Natasha Cournoyer – Serial Killer?

Pour ceux d’entre vous compte tenu de la mort récente de Natasha Cournoyer comme en quelque sorte lié à l’œuvre d’un tueur en série (et je sais que vous êtes hors de leur car-je vérifier les termes de recherche), permettez-moi d’offrir les conseils suivants:

Un point d’intrigue de l’un n’est pas une tendance. 

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For those of you considering the recent death of Quebec’s Natasha Cournoyer as somehow connected to the work of a serial killer (and I know you’re out their because I check the search-terms), permit me to offer the following advice:

A plot point of one is not a trend.

Try again later.

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Missing Women – Rocky Mount / Edgecombe County

I know I use the term “Missing Women” rather  loosely when referring to the 6 identified bodies that have been found in Rocky Mount / Edgecombe County North Carolina. “Missing Women” was the term originally coined to identify the 60 – 70 prostitutes who disappeared from Vancouver’s East side in the 1970s-80s.  They literally vanished. Eventually, Robert Pickton was accused of their murders and was sentenced to a handful  of the killings (having disposed of their bodies on his pig farm).  “Missing Women” became a larger metaphor for the manner in which society treated these victims as translucent (think Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and the marginalization of the lower strata).

In the case of Rocky Mount I use the term in the same context; these women are missing; society does not see them; it only acknowledges their presence as prostitutes, drug addicts and general low-lifes. It is an age old practice of blaming victims for their outcomes, then abdicating societies responsibility to do anything about it (thus the lag to form a task force and lack of media coverage.)

The situation in Rocky Mount is so disturbing because it so closely echoes what happened in Vancouver (and what is happening along the Highway of Tears in British Columbia). Have we learned nothing?

Well we better start learning or the cost to tax payers will be in the millions with the reforms that will (very slowly) come in the wake of what is brought forth (very slowly) in the disclosure of justice. Not to mention the endless public hand-wringing and blame that will-out.

 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Victims of domestic violence were remembered in a candlelight vigil on Thursday night in Rocky Mount.

My Sister’s House, a support organization for local victims, remembered 61 victims who were killed statewide in the last year as a result of the abuse.

The event drew about 50 people to the first floor of the Rocky Mount City Hall.

This year, none of the fatalities was in Rocky Mount.

Over the past eight years, candles were blown out to remember all of the victims. But this year, only one candle was lit and blown out at the end of the event.

My Sister’s House executive director Meredith Holland said the numerous candles being blown out symbolized a finality of the deaths.

One candle carries a different meaning, she said.

“We wanted this to be more positive so people can move forward with this,” she said. “We don’t want people to be happy, but we also want them to feel there is something we can do about this (violence).”

The group was asked to remember the women whose deaths are being investigated to see if there are ties to a potential serial killer. Rumors of a serial killer stalking poor women have spread through East Rocky Mount the past few months. In June, authorities publicly connected the dots between the unsolved murders of Jarniece Hargrove, 31, Taraha Nicholson, 28, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Thorpe, 35, and Melody Wiggins, 29. Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight announced last month that 21-year-old Denise Williams’ 2003 murder also is included in the probe.

Three of the victims were clients of My Sister’s House at one time, said Linda Jones, the board president of the organization and a victim’s advocate for the Rocky Mount Police Department.

The group also was asked to remember 37-year-old Martha Alford. The local resident is in critical condition after being set on fire by a man last month.

Police arrested Anthony Earl Brown, 44, after he allegedly poured rubbing alcohol and threw a match at her to ignite a fire. Alford is being treated at the Jaycee Burn Center at N.C. Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill.

Jones said that domestic violence is no longer a private matter between couples.

“It’s the impact it has on business because of lost time and tardiness and loss of productivity in the workplace,” she said. “And most people killed in the workplace are going to be women, and it’s going to be domestic-violence related.”

As an example, she pointed to a recent shooting in Carthage, where Robert Stewart is accused of shooting up a North Carolina nursing home. He was reportedly going after his estranged wife during a rampage that killed seven residents and a nurse tending to their care.

The bloodbath ended when a police officer shot and wounded Stewart in a hallway.

“Children who tend to come from violent homes tend to live violent lifestyles as they grow older, so we’re talking about a vicious cycle of domestic violence,” Jones said. “They are more apt to affiliate with gangs, and the list goes on. And so it does have an impact on all of us, and there are things we can do as a community to address that.”

During the vigil, Jones said that she got involved in domestic violence causes after seeing a woman being beating by a partner in a parking lot 24 years ago.

“For the next 24 years, I got to know this woman,” she said. “I saw in that parking lot that night she is a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother. She is rich and poor, educated and uneducated, employed and unemployed. She has children who witness the abuse and are sometimes abused themselves.”

Jones said one out of four women and almost 8 percent of men report being victims of intimate-partner violence at some point in their lives.

“Even if you’ve never been a victim of domestic violence, the odds are that someone in your family or you’re standing besides tonight has been a victim,” she said.

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Rocky Mount Serial Killer

The mother of one of the victims in the Rocky Mount Missing Women case says that it’s a slow justice process as the recently formed task force works to go over the cases. I love Patsy Hargrove’s attitude when she states of  Anwan Maurice Pittman currently in custody as a “person of interest”  in the murders,  “I don’t want this man charged with nothing if he didn’t do it,” Hargrove said. “We want the right person convicted.”

That is such a good attitude. In the case of my sister’s murder, Theresa Allore there have been many people to come forward as potential suspects. In some cases it was tempting -after so many years – to blame them, blame anyone for her death.  I have even seen people try to implicate people with whom they had a personal vendetta – it didn’t matter that they had nothing to do with Theresa’s murder; they were bad people in that 1970s era in the Eastern Townships, so let them be blamed for the crime.  Not only is that bad police work, it’s bad for the soul. I hope Ms. Hargrove continues to show this level of patience; it’s not easy, but it’s healthy:

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — The mother of one of six women found dead in rural Edgecombe County within the past four years says she is still waiting to hear about a possible connection in the cases.

Patsy Hargrove said Thursday that it’s been more than a month since she has heard from investigators looking into the death of her daughter, Jarniece Latonya Hargrove.

Still no answers for slain woman's momWATCH VIDEO
Still no answers for slain woman’s mom

“They don’t have enough evidence to pinpoint my daughter and the rest of them,” Hargrove said.

Last month, a special task force investigating Hargrove’s death and the others, arrested Anwan Maurice Pittman, 31, and charged him with murder in the death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson.

Investigators won’t say if Pittman is a suspect in any of the other cases, and Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight has refused to comment on the case.

Each of the victims was black, had a history of drug use, prostitution or both. Five had been reported missing before their bodies were discovered within a 10-mile radius of one another. Family members and friends of the victims have said many knew each other.

The task force is also investigating cases of three more missing woman who fit the same profile.

Investigators have found no signs of bullet or stab wounds on any victim. Three autopsies could not identify the cause of death, and the other women were beaten or strangled to death, according to autopsy reports and family members.

Families like Hargrove’s, meanwhile, are left wondering and waiting for justice.

“I don’t want this man charged with nothing if he didn’t do it,” Hargrove said. “We want the right person convicted.”

Pittman, who was arrested Sept. 1, is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh until his trial.

Prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty because there were no aggravating factors to qualify the case as a capital crime.

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Rocky Mount Women – body identified

smallwood_copy_266163e

I’m wondering when these cases are going to get the attention they so desperately deserve:

Body of seventh victim identified

By Mike Hixenbaugh 
Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, October 12, 2009

Authorities on Monday identified a body found earlier this year inside city limits as 33-year-old Elizabeth Jane Smallwood, bringing the known number of Rocky Mount women found dead in similar circumstances in recent years to seven.

Smallwood, a black woman with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse, matches the profile of six other Rocky Mount women killed since 2003.

A task force of federal, state and local investigators has been probing the murders the past several months. Deputies so far have made an arrest in one of the seven deaths.

Of the victims, Smallwood is the only to have been found inside city limits. A prison work crew clearing tree limbs and debris found her decomposing remains on Feb. 13 off Melton Drive. She had been dead for six months to a year before the body was discovered, according to the autopsy. The cause of death has not been determined.

“Smallwood had not been reported missing to the Rocky Mount Police Department by family or friends,” Capt. Laura Fahnestock said. “But through investigative leads, we were able to link her to the skeletal remains.”

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Chapel Hill identified the body by comparing Smallwood’s medical records to the remains, authorities said.

Rumors of a serial killer stalking poor women have spread through East Rocky Mount the past few months, and in June authorities publicly connected the dots between the unsolved murders of Jarniece Hargrove, 31, Taraha Nicholson, 28, Ernestine Battle, 50, Jackie Thorpe, 35, and Melody Wiggins, 29. Responding to a report in the Telegram, Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight announced last month that 21-year-old Denise Williams’ 2003 murder also is included in the probe.

Investigators won’t say if they believe the murders are linked, but they believe they could be.

Each of the previously identified victims was found in swampy and wooded fields in Edgecombe County, a few miles outside the city, and each was known to have traded sex to feed drug addictions, according to criminal records and family members.

Smallwood had been arrested on a number of occasions since 2001 on drug and prostitution charges, according to criminal records. She had been charged with prostitution as recently as 2007.

Authorities are searching for three missing Rocky Mount women as part of the investigation: Yolanda Lancaster, 37, Joyce Renee Durham, 46, and Christine Boone, 43.

FBI agents are assisting in the investigation.

Authorities in September arrested Antwan Pittman, 31, and charged him in Nicholson’s murder. Investigators won’t say if they believe the Rocky Mount man might be involved in any of the other deaths.

The case, which grabbed national headlines this summer, has shined light on the city’s fight against the illegal sex and drug trade and has inspired a local coalition of community advocates working to raise awareness about murdered and missing women.

A $20,000 reward is offered to anyone with a tip leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Twin County Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111.

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Crime Victims and Identity

Wayne Leng has a very good post over at Missing Women on victims and identity.  A University of Alberta PhD student, Amber Dean is studying the lives and deaths of women involved in prostitution, drugs and other high-risk, vulnerable lifestyles to see ‘‘what they can tell us about the way our society is organized.’’.

Dean’s focus is the missing women of  Vancouver’s East-side, the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton.  

Dean’s thesis is looking at the pictorial representations of the Vancouver women by a group of forensic artists on the website of Project EDAN and how those depictions changed through media and public perception. 

Frankly I am surprised that there is not more research in this area of victims and identity. My own experience saw my sister, Theresa’s reputation dragged through the mud, and we continue to see the dismantling of identities in the cases of the Missing Women from Rocky Mount, North Carolina .  The cultural Zeitgeist of crime victims appears to equally vacillate between the extremes of idyllic angel and low-life crack-whore. The field of research is ripe for all manner of sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists. 

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Victim Advocacy: why blog about Clifford Olson?

As I mentioned yesterday convicted serial killer Clifford Olson made contact claiming case knowledge of my sister, Theresa Allore’s killer.

So why write about Clifford Olson? Two reasons really:

1.   Nothing like a catchy title to drive traffic to your site.

2.  To show people that if you’re going to write about these kind of things, obstacles like Clifford Olson are sometimes going to get in your way.

Number 1 is self-explanatory, so let’s discuss number 2. 

Yes, the last thing in the world I want to do is give this guy the attention he so desperately craves. As a reader points out, offenders are not even supposed to have access to the internet. Ah, but they do.  Just last year authorities were left scratching their heads as to how Olson was able to build a MySpace page complete with current picture. 

So now we know how Olson learned about Theresa. Yes, he committed his crimes out West, but he is currently incarcerated in Ste Anne Des Plaines in Quebec. Though it is tempting to think he learned about my sister through fellow inmates, that is doubtful; he got it from the internet.

So here’s what he does. Olson contacts a criminologist I know and says he has certain information about Theresa’s killer which he is willing to share if he can see some police files (avoid the temptation to romanticize this in some Lecterian fantasy, this is a classic self-diddling, kiddie-Pavlovian-peeper  response, and only serves to confirm that Olson is where he belongs). Anyway, the criminologist contacts me and we agree it’s all a lot of posturing, Olson does this stuff all the time.

So that’s what happened, but again… why write about it?

I’ve been doing this for some time now, I’ve seen some disturbing things, I’ve made some blunders, but I’ve survived. If there’s one thing I’d like to pass on to the next person who has a sibling go missing, or is involved with murder, or must press on for years-and-years with a cold case it’s that stuff like this is going to come up and you must discipline yourself to work through it.

Here is a list of some of the goofy stuff I’ve encountered. All of it momentarily got my adrenaline pumping. All of it in retrospect turned out to be foolish nonsense:

1.   A guy contacted me once and said the key to Theresa’s death was The Boston Strangler, Albert DaSalvo: did I know that DaSalvo was from an area in Massachusetts called Durham, and that there’s a Durham in Quebec, and that I live in Durham, North Carolina?  It didn’t matter that DaSalvo committed suicide in 1973.

Stupid nonsense… listen, move on.

2.   A psychic from England contacts me. She says she’s going to build a profile on Theresa. She takes months doing this. She finally comes back to me with a “report”.  She proceeds to run down Theresa’s life story. Everything in it is wrong: “she misses her sisters, she loved skiing, she loved the years she spent in Australia”: you could have gone to internet and gotten more accurate information. A Ouija board would have painted a better picture.

Again, nonsense. Move on, laugh about it later.

3.   Some guy contacts me and asked to I ever notice how all the crime sites take the shape of the Big Dipper?

I laughed about that one immediately.

4.   Clifford Olson?  A filthy, inappropriate joke. Move on.

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Meutre de Helene Monast – Keep Talking

Si vous voulez savoir pourquoi j’ai commencé à bloguer en français, c’est pour cette raison: aujourd’hui, le frère d’Hélène Monast m’a contacté. Hélène a été assassiné 32-ans-il ya à Chambly au Québec. Le crime est non-résolu. Il a lu récemment un article de blog j’ai faite à propos d’Hélène et a voulu savoir s’il y avait une connexion: il n’avait jamais entendu parler des meurtres non résolus de Theresa Allore, Manon Dubé et Louise Camirand.

Non, je ne crois pas qu’il y ait une connexion. Mais ce n’est pas le point ici. Plus je parle de ces crimes dans la langue du Québec, plus les gens auront exposé à celle-ci, et cela augmentera les chances que les meurtres vont être résolus.

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If you want to know why I have begun blogging in French it is for this reason: today the brother of Helene Monast contacted me. Helene was murdered 32-years-ago in Chambly Quebec. The crime is unsolved. He recently read a blog post I made about Helene and wanted to know if there was a connection: he had never heard of the unsolved murders of Theresa Allore, Manon Dube and Louise Camirand.

No I do not believe there is a connection. But that is not the point here. The more I talk about these crimes in the language of Quebec, the more people will get exposed to it (the right people), and that will increase the chances that the murders will be solved.

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