I wish someone (not me) would take a look at these people

I listen to Small Town Murder every week and last week’s episode (that is, the most recent one) was about a whole family of, basically, serial killers. Two generations of people, traveling around the country with little kids (the third generation), robbing and murdering everywhere they went. The primary offenders were Sherman Ramon McCrary, his son Dennis Taylor and his son-in-law Carl Taylor; their wives and the grandkids were just along for the ride. I think the oldest of the grandkids was only like six years old or so, so not in a position to stop what was going on or tell anyone about it.

They liked to target small businesses where women were working alone; they had a particular fondness for donut shops. They would rob the business (usually not getting much cash), abduct the women, take them to some out-of-the-way spot, rape them, kill them and dump the bodies. (The wives were present, and aware of what was going on, but didn’t do anything to stop it. Love, they said.) The family is believed to have been responsible for 23 deaths. At least, that’s how many they could tie to one particular gun. They were finally caught in 1971.

The podcasters, and I also, think it’s likely the family could be responsible for other murders besides those 23. I have to wonder if they could be responsible for any of the cases on the Charley Project.

On the face of it, it seems unlikely cause these people didn’t make much of an effort to hide the bodies of the people they’d killed. For example, in the murder of Leora Rose Looney, the only one they were actually charged with, they just dumped her in a field without attempting burial or anything like that.

But I think it’s not impossible that they’ve killed people who haven’t been found, and possibly people who have been found but haven’t been identified. Someone ought to look into this. Like, track the family’s road trip across the country, and check for news articles wherever they were at, to see if anyone has disappeared or turned up murdered.

From what the podcast said, only Carl Taylor and his wife are still alive, and Carl is in his eighties (and still in prison; the wife turned state’s evidence and wasn’t kept locked up long). So there isn’t a lot of time left here.

So… Websleuths? Anyone?

I hope everybody is doing okay. I’m not doing okay. Bipolar is bipolar, and even while stable and on meds I find myself having downswings. Right now my depression level is pretty bad and it’s really hard to get anything done. I just want to sit in bed and watch stupid YouTube stuff all day. For this past weekend that’s pretty much all I did, and it didn’t help. It never does.

I saw my therapist today and spent most of our allotted time ranting about how selfish everyone in the world is. But the world was just as selfish earlier this month when I wrote “I am very happy and satisfied with my current life circumstances.” I know it’s just the chemicals in my head acting up and it’ll pass, but that doesn’t do anything for my current emotional pain.

I forced myself to put in a small update today but it was very difficult for me. I’m still having trouble with WordPress. I had fixed the earlier glitch by resetting my browser to its default settings; well, every time I change the settings, I have to reset them to default again before I can update. Logged out of everything I’m in, no browser extensions going, etc. And I kind of liked the (non-default) settings I had and would like to keep them. But that’s technology; it is mysterious to me.

Hoping to get some updates in today, we’ll see

Started work on updating cases only to find some technical glitch is getting in the way of everything. For some reason none of the changes I make to the “details of disappearance” section of the casefile forms are going through. I’ll change the details, save the case, and the details go back to being what they were before.

Here’s to hoping my designer works this out and I can get to at least some of it later today. But as of the moment there’s no point in trying to get any work done.

I hope everyone is doing well. Michael and I went to see The Hu last week — our first event since the Delta variant came to the US, kicked off its shoes, had a seat and decided to stay awhile. We masked up, had a great time and avoided getting sick. I had never seen The Hu before. We were supposed to see them perform in April 2020, but, well…

I’ve been getting a lot of reading done. I am very happy and satisfied with my current life circumstances, in spite of the problems in the world.

Well, this is terrible

As everybody has probably heard already, the rape conviction against Bill Cosby was overturned and he’s been released from prison. Since it was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, I don’t think the prosecution can appeal this ruling — there’s no higher court to go to — and I don’t think they can charge him again either, at least not in that particular case. Cosby is very old, blind and in poor health anyway, and he’s not likely to live through another trial even if more charges are laid against him.

Now, I think I understand why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled as it did. Basically it boils down to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which grants people the right to avoid self-incrimination.

As simply as I can explain it: Cosby confessed to crimes in civil court, under an agreement by a previous prosecutor that this confession would not be used against him in criminal court. That prosecutor is gone now, and it was another who prosecuted Cosby and used his civil court statement against him. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that this violated Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights and should not have happened. The Fifth Amendment, like all Constitution rights, applies to terrible humans as well as good ones.

In other words, this was a legit legal error, and they had to give it to him because that’s how the law is supposed to be. This is not a vindication of Cosby; it does not mean he is factually innocent. But he is now LEGALLY innocent despite like 60-some women having accused him. I understand the law but I am angry and sick at heart.

I met one of Cosby’s victims at CrimeCon. She was there to give a talk, like me. We ran into each other in the speakers’ lounge and spoke as one rape victim to another. I’m sure she’s a mess right now, poor lady. I’m sure a lot of rape victims, and not just Cosby’s, are a mess today.

In other news, the elderly mother of a friend of mine from college has been missing for almost a month. I feel super bad for my friend (she’s the one who did the interview in the article). Of course she’s beside herself with worry. She asked for my help, and I provided her with referrals to some resources, but I felt a bit at loose ends myself since I don’t work with cases this “new”. (Mind you, the case is already in a rare category for having gone as long as it has; about 90% of missing persons cases are resolved within a week.)

I really hope my friend’s mom is found soon and I don’t have to put her on the Charley Project in eleven months and three days.

Guess who got vaccinated!

Got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine today and I am so happy to have that taken care of at last. Two more weeks and I’ll be pretty much immune to covid! (Though I do expect they’ll be coming out with annual booster shots.)

I highly encourage everyone else to get the shot, whatever kind is available to you the quickest. Especially if you will be doing any traveling. I’m going somewhere special in June (more about that at a future date) and I am so glad I’ll be fully vaxxed and not putting myself or anyone else through unnecessary risk.

Just a followup from my last post

So I haven’t made an appointment with my primary care clinic, but they did leave a message for me on MyChart, which is an online thingy where patients can interact with their medical people and view their medical records. They said they want to try prescribing some supplements and try to re-test my blood after ten days of taking the supplements, and see if the situation has improved. I said okay.

I’m just really glad I don’t have to change my psych medication. That could have been potentially disastrous.

Also, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine a bit ago and it’s just two weeks until I can get the second dose. I experienced no side effects other than having a somewhat sore arm for a day or so. They say it’s the second dose that can really slam you.

I love all of you and thanks for the support. Stay safe.

So I might have something catastrophically wrong with me, or I might not

I take a bunch of different medications for my bipolar etc., and some of those meds can mess with things they’re not supposed to mess with. No, I’m not sure of the details, but the result is that every few months I have to get blood drawn so they can check it for levels of this and that and the other thing and make sure it’s all normal.

I got my blood drawn last week and then the next day I got a rather frantic call from my psychiatrist’s office asking me, more or less, why I wasn’t dead. Apparently according to the lab work, I’ve got catastrophically low sodium and potassium and what have you. They told me to make an appointment with my primary care person pronto.

I was mystified because I did not have any symptoms; I felt absolutely fine. But I dutifully saw a nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office on Monday morning. He asked me all sorts of questions about my heart and did some basic neurological tests and couldn’t find a single thing wrong with me, and was strongly inclined to believe there was some kind of mistake, but ordered another blood panel and an EKG just in case.

I felt a bit better after that… until Monday afternoon, when I had a phone appointment with my psychiatrist. He said that it was indeed possible to feel fine and still be basically at death’s door from messed up blood levels. He said that per last week’s blood work I’m at risk of a spontaneous heart attack. Like, my potassium is supposedly so low that my heart could just… quit. In fact, when his office had called me last week, the message had been garbled: they were supposed to tell me to not bother with making an appointment but to go straight to the ER.

So yesterday morning I went and got the EKG and got blood drawn for labs. I anxiously waited all the rest of the day and into today to hear from someone about the results but nothing, nope, nada. I called my psychiatrist’s office earlier today and they said they don’t have the results yet. So basically I have no idea whether I’m fine or whether I should start writing my will.

For most of my life, this situation would not have bothered me too much because life was not any great thing for me anyway. Severe depression does that to you; even when I was pretty much functional and life was bearable, I was pretty apathetic and a little in love with death. But in the past year or two, for the first time in, like, literally ever, I’ve been happy. I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been, newly married, enjoying myself.

And I’m afraid if last week’s blood test WAS right, they’re going to have to change my medications. And I really don’t want to, because I know a lot of the reason I’m finally happy is because the medications have been working so well. I really don’t want to mess that up, and spend possibly years trying to find another combination that works as well as that.

It’s coming on four-thirty so I don’t think I’m going to get my test results till tomorrow at the earliest. My friends keep texting me every couple of hours to ask if I still feel okay.

I am okay. But I really want to know what’s going on.

[UPDATE: I did hear back from my psychiatrist’s office, after closing time. The blood levels on the second test are still low but he doesn’t think the medication is causing it. He told me to get back to primary care about it.]

A lost pet reminds me of some the issues that come up with missing persons

So last week Michael and I managed to misplace our elderly cat, Carmen, and we didn’t realize it for a few days. We felt horrible about this—both the fact that she was lost and the fact that we didn’t notice for some time.

It’s not that we don’t care about Carmen. We absolutely adore her. The main reason we didn’t notice she was missing was because she is a cat. The dog follows me from room to room, always. But like most cats, sometimes Carmen doesn’t want to hang out with anybody, and will go off and hide somewhere in the house out of sight.

Also, there was kind of a miscommunication between Michael and I. Each of us just sort of assumed the other had seen Carmen at some point. It wasn’t until late one evening when we were playing with our other cat, Aria, and one of us was like “Hey, I haven’t seen Carmen in awhile, when was the last time you saw her?” And both of us had to sit and think really hard to remember the last time. Then we got very worried very quickly.

We determined Carmen was definitely not in the house. Once we worked out the only time when she could have gotten out, we felt horribly guilty, as days had passed since then. We went outside with flashlights to look for her, but couldn’t find her in the vicinity. (The neighbors caught me crawling around trying to get under their porch; fortunately they didn’t shoot me.) There didn’t seem to be much point in searching further in the dark.

We tried to figure out what to do from there. Michael was absolutely devastated and basically broken. He just sort of sat there staring off into space with tears running silently down his cheeks, saying Carmen had to be dead, a coyote had surely gotten her by now. He pretty much couldn’t do anything.

I was upset but pretty calm about it. I Googled “how to find a lost cat” and started doing everything Google said to do. What the internet said indicated there was hope: it said most indoor cats who accidentally escape are probably fine, just freaked out and hiding nearby, even if several days have passed. I put some kibble and treats on the steps, like Google suggested, and left messages on online groups for the local area (Nextdoor, etc), then couldn’t figure out what else to do until daytime, so we went to bed. And somehow we were able to sleep. It was like 3:00 a.m. by then and we were super tired.

When I woke up, the food I’d left out was gone. I still couldn’t see any sign of Carmen but I started poking around again, looking under our porch and the next-door neighbor’s porch again, rattling the cat treat jar and calling for her. Then I turned around and suddenly there she was, sitting in front of our door, uninjured but complaining bitterly and looking extremely sorry for herself. She was none the worse for wear, just hungry.

Carmen says the outdoors sucks: it’s cold and scary and lonely and there’s no food and no litter box. 0 out of 5 stars. If she could type she’d leave it a really bad Yelp review.

I realize that a missing human child or spouse or other human family member is a whole order of magnitude different than a cat. But all of this kind of reminds me of the things I’ve read about how families deal with missing persons.

A lot of times the family doesn’t realize a person, even if they’re a child, is missing for awhile. It doesn’t necessarily mean the family doesn’t care. Each parent thinks the toddler is with the other parent, it’s assumed the teenager spent the night with friends, the adult was occasionally out of touch for weeks at a time and always resurfaced alive and well, etc. And each person in the family handles the situation differently, just the way Michael and I handled the issue of Carmen differently.

Stay safe, everyone. And keep an eye on your pets.

Good news from my house, just about the only good news I’ve had so far this year

Early this month Michael got his first dose of Moderna’s Covid vaccine, and yesterday he was given the second dose. In I think two weeks he will have 95% or greater immunity to Covid and I can stop worrying about him so much.

As far as how his body handled the vaccine, he didn’t feel any different after the first dose. The morning after the second dose he felt achy and super tired, to the point where he went to work late. This was probably his immune system revving up in response to the vaccine, and is a small price to pay for protection from getting that awful disease. He felt better by afternoon.

My father and my mother have had their first doses as well. No idea when I’m going to get my own vaccination. As a healthy young adult who doesn’t need to work outside the home, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the priority list, and I’m fine with that. I am not really worried about getting Covid myself, just worried about getting it and then giving it to someone at higher risk than me, in particular my loved ones.

I am hoping that everyone who can be vaccinated, will be by the end of this year. Though sometimes it feels like there’s no end to this.

Wedding pics just dropped!

I know you guys had asked to see some of the pics from my wedding, and they have finally arrived! Now, there are exactly 299 of them and I’m not going to post them all, but here’s some of the highlights.

Me and Dad going up the aisle:

Us all at the altar:

Michael sliding the ring on my finger:

Michael walking me down the aisle at the end:

Us leaving the church after I got rid of that scarf the priest made me wear:

Masks were required at the wedding for everyone (except the priest I guess, and also one lady in the back at the groom’s side) but once the ceremony was over and almost everyone had left the church we took some mask-less photos. So here you go:

Me and my bridesmaids:

Me alone, smiling at my bouquet:

Michael and I at the altar:

Us at the church door:

Us in silhouette so it looks romantic:

The photographer was Taylor Ford; look her up if you’re getting married in Ohio or Indiana and want her to take pictures. I think they turned out really well.

At the beginning of this dark winter, I beg my readers to stay safe

The coronavirus is raging in my part of the world. Local hospitals have warned they’re close to becoming overwhelmed. Four of my father’s 22 students have been sick. Two of my husband’s (it still seems strange to call him that) students as well. He was not told he’d been exposed till six days after the fact. Fortunately he got tested and was negative, but if he had caught it, he could have been spreading the disease around everywhere he went for nearly a week. The lady at the management office who collects our rent has been sick. (I haven’t laid eyes on her for months; I’ve been exercising social distancing by putting the rent in the box on the office door instead.)

I am appalled that so many people are not even bothering to exercise the most basic precautions. And that, when well over a million people are dead and nearly a quarter-million of them are Americans, when the president himself has had it and his chief of staff has it now, when multiple members of Congress have had it, so many people are still convinced it’s a hoax. I can only think these people must be very misinformed.

Please, wear a mask in public. Wear it so it covers both your mouth AND your nose. Your nose is directly connected to your lungs, and if it the mask isn’t covering it you might as well not be wearing it at all. I know masks are a pain in the butt, I know they’re inconvenient and annoying and make people get acne and their glasses fog up. Wear a mask anyway.

I really don’t want more people to die. Especially you. I don’t want to add your obituary to the online coronavirus memorial I’ve been adding to since April.

I hope everyone is well and their families and friends are well. Michael and I are enjoying these first weeks of married life. We used some of the wedding gift money to buy our first marital furniture, a lovely mid-century modern dresser we snagged for a song on Facebook Marketplace after our el-cheapo pasteboard dresser literally fell apart. We’re trying to decide what we can do to celebrate the dog’s upcoming sixteenth birthday. Probably something involving chicken nuggets.

Please stay safe.