Saturday, August 23, 2014

“The Road Goes on Forever…And the Party Never Ends…”

Joe Ely’s stolen guitar is returned
by Robert A. Waters

He’s been called a “Texas country rocker,” and maybe that fits.  But for me, Joe Ely’s best songs describe real-life stories with a touch of gritty macabre.  “Me and Billy the Kid” twists the legendary outlaw’s tale like a Texas windstorm, and who couldn’t love “The Road Goes on Forever?”

In 1986, Ely played a gig at Slim’s, a club in San Francisco.  According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the guitars he used that night was a custom-built “solid-body electric made for him by Austin, Texas, guitar maker Ted Newman-Jones, who, at Ely’s request, created an instrument with a billiards theme that was painted pool table felt blue and with pool ball-shaped inlays on the neck.”  Newman-Jones had built several one-of-a-kind instruments for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard.

After the gig, an unknown crack-head (okay, I don’t know the thief was a crack-head, but I’d bet on it) stole two guitars from the singer.  In addition to the custom Newman-Jones, a valuable 1957 Fender Stratocaster also disappeared.

Fast-forward to 2013, and a Californian named Matt Wright.  Twenty-seven years earlier, Wright had bought the guitar from a pawnshop in Merced.  For decades, he wondered about the unusual instrument he’d purchased.  Who did it belong to?  Where did it come from?

One night, as he watched the replay of an old Austin City Limits show, he saw Ely playing the unique instrument.  Suddenly, he knew.  He’d likely purchased the Texas legend’s favorite guitar.  A few strokes of an Internet keyboard revealed the story: Wright owned a stolen guitar.

Ely later recounted what happened next.  “It was amazing,” he said. “The guy came and brought the guitar yesterday, and presented it to me onstage last night.  After he told the whole story onstage, we figured out where the guitar had been stolen, and it was only about three blocks from Slim’s.  We were all exhilarated.  We were dancing around and passing the guitar back and forth.”

Wright refused to accept payment, and everyone left happy.

Now, all that’s left is to listen to my favorite Joe Ely song, “The Road Goes on Forever.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Just a Boy"

Murderer is “afraid of getting killed in prison”
by Robert A. Waters

Two years ago, I wrote about the murder of Judi Simpson-Beaver.  American justice works slowly and fitfully, if at all, but finally there’s been some resolution in this case.

At trial, a shaken jury was forced to view the killing of forty-eight-year-old store clerk Judi Simpson-Beaver.  Recorded by surveillance cameras, Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray remarked that he found the video “profoundly difficult for everyone to watch.”

On March 4, 2012, Jeremy Blue, 20, and two accomplices, Donvell Edwards, 23, and Edward Lee Perry, 28, conspired to rob the Lucky Mart convenience store at 5695 Cleveland Street in Merrillville, Indiana.  The video showed Blue entering the store wearing a “Jason-style” hockey mask.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Blue “pointed a black handgun at Simpson-Beaver, who was behind the counter, and she began removing money from the cash register.  The man removed both cash drawers and moved toward the exit.  He suddenly changed his direction, went to the counter and fired a single shot hitting Simpson-Beaver in her upper body.  He put the register drawers down, and went behind the counter where he pursued the cashier and fired another round at Simpson-Beaver’s head, causing her to collapse.  The man picked up the cash drawers and fled on foot.”

As Blue ran outside, coins began spilling from the register drawers.  That alerted a bystander, who looked up just as the killer removed his mask.  The onlooker later picked Blue out of a lineup, as did several other witnesses.

Despite his lawyer’s protestations that he was mentally ill, the jury convicted Jeremy Blue and he received 80 years in prison.  According to the Chicago Sun Times, Judge Murray “took the unusual step of not awarding credit for the 729 days Blue spent in the Lake County Jail because of numerous write-ups for fighting, disrespecting correctional officers, and throwing urine and feces on other inmates.”

Donvell Edwards got 12 years for his part in planning and carrying out the crime.

Edward Lee Perry, who provided the mask and gun used in the robbery, received immunity for his testimony.  (At the time of Blue's trial, Perry was serving time in prison for an unrelated robbery.)  Perry testified that before the murder, the friends had snorted cocaine and planned the heist.  He stated that Blue later told him he had to kill the clerk because she recognized him.  Before he shot her in the face, Simpson-Beaver allegedly asked: “Jeremy, why are you doing this?”

The conspirators and Judi Simpson-Beaver lived in different worlds.  Despite their young ages, Blue, Edwards, and Perry were hardened career criminals, just the opposite of their victim.

Zachary Beaver spoke about the kindness of his mother.  She taught her sons to be honest and forthright, he said.  He joined the Army and was serving in Afghanistan when his mother was murdered.  Her second son, an Army veteran, had served in Iraq.  In the 1990s, Simpson-Beaver moved to Lubbock, Texas where she obtained her bachelor's degree in paralegal studies from Texas Tech.  She later moved back to her native Indiana to be with family.

Unlike her killer, Simpson-Beaver worked for a living.  In Texas, she was employed as a paralegal, and started a music production company.  After moving back to Indiana, she did title research as well as working a second job in the convenience store.

At the time of her death, Simpson-Beaver had been helping Zachary raise his son while he served overseas.

Before being sentenced, Jeremy Blue’s mother asked for leniency.  “He is afraid of going to jail,” she said.  “He’s afraid for his life, of getting killed in prison.  He’s just a boy.”
Jeremy K. Blue

Monday, August 11, 2014

Canada's Most Wanted Killer

Sharin' Morningstar Keenan
[I'm re-publishing a previous article from my blog to bring attention to this stranger abduction and murder.  If you know the whereabouts of Dennis Howe, contact the Toronto Police Department or the FBI.  There is a $100,000 reward.]

At 74, is Dennis Melvyn Howe still alive?
by Robert A. Waters

The crime Dennis Melvyn Howe committed on the afternoon of January 23, 1983 was a stain on humanity.  At about four o’clock, he stepped outside his boarding house in downtown Toronto, walked a hundred yards, and slithered into Jean Sibelius Park.  It had been raining off and on all day, and just one lone child was playing there, a nine-year-old girl named Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan.

Somehow, no one noticed Howe and Sharin’ walk back through the neighborhood and climb the stairs to his second-story room.  What ruse he used to get the creative, intelligent girl to accompany him is unknown.  That night, Sharin’ was reported missing.  Hundreds of investigators and volunteers searched the park and the row houses surrounding it.  They spoke with neighbors, checked nearby businesses, and even drove through the streets with a megaphone urging tipsters to come forward. For nine long, depressing days, cops and a stunned public searched for the missing child.

Then detectives got a call from the landlord at 482 Brunswick Avenue informing them that one of her tenants had unexpectedly dropped out of sight the day after Sharin’ vanished.  Investigators entered the boarder’s drab room and noticed shelving from the refrigerator lying on the floor.  When they opened the door, a half-frozen body spilled out.

The scene was so horrible, so gruesome, so surreal that ten days later, one of the detectives who found the body quit the force.  (The second, never able to forget that heart-grinding scene, killed himself a few years later.)

It seemed almost beyond belief.  In the heart of Toronto, a child had been kidnapped, raped, and strangled to death.  In one fell swoop, the innocence of a city was lost.

The boarder turned out to be a parole violator living and working in the city using an alias. Dennis Melvyn Howe had spent most of his adult life in prison.  He’d recently been paroled from Prince Albert Penitentiary in Saskatchewan after serving 17 years.  His 20-year rap sheet included theft, armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, indecent assault on a thirteen-year-old girl, kidnapping a woman and holding her hostage, as well as dozens of other crimes.  Many questioned why this obviously dangerous felon was out on the streets at all.

After murdering Sharin’, Howe borrowed $200 from his employer and bought a bus ticket.  A day later, he arrived in North Bay.  Howe is then thought to have continued to Winnipeg, a city of a half-million.  After that, he vanished.

Investigators were confident that the fugitive would soon be captured.  Yet Dennis Melvyn Howe somehow escaped.  Thirty-one years later, he is still Canada’s most wanted fugitive.  In those years, he has been featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and other television shows.  A $100,000 reward has been in effect for many years.  Cops have checked out thousands of leads over the years, all to no avail.  A newspaper campaign called “Nowhere to Hide” was launched by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association in 1998—it was an attempt to get an age-enhanced photograph of Howe to ten million Canadians.

How did the career criminal who was unable to avoid being arrested for more than a few weeks while out of the streets manage to evade cops for decades?  Is he even still alive?  At 74, time is ticking away for cops to bring him to justice.  A few years ago, the current lead investigator, Detective-Sergeant Jim Crowley, said: “There are those who think Howe may be dead, but I don’t think so.  After so many years in this business, you get gut feelings.  I figure he is in a small out of the way Western town or lumber camp.  He may have found a safe haven with female company.”  Wayne Oldham, another investigator who was once involved in the search for Howe, said: “Presuming he’s alive, and with each passing year that assumption dwindles a little, I can see him in a rural setting, essentially a recluse, employed in a menial job where identity is not critical.”

Howe was born on September 26, 1940.  He is five feet ten inches tall and at the time of Sharin’s murder weighed about 170 pounds.  His hair was brown when he fled, but now would be gray or white.  His eyes are brown.  He has a scar under the left side of his chin and short, crooked fingers. Howe is left-handed and has a hairy chest, hairy arms, and square shoulders.  He walks quickly and is a heavy smoker.

He goes by many aliases, all common names.  A few of his known aliases were: Michael Burns; Wayne King; Ralph Ferguson; and Jim Meyers.

At the time of Sharin’s murder, Howe’s teeth were black and abscessed.  Due to the constant pain he endured, investigators believe Howe would have been forced to get dental assistance.  It’s possible that he now has dentures.  In fact, after the murder, Royal Canadian Mounted Police published Howe’s dental charts in the Canadian Dental Journal with the hope that a dentist would spot the killer.

Howe’s DNA has been linked to Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan.  It is available to law enforcement officials in North America.

While most Canadian investigators think Howe would never have left the country of his birth, it is possible that he fled to the United States.  (What better way to throw the hounds off your tracks than to go somewhere totally unexpected?)  While Howe was estranged from most of his family, he had a brother who occasionally loaned him money.  In the years following the murder of Sharin’, cops learned that his brother made a dozen trips to Montana and Washington.  After being questioned about the reasons for those visits, they suddenly stopped.  His brother died years ago, taking any secret he may have had to his grave.

Is Dennis Melvyn Howe [pictured below] still alive?  Is he hiding in plain sight, maybe in some small town, cared for by a wife and children?  Is he languishing in a nursing facility, his identity unknown?

To me, the most likely scenario is that he died or was killed shortly after the murder, while still on the run.  Otherwise, with his deviant sexual compulsions and anti-social personality, he would have quickly come into contact with law enforcement officials, either in Canada or the United States.

Wherever Howe is, Hell will likely be his final destination.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Whitewashing the Elkhart 4

The Real Victim
by Robert A. Waters

Last week, ABC Nightline aired a documentary entitled, “A Costly Mistake.”  The story is a good example of why I never trust anything I see on television.  Heavily biased toward proving that the sentences of four home invaders were too harsh, the producers ignored much of what was significant in the case.

On October 3, 2012, in broad daylight, Danzele Johnson, 21, Blake Layman, 16, Anthony Sharp, 18, and Jose Quiroz, 16, broke into the home of Rodney Scott.  Levi Sparks, 17, waited across the street as a lookout.  Scott, sleeping upstairs, was jarred awake by his back door being kicked in.  He grabbed his handgun and, seeing four strangers inside his house, opened fire.  He killed Johnson, and wounded Layman.

ABC treated the real victim, Scott, as a mere afterthought. 

Rodney Scott had lived in his home on Frances Street for eighteen years.  Unemployed at the time of the break-in, he took a nap about noon.  Due to sleep apnea, Scott slept with a mask hooked up to a machine beside his bed.  At about 2:30, he awoke to the sound of a “boom and the whole house shook.”  (In fact, there were three loud “booms” as Johnson repeatedly kicked the door.)  Scott took the reasonable step of arming himself—he grabbed his handgun, loaded it, and went downstairs to investigate.  He stated that as he descended toward his living room, he “ran” down the steps in an attempt to alert the intruders that someone was home.  He hoped they would hear him and leave.  They didn’t.

Once downstairs, Scott entered the living room.  He saw no one.  In the kitchen, however, he suddenly encountered four strangers.  Scott later testified that he was in fear for his life “because when you see that many people in your house, that you didn't invite into your house, fear comes over you.  You don’t know if you're going to be hurt or you’re going to be killed.”

Scott said that as he entered the kitchen, one intruder ran out the back door.  Two or three others stood in a downstairs bedroom.  Scott fired several rounds at the group, hoping to herd them into the bedroom closet.  As they hid in the closet, he called 911.  The closet door kept opening and closing, as the invaders searched for a way out.  Finally, the door popped open again and Danzele Johnson fell out onto the bedroom floor.  While speaking with the dispatcher, Scott asked for an ambulance to be sent to his home.

When police arrived, they first treated Scott as a suspect, but eventually his actions were ruled justified, and he was not charged.

After the home invasion, Scott was so traumatized that he moved away from his home.  To this day, he has trouble sleeping because of the distress he suffered.  The real victim, who was simply at home minding his own business, barely rated a mention in the ABC documentary.

In ABC’s portrayal of the case, the five friends are depicted as innocent schoolboys who, on “impulse,” happened to make a “mistake.”  (Those words are used at least a half-dozen times in the 20-minute segment.)  What went un-mentioned in the ABC story is a statement Quiroz made at a court hearing.  “…Quiroz testified that on the day of the shooting, he and co-defendants Blake Layman and Levi Sparks were identifying homes in the neighborhood to target for burglary.  Quiroz testified that Levi Sparks had gone down Frances Avenue knocking on doors.  After recruiting the assistance of Danzele Johnson and Anthony Sharp, the group of five acted on the victim’s house across the street from Quiroz.  Quiroz further testified that Sparks remained on Quiroz’s front porch across the street from the victim’s home while Quiroz, Layman, Johnson and Sharp proceeded to break in to the home…”

It could reasonably be concluded from Quiroz’s confession that the five friends were experienced in committing home break-ins.  In fact, residents complained to reporters that police did not actively investigate numerous reported burglaries in the area until after Johnson was shot.

According to the prosecutor, several of the home invaders armed themselves with kitchen knives once they entered the home.  Again, this was never mentioned in the documentary.

In the hail of gunfire, one round struck Layman in the leg, and another mortally wounded Danzele Johnson.  Never mentioned in the story was the fact that the homeowner’s wallet was found in the closet where several of the suspects tried to hide.  Court testimony revealed that a kitchen knife, stolen from a neighbor during a previous burglary, was also found near the invaders in the closet.

Also never mentioned is the fact that at least one of the “boys” had a history of drug abuse and had been suspended from school for fighting.

Layman, Sharp, and Sparks were convicted of “felony murder” and sentenced to 50 years in prison.  Quiroz pled guilty and got 45 years.

Is 50 years a just sentence for the crimes the four teenagers committed?  Maybe not.

But ABC should at least give its viewers all the facts so they can make an informed decision.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Last Ride of the “Traveling Rapist”

Serial Burglar Turns Killer
by Robert A. Waters

It was 1977.  President Jimmy Carter presided over a rising “misery index,” Star Wars blasted movie box office records to oblivion, and Elvis Presley died on his bathroom floor at Graceland.  In Texas, an unknown rapist prowled the dark streets of Amarillo.

Samuel Christopher Hawkins’ MO was simple.  Each night after work, he crept through middle-class neighborhoods, checking for unlocked doors.  On entering a home, he searched every room, hoping to find some unlucky woman alone.  By now, his excitement had reached a fever-pitch, and his urges were unstoppable.  In his confession, Hawkins stated that his own father had told him the best way to get back at society was to “attack white women.”  Hawkins subjected each victim to an established ritual, always placing a pillow case over her head so she couldn’t identify him.

For two years, he assaulted women, and not even the vaunted Texas Rangers could catch him.  Then Hawkins graduated to murder.  Not just any murder, but the slayings of a twelve-year-old girl and a 19-year-old pregnant woman.  Hate, fueled by surging sexual demons, prompted him to kill the innocent.

The first to die was Rhonda DeAnn Keys.  On February 2, 1976, Hawkins abducted the pre-teen from her school bus stop, and drove her to a secluded area.  An autopsy was inconclusive as to whether he sexually assaulted Rhonda, but it did show that he beat her to death, possibly with a steel pipe.  After killing her, Hawkins drove to a secluded bridge and dumped her body beneath it.  Seven days later, a farm-boy discovered her remains.  Rhonda’s hands were tied behind her back, and a bloody pillow-case covered her head.

Hawkins waited for more than a year before committing his second murder.  The victim was Abbe Rodgers Hamilton, a 19-year-old pregnant housewife.  The killer’s chilling confession to police was recorded: “My name is Samuel Christopher Hawkins ... A short while ago, I can't remember exactly when, I drove to Borger, Texas with a friend.... We went in my friend’s car. The man I was with met one of his old girl friends and stayed with her so I took his car. I started looking around Borger for somebody to rape. I drove to the south part of Borger. I started checking doors and came to a house that had one open. This house was facing west, and it had a drive way that went north and south. The house was a red color and they were building a room on the end of it. There was a red Monte Carlo, I think it was about a 1976 model, parked in the driveway. There was also another small car in the driveway and I think it was a Pinto or a Vega.

“I parked my car in the area of the driveway, right behind the Monte Carlo and Pinto. I checked the door and it was open. I walked straight into a bedroom that seems like it was kind of behind the kitchen and to the left. I had a hunting knife that I had bought at the T.G. & Y. store on 24th. and North Grand st. (sic) in my hand. I noticed a woman lying on a bed on her side. I put the knife to the woman’s throat and she jumped. When the woman jumped, the knife went into her neck. The woman got hysterical and reached up and felt the blood on her neck and started screaming ‘give me a towel, give me a towel.’ 

When the woman got hysterical, I did too. I started stabbing the woman in the neck but I don’t know how many times I stabbed her. When the woman became hysterical, she grabbed the telephone and was going to call on it. I guess this is when I cut her again. The woman was holding the phone, and I took the knife and cut the wire. I then went into the dining area and got some red and white napkins. The red and white design was in squares. I made an attempt to calm her down and tie her up. I had cut the napkins with the knife that I had and used these to tie her with. The woman wouldn’t give up so this is when I cut her again. I couldn’t tie the woman up as such so the knots stayed loose. I did not think that the woman was dead when I left but I didn’t know for sure. I did not rape this woman but I intended to when I went in the house. I got scared when I stabbed the woman and this is why I didn’t rape her and I ran out of the house....”

Police finally caught Hawkins after a young boy noticed him prowling an Amarillo neighborhood and wrote down his license number.  Investigators eventually linked him to 40 rapes in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida.  Because of this, investigators and the media began calling him “the traveling rapist.”

Convicted of killing Rhonda Keys and Abbe Hamilton, Hawkins earned two death sentences.  He died by lethal injection on February 21, 1995.

Although he enjoyed killing others, Hawkins changed his tune when it came time for his own death, claiming that Texas was wrong to execute him.  “I’m well-balanced, intelligent, dignified, reasonable,” he said. “The illusion is that you're dealing with some animal that can't be reformed.”

Of course, reformation isn’t the point.  Execution is designed to make people pay for despicable, inhumane acts.  It’s for providing some means of emotional restoration to families of victims.  And it’s to stop people like Hawkins from killing other innocent women.

In this case, that was done.

Since his execution, Hawkins has never murdered anyone else.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dee Scofield as she might appear today
The Kidnapping of Dee Scofield
by Robert A. Waters

[This was the first story I published when I began writing my blog six years ago.  In the heat of a summer afternoon, twelve-year-old Dee Scofield disappeared from a crowded parking lot in my hometown of Ocala, Florida.  Locally, the case generated some publicity, but there was little, if any, national coverage.  What happened to the “All-American Girl,” as she was called?  Thirty-eight years later, will anyone come forward?]
It was one o’clock on Thursday, July 22, 1976.

Highway 40 cut across the center of Florida and through the heart of a town that was quickly becoming a city. Ocala. Locally, the highway was called Silver Springs Boulevard. The Florida Highway Patrol station sat near the eastern edge of town, on the Boulevard. You couldn’t miss it—-an ugly red and white metal tower stood behind it, rising maybe two hundred feet into the sky.

Lena Scofield and her twelve-year-old daughter, Dorothy, nicknamed “Dee,” arrived a few minutes after noon. Lena needed to get her driver’s license renewed, and Dee had accompanied her mother. At four-feet-ten, and weighing nearly one hundred pounds, Dee was beginning to develop a figure. She wore blue jeans, a red blouse, and brown tennis shoes. She had brown braided hair and wore glasses with teardrop-shaped gold frames.

While in line, Dee asked to walk over to the J. M. Fields department store. She’d recently bought a pair of sandals there and wanted to exchange them. The store was about a football field’s-length from the Highway Patrol station.

According to an article in the Ocala Star-Banner, “Mrs. Schofield (sic) first indicated displeasure with the idea, but then relented, telling her daughter if she got through first, she was to return to the FHP station. In turn, Mrs. Schofield (sic) said if she got through with the test first, she would go to the shopping center and meet her daughter.”

As the sun scorched the parking lot between the FHP station and J. M. Fields, Dee walked away, swinging her bag with the sandals.

By one o’clock, Lena was done. She drove over to Fields and began looking for her daughter. She spoke to several clerks who’d seen Dee in the store. At least one employee had noticed the girl leave through the double-doors at the store’s entrance.

Thinking that they’d missed each other, Lena drove back to the FHP station. When she couldn’t find her daughter, she reported Dee missing to the officer in charge.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers interviewed Lena. They learned that Dee was an honor student at Marion Middle School. During the summer, she’d been working at her parent’s barbecue restaurant. According to police, she was “obedient...from a close-knit family.”

An All-American girl, police didn’t believe she would have run away. Using the FHP station as a base, Joe and Lena Scofield waited for information. All Lena could do was cry and second-guess herself. How could someone just vanish from a crowded parking lot?

Joe was in shock. Marion County, he thought, is larger than some states. Much of it is rural. “You could go three or four miles from here,” Joe said, “and find thousands of places to hide somebody.”

The Ocala Police Department had jurisdiction, but troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol and deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department helped in the search for Dee. A sales receipt confirmed that she’d been in the department store and had exchanged her sandals. A clerk remembered the girl browsing at the jewelry counter. Investigators and employees searched every inch of the store. Then they moved next door to a bowling alley that was under construction. They worked their way across the Boulevard to the Sears Town Plaza. Throughout the afternoon, police and volunteers combed the area.

There were few leads. In fact, investigators initially labeled the disappearance as a “missing persons case” because there was no solid evidence to show that Dee had been abducted.

Then they got the only clue they would ever get.

Nuby Shealey’s store is a landmark in Marion County. It sits at the intersection of Highway 40 and State Road Highway 314, less than a mile from the Ocala National Forest. It is a combination gas station and restaurant and bait shop. Locally, it has always been known as “Nuby’s.”

When the good old boys show up, one of the major topics is whether there’s a world record bass in one of the thousands of lakes and ponds that dot the Forest. They still laugh about the former chef who drove in from Mississippi and “guaranteed” that he would catch the record bass. He claimed to have a secret bait. Turns out he used wild eels, something unheard of among the locals. After a year of frustration, he gave up and went back to cooking.

The day after Dee vanished, detectives interviewed a clerk at Nuby’s. According to an article in the Star-Banner, “A woman employe (sic) at the store positively identified a young girl who had been in the store as the missing Schofield (sic) girl.” Sergeant Gordon Welch of the Ocala Police Department said the clerk “described the girl and clothing she was wearing before police presented her with a description.” The clerk said that the girl entered the store with two men--she was shaking and crying and looked uncomfortable.

Because of this tip, the search shifted to the Ocala National Forest. The Forest is huge. It consists of more than six hundred square miles of scrubland and swamp. Wild critters such as bears, alligators, coyotes, and bobcats roam the Forest. It’s a hunter’s delight, and every year hundreds of deer are bagged. Dozens of ten-pound bass are taken from Forest waters annually. Unfortunately, it’s also a good place to hide a body.

Police and volunteers fanned out, trudging through the rattlesnake-infested hills and slogging through cotton-mouth swamps. Hunting cabins were checked. A helicopter flew over the area for days, looking for any sign of the missing girl. The desperation of the searchers was evident when the cops turned to self-professed psychics for help. As usual, they offered only vague leads that came to nothing.

The Scofields offered a $1,000 reward, all they could afford. They moved into a trailer near the Forest. Dozens of family members from all over the country converged on the trailer. Lena and the women cooked all day and manned the phones while the men searched.

Day after day, the searchers went out fresh and hopeful, only to return filthy and exhausted and discouraged.

In the end, it was all in vain. The searchers went home, the cops gave up, and the case went cold.

It’s been 38 years now since Dorothy “Dee” Scofield disappeared. Unless her abductor is still alive, no one knows what happened to her. During those early days of the search, Lena vocalized her frustration. “I just can’t imagine why they took her,” she said. “No, I can imagine a lot of reasons, but I don’t want to admit it to myself. [This] person has got to be sick.”

[Today, J. M. Fields no longer exists in Ocala.  The building is now the Marion County Public Library.  But occasionally, as I search for some new book, I want to ask employees if they have ever encountered the ghost of a twelve-year-old girl.  If so, it would be Dee Scofield, a little girl lost and never found.]


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Justice for a Carjacker

Shooting Victim Claudiare Motley
“Go get the cannon…”
by Robert A. Waters

In June, 2014, Claudiare Motley returned to his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend his high school reunion.  He had good reason to reflect on his life.  Married to a former beauty queen who is now an attorney, and with three children, Motley himself was nearing graduation from the Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina.

An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes what happened on the night of June 21: “[Motley] left the Milwaukee Tech High School Class of ‘89 ‘Meet-and-Greet’ Saturday around 1 a.m.  He was driving a 2014 Range Rover—the rental car he’d chosen for his vacation with his three children.

“After dropping off a friend at the corner of N. 63rd St. and W. Capitol Drive, Motley peered out the window to make sure the friend made it safely through the door.  Then he took out his cellphone to check his email.  He almost didn’t notice the black car slowly rolling past him on the left.

“Moments later, Motley said, a second car parked behind him. He saw three passengers through the rear view mirror—a woman and two men—and they were looking at him strangely, he said. Suddenly, one of the men jumped out of the car, approached his window and pointed a gun at him. When Motley floored the accelerator, the man fired a shot through the window.

“‘I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ Motley, 43, a Milwaukee native who now lives in North Carolina, said Monday.  Miraculously, he was able to maneuver the vehicle away from his attackers and drive two miles to St. Joseph’s Hospital, holding the steering wheel with one hand and clutching his jaw with the other in an attempt to stop the blood. When he made it to the floor of the emergency room, he collapsed.”

Motley was lucky to survive.  Doctors repaired his shattered jaw, but additional surgeries await him.

Meanwhile, police searched in vain for the shooter.

For several months, Milwaukee had been plagued by a series of violent carjackings.  Witnesses said that some of the robbers appeared to be in their early teens and that they were known to shoot first and ask questions later.

The day after Claudiare Motley nearly died, Victoria Davison, a nurse, sat parked outside her home.  Suddenly, she was approached by two teens.  “We want the keys, the car, everything,” one told her.  Then he yelled to the other robber: “Go get the cannon.”

Davison assumed the robber’s intent was to get a large-caliber gun and shoot her.  What the carjackers didn’t know was that their victim had a concealed carry license, and a handgun in her gym bag.  Davison quickly grabbed the weapon and opened fire.  She later told reporters: “I shot the one that was in front of me.  The one in the back of me, he said a curse word, and then he looked at his friend, and then he ran off while his friend was on the ground.”

Police quickly realized that the wounded robber was the suspect in Claudiare Motley’s shooting.

They also realized that he’ll never commit another robbery, at least not one where he has to walk.  The fifteen-year-old, who can’t be named publicly because of his age, now lies paralyzed in a hospital bed.

Davison, on learning that prosecutors plan to charge the robber as a juvenile, told reporters that he should be charged as an adult.  “I mean he’s 15, but he’s making adult decisions.  One robbery? Maybe he should be charged as a juvenile because he needs to learn a lesson, but several?” she said. “Even after he shot somebody in the face.  Then you are still committing robberies, and that was when he tried to rob me.”

Motley’s wife, Kimberley, had the last word: “It’s unfortunate that this 15-year-old is now a victim,” she said.  “But he made my husband a victim with his bad decision.  That’s sort of the price you pay when you shoot a man in the face, and try to victimize a woman who has a concealed carry permit.”

Because of Davison’s heroic action, police say they’re close to rounding up the ring of carjackers.  If so, they’ll no doubt save many additional victims.

Yet another win for concealed carry laws.