Sunday, August 31, 2014

John Walsh covers the Jacob Wetterling 1989 abduction in Minnesota on "The Hunt" on CNN


John Walsh continued his series on “The Hunt” with the cold case of Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted at gunpoint by a masked man while riding his bike with a brother and another companion in St. Joseph, MN on Oct. 22, 1989.  The Twin Cities paper has story here

There was another abduction about ten months earlier explained in this site  ("America;s Most Wanted fans") and covered in the show.
  
  
And a freelance writer and blogger covered a series of similar abductions in nearby Paynesville, from 1986-1989, which might be tied to a particular man who may have been in jail for part of that time. It would seem improbable that someone could commit a number of brazen snatch abductions in one area and never be apprehended.  Sporadic crimes like this have been reported in other cities, like a particularly horrific assault in a park in Tacoma, WA in 1989 that was written up in the Washington Times then.  
  
That blogger, Joy Baker, has a web page with five questions she would want to ask the abductor, here

The most detailed account ("Without a Trace") seems to be in a paper called the Minnesota Monthly, written by Beth Hawkins, here.

There are a number of YouTube videos on the case that claim to present interviews or information, that don’t look credible.

Although it appears from the narrative that police must have some specific suspects (or at least one), the show could not identify any one person on the run as a suspect.  

The area where these abductions occurred is SW of St Cloud and NE off Willmar, about 60 miles from Minneapolis.  I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003 and am familiar with the area north of St. Cloud, but not the specific area of these crimes. 
  
Walsh also covered the case of Genevieve Kelley, believed to have “kidnapped” her daughter in a custody battle from New Hampshire and then taken her to Colorado and then Brazil.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NBC Law and Order episode presents detective being asked to become an adoptive paremt


A repeat of an episode of NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU” (Special Victims Unit), Season 15, Episode 24 (the finale), titled “Spring Awakening” presented, after a complicated plot involving extortion and child pornography, a situation where a judge asks a detective, Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) if she wants to become foster parent for the child rescued from the mess, and to be prepared to adopt the child a year later. 
  
  

Sometimes life comes knocking.  The detailed plot summary is here, or here on a detailed blog devoted just to this show.   

Friday, August 29, 2014

ABC 20-20 investigates bizarre Texas hotel shooting of Greg Flreniken from neighboring room


ABC 20-20 on Friday, before Labor Day, aired a couple of criminal cases titled “I Know What You Did”, with the second case a bizarre accident in a motel in Beaumont, TX, at the Elegante Hotel. The ABC link is here

  
Greg Fleniken, from Louisiana, was staying in his room and watching “Iron Man 2” when shot in the groin during a brief air conditioning failure. He died of internal injuries as the bullet moved up into his body, but at first autopsy didn’t find the gunshot.   Apparently, three electricians (from Wisconsin, traveling to work on a refinery project) staying were in the next room and consuming alcohol. One of them got a handgun and was playing with it when it went off, and went through the wall.
  
It took his wife’s hiring a private detective to crack the case, Perry Mason style. There’s no Della Street. The whole episode reminds me of a short film “Lost Angel”, of danger in a hotel room (reviewed on Movies blog, March 14, 2014).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mystery UFO sighting near Harrisburg PA reported by ABC GMA, seems more credible than usual


ABC “Good Morning America” on Aug. 28 presented a story of mysterious UFO lights near Harrisburg, P, apparently verified as seen by law enforcement.  The witness was Stephanie Wilkerson.


Could it have been a drone?

ABC News presents a series of 15 clips of UFO sights in the following places:  Mississippi. North Carolina (on the Outer Banks;  there are other sightings around Brown Mountain near Boone, as in the movies blog, Aug. 18, review of “Alien Abduction”); Texas City, TX (on the Gulf Coast), Russia, China, New Orleans, Tempe AZ (during a haboob), Colorado (near the Balloon boy incident), Jerusalem, New York City (two incidents), link here.   Some of these videos seem a bit frivolous.  The most interesting was the lights around some deer in Mississippi, as in the movie “The Corridor” (movies, March 25, 2014).

The ABC News GMA link is here.  You have to play 15 clips, and some have annoyingly long commercials.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

John Walsh presents cases of Stoeser (TX), Barnard (MN)


Two more recent episodes of “The Hunt” with John Walsh on CNN will pressure sex offenders looking for underage women. 

Kevin Stoeser’s story was presented.  He had been born to a teen mother whom herself had been abused.  He started abusing underage women while in the Army, before being caught and court-martialed.  After he got out, he resumed.  A teenage girl and her mother called police in Texas. There are details on station KVUE in Austin, TX, here.  Apparently he was sentenced for this, and then “escaped” from a halfway house in Del Valle, TX. 


Then Walsh presented the story of Victor Barnard, who ran a “commune” ("The River Road Fellowship") in southern Minnesota, MSN episode guide here. The commune rather sounds like Colorado City, AZ.  It is rather shocking that the young women didn't even know that what he had done was a crime.  The criminal justice system in Minnesota (where I used to live) did drop the ball on this one.  

Just as with "To Catch a Predator" on NBC, most of these crimes seem to be heterosexual.  


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Both NBC Dateline and ABC 20-20 present "love triangle" case (Pedro Bravo) in northern Florida on same Friday night


NBC Dateline re-aired “Circle of Friends” Aug, 22, about the murder of University of Florida student  Christian Aguilar by Pedro Bravo, apparently as a result of a love triangle over a girl named Erica (typical link).   Some of the details of the case appear in a story in a Miami paper by a former roommate of Bravo, here.  The Sun Sentinel had a story about the initial arrest of Pedro in September 2012, link here.
What seems so unnerving was that Pedro had been an outstanding student in a military academy, but completely lost it after an argument in a car, after which he apparently killed him while the car was parked.  He apparently drugged and then strangled him.
  
ABC 20-20 also presented the same story, calling it “Two’s Company, Three’s A Crime”, link here

The body was finally found in a swamp 60 miles south of Gainseville.

Bravo tried to argue he was planning suicide with his poison purchases.

A jailhouse informant claimed that Bravo wanted the “snitch” Angelo to contact gang members to commit other similar murders to make it look like Christian’s murder had been one of a serial killer.

 Pedro was sentenced to life without parole.  
  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

John Walsh presents Jehovah's Witnesses child abuse case, and an immigration smuggling case


John Walsh, on his CNN show “The Hunt”, presented two brief reports Sunday night Aug, 17.
    
The most disturbing was the story of Frederick McLean.  Allegedly, he used his position as a missionary for Jehovah’s Witnesses to gain access to young children in his home.   He fled from southern California after being confronted by a female victim in 2004. 
    
A Jehovah’s Witness site has this take on the story

  
The LA Weekly has a story about this case Dec. 29, 2009 here

The other case concerned Guillermo Madrigal Ballesteros, accused of transporting illegal immigrants in 2002, when they were found dead and decomposed and locked inside a railroad car.  America’s Most Wanted has a story on the case here.
  
The cases -- the bad guys --  that Walsh chooses to expose have become more varied.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Days of our Lives": The "Wil-son" gay marriage is old hat, but the ethics of how Will gets published is now center stage


The saga of super-couple Will and Sonny on NBC’s “Days of our Lives” continues, as Will, now 22 and graduated from college (despite responsibility for his accidental daughter by Gabi) gets his first big writing job – an expose of his mother Sami and all her affairs.  Sonny calls him “writer” in bed, as if this was a big deal.  Nobody seems to know how self-publishing works today, or maybe it’s that “self-publishing doesn’t count”.

Sami and Kate (“Hurricane Katrina”) have hissy fits over the publication, and it looks like the editors at the magazine are going to reveal all the names.  Legally, this would all be fine: in the US, truth is an absolute defense to libel.  But Kate and Sami actually have a conversation where they toss off the idea that Stefano probably won’t hire a hit man to come after all of them.  Really, a hit man because of Will’s first “published” piece?  Literary agents in New York who happen to hear about this episode will chuckle.  Is it "wrong" to launch your fame as an author by writing about your own family?  Write what you know!  Write what other people want!
  
Guy Wilson, 28, is fitting into the role of a charismatic young man Will, and notice the portmanteau of his last name (“Wil-son”).  His muscles are spectacular.   It seems as though now they have to keep Sonny shaved so that they match in bed.
   
But the plot development about “getting published” is overtaking the gay marriage angle, which now seems like old hat.  
  
Picture: This rivulet in Bristoe,  VA was cleaned up by Eagle Scouts.  I guess Will and Sonny could have individually joined when they were teens -- if they got into a time machine first.


Update: Aug 21

NBC has written William Horton's essay, "A Business Affair", here.

Now EJ is warning Will that Will may go to jail for that past shooting (which might not matter now since Will is over 21 and the shooting, as a juvenile, had some justification).  EJ is angry that Will doesn't put "family first" when writing.  I've heard that before.

Update: Aug. 25

Today, Will said, "I'm a writer, not a reporter".  Ponder that one.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CBS "Unforgettable": a photographic memory sounds like a trite idea for police drama


CBS’s “Unforgettable” offers the idea of a detective with a photographic memory, Carrie Wells (played by Poppy Montgomery).  You don’t need a “medical condition” for this;  in Dallas in the mid 1980s, I had a coworker, a gay man in his early 30s, with a total photographic memory for everything (including recipes).  


The episode tonight was to be “The Island” and was to present an intentional community.  But the episodes were delayed a week by the PGA last weekend (and for me, hours of golf are boring).  The episode tonight was “Throwing Shade”, about muckracking journalism in New York about high rise real estate developers, and a mayoralty campaign, and whether an amateur blogger is to be trusted (the most interesting point).  Next week’s, about living off the grid, may be less conventional.   I descriptive link is here. The episodes generally take place around NYC.  Oh, Carrie has some company tonight in the photographic memory department.  They could be contestants on Jeopardy, or Millionaire.

Somehow the title reminds me of Shuamalan’s “Unbreakable”.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

NBC Dateline: "The Man Who Talked to Dogs": Stover case in Washington State



On Saturday, August 16, 2014, NBC Dateline reaired the episode “The Man Who Talked to Dogs” (originally in January 2011).
  
A man, Mark Stover had run a successful dog grooming business on an island north of Seattle.  His relationship with his wife brokdedown, and he moved to Anacortes.
  
In late October 2009 Stover disappeared from his palatial home under suspicious circumstances.   Skagit County Sheriffs eventually brought charges against Mike Oakes, a security specialist, whom Stover’s ex-wife consulted, after which they developed a romantic relationship. 
  
Oakes spoke to Dateline before presenting his defense at trial, which is what seems unusual about this case.  Stokes kept stalking him and confronted him, asking him to bring wedding photos (that’s bizarre).  Oakes came to the home after an overnight drive.  In a struggle, Oakes says he killed Stover with his hand in self-defense and disposed of the body at a wharf. This all sounds like it comes from Twin Peaks.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
The main Dateline reference is here.

A Seattle paper has a story of the guilty verdict in 2012 at the trial, here

Oakes was single father, and seemed mild mannered.   The defense had called Stover a “domestic violence terrorist”.

I think this case provides an object lesson in extreme jealousy, almost like in 1940s movies.  I'm not susceptible to it.  

Wikipedia attribution link for Anacortes WA picture.       My own visits: 1996. Maybe 1976, 1978, 1990.   

Thursday, August 14, 2014

CNN Sixties: "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll"


CNN concluded its series “The Sixties” with “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll” tonight, Aug. 14, with the main press release link here

A new “hippie” generation decided that the old morality and work ethic and “my getting mine” didn’t mean anything.  The show talked about Mt. Laurel (NJ?), thn the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco and finally Woodstock. 

I recall seeing the 3-hour movie “Woodstock” in Indianapolis in 1970.


The “hippie” communes would gradually mature over the years and decades into “intentional communities”.  I have visited or seen some of them:  Lama Foundation in New Mexico, Twin Oaks and the Acorn Community Farm in central Virginia.   Generally these are based on the idea of “income sharing” and work hours themselves become the “currency”, and most places have one or two code agricultural or light manufacturing businesses. 
  
The film goes on to present the motorcycle culture of Easy Rider (or “Born Losers”, an American International classic).  It also covers the Charles Manson cult (but CNN also has a half-hour short on Charles Manson, “born evil”). No one had associated hippies with violence until Manson. 

It also presents the Rolling Stones toward the end. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

CNN's Don Lemon covers apparent suicide of actor Robin Williams; also violence after police shooting of unarmed teen near St. Louis


CNN’s News Hour with Don Lemon spent most of the hour tonight covering the passing of comedy actor Robin Williams, 63, in in home Monday morning, where he was found unconscious and could not be revived.

Williams was said to have suffered from depression that could have been brought on by aortic valve replacement (UK story from 2009).  Open heart surgery (more often coronary bypass surgery, where they “crack you open like a lobster” as Regis Philbin said one time) often leads to depression. He also abused drugs and alcohol, as in this Guardian story.
  
Much of the CNN broadcast dealt with the idea that our society treats these items as shameful when they are treatable brain diseases.

Williams sometimes made jokes about alcoholism.

The news report showed excerpts from “Mrs. Doubtfire” (where her breasts burn in a kitchen fire), and “Good Will Hunting”, where he, as a therapist, counsels Matt Damon's genius character on being able to love someone more than himself.  A Northwest Airlines flight magazine, on a 1999 flight I took from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, talked about the makeup for the cross-dressing movie, where “they” repeatedly shaved him. Another favorite was “The Birdcage” which touched on gays in the military. Other important films included "Dead Poets Society", "Good Morning Vietnam" and "The World According to Garp".  Williams would indulge children when helping them, as with Make-a-wish-foundation performances. 

CNN was to follow with a half-hour special "The Life of Robin Williams".  ABC will also air a 20-20 special "The Life and Death of Robin Williams" Tuesday night (link).

Subsequent reports on Tuesday indicate that Robin Williams had hanged himself. 
  
The news hour also covered the shooting by police of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO, north of downtown St. Louis.  Looting and violence have followed, as covered in this CNN story. Comparisons are made to Trayvon Martin.  The shooting seems very hard to explain based on current evidence.

Bill 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

CNN: "The Times They Are a-Changin'" episode in "The Sixties", re-airs Friday night after pre-emption by Middle East crisis


CNN finally took a break from all the coverage of international crises (Gaza, Ukraine, ISIS), to re-broadcast the latest installment of the Sixties, “The Times, They Are A-Changin’”, press link here.  The original airing on Aug. 7 had been interrupted after the first 25 minutes by Breaking News from the Middle East.
  
The decade had started with even President Kennedy playing just lip service to the idea of women’s equality, even though the appointed a commission to study it in 1961. One pundit said that a husband steers the horses;  if you have two at the helm, the horse will waver.  Betty Friedan, who had created a precedent for married women returning to work after childbirth back around 1957, wrote her famous book “The Feminine Mystique”.  Women began to see that the basic relationship between the sexes needed to change.  This wasn’t just evolution, it was revolution, and it was high time for it to happen.
   
Alongside the women’s movement would be gay rights, to culminate with the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in June 1969.  But in 1967, CBS, with Mike Wallace, had produced the horrible black-and-white special “The Homosexuals”, on which Dean Rusk, secretary of state then, said “if we find homosexuals in the State Department, we discharge them”, and gay men were interviewed in shadows. Wallace mentioned the fear of imprisonment and the “closet”.  There were actual rings to “inform on homosexuals”.  Barney Frank appears. The story of Frank Kameny, and his firing in 1957, was presented. The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis were mentioned.  Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association described homosexuality as “mental illness” and sometimes reparative therapy was pursued. 
  

In the Sixties, the idea that a man could become sexually interested and engaged with one woman for a lifetime, when that woman (as well as, of course, the children) would depend on the man economically, was becoming challenged, and this frightened many men, as it does today in many parts of the world (most of all, in Islam).
  
The Sixties also marked a beginning for environmentalism, as with Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring”.

Conservatism was apparent but it began to splinter.  Liberals, after all, had supported social conservatism until the Kennedy years.  Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run for the presidency predicted libertarianism.  “Extremism in defense of liberty is no  vice”.  Goldwater would later support lifting the ban on gays in the military in the 1990s.  “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”  

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"Person of Interest": episode "Nothing to Hide" gives a lesson on data brokers and personal privacy


On Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, CBS re-aired an episode called “Nothing to Hide” on its “Person of Interest” show (typical account ). 
  
The episode (originally aired Oct. 1, 2013) has John Reese (James Caviezel, who got pretty torn up in “The Passion of the Christ’) tracking Wayne Kruger (David Alan Basche), an Internet entrepreneur who has founded “Life Trace”, a data broker company that merges people’s “public records” with their social media posts to sell to advertisers, employers, and even governments.  The trouble is, Kruger gets targeted by someone through his own company.

And the enemies get very determined to bring him down. 

The script gives a good lesson in the dangers that people pose for themselves on social media.  The episode is almost a tutorial on how data brokers work. 
  
“Life Trace” reminded me of a company called “Fidelifacts” that used to collect information on people’s private lives back in the 1960s and 1970s.
  
  
Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) is the billionaire software inventor who has focused on “pre-crime” and Reese is the ex-CIA agent he has teamed up with.


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

"1968": CNN special tracks the year the nation almost came apart (even though the Cuban Missile Crisis had occurred only six years earlier)


I have to admit that I forget to set the DVR for CNN’s episode “1968” from the series “The Sixties” last Thursday night (July 31).  And CNN is not particularly dependable in telling you in advance exactly when it will rebroadcast, and it has only a few pieces of it online right now, as far as I can tell, under Episode 8, at this link. Probably it will re-air some time Thursday Aug. 7 after the newest one.
   
I had titled Chapter 2 of my fist “Do Ask, Do Tell” book “Sputnik, the Draft, and The Proles: 1968”.  I really lived that year.  I finished my M.A. Mathematics at the University of Kansas in January.  I went into the Army for the draft two weeks early, on Feb. 8, 1968, about a week after the Tet Offensive.  Martin Luther King was assassinated while I was in “Special Training Company”.  The riots in Washington DC along 14th Street occurred about the time I came back from Basic Training and was assigned to the Pentagon.  I remember the day after RFK’s assassination, as I had spent the night in the South Post Barracks (at Fort Myer).  Later, I won a big chess game there in the service club, before a lot of other soldiers watching me pull an upset.  I would be mysteriously transferred to Fort Eustis in September.
I remember Election Night well, in the barracks in Fort Eustis.  Humphrey led early, but around 1 AM I heard the news on the radio in the Day Room, “Nixon leads”.  Most soldiers actually thought Nixon would get us out of the War sooner than Humphrey.  By then, other buddies in the barracks talked about “Medium Cool” in Chicago that summer at the Democratic convention.
  
   
The excerpts online show interviews with Douglas Brinkley, who explains Nixon’s ego and his na├»ve belief at first in the idea that mainstream America thought that protests had gone too far, and also with RFK Jr. (by Don Lemon), who insisted that by 1968 Euro-centric civilization was declining, and minorities insisted “We want our share.”  The Brinkley segment explains why Nixon wanted to do the tapes.  His early years went well, with at least some promise in Vietnam, the creation of the EPA, and overtures to China.  One of the tapes airs Nixon as saying we shouldn’t leave our foreign policy to a Jew (Kissinger).




Update: Aug. 9, 2014

CNN finally reaired this episode Saturday Aug 9 at 1 AM EDT and I recorded it.

One of the highlights is LBJ's speech on March 31, 1968 when he ways he will not run again.  "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand".  I was on KP in Special Training Company at Fort Jackson, SC in Army Basic Combat Training at the time.

The assassination of RFK is shown (it wasn't apparent at first it had happened).
 
The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is shown as being conducted in "a police state".
 
The country was coming apart, over the generation gap.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

John Walsh on "The Hunt" presents a DUI manslaughter fugitive from FL (Chris Ponce), and a survivalist extremist in Montana (Burgert)


John Walsh tonight, on “The Hunt”, presented  (in a 30-minute segment) a fugitive Chris Ponce, who apparently was responsible for a major accident near Tampa FL on July 19, 2012, entering the freeway the wrong way. 
  
22-year-old William Angel died in the crash, and his brother was seriously injured, although the brothers speaks in the program and appears to have recovered fully.  Ponce was offered bond with home detention by the judge while the results on his blood alcohol came back. Ponce then cut off the electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and vanished.   A Tampa Bay newspaper has a story by Dan Sullivan, here

Walsh’s own comments presented Ponce as from a family of privilege, and a odd comment that he wouldn’t have had to develop the street smarts of a normal escapee.   There is another site set up just for this show, here.

  

The second half of the show profiled David Burgert, who had been associated with an anti-government group called “Project Seven”, in Flathead County, Montana, around Kalispell.  (I actually spent a night there on vacation in May, 1981 and still remember the area.  The very next night, I would attend a spontaneous “feel good about yourself” seminar in Helena.)  He disappeared, and would reappear for another incident and shootout in 2011.  The Missoulian has a detailed story here. Walsh says the public doesn’t get how vast these areas in western US are.  I do understand.  I’ve driven rental cars in almost all of the US and much of Canada for all the years of my adult life.  I know the country well.  On that particular trip in 1981. 

The master list for John Walsh's (many fugitives) program is here.  

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Kalispell, MT  The first picture is in the Everglades, FL (my picture, 2004).  

Friday, August 01, 2014

NBC News presents "Hannah Anderson: Anatomy of a Kidnapping"


Tonight, August 1, 2014, NBC News aired a special “Hannah Anderson: Anatomy of a Kidnapping”, with Savannah Guthrie doing the interview.  This was in a style similar to Dateline, but in fact Dateline has its own report. 
  
NBC’s best account seems to be here.
  
  
Another site on the special is here
  
Wikipedia has an account of the episode in August 2013 here.   The suspect James Lee DiMaggio invited Christina Anderson and her family to his home near San Diego, which he burned with elaborate preparation, before kidnapping teenage Hannah to Idaho.  The documentary showed some of the footage of the rescue, after an older couple thought something was odd when encountering DiMaggio and Hannah in the wilderness, checked the amber alert (which now comes out on smartphones) and called the sheriff.  FBI shot DiMaggio in a confrontation.
   
The documentary covered suspicions on the Internet the Hannah might have had something to do with it, an idea that (subsequent police and forensic) evidence does not support.
   
There are stories that Hannah was offered $100000 to help with a documentary (link).  News organizations normally do not pay subjects of crime documentaries. 
  
Picture: San Diego, University Ave area, May 2012, my trip

Update: Aug. 4, 2014

I posted a security notice on my "Bill's Internet Safety Tips" blog today regarding the vodlocker video mentioned in the fourth comment below. Maybe it is OK, but I've asked Webroot to look into the warning I get from it.