how social distancing is going to be quite perilous for people currently in a violent relationship. From the editorial:

National and community crises historically have led to increased reports of domestic abuse. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a 13% increase in calls from the Gulf area from April to June 2010. New Orleans and Lafayette, two of the largest communities affected by the spill, saw increases to their hotlines of 81% and 116%, respectively, during that same period. Hurricane Katrina too saw domestic assaults against women nearly double, and both men and women reported increases of psychological abuse.

This all sounds grim, but many of these situations involve couples who were not in healthy relationships to begin with. On a call from her Baltimore home, Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the country’s foremost researcher in domestic violence, was careful to point out that someone who is not psychologically or physically abusive before a crisis like coronavirus is not going to suddenly become violent. “This is not like anything I’ve lived through,” she said, “and my hypothesis is that any kind of horrific anything externally can exacerbate domestic violence.”

Campbell created a danger assessment decades ago that many programs now use to try to predict a domestic homicide before it happens. The stressors identified that make a situation lethal are the same whether we are in a pandemic or not: guns in the home, forced sex, unemployment and, most notably, prior incidents of domestic violence.

But the research on how domestic violence might be affected by our current situation simply does not exist. When an entire society shuts down, when children are home all day from school, when sports and gyms and social activities are all canceled, when friends can’t leave their own families to help, when places of worship are shuttered, when everything that ever tempered a violent situation is suddenly, terrifyingly, no longer available. What happens then?

She doesn’t know.

My friend Carl Koppelman is featured on VICE!

I have talked about Carl Koppelman on this blog before. He trained as an accountant, but, as a hobby, he makes beautiful lifelike drawings of deceased people who haven’t been identified. Carl’s amazingly accurate drawings of Jane and John Does (sometimes just working off a skull) have resulted in the identification of several people.

Well, the media company VICE has done a video about Carl and his work, and I wanted to show it off:

Go, Carl! You are awesome, using your talent to help make the world a better place. The world needs more people like you.

So, about Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie is a true crime podcast. I’ve never listened to it and have no intention of doing so, but they are very popular and they’ve been praised by Rolling Stone as “the best true crime podcast” out of the many in existence, and there’s talk that they may create a TV show.

Unfortunately, however, it turns out Crime Junkie has been plagiarizing other people’s hard work: other podcasters, journalists, bloggers, Wikipedia… and me too, as an informant pointed out on Twitter.

In response to being called out, including by people whose work was plagiarized, Crime Junkie went back and deleted some of the episodes. When asked about this, they refused to admit to anything at all, saying they’d only deleted the episodes because the original citations were no longer available.

The accusations broke out on Buzzfeed a week ago. The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis being the residence of one of the Crime Junkie hosts, Ashley Flowers) did an article about it yesterday. The Reluctant Habits blog has also done a good, if speculative, entry about it as well. And so on.

The response from Crime Junkie? Some kind of bull about how their research was “thorough, rigid and exhaustive” with “clear references to other sources.”

Then why are they reading other people’s work WORD FOR WORD, and not mentioning it’s an exact quote, or mentioning the other source AT ALL?

The Charley Project gets plagiarized all the time and it always upsets me because it’s wrong, it’s stealing, it’s lying, but I’m pretty used to it by now and recognize there’s no way to really stop it.

But it REALLY upsets me in cases like this because Crime Junkie is, they say, enormously popular and is making tens of thousands of dollars per episode. At one episode a week, those two women would be making a killing (no pun intended). And all of that from other people’s work. Journalists and other podcasters, and me, trying to make an honest living and contribute to society, having their hard work stolen by grifters.

Now, I talked to a friend and he thinks probably Crime Junkie isn’t nearly as popular or making as much money as Ashley Flowers and Brit Pawat claim. The Reluctant Habits blog raises the same issue, suggesting they fudged the numbers. And if Ashley and Brit really were making $50k a week, why did Ashley not quit her day job till early this year?

Regardless, they are making more than me, more than many of the people whose work they’re stealing.

Now, I don’t know if what Crime Junkie is doing is LEGALLY wrong, since you can’t copyright facts, and the Charley Project is very much “just the facts, ma’am.” But it’s definitely MORALLY wrong.

My terms of use, for Charley Project material, are very generous. Use what you like; all you have to do is cite me. It would have taken SECONDS to just say “courtesy of the Charley Project” or “we found this info in an exclusive series of Randomtown Newspaper articles by So-And-So.” To be using other people’s work, word for word, and not even mention it–that’s both lying and stealing.

Crime Junkie owes an apology to the people whose content they used without citations, and to their listeners. But they won’t even do that.

So, the NCMEC is not responsible for its own posters now?

So I called the NCMEC yet again to ask about kids they have listed as missing that don’t appear to be missing, a problem I have experienced repeatedly, and the lady I spoke to said the NCMEC is not, in fact, in charge of their poster database and says law enforcement can add posters at their leisure and that law enforcement has to tell the NCMEC to remove them.

I am somewhat unsure about this because none of the other people I complained to in the past has said this, but perhaps it’s a new policy or something.

She says if I want a kid taken off the NCMEC because they’re not missing anymore I should contact LE myself. This is something I am not willing to do, because it seems to me that the NCMEC ought to take responsibility for the posters that are on their website and have their logo on them, but what do I know?

I wonder if anyone at NamUs would fix this

I can’t do it, but it would be really great, and make NamUs more user-friendly, if people would round up all the cases from each city (say, San Francisco, California) and make sure they’re listed under the city of San Francisco, California and nowhere else.

I decided, on a whim, to do San Francisco cases today. And this is what happens when I try to type “San Francisco” into the appropriate slot in the form:

sanfranc

I’m having to check all those misspelled ones and the ones in all capital letters or no capital letters see if there’s anyone listed under there. Sometimes there is, but sometimes there isn’t.

They really all ought to be listed under just “San Francisco” and nowhere else. I’m just sayin’. And other cities have the same problem. Here’s two other examples:

tampa

phoenix

Black History Month: Nicole Cearo

In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Nicole Sherese Cearo, a 20-year-old pregnant woman who disappeared from Seattle, Washington on March 30, 2009.

Nicole’s disappearance was the subject of excellent, in-depth coverage by the podcast Under the Redline, and various people close to the case were interviewed. Unfortunately, as far as I can determine, the Under the Redline podcast is no longer extant. (Which is a shame; it was really good.) But I was able to get most of their information onto Nicole’s page.

This is one of those cases where it is manifestly obvious what happened, and well-known in the community, it’s just that the police don’t think they have enough evidence to prosecute the suspect. I am sorry for it; Nicole deserves justice.