Blogging Caesura

Real-life stuff is piling up on me, and I don't like being an uncommitted blogger, so I am going to take a little writing break.

I still should be able to do some visits and commenting to your blogs while away though.

I hope to be back soon!

A Message in a Dream

Back when I was policing and in the field, my dreams while sleeping often revolved around the job.

Victims needing immediate help and for whatever reason I could not get to them.

People attacking me and "the fight was on."

Lots of violence.

Being well removed from those uniform days, I don't have police dreams so much anymore.

But evidently, my mental anxiety is still job related, just much less serious.

For instance, the other night, I had a dream.

I was speaking to a large class of students. Everyone was attentive (that is a definite dream indicator) and the room was quiet except for my voice.

I had covered everything that I wanted to say in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to lecture for an hour.

Yikes.

My mind raced as I tried to figure out what the heck I was going to talk about for the next 40 minutes.

Fortunately, I woke up before the problem was resolved.

It is funny the messages that we receive in dreams.

For me, the jobs have changed and the opposed risks are much less, but the message is still loud and the same:

Preparation.

No matter the endeavor, success requires preparation, preparation, and more preparation.

I think I have some work to do, and then maybe I'll go back to dreams of running barefoot on a tropical island.
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I hope you all have a good weekend. 

No Hands No Arms No Problem

Tom Willis of California has been getting lots of attention lately.

And every bit of it is deserved.

Tom is the driving force behind "The Pitch for Awareness," a program to inform about the abilities of those with disabilities.

Through the initiative, he has been traveling across the United States throwing out ceremonial first pitches at Major League Baseball games. Also while visiting the cities, he conducts a fun program for children to help them better understand those with physical challenges.

So, how is a guy throwing a baseball impressive?

Tom throws the ball the 60 feet and 6 inches with his foot.

He grips the baseball with his toes, winds up, and tosses it with his foot to the catcher.

You see, Tom was born with no arms.

Yet, he has never let his obstacle slow him down.

Tom does home repair and uses tools.

He washes and then folds his laundry.

And he is licensed to drive a car--his is modified so that he can steer with his left foot and use his right for braking and acceleration. You can go here to his website and see the pictures.

His take home message?

Never underestimate what someone can achieve if they put their mind to accomplishing a goal.

So, you can click here to see Tom throw a baseball, and yes, it is amazing.

But be sure to watch the short clip below after a San Diego television station did a story on Tom. I think the 214 seconds about this inspirational individual is even more worth watching.



If you have trouble viewing the video above, you can click here to go to YouTube and watch it there.

Thanks for giving us lots to think about Tom.

Vickie Ellington Missing and the Linda Reed Case

This is Part V of the Vickie Ellington missing person case.
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Case Summary
On the afternoon of Thursday, January 27, 2011, Vickie Ellington pulled her Chevrolet Suburban into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Louisville, MS. Reportedly, the fifty-three year old business owner and grandmother was going to meet someone there.

Video cameras from several stores show Ms. Ellington park in the front lot and exit her vehicle, but walk away from Walmart--towards a McDonalds and Taco Bell across the street. She then walks out of range from all the cameras and vanishes.


Vickie Ellington has not been seen since.
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Last time, I outlined what investigators would look for in supporting or dismissing this theory: that Vickie Ellington voluntarily walked away from her life as a grandmother, mother, and business owner in Attala County, Mississippi.

And though that argument can be made, from what has been released about the case, there is not much evidence to support a voluntary walk-away.

But, is there a missing person example where someone seemingly disappeared without a trace and was later found to have chosen to start a new life elsewhere?

Certainly and here is one from not too far away.

Linda Reed Vanishes
Linda Gale Reed, then sixty-five-years old, was reported missing by her husband on April, 30, 2012.

An investigation indicated that the previous day, she was seen on video leaving a Walmart in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Ms. Reed was alone at the time and left the parking lot in her GMC Envoy.

Everyone was especially worried about Ms. Reed after her vehicle was found abandoned yet undamaged in a wooded area near the Interstate and not far from the Walmart.

Her purse, keys, and cellphone were located inside the vehicle.

Why would Ms. Reed leave?

The missing woman had a good job.

She was integrated into the community, and was married with a family who cared about her.

With the presented scenario, crime theories were prevalent.

Were authorities dealing with a kidnapping?

The woman's husband believed so.

He organized searches with the help of Texas Equusearch--one of the best finders of missing persons.

He also told the media: "she (Linda Reed) wouldn't have left her friends, family and me…"

But sadly, she did.

In October of that year, Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones made a startling announcement to the media.

He told reporters that the missing woman was suspected of embezzling thousands of dollars from the petty cash fund of her former employer, Moore's Fabrications--a place she had worked as a bookkeeper since 1999.

Two weeks later, Linda Reed was found in Texas and arrested.


Apparently, she staged her disappearance and fled to Longview, Texas. She was able to find work as a bookkeeper there, and had led her new boss to believe that she was maintaining a low profile due to domestic problems. Eventually, her boss became suspicious, researched his new employee, and contacted authorities after seeing her missing person story.

This article describes the mixed emotions of her family when Ms Reed returned: the disbelief, the relief, the confusion, and the pain.

How her grandson had: "buried his grandmother in his mind months ago."

A few months later, Linda Reed pled guilty to embezzlement.

How did she pull off the disappearance?

Did she have any help?

Why would she do this to her family?

The details will likely never be released to the public, but it serves as an interesting model: we never know everything about an individual's life.

The things that people are involved in like financial problems, relationships, life pressures, etc., can be a well guarded secret.

Secrets that family and close friends may not know anything about.

And sometimes disappearances that seem to best fit a crime theory, are explained by an individual's hidden thoughts and actions.

Actions that direct them away from their current life; a choice.

As in the case of Linda Gale Reed.*

*Note: Nothing has been released that indicates that Vickie Ellington was involved in anything similar to that of Linda Reed. My purpose with this post, was to show an example of a similar case where information was later revealed that helped the public understand what would motivate an individual to voluntarily start a new life elsewhere. 
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Next time, I'll examine the Ellington case in terms of crime theories. 

For all of my posts on the Ellington case you can click here, or for more Missing Person Monday posts, go here.

Guest Post, Spies, and Kicking Sand

Today, I am pointing interested persons to Momma Fargo's blog--The Boogie Man is My Friend-- as she graciously allowed me to temporarily take over there as a guest writer.

The topic?

Missing persons and digital footprints.

Feel free to look around while you are there, she is an entertaining writer.

Click here to see my guest post.

As for the rest of the week, I'll be away from the home base--first, visiting the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. with the kids, and then playing in the sand on the beaches of South Texas.

Have a good week all.

Happy Anniversary from My Gift Consultants

What does a husband get when he brings his elementary school-aged "gift consultants" with him to pick up some extras that will be used to help recognize his upcoming wedding anniversary?

Well we bought flowers…

 A card…

And these are now part of the offering…


Yes, Happy Anniversary to my wife from me, the kids, Olaf the Snowman from Frozen, and his helium-filled red butterfly friend!

At least she enjoyed the performance she went to the other night--it was the primary gift.
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Enjoy your weekend everyone. 

Try Extreme Couponing Rather than This

It is really a good thing that the vast majority of convicted sex offenders follow the law and update law enforcement with their current addresses.

For instance…

Over 500 registered sex and/or violent offenders reside in Cascade County, Montana.

A few weeks ago, officials from the Great Falls Police Department and the Montana Department of Justice collaborated to bring 40 of those offenders back into compliance--by obtaining valid home addresses.

So, 89% of registered sex offenders there were doing what they were supposed to and disclosing residential information to authorities.

And after the extra enforcement, the updated total of offenders in compliance was about 97%.

Nice work.

But, can you imagine the public outcry if compliance was only like 6 out of 10? That 40% were unaccounted for?

Yikes.

Still, officials are looking for the 20 other missing MT sex offenders.

Well, which is less than comforting.

Closer to my world, I was studying local registered sex offenders for a project at work.

Evidently, I spent so much time reviewing the names, case information, mugshots, etc., that I told the Mrs. I saw "Ricky" a few weeks ago at the local recycling center.

Spotted him chatting with another fellow next to the bin for brown glass.

I recognized Ricky as a Level 2 registered sex offender from a neighboring town.

The Mrs. was less than impressed with my story.

As such, I have a request for my blogger friends:

Please remind me to talk less about the residuals of my crime projects with family, and more about back to school sales, extreme couponing, and/or local wildlife sightings, ok?

It will sure make my home life easier.

Thanks.

The Ellington Case as a Voluntary Disappearance

Before I get to today's post, I want to thank blogging friend and Simon and Schuster author Stephanie Faris for nominating me for an award.

She picks creative and relevant topics to discuss and it is worth making her blog a regular stop

Also, Stephanie's second book, 25 Roses will be released in 2015. You can read about her works on Amazon by going here

Ok, here is more on the Vickie Ellington missing person case--this is Part IV.
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Case Summary
On the afternoon of Thursday, January 27, 2011, Vickie Ellington pulled her Chevrolet Suburban into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Louisville, MS. Reportedly, the fifty-three year old business owner and grandmother was going to meet someone there.

Video cameras from several stores show Ms. Ellington park in the front lot and exit her vehicle, but walk away from Walmart--towards a McDonalds and Taco Bell across the street. She then walks out of range from all the cameras and vanishes.


Vickie Ellington has not been seen since.
-------------------------
In the last two posts, I described how investigators would explore the possibility that Vickie Ellington committed suicide. And, based on the published information, this did not appear to be a conclusion that authorities were favoring.

Another possible explanation for the woman's disappearance is: she vanished voluntarily.

What information might support the idea that Ms. Ellington chose to walk away from her life in Attala County, Mississippi?

Let's take a look.

Investigating Voluntary Disappearance as a Theory
Of the three theories I mentioned in this case (suicide, crime victim, or voluntary walk-away), the most common explanation for a missing person is the latter: he or she left voluntarily.

And that is what family members and all involved hope for.

The stress of the days/week/years had been building, and a person just needs to get away.

More often than not they do return.

And sooner rather than later.

Depending on the situation, it is often not even a criminal matter to take a break from your life. As long as the individual does not do specific things to try and convince others that he/she was the victim of a crime, it is viewed by law enforcement as "no harm, no foul."

This is the case with Ray Gricar, the missing district attorney from Pennsylvania. If he left voluntarily and is located tomorrow, despite the thousands of hours and unfathomable cost invested by authorities, it does not seem that Mr. Gricar would charged criminally with anything.

Even when a missing person does intentionally mislead police, the charges and sentence are usually minor.

For instance, Jennifer Wilbanks, called "The Runaway Bride" by the media after staging her disappearance in 2005, only pled guilty to filing a false police report after her actions were discovered. Once she met the conditions of the plea (probation, paying the fine, etc.), the charge was expunged from her record--in terms of the courts,  considered not to have existed.

So, in exploring "voluntary disappearance," investigators would examine the same characteristics discussed in my post on a suicide theory--evaluating aspects like that her spouse had died, she was raising a young grandchild, and that she had gone through a career transition.

Several factors remain unclear.

Was Ms. Ellington having relationship problems (family, professional, or romantic)?

How were her finances?

Did she indicate mounting personal and/or professional stressors to others?

But from the information released, it does seem like Ms. Ellington wanted to disappear.

Fortunately, most of the time when individuals choose to vanish, they leave some trail.

Detectives find evidence of planning like: withdrawals of money, indications of travel intentions, map searches on computers, etc.

Investigators can then explore the logistics of a disappearance.

Did the individual have help?

Did he or she obtain fraudulent identification?

What vehicle could have been used?

What other modes of transportation are available in the area?

Finally, canvassing areas where transportation could have been obtained hoping to find leads amounts to good old fashioned investigation and sometimes to the closure of cases.

In other words, diligence and a little luck reward authorities with an explanation.

Assuming that investigators covered these bases and the case is still open, we have to assume that nothing much supporting a voluntary walk-off theory was uncovered either.

But are there any cases similar to Ms. Ellington's where initially indications left everyone confused, but investigators eventually learned the missing person had chosen to start a new life elsewhere?

Oh yes, and I'll discuss the background and motive in one example disappearance next time.
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For all of my posts on the Ellington case you can click here, or for more Missing Person Monday posts, go here.