BOB HARROD - STILL MISSING
Missing Mike and Tina of Arizona found buried in neighbor's yard
July 4 2015
Arizona couple Mike and Tina Careccia disappeared after a father's day party at the family home in Maricopa, Arizona. Initially, it was thought that the couple -who had only been married a year - left their home at 5am June 22 in order to deliver a USB stick to her employer. Mike's 17-year-old son notified police later that day when Tina's employer called to ask why she hadn't turned up for work. 42-year-old Tina was an accountant, while 44-year-old Mike was a pilot with United Airlines, retired on medical grounds. Both have children from previous marriages.
From the beginning, it was obvious something was seriously wrong as the couple's car was quickly found abandoned about a mile from their home, covered in dirt. There was also the fact that Tina's purse, with the USB stick, was left in the home. This Thursday, the shocking news emerged that a neighbor, 38-year-old Jose Valenzuela, who had carried out electrical work for Mike and Tina and had been friends with them for two years, had told police he had attended the father's day party at the couple's home. He and the couple had used meth there, he alleges, and then after, Mike and Tina had gone to Jose's home to get more. After an altercation with Mike where they wrestled on the floor, Jose told police - during telephone negotiations - he shot Mike and, at a later point, shot Tina too. He then buried their bodies in his own backyard, using a borrowed backhoe.
Another man, 38-year-old Felix Rios Nunez is thought to have been present too but the accounts are conflicting and he has not been charged. A series of cell phone calls between Mike and Jose between 9pm and 11pm June 22nd played a vital role in focusing police suspicions on Jose within 24 hours, police say.
Mike and Tina were victims of an apparent serial arsonist last year, where their uninsured trailer with all their possessions and the frame of the house they were building beside it, were burnt to the ground. It's among 14 arsons in Maricopa last year thought to be the responsibility of one person, that have not been solved.
Family say they remain doubtful about allegations of drug use by Mike and Tina. A memorial for the couple was held Friday. Jose Valenzuela has been arrested on murder charges and bail is set at $2 million.
Body found in Lomita wall is missing woman, family say
July 4 2015
Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators found a body concealed within a wall in a unit at a Harbor Hills, Lomita housing project on the 26800 block on Western Avenue. A fortnight before, the sister of Raven Campbell, missing since 2009, had received a call telling her that Raven's body was hidden in a closet wall of a downstairs apartment at the Lomita housing project where Raven was living when she disappeared.
Raven, who had a 'diminished mental capacity', disappeared after leaving the apartment she shared with a female high school friend, to go shopping. However, family members say her purse was later discovered in the apartment and Raven's sister, Malaikah Manasseh, says Raven had 'a tic' about always wearing her purse hung around her body, and that she and the rest of the family believe the body found must be their missing loved one.
A wall within the apartment had to be demolished to recover the body, and neighbors in the apartments report 'a terrible smell' coming from the unit where the body was found. The present occupiers of the apartment were not in residence when Raven disappeared and have been relocated until the investigation concludes. Family say they are sure the body is Raven, but investigators have released no information other than that the remains have not yet been identified.
Escaped New York prisoner David Sweat shot, caught
June 28 2015
The intensive search for two escaped prisoners from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, is finally over. Convicted murderer David Sweat was shot twice in the head by police in Constable, six miles from the Canadian border. He is alive but his condition is unknown. His accomplice, Richard Matt, was shot dead by law enforcement two days ago. Sweat was in prison for killing a sheriff's deputy, Matt for killing and dismembering his former boss.
Their escape from the facility in Dannemore was carried out with the aid of power tools and two prison workers, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, are facing charges in connection with the escape.
Possible breakthrough in missing Kristen's case
June 28 2015
Buster, the famous black labrador search dog who almost - but for reasons not entirely clear - did not become involved in Bob Harrod's case, may have made a breakthrough in another missing person's case.
Kristen Modafferi of Oakland, San Francisco, has been missing since June 23, 1997 when she finished a shift at Spinelli's coffeehouse in the Crocker Galleria. Thursday, 18 years after her disappearance, 11-year-old Buster, who has lost a leg to cancer, alerted at several points around the basement of her old home at Jayne Avenue in Adams Point, near Lake Merritt. He also alerted at a concrete block in the basement there, and on a trail leading back from the house. The present owners, who have no connection to the time Kristen lived there, agreed to the search. Buster's handler is 61-year-old Paul Dostie, a retired police officer.
Oakland PD are checking out Buster's findings. Kristen's disappearance has been rumored to be connected to suspected serial killer Robert Durst (currently awaiting trial on murder charges) but police have said they've found no evidence of that.
War-interrupted couple get their prom day at last
June 28 2015
89-year-old Ralph Wozniak and his wife LaVerne of Riverview, Hillsborough County, Florida and are unlucky in a way. In 1944 while living in Milwaukee, WW2 came along and interrupted the young sweethearts' relationship. Like missing Bob Harrod, Ralph signed up with the marines. He didn't even get to finish high school, let alone attend his prom night with LaVerne.
The couple managed to have one big day - their wedding in 1949 - but Ralph was called up again to serve in the Korean war and any hopes of a prom night just disappeared from sight. The couple had four children and although Ralph was proud to see his children attend their own prom nights, he always felt a touch of regret that he didn't get one.
Jump to 2015 and enter the Hillsborough County Aging Services Senior Prom. Ralph and LaVerne finally got to go to the prom ball after all. They dressed up to the nines, and to cap it all, Ralph was crowned prom king. LaVerne was so excited, she snuck out of line to kiss him, like a teen. Nobody complained. After all, they have been married 66 years.
'That's my husband,' she said. 'That's the king'.
Riverside man may be unfit to stand trial for mom's murder
June 22 2015
The trial of a Riverside County, California man charged with the murder of his mother last November has been suspended. 51-year-old Danny Giles, who walked into Hemet Police Department to confess to the crime - and was scarcely believed - has mental competency issues. A mental evaluation has been ordered but one report has been returned for clarification and a judge could not make any ruling, Friday.
Giles told police they could find his mother's body in her apartment, and also where he had discarded his bloody clothes and a steak knife used to kill her. Dorothea Robert's body was found tucked up in bed, with her throat cut. Many prescriptions for Giles were also found there, for medications used to treat psychiatric conditions. Despite the information he gave to police, Giles has entered a not guilty plea. Giles remains in custody, with bail set at $1 million.
11 years on, boy's remains found in trunk of mom's Mustang
June 22 2015
A routine traffic stop for expired license plates on I64 in Richmond, Virginia earlier this month, led to an horrific discovery. Police found the remains of a child's body in the trunk of 44-year-old Tonya Slaton's black 2003 Mustang. The officer had noticed an odor of rotting flesh from a taped-up black plastic bag which was hidden under a pile of clothes. There was also a large white patch on the floor behind the front seats, that Slaton explained was due to a bleach 'spillage'.
It was confirmed on Friday that the remains were those of Slaton's son, Quincy Jamar Davis, who hasn't been seen since 2004 when he was 12 years old. He had never been reported missing. Slaton has been charged with concealment of a body and was due in Hampton General District Court Monday but her pre-trial hearing has been postponed to September 1st. Further charges are pending. She is being held in City of Hampton jail without bond.
Slaton has a previous conviction for firing four shots through a boyfriend's door after he jilted her in 2007, and served almost four years of a 15-year sentence for that crime.
Virginia State Police are asking for anyone to come forward who has any information about Tonya Slaton, her black Mustang and son Quincy Jamar Davis from around 2004, when he was a 7th-grader in Virginia Beach where his mom had a home. Call Virginia State Police at 757-424-6800.
Help needed to find victim's missing head
June 21 2015
A traumatic and gruesome missing case emerged this week from Inglewood, California. Legally blind 75-year-old Robert 'Mr Bo' Hollis was found dead in his Glenway Drive, Ingelwood apartment, Thursday. He had asked a neighbor for a ride Wednesday, and that person sounded the alarm when Robert didn't show. One of Robert's sons carried out a welfare check and found his father's body inside his apartment, the next day.
Robert's body was mutilated, with his head missing from his body and nowhere to be found. His son, Robin Hollis said his father 'did a good job of raising us' and that the family had no idea of who would want to do such a thing.
Robert was well-known and liked in his neighborhood and ran a business, via Facebook, called 'Mr Bo Jangles Custom signs in Carson'. Although some of his remains are found so he can't truly be said to be missing, both Robert's family and police urgently need to locate his head. It may have been taken to remove evidence left behind, or worse.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Inglewood police at (310)412-5246.
Preliminary hearing for Chase Merritt, charged with slaying McStay family
June 15 2015
Investigators revealed details for the first time today in a San Bernardino, California court of the evidence around the bodies of the McStay family found in Victorville in November 2013. The McStays - wife Summer, husband Joseph and children Joey, three and Gianni, four - went missing from their San Diego home February 4, 2010 and were thought to have crossed into Mexico after their Isuzu Trooper was found to have been towed from a border parking lot.
Self-proclaimed business partner Charles 'Chase' Merritt was charged with their murders when the family's bodies were found by a trailrider in San Bernardino, where Merritt has strong ties.
At the preliminary hearing today, attended by the victims' families, evidence was heard that will allow Judge Michael Smith to make a decision whether Merritt should face trial and a potential death penalty, for the murders. The San Bernardino DA's office is known for its hard line on crimes against children. The statements given by investigators so far paint a stark and painful picture that reduced Summer's sister to tears in court.
Dad Joseph McStay's body was found wrapped in the mysteriously-missing sofa cover at the McStay family home, with electrical cord (they were renovating and had supplies in their home) around his neck. He sustained four fractures to the skull, a broken ribs and broken leg before his death. A sledgehammer, with paint flecks matching some found on Summer's underwear, was also found in one of the two graves. Four-year-old Gianni received at least seven blows to the head, his skull revealed, while his little brother Joey is also thought to have been killed by blunt-force trauma to the head, although a cause of death was not determined. Mom Summer appeared to have been attacked face-on, with multiple fractures and breaks to the front of her head and jaw giving the impression someone wished to silence her with a vengeance.
The hearing also revealed that traces of Merritt's DNA was found on the steering wheel, gearshift and radio of the abandoned Isuzu, although he has said he had only ridden in it, not driven it. His cell pinged off a mast up near the Victorville gravesite just two days after the family disappeared, although he had made only one call from that area in the preceeding year and said he was not in the high desert that day. Investigators also revealed Merritt repeatedly spoke of the McStays in the past tense only days after their disappearance, raising suspicions. The McStay's house, when investigators visited it, was freshly painted and 'undergoing renovation' and almost unfurnished.
Money as a motive was also raised at the hearing, with investigators saying checks worth $11,000 were issued to Merritt in the three days leading up to the McStays going missing, although the accounting system used to do it was accessed from a computer not belonging to Joseph McStay. Three were later canceled and checks issued to Merritt the day after the McStays disappeared were edited via computer to appear as though they were issued a day earlier. Five days after they vanished, an associate at the Quickbooks accounting system Joseph used for his business said he received a call from Merritt's cell number trying to cancel the entire account. It seems likely larger amounts of money and gambling as a motive are likely to emerge at the hearing, which continues.
British couple's wedding sets record
June 13 2015
Eastbourne in England is known as a sedate coastal town with a good share of senior residents, so a wedding between a couple of them wouldn't generally cause a stir. Like missing Bob Harrod and his wife Fontelle, people in their 70s and 80s can find great happiness in a new marriage, even if it's brief. However, very few 103-year-olds marry a 91-year-old. In fact, so few that George Kirby and Doreen Luckie, who wed there Saturday, have set a record as the world's oldest newlyweds.
They have been together 27 years and didn't get around to marrying before, but got engaged on Valentines' Day this year. Their wedding, at the truly British, genteel Langham hotel, was attended by close family and friends - and media. George (103) a former boxer and Royal Air Force veteran, sported a few bruises (after a recent fall, not a boxing match) and wife Doreen (91) wore a blue flower-print dress and a smile as big as her husband's. Doreen's working career was as a typist for a DA, known as a director of public prosecutions in England, where she transcribed infamous British crime cases such as that of the Moors murderers.
In a radio interview following the wedding ceremony, Doreen sounded a little perplexed about all the fuss though:
'I don't think I'm that old, am I? There's a lot of people in their 90s,' she told the BBC.
George meanwhile, joked to the Daily Record about his proposal:
'I didn't get down on one knee, because I don’t think I would have been able to get back up.'
The happy couple have a bunch of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and after being together for so long, don't seem to be too fussed about a honeymoon.
Police officer investigated for rape, multiple strangulations
June 7 2015
A former Spokane, Washington police officer appearing in court on a rape charge from November 2014 was arrested on suspicion of the 1980s murder of Ruby Doss after the hearing in Kennewick, this week. Ominously, DNA 51-year-old Richard Aguirre submitted in the alleged rape case (he entered a not guilty plea) is also being considered in the cold-case investigations of the murders of at least four other women murdered in Spokane between 1986 and 1987.
Aguirre moved away from Spokane in 1988, to join the Pasco Police Department, also in Washington. He resigned from that department in May, after 27 years' service and his attorney Scott Richardson says he is 'disappointed' by the new arrest and that his client did not murder Ruby. All the victims were killed by strangulation. He also now faces charges of voyeurism for multiple images of a sexual nature and/or threatening nature found on his electronic devices and remains in custody, pending the posting of a total of $1 million bail.
Santa Clarita body in trunk is Jose David Flores
June 7 2015
A body found in the trunk of a blue Honda Accord in Canyon Country, Los Angeles a week ago has been identified as Jose David Flores. The 28-year-old was from Mendocino County and although a cause of death has not been established, LASD Homicide Bureau is in charge of the case. A photo of the victim has been released in the hope somebody with vital information will come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Or call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. It's completely anonymous.
Jarrae Estepp's mom sues over her murder
June 4 2015
Jodi Pierre-Estepp, whose 21-year-old daughter Jarrae Nikole Estepp is thought to be a victim of suspected Orange County serial killers Frank Cano and Steven Gordon, has filed a lawsuit against authorities she believes are responsible for allowing the suspects to roam free. The lawsuit is also being brought on behalf of Jarrae's five-year-old son, Nehemian McGee.
Jarrae's body was found on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling center in March last year and she is the only one of five suspected victims to have been found. Both suspects were registered sex offenders wearing GPS tracking devices that were easily removed or blocked, the lawsuit says, and parole agents and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to monitor them properly. Although the suspects were forbidden to have contact with each other, they actually lived together in a car where the killings are thought to have taken place.
The bodies of the remaining four victims have not been found and searches have been called off as they are thought to be unrecoverable in a landfill. The amount of the lawsuit has not been disclosed. Cano and Gordon are currently in custody, awaiting trial.
Lost German Civil War vet to have military funeral
May 31 2015
When Charles Schroeter emigrated to the US from Germany at age 25, he couldn't have known he'd eventually receive the Medal of Honor, or spend his next 25 years serving in his chosen country's military. Most of all, he wouldn't have expected to be buried in an unmarked grave because he took out a $200 insurance policy to pay for his burial. Just like missing Bob Harrod, he started out in Missouri, served in the marines, went to San Diego and ended up in an unknown grave in California.
Schroeter's story began much earlier than Bob's though. He first enlisted in St Louis, Missouri in 1863, to fight in the Civil War. After that ended, he was to be found fighting in the Indian wars in Arizona, where he received America's highest recognition for his valor, the Medal of Honor. After a quarter of a century of serving his adopted country, he retired as a sergeant in the Marine Corps. Somehow though, despite his insurance, when he died his ashes were left in an unmarked crypt in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego. He never got the military burial he was due, unlike his 499 fellow Medal of Honor recipients.
Thanks to two years' of detective work by Bill Heard of San Diego's Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation though, Schroeter will become the first Medal of Honor recipient to be buried there, July 9, with full military honors. That's just a few days after Schroeter's birthday, July Fourth.
Countries apart, two students mysteriously vanished Friday
May 31 2015
Two female students disappeared Friday, thousands of miles and countries apart, with their cases linked only by the ominous mystery surrounding their disappearances.
16-year-old Laima Sinka of the UK is from Farnborough, Hampshire and last spoke to someone on the phone Friday morning, May 29. She has not been heard from since and her phone has now been discovered in Reading, beside the river Thames. Laima has distinctive long, dyed blonde hair shaved on one side and Hampshire police need anyone who has seen her to contact them by calling 101.
Again on Friday but this time in Texas, 22-year-old Leah Donnice Martin of Graford attended the Graham High School graduation. She spoke to a relative on her phone around 9.45pm and hasn't been seen since. Her car was found at her workplace Saturday morning but there was no sign of Leah. Graham police would like anyone with information to call them at (940) 549-6441.
Jury deadlocked in third Cal Harris murder trial
May 24 2015
Just over a week ago, a jury in Schoharie County, New York, declared it was completely deadlocked over a verdict in the third 'no body' trial of Calvin 'Cal' Harris, for the murder of his missing wife Michele Harris, in 2001. They were in the midst of a divorce - though still living in the same house with their children - and both had relationships with other people. Judge George Bartlett was eventually forced to declare a mistrial after 50 hours of deliberations, but stated the jury had been 'a model' one. Cal Harris has been convicted of his wife's murder in two previous trials, but both verdicts were overturned on appeal.
The decision means the case will return to court in August and a fourth trial is likely as prosecutors still believe they have a case. Most of the evidence revolved around blood splatter found in the couple's home and financial and controlling motives prosecutors say Cal Harris had to kill his wife.
Complete coverage of the trial can be found here.
Further details of the circumstances of Michele's disappearance are provided at the Charley Project.
After long delay, third man charged with Holly Bobo's murder
May 24 2015
John Dylan Adams has now been charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo, who disappeared from her Darden, Tennessee home in 2011. Neighbors had heard a scream early one morning and called her mother, who was out. But when Holly's mother called the house, she found her son thought Holly had gone into the woods with her boyfriend. Holly's boyfriend was nowhere near the house that morning though, and by the time police arrived, she had disappeared without a trace. Her remains were not discovered until September 2014, not far from a property belonging to the family of Zachary 'Zach' Adams, the brother of John Dylan Adams.
Zach Adams was charged with Holly's murder more than a year ago, along with his former friend, Jason Autrey. Up until this indictment by the grand jury, John Dylan Adams had faced charges of rape and tampering with evidence, but not for murder. The case has been marked with difficulties and delays, including DA Matt Stowe stepping down after disagreements with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Zach Adams being accused of witness coercion for allegedly threatening to put his own brother 'in the hole with her' if he didn't stop talking.
Special prosecutor Jennifer Nichols is now heading up the case, after a judge dismissed defense objections to her appointment. Two other brothers, Mark and Jeffrey Pearcy, are also facing charges of tampering with evidence and being accessories after the fact.
Irish burglars find missing couple in story stretching to Texas
May 19 2015
When burglars broke into a house in the village of Askeaton in Limerick, Ireland this week they found something they hadn't bargained on - the owners of the home laying dead in a bedroom upstairs. Police think they'd been there since March 14, when they went missing. The burglars fled in panic but in the early hours yesterday called local police (gardai) and told them what they'd found. They were well-known to police for targeting seniors' homes and were terrified they'd be blamed for murdering the couple.
Today, police have revealed that the bodies were those of 63-year-old Julia Holmes and 56-year-old Thomas Ruttle, and that two signed, handwritten notes had been discovered on the kitchen table that seem to indicate suicide, or murder/suicide. They also revealed that Julia Holmes was a wanted, serial fraudster who had been deported from the US after a half milllion dollar property fraud in Texas, and more. Details of her activities and victims in the US can be read here. She was wanted for more recent, alleged frauds committed in Northern Ireland and is also alleged to have owed local construction companies tens of thousands of dollars. The family of her partner, Thomas Ruttle, whose isolated farmhouse the bodies were found in, are said to have had serious misgivings about the couple's relationship. Ruttle, a farmer, was the registered owner of a shotgun and a rifle and a rifle is thought to have been found in the couple's bedroom.
The farmhouse had no source of heating or power but the decomposition of the bodies was advanced enough that an initial, overnight postmortem could not establish a cause of death. In a further mystery, when police followed up on the person named as someone to contact in the notes they found, that person denied any knowledge of the couple. Investigations are continuing but police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Missing OC couple related to victim in infamous murder case
May 17 2015
Cecile 'Paul' Knutson, 79, and Dianna Bedwell, 68, a Fullerton, Orange County, California couple who went missing on Mothers Day after visiting a casino, already have a tragic event in the family history, it has been revealed. Dianna Bedwell is the sister of 16-year-old murder victim Sylvia Likens, whose infamous torture and murder in Indiana decades ago was depicted in the 2007 movie 'An American Crime', starring Ellen Gere.
The last confirmed sighting of Knutson and Bedwell, who have been married 25 years, is surveillance footage of them leaving the Valley View Casino and Hotel in Valley Center at 2pm Sunday May 10, from where they were supposed to travel to their son's house about 100 miles away in La Quinta.They never arrived and both their phones and car tracking device have stopped working. The son, Robert Acosta, has sworn to find the couple, saying that his 'wonderful' parents 'have given me everything'.
Daughter Kristen Smith says the couple are both diabetic and need medication.
They were driving a white, 2014 Hyundai Sonata, plate number 7EHE981. Anyone with information is asked to call San Diego Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200
Homicide investigators are assisting in the search, but it is still considered a missing persons case.
Baby found, mom dead, brother missing
Update: In tragic but not unexpected news, a body believed to be that of missing five-year-old Josue Ramirez Martinero has been retrieved from the Elkhorn River.
May 9 2015
Wednesday morning in Omaha, a horror story began to emerge that seemed like a reason to give thanks, at first. A passerby discovered an 11-month-old boy wearing just a diaper abandoned in a dumpster. He was unharmed and thankfully had been found before the trash was collected and compacted. It soon emerged though, that the baby's mom, Jesus Ismenia Marinero, and five-year-old brother Josue Ramirez Marinero, were missing.
Ominously, mom's relatives came forward to say she had been in fear of her life, had her home broken into several times and had even talked to them about what should be done if she was killed. In later interviews, they revealed they had been aware of who the likely suspects were, all along, but had been advised not to speak of their suspicions. Wednesday afternoon, her stabbed body was discovered by a couple walking in an Omaha suburb on Fourth and Cedar Streets.
Sadly, news grew even worse. Jesus Ismenia's own, adult son walked into Omaha Police Department Thursday night and, investigators say, confessed he had killed his mother and thrown his missing brother Josue in the Elkhorn river. The 25-year-old Roberto Martinez Marinero has been charged with first-degree murder over his mother's death, and the heartbreaking search for his little missing brother is continuing.
In the last few hour, news has also broken that Roberto's girlfriend, 24-year-old Gabriela Guevara, has been arrested and is charged with being an accessory to homicide.
11-month-old survivor Angel Ramirez Marinero who was saved from the dumpster, has loving family members to care for him.
Michael Gordon arrested over Taylor Clark's shooting
May 9 2015
A 24-year-old shot Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student, Taylor Clark, during his lunchbreak then returned to work, police say. Michael Gordon, who works at MTC Truck Driver Training in Hazelwood, Missouri, met the 19-year-old student there and was seen getting into the red, 2007 Nissan Taylor had advertised for sale on Craigslist, for around $11,000. A witness said that although the victim and suspect drove off along a spur road together, only Gordon returned in the car.
Both the car and (then) missing Taylor's body were found on the grounds of MTC earlier this week, and investigators say email and phone records connected the suspect to the victim. Following the arrest, police launched an appeal to find the suspect's own, missing red 1990 BMW 325i, which was located Thursday.
Michael Gordon is being held at the St Louis County Jail and bail is set at $1 million, which he has not made. He has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Investigators wouldn't speculate about a motive for the alleged killing, but Cpt Tim Fagan of Florissant PD urged people to exercise extreme caution when selling items online.
Erica Alonso of Orange County found deceased
May 2 2015
The remains of 28-year-old missing Californian Erica Alonso have been found in a dry creek bed in a remote stretch of Cleveland National Forest off Ortega highway. Biologists working for Caltrans discovered the Orange County woman's remains last Tuesday night and investigators were able to initially confirm her identity almost immediately. Final, official identification is expected soon.
Erica had been missing since just after Valentine's Day, when she drove away from her ex-boyfriend's Irvine home around 3.45am the morning of 15 February, he says. They had been out at the Sutra lounge earlier and had a fight on returning to his house. March 25, Erica's white Honda Civic was discovered about a mile away from her family's Laguna Hills home but there was no sign of what had happened to her.
An autopsy has discovered no obvious signs of trauma and no cause of death was announced. Toxicology results are pending.
Lt Jeff Hallcock of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said investigators will have further questions to ask of Erica's boyfriend but he is being co-operative and is not 'in custody as a suspect'.
Anyone with information is still asked to call Orange County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Unit at (714) 647-7055 or (714) 647-7000. Or contact Orange County Crime Stoppers here, it's completely anonymous.
Paraplegic man accused of shooting, imprisoning wife
April 28 2015
A paraplegic man in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino who is confined to a wheelchair, has been arrested on suspicion of shooting and imprisoning his wife for 26 days. She was not reported missing by anyone. Amazingly the woman, who has not been identified, continued to take her son to school during that period.
37-year-old Michael Venegas reportedly shot his 26-year-old wife as she was preparing to leave him April 1, and afterwards she was too afraid to seek help. It's thought she survived as the bullet went through her - he's alleged to have denied her medical treatment. Finally, last Sunday, she summoned the courage to visit the hospital and a social worker there informed police. Neighbors report the home having tinfoil covering the windows, hearing arguments and one even says he called police April 1st after hearing a shot. Police say they don't have a record of that call.
Michael Venegas has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment. His bail is set at $500,000.
LE asks for help finding baby's missing body parts
April 26 2015
A nine-year-old girl has discovered pieces of a newborn baby in the backyard of her home in the 1500 block of West 104th Street in Westmont, Los Angeles. Brittany Placencia was playing with her dog when she discovered a baby's leg, and a baby's head was later found near a fence.
LA Sheriff Department homicide investigators are asking residents to check their trash for the missing body parts. 'Significant' parts are still missing, officials say.
Anyone with information is asked to call the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477, it's completely anonymous.
After missing Brock Guzman found safe, parents file complaint
April 26 2015
Eight-year old Fairfield, California boy Brock Guzman was put into his mom's car a little after 4.45 am Monday April 20, as his parents prepared to drive another sibling to school. The the engine was left running with keys in the ignition by his dad, and somebody stole the car, along with the sleeping boy.
An immediate, intense search effort and Amber Alert were launched by Fairfield Police that included social media, and Brock and the vehicle were recovered safely a couple of miles from his Meadowlark Drive home, at around 8am. A passerby spotted the vehicle. The young boy was still sleeping and told police he'd woken briefly to hear a man say 'I didn't know you were in the car!' before falling asleep again. Police later took a person of interest into custody.
Matters did not end there however. Brock's parents, Suzanne and Paul Guzman, have announced they intend to file a complaint against Fairfield police for, they allege, 'treating them like criminals'. Both were handcuffed and taken to the police department before their son was found. Fairfield police, in turn, released a bodycam video of the moment a screaming and yelling Suzanne was cuffed after she refused to let officers search her house. They'd spotted what they thought was blood inside the home but which Suzanne insisted was spilt nail polish. She said at the time she did not want her home searched as it was her right, and her husband was not home.
Later, Paul Guzman provided the explanation that the family has a pitbull and a German Shepherd dog and his wife was afraid the officers would get bitten.
It appears no bite injuries were reported after police entered the house.
Missing 86-year-old and dog survive bears, mountain lions and freezing temps
April 19 2015
When 86-year-old Theresa Glenn and her dog went missing in McCloud, California on Saturday April 11, searchers with Siskiyou Sheriff's Department were very concerned. Theresa has Alzheimers and short-term memory loss and there are bears and mountain lions in the woods near where she disappeared. The search spread from Northern California to Southern Oregon, and was intense.
Five nights later, with temperatures below freezing each night and without food or water, Theresa and her dog were found safe in the woods. The search involved a Silver Alert, 200 searchers and a really amazing story of dedication and luck - the SAR member who found Theresa mistook her for a fallen log at first.
A neighbor said Theresa is 'the sweetest' person and locating her was certainly a sweet moment for searchers, who were left speechless. The full story of the search and rescue of Theresa can be read here.
Serial killer's parole denied for another seven years
April 19 2015
A parole application from serial killer Brett Matthew Paul Thomas was denied in San Diego, Friday. The application was opposed by OC DA Tony Rackauckas as well as family members of the victims. Thomas, then 18, and his friend Mark Titch, killed four people, badly injured another and traumatized relatives of the victims during burglary sprees in 1977. Both were sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. Just months later, changes would have made them eligible for the death penalty or life without parole. Titch died in prison.
The age of the victims ranged from 18 to 53, and included a sexual assault upon a 20-year-old woman, before she was killed. DA Rackauckas asked that Thomas' application be turned down because of the heinous nature of his crimes, and that he should be forbidden to reapply for parole for another 15 years. Lynette Duncan, who heard her sister and father being shot, also spoke and told the correctional facility authorities she would be at every parole hearing until she dies - or Thomas does.
Authorities decided Thomas, now 56, must wait another seven years before applying for parole again.
Remains of missing VA student Anjelica Hadsell found
April 12 2015
Working on a tip, Norfolk, Virginia police discovered the remains of 18-year-old student Anjelica Hadsell near a shed in the backyard of a home on Smith's Ferry Road in Southampton County last Thursday. A cause of death is not yet known.
Anjelica went missing March 2, after returning to her Tarrallton home for Spring break from Virginia Commonwealth University. Initial reports said she was last heard from via texts at 5.30am on that day and was reported missing at 9.15pm that night. According to her mother, the text messages she received from Anjelica didn't seem quite right and she couldn't be 100 per cent sure they were really from Anjelica.
No arrests have been made in relation to her death, however, Anjelica's stepfather is in jail without bond after he allegedly broke into a house that he says had some connection to her disappearance and where he says he found her jacket hidden. He also added that he was so angry he punched the family dog that was in the house. He also faces charges after 72 rounds of ammunition were found in his hotel room. Unfortunately, as Hadsell has a serious previous criminal history and illegally entered the home, any evidence he says he found there will likely be rendered useless anyway.
Wesley Hadsell also stressed to media in an interview that he had nothing to do with his stepdaughter's disappearance. Police have declined to comment on their investigations, except to say they are ongoing. Other members of Anjelica's family have said the discovery of her body brings 'no closure' and there are still 'lots of questions'.
Australia, land of the resilient and then some
April 7 2015
When 11-year old Luke Shambrook went missing from a campsite in Victoria, Australia, things didn't look good. Luke has severe autism and probably wouldn't have known he was lost; the terrain was tough, thickly wooded and the weather was turning bad; Luke was attracted to water and disappeared near big, deep Lake Eildon.
Having being plunged into an obvious tragedy, concerned people (and there were a lot of them) were given shreds of hope by those crazy Australians. Luke had a high pain threshold, they said. He was dressed in warm clothing. He was resilient. They wouldn't give up searching until they found him. Even when there was a false sighting and search and rescue found Luke's beanie hat that turned out not to be his, they were not deterred. Professionals and members of the public came forward in their hundreds to try and find him. So many, some had to be turned away at times.
After four days, with the weather worsening, hope was running out. For everyone except for all the Australians searching for Luke, who just carried on looking... which was fortunate, because they found him; very hungry, thirsty and cold but on the move and uninjured.
Acting Sgt Brad Pascoe was the lucky hero who spotted him from a police helicopter:
"I just, out the corner of my eye, caught a little flash of something," he said. "It wasn't much but it was enough to make me get the guys to turn the aircraft around.
"We were able to train the camera in and confirm it was Luke. We were just absolutely over the moon."
Luke was reunited with his parents at the scene and then taken to hospital, fully conscious and with no injuries.
Easter can wait until Luke Shambrook is found
April 5 2015
Australian public volunteers and search and rescue professionals are spending their entire Easter break searching desperately to find a missing 11-year-old in a huge national park in Victoria.
Luke Shambrook wandered away from a campground near Lake Eildon in Fraser National Park Friday April 3. He has autism and may not know he is missing, is attracted to water and is lost in very, very rough terrain. Despite foot, vehicle and helicopter searches, and an unconfirmed sighting by people who say they saw a lone child crying in the woods, Luke has not been located.
As California moves into Sunday afternoon, Australians in Victoria are just waking to Easter Monday morning. Spare a thought for all those heading out to search for young Luke again, and hope they find him.
Predator who kidnapped and harmed 2-year-old in LA must be caught
April 5 2015
Police urgently need the public's help to locate the suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl in Gardena, Los Angeles. She was with her mother Thursday April 2 at a car wash on West 149th Street and S. Western Avenue. The mother heard the child cry 'Mommy', and then she was gone. The little girl was abandoned naked, two hours later and about 10 miles away in Cudahy.
Police investigators say she was harmed and the suspect is a child predator who must be caught. They expressed shock at the case, with Gardena PD Lt. Steve Prendergast saying he hasn't seen a case like this in the 20 years he's been with the department.
Police think the suspect was possibly driving a white, four-door Nissan Altima, year 2008 to 2012. They are working to enhance surveillance to decipher the plate.
Anyone with information is asked to call Gardena police at 310-323-7911. Or call 911.
$100k reward for missing student Eloi Vasquez
March 30 2015
UPDATE: Sadly, it was discovered that Eloi Vasquez had been struck and killed by a vehicle in the early hours of Saturday March 28, the day he went missing. He was not immediately identified because of the extent of his injuries. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
A 19-year-old UC Berkeley student, Eloi Vasquez, has been missing since leaving a party near the Southern California campus in the early hours of Saturday morning, March 28. He left carrying only a cellphone and told friends he was going to the beach. Just under an hour later, at 2.18am, he called a friend and said he was lost. Eloi hasn't been seen since and had no money or credit cards with him.
Sunday, a $50,000 reward was offered. Monday, that reward was doubled to $100,000. Anyone with any information is asked to call police at 213-486-8582.
Sahray Barber explains why she went missing
March 30 2015
The DA is being asked to consider filing charges in the case of missing San Bernardino, California design student Sahray Barber, police have said. Sahray went missing after leaving her apartment close to Cal State San University San Bernardino, March 9 and her disappearance triggered full scale searches when her laptop and phone were found abandoned nearby. Investigators and the public were also extremely concerned because of a series of recent attacks at Cal State SB, including an attempted kidnapping.
After 10 days Barber was located safe in LA, where she had given a false name at a hospital and was voluntary missing.
In a statement, Barber said she had 'created a recipe for disaster' by not reaching out to family or authorities when she heard of the searches for her, but she had 'just wanted to lighten my load'. She had thrown her laptop and phone away herself, she added.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the searches had cost nearly $30,000 in police overtime alone, investigators believed Barber's roommates had been deceptive and if any evidence of illegality was discovered, charges would be pursued.
OC kidnap, ransom victim Denise Huskins found safe
March 25 2015
Around 2pm Monday March 23, Aaron Quinn reported his 29-year-old girlfriend Denise Huskins missing from his home at Mare Island, Vallejo, California. She had, apparently, been kidnapped for ransom, her family said the 30-year-old Quinn told police. Denise Huskins had recently moved to Vallejo from Orange County, where her family still live at Huntington Beach.
Mysteriously, it was never explained why Huskins was only reported missing hours after she disappeared on Monday morning, or why it was believed she had been kidnapped for ransom. The FBI became involved and searches were carried out around the bay at Mare Island after K9s indicated there. Huskins' Honda SUV was towed away from the home, and then police released photos of her boyfriend's white Camry, which was found some distance from the home, and asked people to call in if they remembered seeing it.
Police stated to media that boyfriend Quinn was not a suspect in the case.
Today, Denise Huskins' father announced to media she has been found safe. So far, there has been no mention of her condition and no further details released about exactly what happened to her. However, an audio tape of a call Huskins made, saying she was 'kidnapped but otherwise fine', has just been released.
Missing SB Sahray Barber found safe at shelter
March 21 2015
Last Thursday, March 19, the parents of missing San Bernardino (SB) student and library worker Sahray Barber failed to show at a press conference called by SB police. Many feared the worst. Sahray's disappearance was being investigated as foul play and police had even found persons of interest. Her disappearance also followed hot on the heels of attacks on two women at Cal State San Bernardino, close to Sahray's apartment. She hadn't been seen since leaving for work March 9, and her laptop and phone were found thrown - or in some versions, carefully placed - beneath a bush outside her apartment.
But it turned out the reason her parents were called away from the press conference was that Sahray was at SB police station and she had called her father to tell him she was safe, earlier. The father had then informed police. She had been staying at a Los Angeles shelter and was unharmed. LT. Rich Lawhead of SB PD said:
“This kinda tops the chart right now for kinda strange. Especially because of the direction we were led in initially."
Police also said that many thousands of dollars had been expended over the two-week search, that things didn't quite 'add up' in the case, and they were not ruling out legal action to recuperate their costs. Sahray has made a statement to police, but details haven't been released.
Vigil for OC missing woman, Erica Alonso
March 21 2015
A vigil was held Friday at Mike Ward Community Park for missing Irvine, California 27-year-old, Erica Alonso. Family, friends and supporters light candles for the woman who has not been seen since February 14th, when she is said to have left her ex-boyfriend's home in the middle of the night, after a fight.
Erica left in her white Honda Civic, and that has not been located either.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the OC Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7055 There is a reward. The amount will be announced next week.
Two people of interest in case of missing Sahray Barber
March 16 2015
San Bernardino police said Sunday they have two persons of interest in the case of missing 22-year-old Sahray Barber, who they have questioned multiple times. Police declined to release any details about the suspects, but a spokesperson did state Barber's disappearance is not believed to have any connection to recent attacks on Cal State San Bernardino students.
The search for the missing design student, library worker and much-loved daughter Sahray Barber continues.
Robert Durst's arrival in LA delayed
March 16 2015
The extradition of 71-year-old real-estate heir Robert Durst from New Orleans to Los Angeles on murder charges has been delayed - due to Louisiana authorities considering charges of possession of marijuana. A small amount was found in Durst's Marriott hotel room, when he was arrested. He was also found to be carrying a .38 revolver, although it's not been stated if he had a permit or not. LA authorities have stated they consider him armed and dangerous.
Durst is being extradited on suspicion of murdering Susan Berman in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, in 2001. His first wife, Kathleen Durst (nee McCormack) went missing after arguing with him in 1982 and has still not been found. The case will be covered in full here tomorrow, in the Wednesday feature.
Searches, vigils continue for Sahray Barber
March 15 2015
22-year-old Sahray Barber left her Sunrise Apartments, West Northpark Boulevard home in San Bernardino Monday, March 9, at 6am, heading for work. The young California designer hasn't been seen since. In the light of recent attacks on female students at Cal State San Bernardino, her disappearance is causing the greatest concern. The apartments are close to Cal State San Bernardino and students from Cal State live there, but Sahray studied and worked at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire.
Searches took place at a Ranch in Live Oak Canyon Drive in Redlands this past week, following a tip. Other locations in San Bernardino were also searched by teams on foot and by helicopter. Ominously, Sahray's phone and laptop were discovered in bushes outside her apartment - there have been conflicting reports of whether they were thrown there, or carefully placed.
A vigil by classmates was held at Sahray's school Thursday and, touchingly, she won a bronze award in her absence, at a design ceremony held at the Mission Inn.
Sahray Barber is described as white, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 125 pounds, with long red-brown straight hair and green eyes. She also usually wears a green, Arthurian-style cape with a distinctive design on the back.
Anyone with information on her disappearance was asked to contact SB detectives at 909-384-5623 or the investigations bureau at 909-384-5615 and refer to case number 2015-26028.
Rookie police officer Henry Solis sought in connection with killing
March 15 2015
After 23-year-old Ontario resident Salome Rodriguez, Jr. was shot dead in Pomona Friday, Pomona police say they are looking for 27-year-old probationary LAPD officer Henry Solis, in connection with the killing.
Solis did not turn up for work Saturday at the Devonshire Division, where he was due to end his probation period in about seven months' time. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting, which happened around 3.30am at the junction of Third and Main streets. Witnesses report seeing a fight between two men there before the shooting.
Pomona PD says it believes Solis knows it is looking for him. He's thought to be driving a silver or gray 2013 Volkswagen Jetta with California license plate 7FAS527. He is described as 5-foot-9-inches tall, weighing 185 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on the incident was asked to call Pomona police at 909-620-2085.
Marines, aircrew presumed dead in Florida helicopter crash
March 11 2015
A Black Hawk UH-60 on night training out of Eglin Air Force base at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, crashed last night with 7 marines and four air crew aboard. The service personnel were assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. It went down in waters off a remote stretch of military-owned beach between Pensacola and Destin. Wreckage and human remains are being recovered. An additional UH-60 returned safely. Sadly, an anonymous official stated today that all aboard are presumed dead.
Fog hampered initial search efforts, which have now expanded to an area of 51sq miles of the Navarre Sound, East of Navarre Bridge. Officials are asking that anyone who witnessed the crash contact Captain Darrow at 510-847-6731.
Missing Bob Harrod was a Marine veteran. We salute these lost heroes and send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
Erica Melissa Alonso missing in OC
March 8 2015
27-year-old Erica Melissa Alonso hasn't been seen since leaving her boyfriend's Irvine, Orange County home in the early hours of February 15. The couple had a combative relationship and Erica had previously had a restraining order against her forbidding her to contact her boyfriend, and a domestic violence case, which was dismissed.
After a night at the Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa, Erica and her boyfriend argued. A couple who had been invited to the boyfriend's home from the Sutra Lounge, left after the row between Erica and her boyfriend developed. Erica left shortly after in her white, four-door 2014 Honda Civic EX; California plate number 7FSS563.
Erica hasn't been seen since. Her boyfriend is not a suspect in the case, police say. Anyone with information should contact the OC Sheriff's department at 714 647 7000 or 714 647 7055.
Cathy Torrez murder accused; guilty
March 8 2015
Sam Lopez, the boyfriend of Placentia, California student Cathy Torrez, has been found guilty of her first degree murder. Cathy disappeared after leaving work in February 1994 and her brutally stabbed body was found a week later, in the trunk of her car at Placentia Linda Hospital. He showed no emotion as the verdict was announced last week.
Lopez had always denied involvement in Cathy's killing, but Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy set out Lopez's jealous behaviour and, most crucially, a 30- minute gap in his timeline alibi during the crucial period when Cathy was almost certainly murdered. He said the murder, in which Cathy's throat and neck was slashed, was 'as cold blooded as you can get'. A workmate also testified that Cathy was due to meet Sam Lopez after work, on the day she died. Cathy's sister, Tina Mora, was married to Armando Lopez, Sam's brother, at the time and testified how Sam seemed indifferent to Cathy's death and failed to answer calls. They have since divorced and Armando is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Cathy's mom, Mary Bennett, said her daughter 'could not get away' that night, so she had spent 21 years running instead, to find justice for her daughter.
Lopez's lawyer argued that cousin Xavier Lopez - whose bloody prints were eventually found in Cathy's car (when technology caught up) along with his DNA on her clothes - was responsible for her murder. Xavier, along with Sam Lopez's brother, Armando, are being tried separately. Prosecutors say Xavier has been co-operative and a plea deal is possible in his case. Sam Lopez will be sentenced May 1.
Cathy Torrez of Placentia, Orange County
February 28 2015
According to a work colleague, 20 year-old Cathy Torrez of Placentia, then a Cal State Fullerton student, left her job at Sav-On February 12, 1994, to meet her boyfriend, Sam Lopez, also of Placentia. Her body was found a week later, in the trunk of her car parked at Placentia Linda Hospital, with more than 74 stab wounds to her wrists and neck.0
Since then, Cathy's family - and especially her mother, Mary Bennett, have worked tirelessly to bring Cathy's killer to justice. Now the case has come to court, and they have Orange County DA Matt Murphy on their side. Detective Corinne Loomis, who has featured strongly in Bob Harrod's case, said investigators have been 'consistently' looking for Cathy's killer. Because of her youth, and the 'heinous' nature of the case. Now Sam Lopez and his cousin, Xavier Lopez, are finally on trial for the murder of Cathy Torrez. DNA tests have connected Xavier to the crime scene but his alibi is verified by Sam Lopez, his co-accused. Sam's attorney, Lewis Rosenblum, said in his closing statement Friday that cousin Xavier was responsible for Cathy's murder, perhaps during a robbery. Lopez's brother, Armando, is also charged in connection with the case, but is being tried separately.
DA Matt Murphy argues that Sam Lopez is responsible for the killing, and that he stabbed Cathy out of jealousy when their plans to elope fell through after he saw a hickey on Cathy's neck, the day she disappeared. He said that Lopez showed 'more emotion for the dirt on his hat', than Cathy, during questioning.
A verdict is expected next week.
Sacramento fills with headless corpses
February 28 2015
The roughly decapitated, mutilated bodies of animals have been turning up in Sacramento for several months. The animals in question range from creatures as small as a chicken or tiny lamb, to goats, to a full-grown cow.
These discoveries aren't connected with waste from food production - someone is sawing the heads off the poor animals roughly, with a saw. Then placing the bodies and heads in boxes or bags, before dumping them in public places. Because forensic testing hasn't been carried out, it's not known if the animals were alive or dead as they were slowly beheaded.
Despite the horrific nature of what's happening - and the possibility, perhaps, that the perpetrator may progress to much more serious crimes or someone may stumble across them in the act, no police number is provided to call and the investigation seems to have been left entirely in the hands of Animal Control, with its limited resources. Those who have followed crime cases involving the backgrounds of various killers of human beings, may just be feeling a little concern at this point.
Citizens living around the locations of Sully Street, Robla Creek or Reichmuth Park of Sacramento may want to make a note; if you happen across someone sawing the head off a living creature, you're advised to call animal control at (916) 808-8333 and wait for the response. Or run like heck while dialling 911 - and take the risk of getting into trouble for wasting police time...
OC student killed in robbery
February 21 2015
A Kaplan International, Irvine student was shot January 19, 2015 when a robber approached his car and demanded money and property at South Maxine Street in Santa Ana. When Mansour Alhazawbar said he had nothing to give, the attacker shot him once in the upper body.
Although Mansour managed to call for help, he later died as a result of his wounds, January 31. He was just a foreign student in California returning from a visit to a friend's house and was only 21 years old. His family in Saudi Arabia are devastated. The suspect is described as a male hispanic with a shaved head, who fled the crime scene on foot.
The suspect has still not been found and homicide investigators still need information. Call 714-245-8390 if you can help. Or contact OC Crime Stoppers. It's completely anonymous.
Mansour's death follows closely on the heels of the murder of Saudi Arabian student Abdullah Alkadi; (tribute here). The Cal State Northridge student went missing after trying to sell his Audi vehicle on Craigslist. His remains were found in Palm Desert, October 14. Agustin Fernandez has been charged with his murder.
A loving couple, still apart
Valentines Day, 2015
Back in February 2009, 81-year-old, recently widowed Bob Harrod was just a few months from reuniting with his fiancée Fontelle, from 60 years before. Bob was a loyal man - after the Korean war separated him from his first love, he stayed married to his new sweetheart - then wife - Georgia for over half a century, until her death. They brought up three daughters in Orange County, California - the state where he'd been sent to from his home in Missouri in the early 1950s, to do his duty in the war. By hard work, he ensured his daughters were all educated and they, and his only grandchild, had nice places to live in SoCal when they grew up.
When Bob lost Georgia in March 2008, he was devastated and very lonely, despite his close family all living nearby. He went looking for his youthful sweetheart but couldn't find her. Instead, with the help of a loving daughter, Fontelle found Bob. She had been alone and searching for him too. They married in June 2009 and were separated once again in July, when Fontelle left Bob's home in Placentia, OC, to collect her belongings and say goodbye to her loved ones back in Missouri. She was ecstatic at the thought of spending the rest of her days with her sweetheart from 60 years before in Kansas, Missouri, who she had never stopped loving.
Fontelle did not know Bob was a multimillionaire. It would have made no difference if she had, because Bob had not had time to write her into his will when he was disappeared on Monday July 27, 2009. Sadly, Bob's son-in-law did not alert police that Bob had disappeared that Monday back in 2009, though he was working in Bob's house that day. That caused delays, and further confusion means that Robert Merle Harrod is still missing today, February 14, 2015, without a single, large-scale search being carried out to find him.
It means that Mrs Fontelle Harrod is spending yet another Valentine's Day without the one she loves. This Valentine's Day, our thoughts are with her, and all the other people missing a loved one this February 14th.
Bill's love letter a day, for 4 decades
February 14 2015
Nearly forty years ago this Valentine's day, 74-year-old Bill Bresnan of New Jersey was 'struck like a bolt of lightening' by a beautiful woman from Northern Europe. In the early days of their courtship, he wrote her a love note each day, scribbled on restaurant napkins or whatever he had to hand, and signed 'I love you my darling'.
Four decades on and 10,000 letters later, Bill's still writing them to his beloved wife, Kirsten. Every single day. Using postcards if they are separated.
Bill and Kirsten say they never argue (perhaps they just have a real good understanding of whose turn it is to be wrong?) but they think the secret of a long and happy relationship is to never go to bed on an argument. Who'd argue with a loving couple with 40 years' worth of love letters behind them?
Happy Valentine's Day to all the beloved people spending today with their loved ones. Spare a thought for all those missing their loved ones. There are too many.
Everlasting love; Valentine's announcement of ancient lovers
February 14 2015
The Culture Ministry of Greece has announced the rare discovery of the 6,000 year-old remains of an embracing couple, in time for Valentine's Day. The couple - a young man and woman - were found in the cave of Diros on the Peloponnese. They have been carbon dated to around 3800 BC, and although they were found last year, the announcement was wisely held off until today's romantic date.
Not only is it very unusual for pre-historic couples to be found buried together in an embrace, but the remains of a second couple were discovered at the site, bound together with broken arrowheads. Poignantly, a child and an embryo were found buried nearby.
The excavations were part of a five-year program by a team from the Paleonthropology and Speleology Service of Southern Greece, led by Dr George Papathanasopoulos.
Mission Viejo senior charged with strangling wife
February 8 2015
A 74-year-old Mission Viejo, Orange County senior was charged with the felony murder of his wife last Thursday. Gary Lee Parsons argued with his 73-year-old wife Barbara Parsons while in bed at their home at Pueblo Nuevo Drive in the early hours of Tuesday February 3. He then strangled her until she lost consciousness and died. After tucking her into bed, he later called a family member, who called 911.
Parsons is held on $1million bail and faces a sentence of 25 years to life if found guilty.
Bride-to-be just wanted Charles Manson's corpse
February 8 2015
A writer seeking a publisher has announced that the forthcoming marriage between 80-year-old Charles Manson and 27-year-old Afton Burton (AKA 'Star') is off.
Apparently, it was all a fiendish plot on the part of the young woman and her friend, to gain ownership of Manson's corpse, and put it on public display. Journalist and author Daniel Simone says that Charles Manson has finally realized he was 'played for a fool' and also...he believes he's immortal so she's wasting her time anyhow. Simone is hoping to find a publisher for his forthcoming book, 'The Retrial of Charles Manson', who he 'spoke to regularly' before Manson's phone privileges were suspended two years ago.
Manson was the leader of a California cult in the late 60s and was jailed for life for ordering the horrific killings of heavily pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other victims by his followers. His much publicized wedding failed to take place by Thursday, when the license expired.
However, the bride-to-be maintains on the Manson website she runs that a simple 'logistics' problem is to blame and the marriage (or trees and water issues, or something) will be 'moving forward', soon...ish. A marriage of 'true minds', the website states. Indeed.
Suspect arrest over body in suitcase
February 1 2015
San Francisco police searching for a suspect caught on surveillance near the site where a dismembered body was found in a suitcase, have detained two people.
Police said they received a tip Friday that the suspect on CCTV had been seen in the city's Tenderloin district. Friday, Mark Andrus, 59, and another unidentified man were detained and Saturday, Andrus was arrested on suspicion of murder.
After the discovery of the suitcase, more body parts were discovered in a nearby trash can. Investigators have no identity pending DNA tests, but have said the victim is a light-skinned male and there are indications his murder could be gang-related.
Missing teen found safe after fears she'd left state
February 1 2015
Lauren Jackson, a 14-year-old Westchester, Los Angeles teen who went missing Thursday, has been located safe. There were fears Lauren was heading out of state to North Carolina or Georgia, as police found evidence on her computer she had met someone online and might be traveling to meet them.
Airports and hotels were searched and the teen was eventually located safe, Friday January 30. No further details have been released.
Murder hunt as victim dies 57 years after stabbing
January 27 2015
In a twist that has left his daughter reeling with shock, a 97-year-old New York man's death last September has been determined as murder - from a stab wound inflicted in 1958 or 1959. The injury happened so long ago medical records have been lost, so the exact date of the attack isn't known.
Antonio Ciccarrello was Iowa-born but was taken to his parents' native Sicily age two where he stayed, working as a shepherd, until returning to the US aged 38 to work as a porter on Fifth Avenue in New York. On his way to work one day in '58 or '59 he felt a blow on his back, he told family. He had been stabbed by an unknown assailant on the street. Although he went to hospital to have an operation to repair his injuries, he never reported the attack to police.
It was that operation that nearly half a century later, led to a blockage in his bowels that caused the death of Mr Ciccarrello, the New York Medical Examiner decided. As the operation was a direct result of the stabbing, that made his death a murder and Manhattan police were required to open a homicide investigation.
Mr Ciccarrello's only surviving daughter Mary Palaglou says the family is totally baffled and she just wants him to rest in peace. The suspect, she believes, 'is probably long dead'. She was only two when her father was stabbed and has only been able to provide police with details of the attack she heard over the years.
Police have found no evidence, witnesses, crime or medical reports so far, but as colder cases than this one have been solved, perhaps the new publicity will shed light on who stabbed Antonio Ciccarrello that day way back in time, leading to his death more than half a century later.
OC man sues cops for not arresting him
January 19 2015
Back in 2013, an OC motorycyclist, Daniel Ray Fernandez, got drunk and then drove his motorcycle at over 100 mph on Interstate 5 near Disneyland, the OC Weekly reports. He was stopped by California Highway Patrol (CHP) and his motorcycle was impounded. For unknown reasons, he wasn't arrested though - which almost certainly would have led to a loss of his license, a fine, or even jail. Instead, he was left at the side of the highway.
The man was struck by a vehicle on a freeway ramp about half an hour later and sustained severe injuries, including several broken bones. Now he's launched a lawsuit against CHP, claiming the officer had a 'duty to arrest him'. He wants damages for the injuries he suffered, stating the officer should have known he was a danger to himself.
AIG Vice-President found deceased in Palm Desert
January 17 2015
The body of 33-year-old Omar Arce Meza, a Los Angeles resident who went missing from the JW Marriott Desert Springs golf resort in Palm Desert, California January 8, has been found. A cause of death has not been released. Riverside County Coroner confirmed his identity yesterday, although family had posted the sad news on Facebook Thursday.
Omar, a Vice-President at AIG in LA, was last captured on surveillance camera leaving his hotel around 11pm. When he failed to call his wife or contact colleagues as usual, the alarm was raised. Extensive searches (including dive searches) of the resort took place but although some items belonging to him were found, he was not. His desperate wife Diane refused to leave until he was found, and hoped that a previous car accident had led to temporary amnesia.
Sadly, Omar Meza's body was eventually spotted in a pond at the resort. Our deepest condolences to his family, and all those who worked so hard to find him.
Memorial, but Long Beach baby's killer still not found
January 11 2015
A memorial for baby Eliza Delacruz was held in Long Beach, Orange County Friday, where her grandmother, Guadalupe Lechuga, appealed for the public's help, saying 'someone must have seen something'. It was organized by LaWanda Hawkins, founder of Justice for Murdered Children, a San Pedro victim advocacy group.
Three-week-old Eliza was abducted from her Long Beach home January 3, after her mother, father and uncle were shot by an intruder. She was found deceased in a dumpster in San Diego County, the next day.
No artist drawings of the attacker have been issued yet, and Eliza's father has not spoken to media, despite being released from the hospital. Eliza's mother and uncle remain hospitalized with serious injuries. Police have said they do not believe the attack was random, and that people close to the case are very afraid. Homeless Harold 'Freddy' Sherman, who found Eliza in the dumpster though, says he 'is mad; mad as hell' that anyone could do that to a baby.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has now offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of little Eliza's killer. Anyone with any information about this case can contact Los Angeles Crime Stoppers here. It is completely anonymous.
Baby Eliza Cruz found in dumpster
January 5 2015
Baby Eliza Delacruz, who is less than a month old, was abducted from her West 51st Street, Long Beach home, just before 6pm Saturday. Her mom, father and uncle were shot during the abduction. Sunday, Eliza's body was found in a dumpster at Imperial Beach, not far from the Mexican border.
Eliza's mother and uncle remain in critical condition. Eliza's father has now been released from hospital but has not spoken to the media. No description has been issued of a suspect yet but the Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia, has stated his determination that the suspect will be found, arrested and brought to justice. San Diego PD have offered a $1,000 reward for information.
Anyone with any information about missing Eliza is asked to call Long Beach PD on (562) 435 6711. Or contact LA Crime Stoppers. It's completely anonymous.
1989 Santa Ana cold case heats up
January 5 2015
Carla Salazer was found stabbed to death in her Santa Ana, Orange County apartment in 1989. Douglas Gutridge, 37 at the time but now 63, came forward to admit he thought he was the last known person to see the victim alive. It wasn't until 2008 however, that the OC crime lab (Cold Case Unit) discovered DNA linking Gutridge to the victim's apartment. It wasn't enough to bring charges.
This summer however, a multi-pronged approach by a cold case unit that included Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim and Santa Ana Sheriff's Office officials came up with DNA evidence indicating Gutridge had not only been inside the apartment, but had touched the victim as well, and so charges were laid.
Friday January 2nd, Gutridge, of Lodi, San Joaquin County, entered a not guilty plea to the charge of the murder of Carla Salazer. He remains in jail unless he can come up with the $1 million bond the judge has set. His next hearing is scheduled for February.
Christine McFadden, one of Carla Salazer's closest friends said recently: 'We gave up on the justice system but we never gave up on her'.
Gutridge might well be totally innocent of course. But if he isn't, this would not be the first time a killer has deliberately inserted themselves into a murder investigation, in order to find out what's going on and - disturbingly - to share in the notorietory of the case. Let's hope this forthcoming trial finally provides some resolution to the family and friends of the victim, Carla Salazer.
A wider view of OC's suspected serial killings
December 28 2014
The disappearance of three women, followed by the arrests of suspected serial killers Franc Cano and Steve Gordon, rocked Orange County this year. Not only was there the terrible revelation that law enforcement believes the bodies of Josephine Vargas, Kianna Jackson and Martha Anaya have been trashed and will never be found, but their suspected killers were paroled sex offenders and fitted with GPS ankle tags at the time. Further horror came along with news of a probable fifth victim whose identity still hasn't been established and, of course, the way in which the body of fourth victim Jarrae Estepp - found before she was reported missing - was discovered on a trash recycling conveyor belt.
Now the OC Register has compiled a investigative, end-of year feature, or project, 'Illusion of Safety', which examines the case so far in the greatest detail. As well as a timeline, the comprehensive feature also examines wider aspects of GPS tracking devices, Jessica's Law and the effectiveness - and possible failures - of both. It's an extremely thought provoking feature and an excellent collection of investigative journalism. You can read it here.
Huskies in the sky for Hopkinson
December 25 2014
Hopkinson Elementary, Orànge County, schoolkids came together for Christmas, along with the school PTA, the local OFCA Fire Station 17 and parent volunteers, to create a magical picture of a husky, that none of them could see at the time. It all depended on working together, and community co-operation.
The school's mascot is a husky, and the children made this picture for an Art for the Sky project, with their bodies, that could only be seen from the air.
3-year-old Audrey left in parking lot in LA
December 21 2014
Breaking: Audrey's father had been actively trying to 'get in contact' with daughter but gave up searching at 11pm.
A three-year-old girl who only knows her name is Audrey, has been left in a valet parking lot at The Grove, Los Angeles. Around 6pm Saturday December 20, a female parking attendant saw a car pull up, a woman exit the vehicle and take Audrey - in her car seat - out of the vehicle, and leave her. The woman never returned.
Audrey hasn't been able to tell police her second name, where she lives or her parents' names. At first LAPD hoped there had been a simple 'miscommunication between caregivers, but obviously as time passes, that looks less likely.
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD’s Wilshire Area watch commander at 213-473-0476.
During nonbusiness hours or on weekends, call 877-527-3247.
Or contact Crime Stoppers - it's completely anonymous.
'Rudolphina' gets rescued
December 21 2014
Christmas is a time for some good news and this is sure to bring a smile. A young doe in Grand Haven, Palm Coast, Florida, had been trapped in a weed-choked pond for a while. You can see from the picture how she made the mistake, as the surface of the water is hardly distinguishable from the bank with all the dead leaves. Kind residents spotted her trying to balance and rest on a culvert pipe in the water, but saw she couldn't climb out. They called Palm Coast Animal Control and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
With a lot of co-operation from the humans, none from the doe (she tried to swim away) and the help of a thick rope, 'Rudolphina' was saved. After a thorough inspection, she was released back into the woods she had come from. Lets hope she's rested up enough to help Santa deliver all the Christmas gifts to her rescuers we hope they get - and certainly deserve - for their good deed.
Aubrey Andrews and her unborn child found dead
December 21 2014
20-year-old Aubrey Andrews, who disappeared from her Sacramento, California home December 6, was found dead inside her car Monday December 15. Wednesday, the Sacramento County Coroner confirmed the identity of the body, and that Aubrey's fetus had died at the same time (she was nine months pregnant). Aubrey also has a three-year-old son.
Edward Andrews, Aubrey's husband, had reported she was upset when she left home, that her purse had been left on their doorstep the day after she disappeared and she had previously suffered postpartum depression. Marital difficulties between the couple had included a restraining order and a canceled divorce filing, Fox40 reports. Police say there were no obvious signs of foul play but they have not yet ruled anything out around Aubrey's death.
Rest in peace, Aubrey Andrews and your baby.
Missing Ashlee found in submerged vehicle
December 14 2014
Missing 20-year-old Ashlee Armond of Long Beach was tragically discovered to have been killed in a car accident. Ashlee was last seen late Friday night when she left a friend's house. She was reported missing when she did not arrive for work Saturday.
According to this report by Long Beach PD: 'Late last night, Long Beach Police located a vehicle submerged in the Los Cerritos Channel at 5th Street, east of Silvera Avenue...The vehicle was identified as the 2001 green Honda Civic being driven by Ashlee Armond. The driver of the vehicle was located and removed, and pronounced deceased at the scene. It was determined that the driver was Ashlee Armond... The preliminary investigation revealed that the driver was travelling eastbound on 5th Street, when she failed to stop at the end of the roadway and drove into the Los Cerritos Channel.'
26-to-life for killer of nurse Lynn Knight
December 14 2014
Douglas Bradford, the 62-year-old Costa Mesa man found guilty in August of the cold-case murder of nurse Lynn Knight, was sentenced in a Los Angeles court, Friday. He must serve 26 years to life for stabbing and then garotting Lynn in 1979, after she broke off their relationship.
Bradford was finally charged when the Cold Case Unit at Torrance PD searched his mother's house, where Bradford had been living at the time of the murder, and found she was an artist who used picture wire identical to the wire used to garotte the nurse. Bradford had originally told police he was out sailing alone in the dark when the killing took place, but this year a jury accepted prosecution's version that Bradford, enraged after the break-up, stalked and then savagely killed Lynn, in her apartment. Her sister, Donna Knight Wigmore, told the court how Lynn had been due to attend her wedding and had even intended to take Bradford along before the split, but instead was buried in the dress she had bought for the ceremony.
Daily Show apology Monday, for listing San Bernardino death as 'shooting'
December 6 2014
San Bernardino DA Michael A Ramos was less than pleased when The Daily Show's Jon Stewart listed the death of Dante Parker as one of several police 'shootings' that are similar to that of Mike Brown in Ferguson. Dante Parker did die in police custody in Victorville, after being tasered during a struggle with a female deputy during a burglary, but he was not shot. Furthermore, the Riverside County Coroner’s Office determined his cause of death was heavy PCP use (and other drugs), and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Although Dante’s family queried the police version at first and called on the Justice Department to take over the investigation, they dropped the legal pursuit a month later without explanation, shortly before the autopsy report was released.
As importantly though, Jon Stewart seemed to be unaware of DA Ramos department's history of fierce pursuit of justice for all victims, regardless of color or creed, and the recent, unprovoked and tragic shooting of Officer Gabriel 'Gabe' Garcia in the head, in San Bernardino. DA Ramos asked him to correct his mistake about Dante, via this sincere video posted on his blog, and Jon Stewart responded with a somewhat qualified apology on his twitter:
'You're right re Dante Parker. Sloppy to put him in our list of shootings. TV apology coming Monday...Larger point still stands.'
Meanwhile, communities in San Bernardino are rallying around victim Gabriel Garcia, shot in cold blood in the head as he simply approached a group of people outside an apartment block which had seen several burglaries. He didn't get time to even speak to them, let alone draw his gun, and it was left to the rookie partner he was training to try and defend him. Garcia's father Ron was a Captain on duty the night his son was shot, but has now submitted for early retirement to care for his severely wounded son. Blue porch lights shone throughout San Bernardino while Gabriel fought for his life in hospital, as a show of solidarity and support from the community.
A 'Fight on' fundraiser for Gabriel is scheduled for the same Monday The Daily Show apology is due to air. Police volunteers will be serving customers at The Mexico Cafe in San Bernardino all day, and all are welcome. Doctors say it may take a year to know the extent of the limitations Gabriel is left with, but his parents are still thrilled with what he has achieved so far: “He’s having to re-learn everything. His progress is an unbelievable thing to witness — every day he astonishes us,” they say.
Gordon and Cano: grand jury hears of confession, but 'not guilty' pleas
November 30 2014
Hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony released a week ago paint a chilling picture of suspected Orange County, SoCal serial killers Steven Dean Gordon, 45, and 27-year-old Frank Cano. They are charged with the murders of four women; Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, Martha Anaya, 28, and Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21. It was revealed Gordon confessed and told investigators about a fifth victim, but her identity has not yet been discovered and so they haven't been charged with her death. All were raped and strangled, it's alleged.
Prosecutors say the men - who both entered not guilty pleas despite Gordon having made a detailed confession - exchanged a series of text messages discussing the murder of final victim Jarrae Nykkole Estepp. It was the discovery of her body on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling plant, that eventually led to the capture of the suspects. She was referred to as 'Cat' and 'Kitty' in the texts, with one sent by Gordon coldly stating: 'Kitty goes to sleep'. The description of her final moments was particularly harrowing, as Cano is alleged to have stamped on her neck in a rage, when Gordon showed some temporary pity for the young victim. The bodies of the other victims have not been found and investigators believe they may be lost forever in landfills.
Anaheim detective Bruce Linn was vital in finding initial evidence; a tube of caulking he retrieved from searching the trash near Jarrae's body on the conveyor belt provided a link to the vehicle workshop where Gordon occasionally worked, which in turn linked to Cano and cell phone records that placed him near the locations where victims were last seen. Both were wearing GPS monitoring devices, were not supposed to associate with each other and were registered as sex offenders. Monitoring of their devices did not pick up what was happening however, and Gordon even told detectives one killing was committed when his device had been temporarily removed by authorities and there was a delay in replacing it.
The grand jury also heard how, at first, Gordon took full responsibility for the killings; it was only when detectives led him to believe that Cano was refusing to see him, that he implicated him in the crimes. This may yet provide a useful line for Cano's defence to take during the trial. Besides the cell phone, GPS records and confession though, both the accused will have to deal with the DNA evidence investigators have also recovered. They will remain in jail until their next hearing, scheduled for January 16, 2015.
The fifth, unidentified victim is thought to be in her early 20s, small, black, and with several tattoos. Anybody who is aware of a missing person fitting that description who was in Orange County between September/October 2013 and March 2014 is asked to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers, here. It is completely anonymous.
'Aging as Art' 2015
November 30 2014
The Council on Aging Orange County (COAOC) is inviting entries for the 2015 'Aging as Art' photography show. It is open to all SoCal resident, professional and amateur photographers over 18 years of age and entrants can submit up to three digital images. The annual show aims to highlight the sheer diversity and beauty, as well as the challenges and difficulties perhaps, of the increasing number of people living very long lives today.
There is a $25 fee and the deadline is January 5th, 2015. There are also cash prizes of up to $500 and selected entries will be displayed at the prestigious Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, February 10 - 15th, 2015. Selected photographs will also be displayed at the Newport Beach Central Library, June 19 – July 10th, 2015.
Full entry details and submission form can be found here.
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.