Archive for category Missing Persons

“No One Stepped Into Their Path”- the Prophecy of Monica Caison and the CUE Center for Missing Persons

Monica Caison, Founder CUE Center for Missing Persons

“The silence of ignorance can be deafening  and therefore we must break it whenever the opportunity is presented.” Donna R. Gore

The book “The Road Less Traveled” has made publishing history, with more than 10 years on The New York Times bestseller list, sales of more than 7 million copies translation into more than 23 languages. It’s been 36 years since its inception into the publishing world. Author M. Scott Peck’s timeless message concerns the nature of loving relationships and helps to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self. Its opening line is “Life is difficult and the journey to spiritual growth is a long one.” ‘So true…

Although books have their place, I submit to you that no author has made the impact as compared to “the school of hard knocks” on a person-to-person level, touching the flesh, the hearts and souls of humanity than Monica Caison., Founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons.

Monica is a warrior in tune with the woods, the waterways, the alleys, the streets, ultimately the ramshackle lives of those ho “go missing” for inexplicable and heart wrenching reasons. The truly amazing attributes of the CUE Center for the Missing rest with their founding principles and the lack of judgment. No matter what the circumstance, the Cue Center is there to serve.Monica Caison, CUE Center for Missing Persons, Donna R. Gore

Particular phrases come to mind – self sacrifice, going way beyond the extra mile …”colorblindness,” volunteerism at its best, compassion, lots of tough love, strategic coordination, crying and laughing in the same conversation, never leaving a person without a “port in the storm.”” Never say never,” “All things are possible with the right plan of action.”

With an eye toward the future as all good CEOs should have, the organization not only carries on, but thrives with dedication and heart, including new projects on the horizon that will increase visibility and education, changing attitudes and putting the focus where it needs to be… on the victims and their families, as human beings deserving of respect, attention and the full complement of resources afforded everyone.

Offering a wide range of free services, CUE has since helped more than 9,000 families in what is often the most confusing and desperate times of their lives. In addition to providing services for the missing and their families, CUE offers college internships and youth mentoring programs.
CUE is entirely donation funded and staffed by volunteers, including Monica Caison, who takes no salary from the organization.
What was simply a dream, name and purpose, is now a nationally-recognized center that answers hundreds of calls for help each year.

Donations to CUE Center are gratefully accepted at their website:

10th Annual National Missing Persons Conference

2014ConfPosterThe Theme: “Breaking the Silence” Victim No More” speaks to breaking the silence by setting family members free to tell their story, educating, the public, law enforcement, and other agencies who have pre-conceived ideas about what it’s like to be a victim, to make the effort to really know who is missing and to communicate with the people who can provide the most assistance without regard to past history.

There is a liberation that a victim experiences and a sense of community and safeguarding when you first “reveal your painful soul” to an audience who well knows what you have experienced. Rather than “living in a fishbowl,” you feel a sense of relief like never before. I bore witness to this in the new connections made this year at the 10th Annual Conference (always a reunion for repeat attendees).

There is always that person who walks in the door not knowing anything about the CUE, having come as a result of a news story, an advertisement, an electronic link, a personal recommendation. No matter how they arrive, it doesn’t take long to feel the magic of camaraderie and Southern hospitality, regardless from what state members travel.

I am thinking of a woman who may have been tormented for answers concerning her mother who tragically went missing by a combination of forces, an athletic spirit for hiking, an iron will to “do it her way” and worsening dementia. Evidently, this was a lethal combination. Does it make it any less heartbreaking that she was participating in a sport she truly loved? Does it make it worse that her daughter had plans to implement her “plan of action” concerning her mother’s worsening memory next week, when next week never came? I do not know. What I do know is that she spoke publicly, seemingly “blossomed like a flower” and came to her own peaceful conclusion with her former major regrets.

Presentations at CUE Center for Missing Persons Conference

  • Raymond Bechard- Author, Producer, Human Rights Advocate and Human Trafficking Expert;
  • David Sullivan – Retired Sheriff, Lead Instructor for Ground Search & Rescue;
  • Dr. Scott Bonn – Professor of Criminology, Media Expert, Author;
  • Sheryl McCollum –Law Enforcement Professional, Director of the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute
  • Peter Hyatt- Civil Investigator and Statement Analysis Expert;
  • Gaetane Borders - Psychologist, Writer, Public Speaker and President of “Peas in their Pods”
  • Elaine Pagliaro- Assistant Executive Director of the Henry C. Lee Forensics Institute, Forensic Scientist and Attorney;
  • Karen Beaudin- Author, Advocate for Cold case Units, Public Speaker and Survivor of the Missing;
  • Holly Hughes- Former Senior Assistant DA Fulton County GA; & Legal Analyst;

CUE Center for Missing Persons Conference speakers


A good ending to an experience is like the icing on a cake or the ribbon on your favorite gift. Monica delivered just that, as she spoke from the heart about the epidemic of runaway teens.

As a group they tend to evolve into people they would otherwise never become, if not for forces beyond their control; sexual assault, rape, drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution escalating to human trafficking, misdemeanor crimes and even felonies in the escape from and the running to something as a means of survival.

Her refrain in telling us many illustrative stories was “No One Stepped into their Path” meaning that no one offered a non-judgmental helping hand to show them a different way, show them their value as a human being with potential and ensure their safety from harm’s way. She seldom took credit as she spoke. Rather, she told of how she was able to peel away the layers, get to the heart of the matter, establish trust and a kernel of understanding, and in the process creating many life long bonds.

It’s like kicking the can down the road. Who will stop and do something about a bad situation rather than make excuses? You can rest assured that Monica Caison and her team will always step into the path when needed!

I, Donna Gore, am the CUE Center  State Outreach Coordinator for the State of Connecticut, and I know I will be stepping into the path of many lives in the future!

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“Growing a Conscience” Is it Possible With the Female Peer Group?

female peer group, female friends, girlfriends, Donna R. Gore, LadyJustice


Running from responsibilities or problems… or just running to the ladies room… In any case, IT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED! There is this strange phenomenon… or perhaps this writer is just imagining it…. But I don’t think so… You tell me at the end….

Ladyjustice asked herself recently, what is it about girls “who run together;” who operate differently than many males? This writer hypothesizes that much hasn’t changed over the years regarding how groups of youth generally socialize.  YES… much HAS changed with respect to the introduction and influence of social media ever –present. Young men and women are virtually glued to their electronic devices 24/7. So… is it then a “sip of your drink at the bar, head down to check your messages or text” …and then repeat a million times over?   If so, no wonder we are missing important observations like – a friend gone missing, for instance!

Women tend to socialize in twos…or in small “packs” whereas young men meet up at a bar unless transportation is a problem. Or, maybe it’s the initial comfort level or perceived loyalty of girls…. But girls can also cause much drama.  Guys don’t have time for drama. They get to the heart of the matter quickly or are ruled by their hormones.

Irrespective of these factors, real or imagined, three examples of “Girls Gone Missing and Their Peer Groups” come to mind. These women suddenly and inexplicably “went missing” and who, at least initially, were in the company of female friends “supposedly to protect and serve each other.”  LJ isn’t saying that this was intentional in every instance…. Just that vigilance was not part of the scenario. And… oh what a mistake it was….  One of the three women’s remains has been identified, while the remaining two remain illusive to law enforcement, their parents and the world. You will read about the three women Ladyjustuce has chosen to tie together… for good or for bad…as a learning experience. We will present:

Brittanee Drexel, Morgan Harrington and Natalee Holloway


In a book called “Developing through the Lifespan”, Kathleen Stassen Berger states in her slide presentation that a Clique is defined as:

Clique -A group of adolescents made up of close friends who are loyal to one another while excluding outsiders. Whereas a

Crowd – is a larger group of adolescents who have something in common but who are not necessarily friends.

She states that when CHOOSING FRIENDS:

Peer pressure   occurs when encouragement to conform to one’s friends or contemporaries in behavior, dress, and attitude; usually considered a negative force, as when adolescent peers encourage one another to defy adult authority. WHEREAS

Selection occurs as teenagers select friends whose values and interests they share, abandoning friends who follow other paths.

Susan Shapiro Barash in her book, Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships interviewed 200 women of assorted backgrounds and ages, and asked them all kinds of nosy questions about their friends. .  A synopsis of this information is passed on via Psych Central and Associate Editor, Therese J. Borchard:

The Ten Types of Female Friends:

1. The Leader

The leader is the friend we feel we must have the one who can make or break our social lives. Being the leader renders one a “winner”–she is strong and outspoken; she understands her potency.

2. The Doormat

The doormat is a martyr. She isn’t one to make her demands known and rarely questions anything. She is useful when any friend, in any category, is in a bad way–the doormat absorbs her sorrows willingly. The doormat yearns to belong to a group,

3. The Sacrificer

The sacrificer is the one who takes the leap for her friends, and in tough times, we lean on this person, who will answer her phone in the dead of night to console you. The sacrificer’s search for closeness is often what motivates her, and she is confident that she can handle a friend’s expectations.

4. The Misery Lover

Enough women describe their misery lover as a friend who cares more about your bad news than your good news. These friends rally when a crisis hits and are even able to make a small incident into a bigger problem, at times…. When the situation improves, she distances herself.

5. The User

The user stands alone in how every step she takes is purposeful and deliberate….This friend can be enticing and charismatic and knows how to wheedle her way into one’s life and firmly entrench herself. She also has a hidden agenda

6. The Frenemy

The frenemy is the dark side of the user, with manipulation an underlying factor in these negative relationships. Many times her act is refined…..Although it is apparent why and when one should walk away from this kind of friend, cultural messages, oddly enough, ramp up our view of frenemies. This gives tacit approval for the emotions and passive-aggressive behaviors that accompany the relationship. [Ohhh… this one sounds evil- LJ]

7. The Trophy Friend

The trophy friend is out for the conquest of making you her friend….This friend is capable of seduction; she discovers you, and it is thrilling to be together….The trophy friend is savvy about intimacy and passion but falls short on commitment.

8. The Mirroring Friend

The mirroring friend has an identity that resonates with our own. So we are drawn to her, even if we aren’t the same exact kind of friend ourselves; t is the mirroring aspect of the equation that makes it work. Our mirroring friends want to be with us in good times and bad with their matching joys and sorrows … and are able to provide great solace.

9. The Sharer

While women are known to trade confidences, the sharer not only will tell all but will pour herself into the friendship. The sharer remains emotional and open, friendly and focused; she wants you to be her best friend. This kind of friend anticipates a serious pledge from her friends and feels that she, based on her own path, can ask for it.

10. The Authentic Friend

The authentic friend is the one we are in search for, a woman who has a high tolerance for her friend’s entanglements and is deeply committed to the relationship. This relationship makes it worth all the ups and downs inherent in female friendship, and operates on mutual self-esteem, care, and flexibility. This is the friend who reinvented her role and adapts as friendships alter with time; she also remains steadfast with the patterns that have succeeded over the years.

[Just to let you know LJ thinks she is a combination of the three of the best…We hope!]

Knowing that females are attuned more to the emotional aspects, could we further surmise that when a problem occurs, rather than use “brawn”, girls are more likely to separate, “leave in a huff” or “get revenge?” Alternately, some women desire to be free as in a celebratory event and may take risks they otherwise would not, particularly if alcohol, drugs or environmental stimuli (such as large concerts) are in the mix.

‘With that backdrop… LJ takes you to the first scene of the crime:



Natalee Holloway

The Peer Group’s presence breaks down at Carlos & Charles

After Natalee’s disappearance, her friends go on record saying via interview with Greta Van Sustern at Fox in June 2005, saying:

  • Carlos & Charles’ was “just a place to go when the sun went down.”
  • They were together in the casino when Holloway introduced herself to Joran ver der Sloot, reportedly not an outgoing or receptive local.
  • The “girl crowd” supposedly met the “guy crowd” at Carlos & Charlie’s on a Sunday night “quite by accident.” Van der sloot stated, “Sunday was not a fun night on the island,” so they were surprised he showed up at all.
  • Natalee’s friend, Frances Byrd stated that no one saw Natalee leave with Joran. She said, “If one of our good friends had seen her, we would never have let her get in the car with him, ever. Absolutely not!”
  • It was reported by her friend Francis that there were a lot of local people and a huge group of people waiting outside for taxis.  However, in the confusion, they never saw Natalee enter the taxi.
  • Natalee’s friend Ruth McVay reported that she left around midnight while they speculated that Natalee left nearer to closing time around 1 a.m.
  • The next morning, friend Ruth McVay states, “Oh we knew there was something wrong because Natalee is one of the most responsible friends. When she was not with us, we were worried.  We were right there with the chaperones trying to figure out what was going on.” [LJ- Where, of where were the chaperones when they were really needed at Carlos & Charles’s?]

Commentary:  Girlfriends are loyal and can be the protective mother hen” when needed.  However, when a good girl is hell-bent on “letting loose” and gets in over her head in a foreign land and when under the influence of alcohol, bad things happen.

The Blame Game:

  • A much more proactive, detailed orientation program should have been devised by high school officials intending to pursue such a trip.
  • [LJ- Thanks to Beth Holloway, there now is such a program-]
  • The chaperones failed miserably…. Could they not have foreseen that 17 year olds may have wanted to “push the limits?” Why was there not a greater presence-particularly at night in a bar setting?
  • The “peer group” should have “stuck together” regardless of temptations… But let’s face it; they were kids with “not yet fully developed brains.”
  • The cultural differences, incompetancies of the investigatory officials and international media presence, the political influence of the van der sloot family, the misinformation and lack of communication no doubt created the “perfect storm” in this still unresolved case.
  • The “evil doer” mass murderer Joran van der sloot, who to this day will not divulge  substantive information regarding the whereabouts of Natalee to her family will ultimately rot in the hell he created



Brittanee Drexel

Some people fancy the term “Murder Beach” when referring to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Such a term “stabs LJ in the heart,” because her experience has been quite the opposite! However, it does depend upon what part of town you speak of, what risks are taken, how naive you are, what other environmental conditions exist etc.

The high-profile case of Brittanee Drexel can never be emphasized enough, for it is a prime example of what kids do on a lark….and then things have the potential to go horribly wrong in no more than a moment’s time!  Brittanee is a 17-year-old from upstate New York in the Rochester area. LJ asks what 17-year-old does not have problems and wishes to break free  from the confines of parental monitoring during spring break….if only for a while?  She is no different from millions of other teens…  When she was in Rochester, she was an impassioned soccer player with a caring boyfriend.

What forces were at play when Brittanee decided to leave her hometown and leave her boyfriend to go on vacation with a group of girls (who were older than she), who did not have her best interests at heart and… without her mother’s knowledge or permission we may never know with certainty.

  • Reportedly, Brittanee took the offer of the time away in what must have seemed like “exotic Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Blog posts in March 2013 from give the opinion that the group of girls invited her and effectively abandoned or ostracized Brittanee after inviting the underage teen along.
  • Was she ultimately “not cool enough” for their activities which purportedly included drug use? Did she wisely refuse and for all intents and purposes was then on her own… “So sad, too bad “as the saying goes?
  • Intimate partner violence expert Susan Murphy- Milano stated in her blog post of May 4, 2011 about the circumstances of Brittanee’s disappearance that, her Mom, Dawn Drexel is told via the boyfriend, after he initially learns from the girls specifically that “Brittanee is missing.” Focusing in on his use of language, Susan asks, “How does he know to say that, if he is not in Myrtle Beach?” Susan postulates, “it is because after Brittanee doesn’t text back, he calls one of the girls and learns something has happened? He then repeats what he has been told by the girls to her mother. Bingo! How do they or anyone know at that point– anything about Brittanee? It is not possible to say a person is “missing” unless, wait a minute, they have direct and absolute knowledge?”  This writer thinks It sure sends up red flags about the entire bunch…
  • Susan also stated that the group who invited Brittanee to Myrtle Beach “continue to claim they ‘did not know’ Brittanee and yet the photo’s from last week on the blog prove otherwise.” Reportedly, these girls never assisted  with flyers or searches, unlike Brittanee’s true friends
  • On Brittanee’s website blog, there is a mention of her retrieving a pair of shorts belonging to a friend prior to going out again.  Was that the last time she would seethe evil, heartless   girls before she went missing? As Britanee supposedly walked the street all day and night solo along the sand laden strip of motels-hotels on Ocean Boulevard, how was she feeling?
  • At some point Brittanee, the soccer player, met up with a group of male friends from Rochester at the Blue Water Resort, intending to walk back to her hotel.  This was the location of her last known sighting by video on April 25th at 9 pm.
  • Supposedly, Brittanee texted her boyfriend at that point in time that she was headed back to her hotel.  [LJ wants to know, what were the circumstances surrounding her leaving the group of guys? And…. Why did they ever allow her to leave alone in the dark, in a strange city without escorting her?]
  • “The girlfriends” obviously didn’t care about Britanee’s welfare if they were engaged in drinking and drugging. A non-compliant 17-year-old was just “excess baggage” to them.
  • Myrtle Beach Police theorized hat Brittanee was abducted while trying to return to her hotel.   Her cell phone’s last communication was aping emitted from a tower in MvClellenville, S.C. – About 60 miles or an hour and 20 minute drive from Myrtle Beach.
  • As of July 2010, persons of Interest have included: Timothy Shaun Taylor who was one of three men who grabbed and was accused of trying to kidnap a woman July 21 on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. Taylor is the brother of a McClellanville man who had been charged with the 1998 abduction and murder of 19-year-old Shannon McConaughey.  McConaughey’s body was found in northern Charleston County, the same general area where investigators last pinpointed Drexel’s cell phone signal.
  • As of February 2012, investigators named Raymond Moody, 51, of Georgetown County as a person of interest. Police are now considering convicted rapist Raymond Moody, who served a 21 year sentence for the 1983 abduction and rape of a California girl, to be the prime “person of interest” in her disappearance.

Commentary:  Brittanee’s mother, Dawn Drexel, suffers the day-to-day agony of wondering and waiting for more clues…. Wondering if any of the girls will give up information, will ever “grow a conscience” to put the case to rest. In an April 17th 2013 press release, [Coincidentally that date is the anniversary of the murder of LJ’s father] she promised herself  she would not be “one of those families” waiting forever…. If only we could know what the future holds….

Anyone with information regarding Drexel’s whereabouts or her disappearance is asked to call the Myrtle Beach Police Department at 843-918-1963 or the CUE Center For Missing Persons’ 24 hour tip line at 910-232-1687.



Morgan Harrington

On October 17, 2009 a young woman with much promise personally and professionally was snuffed out by an unknown assailant .  She seemingly innocently went to a Metallica Concert in Charlottesville, Virginia. Morgan Harrington at 20,  was barely out of her teens, yet she possessed worldly aspirations as far-reaching as Zambia, Africa.

Morgan attended the concert with a group of friends. Morgan separated from those friends, reportedly for a smoke break.  Depending upon the venue Metallica concerts attract 5,000 to 50,000 fans at per concert.

  • John Paul Jones Arena, or JPJ, opened for the 2006 through 2007 NCAA Division I basketball season and is located at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has seating for 14,593 fans, nearly twice the capacity of 8,457 at Virginia’s previous facility, University Hall.                                                                                                          The design features pergolas on the outside to tie in the design with Scott Stadium, UVA’s football facility. This style is known as Jeffersonian architecture, reminiscent of the many buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson on UV’s grounds and nearby.
  • A TIMELINE reported by police is as follows:
  • 8:20 pm – 8:30 pm Harrington was outside the John Paul Jones arena at several locations including the front entrance and the side facing University Hall;
  • 8:30pm-8:48 pm Morgan was still outside JPJ Arena trying to get back in 8:48pm.   A friend inside phoned her on her cell phone and offered suggestions about how to get back in the arena.
  • Apparently Morgan made it to the restroom, as a bystander in the restroom did not smell alcohol on Harrington, but noticed that she was acting erratically. The bystander said that Morgan was disoriented and did not know where she was.
  • As a consequence of at least one bystander coming forward and assisting Morgan new information was learned regarding Morgan’s condition.  The Harringtons filed a $3.9 million dollar lawsuit against Regional Marketing Concepts, Inc., suing the company for negligence and breach of contract.
  • The bystander in the restroom assisted her but did not smell alcohol; the Good Samaritan described her as being disoriented. Harrington eventually stepped outside of the arena during the concert and was denied re-entry.
  • It is certainly a very arduous and complicated road to have criminal and civil proceedings on-going simultaneously….
  • During interviews in March 2013,
  • “There are occasions when people have the means to act and they should act,”
  • Adding credibility to the lawsuit, is that fact that it was learned that   RMC Events arranged for an intoxicated off-duty police officer from Fairfax County to get into a taxi.
  • [LJ -SO…why was Morgan not allowed re-re-entry….]
  • There were also reports that Morgan was injured not only with a 2 to 3 inch gash on her chin and bleeding profusely, but that a head injury caused her disorientation … How did this occur? Was Morgan jostled by the crowd…or did someone attempted to assault her on the way to her smoke and bathroom break?   And …why the different rules of re-entry, especially if Morgan was obviously in distress?  Too many questions….
  • It was reported that Harrington interacted with several concertgoers and, according to police, members of the UVA men’s basketball team on her way….
  • Surveillance cameras at the concert caught Harrington getting turned away from several entrances as she tried to return to the concert.
  • A partner with law firm Tucker Griffin Barnes, who has no connection to the case, stated the burden of proof is on the Harringtons. “The plaintiffs must not only prove that RMC Events was negligent, but that the company’s negligence led to Harrington’s death.”
  • After Harrington began hitchhiking.  Police said Harrington was picked up on the Copeley Road Bridge, which is not on the property of the John Paul Jones Arena.
  • “The legal question posed, is whether a property owner is responsible for the criminal acts of a third-party,” Griffin said.”
  • Evidence left behind…. . Morgan’s T-shirt was found outside an apartment building near the Charlottesville auditorium, However, her camera and a crystal necklace she had with her were missing.
  • More to the story – A DNA Link In January 2010, Virginia State Police recovered Harrington’s remains in a field on an Albemarle County farm about 10 miles from where she was last seen.
  • While no suspects have been identified in the case, the FBI says DNA evidence has linked Morgan’s murder to an unsolved 2005 sexual assault victim from Fairfax, Virginia in 2005. Composite Sketch of the suspect:
  • Help us catch Morgan Harrington’s killer. If you have any information about the Harrington case or the Fairfax City assault, contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, the Virginia State Police Tip line at 434-352-3467, or submit a tip online.

Commentary and “Blame Game” – Returning to the Girlfriend Peer Group theme…. In this case, Morgan’s friends did try to assist in some ways…. They communicated by cell phone trying to tell her how to re-enter the arena…. But… vigilance, as in the other cases, was absent.  If the concert was sold out, there were approximately 14,600 fans… Morgan became injured and disoriented. Although she appears to be an independent and capable person, these environments are unpredictable.  Why did her friends not insist on accompanying her as a common sense measure and for safety?  Hindsight….

As part of the lawsuit, the complaint cites “the frequently violent themes in heavy-metal music songs, as well as 40 reported assaults that occurred within a half mile of the arena in the three years prior to Harrington’s disappearance and death as evidence that RMC acted with negligence in barring her reentry and should have known serious harm to her was a possible outcome. “

A Bright Spot -Metallica Band Assists in the Investigation -

The multimedia campaign includes a public service announcement by METALLICA lead guitarist James Hetfield appealing to the public to come forward with information concerning the Morgan Harrington investigation (See video) In a statement posted at their official website, called “The Loss Of A Fan,” METALLICA wrote in part, “We are profoundly saddened by the news of the discovery of Morgan Dana Harrington‘s body . . . Mere words cannot express the anguish and grief that we know her parents Dan and Gil are feeling, and our thoughts are with them.”

Good Works in the Aftermath:

1) The Morgan Dana Harrington Educational Wing, OMNI Village, Ndola, Zambia, Africa

OMNI, Orphan Medical Network International, donations may be mailed to:

6930 Empire Lane
Roanoke, Va. 24018
Or on line at
OMNI is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization

2) The Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship, Virginia Tech-Carilion Medical School
VTC Scholarship donations may be mailed to: Virginia Tech
Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship
University Development
Blacksburg, Va. 24061
Or on-line at Morgan Dana Harrington Scholarship

3) Non-Profit: Help Save the Next

Parting Words-

Many commonalities…. It is Ladyjustice’s sincere hope that we can continue the conversation with these families…. Perhaps a Special Two-Hour “Shattered Lives” Radio Broadcast could be in the making…. Stay tuned… and be safe!

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.



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“On the Road Again…” Tribute to Former “Tours” and the 2013 CUE Center for the Missing “Road to Remember Tour”

CUE Center Road to Remember Tour, Donna R. Gore, Monica Caison

Historically, there have been many tours that forged the economic growth of our country, paved the way for change and sought to bring a sense of relief from everyday troubles…. And then there’s the “Road to Remember Tour,” created by Monica Caison and her colleagues nine years ago at the Cue Center for the Missing in North Carolina, who take honor, respect and remembrance of the missing to a whole new level….

Joint this writer on a historical retrospective of “the tours” from cattle herders, to entertainers…to the vastly important crime victim advocates who do a most honorable and necessary task.

We’ve “saved the best for last” Read and enjoy through the end… And…. please do SUPPORT Monica’s Tour for the missing….going on now!   [**Note: Ladyjustice gives her opinion of the value of the CUE Center and their Annual Conference too!

 HISTORY: “The Tour” Cattle Herding

  • Long-distance cattle driving was traditional in Mexico, California and Texas, The Spaniards had established the ranching industry in the New World, and began driving herds northward from Mexico beginning in the 1540s.
  • As early as 1836, ranchers in Texas began to drive cattle along a “Beef Trail” to New Orleans. In the 1840s, cattle drives expanded northward into Missouri. In the early years of the Civil War Texans drove cattle into the Confederate states for the use of the Confederate Army.  In October, 1862 a Union naval patrol on the southern Mississippi River captured 1,500 head of Longhorns which had been destined for Confederate military posts in Louisiana.
  • The first large-scale effort to drive cattle from Texas to the nearest railhead for shipment to Chicago occurred in 1866, when many Texas ranchers banded together to drive their cattle to the closest point that railroad tracks reached, which at that time was Sedalia, Missouri .

The Chisholm Trail was the most important route for cattle drives leading north from the vicinity of Ft. Worth, Texas, across Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to the railhead at Abilene.

  • Cattle drives were a tricky balance between speed and the weight of the cattle. While cattle could be driven as far as 25 miles in a single day, they would lose so much weight that they would be hard to sell when they reached the end of the trail. On average, a herd could maintain a healthy weight moving about 15 miles per day. At that pace, it would take as long as two months to travel from a home ranch to a railhead.
  • To herd the cattle, a crew of at least 10 cowboys was needed, with three horses per cowboy. Cowboys worked in shifts to watch the cattle 24 hours a day, herding them in the proper direction in the daytime and watching them at night to prevent stampedes and deter theft.
  • The typical drive comprised 1,500–2,500 head of cattle. The “outfit “consisted of a boss, ten to fifteen hands, each of whom had a string of from five to ten horses; a horse wrangler who handled the horses and a cook who drove the chuck wagon. The wagon carried bedrolls and tents – a luxury. The men drove and grazed the cattle most of the day, herding them by relays at night.  Wages were about $ 40 a month, paid when the herds were sold. [Monica Caison takes no salary.]
  • Smaller cattle drives continued at least into the 1940s, as ranchers, prior to the development of the cattle truck and stockyards for transport to packing plants.

HISTORY: “The Tour” of Circus Life 

  • The circus came to the United States on April 3, 1793. John Bill Rickets, an English equestrian rider, used a ring and added acrobats, a rope walker and a clown to his equestrian act.
  • Initially, entrepreneurs put individual wild animals on display and charged admission. As time went on, exhibitors began adding more animals to their shows. By the early 1820s there were 30+ traveling menageries touring the eastern US. It wasn’t until the late 1830s that promoters figured out a way to combine the menagerie with the circus.
  • Eventually, menageries began using equestrians and clowns to present performances in circus rings, so the distinction between circus and menagerie gradually faded. They traveled at night in wagon trains over country roads often a foot deep in mud, covering only two or three miles an hour. These were the so-called mud shows. The longest distance they could cover was 10 or 15 miles. A hostler rode ahead of the wagons to find the shortest route and to “rail” every fork and crossroad by taking a rail from a farmer’s fence and placing it across the road that was not to be taken so that the wagons would avoid making a wrong turn.
  • An advance agent “ballyhooed” the show, arriving on horseback about a week ahead of it. On circus day, a clown would come into town a couple of hours before the circus enticing the townspeople with acrobatics, clown antics and jokes followed by the arrival of the wagons. The regular members of the troupe split the profits, with each expected to perform several jobs. Owners seldom paid salaries.
  • Circus “roustabouts” are people who “get sweaty and they’re proud to do so.” They dismantle the show and build it up again in the next town their jobs consisted of the physical act of carrying the “big top” and rigging to the empty lot for set-up, called, “the haul.”
  • Joshua Purdy Brown, a native of Somers, New York, put up the first circus tent in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1825. [The CUE Center is located in Wilmington, North Carolina.] The perfect innovation was the simple idea of a canvas tent that was easily portable, yet kept both rain and blazing sun off performers and spectators.
  • The 1850s ushered in the golden age of the circus. By 1852, about 30 circuses were touring the US. The decade of the 1850s represents golden age of the river, an era when river traveling in general and showboats in particular were at their height. Charles W. Rogers built the first circus showboat, called the Floating Palace, for $42,000.
  • Circuses could also choose which towns to play. Previously, a show was limited by how far its baggage stock horses could walk overnight. Many times this meant having to stop in towns that gave only limited patronage. As time evolved, trains carried circuses to towns hundreds of miles away, offering performers a good night’s sleep. Though P.T. Barnum took credit for it, it was William Cameron Coup’s [one of the co-founders of the Barnum & Bailey Circus]. idea to design a special circus train.

And Who Could Forget….Willie Nelson and Family Old Farts and Jackass Tour….On The Road Again… 

  • The Old Farts and Jackass tour began in Durham, NC on January 18th, 2013 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. On Saturday night, Willie Nelson and family performed in Bowling Green, KY at the Performing Arts Center before heading south to the Tabernacle in Atlanta.
  • After the annual bacon and egg luncheon, the Presidential Inaugural Swearing Ceremony took center stage. Willie stepped forward and placed his hand on the Bible.  The Joint Congressional Committee spoke of the logistics of presenting such a presidential event in an old church and security concerns plaguing the event from the beginning.
  • Fast forward to today… in October 2013, Willie is 80+ years old, [born April 29, 1933] and just keeps on rollin’…. LJ counted 30 tour dates from October 15th through the end of the year… Whew!

AND NOW… the 10th “On the Road to Remember Tour”

In the Beginning…

Road to Remember Tour,Monica Caison, CUE Center for Missing PersonsThe  CUE CENTER Annual Tour was created to generate new interest in cold cases of missing people across our nation. The inspiration came in 2004 from the case of North Carolina college student Leah Roberts, who went on a cross-country trip of self-exploration. Her wrecked and abandoned vehicle was found. However Leah is still missing to this day… Leah’s case went cold and interest faded until CUE volunteers began a grueling 14-day trip to retrace her route  informing  the media of her case and all those who were missing along  the path of the tour. In the years to follow, interest was strong to keep hope alive for other families across the country who requested help and who supported the concept and vision of the tour. (

Each year the tour covers a different route. This year  the following states are featured:  North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama offering the opportunity for all families with missing loved ones, or those who advocate for them, to participate.

2013 marks the TENTH YEAR for  the CUE Center for Missing Persons ANNUAL On the Road to Remember Tour spanning thousands of miles across the United States to bring awareness to missing persons and unsolved cases, many which have never been featured in media.Michael Austin Davis, On the Road to Remember Tour Honoree

Anyone can volunteer to sponsor a rally stop in their community held in various venues including public parks, churches, schools, law enforcement departments or any location in which media can partake. It is vital that the media ha the opportunity to provide information about the missing persons represented at each rally stop. Each stops lasts about an hour with Founder of the CUE Center, Monica Caison, other CUE CENTER representatives and family who assist in obtaining media coverage of their event,

Examples of creative past events: balloon/butterfly/lantern releases, candlelight vigils, prayer circles, safety events, guest speakers and any variation of events to draw public attention, and needed CLUES from the public!  RESULTS: In 2008, this event assisted in solving a cold case of twenty eight years!

It Takes A Village! Monica’s philosophy is that all investigations require the efforts of the public, volunteers and the media working in collaboration on cases involving missing children and adults, it is only when such collaborative efforts take place, that cold and inactive cases have the best chance to finally be resolved and bring resolution for families.

For daily updates on the current tour see posts from Monica at:

To Donate: PO Box 12714 Wilmington, NC 28405
(910) 343-1131 / (910) 232-1687
Contact CUE


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“On Golden Pond” (A Doddering Old SOB…and Other Characters)

Donna R. Gore, LadyJustice

Ladyjustice’s memory was peaked regarding a recent  story of an elderly man in Litchfield County, Connecticut with Alzheimer’s type dementia missing since July 2007 (nearly 5 years), who was reportedly near incapacitation and remains missing without any substantial clues.

Read the 1st of the series by Jack Coraggio and Andy Thibault in Country Times: CLICK HERE

It doesn’t make sense from a medical standpoint, a search and rescue standpoint, or from a common sense perspective.  However, Tom Drew continues to be among the missing and most likely dead.  Such scenarios sadden LJ’s heart… and remind her of the frailty of the elderly and the “disposable mentality” of the elderly held by some people.

The 1979 play, “On Golden Pond” was adapted to an award-winning 1981 movie starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn (as the married couple), with an estranged daughter played by Jane Fonda…and Doug McKeon as a begrudging young guest.

The movie holds many lessons and has a charm all its own.  The character of Norman Thayer is a crusty old man whose prime in life has passed him by.  He struggles with cognitive deficits such as memory problems and disorientation as well as failing health.  But, he desperately hangs on to his pleasures and failings in life.  Norman’s pleasures are few. They include his ever patient wife, Ethel…and fishing.  His failings include an “incommunicado status” with his daughter and inability to express his true feelings.

Norman’s daughter breezes in and out of her parent’s life.  She too is filled with resentment toward her father… as if her personal failings and inflexibility was Norman’s fault.  So…she thinks she has found happiness in a new husband (Dabney Coleman) whom she brings to their summer home hoping that they will embrace him… and babysit a newly acquired step-son.

 “Billy” is a cool 13-year-old who likes to “cruise chicks and suck face” back home. He feels abandoned by his father for dumping him with an old couple.  As the story progresses, Billy is both puzzled and yet begins to like Norman and learning to fish. Billy and Norman attempt to catch the “infamous Big Walter” (i.e. the fish that got away years ago…nearly caught, but not quite.)  Ladyjustice speculates that “Big Walter” may be a metaphor for Norman’s daughter.

Ethel Thayer is a woman who unconditionally loves her family… flaws and all! She is the consummate mediator.  One gets the impression that she has sacrificed much for Norman….and accepts “the facts of life” as they are.  Scenes between Hepburn and Fonda are often priceless.

This writer does not want to give away too much.  There are many touching, sad and delightful moments in this film. Henry Fonda flawlessly delivers funny, sometimes shocking dialogue while playing “an entitled elder” as no one else could.  This, in fact, was Henry Fonda’s last role.

Memorable Video Clips:;;

And… what can we say in parting about advancing age?  ‘Words to the wise…

“It is not the number of years we have behind us, but the number we have before us, that makes us careful and responsible and determined to find out the truth about everything.”   George Bernard Shaw



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Do You Know the Searcher???


 Monica Caison,Cue Center for Missing Persons

What do you get when you cross a blonde version of Wonder Woman and a modern day Rin Tin Tin?   Well… Monica Caison, of course!

She is one of a brood of 11 children and native of Florida.  As a rebellious teenager she had her brush with the law, but…that experience made her grow up ever faster… and in the interim, she personally knew  at least three families who had members “go missing” by the time she reached age 25!  Then, she had an epiphany, Why not create an agency specifically designed to locate missing persons and assist with the needs of their loved ones?   And that’s exactly what she did in 1994! She founded the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons, based in   Wilmington, North Carolina. Since that time, she has assisted over 9,000 families of the missing by providing absolutely free services (of which there are a boatload!).The organization is staffed by volunteers and FUNDED ENTIRELY BY DONATIONS! 

How Monica does what she does each and every day, remains an enigma… She works…and is on call 24/7; She takes calls and cases from all over the United States.  She takes no salary… and I don’t think her husband is a relative of the Bill Gates clan! Monica also offers youth mentoring and college internships.   It appears she seldom sleeps, probably doesn’t eat much and values her smoke breaks when she can fit them in….. Interviews have revealed a “diamond in the rough”…. with some salty language “to get the point across”.  However, when she speaks of the plight of specific victims, there is no one more compassionate or caring…


***Free Services Offered by the CUE Center

  • Search and Recovery, Victim Support, Investigative, Awareness Resources
  • Canvassing – foot, vehicle, neighborhood /door to door
  • Teams- K9, air, water (boat & divers), horseback, 4- wheelers, ATV, GPR, ground pounders, command IC, mapping control, current technology  instruments
  • Case goal/efforts with guidance for families of the missing.
  • Support from local and national sisterhood organizations
  • Act as a liaison for families, media, agencies and law enforcement
  • Financial aid/most cases
  • Community and public awareness programs for missing victims
  • Provide a variety of guest speakers and topics
  • Finger printing/ photo ID programs /DNA technology
  • Poster/ flyer distribution, to include internet distribution nationally
  • Bill board (resources)
  • Reward resources
  • Safety/prevention workshops
  • Organizing private and public meetings for case effort
  • Utilize all areas of case resources and identifying case needs
  • Provide spokesperson / advocate for missing person case
  • Campaign force effort in locating the missing
  • Counseling resources – group, individual, grief, trauma
  • Food, shelter, fuel provided for search teams and families of the missing
  • Full complete investigative casework of missing person
  • Support group and victim resources; homicide, abuse, rape and mental illness
  • Bulk mailings project for missing persons
  • Twenty four hour public TIP number to be provided for cases of the missing

From what Ladyjustice has heard and read, Monica is also a master organizer and her volunteers are creative fundraisers.  Just consider the endeavors designed to raise money for resources:

A few of the fundraising projects include:

1)      Greensmoke for Cue. An electronic cartridge cigarette that looks and feels like a real cigarette but is an alternative;


2)    Fueling Good Sponsored by Citgo

3)    Project Prayer for The Missing – Quarters For CUE  A youth Ministry program offering prayer to families of the missing, raising awareness and money during masses held in honor of the missing.

And last but not least, Monica offers a one of a kind National Annual Conference to impart knowledge, provide support and resources for families of the missing and service providers. This year’s 8th annual Conference information can be found at the following link:The 8th Annual National Missing Persons Conference 2012

CONFERENCETHEME 2012 “In Support of the Journey” Thursday, March 22-25, 2012

Who stands up for the missing, lost, abused, neglected, murdered, disposed of and otherwise forgotten individuals who need to be found and loved, whether alive or dead?  Answer: Monica Caison.  Please donate now:

As this writer closes out another blog chapter she can think of no better a musical refrain than Linda Ronstadt’s “Heart Like A Wheel” to remind us of Monica’s dedication and the love lost from all of those who have gone missing:

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“The Hot Potato” Case in Connecticut: Missing Billy Smolinski


Janice Smolinski’s quiet spoken and friendly demeanor defies the “tiger in her tank” that has sprung forth more times than she would like in the fight to locate her missing son, Billy.  Billy’s case and the effort to pass legislation bearing his name has taken up residence on the Peace4the Missing site as well as a customized website, Justice4Billy, since 2004.

This case is called the hot potato…not because they are “hot on the trail of finding Billy.”  It has this reputation in the morass of local, state and federal errors that have consumed this family’s life… but not weakened their resolve or determination in their quest to find answers!

Listen to the show, SHATTERED LIVES:

Billy Smolinski,Donna R. Gore, LadyJusticeIt appears the biggest obstacle is the fact that Billy was a Caucasian, fit male, aged 31, and 200 pounds  when he suddenly dropped off the radar.   Adult men like Billy don’t “go missing” so the local police said,   “They walk off. “ Not so, said Jan and her family.  It is at this point of departure of opinion that set forth one of the lengthier and most arduous tales in the annals of criminal justice history!

It is a virtual laundry list of events … Some events have everything to do with the case and other events are just pure evil meant to attack the victim, and Jan personally, to distract from the real focus- Billy!   This blog will attempt to list the highlights only of this 7.5 year saga, in hopes that you will be interested and get involved at some level… for this case and Billy’s legacy, with Jan’s assistance is really about helping all who go missing!

“The good part” is that Jan climbed the legislative and Congressional Mount Everest to achieve State of Connecticut HB 6113 pertaining to the manner in which State police handle missing adults.  HB 6113 is as a major step toward protecting missing and endangered adults. The bill requires police departments to accept all reports filed of all missing persons age 18 and older without delay and to input all collected information into appropriate databases in efforts to locate them.

In a bipartisan effort, with the assistance of Congressmen Christopher Murphy (D -CT) and Ted Poe (R- Texas),the Help Find the Missing Act, “Billy’s Law”  was initially introduced to empower families and loved ones of the missing to find justice by helping to secure funding for the only federal database for missing persons and unidentified remains that can be cross-searched, accessed and added to by the public – the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).  This database enables the loved ones of the missing to search for a match and add valuable information to the case profile that only they know once it has been approved by the law enforcement agency handling their case.

The legislation helps to streamline the reporting process for law enforcement and medical examiners by connecting two major federal missing persons and unidentified remains databases- the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the NamUs.  Connecting these databases makes them more comprehensive and more likely to lead to a match between a missing person and unidentified human remains.

“Billy’s Law” also creates incentive grants programs to coroners, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to help facilitate the reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains to the federal databases. Grants can also be used for training programs on how to correctly use the databases and best handle these cases, and the recipients of these grants must provide a dollar in matching funds for every two dollars in federal funds.

“Billy’s Law” builds upon Connecticut’s 2007 Law Enforcement and Missing Persons law as it also calls for the issuance of broad recommendations for standards and procedures for law enforcement to follow in dealing with missing persons and unidentified remains.

As it stands, it was about the money with “naysayer” former US  Congressman  Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, saying that 10 million to be shared among 17,000 police departments was “too expensive” such that it was lowered to 8 million.   And now, with a new Congress, the bill must be re-introduced as HR 1300 and SR 702.

Co-sponsors are needed in nearly every state (except Connecticut)   The link below provides templates, sample letters, data and information with which to arm yourself.  Don’t take no for an answer… Be persistent!

BILLY’S LAW: Everything You Need to Know and DO to HELP PASS BILLY’S LAW

Jan also suggests sending a personal letter to your US Federal Congressperson with a follow-up phone call to their judicial staff person…and perhaps a face to face meeting

The Numbers: 

160,000 people missing currently in the US inclusive of adults and children.  60,000 unidentified remains  are stagnating within medical examiners offices!   Matches are currently being made manually with NamUS, the only centralized data base and NCIC (The National Crime Information Center [Federally Regulated System] can “talk to each other” with “a million eyes monitoring” as reported by Jan.  Each state also has clearinghouses.  However, as in Connecticut, they frequently don’t connect and it becomes a jurisdictional and political fight as to whose case it is…

The Human Toll:

Jan has a daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who support her and her husband’s continuing efforts to find Billy… while she intellectually and emotionally knows that many others “in the land of the living” love her. But it is tough to divide your time and your heart to all things and all people who need it.  A strong faith in God prevails, a positive attitude with undying hope coursing  through her veins….

However, the grieving process never stops, nor does the fulfilling nature of helping other victims.  Pleasurable activities she once enjoyed, such as mall shopping conjured up immense guilt. So… she sat in the mall parking lot and stared at the entrance…. Until the Christmas holidays “gave her permission” one year!  It took Jan three months to enter that mall. She says it’s a roller coaster effect, “like Weebles”.  You may be more wobbly today as compared to yesterday and need to reach out to others.   It is NOT time to MOVE ON” when your child, whether a small child or your adult child is missing!  people working

Financial Considerations:

No one can anticipate the need when we first enter this journey… lost time from work, posters, billboards, media help, the cost of transportation, the need to re-mortgage your house to carry on….   The general public has no idea what it takes….

The Details:

Jan and Bill Smolinski,Donna R. Gore, LadyJusticeEvidence lost…. Local official’s not paying attention, wasting valuable time, incompetence,   lack of communication, incredible delays, attempts to sabotage efforts time and again when placing missing posters, Jan’s arrest, a relationship  that left Billy unprepared and vulnerable to forces he couldn’t anticipate, political pressures,  a ridiculous law suit by mean-spirited people,  lies, and more lies in a civil suit….. It’s all there, like some bad B movie.  The Waterbury Observer has done a good job reporting such events over time. .

Read it … not to wallow in the craziness… ‘Just to know what the Smolinski’s have endured!  AND… keep the focus on finding Billy!

As Jan said on “Shattered Lives,” it takes a village of people working together!

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Joe Helt Goes Missing “Quietly Into the Bad Night”

Joe’s life on Friday January 16, 1987 seemed to mirror the words of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, whose poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night is eerily similar to a warning Joe may or may not have had….  However, more about this analogy toward the end of the story….   Joe’s ordeal remains a mystery after 25 years. That Friday night was the culmination of activities by a group of young men in their teens with one exception. “The Three Stooges,” as we will call them, were Kelly Diaz, age 16, Wade Marks, 18 years and John LaForge, age 21, who lived in Ellenville, New York (population 4,135 -2010)

Ellenville is characterized as “a village nestled between two mountain ranges” – the Catskill and Shawangnuk ranges in southwestern New York, about 90 miles northwest of New York City and 90 miles southwest of Albany.  Demographically, there are slightly more females than males (53% versus 47%;) with predominantly White and Hispanic residents numbering nearly 85%. In 2009, median wages were estimated at $37,712 annually, an increase of $10,000 in a decade.  Internet searches did not reveal any particular outstanding industry.

However, a “big drawing card” to the area, is the Ice Caves in Sam’s Point Preserve, off of Craggsmoor Road, east of Ellenville.  The ice caves are housed in the depths of its crevasses and is supposedly the greatest open fault in the United States, with sweeping views of Sam’s Point, gaining an elevation of 150 feet for a total elevation of 2230 feet. It also contains lush flowers, dwarf pines, blueberry and huckleberry fields.  Is it any wonder that the Nature Conservancy guards its contents meticulously? But, can we say the same for wayward hikers and those not wanting to be discovered??

In the 1980’s, the “hotspot party place” was the former Mount Cathalia Ski Lodge, in Cragsmoor, five miles south of Ellenville. In its heyday, Mount Cathalia was a thriving ski lodge with an adjacent building containing a full bar and fire pit. The lodge was originally built in the late 1800’s, known as Mount Meenagha… a virtual 500 acre compound complete with cottages, a bowling alley, library and a golf course.

In the early 1980’s an accidental fire occurred, partially burning the structure and it was abandoned except for partygoers.  IT WAS AFTER A PARTY IN THIS PLACE THAT JOE SAID GOODBYE TO LIFE AS HE KNEW IT!  To young guys living in a “not so swinging town” an abandoned spot was perfect for the usual unsavory activities, particularly the old fire pit.  Did Joe “pick the wrong taxi ride home” and did he pay with his life?  Yes… but not in the manner described by the “Three Stooges.”

Before Ladyjustice addresses the “Mystery Points” in the case, one must ask a few questions and tell about Joe himself…   Why oh why would a 21 year old be hanging around with 16 and 18 year olds? In addition to the obvious reason of probable immaturity, was John LaForge a self-styled “king of the hill” within the Ellenville teen scene?  Was he a “drug kingpin,” as other residents have attested that the “Stoogies” were dealing drugs? This may be a likely scenario….

Who Was Joe -The Young Man? 

According to former classmate Gina Schuster, he was selfless, always concerned for others welfare more than his own.  He made it his duty to make others feel better. As the oldest boy and one of four children, he took over the “man of the house role” at some point, assisting his mother with whom he was very close.  His two older sisters are Christina and Tracy while his younger brother is John. His work ethic was strong; He possessed the entrepreneurial spirit, in that he worked a part time job at a local auction house known as the Napanoch Auction Barn.  In fact, Joe was being groomed to take over the business from his boss, Vic at his anticipated retirement in a couple of years.

Reportedly Joe was a talented artist displaying his talent with very detailed illustrations of record album covers done “free hand from memory”.  Joe also was passionate about rock and heavy metal music, ranging in interest from KISS, to ACDC, to Metallica and Twisted Sister.  His temperament was upbeat and he was a jokester in a playful way, always watching over others.

So… What REALLY Happened to Joe that Night?

The truth of the matter was that it was a typical January Friday night in Ellenville.  The locals went to the Mount Cathalia Ski Lodge to hang out and party.  Joe mingled with a lot of people. It was never reported that he was drunk or without his faculties. He had a family to supervise and a job to report to the next night.  Typically he might stay overnight at a friend’s home if the evening got away from him and he couldn’t catch a ride.  In fact, that’s what his mother expected…

He was to catch a ride with the Three Stooges… the wrong guys that night. The fabricated story goes that the car got stuck in a ditch…. That Joe was upset with their failed attempts and just walked off  alone into the night 5 + miles while it was snowing RATHER THAN stay with the group and walk to one of two guy’s homes which were just  over two miles away. What was really going on? How were they interacting?  What made Joe, the level-headed guy who always comforted others want to leave independently? (If in fact he did leave of his own free will)

Ten Mysteries”

  • Disputed time line…LaForge claimed in a Times Herald article on January 20th that Marks called him at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 17th to report that Joe was missing.  IN ACTUALITY, the first person to discover that Joe was missing was Vic, (Joe’s boss) when Joe did not report for work between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Joe’s mother learned for the first time  that Joe was missing when Vic called her sometime between  5 and 5:30pm….   (LJ- Were the Stooges trying to get their stories straight?);

  • Three Stooges are not suspects… Ellenville police and the New York State Police never considered the three guys as suspects and therefore have not pursued them for information then… or over the many years. To this day, the new Private Investigator, Robert Rahn, a former New York Police Lieutenant who has taken on the case, was forbidden to speak to Diaz, Marks and LaForge!  Furthermore, he has been denied access to old records concerning the case.  How’s that for collaborative effort??   What skeletons do they not want revealed?


  • The walking distance traveled by Joe in order to take refuge from the “car breakdown” and the bad weather does not make sense. Everyone who knew him steadfastly maintains that he would never have walked over five miles to return to Ellenville as it snowed, when two participants lived just over two miles away;


  •  Drug Deal Gone Bad? It was well known that the Three Stooges were into drug dealing.  Whether it occurred in the presence of Joe and a fight ensued is anyone’s guess.  Did Joe get caught up in a transaction and paid with his life?   Did he witness something and had to be silenced for good?  Was he beat up and “had to be stashed away?”


  • What Tow Truck? According to the Stooges account, a tow truck was called and the car was removed.  IN FACT, no record of an official tow was found by any local company. Although there was a record amount of snowfall in the days after the presumed murder, a search was conducted in the area where the car had supposedly gotten stuck.  No indications – no frozen ruts or moved earth were noted whatsoever. The official search was called off after six days, in part due to the two feet of snowfall;


  • Lack of adequate search for clues…. It was reported on Crimewire that a canvas of the area for completed. Were search dogs used? It was reported that a detailed grid search was never performed AND….. Why was the remaining structure known as Mount Cathalia ordered condemned and demolished on Friday January 23, 1987…just one week after the event WITHOUT SEARCHING FOR PHYSICAL EVIDENCE or FORENSIC INFORMATION?


  • Dirty politics?  It was learned that a father of one of “The Stooges” was/is a  judge.  Were the police officers involved then and still on the force in another capacity now complicit in a drug ring or cover-up orchestrated by the judge?


  • No illumination in the area where Joe was last seen…  How could someone determine what direction Joe may have walked, if the group split up at ten and twenty minute intervals as reported without a way to view and track movements? Even with snow flurries, footprints may have been covered over with accumulating snow;


  •  Posters torn down…Prior to a memorial vigil on the 24th anniversary of Joe’s disappearance, posters around town also went missing – were torn down – sometimes within an hour and up to 24 hours!  RED FLAG! RED FLAG!  Someone knows something… Someone is angry… Someone feels threatened that they will be discovered.  You can’t hide forever!


  • The Ice Caves, at Sam’s Point Preserve (LJ- Sam’s Point Road was the road travelled for” a joy ride” not far from the party at the ski lodge, according to “the Stooges.”)  The Ice Caves are the largest known ‘Open Faults” in the U.S. – … lots of crevasses and spaces to hide things… like remains, perhaps. Were these caves ever thoroughly searched with technology available today?  


  • The Latest News… According to Private Investigator Rahn, the most current news is that the New York State Cold Case Unit has agreed to begin investigating this case. Bob Rahn sincerely wants to build bridges with them in the sprit of collaborative effort.  We can only hope that they are more interested in solving this case at long last… rather than covering up past mistakes and corruption!


It’s funny how lives may parallel each other….  Getting back to poet Dylan Thomas who observed his father grow progressively weaker and frailer with age…  The speaker in the poem, “Do Not Go Gently into that Good Night” tries to convince his father to fight impending death. Ladyjustice wonders if Joe Helt even had a chance to fight the forces that caused his death. Was he too beaten and battered by these “friends” until he was too frail to fight? Was Joe a good man, a wild man trying to defend himself or a man meant for the grave?


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day?

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Dylan Thomas (1951)


It is politically correct to apply the saying “It takes a Village” to almost anything and everything worth doing these days…   In this case, it really does take a village… namely the Village of Ellenville and surrounding towns to step up for justice…. Step up for Joe Helt!

***If you have any information regarding this case, do the right thing ….follow your heart and conscience. All information can be reported anonymously and remains confidential   


1) Robert H. Rahn,  Director of Investigations      

 Management Resources Ltd of New York

Tel: 845-781-7233
Toll-Free: 800-490-2267
Fax: 845-738-9021                                                                                                                                         

2) Susan Murphy Milano or

Crime Wire Investigative Bureau




Resources:; Facebook Justice for Joe, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Murphmilanojournal,; Ellenville New York;;  Wikipedia 1)Sam’s Ice Caves Trail; 2 “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”;; Village of Ellenville Portal; E-mail and Verbal accounts from Gina Schuster, Robert Rahn and Susan Murphy Milano   



The Dogged Pursuit by Badge # 33 for Little Miss 1565

A recent “Time’s Up” blog jogged Ladyjustice’s memory regarding missing children and the events of the tragically famous Hartford (CT) Circus Fire of 1944 and “Little Miss 1565,” who became the symbol of the most heartfelt fire related disasters in decades. Much has been written and speculated concerning the facts of this case…and the identity of the blonde haired little girl in the white dress.

Ladyjustice has a very special reason for caring about this event more than others….. She cares because her mother was ready to go to the circus that day in July 1944 along with nearly 7,000 others in attendance.  Patricia _____, was 9 years old, just shy of her 10th birthday.  She was really looking forward to the circus and enjoying its many offerings with her friends.  She had permission to go and there was a plan in place.  A family friend was supposed to drive Patricia and her friends to the circus, as her own mother had to work. However, fate intervened…  Just as they were about to go, the driver who happened to be an obstetrician, learned that a patient’s baby was due and would not wait for any circus!

As LJ’s mother has related the story, that 9 year old was mad… and disappointed!  For how could she have known what would happen?  She could not, nor could anyone else on that scorching hot day.  Just the thought of it brings tears to this writer’s eyes when  she  thinks that Patricia could have been severely injured or killed….. and Ladyjustice, her first born, would never have been born!   The two  books referenced  include A Circus Fire, A True Story of an American Tragedy” by Stewart O’Nan and “A Matter of Degree:  The Hartford Circus Fire and the Mystery of Little Miss 1565 by Don Massey and (Lt. Fire Investigator) Rick Davey.  Each can be purchased at Amazon at:  Although each author has different facts and opinions, it is interesting to note that readers rate each book equally. 

Ladyjustice finds the dogged pursuit by investigators of yesteryear just as intriguing as  the other aspects of the tragedy.  Prior to talking about the investigators, here are a few facts concerning the fire:

It occurred on July 6th, 1944 and lasted 10 minutes;

The waterproofing method used was to apply paraffin wax dissolved in gasoline which caused the tent to collapse in minutes;

The exact number of those who died has been reported as 167 to 169.  However, given the transient nature of circus performers-“drifters” the total attendance was estimated from 6,789 to 7,000;

The fire was so hot that it had the effect of cremating bodies, thus leaving no evidence behind;

Edward Hickey, a political appointee with no investigative experience, ruled the fire to be attributed to “careless smoking.”  In contrast, Lieutenant Davey proved that “it is virtually impossible to start a grassfire  when the humidity is above 23.  Humidity levels that day were measured at 42;

At least two exits were blocked by chutes that allowed the lions and leopards to pass in and out of the arena. Some people died as exits were blocked or asphyxiated under layers of people.  Others leapt from bleachers or were trampled;

Arson was concluded as the real cause after Robert Segee, a roustabout with mental illness confessed in 1950 and then recanted;

The most controversial piece of history is the actual identity of Little Miss 1565. Stewart O’Nan believes that Eleanor Cook who was identified by her brother, was actually “body number 1503.” Although facial measurements and other identification markers lead to Davey’s conclusion about Little Miss 1565 being Eleanor, Stewart O’Nan disputes this claim based on different hair color, age, height and facial shape. O’Nan felt that “the most plausible explanation was that another family mistakenly identified Eleanor Cook as their own child with Eleanor being buried under the other child’s name.

Badge #33, Sergeants Barber and Lowe

Sargent Thomas Barber and Edward Lowe were the official police investigators who spent their days and nights photographing victims, taking fingerprints, footprints and obtaining dental records in order to identify victims. 

Sargent Barber, who outlived Lowe, made of ritual of putting flowers on Little Miss’s grave three times a year for 32 years until Barber passed away.  They also kept the photo of her in their wallets. 

Lieutenant Davey worked 10 to 12 hours on regular fire cases and was on the verge of “cracking” the big case of 1944 on his own time by 1990.   Early on, it all began when he gave a speech to a local high school group in 1981… and then he was hooked!  He became the expert on the case.  He was a perfectionist with a department conviction rate of 100%.

He thought it strange that a little girl who died of a stress fracture to her skull and one so pretty could not positively be identified in all these years. This case kept Davey awake at night…   He arrived to work two hours early each day to work in secret. His search took him to the local library, TV studios searching for old film footage and newspaper accounts.   He had migraine headaches and gulped aspirin like candy.

Davey worked feverously for 18 months by the end of 1983, with 30 theories to check out.  By 1984, he was ready to pack it in as the information was like Swiss cheese. Suddenly an archivist at Hartford Hospital suggested Davey check the Connecticut State Library for missing information and sure enough…. 20 new boxes were located! He settled on Eleanor Cook with some evidence pointing to her… and other evidence not. 

Davey photocopied 20,000 pages with  his own money at 25 cents each during his pursuit.  He learned of possible political reasons not to investigate a known arsonist…after $3.9 million in settlements had been paid out and six circus officials had already served time for involuntary manslaughter.

Writer Gary Smith’s account  at  http://gangry,com described Davey’s final actions on behalf of Little Miss 1565 in the following way:

“At midnight on the eve of Eleanor’s birthday, March 17, 1991, Davey went to her grave for the first time.  He laid a black stuffed kitten on it, just like the one he learned she once had.  He laid some flowers, and a card with a note.

Our only gift is the thing you once had-your name! How we all wish it could have been possible to correct a more terrible wrong and bring you back. You may join other loved ones and members of your family.  But you’ll never be forgotten.  I’ll always love you.

Badge #33”

If you are so sure, so confident, can it be so that Eleanor was the real Little Miss 1565? The dogged determination of three investigators in particular, wants to believe with all their hearts!

Written By;

Donna R. Gore, M.A.






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Hold the Pickle, Hold the Lettuce… Plain Murder on a Bun

“Oh dear, Oh dear and a bottle of beer, if I wasn’t married, I wouldn’t be here….” Ladyjustice learned this little ditty as a child… but oh how it takes on a new meaning now! 

It has been nearly a year in October since this author began her training at “ImaginePublicity University” with exposure to such fine writers…..  I dare say that what LJ knew about the intricacies of domestic violence or intimate partner homicide, you could put in several thimbles….  Now it is a MUCH DIFFERENT STORY.

As LJ was surfing the web, recovering from hand surgery nearly a year ago and happened upon the fiery red inferno of Susan Murphy Milano’s website… well, the rest is history as they say….  Ladyjustice thought she knew quite a bit about particular victim issues, but oh how she has learned from others! 

However, once introduced in the topic of intimate partner homicide by Susan Murphy Milano, LJ “fell hook, line and sinker” for this issue and the plight of all   missing persons after learning about the life path that she has chosen as a consequence of her horrendous childhood attributed to her perpetual abuser-murdering father.  To borrow a line from a Tom Cruise movie, looking back on it, “you had me from the word hello.”   Let me tell you, no matter what we have all experienced in life, it isn’t hard to be a cheerleader for someone who has overcome so much and at the same time accomplished so much! 

This blogger was used to “plain murder” as her personal life experience when her Dad was murdered.   In comparison to the plight of others, the crime itself was relatively uncomplicated, like ordering a hamburger with nothing on it…   There was much pain and grief, extenuating circumstances and unbelievable levels of incompetence and miscommunication at times. However, the solvability factor, as they say on Crimewire, was high. 

Although he was robbed, set up by a female accomplice, riddled with 5 to 6 bullets, there was no kidnapping, sexual assault, personal torture, extended period in which he was missing. There was no “special sauce, pickles, onion.” There was no arson, personal restraints, ransom, or intimate partner violence.    No lettuce cheese, ketchup or fries…

The expertise and gratitude for the opportunity to learn from Diane Fanning, Sandra Brown, Jillian Maas Backman, Anny Jacoby, Denny Griffin, Vitto Collucci,  Lynn Twyman, Barry Goldstein,  Monica Caison, Janice Smolinski, Dr. Laurie Roth….The list goes on and on…   And… how to express gratitude for the person who puts it all together so well, who puts up with Ladyjustice’s whims, endless questions and ideas at all times of the day and night- Delilah Jones!  Impossible to do it without her!

As I continue on with a second year in the company of such fine individuals who advocate for others, and continue to see the crime in epidemic proportions that the general public doesn’t see… as I continue to try to fight the battle in my own way on behalf of others….  As I see my dear friend, Dr. Bill Petit, Jr. tortured again beyond belief….  I am thankful for so many thinks and so many people!

 Thank you everyone who is a client of ImaginePublicity for what you have offered me! Thank you God for helping me pursue my aspirations! Thank you for small blessings such as “plain hamburger homicide”.

Here’s to another great year!




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Treasure or Trash? No… A Human Being



Ladyjustice is often fascinated by the unique finds on shows such as PBS’ Antique Roadshow and the like. There is something special when an unusual item is closely linked to history. If only such respect was paid to persons who go missing and ultimately murdered as they do to their precious potential antiques!

It occurred to LJ while listening to the case of Danielle Hill Alvarado on a radio episode of Crimewire recently, that there have been far too many cases in which a person died and was literally discarded as garbage- that tragic ultimate resting place was a dumpster and/or landfill. This blogger is compelled to “shine a light” on such cases, in hopes that in some small way, others may have answers to those currently unsolved cases.  These sociopaths think nothing of others… They are skilled at “playing the game of life” without really participating. Their true talents lie in masquerade.

The Case of Danielle Hill Alvarado:

Danielle, age 21, came from a small town (15 miles south of the Texas/Oklahoma border).  She lived a small town life and was married to Jonathan Alvarado with a 5 year old daughter, Nicki.  Danielle went missing on January 24, 2010. It appears this man was an abuser from the get go and had a “history behind closed doors.” (i.e. Danielle’s statements like “It will be far worse punishment if I disobey/ don’t do X.”)  In addition, Jonathan had a history of drug abuse was a serial intimate partner abuser and was arrested for aggravated assault two months prior to Danielle’s disappearance. As told on, Belinda’s mother is currently the guardian for her granddaughter. Belinda learned from her son-in-law’s employer -property owner that Danielle was choked to death, dumped and ultimately put in a city landfill bordering the two states!

Power and control was the status quo with Jonathan.  What harm would come to the relationship for Danielle to attend church and a baby shower with family members?  Absolutely none…  However, this is the “big event” that sent Jonathan over the edge?  Danielle’s family reportedly pleaded with her not to return home after the shower.  But, as they so often do, Danielle may have had a false sense of: She’d rather tolerate a “lesser beating for disobedience rather than a severe beating later…” Such a sad story…

The rest of the story to date is that Jonathan’s “employer-protector” seems to have divulged the vile truth to Belinda, like “dropping a bomb” and thinking nothing of it as he was her handyman and “such a nice guy!”  As Susan Murphy Milano so aptly pointed out, this woman was aiding and abetting a criminal.  Where is her conscience? Where is her sense of right and wrong?  What circumstances would ever justify a man disposing of a woman like a Kleenex tissue?  ‘Disobedience over going to church and a baby shower?  This was her husband…not a military officer.

Jonathan also made 22 cell phone calls during the baby shower and then nothing. Jonathan’s mother lied about Danielle’s whereabouts.  Immediately after her disappearance, Jonathan and his father used borrowed funds and left for Florida although there was no reason for their destination.  Police and parole officers were less than zealous about Jonathan’s unlawful exit.  Danielle was branded as a “street person”, based on the behaviors of Jonathan alone, and the police did not speak to Belinda or investigate in any meaningful way.

Good riddance to bad rubbish …wherever you are Jonathan Alvarado! Let’s bring Danielle home.

 A YouTube tribute video can be viewed at:  For further details on this story, please go to the Crimewire link at:


The Mysterious Case of John Wheeler:

According to CNN News sources and Daniel Bates, a British reporter for, the bizarre case of Washington government official, John Wheeler was shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions prior to his untimely death on December 31, 2010.

This 66 year old man, resident of Wilmington, Delaware, served under three Presidential Administrations including Reagan and George W. Bush.  Wheeler is credited with being the impetus behind the approval and funding for the Vietnam War Memorial. At 3:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, a garbage truck released his body from a truck at the Cherry Island landfill in Delaware. Prior to the discovery of his body, the facts as reported are:

  • Forty-eight hours before his body was located, John Wheeler was wandering around a parking lot looking for a car and appearing disoriented, coatless and with one shoe in the freezing weather adjacent to the New Castle County Courthouse;
  • The parking lot attendant noted that he was disoriented. When asked about his welfare, but she failed to report his unusual behavior in a timely manner;
  • The next morning Wheeler was observed walking in downtown Wilmington;
  • No evidence was located during searches of his home in Wilmington and Manhattan apartment.  Although the floor boards were removed, it “wasn’t considered it a crime scene;”
  • Background checks revealed that Wheeler’s current wife had a wealthy sister-socialite, Emily Klyce Fisher who was stabbed to death in her home in 1995.  It is questionable whether this murder was ever solved;
  • The most promising lead as of January 2011, was that John Wheeler and a neighbor were having an ongoing argument concerning the neighbor building a house on an adjacent property.  Evidently, a legal battle ensued as the addition would have restricted Wheeler’s view and Wheeler’s claim that the house was “too big for the area.”  In fact, police confirmed that a smoke bomb was placed under the neighbor’s house a week before John’s murder;
  • Police refused to comment on the manner of death but later reports indicated it was blunt force trauma;
  • Another possible motive was speculated by a blogger concerning Wheeler’s views on biological warfare.  Sources at the Washington Post revealed that Wheeler wrote a manual on the effectiveness [LJ- Or lack of effectiveness] of biological and chemical weapons.  Supposedly, Wheeler was against the use of such warfare. [LJ- Could he have been in the midst of blowing the whistle re pesticides?  Were there classified documents in his briefcase that others wanted?]
  • Still another speculative theory is that Wheeler had a form of dementia [LJ- Sudden onset disorientation would be more representative of a head injury, brain tumors, hematoma (clotted blood due to a break in a blood vessel, encephalopathy(lesions in the brain sometimes caused by prolonged alcohol abuse) and not a dementia which is typically a more gradual onset of symptoms;


Status of the Wheeler Case as of September 2011:

New information is limited…  However more is known about the


  • Two days prior to his murder, Newark police learned that Wheeler walked into a pharmacy in which he was a customer and “asked for a ride,” The pharmacist offered to call him a cab.  Wheeler declined the offer;
  • The parking lot attendant was assured by Wheeler that “I’m not drunk.”  “I’m not drunk” despite his disorientation and unkempt look, lack of a coat in 30 degree weather;
  • Wheeler told Imen Goldsborough, the attendant that his briefcase had been stolen;
  • Wheeler was seen the next day on December 30th in another office building in downtown Wilmington via security cameras as late as 8:30 p.m.;
  • During the afternoon between 2:30 and 3;30 p.m. John came in contact with several people who offered to help, but he declined;
  • Wheeler was reported to be wearing similar clothes as the previous day as well as a sweatshirt;
  • Police and the FBI are searching for the crime scene and the missing briefcase which could provide a link to the murder;
  • The dispute with the neighbor is only “one facet of the investigation.” Wheeler’s attorney said “it was not contentious, but within normal bounds;
  • Wheeler’s biographical history includes being the first Chairman of “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” 

Was this an organized crime killing?  Denny Griffin, we need your expertise!


The Tragic Case of Lori Hacking:

Many readers may be familiar with this shocking case, as it appears to have occurred around the same time as the Chandra Levy, the Washington D.C. aide slain while jogging…  

As per an article by Rebecca Leung who interviewed Maureen Maher, a CBS,   48 Hours Correspondent in February, 2009. Mark Hacking was a “goofy looking dude,” who got lucky and attracted a cute woman…  Lori Hacking referred to Mark as “my big old teddy bear.”  ‘Trouble is… his actions were those of a pathological liar who weaved a pack of lies more intricate and lengthy than anyone could have imagined!

[LJ- I’ll bet Sandra L. Brown of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education would have a thing or two to say about this guy…]

Lori and Mark lived in Salt Lake City Utah and had plans to move to North Carolina where Mark intended to begin medical school.  It appears that while Mark “charmed his way entertaining children at a psychiatric hospital…and bamboozled his wife and in-laws for five years, he was no closer to enrolling in medical school than a kindergartener! His elaborate ruse included “pretending to be psychotic-walking around naked, but with shoes on.”  He also pretended to take a trip to Manhattan to interview at Columbia University-ultimately staying with a cousin.  In fact, he never graduated college.  He stopped attending classes after three years.

Mark’s deceptions were revealed when his mother called the Hacking’s answering machine, asking why he wasn’t on the enrollment list at the North Carolina medical school.  (Mom being Mom, had attempted to pay his tuition.)

Lori learned the news, confronted “the teddy bear,” they argued, he took off to a hotel.  The next day… so the story goes, Lori told friends she and Mark “reconciled things and made up.”  (At this point, Lori was five weeks pregnant with their first child.)  Hacking went through the motions (Similar to Scott Peterson) reporting his wife missing and lying about the circumstances.  Hacking claimed Lori went jogging and never returned.  Next, he made his public thank yous for search efforts and actually went mattress shopping when he was supposed to be searching.  Mark allegedly confessed that he killed Lori while she slept in bed and then… “put her in the trash” where her body (and soiled mattress) was found under more than 2,000 tons of garbage.

Douglas Hacking, Mark’s father stated that Mark confessed he felt pressure to achieve, as his brothers were high achievers… and when he “couldn’t make the grade” and knew he would disappoint his family, he began lying and subsequently eliminated his wife and child.

The Ultimate Irony:  Paul Soares, Lori’s brother, related that Lori would have continued to love Mark anyway as long as he was trying his best.

[LJ-He tried his best at the wrong thing, the most dastardly thing on earth.  Mark Hacking put his wife and unborn child in the earth.  He played God when no one has such a right!]


Little Somer Thompson:

Nearly two years ago, on or about October 22, 2009, Somer Thompson from Orange Park Florida went missing on her way home from school.  She was seven years old and a twin who assumed it was safe to walk home from school. Sheriff Rick Bessler reported that he had to report the tragic news that her body was discovered in a landfill.  This was a first time crime for the small town of Orange Park.

According to a Camembert County publication as of October 22, 2009, police, “rounded up known sex offenders and garbage pickers,” but initially had no prime suspect.  Investigators were trying to determine the time of death before or after the disposal of her body. 

Update as of March 26, 2010: Twenty four year old John Harrell was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Somer Thompson after long delays in the processing of forensic computer analysis with a “no rush status” by Clay County Florida investigators, which finally resulted in 55 counts of child pornography. As told by Dr. Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and founder of, Harrell maintained a “secret stockpile” of child porn labeled, “Don’t lose music.” This stash was discovered by his former roommates.  Evidently Harrell had been ousted from his apartment after they suspected that he had stolen an I-Pod. [LJ thinks Harrell wasn’t the smartest of criminals as he left behind his computer and many incriminating CDs.  No doubt he was thrown out with little time to prepare.  Luckily, the 20 something roommates had a collective conscience and turned over the evidence to police two months prior to Somer’s murder.]

The Likelihood of the Crime: Pattern of Conduct & Jarred Harrell’s Culpability:

Dr. Van Zandt provides the likely scenario-factors that contributed to young Somer’s death.

  • Somer wasn’t merely snatched away from her group of friends.  She argued with her friend, ran ahead of the group and was kidnapped after her separation;
  • Previous history of child pornography viewing as evidenced by his computer files;
  • Apprehension in Meridian Mississippi and arrest for child molestation and child pornography;
  • History of suspected theft;
  • Harrell’s former residence on Gano Avenue was located near a school and near Somer Thompson’s Orange Park home. [LJ- Where were the police and Federal officials requiring Harrell to register as a sex offender?  Nowhere… because the evidence wasn’t processed soon enough, nor did an arrest occur until November prior to Somer’s murder in order to save her life! Timing and opportunity is everything -especially concerning sexual predators and murderers!]
  • As Harrell lived en route to an elementary school, he had access to groups of children and the opportunity to observe them daily.  He also no doubt observed them in the neighborhood playing.
  • Harrell may have seized the moment as Somer ran ahead from the group and easily overpowered her without being seen;
  • Harrell was in the construction trade, assisted in building a restaurant and offered to be a cook. [LJ- This makes him a “hanger-on” in my opinion, an opportunist who “changes with the wind.”]
  • Ladyjustice speculates that as a cook, Harrell would have easy access to a commercial dumpster, whose dumpsite would have been the Georgia landfill reported to be 60 miles from where Somer was kidnapped;

Somer’s mother, Diena Thompson reported on March 29, 2010, that Jarred Harrell is…“A monster. That’s all this person is,” at “Somer Jam,” a fundraising concert she organized in Jacksonville to benefit the Somer Thompson Foundation. “I’d like to take this opportunity to say, ‘Jarred Harrell, we got you, and you ain’t gettin away.”

He is now in prison facing his 50 sexual abuse charges, child pornography and creation charges, and now kidnapping, assault of a minor and first degree murder in the death of Somer Thompson.

Please view the moving YouTube video of Diena’s comments: 



The Case of Marta Jimenez:

Marta was a 44 year old hard working convenience store clerk in East Montgomery County, Conroe Texas. 

As of April 20, 2011 her husband, Luis Hernandez Jimenez argued with his wife during the previous weekend.  Accounts from and reported that Luis worked for the local landfill near Cleveland for the past for years.  [LJ- ‘How convenient!].  Marta’s 18 year old daughter reported her missing the day after she did not return home from work.

Police found “irrefutable evidence” that Marta was killed.  Eight Texas Equusearch cadaver dogs were used in addition to a very organized and methodical trash distribution and grid search system.   Police were given false information that Marta had gone to Mexico with a friend.  Luis Jimenez was charged with tampering with evidence and submitting false statements and was being held in the Montgomery County jail pending further charges. 

In the end, can we say that John Wheeler and Marta Jimenez or Lori Hacking, Danielle Alverado and little Somer Thompson had anything in common in life?

It doesn’t appear so…  They all lived separate and distinct lives. However, it is in death and their manner of death that they share much in common.  They were people, not trash!  I’ll bet they are best friends in heaven now.  Let us never forget them!

Respectfully told,




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