The Story of a Missing Person Known as Sage 

 

When the straight world collides with gender identity issues it becomes the land of unintended consequences, confusion, misunderstandings and focusing on the wrong things like bathrooms. Please! It is fodder for the sensational media, but in the end it only hurts a community that has already suffered much oppression.

Combine the forces of human nature with the epidemic of missing persons and it can create the perfect storm. The Cue Center for Missing Persons, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, rated one of the top 100 non-profits in the nation as an all volunteer operation, has served thousands (more than 9,000) families of missing persons in its 22 year history.

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Profile: Synopsis from the Cue Center for Missing Persons:

Dashad, Laquinn “Sage” Smith identifies as male or female depending upon the situation. Dashad is a male transgendered person who has not had surgery.   She disappeared on November 20, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in Charlottesville, VA. She was last seen in the 500 block of West Street to meet someone she met on line by the name of Eric McFadden.

Police have not been able to locate Mr. McFadden and he has not been seen since that time.  Lolita Smith, “Ms. Cookie,” is Dashad’s grandmother and has served as her primary advocate and family support.

Dashad was dressed in house clothes- dark grey sweatpants, a jacket and a black scarf and grey boots. She was to meet Eric near the Amtrak station.   Law enforcement did a search of a local landfill with no results.  Police have communicated extensively over the years  with her grandmother, “Miss Cookie,” since the disappearance.

Dashad had just signed a new lease on her very first apartment, and was extremely happy, with no known reason to go missing.  Typically, she was in constant contact with her grandmother previously.

November 20, 2015 marked the three year anniversary with a special event in her honor.  There is no particular theory as to the whereabouts or circumstances of Dashad’s disappearance.

Vital Information: 

Missing Since: 11/20/12
Missing From: Charlottesville Virginia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age at Disappearance: 19 years
Black Male
Height: 5’11
Weight: 130 pounds
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black (Long)
Clothing: Black jacket, dark grey sweatpants, black scarf, and grey boots.
Full name: Dashad Laquinn Smith
Nickname: Sage

If you have any information, that you feel may be related in any way, please contact the following entities.

Investigative Agency
Charlottesville Police
434-970-3970
or
Crime stoppers
434-977-4000

If you have any information on this case please contact CUE Center For Missing Persons   at (910) 343-1131 or the 24 hour tip line (910) 232-1687.

Chasing Rainbows – The Missing Who are Elderly- Part II

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If we only knew the resources needed to care for our elderly, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, we’d be shocked. It is on the increase – 71% in the past decade!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops this disease;
  • Family caregivers spend approximately $5,000 per year caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s;
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death , and one without prevention or a cure or a mechanism to slow its growth;
  • Caregivers have very high-stress levels, and provided about $15.1 billion in uncompensated care from those surveyed in 2015;
  • Comparison of  Statistics my two home states –
  • Connecticut – Those receiving Medicaid- Title 19 funding, $ 883 million was spent on the cost of care for this disease to date in 2016, with it being the 6th leading cause of death;
  • South Carolina – Those receiving Medicaid- Title 19 funding, $ 561 million was spent on the cost of care for this disease to date in 2016.  South Carolina is the 8th highest state in the U.S. re prevalence of Alzheimer’s  with an 86% increase since year 2000!

Numbers don’t lie, no matter what the economic state of our nation. “The rich get richer and the poor get children …and Alzheimer’s”, to paraphrase the old saying.  Chronic unemployment, poverty, lack of access to nutritious food, lack of availability of medical care, increased crime and stress on communities, all contribute to  people’s minds and bodies wasting.  What can be done? I do not have the answers.

However, I know that with dedication, perseverance, and innovative investigation,  Cue Center for Missing Persons  is ready to assist in locating our elders, wherever they may be.   A mandatory part of the equation is always the need for a collective consciousness for the community to do the right thing, stepping forward with any information that may contribute to a successful recovery of a missing person.

Here are four additional examples, to my Part I blog.  Knowing that many of the people in the registry have been missing for several years, gone missing as a young or  middle-aged person, we can only speculate that  in 2016, there are considerably higher  numbers of the people now classified as elderly had they disappeared in the 1980 and 199os.

 Examples of the Missing Elderly from the Cue Center Registry

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1)Brevard, North Carolina – Edna Glaze, age 76 went missing in March 1996 after walking or being dropped off at a hardware store followed by a music store. Edna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/missing-persons/missing-north-carolina/edna-glaze-2/

 


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2) Chippewa County, Michigan -Joseph Clewley, age 73, went missing in July 2008 south of Paradise, Michigan on the North County Pathway. He was an avid hiker with a cabin, with significant medical conditions of a physical nature. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/missing-persons/missing-other-states/joseph-clewley-2/

 


CUE Texas Shirley-Hunt-jpg3) Henderson, Texas –Shirley Hunt, age 72, went missing in June 2007. Shirley was last seen walking from her residence in Henderson about 3 p.m.  Shirley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/missing-persons/missing-other-states/texasshirley-hunt-148×150/


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4) Pleasanton, Kansas- Richard Clark, age 67, went missing in October 2005. Richard was a former truck driver and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was last seen in his community at a local grocery store and /or truck stop.  http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/missing-persons/missing-other-states/texasshirley-hunt-148×150/

 


Please assist us by reading and circulating this information. You may never know if it triggers a memory or piece of information to assist in their recovery. The elderly are precious citizens. 

Listen to this recent Shattered Lives podcast with Kimberly Kelly of Project Far From Home to get a better understanding about searching for the elderly with dementia and Alzheimers.

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References – http://www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp

http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/

Relentless Killers in Connecticut History Two Decades Apart 

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Two cases in Connecticut history changed the lives and judicial modus operandi in Connecticut for the following decades – 1950s by “Mad Dog”, Joseph Taborsky and the 1970s in the New Britain-based Donna Lee Bakery murders.  The former killer of six murders, countless robberies changed the culture of drinking alcohol in Connecticut by changing the opening and closing hours of our “package” liquor stores for decades as a preventative.  The latter, was a senseless mass murder crime of opportunity, targeting a bakery because an adjacent package store was closed – It was a cruel fate.  For those of us who literally grew up with these crimes in our past, can we now say that the CT judicial system is more sophisticated? Do we now have better tools to deal with such criminals? None of these criminal characters were Rhode Scholars.  The series of crimes were sort of “seat of the pants” and yet because of a variety of circumstances, decades apart, even execution was delayed or avoided altogether with the passage of time.  This blog is meant to introduce you to just some of the historical facts, leaving you to delve further and say, yet again …if only for the victims.

Facts- Joseph Taborski and Company, Serial Killers (not to mention others, shot, beaten pistol whipped)

Joseph Taborsky

Joseph Taborsky

  • Taborsky built his resume of crime beginning in the 1950’s with his brother Albert, and Arthur “Meatball” Columbe, hitting a number of  liquor stores, gas stations, and other small businesses, racking up his first murder of liquor store owner Louis Wolfson who survived three days after giving a good description of the criminals;
  • A mother’s love does not extend to murder…. What happened here?
  • Fate interrupted an execution, as his brother was the only living eyewitness….but something happened for Mad Dog to avoid the inevitable; What was it?
  • Taborsky’s comment upon release, “I’m not even going to get a parking ticket” (this time) could not have been farther from the truth…the killings and robberies continued….  What happened to cause this set of events?
  • Not technology, but a shoe size helped focus yet another murder;
  • Compassion for a three-year-old girl by an accomplice and testimony against Taborsky helped seal his fate at the executioner’s chair (known as old Sparky) yet again;
  • Did Taborsky use his right to appeal in 1960 and what was the significance of “the fly” comment?
  • Joseph Taborski is the only prisoner sent to death row in Connecticut – twice for different crimes!

  Facts – The Donna Lee Bakery Murders –

Victims – The bakery owner found face down in the refrigerator room; another victim stopping to buy a loaf of rye bread; another victim picking up a date, while stopping at the bakery to ask for directions, a couple dropping by after church, a new sales clerk showed her husband a newly decorated cake she made when her husband stopped in before a Moose Lodge meeting. And then it happened –

donna lee bakery murders

(Courant file photo)

 

  • On October 19, 1974, it was a real life Halloween scene –  A bloodbath with six bodies in the back of a bakery with 19-year-old Donna Lee Salerni, the “namesake” of her father’s bakery learning via the radio that her father was dead;
  • The perps, Ronald “Tiny” Piskorski and Gary Schrager were mean drunks and drug users looking for an opportunity;
  • Waiting for the owner and the money increased the death toll, and there was an ultimate irony- the owner, John Salerni had $1,350 in his pants pocket when found dead;
  • A relative by marriage, who was one of the victims …and an off-handed comment, turned the tide in this instance.  What contributed to catching these killers?
  • Key evidence and a police diver’s discovery. What was the evidence?
  • No death penalty but 150 years to life will do….
  • The outcome of a parole hearing in 1997… “I’d like you to know I’m not the same man I was and the guilt and shame that I feel are sincere,” said Schrager.  What were the words of the parole Chairman Michael Mullen?
  • (See reference articles below and Google more info for more on these crimes!)

Conclusion –As heinous and unsophisticated as these crimes were, the crimes that rise to this level in more recent times, in my opinion, were the slayings and numerous other associated crimes upon Jennifer Hawke-Petit, her two daughters Hailey, and Michaela and the attempted murder of Dr. William Petit, Jr.  in July 2007.

In his lack of wisdom, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy encouraged the CT General Assembly to prospectively repeal the death penalty in 2012. The State Supreme Court also declined to reverse the repeal of the death penalty for future crimes as of 2015.  This means that 11 men on Connecticut’s death row will forever be “nurtured behind bars” with taxpayer money forever.

As of July 2015, liquor stores had the option of staying open an hour later as a result of a state law that went into effect… The former 9 p.m. closing time is now extended to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Stores are not mandated to remain open the extra hour. Sunday sales will still stop at 5 p.m.

Good Riddance Mr. Mad Dog and the Donna Lee Bakery Murderers!  So, far liquor has not been the windfall the Governor predicted…nor has any other idea!

References: http://swordandscale.com/the-killing-spree-of-mad-dog-taborsky/;

http://www.courant.com/community/new-britain/hc-250-donna-lee-bakery-murders-20140401-story.html

http://murderpedia.org/male.T/t/taborsky-joseph.htm;

http://ctmirror.org/2016/05/26/developing-court-let-stands-repeal-of-connecticut-death-penalty/

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/12/nyregion/man-guilty-in-1974-killings-is-barred-from-seeking-parole.html

http://connecticut.news12.com/news/ct-liquor-store-hours-extended-in-new-law-1.10598545

 

Carnage and Lack of Remorse: Elderly Drivers – (The Case of George Weller) 

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Having worked with elderly clients for years, I know the struggle families face when they come to the “crossroads of life” in many arenas. There are so many things that can go wrong to cramp your style when it comes to independence. However, when it begins to impact others such as driving, we have to balance this privilege with public safety.

Do we help someone maintain their dignity and independence at the risk of their life and the lives of others? I think not. All of us will have to give up this rite of passage at some point. The question becomes, where do we draw the line? Is it a score on a driver’s re-training test? It is so many interactions, close calls or lapses in judgement or concentration? There is no uniformity nationally. Each state has its own criteria.

The 2003 case of 86 year of George Weller from Santa Monica, California may seem obvious on the face of it. When I looked closer, I was appalled at the true facts from a variety of sources.  This case illustrates the perfect storm – a disaster of mass proportion that NEVER should have occurred. It will live in infamy for the 80+ families experiencing death or serious injury as well as the entire community.

Witness Accounts-

  • Officers interviewed more than 100 witnesses, who gave conflicting reports regarding the driver’s demeanor at the time of the incident.
  • After it was over, witnesses said he yelled at pedestrians, “You saw me coming. Why didn’t you get out of my way?”
  • “Sixty miles per hour and it wasn’t slowing down. It was flying. And then people down, dead and everything,” said David Lang, manager of a shoe store along the market route.
  • One witness said: “It was like a Sherman tank barreling through, hitting everything, and just going right over people.
  • “He was not only speeding, he was accelerating.”
  • “He looked very, very confused,” Crisman said. “I think he was just mentally out of touch. He seemed very confused when he stepped out of the car. He definitely shouldn’t have been behind the wheel.
  • “I heard a car just hit, bang, bang, bang,” said Mojgan Pour, 38. “I heard people screaming. By the time I looked, I never even saw the car. I tried to help a man and he died while I was helping him.
  • Witnesses testified that he stared straight ahead with both hands on the steering wheel while bodies flew over the hood of his car.
  • Bodies were sprawled all over in the strawberries.

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Facts of the Case:

  • On July 16, 2003, at 1:47 p.m. this 86-year-old drove his 1992 Buick LeSabre (weighing 3,340 lbs.) at moderate to high-speed for at least 3 blocks into crowds of people congregating at the popular Santa Monica Farmer’s Market at the Third Street Promenade. This market is the largest and oldest  organic market held every Wednesday and Saturday on  Arizona Avenue between 2nd and 4th Street;
  • The Market was established in July 1981 with 75 farmers and thousands of pedestrians visiting bi-weekly. Arizona Avenue ends at the ocean and is blocked off during market days.
  • Weller intended to mail a letter, drove westbound down Arizona Avenue , initially striking a 2003 Mercedes-Benz stopped at a cross walk.
  • He then accelerated around a road closure sign, through wooden saw Horses and into the crowd ~ 1,000 feet going 40 to 60 mph in just 10 seconds;
  • Significant was the fact that no brake lights were noted by witnesses.  Weller didn’t move, effectively steering his car down the middle of the street into people versus trying to avoid hitting pedestrian versus steering into saw horses and fruits –vegetables, this avoiding self-injury.
  • Weller’s car finally came to a stop after hitting a ditch when a body became entangled underneath his car and others flying in the air, landing on the hood;
  • In 2000, he passed a written test with a fairly high score and there the requirements stopped for license renewal. He had heart disease, but no report stated he had any significant side effect from his medication, nor was any alcohol found.
  • In the immediate aftermath in which George Weller plowed his big car into the crowd, 9 people were killed and 54 hurt which increased to 10 dead and over 70 injured.
  • On July 24, 2003, it was reported that state officials revoked Weller’s driver’s license;

Court Proceedings- Main Issues for the Jury-

Did Weller have control of the car during the 10-20 seconds; The prosecution said yes, he had plenty of time to “self-correct”. The defense claimed “pedal error”- confusing the brake for the accelerator

What was the definition of Felony Gross Negligence- “More than ordinary carelessness, inattention or mistake in judgement.”

  • On January 6, 2004, Weller pleaded not guilty to the charges before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paula Adele Mabrey and was released on his own recognizance.
  • On January 14, 2004, victims and relatives filed suit against the City of Santa Monica and Bayside District Corp., organizers of the Santa Monica Farmers’ market, alleging that the crash could have been prevented by the installation of metal barriers. Attorney Geoff Wells, representing victims- relatives, stated that the defendants failed to take any reasonable steps to provide protection for the patrons at the farmer’s market.” In 2008, the City of Santa Monica had thus far paid out $21 million to settle dozens of civil lawsuits stemming from the case.
  • Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson said he agreed completely with the jury and called Weller’s actions callous and showing “an enormous indifference to human life.”
    George Russell Weller was convicted Oct. 20 of 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence
  • The judge noted that Weller had enough control of his vehicle to avoid cars and trucks within the farmers market.
    “Mr. Weller chose to steer into the people, plowing into the crowd and literally launching bodies into the air as his car sped 2½ blocks,” the judge said.  He also called Weller’s apologies hollow.
  • As Weller was too ill with heart disease, confined to bed and did not attend the proceeding the Judge said he wanted to be practical and save the taxpayers money, knowing that prison would kill Mr. Weller. 
  • Weller, almost 90 years old, was placed on five years’ felony probation and ordered  to pay $90,000-100,000 in penalties, including fines and restitution to two families with others still in process.

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Parting thoughts-

Below is an excerpt of his police interview. As a former food broker, it is incredulous to me that he appeared more concerned that the people he killed and injured did not get the value for their purchases versus the loss of life.  What??  And he didn’t just contribute to it, he caused it! 

George Weller’s words

“But, God almighty, those poor people. Poor, poor, tragic people. I had, I have the feeling that they were just down there for the value of the thing in the first place because the prices were good. And what a tragic ending to their outing, and I contributed to it, which is just almost more than I can figure out.”

On September 26, 2006 the jurors heard Weller describe the last time he renewed his California driving license. He told police that he took a written test but wasn’t required to show that he could drive safely.

“I passed the written test, high enough to where they didn’t ask me to take a drive, particularly at my age,” “I lucked out,” Weller said on the tape.”

On December 9, 2010, George Russell Weller died only 2 days after his 94th birthday.

The number of Americans over the age of 70 is set to explode in coming years from 28.5 million in 2011 rising to 52.7 million in 2030, according to the U.S. Census.

References: http://www.santamonica.com/restaurants/santa-monica-farmers-market/

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/West/07/16/farmers.market.crash/

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2003/07/17/car-plows-into-crowded-santa-monica-farmers-market.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Monica_Farmers_Market_crash

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/no-jail-for-elderly-driver-in-market-crash/

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/26/local/me-weller26

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/07/15/tragic-crash-elderly-driver-laws/

Donna R. Gore

 

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