American Crime's Popular Posts

Friday, August 2, 2013

Matthew Greene of Bethlehem missing in California

Matthew Greene of Bethlehem missing in California Went to Mammoth Lakes to hike, camp and climb mountains 
Author: Randy Kraft

A 39-year-old Bethlehem man is missing in the area of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Matthew Greene arrived in Mammoth Lakes around June 27 to hike, camp, and climb peaks in the Eastern Sierra. According to his family and friends, Greene is an avid hiker, as well as a rock and ice climber. According to his family, Greene, a Nazareth High school math teacher, usually goes on a trip every summer.

The Mammoth Lakes Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance to locate Greene. On Monday, a missing persons report was taken on Greene. The last known person to have contact with Greene talked to him on July 16. He was camping at Shady Rest Campground while his vehicle was being repaired at a local shop. He has not returned to Shady Rest Campground or picked up his car from the repair shop. Greene is  5’11”,  weighs 155 pounds, with brownish-blonde short hair. It is believed that he may have gotten a ride from someone to a remote area to hike or climb. The Mono County Search and Rescue Team has been notified, but without a last known location, the team cannot initiate a search. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Greene is requested to contact the Mammoth Lakes Police Department at 760-934-2011 or the Mono County Sheriff’s Office at 760-932-6549 X7.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Overwhelmed law-enforcement miss ankle bracelet alarms

Overwhelmed law-enforcement miss ankle bracelet alarms

More than 100,000 parolees and sex offenders are wearing ankle bracelets in the US, but a new report found that police are ignoring tens of thousands of bracelet alarms, and in some cases allowing criminals to commit new offenses.
Electronic ankle bracelets are used to track an offender’s location by sending radio frequency signals at timed intervals. Depending on the crime, parolees may be under house arrest, restricted from leaving a certain jurisdiction, or have a curfew. Tampering with the ankle bracelets or leaving a restricted area sends an alert to police, who are then required to check up on the offender.
But an AP investigation found that numerous agencies fail to respond to many of the alarms set off by the bracelets, and some don’t have clear protocols on how to handle a high number of alerts. In some cases, authorities took days to respond to cases in which parolees tampered with the devices or broke their curfews.
“I think the perception … is that these people are being watched 24 hours a day by someone in a command center. That’s just not happening,” Rob Bains, director of court services for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, told AP.
Throughout the US, AP found that 21 specific agencies logged a total of 256,408 alarms for 26,343 offenders in the month of April. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has an average of 944 alerts per day. The Delaware department, which employed just 31 field officers, had an average of 514 alarms per day. And in Tennessee, a government audit found that 80 percent of alerts generated at the Board of Probation and Parole went unchecked over a 10-month period.
Criminal justice departments that are flooded with alerts are forced to sort through the notifications and decide which ones are appear serious enough to warrant a response.
But a nationwide lack of responses has occasionally allowed offenders to commit new crimes. With no one checking up on them, parolees and sex offenders are able to engage in further illegal activities.
Authorities in Syracuse, N.Y. ignored 46 alerts from child-porn suspect David Rentz. One alert was generated after he removed his ankle bracelet. He then raped a 10-year-old girl and killed her mother.
In another case, Colorado offender and white supremacist Evan Ebel tampered with his bracelet andkilled two people, including Tom Clements, the executive director of Colorado’s department of corrections. His ankle bracelet alarm had gone unchecked for five days.
“Technology is not going to automatically issue warrants for people. It just sends an alarm that says, ‘This thing’s been cut.’ And for people to ignore it, what’s the point?” said Colorado resident John Leon, whose son was killed by Ebel after the parolee tampered with his device.
Kelly Barnett, a member of the union representing probation officers in Michigan, told AP that it is impossible to track each offender every day, and that ankle bracelets provide “a false sense of security to the community.”
California Sen. Ted Lieu had long pushed for harsher punishments for those removing a bracelet. He believes that ideally, offenders who are at risk to the community should be sent to prison rather than out on parole, but the state lacks the funds to pay for that. He believes that when when offenders tamper with their devices, their intentions are never good.
“Dangerous parolees do not cut off their GPS devices because they want to go to church unmonitored,” he said.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When a child goes missing, there is no playbook

When a child goes missing, there is no playbook

By Kristi Ramsay

Most parents have felt the pain of having a missing child, if only for a few seconds.

They lose sight of their child at the park or at the grocery store or at the mall. Fortunately for most moms and dads, as soon as the knot forms in their stomach, they lock eyes with their kid.

But for the parents of the hundreds of thousands of children who go missing each year, that pain is much deeper; for some, there is never relief.

Working in the media, I've followed the cases that get national attention. I've watched the press conferences and the family statements.

Last week, however, I had the heart-wrenching experience of finding out what happens in between the media updates -- what it feels like when this is real life.

A sweet 14-year-old girl who babysat my son in the church nursery was missing.

She'd left home without her parents' permission to meet up with a boy she connected with online. That was on Monday. The boy said he never went to their rendezvous point, a park, and as of Thursday, the young girl still had not come home.

The days in between were grueling for those involved in the search. I cannot fathom the depth of emotion her parents experienced.

Police never suspected foul play and thought the girl might have run away.
That scenario was both frustrating and encouraging. It was frustrating because the family did not think she intended to be gone long. She didn't bring anything with her. No phone, no keys, no money. It was encouraging because it was the best case scenario. Maybe she "just" ran away. Maybe she was fine -- angry, confused, and unaware of how loved she is -- but fine.

The conversations that unfolded were surreal. We talked to a detective about the possibility she was involved in sex trafficking or abducted or even worse. We had to avoid focusing on the "what ifs" in order to stay focused on the search.

When word got out, the community rallied around the missing teen and her family. We plastered the city with fliers and canvassed her last known whereabouts. People who had never met the family joined the search. Dozens of homeless people in the area helped out. As the story spread on social media, people around the world sent words of support.

Those of us on the ground did everything we could think of, all while having no idea what we were doing.

Three days after the girl went missing, I was helping plan a prayer vigil. We didn't know where to begin. There was no guide. We "guessed" the parents should speak first, before things got too emotional. But what should they say? How do we get the word out? How long should it go? We didn't know the answers to these questions.

The prayer vigil never happened. About an hour before it was to begin, the young girl was located. She had run away, and she was home now.

For the media, that's where the story ends. A quick update to tell local TV viewers everything is OK.
For the friends assisting with the search, there was a huge sense of relief. There were hugs, tears, and then the exhaustion and gravity of the week hit. We laughed -- about how much trouble this girl is in, about how much wine we planned to drink.

After this experience, I'll never look at news of a missing child the same.

I will hold this experience close the next time an e-mail about a missing child crosses my inbox.
I will remember the reality behind the story.

Each missing child poster represents a family in heartache and a community at a loss.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Montgomery County teen Zykee Smith missing since July 3

LANSDALE, Pa. - Police in Montgomery County are on the lookout for missing teen. Family members of 16-year-old Zykee Smith say he's been missing since the afternoon of July 3. That afternoon he left his home in teh 300 block of East Second Street in Lansdale

Smith is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 155 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Lansdale police at 215-368-1801.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Abner Twins Face Triple Murder Charges After Arson Investigation

Abner Twins Face Triple Murder Charges After Arson Investigation
By Elaine Hirsch

After three Alabama toddlers died in a fire last Wednesday, police arrested their mothers. The twin sisters Akeevia Lajoseia Abner and Tekeevia Lajoseialan Abner face three counts each of reckless murder. The case is yet another that has master's degree pundits and online commentators up in arms about motherly murder.

The fatal blaze occurred Wednesday night after the Abner twins left their three children alone in their home. The parents were allegedly visiting a home several blocks away. Firefighters located the children around 8:00 PM and reported finding an open oven. The oven is suspected to be the cause of the blaze, according to the fire marshal's preliminary report. Two of the children were in the hallway while one was in the bedroom. Firefighters removed the children from the home and took them to Atmore Community Hospital, where they all died from smoke inhalation and burns.

After investigating the fire and its cause, the fire marshal arrested the mothers on Monday. The Abner twins are currently held while they await trial for the three counts of murder. At their hearing today, bail was set at $300,000 each. It's unlikely this amount will be met, so the sisters will probably remain in custody.

The Abner twins are eighteen years old, and accordingly will be tried as adults rather than as juveniles. The Alabama Penal Code states that murder occurring as a result of arson is a capital offense, which means the state of Alabama could ask juries to consider the death penalty for the twins if they are convicted.

The district attorney's office hasn't released any statement regarding whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty at this point. If the state doesn't choose to pursue the death penalty, the twins still face the possibility of three life sentences, as they are each charged with three separate counts of reckless murder.

The charge is reckless murder rather than the less severe manslaughter because district attorney Steve Billy believes the twins showed "grave indifference" toward their children's lives. The children's funerals were held this past Thursday.

It remains unclear whether evidence suggests the twins deliberately meant to kill their three children, but the charges of reckless murder indicate that will be prosecutors' argument.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Amanda Knox Acquittal

The Amanda Knox Acquittal
Elaine Hirsch

Amanda Knox is an American woman arrested and later convicted of slander, murder, and sexual assault in Italy in 2007. The story made headlines when it first broke, but died down after the trial. It resurfaced after two of her sentences were overturned in 2011. A number of debates among PhDs and other experts online have cropped up as people try to determine whether she actually committed sexual assault and murder.

The Knox family was jubilant when the new verdict was read. Knox spent four years in prison for a crime she says she didn't commit. The question many people want answered is why the conviction was overturned. There are many variables, but the most central reason is the questionable physical evidence presented in court.

Amanda Knox and two others were convicted of the murder of Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher, based on testimony and physical evidence. Knox claimed she was not at the flat when Kercher was attacked. She said she was with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sallecito, who was also convicted of murder and sexual assault in this case. However, Knox had incriminated herself when she lied to police during an initial interrogation, stating that another man had committed the murder.

Knox first said she wasn't there but then said she knew who the killer was. She was either in the apartment when it happened or she didn't actually see the murder. In other words, she lied in either case. That led to greater suspicion by police. She later stated she lied because she'd been under stiff questioning for well over forty hours and wasn't thinking straight. She also claims to have been struck on the head during the interrogation.

The key piece of evidence against Knox for the slaying was a knife bearing Knox’s fingerprints. Police claimed that particular knife must have been the murder weapon, though the fingerprint was the only thing found on the knife. Though prosecutors presented the knife as the murder weapon, it had no blood on it. Though it seemed to be simply a knife Knox had used at some point in the apartment, the prosecution presented DNA evidence to play up its role as a murder weapon.

The decision to overturn the conviction was finalized by the testimony of experts who said this evidence was contaminated when it was handled by police. Police also admitted they made the decision that Knox was guilty because of her demeanor at the scene after the body was found. There were simply too many discrepancies in the case which caused enough doubt to overturn Knox's conviction, as well as Sallecito’s.

Amanda Knox has returned to the United States, hoping to resume her life after four years imprisoned in Italy. She has been offered a million-dollar movie deal for her story, but has made it clear that the most important thing to her at the moment is spending time with a family from which she has been separated for far too long. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tips On How To Report A Loved One Who Has Gone Missing

Tips On How To Report A Loved One Who Has Gone Missing
By Marie Owens

You’ve checked at all their friend’s houses. Nobody has answered the phone or was able to tell you where your child is. You’re praying that your child will be home soon just so that you can simply be angry with them for being two hours late; rather that than face the alternative of them being kidnapped. Then, before you know it, the two hours worth of time progresses into three hours, and then time starts to tick slowly forward. By the time it is 10 p.m. and you don’t know where your child is you may be ready to pick up the phone and dial 911, which could be wise idea at this point. It is important that you never go to bed without knowing where your children are.

So many people think that they would never experience the horrific feeling of losing a child. You may even agree with that statement. After all, you live in a safe neighborhood, you’ve taken all the necessary precautions, and your child would never talk to strangers, right? Unfortunately, even in the best of situations, child abductions do happen and they can happen to anyone. Even having a criminal justice degree or have a job at the local police station, can't prevent this horrific crime from occurring. It could even happen to your child. Each year, 2,185 children are filed as missing. Additionally 797,000 children, all under the age of 18, are abducted. However, only about 58,000 of these children were kidnapped by strangers. Yet this does not mean that you should not teach your children the basic principles of the dangers of conversing with strangers.

Kidnapping isn’t just child’s play, though; adults can and have also been kidnapped. In fact,  CNN reports about 50,000 adults are kidnapped each year. Thus, if someone you love has been the victim of a kidnapping, how can you report it and what information is relevant while reporting a missing loved one?

One of the most frequently asked questions about child abductions is how long a person should wait before they file a missing persons report. The answer lies in many different places, and across all different time spans. Reporting your child missing ultimately depends on the situation at hand. However, according to Nanny McBride, who is the National Safety Director and runs the center for Missing and Exploited Children, “If someone is going to harm a child, they usually will do it in about the first three hours of the abduction.” That means you should report your child as soon as you know something is wrong or if you have a strong sense that something has happened.

When you’re certain that any sort of abduction or foul play has occurred, be sure to call the police immediately. In fact, you should bypass calling your local police number and simply dial 911. If you witness what you think is a child abduction, call 911 immediately as well. Other resources you can use to report a missing child include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their phone number is toll free and they can be reached at 1-800-The-Lost.

Many parents also use another resource: the Amber alert system. This system allows adults to broadcast information across town. An Amber alert is defined as a “child abduction emergency,” when there is fear of immediate harm to a child and the child’s life may be in danger. Whether or not one will be used for your child will vary case to case. If you want to use one, speak with your local police department about whether it would be the right option for you.

In order to compile a proper report, it is important to keep these tips in mind:

I.     Always have a basic description of the child ready and a picture of the child available for local police to view. For example: “he’s 5 feet 2 inches tall, he has blond hair, and he was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt with a baseball cap that said ‘International Rescue.’” If you were not there that morning or you cannot remember what the child was wearing the morning of the abduction, ask someone to provide you with a recent description of what the victim was wearing. Police experts recommend photographing anyone older the age of two at least once a year. Infants under two, they say, should be photographed at least four times a year.

II.   Know where you saw the child last. Or, if possible, know where the scene of abduction was, as police will be able to get the most information from that scene.  For example: “I last saw John Smith at 7:30 this morning when I dropped him up for school. He went to a friends’ house after school, Jane Doe, and now I can’t find him anywhere.”

III.  If the child has any sort of photo identification card, make sure to give that to the police. Also other proper forms of identification such as the child’s birth certificate or a social security number tare very useful.

IV.  If your child has any identifying marks, be sure to give this information to the police. If possible, have a complete medical history ready to give to police as well.

V.    Lastly, most police officials recommend having your child fingerprinted.

Knowing this information can assist the police in bringing your child home safely.

It is also important to know how to report an adult loved one who is missing. Often, adults don’t get reported missing until the 72 hour mark has passed. This myth has been around for ages, but as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police reports, there is no “mandatory” missing time for any adult. However, if you can prove that foul play is involved in an adult’s missing police report, you should report that immediately.

It is important to note that not all adults are kidnapped by someone who is intending to harm them. There are many reasons why adults may disappear, which range from chemical dependency issues to marital discord, and surpass thousands of other reasons as well. On occasion, police will not search for a person until after the 72 hour mark, but the report should be made as soon as possible.

The information that should be given to the police for a missing adult is very much the same as the information that should be given to the police for a missing child. Proper photo identification, whether it is a state ID or a driver’s ID. It may also be wise to have the adult fingerprinted in the event that they go missing.

While it's important to read up on how to report someone missing, it's also important to stay well informed on how to prevent someone from being kidnapped as well. Following safety precautions is essential to preventing yourself or someone you love being abducted. It is wise to gather your pictures or any identifying information about your children or loved one and always try to keep track of where your children are at all times. Following through with these steps will help you be able to make an accurate report in the event that you have to.