Sunday, June 30, 2013

Help Find Adrienne Salinas

A desperate search is underway for missing nineteen-year-old Adrienne Salinas of Tempe, Arizona.  Tempe Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI have set up a command post near the spot where Adrienne was last seen.  Investigators searched wooded areas, homes, and abandoned buildings.  Pedestrians driving through the area have been questioned, and yesterday divers scoured Tempe Town Lake.

AZCENTRAL.COM reported that “Adrienne attended a party in Tempe with her boyfriend the night of June 14 and had been drinking.  She and her boyfriend got into an argument at the party.  The boyfriend drove her to his home in Scottsdale, but they continued to argue so he drove her home.  The last time anyone reported seeing Adrienne was early in the morning of June 15.  Her roommates told police that she packed an overnight bag and said she was driving back to her boyfriend’s home.”

Two blocks from her home, Adrienne’s car ran up on a curb, flattening two of her tires.  She then walked back to her apartment.  At 5:05 that morning, Adrienne used her cellphone to call a taxi and asked the driver to meet her at a nearby Circle K convenience store.

Shortly after that, her cellphone went dead.  The taxi driver said he couldn’t find Adrienne, and she never made it to her boyfriend’s house.  She hasn’t been seen since the early morning of June 15.

Investigators stated that both the boyfriend and the cab driver have been cooperative.

The missing woman is five feet, six inches tall, and weighs 110 pounds.  She has raven-black hair and a tattoo of the sun near her left ear.  A reward of $8,000 has been offered.

“It’s just a nightmare,” Rick Salinas, her father, said.  “We have to suppress those negative thoughts [because] the worst case scenario is not something that’s going to motivate us.”

If you have any information about this case, call 480-350-8311.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Self-Defense Shooting in New Hampshire

Violent home invasion stopped by armed homeowner


NOTE: This report was published on June 26, 2013.  The document has been slightly abridged for easier reading.   
"The incident was first reported at approximately 2:43 a.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2013.  Ian Peters (age 38), the adult male occupant of an apartment located at 430 Lake Avenue in Manchester, placed a 911 call reporting a home invasion at his apartment.  When Manchester police officers arrived at the apartment, they encountered Ian Peters outside with his fiancé and her 3-year-old child.  After ensuring that Peters, his fiancé, and her child were physically unhurt, the officers went inside the apartment and discovered an adult male deceased inside.  That deceased man was eventually identified as Michael Larocque, Jr. (age 24).  No one else connected with the incident was located inside the apartment or in the immediate area. 
"After securing the scene, an investigation began into the incident.  That investigation included speaking with Ian Peters and his fiancé, as well as their neighbors.  It also involved interviewing people who knew Michael Larocque, Jr., and his associates.  Manchester detectives also searched the shooting scene and the vicinity for evidence related to the incident.  Based on the investigation, the following facts have been determined. 
"On Saturday evening, June 8, 2013, Ian Peters was with his fiancé in their second-floor Lake Avenue apartment.  Sometime after midnight, she was receiving text messages from someone she knew and those text messages eventually turned confrontational and threatening.  About an hour or two later while Peters and his fiancé were in bed, they heard multiple footsteps coming down the porch towards their bedroom.  The porch is located directly outside their bedroom.  Peters looked at his girlfriend and could see that she was scared.  He got out of bed and grabbed his handgun.  Peters heard someone at the door and then heard the doorknob move, which was quickly followed by three kicks to the door.  As Peters moved out into the living room, the apartment door burst open and two men stepped inside.  Peters’ fiancé ran past him into her child’s bedroom and closed the door.  The two men who had kicked open the door charged at Peters. 
"At that point, Peters believed that he was in a life or death situation and that the two men might have weapons.  He yelled at the two men and then fired his gun at the closest intruder who was charging at him.  That intruder did not stop and ran past Peters towards the kitchen.  The other intruder continued moving towards Peters.  Peters fired his gun at the second intruder who was approaching him, which caused that man to flee and run outside.  At that point, Peters could not see either of the two intruders in the apartment and did not believe that he had hit either of them with his gunfire.  He went over to the apartment door that had been kicked open, closed it, and then went looking for the first intruder who had run into the kitchen.   
“Peters discovered the first intruder inside the apartment’s bathroom, next to the kitchen.  That man, eventually identified as Michael Larocque, Jr., was trying to get out of the bathroom through a window.  Peters told Larocque to get down on the ground and not to move.  Instead, Larocque turned and attacked Peters, pushing him backwards into the laundry room outside the bathroom.  Larocque began punching Peters, hitting him at least twice in the head.  Peters and Larocque started to physically struggle and during that struggle, Peters’ gun went off.  Peters said that he did not try to shoot Larocque during their struggle outside the bathroom and it does not appear that the gunshot hit Larocque. 
"As Peters struggled with Larocque, he heard Larocque say, 'Help me,' and then Larocque started to collapse to the floor.  Peters told Larocque that he would help him and pulled Larocque out into the kitchen in order to get him into a more open area.  Peters could see that Larocque was bleeding profusely at that point, so Peters called 911 for help.  Peters explained the situation to the 911 operator and then the operator told Peters to take his fiancé and her child outside and wait for the police.  Peters did as he was told. 
"After the police arrived, they spoke to Peters and then went inside the apartment.  Once inside, they found Larocque dead.  Peters and his fiancé agreed to go to the Manchester Police Department, where they fully cooperated with the police during the investigation.  That included speaking with the police and consenting to all the searches the police wished to conduct.   
"Detectives from the Manchester Police Department completed a thorough search of the apartment where the incident took place.  During that search, they discovered that the main door to the apartment was significantly damaged.  That door was right off the porch next to the bedroom and had damage consistent with being kicked-in.  The detectives also located a single handgun inside the apartment, along with five discharged cartridge casings and bullet damage.  Ian Peters confirmed that the handgun was his and was the one he had used against the two intruders that night.  The deceased intruder, Michael Larocque, Jr., had no weapons on him when he was searched.  His cause of death was later found to be a gunshot wound to the arm and a gunshot wound to the abdomen. 
"Initially, the identity of the deceased intruder was unknown.  Ian Peters did not recognize either of the two men who had burst into the apartment.  As time went on, the police were able to identify the deceased intruder as Michael Larocque, Jr.  Further investigation revealed that Larocque was an acquaintance of someone Ian Peters’ fiancé knew.  Based on the text messages that went back and forth that night, as well as other information gleaned during the investigation, it appears that Ian Peters was specifically targeted that night and that the intruders’ intent was to physically harm him."

Peters was not charged with any crime.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Secrets in the Desert

The dead don’t tell tales
by Robert A. Waters

If murder will out, it will surely out in the desert.” Saying of wild-west cowboys.

On July 4, 1937, an article appeared in the Laredo Times.  Written by Mildred Gordon, it began: “The desert has too many skeletons in its sandy closets for Uncle Sam. When the hot winds kick up dust whirlwinds or the spring floods pound down the canyons, out comes another skeleton. During the last year, more than a score of skeletons have been found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah alone—skeletons that only hint at tales of hot passions and murder in the last frontier.”

Just a few months earlier, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had begun what would become one of the most unsuccessful investigations ever undertaken by the G-men.  Their mission, to probe more than 50 disappearances and murders in the western deserts, ended in ignominious retreat.

The death of Wallace French, a 24-year-old employee of the Civilian Conservation Corps who left his home in Glendale, Arizona and vanished, was typical of what the Feds faced.  In January, 1935, an Indian hunter discovered a skull in the desert northeast of Scottsdale.  Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies found more bones nearby, and a note that read: “Will be seeing you, Violet French.”  The note had been written by Wallace’s sister, leading to the identification of his remains.  French had gone for a drive and never returned.  Two weeks after he vanished, a mile away, cowboys discovered his burned-out car. No other clues were found, and G-men never even determined whether he died by accident, suicide, or murder.  To this day, the case remains unsolved.

In almost the exact spot where French was found, cowboys discovered the skeletonized remains of another missing man.  Eugene Morris, traveling from his home in Frankland, Indiana, ended up with a bullet through his skull.  FBI agents told reporters that a “phantom killer” may have been using the Salt River Valley as a hunting ground.

Those murders, however, were overshadowed by a headline-grabbing case, the disappearance of four tourists.  Heading south from their homes in East St. Louis, Illinois, George and Laura Lorius and Albert and Tillie Heberer were driving leisurely toward San Diego.  The last postcard known to be mailed by the friends had been postmarked: “Albuquerque, N. M., 12 p.m., May 22, 1935.”

Press reports described Lorius as a “wealthy coal dealer” and Heberer as the owner of a barbershop.  The well-to-do tourists had decided to make an adventure of their trip, sight-seeing along the way.  The Hoover Dam and the San Diego World’s Fair were planned highlights of their agenda.

On May 21, they spent the night at a hotel in Vaughn, New Mexico.  After breakfast the next day, the friends climbed into their car and once again hit the road.  They were never seen alive again, except by their killers.  Two months later, cowboys riding in the mesas above Albuquerque found clothing, suitcases, and George Lorius’ business card.  The items been set on fire.  Massive searches of the desert, mountains, and lakes in the area turned up no other evidence.

Heberer's car, a 1929 Nash, was missing.  However, a few days after the tourists vanished, the automobile was involved in a minor crash in Socorro, New Mexico.  Witnesses reported that the driver had been a “dark-skinned man with tattoos on his left arm.”  Another distinguishing feature was his “uneven” ears.  As he raced from town to town, the suspect cashed several forged checks belonging to the missing tourists.

Heberer's Nash had been involved in several wrecks before being found abandoned in Dallas, Texas on May 26.  (Many career criminals who spend long stretches in prison are notoriously bad drivers.)  In El Paso, police found luggage belonging to the vanished travelers, but never located the suspect.  The case got lots of local and national publicity, and many searches ensued.  FBI experts checked the odometer of the Nash and calculated that the bodies should have been within a 25 mile radius of Quemado, New Mexico.  The desert, however, had swallowed any remaining evidence and the missing travelers were never found.

Many rumors swirled around the case, including a story that claimed the tourists were approached by a gold miner and murdered when they found buried treasure.  A slightly more credible tale named Oklahoma outlaw Chester Comer as the killer.  No evidence implicated Comer, however, and lawmen later killed the ex-con in a gunfight.

The case of the missing travelers eventually went cold and no one was ever charged.

Murders in the desert are notoriously difficult to solve, as J. Edgar Hoover and his G-men discovered. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wounded Marine Gets Gift from the Past

Lost dog tag returned…
by Robert A. Waters

On June 4, 1968, Lanny Martinson, a 23-year-old Marine from Two Harbors, Minnesota, found himself in the thick of war.  At Khe Sanh, in Vietnam, an enemy land-mine exploded underneath him.  Six fellow-marines died, and Platoon Sgt. Martinson’s leg was blown off.  During the chaos and confusion of his evacuation to a medical facility, Martinson lost his dog tags.

The San Diego Union-Tribune explained that “like a lot of Marines in Vietnam, Martinson wore one dog tag around his neck and the other laced into a boot because the awful truth is that sometimes the killing didn’t leave bodies intact.  Tags in different places improved the odds for a successful identification.”  Martinson’s were likely discarded by medics during treatment.

For 45 years, the dog tags remained lost.

Then, two years ago, an Australian teacher named John Naesmith discovered one of the dog tags near an overgrown air strip in Vietnam.  He checked several online sites in an attempt to locate Martinson, but failed.  Finally, he sent the tag to a friend in America.  Former Marine Jashua Laudermilk and several others began a search for Martinson.

It took less than two days to find the veteran. 

Martinson, at the urging of his daughter, had recently ordered a new set of dog tags.

Now, with his missing dog tag in the mail, the former Marine wrote: “First off all   THANK YOU to everyone involved.  This whole story is unbelievable.  It’s ironic that on June 10th I went online to and ordered a new set of dogtags as I didn’t have mine.  Then on the 13th to find out that John had found one of them just blew me away.  I can’t thank enough, all of the people that took time out of the lives to return my tag to me.  It’s like a piece of me was returned from the past.”

After his story went viral, Martinson wrote: “I want to share all this attention I am getting with all the Veterans of Viet Nam and all those that are now serving their country as we once did.  I didn’t do anything to deserve to be singled out, it just happened.  I hope that all this will enable me to help all of you in some way.  Now that my name has circled the globe, I hope to be able to bring attention, in some way, to our brave brothers and sisters that are now serving on active duty.”

Bad news we have with us always.

Good news should be publicized.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Four Unidentified Girls in New Hampshire

Twenty-eight years later, who are these girls?
by Robert A. Waters

Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire is known for hiking, biking, swimming, and deer hunting.  But in 1985, past Beaver Pond and Catamount Pond, past the archery range and the canoe rental facilities, two bodies turned up in a 55 gallon steel drum.  Deep in a heavily forested region of swampy bogs, on private land adjacent to the park, a deer hunter made the gruesome find.
Fifteen years later, police discovered a second drum containing two more bodies.  Incredibly, it may have been lying there for two decades.  Excuses flowed from the cops about why it took so long to find the second barrel, but the fact is that three children and one adult were murdered in the late 1970s to mid-1980s and dumped in that remote forest.

No one has ever come forward to identify the remains.

Investigators determined that each victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.  They estimated the first two victims to be between 23 and 33 years of age and 5 to 11.

In the second drum, one victim ranged from 1 to 3 years old, and the second from 2 to 4.

Police have determined through DNA testing that three of the four were related.  It’s possible that the adult was a mother who died with two of her children.  Further tests are being conducted in hopes of obtaining additional information about the victims.

Police have kicked around several theories about the four.  Were they murdered by a spouse or partner?  Were they in a commune, or some other organization that flew beneath the radar?  Were they transients?  Or from a foreign country, such as Canada?  Truth is, the police just don’t know.

New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Joe Ebert told reporters that child-killers are rare.  “It takes a very certain profile of an individual to kill a child,” he said.

The victims are buried together in an Allenstown, New Hampshire church cemetery.  The inscription on the marker reads: “May their souls find peace in God’s loving care.”

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recently released three-dimensional facial reconstructions of the victims.  If you have information concerning this case, contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-223-3856.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sunshine State’s Permit Holders Fight Crime

One million Floridians are now licensed to carry concealed weapons…
by Robert A. Waters

In my home state of Florida, approximately 1 in 16 residents have concealed carry permits.  Most any place you go in the Sunshine State, law-abiding citizens are likely packing heat. Nationwide, more than eight million Americans legally carry firearms.

What with the drug-crazed walking dead roaming our streets, protection is vital. 

In Ocala, Sam Williams stopped two armed robbers dead in their tracks.  When Davis Dawkins and Duwayne Henderson attempted to rob an internet café, Williams, a customer, shot them.  He became an instant hero after police published a surveillance video of the shooting.  The video, which went viral, showed the robbers scampering to get away like rats on a sinking ship as Williams fired at them.  Dawkins was sentenced to four years in prison—Henderson is still awaiting trial.  The heroic patron, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, was not charged.   

In St. Petersburg, Raven Smith took his girlfriend to Applebee’s one night.  As they got out of the car, a masked gunman raced toward them.  Smith, who has a license to carry, pulled out his .380-caliber semiautomatic and fired four shots.  The assailant went down.  His bravado gone, Anthony Hauser begged Smith not to shoot him anymore.  A clear case of self-defense, the shooter was not charged.

In Hialeah, Jason Arnoldo Bonilla attempted to rob a fruit stand vendor.  Instead, he got six bullets for his trouble when customer Ivan Menendez pulled his own gun and opened fire.  Bonilla, hit in the cheek, neck, body, and leg, spent some time in the hospital—now he spends his time behind bars.  Police said Menendez was licensed to carry and would face no charges.

Concealed carry laws are among the most successful statutes ever enacted.  Few licenses are revoked, and most of those for minor offenses.

Because of the law, innumerable lives have been saved. 

Oh yeah, did I tell you about Taquanda Baker?  The owner of Baker’s Mini Mart in Tampa knows the value of concealed carry permits, since she has one.  While working in her store, a robber entered and held a gun to her face.  Baker pulled out her own weapon and opened fire.  When it was over, the thug lay dead on the floor.  The store owner’s mother said, “It's dangerous out there. You've got to protect yourself.” 

Then there was the Jacksonville grandfather who stopped an armed robbery in a Dunn Street Dollar General Store.  Two men, Rakeem “Fresh Boy” Odoms and Aundre Krishna Campbell, burst in and ran straight to the counter.  There they held “look-alike” guns to the head of the clerk.  The grandfather, who has not been identified by police, pulled his handgun and killed Odoms.  Campbell escaped, but was tracked down by police and arrested.  The shooter has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Then there’s this story from the St. Petersburg Times: “Jason Bennett, the manager of a Florida pizza shop, had closed up the restaurant for the evening and was heading out to his car when he saw something move out of the corner of his eye.  Suddenly, Bennett saw a man holding a gun to the back of his coworker’s head, demanding money.  Bennett moved quickly, knocking the gun out of the attacker’s hands.  Bennett’s coworker, a concealed-carry permit holder, grabbed his .38-caliber revolver and held the would-be robber at gunpoint until police arrived.”

And so it goes. 

Now if the hurricanes, sinkholes, alligators, and Burmese Pythons don’t get us, maybe we can survive down here. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sherlock Holmes Redux

Books of my youth…
by Robert A. Waters

Sometime around 1900, a great-great uncle of mine decided to collect all the “important” books in the English language.  A Confederate veteran, he lived near the one-horse town of Reddick, Florida.  Somehow, after he died, my grandfather ended up with his collection.

Those books sat in an unused room like a treasure trove, waiting for the lucky hunter to strike gold.  As we were growing up, my two brothers and I spent four months of each year with my grandparents.  I read hundreds of books from the collection, but what I remember most is a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle.  

“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” is atypical of most Sherlock Holmes stories in that it contains a thread of humor.  As a young child who had never read a mystery story, I remember not knowing whether to laugh or enjoy the life-or-death game being played out beneath the streets of London.  But I knew one thing: I had to read more stories about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Dr. Watson.

Sometime later,  I found The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes.  Those tales took me from a stifling, un-air conditioned Florida farmhouse to Victorian London where carriages rattled over cobblestone streets and a great detective seemed to make the mysterious disappear like fog. 

I love all the stories, but some of my favorites, in addition to “The Red-Headed League,” are: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”; “Silver Blaze”; and “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual.”

Doyle himself was a Renaissance man who wrote compulsively about his many interests.  Throughout his long life he published historical novels such as Micah Clarke, The White Company, The Refugees and many other forgettable and forgotten titles.  He also wrote historical non-fiction.

Late in life, after the death of his son, the grieving Doyle turned to Spiritualism and wrote many tomes on that subject.  Finally, as he neared death, the creator of Sherlock Holmes stated that he hoped to be remembered for his “serious” works.  But books such as The Doings of Raffles Haw and The Tragedy of the Korosko quickly sank into the mire of obscurity.  Whatever their merits, Doyle today is remembered only for the great detective he created.

Several times, he attempted to kill off Holmes, but readers wouldn't have it.  Only after World War I was Doyle able to gracefully send an aging Sherlock Holmes into retirement.  

I keep coming back to my great-great uncle.  I always wondered what prompted him to build his vast collection.  Did his books transport him, like me, out of the dull now back to an exciting yesterday?

The game is afoot.  Dr. Watson writes: “I had called upon my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, one day in the autumn of last year and found him in deep conversation with a very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair…”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Baby Assassins

Twins Murdered by Nazi Butcher Josef Mengele
The Philadelphia tragedy
by Robert A. Waters

Now that the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is behind us, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about this atrocity.  I'll admit, I've had a hard time wrapping my mind around the brutality of it all.  As I watched the case play out, I kept asking myself, Aren't we supposed to take care of children?  

It’s a matter of scale.  Hitler murdered millions.  Stalin tens of millions. 

Dr. Kermit Gosnell likely murdered thousands.

In his bloody Philadelphia clinic, a newborn child was born.  Instead of a mother’s arms to hold it and love it and caress it, the child was laid out on a dissection table.  As it gasped for air, Gosnell produced a scalpel and ripped open the back of its neck.  Then, using scissors, the doctor cut the infant’s spinal cord.

Or maybe his staff, trained in this macabre ritual, performed the deed.

For forty years, day after day, decade after decade, Gosnell and his staff of hired baby assassins “snipped” the spines of living, breathing children.  Thousands of infants, unwanted by their mothers yet struggling to survive in this brave new world, bled their lives away in that filthy room.

It’s the type of thing you’d expect from Nazi butcher Josef Mengele.

If that sounds too harsh, consider this passage from Louis Bulow’s book, Josef Mengele, Angel of Death: “Once Mengele's assistant rounded up fourteen pairs of Roma twins during the night. Mengele placed them on his polished marble dissection table and put them to sleep.  He then injected chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantly.  Mengele then began dissecting and meticulously noting each piece of the twins’ bodies.”

So now Dr. Kermit Gosnell has been convicted of murdering babies.  Although many of his staff, also convicted, said they regretted their actions, Gosnell has shown no remorse.  His wife, Pearl, who pleaded guilty to performing illegal abortions and racketeering, said: “I am sorry for my part in this horror.  My husband is in jail, which is where he should be.”

Meanwhile, the murdered souls of Dr. Gosnell’s victims cry for justice that will not come.  Like Josef Mengele, the baby assassin escaped execution.

Where did the love go?

Where did the humanity go?

Where did the God-given moral standards that we were raised on go?