BOB HARROD - STILL MISSING
Thanksgiving baskets and more for crime survivors
November 23 2014
In Fountain Valley, California, a 'Hopeful Healing' day is taking place, with family fun, thanksgiving baskets and much more, provided for families of victims of violent crime, and survivors of crime. The event runs until 2pm and I guess the organizers, Crime Survivors are all too busy helping right now, to update about how the day is going. We hope those attending are having a great time, and everyone who helped make it happen is having a good time too.
Peace in Santa Ana; Mexico City march turns bad
November 23 2014
Orange County citizens turned out for a peaceful march in Santa Ana Thursday, to demonstrate their support for the 43 students still missing in Iguala, Guerrero state, Mexico. The students, mostly trainee rural teachers, took buses to Iguala September 26, for a protest. They were intercepted by local police and sadly, are believed to have been handed over to a drug gang and murdered, with their burnt remains possibly thrown into a river. Iguala's mayor, his wife and the local police chief are all suspects in the case, as well as members of the Guerreros Unidos gang.
Many of the marchers present in Santa Ana have close links to Mexico, either through birth or family ancestry, and although the turnout was only about 100 people they were heartened to hear that similar marches were taking place throughout the US, and the world. They gathered first at Cabrillo Park, then moved to the Mexican consulate, in a demonstration that was entirely peaceful.
In Mexico City however, on the same day, a gathering of tens of thousands in the Zocalo (main square), took a turn for the worse after three peaceful hours and ended in violence as police tried to protect the nearby National Palace. Families of the missing had earlier stated they would leave if the protest became violent, and they did. Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown, until riot police finally charged and cleared the square, with demonstrators fleeing in panic. There has been increasing frustration and anger in Mexico, over the huge number of people who go missing and are murdered there. Mexico's President President Enrique Peña Nieto has been very slow to respond to the problem, which has increased citizens' frustration.
Rules of engagement
November 22 2014
We love engagement and marriage stories here at bobharrodmissing.com, because Bob was an 81-year-old newlywed when he disappeared. But even we questioned the timing of this proposal.
Nathan Filer, a British writer, human rights activist and mental health nurse who had been working in Palestine, decided that a forthcoming trip to Israel would be a good time to propose to his girlfriend. He hid the engagement ring in his pocket, for the flight. As you will all know, there are fierce political issues raging between Israel and Palestine at this time, and Nathan must have known he'd face some questions when arriving in Israel.
He did. Both he and his girlfriend Emily were eventually deported. But before that, the hapless Nathan had to try and explain to security why he really did not want to confess - in front of Emily - that he was concealing a small jewelry box. In the end, Nathan's 'romantic' proposal was made in front of Abraham, the Israeli security man searching his pockets, with an apology to his girlfriend as her engagement ring was revealed: "I didn’t want it to be like this. Sorry."
Emily made Nathan make a proper proposal, while they were still in detention, and Abraham the security guard gave the couple a Sprite soft drink - and a cell - to share that night, though it wasn't allowed. Back home, nine months later, Emily and Nathan gave birth to their first child who they named Ayda - meaning, 'to return'.
We can only hope that Security guard Abraham gets to meet the little one, one day, should she return.
Six year sentences over killing of Kim Pham
November 15 2014
One of the most tragic trials OC has ever seen has come to an end. Vanesa Zavala and Candace Brito have each been sentenced to six years in prison for Kim Pham's death, by beating, outside a Santa Ana nightclub, after a row and fight over someone taking a photograph as customers waited in line to get in. A security guard from the club did eventually intervene but didn't manage to to stop the fight in time.
Kim's heartbroken family spoke of their greatest loss. The two convicted women asked for forgiveness. Even Judge Thomas Goethals raised his eyes despairingly towards heaven and asked why such a senseless, needless death had happened. He said the three young women might well have been friends, had they met under other circumstances. Previously, the prosecutor Troy Pino had come close to tears himself, after the guilty verdict.
There is huge pain and damage all round in this case but somehow, Kim managed to leave light after she was taken. Her organs were donated and helped others live. Nothing can bring her back, but at least her loved ones know they are not alone; the aching void left in the world by the death of Kim Pham is felt by many.
Tales from the Cop Shop at OC Register
November 15 2014
The OC Register has introduced a new feature; 'The Blotter; Tales from the Cop Shop'. It features all the latest crime news from Orange county, in brief, with a link to the full blog posts. It's a quick and easy way to keep up on new crimes happening in OC, and to check up on old crimes and any updates to the cases as well. You can view The Blotter here.
Chase Merritt charged in McStay family murders
November 8 2014
Charles, 'Chase' Ray Merritt, 57, business associate of murdered Joseph McStay and the last known person to see him alive, has been charged with the killing of Joseph, his wife Summer and their children Gianni and Joseph Jr in their Fallbrook, San Diego home in 2010. Investigators say there is no suspicion anyone else was involved. He is being held in West Valley, Rancho Cucamonga Detention Center. Although arrested in a Chatsworth industrial park, he's reported to have being living in Homeland. Merritt has a history of failed business ventures, along with a criminal record spanning decades, mostly for theft and burglary-related crimes. He is also, according to another former business partner, a talented artist and designer who could never follow through and finish a job.
When the entire McStay family vanished from their home, Merritt was the first to alert others, and also to go to their home looking for them, he said. He also said he fed and watered their dog, which had been left in the yard. The case then degenerated into the worst kind of missing persons' mystery, with a mistaken surveillance capture of the family heading over the border to Mexico leading to effective searches and investigations being discontinued. Merritt himself made damaging suggestions about the family and especially Summer McStay, which further distracted the search from beginning where it should have - on the inside, with those closest, and then working outwards.
Eventually, the remains of the family were discovered by an off-highway biker buried in the desert around Victorville, San Bernardino, last year. Far away from their home, but close to Apple Valley, where Merritt once lived. Besides the remains, it's also now been revealed that evidence was found at the scene, that SB investigators say links Merritt to the killings.
During a packed press conference yesterday, San Bernardino (SB) Sheriff John McMahon announced that Merritt had been arrested Wednesday and was charged with four counts of murder - with the special circumstances of multiple murder, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. SB DA Michael A. Ramos - known for his tough stance on crimes against children - said he hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty yet for a 'cold and callous crime' but will very soon. The murdered McStay children were aged four and three, and the entire family died of blunt-force trauma, officials said. Evidence of their deaths in their San Diego home (which was being painted at the time they vanished, apparently) has also been found. SB investigators were aided by the FBI.
Joseph's mother Susan Blake and brother, Michael McStay, spoke of their relief and need for justice. Susan said that she had always been suspicious of Merritt and he was the first person she named when investigators asked her who she thought might be involved. Michael, voice breaking, told how Joseph had tried to provide work for Merritt 'and this is how he was repaid'. Despite Merritt's claims, the victims' family insist he was not a business partner of Joseph McStay and his contract, in fact, had just been discontinued when the family were murdered. Summer's McStay's relatives were also present.
Members of Merritt's family were present at his arraignment Friday afternoon and say they do not believe he is capable of committing such a crime, and that he is 'tenderhearted'. The arraignment was postponed until Wednesday November 12th, to give time for a decision to be made about whether Merritt can pay for his own attorney or needs a public defender. During both his arrest and arraignment, Merritt kept his head bowed.
Funerals held, suspect charged in trick or treat deaths
November 8 2014
Funeral services were held today for the three, 13-year-old girls killed in a hit and run in Santa Ana, while out trick or treating. The mass for Andrea Gonzalez was held in Orange at Holy Family Cathedral, and at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Ana for twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez Huerta.
A suspect, Jacquinn Ramone Bell, 31, has been arrested in the case and faces multiple charges, including three counts of vehicular manslaughter. He is a father himself and had his 14 and 17-year old children with him in the car when he hit the girls and failed to stop. It's also been revealed he should not have been driving; his license had been suspended early October, he was charged over a previous DUI hit and run, was involved in another crash just days before the crashing into the girls, and had violated probation for previous crimes that included domestic violence. If any evidence comes to light indicating he was under the influence when he hit the three girls, he could be facing second-degree murder charges. This may be difficult to prove though, as Bell wasn't arrested until three days after the killings.
The City of Santa Ana has established a memorial fund on behalf of Andrea, Lexi and Lexandra.
Trick or treating teens, adult, killed; toddler critical in OC
November 2 2014
Halloween turned into a night of tragedy for three teen girls, a 61-year-old father and his four-year-old son, in Orange County.
The three 13-year-old girls were killed in a hit and run, while trick or treating. Twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez and their friend, Andrea Gonzalez, were hit by an SUV at about 6.42pm on a crosswalk on Fairhaven Avenue, Santa Ana, and the driver and a male passenger failed to stop or summon aid. The little girls were found with their candy bags still in their hands.
A witness chased the green vehicle but lost it. A Honda CR-V was later found abandoned in a shopping center nearby, but authorities have not been able to find the driver because it was registered to an old address. Locals say the crosswalk is dangerous as it's unlit at night and an eyewitness described the girls as wearing dark leggings and costumes. The girls were only a block from home and were dragged around 150 feet by the speeding vehicle.
Investigators have stepped up the search for the suspects over the weekend and are appealing for anyone with information, especially surveillance video, to contact OC Crimestoppers. It's completely anonymous.
A Facebook memorial and fundraising page has been set up to help pay for the funeral expenses of the twins. There doesn't seem to be one for Andrea Gonzalez, however.
In Irvine, 65-year-old John Roger Alcorn was also trick or treating, with his four-year-old son. They were struck by a Mazda while crossing Burwood Street and West Yale Loop around 7.15pm. Mr Alcorn died later in hospital and his little boy remains in critical condition. The female driver stayed at the scene and has co-operated fully with police. The investigation is ongoing.
OC's Mrs Swanek; condolences and congratulations
November 1 2014
Orange County expectant mom, Megan Swanek, has - via twitter - shared her joy and tears at trying for a baby while her much loved mom was dying of cancer. She has blogged about her experiences too, and nobody could fail to be moved by them. It hasn't been any easy path for Mrs Swanek to conceive, and dealing with the terminal cancer of her much-loved mom at the same time has been a long, hard path.
Megan's path to pregnancy has not been an easy one, and watching her brave mom slowly succumb to her terminal lung and brain cancer hasn't been easy either. Just weeks after Mrs Swanek learned she was pregnant, her mom finally passed way. Mrs Swanek, and her family, wrote beautiful obituaries and tributes for her Reading, England-born (but Irish-ancestry) mother. Mrs Swanek said: "Writing Mom's obituary is one of the hardest things I will ever do." She did it beautifully though. The china teacups and refreshments at the funeral would have done any Irish wake proud.
No family could have done more to honor a deceased loved one. Mrs Swankek continues; strong, beautiful and loving - the greatest tribute to her mom there could ever be, just by being the daughter she is. Media in Orange County haven't covered her story, though they probably should have done. Here at bobharrodmissing.com, we hold Mrs Swanek up as a shining example of a dutiful, loving daughter, and wish her all the best for the little Swanek to come - she's not going to tell if baby's a boy or girl just yet. How proud Paula Mary DeWitt would be of her loving daughter though, and the grandbaby to come, if she were still here.
Woman in tub stabbed by Grim Reaper
October 31 2014
A woman in Shadowridge Apartments, Thibodo Road, San Diego, was stabbed in the run-up to Halloween by a woman who broke into her apartment dressed as the Grim Reaper. In a scene that sounds like a horror movie, the victim was attacked while in the tub, stabbed several times and then the masked attacker jumped from a second story balcony and disappeared. The victim's injuries are not life-threatening.
CBS reports that this is the second attack within a fortnight at the apartments - another resident was also cut while taking out the trash.
One fatality, one injured in Space Ship Two crash
October 31 2014
Virgin's Galactic Space Ship Two has crashed in the Mojave desert, California, spreading debris over a five-mile area. Witnesses report seeing the craft 'explode' mid-air. The co-pilot is reported dead at the scene, while the pilot ejected and has been seriously injured.
The Space Ship Two was manned by a pilot and co-pilot only and did not carry any passengers. A released emergency parachute has been photographed at the scene.
Suspected wedding thief caught but gift box still missing
October 31 2014
The suspected thief who tried to spoil an Orange County couple's wedding day has been arrested. 27-year-old Arman Lotfi of Santa Ana has been charged with burglary and grand theft, but sadly the gift box he's thought to have stolen from the reception has not been recovered. The theft took place at Tustin Ranch Golf Club and was captured on surveillance camera.
OC residents monitored for Ebola after visiting W. Africa
October 29 2014
Two Orange County residents are being monitored for Ebola after they returned from a visit to West Africa. Neither person has shown any signs of the virus though, and they are not subject to quarantine. Their temperatures will be checked twice daily and they will receive home health visits for the next 21 days. Their identities and exact locations have not been released.
The OC Register reports that the Department of Public Health says all five University of California medical centers are prepared to receive Ebola patients and UC Irvine alone already has 50 staff members specially trained. It hopes to increase that number to 100 by the end of the week. The information was revealed Monday, when UC Irvine hosted a round table event attended by 700 people entitled, 'Ebola: What you should know'.
Private car sales with safety built in
October 25 2014
The tragic murder of young student Abdullah Alkadi in California has highlighted the dangers of selling expensive items privately. It seems he may have been murdered for his expensive car, and once again, it was a sale through Craigslist. There have been numerous murders and crimes associated with contacts first made through that website, and other private sales of expensive items.
Now, the OC Register reports a new company called Carlypso is hoping to remove some of the risk from selling cars privately. From reading their website, we understand that the buyer and seller do not exchange any money directly - all that is done through the company. That removes one huge risk. Also, the seller does not have to meet the buyer for a test drive; after the car is checked and valued, the keys are placed in a secure box attached to the car, and the potential buyer uses their credit card or driver's license to open it. The car can be left anywhere, so the seller does not have to be present for the test drive. A GPS device is attached to the vehicle, to track where it goes and prevent theft.
Any offers are made online, and acceptance and payment are also made online. However, it does seem that when a sale is made made, the seller still has to meet the buyer to finalize the details. The website promises it's up to 40% cheaper than selling through a dealer and promises to obtain the price it has offered, though to be honest, we weren't able to find exactly what they charge from the information on the website.
There might still be a risk of losing money if a buyer uses false ID and credit card details, perhaps, but undoubtedly Carlypso helps protect sellers from people who would kill for a car. That can only be a good thing.
Anaheim child's killing gang-related
October 25 2014
Nine-year-old Ximena Meza was shot while playing outside her Greenacre Avenue, Anaheim apartment Wednesday. She died from her chest injury in hospital.
It was a drive-by shooting by someone in a white car and the little girl appears to be 'collateral damage' in an area known for gang-related activity. The OC Weekly reports that the area is claimed by the 'Chicanos killing all' gang and authorities are looking at a gang injunction. It seems the intended target was amongst a group of men beside her. Two young men have now been arrested: Ricardo Cruz, 19, and Alfredo Miguel Aquino, 20.
They are are being held on $1 million bail. A $57,500 reward is offered by Anaheim PD and the Association for OC Deputy DAs, for information leading to an arrest and conviction, but authorities haven't confirmed if that led to the arrests. A press conference is scheduled for 2pm today (Saturday Oct. 25th).
A fundraising page has been set up to help pay for little Ximena's funeral expenses.
Craigslist 'buyer' charged with Abdullah Alkadi's murder
October 21 2014
There have been developments in the case of missing Cal State student Abdullah Alkadi, who was found dead nearly 150 miles from his Northridge home, near the 10 freeway, Thursday, October 16th. Although police originally said the sale of Abdullah's expensive Audi A6 on Craigslist was not connected to his death, prosecutors have now charged the Long Beach man who said he purchased it, with murder. The car was worth around $30,000. The suspect was arrested before Abdullah's body was found.
28-year-old Agustin Rosendo Fernandez, age 28, has been charged with 'special circumstances' (during a robbery and carjacking) murder, meaning prosecutors can seek the death penalty. Two people were originally arrested, but one has been released, without charge. That person is still under investigation though, prosecutors say. 23-year-old Abdullah was stabbed to death, and investigators say they have found forensic evidence in his vehicle.
Abdullah's parents have flown to the US, and arrangements have been made to transport his body back to Saudia Arabia, his home country. His parents are devastated, and unable to talk to the press, at this time.
Fernandez' arraignment has been set for November 17.
Brighter future as OC Reg's Aaron Kushner steps down
October 18 2014
After reckless expansion - which included taking on the LA Times - followed by large scale layoffs and the closing of new publications, young Aaron Kushner has stepped down as the publisher of the OC Register. The LA Register Kushner recently launched is no more. The LA Times has also launched a $2 million breach of contract lawsuit against the OC Reg, alleging unpaid delivery bills. Kushner remains co-owner, along with Eric Spitz, of Freedom Communications, parent company of the OC Register.
An investor, Richard Mirman, has been appointed in his place. Unfortunately, the OC Weekly reports he doesn't have any newspaper experience either; his expertise lies in casinos. Let's hope the gamble pays off.
Cal State student Abdullah found dead
October 18 2014
Missing CSU student Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi has sadly been found deceased. His body was recovered at the side of Hwy 10 in Palm Desert, Thursday, October 16th. Family members in Saudi Arabia were informed Friday. No cause of death has been released.
23-year-old Abdullah had been missing since September 18th from Northridge, after he advertised his expensive Audi for sale on Craigslist. Police say there's no connection to his disappearance. Family - who are en route to the US - say they've been told two men have been detained in connection with the case.
LAPD say their investigation is ongoing and a press conference will be held Monday afternoon.
Deepest condolences to Abdullah's family and friends.
'Good Samaritan' steals, puts wheelchair on Craigslist
October 11 2014
In early September, motorized wheelchair user Richard Young had a seizure in the street in Chula Vista, NBC Los Angeles reports. A good Samaritan, who said his name was Joe, came to Richard's aid and 'took care' of his motorized wheelchair, as Richard was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Richard never got his wheelchair back.
Forced to appeal for the public's help this week, a tip came in to police, saying the wheelchair was advertized for sale on Craigslist. Police set up a sting, and caught suspect Joe Marshall, in the wheelchair, trying to sell it. He also had meth in his possession.
Marshall's been arrested and Richard's very appreciative of the help he received. Our best wishes go out to him, and police who got his wheelchair back. A good job, well done.
Mayhem Miller in standoff with LE; tweets it live
October 11 2014
MMA fighter Jason 'Mayhem Miller' caused a stir in Orange County and a bigger storm on social media, when he was in a standoff with police, Thursday, and tweeted about it live.
Miller had failed to appear for a September hearing on domestic violence charges he is facing from last year, so OC Sheriff's deputies went to his Mission Viejo home to arrest him. Miller refused to come out and it resulted in SWAT teams, helicopters and dozens of law enforcement officers moving in. The area was sealed off, children in the area were unable to get to school and travel was disrupted. Miller tweeted about the standoff from inside his home, and even took time to respond to people he thought were critical of him.
The OC Weekly says Miller surrendered within seconds of the SWAT team blasting off his front door locks, while the OC Register has reprinted some of Miller's tweets, and the responses he got. Here at bobharrodmissing.com, we followed the chaos (but fortunately not mayhem) at the time, on twitter, and were astounded when Miller seemed to mistake a phone officers threw to him through a window for communications, for some sort of attack. We were also confused by his mentioning his 'hotdog' had been scared, but apparently that's his dog.
It might seem almost comical, except for the thousands of dollars the standoff cost, the fear and inconvenience it caused to locals, and the domestic violence charges Miller was already facing. He was also found naked in a church once, according to the OC Weekly. Most importantly, another barricade situation - also related to partner violence, it seems - was playing out in Torrance the same day. That resulted in the death of suspect Timothy Thomas. It shows where these situations can lead, and how serious they are.
Miller's bond has been set at $200,000 and he's scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, October 14th.
Newlyweds' gift box stolen in Tustin
October 9 2014
A thief has gatecrashed an Orange County wedding and stolen the newlyweds' gift box, from the reception at Tustin Golf Club.
The suspect is described as of Middle-Eastern appearance, 25-35 years and about 5'9" - 5'11". Wearing a black tracksuit and gray shirt.
If you recognize him, or have any information, call Tustin PD at: (714 ) 573 3250.
Placentia Heritage Festival and Parade Saturday
October 7 2014
The 50th Annual Placentia Heritage Festival and Parade will be held on Saturday, October 11. The parade includes bands, marching groups, VIP’s, clowns and non-profit organizations. Heritage Festival activities will be held at Tri-City Park with entertainment featuring music and entertainers, as well as a car show and business expo. A craft fair, and, of course, delicious food and refreshments will also be available. Starts 10am. With a little luck, someone will take along a few Bob Harrod posters, to remind locals he's still missing.
Bob's case: activities
October 5 2014
Since Mrs Fontelle Harrod gave an interview over a year ago, in which she said she believes her husband Bob Harrod was murdered in a bathroom of his Placentia home in 2009, there has been no news. In that same news item, Placentia police told media they had asked the formidable Orange County 'cold case' unit for help.
There have been no updates from OC prosecutors or investigators, but that is unsurprising. Cold cases are the most difficult and sensitive of all, and require months - often years - of painstaking work, and trying to elicit 'that' elusive tip or witness to help conclude the case. Personally, here at bobharrodmissing.com, we firmly believe that OC investigators have not just abandoned the case, and never will. Investigators working cold cases are often the most experienced, dedicated and, dare we say, obssessive individuals. The case of missing Robert Merle Harrod, his new marriage to his youthful sweetheart and then the tragedy of his disappearance, touched the hearts of many in a way they could never forget; there's no reason to think it hasn't done the same to OC investigators too.
Bob's three daughters, son in law and grandson and other close relatives have all maintained the status they quickly adopted after his disappearance; no appeals or organized public searches, no public vigils, no recent updated missing posters or media interviews. Son-in-law Jeff Michaels, formerly known as Jeff Fink (in Ohio) the last known person to have seen Bob alive, has never spoken to media at all. Accusations were levelled by Bob's daughters at his hairdresser - who police have cleared - and at Mrs Harrod, who was in Missouri when he vanished and would have destroyed any hopes of being written into his will by disappearing him at that point.
Daughter Roberta Brady has also posted, and mentioned in 'Disappeared, Long Lost love' about 'dark' people and doubtful business deals; all of which police seem to have completely discounted. Bob was 81 when he disappeared and hadn't worked for decades. He was a regular, long-term employee for a large, reputable company with an unblemished record, when he did work. He was married to his first wife Georgia, for over half a century, until she died. Police believe someone close to Bob disappeared him, and it was because of the battle for his money. Obviously, if Bob's daughter Roberta truly believe her father's fortune was gained by doubtful means, she'll return that money to those she thinks lost it, once she inherits it, one would hope.
During the years Bob has been missing, Bob's daughters (or people claiming to be them, and who certainly seem to have insider knowledge) have made many comments about their father, and Mrs Harrod, and people supporting the search for them, on social media. Many have been very unkind, some have been surreal, and some have been savage. Daughter Julie, married to son-in-law who was the last person to see Bob alive, has accused Bob of grinding up dentures to extract the gold in them. Her posts (those not deleted) can be seen on the Rim of the World (ROTW) forums, under IntuitiveJules. Posted there because they moved from the home of a murder victim in Placentia close to Bob, up the hill to Running Springs. Apparently, the fingerprint dust was still all over the Placentia house, when they took possession.
Daughters Roberta and Paula have also posted vociferously and levelled outrageous accusations about Bob, his hairdresser, Mrs Harrod and her relatives and people supporting the search for Bob. They have been deleted, at their request. Roberta in particular, has actively supported (via posts on social media) others attacking those people. Any questions about what Bob's son-in-law may have seen or done, the day he worked in Bob's house when Bob disappeared, have been ignored, dismissed or the questioner has been attacked. This website is a direct result of an accusation Roberta Brady levelled at admin, after we made a post on Websleuths forum, using the phrase 'all guns blazing', which she twisted to interpret as an incitement for people to shoot her, and threatened to sue and get the most supportive social media for Bob Harrod shut down. This website would never have been set up, if it hadn't been for her.
For the record, your admin here is someone who has been deeply affected by a murder in their own family and is totally against any violence and killing. Bringing Bob home, safety and security for Bob's widow Fontelle Harrod and, lastly, jail for whoever murdered Bob, is the only aim here. Defending attacks on him is also an aim, as he can't speak for himself.
There has been much activity around Bob's estate in the years he's been missing. Grandson Andrew Robert Harrod was asked to account for the whereabouts of probably nearly half a million dollars or more, borrowed from Bob, in legal proceedings in Orange County. Unfortunately, he couldn't recall precise dates, or even where he'd banked the money.
Bob Harrod was a multimillionaire, and his fortune has been left to his three daughters; Paula Borcher, Roberta Brady and Julie Michaels, all living in Southern California. At least one in a house owned by Bob, which she hasn't had to pay rent on, since Bob disappeared. Bob's only grandson, who changed his name to Andrew Robert Harrod in adulthood, was left $10,000 (He's the son of Julie Michaels and Bob's son-in-law Jeff Michaels, last known person to see Bob alive). People should be careful not to shorten his name, as otherwise he could be mistaken for Robert 'Bob' Harrod, especially in emails etc. His mom Julie Michaels says he is a computer genius. He kept one of his computers in Bob's home, according to her. She claimed it back, after Bob vanished.
Bob's new wife, Fontelle, says he had told her just before he disappeared, that he intended to add her to his will. Bob also left a note, reminding himself to add Fontelle to his accounts. He never got time to do either of these things, and Mrs Harrod does not benefit from her husband's will or trust. Mrs Harrod is in her late seventies and was engaged to Bob when she and he were growing up in Misssouri, without much money. She loved him before he got rich.
As part of a deal that she would not object to his daughters being appointed conservators of Bob's trust, and that she would receive a small monthly allowance from her husband's estate, Mrs Harrod came to a legal agreement with Bob's daughters. That didn't go smoothly, as his daughters then wanted her to leave Bob's house and return to her native Missouri. Mrs Harrod hadn't expected that and wanted to stay and help find Bob. She has won that battle, so far. Mrs Harrod does not own her marital home. That's part of the trust, controlled by Bob's daughters.
Now, five years after his disappearance, which is an important milestone under CA legislation, Bob's daughters have applied for him to be declared dead and his estate (numerous properties, cash, stocks, shares etc) to pass completely into their control. The order for probate was rejected September 16th though, for unknown reasons.
Mrs Fontelle Harrod has expressed her strong determination she will be allowed to stay in her husband's Placentia home, to help find him. She is the only family member vocalizing the need to find Bob Harrod, so we hope she gets her wish, when Bob's fortune finally passes to his daughters.
It is worth remembering that Bob's daughters asked to be given access to his money almost immediately following his disappearance, so they could 'help' his wife and offer a reward (from Bob's own money) for information leading to his return, or an arrest. That $50,000 reward still stands and is legally enforcable. Bob's body probably lies less than an hour's drive from his home in Carnation Drive, Placentia and he was likely taken away from the suburbs, into the wilderness. Maybe up the hill, rather than down. Work it out, hikers, and go looking. Find Bob's remains and earn yourself a small fortune. Help heal his grieving widow's broken heart at the same time.
Woman pleads not guilty to killing her mom, age 96
September 28 2014
Christine Reynolds, 71, of Rossmore, Orange County, entered a not guilty plea when she appeared in West Justice Center Friday 28th September, charged with shooting dead her 96-year-old mother, Gretchen DeStefano. The shooting took place August 28th this year, in the home Gretchen shared with Reynolds and her son. Gretchen was formerly one of Walt Disney's original 'ink and color' girls, the Press-Telegram reports, who worked on the studio's groundbreaking movie, Fantasia.
Reynolds' brother Paul DeStefano was also in the home at the time, and told police that after hearing a loud bang, he walked into the room to find his mother sitting in her chair bleeding from a shot to her head, and his sister announcing, 'I shot the bitch.' Paul also said his sister has an alcohol problem and had been fighting with her mom all day.
The family say they no longer want anything to do with Christine Reynolds, and will not be supporting her during her trial. Her pre-trial is scheduled for December 12th and Reynolds will remain in jail unless she can post $1 million bail.
There is a wonderful article here in Vanity Fair about Walt Disney's 'ink and color girls', for anyone who wants to know more about the fascinating work Gretchen did. May she rest in peace.
LA Register closure sparks fears for OC Register jobs
September 28 2014
Freedom Communications, owner of the OC Register which initially did so much to publicize Bob Harrod's case, has ceased publication of its recently launched LA Register.
The move to take on the might of the LA Times surprised many in the industry when the LA Register was launched, only five months ago. Despite some great reporters and photographers, the publication failed to gel with the public.
Owners of Freedom, Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, have issued a somewhat obtuse statement about the definition of failure - but as there's reported to have been at least 29 jobs lost, it must seem like a big fail to the newly unemployed.
Worryingly, the OC Weekly is reporting a big meeting is scheduled Monday at the OC Register, and that there may be further bad news regarding jobs.
REI workshop for hikers, book quickly!
September 28 2014
The REI store in Tustin, CA, is holding a workshop for hikers October 1st, where experts will give tips on the best Fall hikes in Orange County. They will share tips and tricks on all aspects of hiking including trip planning, essential items, equipment, safety precautions, local resources and places to go.
It takes place 7-8.30pm and is free, but there are only four spots left, so get in quick if you want to attend! Full booking details here.
Ganesh Ramsaran guilty of the murder of wife Jennifer
September 24 2014
A jury in Chenango County, NY, found former IBM computer worker and part-time runner Ganesh 'Remy' Ramsaran guilty of the murder of his wife Jennifer, Tuesday, 23rd September. Remy is also known as 'Psycho', a nickname he chose himself, while still at school.
Jennifer Renz Ramsaran went missing December 11th, 2012, and her body was found dumped off the side of a highway over two months later. Remy told police she'd gone shopping but the jury accepted prosecutor Joseph McBride's argument that Remy had killed her in their Sheff Road home in order to be with his married mistress Eileen Sayles, and benefit from Jennifer's life insurance. Sayles had to be arrested over her refusal to attend court and give evidence. She had once been Jennifer's best friend and even lived in the family home. Both Sayles and Ramsaran insisted Jennifer hadn't known of their affair, but Jennifer's emails to her husband revealed she did.
During the trial, the full extent of the betrayal, deception and defamation of Jennifer were revealed. As was the sleazy behaviour of Remy Ramsaran, and others close to him. His litany of deception was revealed in part - ironically - from the IT worker's computer and social media records. The depravity and overwhelming egotism of his character were revealed by his own behaviour on the stand, which saw Remy Ramsaran rebuked by the DA, the judge and even his own attorney.
Within split seconds of the verdict being announced, Ramsaran was cuffed and rushed out of the courtroom back to jail.
Jennifer Renz Ramsaran was silenced, but the strongest, most supportive community came forward to speak on her behalf when she was. It was made up of family, locals, friends and complete strangers and, through them, Jennifer's voice rang out loud and clear. Rest in peace and quiet now, Jennifer. Justice is yours. May peace, resolution and eventually happiness lie in the future for your loved ones left behind.
Abdullah sold Audi on Craigslist, disappeared
September 21 2014
UPDATED: Found Deceased
Mystery surrounds the case of a Cal State Northridge student who 'loves school', after he sold his $36,000 Audi via Craigslist - and disappeared.
Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi is a Saudi Arabia citizen who has studied Electrical Engineering in the US for four years. He always keeps in touch with his family and friends and has never been out of contact before.
The last known person to have seen Abdullah is the person he sold his Audi to, last Wednesday, September 17th. That person hasn't been named. Abdullah's cell was deactivated in Beaumont in Riverside County, but his brother Ahmed says he has no connections there.
“We have been in misery for the last two days,” Ahmed Alkadi said. “We have tried everything. We called friends. We called relatives. We called everybody we knew and with no news. We are so worried about him.”
Ahmed also says their mom is so distraught she can't even speak to him on the phone.
Abdullah is 23 years old and was last seen by those who know him at his residence in the 9900 block of Reseda Boulevard, Northridge, LA, Sept. 17 at noon, before leaving to sell his vehicle. When he didn't return, police were informed.
He was last seen wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans, and beige shorts, which seems wrong, unless the 'shorts' mean underwear. He has a middle eastern complexion, has black hair and brown eyes, is 5 feet 3 inches and weighs approximately 110 pounds. Abdullah also has a moustache and goatee.
Anyone with information about Abdullah Alkadi’s whereabouts was urged to contact Detective Carlton at LAPD’s Missing Persons Unit by calling 213-996-1800. Callers were asked to dial 1-877-527-3247 during non-business hours or on weekends.
Or submit an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers, here.
Missing Colton found, mother arrested
September 13 2014
A 2-year-old-boy, due to celebrate his 3rd birthday next week, was reported missing from Cedar Park, Texas, Wednesday September 10th. Along with that call, horrific pictures were posted on his biological father's Facebook, showing a young child covered with weals, cuts and bruises on his body and head.
He said it was young Colton Brant Turner, although he didn't say when the photos were shot or what action he'd taken when he saw his child's injuries. The biological father, Brandon Lee Pelfrey, 22, has a conviction for assaulting a mentally disabled teen, along with two accomplices. He is no longer in a relationship with Colton's mom.
Police finally tracked down Colton's mother, 20-year-old unemployed, newly pregnant Meagan Work, but she provided some 'inconsistent' versions of where he might be to police. She has a criminal history which includes animal cruelty. Work had been mostly living out of her car recently, and happily posting on Facebook about getting away for a while, and road trips. She's reportedly in a relationship with 29 year-old Michael Brant Turner, who also has a lengthy criminal history.
It turned out, the last time little Colton had been seen by anyone other than his mother was back in July. Police found his remains buried in a wood in Southeast Austin near Burleson Road and Felter Lane, Friday September 12th.
Work has been charged with abandoning and endangering a child without intent to return and with tampering with evidence. She's in Travis County Jail. Austin police say additional charges are pending.
Ryan Watenpaugh suspected of killing, cooking Pomeranian
September 13 2014
Palo Cedro, Shashta County, CA resident Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh has been accused of killing and cooking his girlfriend's little pomeranian dog - named Bear - feeding it to her in a meal, and then leaving its severed paws in a bag on her doorstep.
The girlfriend says she left her Redding apartment after Watenpaugh assaulted her and returned to find little Bear missing. Later, he cooked her a 'reconcilatory' meal, but after she left him again, he began texting her, asking if she had 'enjoyed eating her dog'.
She then says she found two dog's paws left in a plastic bag outside her door. He admits leaving the paws but denies killing the little dog. Some media sources have been reporting this in a lighthearted way, so it's worth mentioning that an AK47 was also found in his home and that pets not only often end up victims in domestic violence - they can prevent devoted human victims seeking help because animals are not permitted in many shelters.
Watenpaugh is in jail unless he can come up with $250,000 bail and may face further charges, besides the ones of animal cruelty, domestic violence, stalking and false imprisonment he's already been booked on. We note with pleasure he appears to have a very sore eye in that mugshot of his.
9/11, Remembrance and the ongoing tragedy
September 11 2014
On this day 13 years ago, nearly 3000 people lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. Most were people innocently going about their work on that day. But hundreds were emergency workers who had raced into the danger zone, knowing far better than the people trapped inside, what the risks were. They just wanted to save others.
Their bravery and sacrifice stands as a rebuke to those who see bravery as beheading people, then posting videos of their own children - whose childhood they destroy - online.
Rest in peace, victims and heroes of 9/11. That's something those who spread terror - in any form and under any guise - will never enjoy.
Remains of Holly Bobo have been found
September 9 2014
A human skull found Monday 7th September in Decatur County Tennessee, has been identified as 20-year-old Holly Bobo, who went missing from her Parsons home April 13th, 2011.
Holly's case is particularly tragic and that is not just because she was a beautiful, young, blonde-haired woman. Many other young women of similar descriptions go missing too.
Holly's case is marked out because she came so near to being saved - neighbors heard her screams at her home, and called her mom at work. Mom called Holly's elder brother, but he mistook the man walking with Holly into the woods, for her boyfriend.
Over the years, it became obvious that people had information but were unwilling or too scared to come forward. Eventually, prosecutors went ahead and made arrests anyway, without a body. Zachary Adams and Jason Autry are already in jail charged with the murder of Holly, and her remains were found only 10-15 miles from the home of Zach Adams.
It's very likely there will be some kind of justice for this young woman, at last. And, at last, her family have the opportunity to lay her to rest in a place they can honor. Knowing that they know where she is, and that Holly is beyond all harm now.
Rest in peace, young Holly Bobo. Let the living worry about attaining justice for you. It is the least, and the last thing, that anyone can do for you.
Skeletal remains found in Decatur County
September 7 2014
Although officials are saying they have absolutely no links at this time, a human skull that has been found in Decatur County, Tennessee, is only 10 or 15 miles from the property of Zach Adams, who is accused of the murder of missing Holly Bobo.
20-year-old Holly disappeared on April 13 2011 and was last seen being led into woods near her home, by a man dressed in camouflage gear.
'...a hunter found a human skull not far the home of Zach Adams...Adams and 39-year-old Jason Autry are both charged with kidnapping and murder in the case.'
The report can be read here.
Meds reduced, Officer Garcia emerges from coma
September 6 2014
Although wounded San Bernardino police officer Gabriel 'Gabe' Garcia is still critically ill, his meds have been reduced and he has shown signs of consciousness. His ventilator has also been removed, and he's breathing unaided.
San Bernardino Police Chief Burguan is posting regular information on the police Facebook, here, and is still urging residents who want to show support to keep a blue light burning for Officer Garcia. A Unity Car Wash fundraiser is taking place until 5pm today. Full details on the Facebook page.
Deaf Riverside family lose 'ears'; beloved pets
September 6 2014
A deaf Riverside family of eight, whose dogs are 'their ears' are desperate to find their missing pets.
Vanilla and Honey, a pair of yellow labradors, dug out of their yard at Alderidge Court June 28th, and haven't been seen since. The Hencker family are lost without them - the labs even alerted them to a fire once, though they're not certified service dogs.
The family noticed the dogs, who are microchipped sisters aged 18 months, were gone within half an hour, but still haven't been able to locate them. If you think you can help, visit the Facebook page set up for Vanilla and Honey here.
There is a $1,000 reward for the dogs' safe return. Anyone with information should use the contact details available at the Facebook page linked above.
Man charged in killing of Erin Corwin
August 30 2014
After young, pregnant marine's wife Erin Corwin went missing June 28th, there were a great number of rumors on the internet that she'd been having an affair with a neighboring, married marine. And that the baby might have been her lover's.
Sadly, it looks like those rumors may have been true. 19-year-old Erin's body has been found part way down an unmapped, disused gold mine, and police say evidence recovered with her body, links her murder to the marine whose baby she was thought to be expecting.
The marine in question is Christopher Lee, 24, who took an honorable discharge shortly after Erin disappeared, and returned, with his wife and children, to his home town in Alaska. Lee agreed to waive extradition charges and has entered a not-guilty plea to first-degree murder charges, with special circumstances of lying in wait.
San Bernardino prosecutors say they have recovered evidence, as well as Erin's remains, from the mineshaft, and are confident they have a strong case. The mine where Erin was found was incredibly deep and dangerous. Luckily, Erin's remains had come to rest on a ledge far from the bottom. Specialist teams with breathing apparatus were required, and one was injured. He wished to remain anonymous though, so all we can do is send out a general thanks for all those who helped bring Erin Corwin and her unborn baby home.
Blue lights burn, men charged in officer shooting
August 30 2014
San Bernardino police officer Gabriel Garcia, who was shot in the head and body last Friday, August 22nd, remains in a stable but critical condition. Officer Garcia, along with a trainee, approached a group of six people in the 1900 block of Garner Avenue, around 2am in the morning. The area had suffered several burglaries in recent times. Someone among the group immediately opened fire and officer Garcia was hit. The trainee - who was not injured - returned fire and killed a suspect, 38-year-old Alex Alvarado.
Jonathan Contreras, 20; Orlando Cruz, 24; and Gonzalo Medina, 22, have been charged with two counts each of attempted murder of a peace officer and one count each of possession of an assault weapon. They have entered not guilty pleas.
MC Hammer and Kiwi become epicenter of news for Napa 'Quake
August 24 2014
A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay area in Northern California at 3.20am this Sunday, shaking homes, shattering glass and causing structural damage to some buildings. The epicenter was between Napa and American Canyon, about 6.7 miles below the earth's surface. Latest reports say 87 people are injured - with three, including a child, in critical condition. The early hour of the strike meant casualties were much lighter than they could have been though.
In a surprising development as news of the earthquake first broke, rapper MC Hammer, who lives in the Bay area, became one of the best sources for news of what was happening. His twitter account, which has over 3 million followers, became more like a media center as dozens of people answered his calls for information, which he then retweeted. One person with a dry sense of humor tweeted to him:
At first, it seemed as though there was very little damage and few injuries, but a New Zealand twitter user in Napa named Lyall Davenport, strolled around the streets taking photographs of damaged buildings and glass and rubble-strewn streets. He soon found himself inundated with media requests to use his photos.
State Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency as thousands have been left without power or water, due to burst mains. Fires also broke out, at buildings and a mobile home park. Cpt Mike Randolph of NAPA Fire Dept says there are 61 mains water breaks, and many reports of the smell of gas. Happily, he added, in a live report from ABC7, that no rescues of people have had to be undertaken.The windows of the control tower at Napa airport were blown out, but the airport is still operational as pilots can rely on the system used at night, when the tower is closed.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter for people made homeless by the quake, in the Florence Douglas Senior Center. Authorities say that three badly damaged buildings in Napa were not reinforced, and that another 15-16 have been 'red tagged', meaning they are no longer fit for occupancy. Others have been 'yellow tagged', allowing residents limited access.
Assessments of damage are continuing, as are minor aftershocks. There have been dozens. Experts put the chance of a 'strong' aftershock at around 54 per cent, at the moment.
Bob Harrod. Breaking, and broken hearted for Mrs Harrod
August 23 2014
Police officer critical after San Bernardino shooting
August 23 2014
A vigil was held last night for San Bernardino police training officer Gabriel 'Gabe' Garcia, 31, who is in very critical condition after suffering at least two gunshot wounds in the early hours Friday. It took place outside Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where the officer underwent surgery. SB PD has said the next three to five days will be 'critical in terms of the prognosis' for the officer, who is a father of one and whose own father is a captain in the department, with 23 year's service.
34-year-old Alex Alvarado, who police say fired at the officers, was shot by a trainee officer accompanying Gabriel, and died in hospital from his wounds. Another five people are in custody and a sawn-off, assault type rifle and a revolver were found.
The shootings occured around 2am on North Garner Avenue, San Bernardino, when the two officers left their vehicle to investigate a group of people outside a residence. Police Chief Jarrod Burguan says his officers were fired on almost immediately but although Gabriel was hit, the trainee managed to return fire until backup arrived. He is shaken up but uninjured.
Chief Burguan describes Officer Garcia as 'exemplary':
"(he) has earned the utmost respect from fellow officers and the department as a whole...His calming and compassionate nature has earned multiple letters from citizens thanking him for his assistance with crimes such as armed robberies and carjackings.”
Jonathon Contreras, 20, has been arrested on suspicion of possession of an assault rifle and Orlando Cruz, 24, on outstanding traffic warrants. Three others held have been identified only as 18 and 19 year-old women, and a 31-year-old man.
Costa Mesa man guilty of 1979 killing of nurse
August 17 2014
A brutal, 1979 cold case murder of a Torrance, LA Cnty nurse has finally been resolved with the guilty verdict announced this week in the trial of 62-year-old Costa Mesa man, Douglas Bradford. He maintained he'd been sailing alone, in the dark, when the former beauty queen was killed.
A jury found him guilty of the first-degree murder of 28-year-old Lynne Knight -originally from Canada - who he had previously dated. His sentence will be between 26 years to life. Although the investigation into Lynne's murder was reopened in 1999, Bradford wasn't charged until 2009. Investigators had long suspected him though, and picture wire his artist mother used to hang her paintings proved key evidence in the case; Lynne was garroted with identical wire.
This isn't the oldest cold case murder solved in California though. That seems to be the 1957 Hawthorne murders of two EL Segundo PD officers by Gerald Fit Mason. He was finally sentenced for the murders of officers Richard Phillips and Milton Curtis in 2003.
You can read more here about Lynne and the dedicated, decades-long search for justice by her sister, Donna Knight Wigmore.
Man shot, 7 arrested overnight in Ferguson
August 17 2014
A man was shot and critically wounded in Ferguson overnight. His identity and who fired isn't yet known. Irritant CS 'Smoke' and teargas were fired at people who refused to disperse for the curfew, and seven arrests were made.
Cpt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said this had become necessary because some people in the crowd were armed. He'd earlier told media teargas would not be used.
Atilano will serve half of sentence for brother's killing
August 17 2014
A now 17-year-old Menifee, CA teen has been sentenced to 12 years' detention after admitting the voluntary manslaughter of his 11-year-old half brother, in July 2013. He will only serve up to six years though, as a person sentenced as a juvenile can't be held past age 23.
A huge search was launched when Terry Dewayne Smith Jnr, who his mother says had autism, was reported missing July 7th while being babysat by his elder brother, Skylor Atilano. His remains were found four days later, buried in the backyard of the family home. He had died from a blow to the head. In a strange twist, his body was found when a firefighter and psychic volunteering to search, accidentally stumbled across the family's property, and the psychic smelled decomposition.
Later, child protection services removed a daughter from the home of Terry's mother, Shawna Smith, and her partner Dennise Bugna. Terry's father has filed a wrongful death suit against them both, alleging they were grossly negligent in leaving Terry alone in the care of Skylor, who had a history of explosive outbursts.
Community of Ferguson takes a stand
August 16 2014
UPDATE: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declares State Of Emergency and night curfew in Ferguson.
Few can have missed the turmoil taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, over the past week, ever since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson. Witnesses said the teen was shot while his hands were in the air and he was saying, 'Don't shoot'. A Ferguson (partially redacted) PD report (eventually released yesterday) says there was a struggle, and the officer felt he was in danger. Something else was released too, but that's separate so it's covered at the end of this article. Michael's body was left lying in the street for hours, with a family member nearby.
Outraged citizens in Ferguson took to the streets in protest at what they say is the totally unjustified shooting of an unarmed teen, and they were quickly followed by a highly militarized police presence, in armoured vehicles, gear and weaponry that frankly, made it look as though this area of Missouri had been preparing for World War 3 on its doorstep. Perhaps predictably, the results were terrible. The Mo. State Senator was tear-gassed, an Al Jazeera news crew had to flee the gas - and then police were photographed dismantling their equipment and leaving a camera pointing to the ground so it couldn't record what was happening. In addition, two journalists, the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly, were also thrown in jail for, it seems, the offence of failing to leave a McDonald's quickly enough.
A photograph of a woman's horribly bruised stomach made the rounds on twitter, after she was struck by a rubber bullet; as did a dramatic silhoutte that looked like Bob Marley, risen from his grave, hurling a tear gas canister back to whoever fired it at him.
And then things really got surreal.
People all over the world began mistaking pictures coming out of Ferguson, for pictures of Iraq, or Gaza. And Gaza citizens started tweeting advice to US citizens, about avoiding tear gas. War reporters' names began to appear on bylines, while the Governer, Jay Nixon, appeared to be obliviously attending an event elsewhere. The Mo. State Senator, Maria Chapelle-Nadal, who'd been tear gassed caught his attention though, with a tweet we daren't repeat here but can still be found on her twitter. She had understandably reached, as they say, the end of her tether. An Alderman, Antonio French, had also been arrested by this time. For, as far as we can see, the offence of writing balanced reports of what was going on, and posting extensive video coverage. We'll never know, as he was later released without charge too.
"Oh God," said Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, when he learned of the arrests of journalists. Yes, well, quite. These were not battle-hardened war reporters who've learned to move the second an armed man in uniform lifts an eyebrow - these were domestic journalists, who thought they had rights to protect them. Especially while sitting in a McDonald's in Missouri.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Ferguson's armoured divisions were gone. It was time for the real heavy weaponry to be wheeled out. Highway Patrol, led by Captain Ronald Johnson, a Ferguson native. In its shirtsleeves. They went around talking to protestors, and, even worse, hugging them. Protesters gave as good as they got, talking and hugging right back. The war zone that was Ferguson was suddenly just any other US town again, with all of its problems, and its delights.
Until night fell, and the shadows arose. Looters. The kind of people who think it's acceptable to sell integrity, humanity and the interests of an entire community down the river for the price of a bottle of stolen liquor or a handful of stolen lottery tickets. The kind of people who think it's acceptable to let their own cold hearts stain a community's reputation throughout the world, by threatening journalists who are there to report the situation.
The story might have ended there, because police knew that to intervene then would have meant disaster. A full-scale battle in which lives, instead of property, would have been lost. There was no contest. Let the city's businesses be destroyed.
Step forward, the courageous, good citizens of Ferguson, Missouri. They put their bodies on the line for their town. Arm in arm, they stood in front of store doorways and blocked the looters. They followed those wanting to leave a trail of destruction, and told them it wasn't right. Those who had been up since the early hours and had finally gone home to bed, jumped right out again, to try and avert the disaster. Unarmed and with no authority except the authority of wanting to do right.
The good citizens of Ferguson didn't manage to prevent all looting last night, but they stopped a lot; armed only with courage and conviction...and in the morning, brooms and garbage bags, to clean up the wreckage. Not because they were asked or ordered - they just did it.
Despite the smoke, fury and devastation, Ferguson has become a legend for the bravery of its community over the last seven days; the will to see justice done, and to do right. That's something to be proud of. Ferguson, Missouri will rise again. That's because it's never really been brought down.
* Communications from law enforcement and authoritities on Ferguson protests and the shooting of Michael Brown are some of the strangest we've ever seen. They appear to be very disjointed. A press conference was finally held Friday. Then cancelled, 15 minutes after it was due to start. Then reinstated, once all the reporters started packing up their gear.
It appeared to have been arranged because of overwhelming pressure from the community which wanted to know who shot Michael Brown, and why. Police Chief Jackson didn't take any questions and stumbled and was halting as he spoke.
Police gave out a media pack which included stills from a shoplifting incident that they say shows a towering Michael Brown grabbing and pushing the much smaller store owner into a rack, and stealing Swishers Sweet cigars. With a friend, Dorian Johnson, behind him. If correct, it's horrible, and Michael should certainly have been arrested and charged for that. In a way, it suggested that Michael's shooting was vaguely connected:
'It is worth mentioning that this incident is related to another incident...'
However, the obvious inference that Michael's shooting was somehow connected to the 'strongarm' robbery was later corrected by Ferguson police. Apparently, the police officer who shot him did not suspect him of the robbery. Michael and his friend Dorian were 'blocking' the street by walking in the middle of it, and a struggle ensued when he was ordered to move to the sidewalk by police officer Wilson, according to the report.
Then again, somone claiming to be a friend of the 'significant other' of the police officer involved, has today claimed that 'We are all afraid to speak out' but she felt she had to. That Officer Wilson's version is that he did recognize Michael Brown as a suspect:
'He's looking at them and he sees he's got something in his hand - the cigars...'
She then goes on to describe how Officer Wilson's 'significant other' told her how Michael 'bumrushed' him, leading to him shooting Michael dead.
It's confusing, to say the least. No-one except maybe two or three people can pretend to know exactly what happened here. So please, follow the links in the story above to get the views of the people who are on the scene and know so much more than we do here. Form your own opinion. Just don't forget to keep some empathy in your hearts for the good citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, while you do it.
Killers meet their nemesis in OC's DA
August 11 2014
OC's Matt Murphy, Senior Deputy DA, has succesfully concluded another 'special circumstances murder for financial gain' case, the OC Weekly reports.
40-year-old Brian Hughes Benedict has been found guilty of the September, 2009 murder of his former wife Rebecca Benedict, with whom he was embroiled in a child custody and support case. Armed with a hammer, the then post-grad UCI student laid in wait when Rebecca arrived to pick up their four-year-old then, when Rebecca ran after he hit her once, chased after her and shot her in the body, face and back of the head. Two brave eyewitnesses prevented Benedict from driving off with the little boy.
Benedict faces a maximum of life without parole. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 12th.
Dekraai will face death penalty
August 9 2014
The possibility of the death penalty against the admitted killer of eight people on Seal Beach, CA, in 2011, will not be dismissed, a judge has ruled. The judge also declined to ban the OC District Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case, as defence had asked. Scott Dekraai is awaiting a hearing to determine whether he should face death for the killings, for which he's entered a guilty plea.
However, the judge did decide evidence of a jailhouse informant could not be used in the case against Dekraai, and that there had been failures in the prosecution's case, including failure to turn over evidence. The OC DA's office had already stated it would no longer seek to use the informant's evidence.
The LA Times Reports Judge Goethals stated: 'The "failures in this case, although disappointing, even disheartening, to any interested member of this community, were negligent rather than malicious".'
Dekraai's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, said his office 'is now considering whether to ask an appellate court to consider the motions'.
Smilemakers are here again
August 9 2014
The holiday season - or Christmas - is drawing near. Or near enough, at least, that the Council on Aging Orange County (COAOC) is announcing its annual Smilemakers Comedy Night, September 6th, 2014.
Smilemakers is a great program; it ensures seniors in residential or nursing homes receive a gift and a little human comfort during the holiday season, if their own loved ones aren't able to visit. The Comedy Night helps fund that.
Tickets range from a slightly eye-watering $10,000 for corporate sponsers, to $75 for individuals. Still a lot of money for many families, but worth it if you possibly can.
'The SmileMakers Guild provides an opportunity to bring smiles and holiday cheer to some of the most venerable and vulnerable members of our community.'
'Each year the Holiday Project wraps and delivers holiday gifts to approximately 2,700 Orange County seniors who have no close family or friends and are living alone or in residential care facilities.'
The night begins with cocktails, silent auction and opportunity baskets at 5.30pm, followed by dinner 7 to 10pm, then the live auction and comedy show. Dressy but casual attire.
For more details contact Charlotte Finklea on 714.479.0122. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can't attend at bobharrodmissing, but we have spent at least 10 seconds deciding - we were supposed to be on vacation right now (first for many years) and it's gone so wrong we can't even leave the house. Should we be sad, or glad we have a little bit of saved spare cash now, that could be donated to a good cause for seniors in OC?
Guess what we decided? There's really no place like home, anyhow.
Suspected serial killer victims 'can't be found' in landfill
August 3 2014
Orange County investigators, after consultation with prosecutors, are not going to conduct landfill searches for four suspected victims of alleged serial killers Steven Dean Gordon and Franc Cano, the OC Register reports.
'Authorities determined that a search would be unlikely to locate the bodies or any additional evidence, (Police Lt.) Dunn said.'
It's likely that the huge logistics of such searches, together with the cost, balanced against the chances of success, made the operation unviable. It seems like prosecutors must be confident they have a strong case against the alleged killers, who were on probation and wearing ankle bracelets at the time the murders are thought to have been committed.
Registered sex offenders Cano and Gordon have been charged with the rape and murder of missing Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, as well as that of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, whose body was horrifically discovered by a worker on a conveyor belt in an Anaheim recycling plant. Police believe there is a fourth victim, for reasons they haven't yet revealed, but have been unable to identify her yet.
Anybody who can help with that should contact Orange County Crimestoppers - which is completely anonymous - here. The unidentified woman is thought to be small, black, in her early 20s and with several tattoos. She may have links to Compton.
Tox report: sad surprise in death of firefighter
August 2 2014
Toxicology reports from the Ventura County Medical Examiner has, sadly, revealed that Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman had ecstasy, Adderall and alcohol in his system when he died during a hiking trip in early June.
Mike died from injuries sustained during a fall as he ran after his runaway dog, Duke, but the findings may shed light on why there was such an impulsive, barefoot pursuit in the dangerous terrain.
In the wilderness, even highly experienced and seasoned hikers can come to harm. It's painful to learn that something may have impaired Mike's ability to judge just enough to have cost him his life. He paid the very highest price for any lapse of judgement and this news doesn't alter the fact he died trying to rescue his dog. Mike's loss remains the greatest tragedy to all who knew and loved him, and all the people whose lives and homes he would have continued to fight to save, had he lived.
Guilty verdict in Maribel Ramos murder trial
July 29 2014
Kwang Chol Joy has been found guilty of the felony murder of 36 year old Iraq Army veteran Maribel Ramos, who went missing from her home in Orange, OC in May last year, after asking room mate Chol Joy to leave her apartment. He couldn't pay his share of the rent, and had also become obsessed with Maribel.
Maribel's body wasn't found for two weeks in a remote area of Modjeska Canyon, off Santiago Canyon Road, and though it wasn't possible to ascertain her cause of death, investigators had been able to locate her because of the internet searches Chol Joy carried out - which virtually pinpointed where they might find her body. He also researched decomposition times.
Maribel had also made a distraught, 911 call before she vanished, saying she was in fear of her life.
Chol Joy also made investigators and friends suspicious because of his odd online postings before her body was found. You can read about them here.
Julie Harrod-Michaels seems to contradict her husband's account of when Bob went missing
July 27 2014
On Monday July 27th 2009, when Bob disappeared, none of his family living in SoCal reported him missing. That includes his three adult daughters, his adult grandson and his only son-in-law, Jeff Michaels, who was working in Bob's house that day. The reporting was left to Mrs Fontelle Harrod, who was thousands of miles away, in Missouri. She only found out Bob had disappeared when Bob's youngest daughter, Julie Michaels called her, that night. Julie's married to son-in-law Jeff Michaels, the last known person to have seen Bob Harrod alive, who was working in Bob's house that day.
Someone claiming to be middle daughter Roberta Brady posted, Jeff Michaels was fixing a leaky shower that day. Mrs Harrod has told media, she thinks Bob was murdered 'in that bathroom up there'.
Bob's youngest daughter, Julie (Harrod) Michaels, of Running Springs, San Bernardino County, gave a TV interview to media the day after Bob disappeared. She said she thought he'd gone missing at 'Maybe one? Noon?'. However her husband, Jeff Michaels, gave police a Home Depot receipt stamped at 3.02pm, as an 'alibi' that he'd been out of the house when Bob went missing. The housekeeper says she arrived at noon and Bob was gone, and Jeff Michaels drove up about 15 minutes later. Go figure.
Seems strange police didn't pick up on those inconsistencies straight away. Maybe the OC Cold Case Unit will be better at tracking what's happening to Bob Harrod's fortune now. That could turn up a clue or two, as things seem to be moving on the money front. Never forget, Bob Harrod was at least a millionaire, and police think, 'the details lie in the battle for the money'. See the Websleuths link here, for more details.
Five years ago today, somebody disappeared Bob Harrod
July 27 2014
Five years ago today, Bob Harrod was busy preparing his Placentia, Orange County home for the return of his beloved new bride, Fontelle. They'd been married and living together for a month, but while Fontelle was back in Missouri, packing her things and saying goodbye, he wanted to fix things up as a welcome for when she returned. Bob and Fontelle are both Missouri natives, but Bob had left for California to train as a marine, many decades before. That's how the young sweethearts had lost each other the first time. They were never going to let that happen again.
Five years ago today:
It was the last but one day before the house on Carnation Drive would once again have two occupants, and Bob would never be alone again.
It was the last but one day that the millionaire Bob would have his fortune all to himself - in the future, he'd be sharing it with his new wife. Maybe even his newly acquired step-children and step-grandchildren too, as Bob liked to lend a helping hand to others.
It was the last but one day where Bob's 'reasonable needs' that he was permitted to draw on from the family trust set up for his children, would be those of a single man who lived very sparingly. In future he'd be spending money and having fun with his new wife - he'd already started, in fact.
It was the first working day after a weekend meeting with his adult children, who'd wanted information about the will and family trust he'd set up with his first, deceased wife - their mother.
It was the first of only two days that week that Bob would have to finish his 'to do' list, before his new wife returned. Adding Fontelle's name to his bank accounts was on that list.
It was the last but one day where anyone could say Bob wasn't in his right mind, or was unfit to handle his own affairs, and it would just be his word against theirs - in future, he'd have a strong and loyal wife with to back him up and care for him.
It was the last day Bob could be almost guaranteed not to have non-family visitors all day - or would have been, if his housekeeper hadn't unexpectedly asked to bring her usual Tuesday visit forward to that Monday.
It was the last but one day left for Bob's son-in-law to finish up the small repairs Bob had asked him to carry out, before Fontelle's return, which meant he needed to be in the home.
Five years ago today, was probably the last day of Bob Harrod's life. He didn't know it at 10am, when police told a reporter his last verified call was taken. By 12 Noon, when his housekeeper says she arrived and found him missing, he probably did.
Five years ago today, police think someone probably murdered Bob Harrod, and 'the details lie in the battle for the money' and his 'close circle'.
On this day five years on, is it possible that there is a person walking free in Southern California right now, who murdered defenceless 81 year-old Bob Harrod, knows where his remains are, and was the deadliest of all competitors in that 'battle for the money'?
Did somebody decide on 27th July, 2009, that Bob Harrod would never live to see Noon?
One day away from the fifth anniversary
July 26 2014
There is only one day to go before July 27th is reached and millionaire Bob Harrod will have been missing five long years. Five years - a landmark maybe, in legal terms.
Law enforcement has said, the details lie in the battle for the money in Bob's case. Mrs Fontelle Harrod stood to lose by Bob's disappearance and death, because he hadn't had time to include her in his will. But who stood to gain?
Are those details beginning to emerge now, after five long years? Every dollar and cent of them?
Daughter begs Hesperia thieves to return Mom's ashes
July 26 2014
A burglary victim in Hesperia, San Bernardino County, is begging the thieves to return a priceless item that they stole - the urn containing her mother's ashes.
Although Vanessa Llanas was horrified to find her home had been ransacked and stripped of electronic goods and other valuables while she was away attending a family wedding, it's the loss of the urn that has broken her heart.
The dark blue casket it was in also contained a cross and flowers from the memorial ceremony for her mother, Yolanda Melina Bedoy, who died at just age 50 from Lupus, three years ago.
At the video link here a tearful Vanessa tells reporters that her mother was cremated beause she said she always wanted to be home with her grandkids. Police did recover some stolen items from a dumpster in Victorville but, sadly, not the urn.
Brito and Zavala guilty of manslaughter
July 25 2014
In a case that brought even the prosecutor to tears, two women have been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the beating to death of 23 year-old aspiring journalist and writer Kim Pham, outside a Santa Ana nightclub once known as the Crosby, now the The North Left.
Although it wasn't disputed Kim threw the first blow, what should have been a fight ending up in pulled hair, scratches, black eyes and indignity, ended up in death because tiny Kim was kicked to death while she was on the ground.
'After the defendants were lead away, prosecutor Troy Pino became emotional when saying the lesson of the case should be to just "walk away" when things escalate while drinking... "Don’t get offended, walk away. Just walk away... You have one young woman who is dead," Pino said, tearing up. "And two young women who have been convicted of a homicide. Nobody wins."
He's wrong of course. Kim's thoughtfullness for her fellow human beings meant her organs were donated, so that in death, she gifted life. That's undoubtedly a win for her, as well as the organ recipients.
Candace Marie Brito and Vanesa Tapia Zavala will now serve up to 11 years in prison, although they could have faced life if the jury had found them guilty on the 2nd degree murder charges prosecution had brought.
Sentencing is scheduled September 12th.
Missing John Preciado was run down
July 20 2014
An elderly Mentone, San Bernardino man who went missing in the early hours Friday 18th July, was tragically run down and killed the same day, it's been revealed.
John Preciado, 86, was discovered to be missing from his residential care home at breakfast time, and while staff, law enforcement and family searched, poor John was run down and killed only a couple of miles from his old home in a San Bernardino. The driver failed to stop or report the accident.
'San Bernardino police say Preciado was crossing West Rialto Avenue in the middle of the 700 block when he was struck by an eastbound car, possibly an older model Toyota, around 8:50 p.m.', The San Bernardino Sun reports.
Anyone with information on this collision or the hit and run vehicle is encouraged to contact the San Bernardino Police Department. [071914 1030 TC].
Accused says kick not aimed at Kim
July 20 2014
The OC Weekly reports that in the Kim Pham Santa Ana nightclub murder trial, Vanesa Zavala has been subject to a strong cross examination by OC Deputy DA Troy Pino, during which she broke down in tears and could scarcely be heard.
Zavala's claims that she was actually kicking out towards Kim's male friend, Binh Dinh, in self-defence were rejected by the prosecutor. He asked why, if that was the case, she'd never mentioned being 'rushed' by Dinh, in her statement to police. He also led her, step by step, through video footage of herself where she appeared to pull and throw Kim (who was tusseling on the floor with a woman who's never been found) by her hair, and prepare to kick her.
You can read the full details here. Defence has now rested for Zavala and will present its case for her fellow accused, Candace Brito, Monday.
Vet's body buried in moving ceremony
July 20 2014
When airman Thomas Stanley Lyons was buried with full military honours in Lake Worth, Florida, last Friday, the ceremony was described as a positive one, despite the sorrow. Because Tommy, as his family call him, had been missing for 60 years; ever since the C-124 Globemaster carrying him and 51 other men crashed into a glacier in Alaska in 1952.
The aircraft was discovered two years ago but the recovery and identification of the remains of the 17 men found was only possible this year. Tommy's wallet with his papers and ID were still perfectly intact. Although Tommy was a Brooklyn boy, his sister Geraldine Evans asked that he be interred in South Florida National Cemetery, closer to her present, Boca Raton home.
Extended family members were present, as well as men who had served with Tommy. Perhaps the saddest note was struck by Tommy's nephew, who revealed that Tommy's mom had lived to be 101, and only missed her son's return by a year and a half.
A video of the arrival of Tommy's casket at the airport can be seen here.
Sobs in court as Kim's injured face shown
July 13 2014
The murder trial has begun in the case of two women accused of the nightclub beating death of Annie Kim Pham last January. In an ironic coincidence, the nightclub in question - The Crosby - which the owners closed permanently, reopened with a burst of publicity as The North Left, at the same time. It remains under the same ownership.
Defence for the accused, Candace Brito and Vanesa Zavala, have made it clear they will argue that Kim Pham '...didn't deserve to die, but the fact is she died because she took umbrage over a bump," and 'the victim was the aggressor'. Both accused have entered not guilty pleas to murder and assault charges.
The nature of the defence means the trial is likely to be extremely tough for the family and friends of Kim, whose death ultimately gifted life to the recipients of the organs she had previously chosen to donate. Wednesday, there was sobbing in court as a photograph of Kim's bruised and battered face was shown.
During the opening days of the trial video footage was repeatedly played that showed Kim fighting on the floor with a third woman she is said to have struck first, but it is two others - who prosecutors say are Zavala and Brito - who run up and seem to kick and punch Kim in the head, from a standing position. Both defence and prosecution are using cell phone footage as crucial evidence in the case.
One eyewitness testified he only saw Brito kick Kim in the head, another (who also videoed the fight) said he saw the two accused strike out, but didn't see if the blows landed. Defence say the eyewitness to the kick, the nightclub security guard, has changed his story as he originally told police he saw a 'bleached blonde'. Both defendants have dark brown hair.
Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Troy Pino said it is Zavala who launched the final kick that saw Kim collapse and go limp on the ground. The OC Coroner's report on Kim ruled that she died of blunt force injury to the head, but could not distinguish if one or a combination of blows led to her death.
Perhaps the most telling part of the footage shown to the jury was the sound of one of Kim's friends screaming: 'It’s over. It’s over! Get the (expletive) off her!'
The trial continues Monday.
Ashton Sachs searched Wiki murder info
July 13 2014
Newly released Grand Jury transcripts have shed light on the prosecution case against Ashton Sachs, in the shooting dead of his parents and paralyzing of his 8 year-old brother in San Juan Capistrano, last February.
The LA Times reports that Sachs only came under suspicion when his cell phone records revealed he'd looked up degrees of murder and booked airline tickets back to his apartment in Seattle from CA. He had also arranged for his vehicle, which he'd left outside one of his parents' many places of business, to be brought back to Seattle.
Sachs is said to have blamed his parents for his 'messed up life', depression and favoring his siblings, and to have paced the floor for 15 mins after breaking into their home, before deciding to shoot them dead.
Sachs is alleged to have shot his mother eight times, his father seven, his brother twice (leaving him permanently paralyzed) and shot at his sister once, missing her. His sister, 17, testified she did not see who shot at her and found her little brother lying bleeding on the hallway floor, where he had managed to drag himself.
Sachs has pleaded not guilty. He is due to be arraigned late July.
Construction workers save senior lady from inferno
July 11 2014
There's a wonderful story coming out of Kansas city, MO, today.
An explosive fire in a resident's garage was spotted by Chris Mitchell and some other construction workers nearby. They leapt to the rescue of the senior lady inside, a Mrs Able.
She slammed the door in their faces, afraid.
They persevered though, and got her out, just in time. The lady in question is very grateful now, and unharmed but a little shaken up, we are told.
Read the story on KCTV5, here. It's a good one. And to the cheerful, unassuming construction workers of KC - time you got some Superhero logos on those t-shirts of yours. Congratulations and well done. We often only get a chance to be heroes once in our lives; you grabbed yours with both hands.
* Just noticed - their t-shirts already read 'Frontline' and one almost says hero, apart from one letter. What a coincidence!
Update: 'Ma'am, your house is on fire.'
Only in Missouri! Mrs Able's promised to bake her hometown heroes an apple pie - bet it'll be a good one. Read here.
Mike Herdman died instantly in cliff fall
July 5 2014
The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled that much-loved Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman died instantly, in a tragic, accidental fall from a cliff while searching for his lost dog, Duke, who was eventually rescued.
Although it hasn't been possible to establish exactly when he died, the Medical Examiner is sure that the nature of Mike's injuries meant his death would have been immediate.
Once again, we can only state our admiration for everyone who tried so hard to find Mike and his dog, from his hiking companion Taylor Byars, to the many, many SAR and LE professionals, as well as members of the public.
Mike leaves behind a wife and six year-old daughter. Our deepest condolences to them and the rest of his family and friends. Donations to the family can be made here at the Fire Family Foundation and should be earmarked 'Mike Herdman'.
Missing Claudio Cuajicalco Leonardo goes home
July 5 2014
An amazing community and country-to-country effort has helped reunite a missing man with his family in Mexico, 12 years after he went missing, the OC Register is reporting.
Claudio was working in Stanton, then just seemed to completely disappear and his family back in Mexico didn't hear from him for years. A kind Anaheim resident, Luz Vanegas, spotted a distressed-looking Claudio at a bus stop recently... and you can read the rest of the touching story of how the Salvation Army, Mexican Consulate, and simple good samaritans, helped reunite Mr Cuajicalco Leonardo with his grateful family, at the OC Register, here.
What woman found in rural OC may have looked like
July 5 2014
Back in March, we ran a news story that OC Sheriff's Office were appealing for help identifying a female's body found in Casper's Wilderness Park. Although found January 6th, details had only just been released and the biggest clues seemed to be her Auburn brand windbreaker-style jacket with 'Coach Williams' logo (and a volleyball or water polo ball), and a distinctive gold dental bridge on her left lower jaw.
Officials have now released drawings of what she may have looked like. A petite female aged at least 30, with shoulder length, wavy dark brown hair with light highlights, who may have broken her nose at some point.
Her remains are thought to have been in the park at least six months, so it is likely to be someone who disappeared before around July 2013.
In addition to the jacket, the deceased was wearing:
More photographs of the clothing can be seen here.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Unit at (714) 647-7055. Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or online, here.
For older news stories, please visit our archive.