Listen Up, Because…. Time’s Up!

 


“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk more” Erika Jong 

This is a true and a somewhat embarrassing story. However, if in the telling this story enlightens others then so be it.

I’ve always been considered a knowledgeable person; book smart, analytical, problem solving and possessing just enough street smarts to know better.  But alas, this was one of the hardest lessons of all, to be played like a fiddle by a master manipulator and not even realize it!  I was no match for this person, henceforth to be called “Madam X.” Madam X had a pattern of leading unsuspecting people on a journey to hell and back.

I should have known better…

I didn’t know at the outset of the relationship that I would once again become a crime victim, but also demonstrate an ability to rise above the pain and abuse to save a perpetrator’s life, whatever that was worth.

It all began when I hosted a Woman’s Sunday Brunch gathering within a major hotel in an elite community in central Connecticut.  One Sunday, a new guest, Madam X, arrived.  She was small in stature, was well scrubbed, freckle faced and appeared too cute in looks and personality for words.  In fact, unbeknownst to me, she didn’t just stroll in, but rode in on her motorcycle.

Madam X was charming and cast her spell towards me during our first meeting. It was almost like a dream.  Someone should have rounded the corner, taken me by the shoulders and said, “Wake up woman, this person is bad news!” but no one did.

Madam X and I became friends, but there was something not quite right about the situation.  I had met others like her in the past that were in a tough spot, living on the edge for awhile until finances improved.  But I should have known that the transient little barn converted apartment was for the wayward and not a charming fixer-upper.

Madam X was down on her luck. She had a job but lived paycheck to paycheck. She was a licensed handyperson, but was working in a hotel catering department.  She was a good cook, skilled at arts and crafts, and voiced goals and aspirations.

One day while sitting on the couch in her ramshackle apartment, after finishing a call to someone, she said to me with warning, “You don’t want to know about my problems,” when I innocently offered her help. I had just rescued her stranded with her bike, needing a ride. I should have walked out the door, but I was blinded. This cute and perky person fed into my care taking nature and knew exactly what she was doing.

Madam X needed a temporary place to stay so I obliged, thinking that it was the right thing to do to help a new friend and that our friendship would grow as a result. She moved into my place with a considerable amount of belongings, taking over my “neat nick condominium” and rearranged her life in my home.

Background

Madam X came from a neighboring state and had two sisters.  Both were successful professionals. She portrayed herself as the black sheep of the family who was always trying to prove herself, always the one who was misunderstood.

What I wasn’t aware of initially was that she had burned many bridges, including her family.  It appeared they were in a state of inertia when I desperately called them the first time she disappeared.  I wasn’t in total denial of her problems, and my former rescues, but I wasn’t helping her to face the music and suffer the consequences for such things as losing her drivers license. Unbeknownst to me, she had a drug problem.

I often drove Madam X to her hotel job, rising at 4 am to arrive at 6 am at a location over the hazardous Avon Mountain.  Rather than be the constant chauffeur, I decided to put her on my auto insurance as a driver because her motorcycle was not always the best means of travel. One fine day, she borrowed my Subaru Forrester, fell asleep at the wheel, landed in a ditch and totaled the car, with only a few scratches to her body.

As time went on, the naiveté on my part remained and so did the loans of a few dollars here and there, accumulating over time. I did record all her expenditures in a book as proof of what she owed.  She liked nice things, and a glass of wine with dinner, which didn’t seem terribly out of place at first, until it became every single night.

I wasn’t thrilled with the situation, but kept the thought that the inconveniences were only temporary and would improve as soon as she got a better paying job.  The inconveniences mounted and the psychological control and lies began, so much so that I wanted out of the relationship altogether.  But, I knew she would not go easily.  She was a “hanger on” whose job it was to charm the world. I was never afraid physically, but I was in a constant state of worry, tired of being manipulated by charm and tired of  beating myself up for the stupidity of being duped.

I was able to purchase a new car to replace the one she wrecked, a 2003 midnight blue Toyota Matrix, but, there was more to come.

One night, while I slept, Madam X got up and borrowed my car keys and stole my new car!  The next morning, the car and Madam X were nowhere to be found.  I learned quickly that drug addicts are good at disappearing and re-appearing.

I had to go to work that morning, but was too ashamed and embarrassed to tell my family.  She said she tried unsuccessfully to arrange for rides from co-workers.  I reported the latest incident to the police immediately. My brand new car was placed on the NCIC-National Crime Information Center’s data base for missing vehicles. Although Madam X had no criminal record, I finally woke up and wanted her arrested for stealing my car.

I had to swallow my pride and notify my family members for transportation and for support.  They also didn’t see Madam X’s addiction, they only knew and expressed that she was one of those people from the wrong side of the tracks, a user. They were truly concerned for my welfare. For the first time, I heard my mother threaten bodily harm, and my sister wanted to throw all her belongings out on the street.

A plethora of emotions were at work in my head; anger, disgust, worry, even a little compassion for this criminal.  What made her do this to me?  I was full of self disappointment for being so easily taken in. Can you imagine how anyone could sink so low as to steal the only transportation available for a single person with a disability?

I just couldn’t get over this and began to look into eviction procedures, a legal morass.  I learned that it was no easy task to evict someone who is not an official renter and without a lease.  Time passed with no word from Madam X, and no sign of the car in almost two weeks.

Then I discovered my ace in the hole. Madam X’s motorcycle was left on the property. After consulting the police, or maybe it was an attorney, I asked a neighbor to sell the motorcycle, and he did, giving me a little bit of sweet revenge.

When Madam X finally showed up, dazed and confused, she was totally dumbfounded and felt betrayed that I would have sold the motorcycle.  No sense of responsibility was taken, nothing about my car, only concern for the motorcycle.

My brand new car was located unscathed, thankfully not stripped,  in a high crime area of Hartford. The interior was a mess with many McDonald’s wrappers and a couple hundred miles on the speedometer.  Upon seeing it, I physically shook and was unable to drive it to the detail shop to have it cleaned.

And, big surprise, Madam X stole the car in exchange for drugs.  As she told it, she had a once a month cocaine habit in addition to  an alcohol addiction. My second surprise was when Madam X’s family turned against me for having her arrested. In truth, I saved her life.

I tried to take the high road and be supportive of her inpatient drug rehabilitation, where she was a model patient. She made me arts and crafts projects and colored pictures as gifts. I was biding my time until the court date.  On the surface, temporary remorse was exhibited by Madam X, and as a compassionate person, I didn’t see the value in sending her to jail if she could be put on the right path.

 

The court date came and I had my opportunity to list all of her despicable behaviors. Madam X said all of the right things to the judge.  The judge was very surprised at my generosity to not send her to jail. Drug rehab, urine tests, probation and a halfway house were part of the plan going forward.

There was a near miss, a potential relapse during this time for Madam X.  The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services policies supposedly interfered with the ability to demonstrate a clean versus a dirty test. However, she called me hysterically telling her story, that she was pushed to the brink of purchasing drugs and at the last minute, she flushed them down the toilet.  I saw an injustice happening in her story and dutifully wrote a letter to the Medical Director.

She didn’t achieve the making amends step of the 12 step program during the time we were together, she never showed an ounce of remorse towards me. Several weeks later, Madam X, a couple of transient friends and her sister arrived with trucks to finally vacate my home. It was a tension filled day.

A few weeks later, the Medical Director of DMHAS responded to my letter on Madam X’s behalf and promised to do staff re-training concerning their policies in the future. As a final loose end, I tried to do the right thing and notify Madam X of the letter and its promise.  Response to the message left at the halfway house – a call from the local police warning me not to harass Madam X!!  I continued on with my life by going to Alanon Meetings and tried to forget.

Moral of This Story

Had I not bothered in the first place with Madam X, the master manipulator, the entire sordid tale would not have happened.

If I had not demonstrated the courage to have Madam X arrested, she would not have had the benefit of drug rehabilitation and the court system trying to set her straight.

I would have retained my first car and all of the money owed, but that is never to be seen again.

In other words, even with all of Madam X’s mess-ups and devaluing of other humans, I saved her life, even if it was against her will, and feel good about that one and only fact!  She was headed to being found in an alley somewhere.

I just recently traded in the same “drug car,” which had about 150,000 miles on the speedometer, and the bad memories vanished with it. As for Madam X, who knows where she is today, hopefully living a cleaner life.

 

 

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Homicide as a Steady Diet

murder

When an ordinary person such as myself, through nonstop hard work, rises through the ranks to become a minor public figure based upon my personal tragedy, it gives one pause. Why? First of all, no crime victim or homicide survivor ever signed up for this occurrence. We are unprepared for how we might function on a daily basis. We certainly were not prepared for the long view of life and what twists, turns, hardships and even joys, yes, future joys there would be.

As a passionate person with passionate causes, I am blessed to have a myriad of outlets from which I can deliver my messages. Way back when I was a mere tadpole on the lily pad in Connecticut going from person to person the proverbial skies opened up with opportunities afforded by the likes new people who entered my life, and it has never been the same. From a national advocate, author and radio host, to learning social media and marketing myself from a professional, I was given the step up.

My vessels of expression now include:

However, with this presence comes responsibility. When you achieve a certain degree of success, however you personally define it, one hopes that people respect you for the journey that has been travelled, for your accomplishments, resiliency, intellect, talents and compassion for others.  Regardless of these traits, you travel down the path of least resistance addressing the topics you know best, which in my case happens to be homicide, up close and personal.

Based upon years of experience, meeting others in the same boat, trial and error, and a lot of injustice along the way, I’ve become the authority and serve up various and sundry murder pieces on my blog.  Maybe it’s a reflection of today’s society, but it seems that the public has a veracious appetite for violent crime!

This steady diet thing is akin to being typecast in one role as a famous actor/actress who can never quite shake that persona, past TV show or movie in order to spread their wings and show a diversity of talents. Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Stapleton, are just to name a few.

If I step back and look at it as my alter ego, “Ladyjustice,” I often wonder where my allegiance lies.  Do I give my audience a steady diet of what I perceive that they want, violent crime, just for the sake of gaining readers? No, I think it should be known that I’m multi-dimensional with many interests beyond homicide. I do advocacy work through my employment with persons with disabilities daily. I have more medical experience than most MD’s due to my own health issues and a medical clinical career as a speech-language pathologist for well over 20 years. I have other creative interests and hobbies when I make time to pursue them.

Another dilemma is what many crime victims hear from the outside world that dreaded refrain from those who don’t really understand (and sometimes even in our own immediate families). “It’s been X amount of time, isn’t it time to move on now?” This phrase cuts like a knife to some of us who’ve experienced the injustice of being a victim of crime. But, to be perfectly honest, many of us have found a niche. We, in fact, don’t ever think of moving on, as the frame of reference is always moving up to bigger and better things that fulfill our passions at the time.

Parting words to my audiences – go with the flow; you just might enjoy the ride if homicide is not always the main entrée!

 

My Dad “In the Rear View Mirror” 

Donald Gore

Donald Gore, my father

Another milestone is occurring this week; the 34th anniversary of my father Donald Gore’s murder. There’s no easy way to say it. In searching my mind for what to write, what might inspire others to carry on with their journey, I struggle with each passing year.  Some of the bad memories have faded away to oblivion, other images have remained in infamy.

In this struggle, I realized that if I cannot say something new or different, it’s not really about my dad anymore, it’s about the mission of serving others in his memory. The circumstances of the crime and the myriad of errors that occurred remain the same. However, there are always new challenges and new people to assist.

(My previous blog relates the circumstances of my father’s murder if readers are unfamiliar: History can only be written by the survivors….)

Actually, I have two milestones here; April 17, 1981, my father’s “death anniversary”  is the first milestone.  However, a much more celebratory, yet bittersweet, anniversary is the two-year anniversary of the parole hearing for the perpetrator that occurred on April 24, 2013. A day to remember for me and my family was captured well by Dr. Laurie Roth on her national radio show the same evening; the good, the bad, the ugly all rolled into one!  If you’re in a similar circumstance I hope listening will provide you with helpful information.

A Victory for Victims of Crime

Of great significance was the fact that our family was able to fend off a bid for freedom for my father’s murderer for another five years AND changed State of Connecticut Policy in terms of upholding a victim’s right to anonymity.  Using our right to deliver a victim impact statement was of utmost importance in this hearing and helped generate the outcome.

Dealing with a dangerous criminal face to face, and prohibiting access to a family via the internet, is of utmost importance and we are proud to be a part of positive change for other victims of crime.  Victim Anonymity PRESS RELEASE 8 12 13

The entire experience was disturbing after all these years, and yet it was our shining moment in the best of ways. For her assistance to my family, thank you to Attorney- Advocate Michelle S. Cruz for the miracles that took place that day due in large part to her skills!

Who was My Father?

Donald Gore racing his motorcycle

Donald Gore racing his motorcycle

Donald W. Gore was man like any other. He was not perfect, but did the best he could and always provided for his family with a fierce work ethic. His claim to fame involved motorcycle championships many years running.  He was on the verge of a new entrepreneurial opportunity when he was struck down forever at age 47.  Today, all family members carry on each in their own ways. I say proudly, I not only survive, but thrive!  For all of the professional relationships and friendships I have made over these many years, I am forever grateful.

So, if there is one lesson to be learned from murder, it is that you can carry on and even thrive with time!

We will have to “prepare with our armor and our raw emotions” for the next parole hearing in 2018, however, there is so much work to do for others in the meantime! My Dad would like that!

My Dad “In the Rear View Mirror”

Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust: Homicide Survivors Carry the Torch for those Taken by Violence

photo: LATimes

photo: LATimes

 

Whether users of the Book of Common Prayer are reciting “metrical text”—text that when a congregation reads it, it all comes out even” in burial rights, “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” (based on the Biblical, Genesis 3:19) or wedding phraseology,” “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together”it matters not.  Poetry is fallacy, as life almost never “comes out even in metered phrases.”

Had our liturgical forefathers known that homicide would be so commonplace in “civilized society,” they would be aghast at the persons getting all of the care and attention, namely the perpetrators of crime versus the victim/survivors.

Enter Parents of Murdered Children, INC, the largest national self-help support group organization working for the rights of murder victims since 1978, and making sure that they evolve into “healthy survivors.”  Twenty five years of assistance and advocacy later, Dan Levey “was handed the torch,” following the homicide of his brother, Howard.

“Shattered Lives” radio interviewed this accomplished man to discuss how far POMC has come and future work to be done,  for there are always others on the horizon who can benefit from this fine organization.

parents-of-murdered-children-pomc-logo

            LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

  • Kudos to the CUE Center for Missing Persons for their search efforts for missing persons in Horry County,  S.C. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/
  • Introduction to our guest
  • POMC- Is it just for Parents of Murdered Children? A brief history… http://www.pomc.com/index.html;
  • Providing Services …on the phone everyday across the country- “Trying to grab funding” etc.
  • Collaborative efforts  “We’re all in it together;” Working on public policy and legislative issues
  • Support with other organizations such as Survivors of Homicide, Inc.; Citizens Against Homicide;http://www.survivorsofhomicide.com/Website/Home.htm;
  • http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org/
  • “The Saddest thing to hear years down the line”, according to Dan
  • Dan’s personal homicide story-  November 3,1996
  • Terrorizing the neighborhood on a Sunday morning… “Flipping a coin to see who would be the shooter…”
  • The aftermath of the crime
  • Ladyjustice… “Sorry doesn’t mean anything, but…”
  • Dan discusses their yearly leadership trainings
  • Programming – The Murder Wall…a description of a travelling tribute
  • Delilah describing the CUE Center’s Wall for the Missing
  • http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/national-conference-2/
  • Passage authored by survivor, Cincinnati’s  Sharon Tewkesbury, regarding the impact of the Murder Wall and her husband Monty
  • All about POMC’s “Second Opinion Service”- What they do; What they don’t do
  • Ladyjustice asks about eligibility and composition of the “other sets of eyes”
  • Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Harry Bonnell-  who served POMC for 20 years –
  • http://www.4n6pathology.com/
  • Discussion re Dr. Henry Lee – The Connecticut Connection: http://drhenrylee.com/learn/
  • Information regarding how to submit information to SOS http://www.pomc.com/sos.html
  • Comparisons to medical issues- The importance of a second opinion
  • Ladyjustice & Delilah talk about the similarities to the former “Crimewire” Radio Show with Susan Murphy-Milano & Denny Griffin
  • Example-http://imaginepublicity.com/2013/04/09/crime-wire-susan-murphy-milano-dennis-griffin/
  • POMC’s National Conference in Rochester ,Minnesota August 14-17, 2014 –Keynote Dan Gable- http://www.pomc.com/docs/POMC%20Gable%20Announcement.pdf
  • Parole Block Program, – Circulation of Petitions to keep criminals incarcerated versus being released early
  • What is the significance of the Parole Block program for survivors according to Dan?
  • Delilah asks about POMC’s role in advocating against early release across the country,  Example- the State of Connecticut- http://www.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?A=11&Q=480872
  • Life does not mean life…. behind bars
  • Discussing tracking their data re petitions and the impact of this program-

Very successful!

“Homicide Grief is the yearning to say one last goodbye…”

Dan Levey,

Executive Director

National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children, Inc.

550 W. Portland St.

Phoenix, Arizona 85003

602-492-9205

dlevey@pomc.org

Questions Elicited from this Show

  • What was Dan’s background prior to his current position at POMC?
  • What does the Executive Director position entail?
  • Are we all competing for the same Federal dollars?
  • What is the uniqueness of POMC as compared to other organizations?
  • What were the circumstances of Howard’s homicide?
  • What is the Murder Wall about and when is it used?
  • Does the “Second Opinion Service” assist in solving cold cases?
  • Are prosecutors and law enforcement cooperative with the Second Opinion Services?
  • What has been the typical amount of circulations per week and numbers per petition drive?
  • According to the DOJ, what is the average “life sentence” for a murderer?
  • Is it true that all prisoners are indigent and cannot afford restitution?
  • How quickly does restitution happen in Arizona?
  • What does the National POMC Conference workshops consist of?
  • What are the consequences of not having a National Crime Victim’s Leave Act?
  • What are the most important pieces of legislation passed in Arizona in recent years?
  • What are the most important ways in which to help POMC in the future?

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.

Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust:

Homicide Survivors Carry the Torch for those Taken by Violence

Additional Reference to above links: http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-27.htm;