The Low Down on Monetary Rewards for Crime

reward for information

Reward- A sum of money or other compensation offered to the public in general, or to a class of persons, for the performance of a special service. In legal terms, the person promising a reward is offering to enter into a contract with the person who performs the requested action.                              (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law)

  • An actual, valid offer must be made to create a contract of reward. The offer is merely a proposal or a conditional promise by the person offering the reward, known legally as the offerer. It is not a consummated contract until the requested action is performed. The person offering the reward can do so on any terms she wishes, and the terms must be met before the reward can be recovered.
  • An offer can be made by a private contract with a particular person or by an advertisement or public statement on television or radio, or in a newspaper, handbill, or circular.
  • When the reward is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction, the return of property, the location of a missing person, or for other purposes, the person who furnishes the information is entitled to the reward. This rule applies even if, in the case of arrest, the person does nothing more than disclose the information and others make the physical capture. The informant need not become involved in the prosecution or appear as a witness at the offender’s trial to collect the reward.

In the Beginning

A June 2012 article reads,“A rare Frank and Jesse James reward poster could fetch upwards of $25,000, making it the most-wanted wanted poster in recent memory. Issued in 1881 and passed down through four generations of a St. Joseph, Missouri, family, the poster offers a $5,000 reward per man.”

If you can judge an outlaw by the size of his bounty, Jesse James was among the biggest, as $5,000 was equivalent to $113,000 in today’s current market.

Well, actually, that poster fetched a whopping, $57,475.00. In addition, the only known signed photograph of Jesse James made $51,240 at auction in 2011, far exceeding its high-end estimate of $30,000.

The wanted poster epitomizes the spirit of the Wild West. Criminals in the 1800’s including harlots to murderers on the run typically were portrayed on a wanted poster offering a reward. Although they may have said ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, they preferred “Alive” so that the outlaw could stand trial.

The $5,000 original reward for Jesse and Frank James was unheard of, but a strategy employed by Missouri’s governor, Thomas T. Crittendon, was put forth out of sheer frustration and to provide an incentive. Reportedly, over the preceding 12 years, the James gang had pulled off an average of one heist about every six months.

At the time of the poster’s issuance, Frank and Jesse were charged with two train robberies, one bank robbery and a murder in the last two years alone. Nevertheless, the pair remained at large.  However, no one ever collected the $5,000 reward offered by Governor Crittendon for the capture of the James brothers.

Postscript: Jessie was living under an assumed name when Bob Ford shot him on April 3, 1882.

Rewards in 2016

Conventional wisdom says that a monetary reward can be a good tool under certain circumstances, but it’s all in the timing and the right amount offered by the appropriate representative. I have been told not to keep increasing the reward over time, as criminals will often hold back for even greater monies and try to change the terms of the negotiation, seeing the desperation of the situation.

There is very limited information on this topic online, however, a July 2015 article with the Salt Lake City Police Department outlined some facts and practices:

  • Typically Police Administrators weigh the pros and cons of offering a reward, saying , “It’s not paid out often.”
  • Higher profile cases such as the two New York prison escapees and the Elizabeth Smart case may garner $100,000 to $250,000. Typical cases offer much less such as:
  • A tip – $50.00, the identity of as potential suspect- $100.00; The arrest and successful prosecution of the suspect- $500.00
  • Rewards derive from – Corporations, families, Neighborhood Associations, Police Budgets- City Hall (i.e. taxpayers), and sometimes philanthropic donors of means.

Rewards in missing persons cases


photo courtesy KXAN

Often families with missing loved ones desperately feel that a reward will lead to information on the whereabouts of their loved one.

While on the surface offering a monetary reward may seem like a simple gesture, there are legal implications that need to be considered and it’s best to consult someone with experience in establishing rewards.

According to experts, a reward may serve several purposes including renewed media interest in the case and motivating someone to come forward with information. Although rewards don’t always produce the desired result, it allows families to feel they are turning over every stone to get information about their missing loved one.

The goal of a reward is to generate immediate results like tips and leads. Offering a limited time frame for rewarding information often will pique the public’s interest, as well as put pressure on those with information to come forward. Limited time rewards can be coordinated around a loved one’s event such as a birthday or anniversary.


Donna R. Gore

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Murdering Men and their Motive – “No Room for Babies”

Infanticide, murdering men

Before a man and wife, or same gendered couple, exchange vows of marriage, you would think that they would have a few major conversations about their desire, or not, for bringing children into the world.  Perhaps one spouse naïvely assumes that the other is in agreement. Perhaps they just let nature take its course, or maybe the wife accidentally on purpose forgets about birth control as she has made a personal decision.

Most likely, many couples don’t talk about it specifically, thinking that the other is in tune with their wishes as they have been going together for a length of time. Whatever the scenario, they clearly are not on the same page.

A man (most often) who is young and not especially responsible, and perhaps other women in his life have always taken care of things (Mom, previous girlfriends, coaches), is frequently not prepared for the responsibilities and views a child as a cramping of the lifestyle, or the wallet. This is clearly a selfish attitude.

In this day and age, there are options that are much better than resorting to criminal acts upon the mother and/or the baby. How and why anyone comes to the realization that a baby is someone else’s trash is beyond my understanding.

Over time, the law has evolved in some states and those states consider a fetus a separate prosecutorial murder.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, (March 2015) 

In recent years, states have expanded this debate to include the issue of fetuses killed by violent acts against pregnant women. In some states, legislation has increased the criminal penalties for crimes involving pregnant women.  These laws have focused on the harm done to a pregnant woman and the subsequent loss of her pregnancy, but not on the rights of the fetus.

Other legislation has defined the fetus as a person under fetal homicide or “feticide” laws. Such legislation is hotly debated under names such as the Fetal Protection Act, the Preborn Victims of Violence Act and the Unborn Victim of Violence Act.  Those supporting these acts, often pro-life advocates, say that both the lives of the pregnant woman and the fetus should be explicitly protected.

Those on the other side feel that laws to protect a fetus could become a “slippery slope” that could jeopardize a woman’s right to choose an abortion.  Pro-choice advocates say such laws grant a fetus legal status distinct from the pregnant woman – possibly creating an adversarial relationship between a woman and her baby. Currently, at least 38 states have fetal homicide laws. 

Various states have different classes of offences or certain conditions under which Feticide would apply.

Classic Examples

  1. Charles Stuart, a 30-year-old man from Boston murdered his wife , Carol DiMaiti Stuart on October 23, 1989.  Chuck plotted with his brother to kill his wife for insurance money after she leaves a lucrative law practice to become a full-time mother.  He does not want a baby. He does not want a decrease in his lifestyle and actually begins an affair with another woman at a new job as a furrier. In the process, they concoct a story that a black man shot he and his wife, thus adding to the highly volatile race relations already occurring in Boston.

A summary of this case appears in this YouTube video:

  1. Scott Peterson of Modesto, California, was convicted of the murder of his wife Laci and his unborn child, Connor on December 24th, 2002. He created an elaborate scenario involving fishing, or was it golf, multiple lies leading a double life by dating an initial unsuspecting Amber Frey, who ultimately helped to convict him. Detectives found very limited physical evidence but much circumstantial evidence as well as a callous unremorseful primary suspect. A baby just didn’t fit his lifestyle.

Documentary by Catherine Crier- A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation 

  1. Rae Curruth, former Carolina Panthers football star, was complicit in the 1999 murder of his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, 24, and the attempted murder of his unborn son with friend Van Brett Watkins (the shooter). Cherica was a real estate agent Rae had been casually dating, and was shot four times by Van Brett Watkins Sr., a night club manager and an associate of Carruth. Adams managed to call 911, and said that Carruth had stopped his vehicle in front of hers, and that another vehicle drove alongside and the passenger shot her. Carruth then drove away from the scene. Soon after her admission to the hospital, she fell into a coma. Doctors delivered the baby via emergency Caesarean section. Adams died on December 14, 1999. Carruth fled after Adams’ death, and was captured on December 15 in western Tennessee. He was found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel. Also in the trunk was $3,900 cash, bottles of his urine, extra clothes, candy bars, and a cell phone. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. His motive to murder, Cherica’s refusal to abort the child because he did not want to pay child support. He already had been paying for “another mistake” by a previous girlfriend.

Carruth was sentenced to 18 years in prison. His son, Chancellor, survived but was born with cerebral palsy. He is thriving as a happy 16-year-old living with his Grandmother.

In October 2015, his status was downgraded and he was eligible for a work release program.

Video: Sins of A Father – Rae Carruth 


Ultimately, the Carruth story is bittersweet. There has been forgiveness by Cherica‘s mother, (Chancellor’s Grandmother) and a thriving son, not ever knowing the true extent of the crime.

As for the other crimes, the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation was established after her death for students in the Mission Hill District of Boston.

In the Scott Peterson case, education and awareness has come from the book authored by Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother,“For Laci: A Mother’s Story.” I read this book with interest and found it to be very tragic and touching at the same time.

Additional References:

Active Shooter 

Active shooter

We as citizens are really in trouble when mass shootings become commonplace, a weekly event or even more frequent. But, I can’t stress enough that complacency is a killer too!  Unfortunately, we must be vigilant AND not be constantly looking over our shoulders for danger such that we are always in a state of high anxiety.  This is a balancing act that we need to walk.

As a homicide survivor, I highly resent these occurrences as yet another burden I have to carry among my other burdens. How dare the evil people force this upon me and other survivors, opening our wounds, increasing our vulnerabilities that we have managed fairly well in the past! This is madness!  Regardless, we have to deal and hope that with the Grace of God we can avoid yet more carnage.

With ever-increasing events recently in Michigan and Kansas active shooters are in the forefront of the public.  There have been three workplace violence active shooter incidents in our State of Connecticut, including the State operated, Connecticut Lottery. These events are part of the fabric of our state now and we must learn from them and try to prevent others from occurring.  For your review:

  1. March 7, 1998 – The CT Lottery Shootings
  2. August 4, 2010 – Hartford Distributors Brewery 
  3. December 14, 2012 –  Sandy Hook Elementary School
  4. General Topic  

The State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has developed an active stance on training commissioners and agency heads for Active Shooter situations. However, when I Googled and went to their website, I could find no recent, detailed public information protocol. Please, let’s not keep this of all things a secret!

Referring to my notes at our recent staff meeting, and other internet sources, the “Nuts & Bolts” of it can be distilled down to three words – RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.  In other words, those are your options in that order, in a nutshell.

In our newly renovated building in which we are sharing workspace with other human service/social service agencies, the mini amphitheater meeting room has all kinds of swipe cards, locking mechanisms such that we could never co-mingle or pass through to the adjacent agency, except in our new micro-market cafeteria restaurant. Little glass windows with hammer, alarms, sprinklers…Let’s hope they all work!

But, the point is, in this big conference room we would be “sitting ducks” unable to pass though or hide. You can bet I won’t be meeting anyone in there! There are other vulnerable areas where there are no longer pass through aisles due to walls recently constructed for separation of departments which apparently meet the fire code, but psychologically do not make us feel all that safe!

The Nuts and Bolts

No Pulling the Fire Alarm

At first glance, pulling the fire alarm seems like a great idea.  Escape is generally a very successful strategy when facing a mass killer.  In fact, escaping should be the prime objective if armed resistance isn’t possible.  Fire alarms get people out of the building, facilitating escape.   One would think this is the first instinct as a good measure. Not always.

Other internet resources say that while the end goal of getting people out of a building targeted by an active killer seems to be met by pulling the alarm, the WAY people get out of the building may be just as important as the actual exit itself.  When the fire alarm is pulled, people move very differently than they do if they know someone is shooting at them.

In addition to encouraging potentially undesirable movement patterns, pulling a fire alarm also causes quite a bit of chaos for the first responders, leading to longer rescue times.  When the alarm is pulled, the alarm company will be attempting to get a hold of the 911 dispatchers to report the alarm.  Those are the same dispatchers that will be sending officers to the shooting scene and gathering vital information about the suspect.

Police report that, having been in numerous public buildings when alarms have been going off, they can’t hear the absolutely vital dispatch traffic coming from my police portable radio.  The sound of alarms will also hinder officers’ ability to locate the sounds of gunshots or communicate with victims about where the shooter is located.  Responding to an active killer inside a building while a fire alarm is sounding is exponentially more difficult than responding in a building without an alarm.  This difficulty results in it taking a longer time for cops to engage the killer, thus creating a higher body count.

What do you think when a fire alarm goes off in a public building?  My guess is that it is one of the following:

-“Why do they have to do a fire drill at this time of the day?”

– “Some idiot kid must have pulled the alarm for fun.”

– “Another false alarm.  I’ll wait to evacuate until I smell smoke or see some flames.”

The movement patterns we desire as part of a fire alarm response are orderly walking towards the nearest exit.  Orderly and calm walking makes you a very easy target to hit. The closest exit may actually put you directly into the path of the gunman. 

Find the Exit Points Wherever your Location 

Part of being aware of your environment, means knowing how to get out when things go bad. Upon entering any new area, the first thing you want to do is look for every possible escape route and exit that you can find. If things go bad, this one action could mean the difference between life and death, and is something that should never be overlooked.

Always Try to Escape First and Foremost!

Run to the closet exit to where you are located if you have a clear path. Police will enter immediately. Keep Your Hands Up and Visible. This action will is to assist the police in quickly identifying you as a victim. If you can safely make your way to an exit, do so without hesitation and without attracting unwanted attention from the shooter. Once you are outside, keep going. Distance is one of the keys to surviving the situation.  After you are at a distance, and safe, call 911.

Hide, Barricade, Take Cover

This may be your second best option when there is no escape. 

This involves moving yourself away from any possible harm. Try to quickly locate a large object or concrete wall etc. or hide under a desk and barricade yourself.  If you are in an office, lock the door, shut off the lights so that the shooter may believe there is no one located in that space, should he search.

Fight – Attack as a last resort

If you are in a room and the shooter enters, using a fire extinguisher to strike or heavy chair, or improvise a weapon near you. You may be no match for an automatic weapon unless you catch the shooter off guard and then attack in order to escape.

Other Factors

Don’t try to talk to or negotiate with the shooter! That should be left to trained professionals.

Encourage co-workers to accompany you while escaping, but don’t let them slow your escape. Leave them and your possessions behind, as your survival is most important.

VIDEO – Run, Hide, Fight, Surviving an Active Shooter Event

Warning! This content is fairly intense (5 min. 55 sec)


Just a personal word here about security

Many security guards are diligent employees who do their jobs well. However, since type of job is pretty unglamorous and can be boring at times, they often turn to electronic devices to pass the time. I have seen this too often and it really pisses me off! They are there to protect us. So just do it and skip the electronics!

Facts from Past Active Shooting Events 

1) Columbine High School – During this shooting a fire alarm was pulled and 800 children GOT OUT of the building. Everyone else executed a lockdown and became a target.

2) A number of people in the Colorado Movie Theater event had a bad feeling when they saw the shooter enter the building, yet most of them brushed off their feelings and reasoned that it was probably some sort of publicity stunt for the movie.  Even after the shooter started firing, a number of people said, they still thought “it had to be part of the show.”

We all have instincts. If a situation seems odd, if something seems out-of-place, or your gut tells you something isn’t right, listen to your instincts and don’t wait around to find out what happened!

Additional References:

How Could You NOT Know? Walking the Tightrope with Sue Klebold


Sue Klebold

Sue Klebold
Photo: ABC

When I heard the back story of the upbringing of Dylan Klebold, one of the inspirations for other mass shootings to come, so much of the horrendous tragedy at Columbine gives me pause.

Over a decade and a half is long enough to learn hard lessons about the turmoil of adolescents, but obviously not long enough for parents to slip into complacency, for there was Newtown-Sandy Hook, CT in 2014 and so many mass shootings since Columbine. Again, we weren’t diligent. We weren’t paying sufficient attention.

It’s so easy to blame the parents for ills perpetrated by their children.  However, to compare Nancy Lanza to Sue Kleblod is like comparing the atomic bomb to a firecracker, in my humble opinion.  But, there is no doubt that both mothers were victims of their sons’ crimes in every way imaginable.

What went wrong?

It defies common sense to think that behind closed doors, there wasn’t something terribly wrong going on with Dylan Klebold.  The truth is, so much was going on that was masked, that was internal torment to him alone. So much was  hidden in the shadows; crimes, vicious games, writings, films and plans made in plain sight by the devil duo of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that spelled a lethal combination.

Therefore, no one single person or set of parents can be blamed.  There were the accomplices in accessing guns for the pair, school system failures by counselors failing to recognize, the criminal justice system letting them off easy for past crimes, the failure of silence, the failure of listening versus lecturing, the failure to put the pieces together regarding  isolation, moodiness, written off as just adolescent behavior,  according to Sue Klebold, recently interviewed by ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

There was a lack of recognition of the full extent of depression leading to suicidal ideation. Today’s stats reveal that 15 to 20% of adolescents contemplate suicide.

Parenting Dylan Klebold

A Mother's ReckoningAt this 17 year juncture in the aftermath, Sue Klebold has risen from the depths of despair for her son, and all of the victims left behind, to offer her own brand of help in hopes of more healing and teaching others.  She is careful not to force herself upon others, but does attempt to explain and has honorably offered all of the proceeds of her new book, “A Mother’s Reckoning,” to mental health organizations. She has become an advocate.

On the surface, Dylan’s parents were good parents, did all the right things, provided the right opportunities to this gifted child. But the brain chemistry and behavior changed and escalated into darkness, particularly with the friendship of Eric Harris as an ongoing catalyst.

During the interview, Sue stated, “If this is true, if he is really killing people, this has to stop. He has to die. Please God, make him die.” Another distraction for the Klebold parents was a sibling struggling with drugs allowing more opportunity for Dylan to go underground. Sue crossed over from her state of denial into acceptance after seeing the evidence, the videos, listening to the vile three-hour Manifesto, and recognized it was no more a moment of madness.

Carlos Lozada, writer for the Washington Post Book World Service recently wrote a book review of “A Mother’s Reckoning.” As a parent, he saw the vulnerabilities:

This book’s insights are painful and necessary, and its contradictions inevitable. It is an apology to the loved ones of the victims; an account of the Klebold family’s life in the days and months following the shooting; a catalog of warning signs missed. Most of all, it is a mother’s love letter to her son, for whom she mourned no less deeply than did the parents of the children he killed”. 

I wonder two things:

Can the general public ever forgive Sue Klebold?

Secondly, as a homicide survivor, would I ask different questions than those asked by Diane Sawyer?

I think in some ways, yes, as I have a unique perspective.  I have compassion for Sue Klebold and am not applying the adage of guilt by association. I’m attempting to reach out to her for an interview on Shattered Lives Radio where we may discuss the aftermath of her personal tragedy in-depth and offer another perspective. Perhaps it could help other parents of children who may be seeing  the same things happening in their family. Perhaps it could avert another family’s tragedy.