How do you solve a problem like Homolka?

So the world’s up in arms again about the latest geographic transgression of Karla Homolka.

Yesterday the Montreal Gazette reported that the Canadian serial killer supervised kindergarten children from the Greaves Adventist Academy on a field trip in March and once brought her dog to the school for students to pet. Homolka’s three children attend the private school ( Karla volunteered at an N.D.G. elementary school ).

Like any parent I am outraged. Now tell me how you’d better handle the situation. It’s a private school. The school knew of her history. They apparently made the decision that everyone deserves a second chance. Their decision.

In the criminal case against Karla Homolka the prosecution gave her a sweet-heart deal, after 12-years in prison she walked in 2005. Again, their (appalling) decision.  Last spring we learned Homolka was living in the Montreal south shore community of Chateauguay, and the world again was outraged. Well she’s got to live somewhere? We’re not going to toss her outside the walls of society.

I well remember speaking with a British Columbia corrections administrator some years ago who talkedto about when a registered sex offender moved into her neighborhood. She baked a plate of cookies, and she and her daughter walked across the street to present them to the man:

“Hi, welcome to the neighborhood. My name’s Jane Smith, I work for the department of corrections,”

Translation: “Hi, “m Jane Smith, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.”

The point was very simple. Welcome, but I’ll be watching. Trust, but verify.

When my children were younger I used to spend time periodically probing the sex offender database to see who had moved into the neighborhood. I soon stopped because there were just too many coming and going, and I didn’t have that many cookies. Better to teach my kids how to be vigilant, and to NOT TRUST MEN. Harsh, I know, but why not cut to the chase.

On further consideration I might prefer having Leanne Teale – the name Homolka’s currently using – living in my neighborhood because having identified the threat, I could then mitigate the risk.

In all this bluster and bombast I fear people are missing a larger issue; Homolka’s threat might be real, and the warning signs are deeply woven int the fabric of Montreal’s history.

In choosing to live on Montreal’s south shore Homolka selected a community with a remarkably similar tragic history to that of Saint Catherines, Ontario, where Paul Bernardo and Homolka carried out the brutal murders of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kirsten French.

Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy

 

 

In 1974-75 the town of Chateauguay was rocked by the disappearances and murders of 12-year-old Norma O’Brien and 14-year-old Debbie Fisher. Within a year a young offender who came to be known as the Chateauguay Killer (“Le Maniaque Pleine Lune”) was arrested, but the community never fully recovered.

Norma O’Brien and Debbie Fisher

 

 

 

Jump forward to last spring and you get some idea of the true source of the community’s outrage. Remarkably, no news agency bothered to point out the “irony” of Homolka choosing this town. One reporter told me at the time that “they didn’t want to further traumatize people”, as if as a society we are incapable of having difficult discussions. When the media muzzles such conversations they do more damage than good, leaving communities no other resort but to sling shit at the towers in the social media circus (and the media have no qualms about stirring that shit pot).

And can Homolka moving to Chateauguay really be best summed up as “ironic”?  Is it not possible that she deliberately chose this community because it was as familiar to her as Saint Catherines?  A small suburban community, a history of tragedy with two young victims similar in age to Mahaffy and French, who physically resemble Mahaffy and French. Did Homolka learn of the tragedy while serving her time in Quebec prison? Inmates talk about such things. In short, did Homolka choose Chateauguay because it felt like home?

If you think the idea of an offender compelled to re-live the gruesome experiences of crimes the stuff of fiction consider this:

Gilles Pimparé, shown at left in 1979

Gilles Pimparé, imprisoned since 1979 for the brutal and infamous Jacques Cartier Bridge murders of Maurice Marcil, 14, and Chantal Dupont, 15, has been denied parole six times in 13 years.  Remarkably, the Dupont family forgave him, buying his story that he “loved Chantal too much, that’s why he had to kill her.”. But one of the chief reasons Pimparé has never been paroled? He kept a porn stash on his hard drive that had photos of naked young girls posing at the Jacques Cartier Bridge to sustain his paraphiliac fantasy’s decades after the murders were committed (you can look it up by checking his parole records).

So I just wonder whether Homolka had specific intention when she chose to live in Chateauguy. If I were an investigative journalist? I’d want to check and see if corrections  / parole assigned her to Chateauguy or if she chose it.  

Trust but verify.

 

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#HannahGraham #MorganHarrington investigations: What’s in it for Me

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

I’ve been thinking about my reasons for being so vested in these cases.

This is why:

I need to take a fresh look at my sister’s case. I’ve been gearing up for it for a while now, but I need to look at something similar from a fresh perspective first. I’m not ready for it yet (it takes 4 o’clock in the morning courage to look at your sister’s autopsy report… all of it drains you). Corresponding with folks on the Hannah Graham / Morgan Harrington / Jesse Matthew affair, sharing ideas, this all helps with the process.

It’s not like I need the attention. I surely don’t. I appreciate connecting with all you lovely folks in the States, but for my purposes, the people I need to engage with to solve a crime are all in Canada, more specifically in Quebec, and more directly most likely Francophones from the Eastern Townships.

Morgan_Harrington_courtesy_photoMy interest in Graham / Harrington / Matthew is all about the similarities (not connections, there are none) with Allore / Camirand / Dube:

1. Multiple victims / cold cases

2. “Town and Gown” environments / politics

3. Similar populations: Under 100,000, but they balloon when school commences.

4. Rough, wooded, mountainous surroundings.

5. Disappearances in the Fall.

6. Re. 5 above; hinderances with the coming snow, hinderances / opportunities with the coming of hunting season.

7. Seemingly high-risk victims who initially got blamed for their final circumstances.

Probably other reasons, I will leave some room for comment / input.

What’s not similar?

Theresa Allore

Theresa Allore

The French / English issue in Quebec, but this is easily substituted with the potential for a Black / White race issue in Virginia. And on this issue, I would offer this advice: If it comes down to this, always take the high  ground. I have already heard some despicable comments in reference to Jesse Matthews. Don’t go there. He’s a suspect, that’s all. The first thing I did when I started my sister’s investigation was to learn French, so that card could never be played. You can’t change the color of your skin, but you can avoid being an ignorant fossil. 

I feel so much love for the families of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington. 3 weeks is a long time. 5 years is a long time.  36 years is a long time.

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Search for #HannahGraham becomes search for evidence

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Despite having covered 70 percent of a proposed search area, it would appear the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is going to have to backtrack on their efforts. 

VDEM spokesperson David Watson has stated that the nature of the search for Hannah Graham has changed since the original community search conducted two weeks ago. Original efforts following Graham’s disappearance were focused on finding a missing person, now search teams are now focused on finding evidence.  Specially trained search officials are using canines to search outdoor areas.

“They are looking for things they weren’t looking for in the community search,” Watson said. “Folks might unknowingly disturb evidence.”.

If this is true, and professionals are now being called in to redo the efforts of volunteer community members, it could be that areas previously searched will need to be searched again.

This kind of work is so difficult. I recall being involved in a search of a wooded area back in 2005. This was in a rural area of Quebec where the body of a victim was found in 1977, and where two hunters thought they spotted clothing matching the description of what my sister was wearing when she went missing back in 1978. Albeit the search took place over 25 years after the events, we had less than a couple of acres to cover of dense woodland (the Graham investigation has targeted an 8 mile radius around downtown Charlottesville). There were about 25 of us over the course of 2 days. We found a lot but to this day I feel we were searching too far West, and therefore in the wrong spot.

What we found:  A shovel, a purse, remains of a woman’s shoe, some other things. We sent it all to a forensics lab in British Columbia (the same lab that processed the recovery site in the Robert Pickton case): the results came up empty: no DNA evidence or forensic ties on any of it.

In my recollection – and don’t be too harsh on me, I haven’t Googled this – these mass searches rarely come up with anything evidentiary (the one exception I recall is the Molly Bish case in MA). It’s usually very much like the discovery of Morgan Hartington’s remains:

Theresa Allore = a muskrat trapper

Theresa Allore’s wallet = a farmer on a tractor

Sharon Prior = a farmer

Louise Camirand = two hunters

Having said that, LE should not stop what they are doing. The case is still relatively fresh: keep looking, keep asking for help.

 

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Where is #HannahGraham? #JesseMatthew #MorganHarrington

I have been asked this question by a number of posters. So here is my answer, with the following caveats:

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1.  I don’t pretend to know where Hannah Graham is. This is just my opinion. And judging on what I’ve seen so far? The police / FBI know what they are doing.

2. I am about to break the cardinal rule: Don’t chase suspects. Having said that, this is more about chasing – what we have been told is – evidence, not suspects. So I will avoid what I observe a lot of sleuthies are doing: trying to pin every missing persons case / unsolved murder on Jesse Matthew.

3. To the parents of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington: I know what you are going through because I have been through it. My sister’s murder is an unsolved cold case. My family lived with her being missing for 6 months. Your approach in this matter is absolutely right. Bond with each other, trust no one. The families possibly connected in my sister’s case are very close (Prior, Monast, Dube). We trust no one. Even the brother of Louise Camirand, who prefers to keep relatively anonymous: we talk when necessary. And we warn each other of the nut-jobs. (For more on those cases, click here.)  

With those caveats, a few more:

1. I am a relatively sane person with a normal life. I have a 9 to 5 job. I have 3 daughters. My life is rich and fulfilled. I do not need attention. 

2. I am not a professional investigator. My experience comes from living with a 35 year old cold case, and 15 years of semi-professionally studying the patterns of murder. Kim Rossmo – who invented geographic profiling – is a friend; we worked together on profiling the serial murders in Quebec, and he is always available to me as a confidante / consultant.    Rossmo spent time at the Police Foundation in Washington, DC, and has consulted with the FBI at Quantico, VA: I would be surprised if they haven’t yet consulted on these cases.  

3. 15 years has gained me access to a lot of material; I have a library of  over 1,000 photos of Quebec crime scene photos, I have pretty much exclusive access to Quebec cold-case files (no, you can’t know my source). I have frequently been asked for advice on cold cases (for better or worse).  I sometimes “think” better than law enforcement on these matters… that is no-knock to law enforcement. As I said, I’ve got 35 years of experience.

4. And, one more time: I’m a dad. I couldn’t post about this until now because I was making dinner. But I think of these things because last night my eldest daughter was out at a concert until 12:30 AM: it’s hard not to think of these things.

So with that long introduction, here’s what I think about #HannahGraham / #MorganHarrington / #JesseMatthew:

1. I think police are targeting the right areas. I think Hannah Graham is West or South of Charlottesville.  I believe this based on where Morgan Harrington was last seen and where she was found (that trajectory), where Matthew was born and recently lived, and because the North and East are more urbanized. Matthews has experience with the West (Harrington), and the the West and South are more rural. Also, for what ever reason, I have observed over time that predators tend to hunt near their living environment, and dump South. That’s not statistically significant, just something I’ve noticed in my experience.

2. Someone asked me – if we presume Matthew is responsible for the murder of Harrington and the disappearance of Graham – were the dump sites pre-meditated?  Given those assumptions, I say No. If we take the account of Jesse Matthew’s assault on a driver to be true, he is very impulsive (consider the 1,300 mile run to Galveston).   So, a guy who reacts, then figures out what he’s going to do later. No premeditation, though on the prowl. An opportunistic predator. Though I would say he’s learned from experience: impulsive in the heat of the moment, but over time, he’s learned to put contingencies in place.  

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U-Va. seeks to cope with trauma after sophomore #HannahGraham vanished #MorganHarrington #JesseMatthew

Well they’re all “tranquil academical villages in a bucolic settings”… until you scratch the surface.

Chapel Hill was just that when Wendell Williamson went on his shooting rampage in 1995. We certainly pissed-in-the-Lennoxville-party-punch when evidence suggested the burb of Sherbrooke, and home to both Champlain College and Bishop’s University, had a problem with sexual assaults on campus.

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I feel terrible for the parents. Two weeks is a long time. From The Washington Post:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Orange ribbons adorn lapels and backpacks throughout the campus here known as the Grounds, a reminder that the University of Virginia yearns for the return of sophomore Hannah Graham three weeks after she vanished in the night.

Anxiety over what befell the 18-year-old from Fairfax County, believed to be a kidnapping victim, grips the U-Va. community even as officials redouble efforts to protect students and provide counseling to those in need.

It is a jarring moment for the elite public university that founder Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, envisioned as a tranquil “academical village” in a bucolic setting.
The alleged abduction followed two other widely publicized crimes against young women that occurred around here in the recent past: the abduction and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, after she attended a rock concert at a U-Va. arena in October 2009, and the death of U-Va. student Yeardley Love, 22, when an ex-boyfriend attacked her in a drunken rage in May 2010.

Harrington’s case remains unsolved. Her body was found in a field 10 miles south of here in January 2010. But the arrest of Charlottesville resident Jesse L. “LJ” Matthew Jr., 32, on a charge of abducting Graham with intent to defile, provided what police call a “new forensic link” in the earlier case, a link two people close to the investigation say is Matthew’s DNA.
John and Sue Graham, the parents of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, released a statement Saturday begging for those who have information on their daughter’s whereabouts to come forward. (City of Charlottesville)
Now this school of 23,000 students — a point of pride for Virginia and regarded among the nation’s best universities — is enduring a trauma with an unknown end. Claudia Kuchler, 19, a sophomore from Centreville, said Graham’s disappearance Sept. 13 cast a pall over the Grounds.

“You could feel it in the air, it was palpable,” Kuchler said late last week. “There was a gloomy aura over everything.”
Parties were canceled, she said, including a birthday celebration for Kuchler’s friend Alana Ama, 19, a sophomore from Falls Church. Instead they joined thousands at a candlelight vigil off the iconic Lawn in the first week after their classmate vanished.

Then Kuchler and Ama tried to figure out what to do next.

They stopped tuning in to social media after stories about Graham deluged the Internet, updates that felt overwhelming. The students — who, like Graham, live off the Grounds — also changed their routines. Once comfortable walking alone at night, they now go in groups and map out plans for bus or cab rides.

“Before, I never thought twice,” Kuchler said.
For university officials, the answer to what to do next is complex.

They are tending to the worries of students, with special attention to those close to Graham, such as members of the school’s alpine ski club. They extended hours at the counseling and psychological services center, and they are planning to add staff there to handle a spike in requests for help.

They added a fourth safe-ride van to a fleet that ferries students in the dark when buses aren’t available. They convened a group of 17 administrators and students to scrutinize safety from top to bottom. That means a fresh look at where on the Grounds a stairwell or a parking lot might need more light, where off the Grounds a landlord might be urged to install a surveillance camera, and what could be gleaned about safety procedures from urban schools such as Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
They also are seeking to reassure parents, alumni and the wider world that Charlottesville remains not only a premier college destination, but also a secure one. Like 78 other U.S. schools, U-Va. is facing federal scrutiny for its handling of sexual violence reports amid a national focus on sexual assault on the nation’s campuses. Last year, the university police force recorded 15 reports of rape or forcible fondling, according to a 2013 Clery Act report. Charlottesville police have investigated 28 cases of rape or fondling so far this year, according to city data. The school hosted a national conference on the issue in February.

“U-Va. is as safe as we can make it,” university President Teresa A. Sullivan said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We continue to try to learn ways that we can make it safer. We are learning all the time.”

Sullivan, who teaches a class on labor markets that ends at 6:15 p.m. in Madison Hall, said she is keeping an eye on the autumn dusk. As days grow shorter, she has told her students: “I want to be sure you have a good way to get home.”

The president of a school founded nearly 200 years ago, famed for its architectural grace, cautioned against “overly romanticizing the idyllic aspects” of the U-Va. setting. “Let’s be real,” Sullivan said. “There are incidents that happen.” Indeed, Sullivan organized a dialogue on campus safety in September 2010 within weeks of taking office. That event was prompted by the Love murder. But the conversation has never really stopped.
Before Graham disappeared in September, many students were nonchalant about safety, said sophomore Morgan Phelps.

“People think that they are invincible and that ‘bad things are not going to happen to me’ and ‘I’ll be fine walking two blocks home alone at night,’ ” said Phelps, 19, of Chesapeake, Va. She lives in the same off-campus apartment building as Graham. “An event like this has really opened our eyes.”

Others, though, were already mindful of safety this fall because of a groundswell of national attention on prevention of sexual assault on campus.

Graham’s disappearance “has made students more conscious and aware of the ways that we can look out for one another,” said Sara Surface, 20, a junior from Richmond who is active in a campaign against sexual violence called Hoos Got Your Back. “Now more than ever people are reaching out to their friends [about] how they can be there through this rough time.”

For many here, one of the biggest challenges is that no one knows how long the rough time will last, or how it will end.

Allen W. Groves, U-Va.’s dean of students, said he remembers the 2:30 a.m. wake-up call from police with news about Love.

“You knew right away that something had happened, that it was bad and someone had died,” Groves said. The university’s student support team then mobilized in response to the death, standard practice for schools everywhere. Groves keeps a white ribbon pinned to the shade of a desk lamp in his office as a reminder of Love.

By contrast, there are no answers yet on Graham. An extensive and expanding search for her enters its third week Sunday.

On Saturday, Sue and John Graham, Hannah’s parents, thanked police and the university community for helping in that search and pleaded for more information that might lead to her whereabouts.

“We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found,” the family said in a statement. “John has already said that this is every parent’s worst nightmare. That is true, but it is also a nightmare for our son, James, for Hannah’s grandparents and other members of our family, as well as for all of Hannah’s many friends here in Charlottesville and beyond. Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us. Please help us to bring Hannah home.”

For Jenna Van Dyck and Hallie Pence, two of Graham’s friends in the ski club, the tear-filled days since Sept. 13 have taken a toll.

Van Dyck, 20, who like Graham is from the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, and Pence, 21, of McGaheysville, Va., were with Graham in the hours before she was wandering the Downtown Mall and sending text messages indicating that she was lost and was looking for help. The two juniors were among the first to call police to report her missing.

“There’s a sense of numbness now,” Pence said. “We are exhausted. You could run yourself absolutely dry if you let everything get to you.”

Van Dyck said the tight-knit ski club, which has 439 members, is beginning to prepare for the worst.

“Whenever I hear a siren, it makes me hopeful that they could be responding to something for Hannah,” Van Dyck said. “But gaining closure would be a relief at this point.”
Van Dyck and Pence are edging back into the college routine. Van Dyck said that she’s beginning to pay more attention in class, instead of losing focus because of her worries about Graham, and that she’s once again sleeping through the night.

Among friends, Van Dyck and Pence said, they tend to ask, “How are you doing?” rather than “Are you okay?”

“Because no one is okay,” Pence said.

Professors are handing out orange ribbons to wear as tokens of solidarity with the missing student, said Abraham Axler, 19, president of the Class of 2017.

Students in recent days also have been sending thank-you notes to Charlottesville police and search-and-rescue teams working to find Graham. “Bring Hannah Home,” a message that her friends painted on the landmark Beta Bridge, still greets people walking to and from class. But as days pass, Axler said, the outlook appears more grim.

“There’s getting to be a lot of frustration,” said Axler, who’s from New York. “There’s a lot of questions, and it’s wearing people down.”

Lani Galloway, 20, a senior from McLean, was among a group of U-Va. students, including Graham, who spent last spring break helping rebuild homes after tornados hit Tuscaloosa, Ala. She said Graham showed poise with a circular saw and meticulous attention to detail. “She gave it her all,” Galloway said.

Galloway walks around town with a pink bottle of pepper spray hooked to a key chain, which she bought after hearing about some stabbings that occurred last summer near the school.

Galloway said she was shaken by news of the forensic link between Graham’s case and the investigation into Harrington’s death.

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Short Shafted: The Emmett Till Act

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There’s a great piece in the Sunday New York Times on  the FBI’s follow-up on Civil Rights era cold-cases in the wake of the passing of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act in 2007.  To date, little has been done to close cases, and the FBI’s work appears to be perfunctory.

Here’s the last update from the Department of Justice in 2010 where they claim to have made progress, but since then it would appear that the project has stalled.

However, if you look at the original legislation, you have to wonder if the Justice Department was ever serious about this project:   A scant $10,000,000 in annual appropriations, with a heavy focus on reporting and community relations. I don’t think congress was serious about truth or justice, they simply wanted to turn the page.

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Detective Krawczyk’s hunt for sexual predator Donnie Snook

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I have met Detective Paul Krawczyk  on two occasions; once when given a tour of the Toronto police’s major investigations unit, and once in Vancouver when the victims group, CAVA – for which I briefly served as a board member – was giving the entire Toronto child exploitation unit an award. He is a formidable and tenacious investigator. When so much about Toronto is an embarrassment, Krawczyck and the unit are things the city can truly be proud of.

And –  because I grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick – I sadly also know Donnie Snook.

The Toronto Star has written an excellent profile of Krawczyk and his 22 month pursuit of the former Saint John Councillor who was arrested for sexual relations with a child and construction and possession of child pornography:

Donnie Snook investigation: Hunt for unknown sexual predator took Toronto police 22 months

 

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UNC Chapel Hill: Physician, Heal Thyself!

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This week two local issues concerning criminal justice hit home for me in a very personal way.

On Tuesday, my ex-wife called me with a warning about our weekly child drop-off: “They’re on their way over, but be careful… we just got in an argument and the topic was rape.”

The subject was the recent allegations by students – current and former – at UNC Chapel Hill that the school administration has done little to protect victims of sexual assault, and indeed have gone to great lengths to cover up incidents of rape and sexual assault on campus.   My ex-wife argued that one student in question, who took it on face value that the school would comprehensively handle the investigation into her assault, was under some personal obligation to go to local law enforcement to report the incident. My daughters’ point was that the school was obliged to fully protect the student, victims of sexual assault are vulnerable, and the student was depending on the school to act in her best interest. I argued that I have been sitting on the fence about this issue because I really didn’t feel I had enough information to make a rational conclusion. My back-of-the-napkin take on it is that, by my count from what I read in the newspapers, there has been a problem with sexual violence on the UNC campus spanning at least a decade, but that the problem more than likely reached back much further than that; from my experience in these matters if UNC /Chapel Hill have a campus sexual violence problem,  the issue is systemic, and it is a very good thing that Federal authorities from the U.S. Department of Education are now being called in to review the matter.

This issue extends – at the very least – as far back to the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery in 1986 in a campus residence hall at Lehigh University. The case lead to the establishment of the Clery Act which requires colleges and universities to annually disclose campus security policies and campus crime statistics. The Act is monitored by the U.S. Department of Education, and those institutions that fail to comply risk losing Federal student financial aid programs (yes, a VERY big deal).

It is no secret that in the Cleary era many schools have attempted to game the system by under-reporting campus crime stats (Jerry Sandusky / Penn State), and that is exactly the issue at UNC Chapel Hill, and why the stakes are so high in this matter. Do colleges fudge numbers? Of course they do. In my own personal experience, I don’t have to be a statistician to notice that a simple Google scan of newspaper archives for the words “Lennoxville” “sexual assault” “Campus” “Champlain college” will come up with exactly two hits; my sister’s case, and a case at  Bishop’s college that police later claimed didn’t take place. 40 years, and exactly two incidents of sexual assault? That’s quite a record.

The second thing that happened this week was that an article appear in the UNC campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel that was ostensibly a “where are we now?” piece on the 5th anniversary of the Eve Carson murder, but really was about blaming the City of Durham for all of Chapel Hill’s problems.  That the piece by student writer Chelsey Dulaney is incendiary and mis-informed is just me being polite.  And I strongly disagree with UNC senior associate dean, Chris Roush’s brush-off assessment that, because the paper is student-run, it is merely a “learning lab”: all the more reason for responsible editorial oversight, isn’t oversight at the crux of all of UNC Chapel Hill’s current problems?

As a resident of Chapel Hill and 15-year proud employee with the City of Durham my first reaction was to weigh into the fray, even though that action might have caused me some personal trauma (I rarely discuss where I work on this blog). Fortunately I didn’t have to. In this morning’s Herald Sun the Durham Police Chief and Mayor did such a fine job of defending the Bull City that my actions and words are not neccessary.   My observation – and this is supported with the hard data presented in the police chief’s crime report delivered to City Council on Monday, March 4th (a meeting at which I was present) – is that Part I Crime in Durham has been drastically reduced in the last 10-years while the population has doubled. This is thanks to a police force and a community that understands that a better quality of life is everybody’s business, and we all contribute to the solution. As Mayor Bell says, “are we satisfied? No I don’t think we will every be satisfied.”. But we are hopeful.

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Thoughts on Reeva Steenkamp / Oscar Pistorius

Two stories no one can hide from; Pistorius and The Sequester. Here are my thoughts on the former:

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1. Innocent until proven guilty.

2. To the SteenKamp family: Patience… Justice is a slow, Fortune is a wheel.

3. Justice is also living up to my moniker of being “Blind and Dysfunctional”. Is it asking too much for the police not to go all to shit after a mere 2 weeks?

4. Ok, so Pistorius is out on bail, but he’s hardly living the life of Reilly. He’s stripped of all the freedoms he was accustomed to as a celebrity athlete. It may not be “just” according to some, but it is what the courts decided.

4. Whatever happened is a tragedy. It is unlikely that anyone will be satisfied with the legal outcome.

5. Whatever the outcome, a restorative justice process might be in order for the families of both Pistorius and Steenkamp. Fortunately South Africa has a lot of experience in this arena. Here is an abstract on the restorative justice process in South Africa from the University of Pretoria, Pretoria is where the bail hearing took place.

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Eve Carson killer, Laurence Lovette Jr. to be resentenced

I would call myself a  liberal on social issues, a fiscal conservative and – given my past experience – probably a conservative regarding criminal justice: and I say, everybody relax. Laurence Lovette Jr. will receive an appropriate sentence for the crimes he committed:

Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Laurence Lovette Jr., one of two men convicted in the death of former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson, will be resentenced because his sentence of life without parole was too harsh for someone under 18 at the time of the crime.

Lovette, 22, was sentenced Dec. 20, 2011, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree armed robbery in the 2008 shooting death of Carson.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision after Lovette’s conviction in which the court held that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for a minor at the time of a crime violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The resulting change of law in North Carolina applies retroactively to Lovette’s case, the Court of Appeals said Tuesday.

A date for Lovette’s resentencing has not been set, but Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall it could happen within the next three months.

Woodall said the Appeals Court’s decision was not unexpected and that he was pleased with its findings that Lovette received a fair trial.

Lovette could still face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, Woodall said. He could also face life with the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour also sentenced Lovette to 100-129 months in prison on the kidnapping charge and 77-102 months on the robbery charge – sentences which were to run consecutive to the life prison term.

During closing arguments of Lovette’s trial, prosecutors said Carson endured a nearly two-hour ordeal in which Lovette, who was 17 at the time, and Demario Atwater kidnapped her from her home and drove her in her SUV to two ATMs, where Lovette withdrew $700 from her bank account.

The pair then drove Carson to a neighborhood near UNC’s campus, shot her five times and left her body in the street.

Surveillance video from a sorority house put Lovette and Atwater about a block away from Carson’s home minutes before she was abducted. Security images from an ATM showed Lovette withdrawing money while Atwater held Carson hostage in the back seat, and Lovette made statements to friends that implicated him in the crime.

“This was so senseless,” Woodall told reporters after the verdict. “I’ve heard and read about crimes that were brutal and meaningless, and there’s never been one more brutal and meaningless than this crime.”

Atwater, 26, who is serving two life prison terms, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to state and federal charges in the case.

Unlike Atwater, Lovette was ineligible for the death penalty under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the execution of individuals under 18 years old at the time of a capital crime.

Lovette is also charged in the Jan. 18, 2008, shooting death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, a mechanical engineering student from India, who was found dead inside his Durham apartment,

According to an arrest warrant, Mahato’s cell phone helped Durham police link Lovette to the crime when he was arrested on March 13, 2008, in Carson’s death.

Lovette has not gone to trial in Mahato’s death. A status hearing is set for Feb. 18 in Durham County Superior Court.

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