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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Treasure or Trash? No, A Human Being

Truck Working Landfill
                 

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

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

The Case of Danielle Hill Alvarado:


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

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

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

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

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

 A YouTube tribute video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j3KO0_N1YY.  For further details on this story, please go to the Crimewire link at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/crimewire/2011/09/14/crime-wire-investigates-tuesdays-900-pm-eastern-time.

 

The Mysterious Case of John Wheeler:

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

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

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

 

Status of the Wheeler Case as of September 2011:

New information is limited…  However more is known about the

Timeline:

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

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

 

The Tragic Case of Lori Hacking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Little Somer Thompson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please view the moving YouTube video of Diena’s comments: http://pysih.com/2010/03/29/jared-mitchell-harrell/ 

 

 

The Case of Marta Jimenez:

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully told,

Ladyjustice

 

                                                                                                

The Legacy of The Petit Family Foundation

(“Three Angels” Petit Family Memorial Garden)

 

Some enchanted evening; you may see a stranger,
across a crowded room; and somehow you know, you know even then,

That somewhere you’ll see him, again and again….. 

Who can explain it? Who can tell you why?

Fools give you reasons, Wise men never try….

(Lyrics: “Some Enchanted Evening, Broadway Musical, South Pacific)

 

This blogger had the good fortune to meet and get to know a world class physician, an academic, a quiet family man who devoted his former life to his patients and “his girls”, wife Jennifer, and daughters Hayley and Michaela.  The most recognized survivor of crime in the State of Connecticut, a reluctant hero, is the man known as Dr. William Petit, Jr. 

Ladyjustice has hesitated to write anything about this dignified and tormented man.  The media hounds him. The public is well meaning and generous through many charitable events whose proceeds go toward the Petit Family Foundation and the Foundation, in turn, sponsors many activities encompassing the three missions honoring his immediate family.

This tragedy of tragedies has effected the hearts of people throughout the U.S. and internationally. 

Ladyjustice does not want to exploit nor offend in any way shape or manner by offering her humble opinion.  She remains respectful and has tremendous admiration for the remaining survivors of the Petit family.

However, if a local person who occasionally crosses paths with this man, can offer a perspective as a fellow homicide survivor, and perhaps lead others to donate to his Foundation, why not?  

A wise woman named Susan Murphy Milano recently told this blogger that no crime victim would ever view such efforts as exploitation, because, as survivors of crime, we are a family. Our biological families have been torn from us, helping each other and helping future victims keeps us going on the path of justice for others.   So, in that spirit, Ladyjustice will carry on…. 

Connecticut experienced a “wakeup call” of the greatest proportion when this horrific crime occurred on July 23, 2007.  All assumptions about where “crimes like that” occur (and certainly not Cheshire) were shaken to the core.  This crime was the impetus for landmark judicial legislation, rallied people as never before to implement change in attitudes, to be vigilant about personal safety, to buy and install home alarm systems; to reconfigure our Parole & Pardons board, to create a system of sharing vital prisoner histories at all levels of the criminal justice system; to revamp the process for halfway house placements, to “get to know your neighbors” in the form of kindness and neighborhood watches; to initiate numerous scholarships and charitable organizations in the aftermath for the benefit of others who have aspirations “just like the Petit women”;  attempts to keep (and eliminate) the death penalty in Connecticut;  to create and carry out a legacy for their passions  and… for Bill Petit to have as many reasons as possible to carry on without them. (As of today, due to the current economic times, some of these milestones are still a work in progress but alive none the less). 

And now, nearly four years later, the legacy of this family lives on through the constant efforts of Bill Petit his parents, siblings, his  95 year old grandmother and extended family and friends.  

It is a strange kind of purgatory awaiting a trial… as if the trial itself was supposed to take away the past sins of the defendant(s).

(Ladyjustice’s purgatory, awaiting trial for her father’s homicide spanned six years.)  It is this “suspended animation” that wears you down so that by the time the trial is about to commence, you are in a state of mind that perpetuates the wounds and adds further insult to injury. 

This is yet another trying time for the Petit family, currently awaiting the second trial to begin in September for the second defendant, whose name doesn’t deserve the ink, and raises the hairs on everyone’s neck in Connecticut and beyond… 

In 2009, this blogger was in “full court press mode” as the Chairperson assigned to coordinate a huge state agency event held at our State Capitol known as “the BESB Awards and National Observation of White Can Safety Day.”  This event brings together a selected groups of visually impaired or legally blind students and blind adults whose accomplishments over time has served to go above and beyond” in their fields of endeavor or talents in ten categories. 

It is the “Emmy Awards” for the blind community in Connecticut, if you will.   AND, make no mistake…. This is not a demonstration that they can merely perform with their peers while experiencing blindness (and other disabilities).   RATHER, particularly with students, they not only keep up, but often far exceed their sighted peer and are multi-talented in academic and the arts or sports, community affairs, despite their blindness.  No Pity Party Here – Never, Unacceptable!  Most sighted people have no idea what blind individuals and today’s technology can do….  

This event involves coordination of a roster of candidates, nominating committee, contact and invitations with nominees, families, State legislators, municipal officials, the Governor’s office,  catering, facilities management, press releases, TV coverage,  official proclamations, the crafting of a programming script, correspondence, individual bios for nominees, organizing the flow, seating arrangements, entertainment, etc.; etc., AND selection of an appropriate Master of Ceremonies. 

How to get a speaker pro bono, who understands the issues of diabetes and blindness, is committed to the cause and can present in a way that engages the participants?? 

Ladyjustice wrote a personal letter to Dr. Petit explaining her journey with the medical world, personal disability, personal homicide and our agency’s mission and request for a Master of Ceremonies.   ‘A long shot at best, she thought. (Although this blogger’s previous efforts had nearly gotten Mary Tyler Moore twice for this event!)   However, this blogger had more in common with Dr. P. versus MTM. 

Enter Dr. William Petit, Jr….    He could not have been more gracious and apologized for the letter getting lost in the sea of mail.  Long story short, he came to our agency, toured, met with staff, including staff that happens to have MS, and was available for consultations prior to the event. 

Following Ladyjustice’s immense pleasure of introduction, Dr. Petit gave a thorough and thoughtful introduction “prior to his duties”, discussing his work with diabetes research and treatment, his hopes for the future and even read an inspirational narrative in French! 

His MC style was classy, engaging and funny!  He was everything Ladyjustice had hoped for!  He indeed was the man for the job!  And…“the cherry on top of the sundae” was to have Ladyjustice’s mother in attendance, beaming proudly and asking to meet the esteemed Master of Ceremonies!  How perfect!    He was now part of the BESB Family. 

(Post script- Soon to be part of the “New Bureau of Rehabilitation Services” as of July 1st.  So long BESB, a stand alone agency since 1893!) 

Fast forward to June 2011….   The public can read an unusual expose’ of the Petit family story in the June/July edition of Esquire Magazine.  You can’t miss the magazine, which, for some unknown reason chose to include “The Survivor” article with a cover page GQ like male with a woman’s hand suggestively inserted under the man’s belt.  Yikes!  Ladyjustice is no prude!

However, this is not the showcase for a man of his caliber.  A little class please!   I guess, we do what we have to, to serve others for the greater good and let the chips fall where they may, by other tasteless individuals who “just want to sell magazines at any cost.”  

The article begins with a typical event held to raise funds for his Foundation by the many friends and supporters of what was the Petit family foursome, then to a snapshot of his life currently in Plainville, followed by a the sentencing day of the first monster defendant on December 2, 2010. 

It is an account that reminds this writer of a work of fiction, describing glimpses, breathing, gestures, detailed descriptions of clothing, a visceral attempt to “get into his skin.” Ladyjustice is not amused.  This is no fairytale.  Other passages paint a picture of the humanity of what were his former family- stories of his children. 

The torture of being physically bound, seriously wounded and “not knowing, only guessing” what’s going on in the house is portrayed though Dr. Petit’s internal thoughts, back to courtroom testimony, the morning of the Memorial service (Something greater than a private service but less than a full blown extravaganza trying to accommodate the grieving public as well) with a man just out of the hospital trying to hold on. 

The story traverses to the events of the day prior to the murders-the family kind of activities followed by the meeting and courtship days with his wife and lessons he tried to teach his children.  The final pages treat the reader to an insightful account growing up in a working class neighborhood as seen through William Petit, Sr. in a family with several siblings, and Bill described as naturally being a self-starter, a survivor by nature (well worth the read!) 

Could such a normal boyhood existence have prepared this man for his future?  Not a chance….  To be fair, Ladyjustice should ask could anyone write an account that sufficiently covers the landscape of this story? 

It’s doubtful…   Perhaps one or two authors, like Diane Fanning, but very few for sure! 

“What’s if’s” are in the account, those tapes that play over and over in our heads, “had we or others only done things differently”,we might have our family member back in the world of the living.  Ladyjustice advise,  don’t do the “what ifs,” as we have enough self-torture in our lives….  Do the positive things that our family members would have done if they were here now. 

***And please donate to the Petit Family Foundation.  You will find no better reasons to give your time and dollars!

 Link: http://www.petitfamilyfoundation.org/   

 

A Place in History for the Gay Community

(Should Gay History be included in the California School Curriculum and Textbooks?)

Preface:

G- Genovese, Catherine Susan  (Kitty) (July 7, 1935-March 13, 1964), was a New York City woman who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens section of Queens, New York on March 13, 1964. Genovese shared her Kew Gardens, Queens, apartment with her lover, Mary Ann Zielonko

The circumstances of her murder and the lack of reaction of numerous neighbors became a rallying call for apathy of crime when it was reported that 38 people witnessed her murder and didn’t contact the police.  This case became known in psychological circles as the “bystander or Genovese syndrome.”

 A -Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a long, complex career, she was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher (the first American woman in that role), sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace.

Y-Ken Yeager is an American politician from California, 2000-2006 serving on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, representing District 4. Yeager is openly gay, and the first openly gay elected official in San Jose. His long-time partner is Michael Haberecht.

H- Harvey Milk     – American politician for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and gay rights activist.  prior to his murder committed by Dan White. “What set Harvey apart from you or I was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.” Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

I-William M. Inge May 3, 1913 – June 10, 1973) was an American playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s, he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, and one of these, Picnic, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.

S- (1) (The)Society for Human Rights in Chicagobecomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization in 1924;

(2) 1969 TheStonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
  T- (Lucie Blue) Tremblay (Born 1958 in Montreal) is a Canadian folk singer-songwriter, who performs music with lesbian themes. She writes and performs material in both English and French. Her debut album, released in 1986 by Olivia Records, was voted Top Ten Album of the Year by the Boston Globe.[1]

O- Olivia Records…..Olivia Cruises Founder and president, Judy Dlugacz, conceived and created Olivia Records in 1975 featuring women’s musical artists, producing 40 albums and sold over a million records.  This was the genesis of Women’s Music as a genre.

Olivia Cruises started small in 1990 with a single voyage on a tiny ship. But 20 years later, the lesbian cruise company Olivia has become a major force in the industry, regularly chartering vessels that hold 2,000 passengers or more for all-lesbian vacations at sea. The San Francisco-based company, which has branched out into land vacations as well, has an average of 14 trips in the works, as of 2010.

R- (1) Jerome Robbins (October 11, 1918 – July 29, 1998) was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About, featuring excerpts from his journals, archival performance and rehearsal footage and interviews with Robbins and his colleagues, premiered in PBS in 2009.

(2)Robert Reed-Shakespearean trained actor, appeared in “The Defenders” series and the popular and iconic TV series “The Brady Bunch.” Reed was the patriarchal figure to his blended family of six children.  Although he was frequently unhappy with the scripts, he continued in his role.  Reed had been married and had a daughter, but felt it necessary to be in the closet to his family and audience for the majority of his career.     Internet sources indicate that Reed died on May 12, 1992, at his home in South Pasadena, California, after a six month battle with colon cancer and lymphoma and was previously HIV positive. The acting community and his Brady Bunch family was a supportive surrogate family.

Y-Kenji Yoshino is a legal scholar and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. Formerly, he was a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His work involves Constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, civil and human rights, as well as law and literature, and Japanese law and society.. Major areas of interest include social dynamics, conformity and assimilation, as well as queer (LGBT) and personal liberty issues. He has been a co-plaintiff in cases related to his specialties. A Japanese American, and openly gay man, Yoshino also writes poetry for personal enjoyment.

Feature Story:

As of April 2011, the California State Senate approved landmark legislation to include gay history as required teaching in public schools. This bill is awaiting approval from the Democratically controlled Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown.

As reported in an AP article for the San Diego Union Tribune,  the language further requires that the California Board of Education to adopt textbooks and teaching materials on the contribution and roles of sexual minorities by the 2013-2014 school year.

The proposed legislation would also prohibit “the adoption of any materials that reflect adversely on the gay community or particular religions.”  (Lady Justice asks how religion gets placed in this context.  The gay community practices all types of religions.  Is this an garbage pail attempt to include everything we can think of in one bill?  And how does one balance teaching about homosexuality and religions which may prohibit gay rights?)

Detractors state that they are already overburdened with mandates, teacher layoffs and teaching for mastery tests.

Bill sponsor, San Francisco’s openly gay Democratic Senator, Mark Leno states, “We are conspicuous in our absence…. Should we delete the inclusion of all the groups that are currently in the statute? Why is that okay and not LGBT? That is discriminatory.”

Earlier, groups who successfully lobbied to ban gay marriage in California also dislike children’s books portraying alternate types of relationships such as “Tango Makes Three,” a picture book about two male penguins raising an orphan penguin.  This book again topped the American Library Association’s ‘most challenged books.”  ( Ladjustice – Oh please… the underlying concepts of compassion, creating a safe and loving family for those who are neglected is the message here…)

The scariest part in the opinion of this blogger is that the bill leaves the hard work of deciding what material to include to what grades and ages…. to individual school districts.

Therefore, no consistency, and perhaps a cursory treatment with little thought, “just to cover them” is a real risk in the opinion of this blogger.   To this point, Republican Senator Doug La Malfa asks, “Are we supposed to remove Winston Churchill from the curriculum to get this type of curriculum in?”

California currently mandates schools to teach history regarding the following ethnic, cultural and minority groups:  Women, Mexican-Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Entrepreneurs, Labor and Native American Indians.  (‘Kudos to California for their inclusivity!)

When all is said and done…. It comes down to what principals and teachers deem important enough to teach in the classroom and how much time they have….

The events at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 are considered a defining “Rosa Parks” moment in gay history.  To lean more, please view the following brand new PBS documentary film:

“An American Experience” will be premiering the documentary film, Stonewall Uprising in April 2011.  Award-winning filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner tell the story of the impromptu battle between bar patrons and police on June 28, 1969 following yet another raid of the Mafia-owned Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Most LGBT historians as the pivotal moments described by the Village Voice—in the history of gay liberation..

And… One More Thing….   For an interesting account of Gay History portrayed in a timeline, go to:

The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0761909.html#ixzz1Nfjdy0lm