Samo Returns Home

And crime news from where "the wind comes sweeping down the plain" as one who was lost has now been found:

(NORMAN, OK) “Samo Ducky,” the 200-pound, yellow plaster duck that was the prototype for a series of Fiberglas duck sculptures in parks across Norman, was discovered missing Thursday from its spot in Lions Park... Samo was stolen sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning but has been found.

A resident... saw the duck and called police officials about 5:15 p.m. A short time later, the duck was found near the roadway... Arrangements have been made to ensure that the duck returns home…
Norman police say they are investigating the theft. Up to four people probably were necessary to remove the sculpture from the park...
Dare I characterize Samo's recovery as "another case quacked?"

Perhaps Norman police will be assigning a "quack squad" of detectives to investigate this theft?

Do you think that this disturbing crime "ruffled a few feathers?"

Did I miss any duck references?

Are my attempts at humor lame or what?

I do ask that you cut me some slack today. I watched snow flurries fall last night. It is mid-April. That is wrong on so many levels...

Missing in Jacksonville

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida are investigating the disappearance of 39-year-old Vernon Stephens late Friday night.

Vernon Stephens

Stephens' car was evidently broken down and unoccupied on the Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville, when it was struck by another car. That driver was transported to the hospital, but police have not located Mr. Stephens.

Authorities are unsure if he fell into the water below.

Emergency personnel, including the Coast Guard, searched the bridge area on Saturday and Sunday, but nothing has been found.

In 2004, safety measures for the bridge were improved after a vehicle collision occurred, and one of the drivers (Donna Campbell) fell to her death.

Reading about the search for Mr. Stephens reminded me of how simply being stuck on an Interstate bridge with traffic whizzing by is such a lousy feeling.

Do you just sit there and wait or get out of your vehicle and look under your hood?

Now with mobile phones, it is much easier to stay with your vehicle and get help, but several years ago there was always the dilemma of: walk to get someone or sit and wait for assistance?

I remember as a young patrol officer helping a stranded motorist stuck on a busy tall bridge.

I had all my lights activated, but after watching the crazy driving in my rearview mirror, I made the wise decision to buckle my seat belt while waiting.

Not ten minutes later, a driver lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the back of my cruiser.

My reward was a cut hand and a trip to the doctor for a shot.

My prayers are with the missing Vernon Stephens and his family--that there is another explanation for his disappearance.

Since the location is a high traffic area, police are hoping that a witness will come forward and provide information about the incident--either reporting the man walking from his vehicle prior to the crash or that he was standing nearby.

Such details would certainly help with the search.

He was last seen wearing a pink shirt, gray pants, and dress shoes.

Click here to read more of my missing persons post or here for my missing person monday posts


UPDATE 4/14/2014 @ 7:30 pm

Jacksonville police confirmed today that the body found by a fisherman in the water this morning is that of Vernon Stephens.

Reportedly, the find was about 3 miles downstream from the bridge. Police continue to investigate, and described the other driver as "inattentive" and "speeding" when he struck Stephens' disabled vehicle. My condolences to the deceased man's family.

Will Searches for Cursive Documents Top Lady Gaga?

Should cursive writing still be required teaching in schools?

I was reading about that debate the other day.

I have not written in cursive since junior high, my signature is a combination of cursive and unique printed text (resembles an illegible doctor's signature), and I cannot remember the last time that I read something that was written in cursive.

As such, I am just peachy with cursive being taught at home or as an elective--I see it as one less topic that teachers are required to cover.

Representative Shelia Butt (R) is sponsoring a bill in Tennessee to mandate cursive be taught in schools.

I did laugh after reading this article where Ms. Butt explains her position:

...Butt said her motivation to craft the bill came after parents complained to her that their children were unable to read handwritten assignments…

"I found out that in my county there were high school juniors and seniors who could not read a cursive writing assignment a teacher had written on the board," she told "And there were juniors and seniors who did not have a cursive signature to write on a legal document."

Tennessee is one of at least six states with lawmakers urging that cursive by mandatory. Five other states -- North Carolina, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia -- already have laws in place to make sure students learn to read and write in script...

Wow, all this trouble for that?

Why not just have teachers print the assignment on the board and then give students a one-time 30 minute class that teaches how to create a signature?

The representative also added that students who cannot read cursive writing are unable to read the original images of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights online.

Yes, I am sure accessing the originals of those historical documents by individuals fluent in cursive ranks up there at the top of Google searches with "hilarious cat video" and "Lady Gaga."

What do you think?

Should cursive writing be a mandatory subject for 2nd/3rd graders?

I Got Rhythm

I was shocked to learn that on YouTube a video exists of me at a music lesson from a few years back.

In the following, I am the one with the hat…

Ok, so that was the much better looking Fozzie Bear playing the part of me.

When I was an undergrad back in the day, I took piano lessons.

My brilliant yet socially challenged piano instructor, graduate of the Juilliard School, told me that I had no rhythm. She said that my mother must not have properly bounced me on her knee when I was an infant.

I wanted to reply to Mrs. Fancy Music Pants that mom did pretty well with me when I was a baby considering she was alone in California, 1,660 miles from her closest family member, and only receiving periodic letters from my father/her husband who was then slogging through Vietnamese rice paddy fields and plucking leeches from his body as a Marine in his second tour of duty.

Instead, I just smiled.

Knowing that she was right about the no rhythm--and I never have found that elusive rhythm thing either.

Sad Ending: Katelyn Markham Missing

I was going through blog posts that I still needed to finish, and I saw that I had started a draft on a missing woman from Ohio named Katelyn Markham.

I remember a reporter had commented awhile back suggesting that I look into that case.

I get lots of those requests, and wish I could handle them all, but rather than just repeat information that is already online, I select missing persons and crime stories that I feel like I have something to contribute to the discussion.

This was one that I did not have a chance to research much.

Here is what was known...

On August 13, 2011, John Carter, Katelyn's fiance, received a message from Katelyn just before 1 am. Evidently, the contents of the message were normal and did not indicate any reason for alarm.

When the man learned that his fiancé did not show up for work later that day, and her car was found parked outside her residence, he and other family members entered her townhouse to check her welfare.

Reportedly, they found everything inside apparently in order--other than her dog having been put in the bedroom for what appeared to have been awhile.

There was no sign of forced entry. Katelyn's purse and keys were there.

The woman's cell phone was missing and authorities learned that it had been turned off around 1 am.

Ohio police had been investigating the case as a missing person since August 14, 2011.

Until April of last year when a man looking for scrap metal less than 30 miles from Katelyn's residence, found human remains instead:
CEDAR GROVE, Ind. —The man who found the remains of Katelyn Markham says it didn't appear anyone tried to hide her body…

Andy Hicks told...that he was searching for scrap metal along Big Cedar Creek in Franklin County on April 7 when he found a human jawbone.

 He said he then saw a skull inside a Kroger bag and some other bones nearby. Hicks said there was some hair, but it appears that the remains were almost completely decomposed.

Hicks said that it appeared that someone had dumped a load of trash on top of or near the body at some point, but not in a way that would have kept it hidden...
Authorities ruled the woman's death a homicide, and they are still trying to piece together what happened.

My belated condolences to the Markham family.

With some of the unreleased evidence that authorities have, I hope they are able to arrest the person responsible for this murder.

The family maintains a memorial page here.

Blissfully Unaware

I am a little jealous.

Jealous of those I see who seem blissfully unaware…

Like when I stop the traffic behind me to let another driver into my lane, and the beneficiary of my generosity does not offer a quick wave, smile, or otherwise acknowledge my offering.

Or at a child's sporting event, when a young player scores a goal or makes a great pass and then looks into the crowd where mom or dad are seated, only to see mom or dad with their head buried in a mobile device updating their Facebook status.

Or when colleagues simply laugh at that one student who battles to stay awake in morning classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Nothing funny about the situation as I know the back story: It is not because the student stays out all night socializing with friends, but rather she works full-time on the third shift at a gas station to support her education.

I don't want to be blissfully unaware. I want to be that person who sees the stray dog and tries to help or that individual who sees an American flag laying on the sidewalk and stops to set it back in place. Raining or not.

I never want to lose sight of my surroundings. Allowing others to go first. Holding doors for  anyone else near me. That the world does not revolve around me.

Perhaps, my jealousy is a reminder of what I should be doing. And the realization that...

the blissfully unaware probably don't sleep very well at night anyway.


Enjoy your weekend everyone.  

I Am Callous

So when I heard the following story, I confess that my first reaction was not: "oh, those misunderstood kids with red marks on their arms."

Or, "what can we do to better educate parents and prevent this new unsafe fad in schools?"

Well, here is the story first, and then I'll reveal my initial thought:

(BETHEL, CT) The principal of Bethel Middle School wants parents and school districts around the state to be aware of a dangerous game going around that’s become popular with teenagers. It’s called the ‘Eraser Challenge’.

Videos of the so-called game are popping up all over YouTube. It’s a dare where kids take an eraser and begin “erasing” their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter.

Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and compare their eraser burns with their friends. The challenge can cause pain, severe irritation, bleeding, scarring and even possible infection...

So what thought pops into my mind after hearing about this strange yet typical teen-type stunt?

Wow, I am impressed that young people are excited about a vocabulary-building challenge!

I wonder if we could invent and then get students hooked on a similar test that allows for the improvement of multiplication and division skills while facing the threat of a noogie?

What do you think?

Does the "Noogie Challenge" have a future in schools?

Whoa, I think the long winter is having a negative impact on me.

Good thing warmer weather has arrived here.

Another Disappearance Anniversary: Brianna Maitland

On March 19, 2004 at around midnight, seventeen-year-old Brianna Maitland got into her car and drove away from her restaurant job in rural Vermont.

Reportedly, she was going to her friend's home where she had been staying--as Brianna had to be at a second job at 8 am the next morning.

The next day, her car was found backed into the side of an abandoned farmhouse about a mile away from the restaurant where she worked.

Inside the unlocked vehicle were Brianna's personal items, but there was no sign of the young woman.

Brianna has not been seen since.

One of the reasons that I started blogging years ago was to discuss the Brianna Maitland disappearance--and myself and/or guest blogger "BobKat" have authored numerous posts on the sad case.

With the case's anniversary in the news, Vermont State Police did several interviews with reporters regarding the investigation.

But, as one reader who stopped by my place last week said "there is nothing new on this case."

He is right.

Well, I did have one observation on the fresh articles published.

The most popular theory current used to explain the incident is that someone was hiding in the backseat of Brianna's car when she left work that evening.

That she was attacked near the farmhouse, and the discarded vehicle is the result of her resisting a kidnapping.

A representative from the Vermont State Police said that they have "physical evidence" from the woman's car that could lead to a suspect.

I have always thought that she was the victim of a crime--as opposed to someone who decided to start a new life elsewhere or died accidentally and others dumped her car there to avoid police attention.

And, I do believe that she knew the individual/individuals responsible for her disappearance.

But, I don't favor the theory that she was attacked while driving.

It could have happened, but why take the chance of being seen getting into the vehicle or prematurely being discovered before Brianna left work?

It seems less likely as compared to other theories.

If she knew the individuals, why not get her attention while driving, and have her pull off somewhere more private than a restaurant parking lot?

Somewhere that was well known to locals.

Like the place her vehicle was recovered: the abandoned Dutchburn Farm.

The individual or individuals could have still left the evidence referred to by police with the latter explanation--a struggle ensued in the vehicle or the car was moved in an attempt to quickly conceal it.

Certainly lots of unanswered questions still with this case.

Brianna's family and friends are in my prayers as the 10th anniversary of her disappearance recently passed.

You can see all posts on Brianna Maitland by clicking here