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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social-Networking Tools Help Find Missing Children

Mass. State Police
Kidnapped girl Jaylin Boudria is now back home with her family after her AMBER Alert was blasted out on social media sites.

Social-Networking Tools Help Find Missing Children

Forget milk cartons. Alert systems to help locate missing children have now gone high-tech.

New systems like SecuraChild use social-media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to send out blast emails and text messages whenever a child is reported missing through the site. There are other options too, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which lets people add an amber alert “ticker” to their website or app on your phone.

And social networking's aid has proven a dramatic success.

According to NCMEC, social media has helped to resolve and recover 98.5 percent of AMBER alerts since 2005. Of 1,451 AMBER notifications from 2005 to 2009, 1,430 children have been found.

“There is no doubt that social media played a role in that,” Bob Lowery, executive director of the Missing Children’s Division at NCMEC, told “Facebook has over a half a billion users. We don’t want to miss out on these opportunities,” he said.

And because of social networking sites like Facebook, NCMEC has the highest found and return rate they have ever seen. The recovery rate of missing children found and returned is 96.5 percent today, compared to 60 percent in the 1980's.

“We are finding lost kids now faster than we ever have and social media no doubt is helping us communicate with the public. We are able to engage the public with disseminating images of the missing child and that increases the probability that we will find that child,” Lowery said.

When one-year old Jaylin Boudria went missing from Swansea, Mass., an AMBER alert was issued. It was immediately sent out over Twitter and Facebook, and spread instantly to millions of people. Jaylin was found safe just five hours after the tweet was posted.

Across the country in Newport Beach, Calif., Christine Lin created a Facebook event page asking people to help find her missing brother Allen in February. “I had more than 200,000 views from all over the world before the media picked it up,” Lin told the California paper Daily Press. Allen Lin’s body was found 8 days later.

Securatrac, a company that creates different tools that utilizes GPS to track people, launched its most recent development, SecuraChild, last week.

SecuraChild is a AMBER alert system powered by social networks. When a child is missing, parents can, for free, enter the website and report the child missing. Followers of SecuraChild through subscription, Facebook, or Twitter will immediately be notified of the missing child.

“Social media is critical,” Securatrac CEO Chris Holdert told “Facebook and Twitter are well understood by people of all ages and professions. We are using it to promote awareness of the missing child and it would be silly of us not to.”

“51 percent of American 12 year-olds and older have a Facebook page. That’s more than the population of entire countries!” FBI spokesman Jason Pack said.

The FBI works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and AMBER Alerts are added to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, details of which can now be blasted out through social media sites.

Through the use of cellular devices, Wi-Fi and iPads, people have their social-networking sites at their fingertips.

“We can put content-rich info out there in a matter of seconds so people can really find someone. We are speeding up the process of the traditional missing persons report,” Holdert said.

There have been reports of people using social media to put false missing child reports on sites like Facebook, however.

“Sometimes hoaxes do get disseminated. Because of that, we encourage people to verify with us or the police that the child is in fact missing,” Lowery said.

According to the FBI, people should always check their Internet sources to avoid these scams. “It’s the Internet… you have to take everything with a grain of salt. You can always check with the police or the FBI to make sure that the child is in fact missing,” Pack said.

“People will know if someone is not missing. So fake reports aren’t really a concern.”

Besides, the advantages of using social media to help locate these children far outweighs the potential for false reports.

“We are still monitoring the success, but it's very, very powerful. Anytime you can reach this high of an audience is very positive. As technology advances, we will have bigger and better results,” Lowery said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rebecca Coriam, Disney cruise ship employee, still missing

Rebecca Coriam, Disney cruise ship employee, still missing nearly a week after her disappearance

The family of a 24-year-old Disney cruise ship crewmember who disappeared while at sea met with investigators as the luxury liner docked in Los Angeles.
Rebecca Coriam, of ChesterEngland, was reported missing on the ship on March 22, after she failed to report for a scheduled shift on the Disney Wonder.
The ship was on the second day of a seven-day cruise along the western coast of Mexico.
"We just don't know what happened to her, do we? And that's just the worst. We've got to find out what happened," Coriam's mother, Ann, told KABC-TV.
Cousin Trish Davies said officials told the family that Coriam had made a phone call shortly before being reported missing.
The ship docked in Los Angeles Sunday and headed back out to sea later Sunday night.
Coriam had worked for the cruise line since last summer in its youth services department.
Disney Cruise Line officials say they have searched the entire ship multiple times, but have found no trace of Coriam.
The Mexican Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have also searched the seas through which the ship travelled around the time she was last seen.
"We have been doing everything possible to find Rebecca Coriam," said Disney spokeswoman Christi Erwin Donnan. "Rebecca's disappearance has been difficult for everyone at Disney Cruise Line."
Returning passengers said they were told during the cruise Coriam was missing, and were asked to keep an eye out for her.
"They announced it over the airwaves and they said that there was a missing crew member, can you please help look for the person," said passenger Ron Uyen as he disembarked in Los Angeles. "It was scary. You watch your kids a little closer."
Another passenger, Suzanne Lopez, said "later they announced again that they were not able to locate her. They were really good about keeping us up to date. Everybody was really worried."
The 1,000-foot-long Disney Wonder carries 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Man Kills Wife of 66 Years, Claims She No Longer Loved Him

Man Kills Wife of 66 Years, Claims She No Longer Loved Him

Authorities in Ohio have jailed an elderly man accused of killing his wife of 66 years, allegedly because she said she no longer loved him.

"They had been arguing off and on, and at some point in time she told him that she didn't love him anymore," Copley Township Police Chief Michael Mier told AOL News. "They continued to argue, and he reached for a gun he had close at hand in the bedroom and shot her one time in the face."

According to Mier, Glenn Leo Burbridge, 86, is being held at the Summit County Jail on a $100,000 bond and is charged with murdering his 83-year-old wife, Alice. He is scheduled to appear in court later this week.

Burbridge was arrested late Wednesday after he called 911 and requested assistance at his home in Copley, a small township located about 30 miles south of Cleveland.

"Get me an ambulance here. Emergency, emergency ... I just shot my wife," Burbridge told the emergency dispatcher. "I'm going to commit suicide is what I'm going to do."

The dispatcher was able to successfully convince Burbridge not to kill himself and to wait at the door for police. He complied and did not give responding officers any difficulties when they arrived on the scene, police said.

"He allowed them in, [and] they found her in bed," Mier said. "She was alive, and she was talking to the officers as they administered first aid."

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the Burbridges had been married since 1944 and moved to Ohio from Virginia in the 1980s. They raised three children and at one time operated a local antenna and satellite service company.

The elderly grandparents had no prior run-ins with the law, police said.

"They have lived in our community for a long time, and there have never been any problems with them or anything of that nature. They are just an older couple," Mier said.

Alice Burbridge sustained a gunshot wound to the face from a .38-caliber revolver. While she was conscious at the time she was transported to Akron General Medical Center, her injury proved to be too severe for her to survive, and she died at 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

Burbridge had initially been charged with attempted murder, but the charge was upgraded following his wife's death. Mier said additional charges could be filed.

"It is always a possibility after this goes to the grand jury [that] they may add on additional charges of domestic violence and that sort of thing," he said.
Mier said that while Burbridge appears to be of sound mind, his wife may have been suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

"There is some indication that she was starting into that, but that hasn't really been verified," the police chief said. "That is coming from some family members and some folks who knew them, so I suppose that could have contributed to this. They [indicated that] because she was starting to lose her faculties. She was more argumentative than she normally would be."

Burbridge's attorney, Kerry O'Brien, did not immediately return calls for comment from AOL News. According to The Associated Press, O'Brien plans to enter a not guilty plea on his client's behalf. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Retired law enforcement officer serves as consultant for 'CSI'

Retired law enforcement officer serves as consultant for 'CSI'

A silence falls over the room as the officer walks slowly around, his eyes trained on the floor as he shines a blue light in front of him. He stops as a spot is revealed. It is invisible to the human eye without the light’s assistance.
It is the proof he needs to convict the murder suspect.
Many people have seen dramatic scenes like this while safely at home, snuggled into their couch as they watch crime shows unfold on television. For retired law enforcement officer Richard J. Warrington, of Topeka, scenes like this are just another part of his life.
Most crime shows use retired officers as consultants during filming. They advise prop masters, writers and technical producers.
Using knowledge from his time as a member of the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Department, Warrington said he has worked as a consultant with “Detroit 187,” “Bones,” “CSI: Miami,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “CSI: Las Vegas.” He has worked the most with “CSI: Las Vegas.”
"They're trying to make things as realistic as they can," he said, "that's where I come in."

Warrington spent his teenage years in Topeka, attending Washburn Rural High School. After training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, he started his career in law enforcement in August 1971. He was promoted to sergeant not long after he began working at the Shawnee County Jail, and he was asked to organize the department’s crime scene unit in 1978. From 1979 until 1996, he served as the lead crime officer in the Capital Area Major Case Squad. He retired from law enforcement in 1996 but continues to have an active role in a variety of ways.
Though Warrington started out on the enforcement end of law enforcement, he soon realized he had an interest in forensic science.
Warrington said he “didn’t even know how to use a 35 mm camera.” He said he was given a roll of film, a camera and a lesson.
“I didn’t know how to do any fingerprinting or anything like that,” Warrington said. “I worked with a federal investigation, and the guy doing fingerprinting there got me started on that.”
Warrington’s interest in forensic science continued, and he learned all he could from other officers he encountered. He grew from student to teacher and began helping other officers around the country learn how to process crime scenes more efficiently with his Gizmos and Gadgets course.
Intended to help task forces of all sizes, Warrington developed a website and a series of classes, including a class on lifting latent fingerprints from such unusual surfaces as feathers and paper towels.
As a consultant on “CSI: Las Vegas,” Warrington corrects the actors and production staff when a procedure isn’t carried out correctly. Because of his familiarity with the newest forensic technology, he also introduces the writers of the show to new techniques, such as the ones he teaches in his Gizmos and Gadgets course.
In the episode "Crow's Feet" of “CSI: Las Vegas,” the case was solved because of the technique Warrington showed writers, allowing the characters to lift a fingerprint off a feather left at the crime scene.
Warrington said he teaches classes at international conferences to people from all over the world.
“I’ve done classes for the FBI and Secret Service,” he said.
Warrington is known internationally for developing the portable Blue Light Special. This light allows crime investigators to see where bodily fluids or latent fingerprints are in a crime scene, even when the spots normally would be invisible to the eye. Though blue lights have been used for years, Warrington’s portable version made it possible to process crime scenes on site rather than risk missing key elements when evidence is gathered to take to the laboratory.
Since their creation in 1994, portable Blue Light Specials have been used around the world for real crime scenes and frequently are used in television shows like “CSI.”
Warrington has published articles in “Law Enforcement Technology Magazine," “Journal of Forensic Identification” and “Evidence Technology.” He wrote and published “Death Scene Check List Manual,” a book to give officers a checklist of how to properly process a crime scene.
He serves on the board of directors of the International Crime Scene Investigators Association, is a member of the Association of Crime Scene Reconstruction and is on the board of directors for the Kansas Division of the International Association of Identification.
Warrington works with the Lynn Peavey Co. as a crime scene consultant in research and development. He continues to travel the country teaching his Gizmos and Gadgets course.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

LA Man Freed 19 Years After Wrongful Conviction

Francisco "Franky" Carrillo, shown Wednesday on a street overlooking downtown Los Angeles, spent 19 years in prison for a drive-by killing and was freed days after most of the witnesses at his trial recanted testimony.

LA Man Freed 19 Years After Wrongful Conviction: 'I Had a Juicy Steak'

It's been almost 20 years since Francisco "Franky" Carrillo has seen the ocean, tasted food in a restaurant or gone shopping.

Now he's enjoying all these things and more as he tries to integrate himself back into a society he left when the first George Bush was president and the U.S. was fighting the first Gulf War.

Carrillo was convicted in 1992 for a murder he said he didn't commit. Last week, the 37-year-old Southern California man was freed by a judge after all the witnesses who testified against him recanted their trial testimony.

"I had a juicy steak tonight and yesterday was my first Vietnamese food," Carrillo told AOL News Thursday. "My first concert was last night. Afterward, I glanced at my watch and it was 9:45 and I forced myself to think about what I would be doing in prison. I would be lying on my back watching TV. It was a very sad thought."

For now, Carrillo is staying with an attorney in a coastal suburb of Los Angeles while he figures out what to do next with his life. He has a large extended family, including a 20-year-old son, Theo, who wasn't even born when Carrillo was jailed for the crime. However, Theo visited his father regularly throughout the years and Carrillo sent money that he earned while working in prison for school clothes. Now his son is in college.

In prison, Carrillo became a certified optician and a Braille transcriber certified by the Library ofCongress. He worked transcribing documents, making $1 an hour. His other jobs, such as cooking, sewing, ironing and cutting hair, paid about 15 cents an hour.

He feared for his safety and tried to keep to himself, always watchful.

"I notice I'm not on high alert now, but I'm really observant. More in tune with what's around me," he said.

Francisco 'Franky' Carrillo
Carrillo, sentenced to two life terms, said he never gave up hope that someday he would get out of prison.
And the things people take for granted -- credit cards, a driver's license, theInternet -- are all things Carrillo needs to obtain or learn. He read a lot in prison to keep current on today's technology even though he wasn't able to use it. Throughout the years, he didn't give up hope that someday he would get out.

"I lost sight of barbed wire and ball and chain and just lived my life," Carrillo said. "I was alive longer inside prison than out. I had a great support system and my belief in God. I'm just grateful for my amazing legal team."

The Legal Odyssey

On Jan. 18, 1991, six teens were standing on a curb talking in front of a house in the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood. Donald Sarpy, 41, the father of one of the boys, stepped onto the porch to call his son inside when a car went by and two shots were fired, killing Sarpy.

Five of the boys picked Carrillo out of a series of police photographs because he was known in the neighborhood as associating with a gang. All the boys testified about his involvement, and Carrillo was convicted in 1992.

At the sentencing, another boy came forward to say he was actually in the car when the shooting happened and Carrillo had nothing to do with it. The judge did not want to hear the evidence and sentenced Carrillo to two life terms on one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder. The case was lost on appeal.

Then the long journey to clear his name began. California Deputy Public Defender Ellen Eggers found out about the case and the new witness. But since the appeal was lost, it wasn't part of her caseload so she had to work on the matter during her time off. She contacted Linda Starr, legal director of the Northern California Innocence Project, for help.

"She said, 'We have a huge burden -- we have to get every single witness to recant their testimony,'" Eggers said, recalling her conversation with Starr. "My heart sank. I didn't know how we would even get one, they were so certain in their testimony. When you have five eyewitnesses positively identifying that it was the shooter, that was impossible. I would cry on the way to work thinking, how were we going to prove his innocence?"

The pair went to work trying to find all the witnesses. It took years. When they were finally questioned, all of the men said they couldn't positively identify Carrillo as the shooter.

Eggers told AOL News that a detective questioning one of the boys showed him a series of sixpictures -- including Carrillo's -- and asked him to pick out the shooter. The boy picked Carrillo with the help of the detective.

"The kid told us that the cop picked out the picture and said, 'It's him,'" Eggers said. "Within the next six months, they were all brought into the station. During that time, the information got communicated between them to pick out the no. 1 photo, and it was described to them."

The picture was different from the rest: It was taken outside by police as Carrillo was riding his bike through a park.

"He was nowhere near that location. He wasn't there; he knew nothing about it," Starr said of Carrillo's involvement with the shooting.

Neither the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the case, nor the District Attorney's Office would comment on the case.

Finally, with all the witnesses -- including the victim's son -- ready to testify that they could not identify Carrillo, a Superior Court judge agreed to hear the evidence. On March 15, the judge overturned the conviction and the prosecutor did not object. The case is still technically filed and the prosecution has 60 days to decide whether to retry it.

The Innocence Project

O.J. Simpson attorney Barry Scheck co-founded the Innocence Project in 1992; to date, 267 convictions have been overturned using DNA evidence. To get a case overturned solely on eyewitness testimony, such as Carrillo's, is rare. However, mistakes police make in dealing with witnesses are all too common, Starr said.

In fact, the California Legislature is working on a bill that would adopt guidelines outlined in a 2006 report by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice. That report includes the following recommendations:
  • The detective showing the photos or lineup should not have knowledge of the suspect to avoid giving clues to the witness.
  • Only one person or photo should be shown at a time.
  • The witness should be told that the suspect may or may not be in the group.
  • The lineup should be videotaped.
  • The witness should give a written statement afterward about his or her level of certainty.
Rebecca Brown, senior policy advocate for state affairs at the Innocence Project headquarters inNew York, told AOL News that sometimes police may unwittingly give clues by leaning in, nodding or making statements like, "Are you sure?"

"Sure, misconduct takes place," she said. "A lot of the time what you have is law enforcement officers eager to solve a very serious crime. They are providing all sorts of clues to the witness without being aware of it. But by and large, we're not talking about rogue, bad-seed law enforcement. We are talking about folks who are not using updated witness ID protocols."

Many states are starting to come in line with these policy changes. North Carolina, New Jersey andOhio all have passed laws, along with certain areas of Wisconsin and West Virginia. Texas, Nevada and Connecticut have laws pending, Brown said.

The California Peace Officers' Association and the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training did not return calls seeking comment.

Moving Forward

Carrillo says he isn't bitter about his case and still believes in the American system of justice. However, he wants to start working with the Innocence Project to help other people like himself.

He's scheduled to speak at a lecture sponsored by the organization. And he plans on talking to at-risk youth to keep them from ending up behind bars. Even though he is trained as an optician, he wants to go to school to be a psychologist.

But for right now, the best thing is waking up in a safe, comfortable place, he said.

"To take a shower in the morning and shave and use regular toothpaste. And fix something to eat when I want," Carrillo said. "The beauty of being free, to actually have opportunities to do what you desire, if it's to stay up late to watch a movie or take a walk on the beach, your life is pretty much your own."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Arrests made in kidnapping of missing Logan woman

Arrests made in kidnapping of missing Logan woman

Police have arrested three people, Thursday evening in connection with the disappearance of a missing Logan, Ohio woman on March 22, 2011.
Summer Inman, 25, was abducted by two men and forced into a white Ford Crown Victoria around 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, near the Century National Bank at 61 N. Market Street in Logan.
William A. Inman II, 26, who is Summer's estranged husband; William A. Inman, 47, Summer's father-in-law, and Sandra K. Inman, 46, Summer's mother-in-law, were arrested and charged with kidnapping.
All three were arrested around 9:30 p.m., Thursday evening at 5924 Raysville Road, in Ray, Ohio.
Summer is still missing and the police are still searching for her and are asking for the publics help.  If you have any information please call 740-6868.
Summer Inman is described as 5'3" tall, 120 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes, wearing blue jeans, a dark t-shirt with white lettering that said "Angel". 
No information if the vehicle that was seen in connection with the kidnapping has been found.
William II, WIlliam and Sandra will appear in court on Friday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Connecticut Girl Found Alive

Isabella Oleschuk: Missing Conn. girl found alive, how police handled her case

It was the best possible ending any family and community could have hoped for - 12-year-old Isabella "Bella" Oleschuk went missing Sunday and was found alive and well Wednesday - her safe return was a result of teamwork and a valiant search effort organized by the Orange Police.
Over 100 men and women braved the elements each day and joined in the search for Bella. People in her local community put their names on a list in case police needed their help. Her local media kept people across the country informed every step of the way. And Bella had the support of an online community who, like her local community, were all hoping and praying for her safe return.
One of the biggest fears searchers had was that Bella, deaf in one ear and without her hearing aid, would not be able to hear them when they called out her name. It's cold in Connecticut, so time was not on their side.
Then on Wednesday morning at 10:46 a.m. a woman driving along Indian Hill Road noticed something in an old farm stand that caught her attention. She turned her car around to take another look and saw Bella's blonde hair. She did exactly what police asked their community to do - she called them immediately. 
In no time Orange Police Officer Jude Fedorchuck arrived, looked into a hole on the side of a garage near the farm stand, and saw a little girl with blonde hair and a bandana on her head. He asked her to come out.
She gathered her belongings and walked outside. When Officer Fedorchuck asked her name she replied "Isabella."
"I asked if she'd eaten and she said she had Pop Tarts and granola bars. She had a coat and blankets. She was very quiet," Officer Fedorchuck said. "I am a father, so I am very relieved," he said.
Everyone in the town of Orange was ecstatic when they heard the news Wednesday morning that Bella had been found just three-and-a-half miles from her home. The woman who listened to her instinct and turned her car around, she's a hero. Bella was alone, temperatures were dipping into the low 30s at night, and she was running out of food. It's a miracle she was found, the miracle the town of Orange prayed for. 
The Rev. Ann Ritonia with the Church of the Good Shepherd commented on an Orange Patch article saying, "I just moved to Orange and have been overwhelmed at the love and support this community has shown to Isabella and her family. Bravo and job well done to the Orange Police Department and to the law enforcement officials and volunteers. I am proud to call Orange my new home. The professionalism especially that of Chief Gagne is a credit to his character and that of the Department. I thank God for all of you."
Also to be commended is the Asst. Chief, Edward A. Koether, who took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to media updated via email. 
When kids go missing
When children between the ages of 10 and 17 go missing many of them are quickly classified "runaways." Many of those children remain on a list in police departments and do not get investigated the way a case would for a child under the age of 10, or even for an adult.
Many of these kids are simply seen as runaway teens who will be home in a day or two.
But they don't all come home in a day or two, as was recently seen in the Elizabeth Ennen case. Unfortunately some never come home at all because they were misclassified as runaways when in fact they'd been abducted and murdered. 
Fortunately in Bella's case she did leave of her own free will and she was found alive and well. What is so important to note is that Orange Police knew there was a high possibility she had left on her own, and yet that didn't stop them from searching for her and not giving up.
She was a child missing and possibly in danger, and they never lost sight of that. 
Choices police make
Police have choices to make each time a child goes missing. This National Missing Persons news writer commends the Orange Police in Connecticut for the way they handled Bella's case.
Orange Police learned Bella was missing at 8:18 a.m. Sunday morning. On day one they were out in force searching for her, calling in the FBI, State Police, fire fighters, the Community Emergency Rescue Team (CERT), K-9 units, and other agencies to come help with the search. By nightfall Sunday they had spent a day searching the woods around her home. 
When night fell they sent some searchers home due to the dangerous and treacherous conditions. Early Sunday evening a state police helicopter and airplane were sent up to search the ground from above with infrared equipment in hopes of finding Bella.
Police were asking everyone in the public to search their barns and meadows because Bella loves horses. They were concerned because temperatures were dipping below freezing at night. They searched on the ground with flashlights while others searched from the air. 
Police announced on Sunday they would not stop until they had resolution in Bella's case.
Their search efforts only increased as the days wore on.
On Wednesday before they found Bella police said they would not stop until she was found. 
Just as the Orange Police were planning a press conference Wednesday morning where Bella's parents were scheduled to speak, they got the wonderful news Bella had been found. Cries of joys could be heard when police made the announcement to the townspeople. 
They were determined, they never gave up, and their efforts paid off.