“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- https://donnagore.com/2011/07/10/an-aruban-mystery-blossoms-into-a-resource-center/]
  • 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 www.helpfindbritaneedrexel.com 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,
  • http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Harringtons-Claim-New-Information-In-Daughters-Murder-200066721.html
  • “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: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/june/help-FBI-catch-morgan-harrington-killer/morgan-harrington_060412
  • 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 www.omnimissions.com
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 Girl.com


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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