Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monsters on the Loose?

When I first read this article, I had trouble deciding whether to believe it or not.

I kept thinking this had to be hoax, such as the one that occurred many Halloweens ago, when Orson Welles made a radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds," pretending to be news coverage of an actual event.

Just in time for Halloween, on October 29, the state of NC will release 20 inmates who were sentenced to life for violent offenses.
The news article was dated October 15. They didn't give us much time to prepare for it.

"How can they do that?" I kept asking myself. Surely they don't intend to release dangerous criminals back into society. But that's what it says. Five pages of Google Search shows the same news story on many different websites. If this was intended to scare us, it is certainly working on me.

WRAL is a news source that I trust, and I like Gerald Owens. I read what he had to say about it, and it isn't comforting.

Visions of angry mobs storming the state courthouse flash through my mind, with torches and pitchforks like in old movies I've seen.
Visions of murderers and rapist turning up in our towns are even more disturbing, with more victims, and more horrible deaths.
"They can't let this happen!" I keep telling myself over and over again.

For the rest of the evening my mind desperately searches for some comfort from my fears. After serving an 80 year sentence, they must be too old to do much harm. Wrong! These have only served 30-some years. I didn't know time off for good behavior and work could cut a sentence down to less than half. If they got good behavior and other brownie points, maybe these inmates are considered less at risk for repeat offenses. Wrong! Many of them have several infractions on their prison records. So what exactly is "good behavior" anyway?

All of these inmates due to be released were sentenced for murder or rape, except for one, who was sentenced for attempted rape. Some of these rapes include victims who are children. Is this what "life sentence" means now? I don't like even the thought of it. I'd rather take my chances on vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, then to chance an encounter with someone who until recently was on death row for murder.

Finally I convinced myself that this is probably some political publicity stunt, so that the politician who manages to stop the release in time is sure to get re-elected. Yeah, that's it. That worked for me, and so I was able to sleep on it.

The next day I thought I would probably write the angriest blog I have ever written, but then decided it would be better to talk to some people, and see if I can get a better perspective on it. I decided I would bring up the subject with whoever I could talk to that I come across today.

One such person gave me a "f--- you!" and one I never thought I'd hear such words from. I was accused of being self righteous for thinking that convicted criminals who have served their sentences do not deserve the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. I tried to say that people who murder and rape are dangerous, and should never be released, but I am told that most people like this learn their lessons in prison, and they should get a chance to redeem themselves.

I was told that once a person is sentenced, that sentence cannot be changed unless another offense could be added to it. A sentence is determined by the laws that were in place at the time, and there is nothing we can do to change it once it has been passed.
I thought about Charles Manson. Wasn't he given the death sentence? Didn't that change after the State of California decided to ban it? Isn't that why he's still alive?

Another person I talked to said 'yes' to my idea of storming the courthouse, but without the torches and pitchforks. Let's leave our weapons at home and keep it peaceful, like good citizens, but make sure our voices are heard.

Even the NC Fraternal Order of Police are against the release.

We have seen in our history that whenever people loose faith in the law to protect them, they tend to take the law into their own hands. I have heard more than a few voices say it's time for vigilante justice to return. I have made a promise to never support vigilantism, and now I'm afraid it will be getting harder for me to keep that promise. I'm sure that if these inmates are released as planned, and if any one of them ever kills or rapes again, our state justice system will be blamed for it. I'm afraid to think about what would happen after that.

Citizens of North Carolina, I say that if we don't get tough on crime, then crime will surely get tough on us.

Now let's hope the scariest things we see this Halloween are bats, spiders, and pumpkins.

Special thanks (again) to NC Wanted and WRAL News.
UPDATE - Oct 22

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jennifer Schuett: Voice of Victory

This story may sound unbelievable, but I have checked out several sources and found it to be true.

On August 10, 1990, in Dickinson, Texas, a little girl, 8 year old Jennifer Schuett, was abducted from her bed out of her bedroom window. The abductor carried the girl to his car, drove her to a field, raped her, then slit her throat. She was left lying naked on an ant hill bleeding to death. 12 hours later she was found and brought to a hospital.

Now here is the amazing part of the story.
That little girl is still alive! She is now a young woman of 27 years. Doctors told her she would never be able to talk again, but she proved them wrong. Her voice is still being heard. She lived to tell her story, and to seek justice.

Now here's the really good news!
On Tuesday October 13, 2009, Dennis Earl Bradford was arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, thanks to DNA evidence he left behind at the scene of the crime. His drivers license photo from that time 19 years ago is a near perfect match with the composite sketch from Jennifer's description.

America's Most Wanted tells the story of Jennifer Schuett's victory, the arrest of Bradford, and to top it off, an interview with John Walsh and Jennifer in a video I'm sure you'll enjoy!

A nice reminder that sometimes justice does prevail!

Thank you Doreen Prior for calling this story to my attention.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birthday for Charley Project

The Charley Project will be 5 years old on October 12, 2009.

The predecessor for the Charley Project was the Missing Persons Cold Case Network, (MPCCN) founded by Jennifer Marra, who was also one of the founders of the Doe Network. She resigned from MPCCN on December 2003, turning over control to Meaghan Good, who ran it until March 2004. At that time the site was attacked by hackers and had to be taken offline. Meaghan founded the Charley Project on October 12, 2004, using much of the original content of MPCCN.

Meaghan Good also has her own birthday just one week earlier. She was born October 5, 1985, and has recently turned 24 years old. You can read about her here.

On August 23 this year Meaghan was interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, and you can check it out here.

Here is the Charley Project data on Debbie Key.

Here is the Blog.

The Charley Project is named after Charley Ross, a boy who was kidnapped for ransom on July 1, 1874 in Germantown, PA, when he was 4 years old. He has never been found since.

Families and friends of missing persons owe a debt of gratitude to this one-person network, who has done a great service for all of us. Meaghan has earned my personal thanks a long time ago.
Happy Birthday Meaghan. Happy Birthday Charley Project. Keep up the good work!