Monday, July 27, 2020

The Little Girl Who Changed Law and Order

A quick disclaimer for readers to this post: This was an extremely difficult post to write about.  The contents within include graphic details of pedophilia and child abduction.

Sometimes something as small as the flap of a butterfly wing can cause a tsunami around the world.

It was a steamy, hot humid day in Homosassa, Florida.  A drive through the small town, I noticed a pitiful town with little opportunity - decrepit trailer parks, little business, and an aura of malaise.  I found the cemetery I was looking for and drove in to find the grave.  It was 91 degrees and the humidity was beyond bearable (heat index around 100).  The grave was of a 9 year old who was born October 6, 1995 and left this world February 27, 2005.  Her name is Jessica Lunsford.  Have you ever heard of her?  As I sat at her grave, listening to the wind chimes someone had hung from the trees, I wondered where Jessica would be today had she lived.  I had pictures of the wind chimes, her grave site, and the cemetery, but my phone crashed this week and sadly, I lost all my pictures.


Jessica was abducted from her home at 3 a.m. on February 24, 2005.  John Couey, a 46 year old convicted sex offender, who lived on West Snowbird Court only 65 yards away from Jessica's house, had intended to burglarize the Lundsford home.  However, according to his later confession, he told authorities that he saw Jessica and reacted on impulse.  He woke her and said, "Don't yell or nothing" and then told her to follow him.  Couey had an extensive criminal record of burglary and sex offenses, mostly to children.  Unfortunately, due to the laws in Florida at the time, Couey either served super short sentences or he was never monitored after his release.  It makes anyone question: Did the laws protect the innocent or advocate for the evil?


After being abducted from her home in the early morning, Jessica was then raped, kept in Couey's bed all night, and then raped again the next morning.  She was then stored in Couey's closet while he reported to work at Billy's Truck Lot.  She was held captive over the weekend where he repeatedly raped her and then buried her alive.  Jessica, a tender age of 9, was tricked into getting into two garbage bags while her kidnapper promised he was going to take her home.  Instead of taking Jessica home to her family, Couey buried her alive.  He later confessed to authorities that he couldn't risk anyone seeing him with the little girl.  They found two small finger holes in the garbage bags, indicating Jessica had struggled to breathe until her last breath.

There was a 3-week search to find Jessica.  It is important to mention that on March 12, Couey was arrested in Savannah, GA, over an outstanding warrant for cannabis possession at the request of the Citrus County Sheriff's office.  He was brought in for questioning...and he denied everything.  He stated that he only knew about Jessica's abduction from the news media.  He was released after his interview with authorities.

On March 14, Couey's half sister, Dorothy Dixon, told the police that they could search her trailer (where Couey had been living, along with her boyfriend, her daughter, her two year old grandson, and her son-in-law).  Dixon claimed that, despite living in ridiculously close quarters, they never saw Jessica or noticed anything "off" with Couey.

On March 18, 2005 in an audio recorded and videotaped confession, Couey admitted to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Jessica.  He told authorities he had stalked her while she was playing in her yard and thought she was about 6 years old.  The search yielded a blood stained mattress and pillows in the room.  Jessica's DNA was on the mattress.


On March 7, 2007, a jury of Couey's peers found him guilty of first degree murder, kidnapping, burglary with assault or battery, and capital sexual battery.  On August 24, 2007, Couey was convicted of kidnapping, sexual battery, and first degree murder and sentenced to death.  Deliberation only lasted one hour and fifteen minutes.  Couey escaped the death penalty by dying of natural causes in 2009.

Jessica's death became a "cause celebre."  Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, aggressively pursued legislation, called the "Jessica Lunsford Act" or "Jessica's Law," which now provides stricter policies for sex offenders to include: the tracking of released sex offenders, tighter restrictions, wearing an electronic ankle monitoring bracelet, drive-by's of homes (especially on holidays like Halloween), and lengthier prison terms.  Also contractors in the state of Florida must undergo a background check.


Mark Lunsford went on to pursue a wrongful death suit.  On February 19, 2008, three years after her murder, Mark Lunsford filed against the Citrus Count Sheriff's Office AND the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  Mark's legal team alleged that Jessica was sitting in the closet when officers and officials had visited the trailer and that they could have prevented her death.  The police dogs' detections were ignored.  Additionally, he claimed that instead of focusing on the real evil, they had wrongly pursued him and pointed evidence elsewhere.  Finally, had they followed up on Couey's outstanding warrant issued by Georgia, they would have been able to legally enter the trailer and save Jessica.

Citrus County Sheriff's Officer Jeff Pawsy advocated that he believed Mark's case to be completely "baseless" stating: "There is only one person in the world that should be held responsible for Jessica Lunsford's death and that's John Couey."  The community erupted calling Mark a terrible father and money hungry.  Mark's attorneys came to bat by saying the wrongful death lawsuit was: "not for money but for change" in policies and procedures.




The author's purpose: To give Jessica a voice, even from her grave.  And, to raise awareness of the sickness in our world of pedophilia and child exploitation that has been perpetuated by our own "Law and Order."

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pimping Ain't Easy: A Tycoon Whore-icane

It's been a while since I've written an article/post.  So, I thought I'd come in hot with a post about a very interesting woman!  Her name is Deborah Jeane Palfrey (March 18, 1956-May 1, 2008).  Ever heard of her?  I had not up until pretty recently.  She had the nickname, "DC Madam," and her business was called "Pamela Martin and Associates," an escort agency that provided "high dollar" escorts for elites in Washington DC.


I'll start from the beginning.  Palfrey graduated college from Rollins, an elite private school in Florida.  She obtained a degree in Criminal Justice and became a Paralegal.  In 1990, she was arrested for pimping, pandering and extortion.  She somehow escaped authorities but was later captured trying to cross US/Canada border.  In 1992, she spent 18 months in prison.  It was upon her release from prison that Palfrey established her business, "Pamela Martin and Associates."


In October 2006, two US Postal Inspection Service Agents posed as a couple who were very interested in buying her house which was on the market.  This was a clever way for them to get inside her home without having to obtain a warrant.  The agents froze $500,000 US dollars which was tied to money laundering and prostitution.

In 2007, one of Palfrey's prostitutes hanged herself.  Palfrey was quoted as saying (in response to the suicide of one of her "girls": "I guess I'm made of something that Brandi Britton wasn't made of."  There is still speculation exactly what Palfrey meant by that statement.

Palfrey was convicted on April 15, 2008 for racketeering, using the US mail for illegal purposes, and money laundering.

It's been suggested many US senators employed Palfrey's services, often times calling from hotel rooms to conceal their identity.  However, telephone records were subpoenaed for her trial.  Within the records there were between 10,000-15,000 phone numbers of clients who had secured escorts.  Additionally, it's important to know that several of these clients secured lawyers who contacted Palfrey to see if their names could be kept confidential.  It's also interesting to note Palfrey had cleared over $2 million in earnings from over 13 years of being a Madam in Washington, DC.  Her escorts charged $300 per hour.

Who came forward to provide information?  Thirteen escorts and three former clients testified at Palfrey's trial.  Senator David Vitter admitted to using Palfrey's escort services.  Two Washington officials were "ratted out" but never confessed: Randall Tobias (State Department Officer) and Harlan Ullman (Defense Department Official).

David Vitter

So how did they get people to testify at trial?  Prosecution offered immunity from future prosecution in exchange for testimonies.

What's so interesting about all this is how the media handled things.  You can research ABC's 20/20 from May 4, 2007 during their investigative report on Palfrey.  Turns out, ABC news was handed over 46 POUNDS (that's 21 kg in the metric system) of phone records.  Somehow it was decided that NONE of these were "newsworthy" for the general public.  Allow me to repeat that, the powers that be at ABC decided to never make mention of any of the names they were handed to protect the clients who secured prostitutes.  

Palfrey was facing anywhere from 6 years to up to 55 years in prison post conviction!

Palfrey was 52 years old when she committed suicide.  She was found hanging in a storage shed just outside her mother's trailer park 2 weeks after her prison sentence was vacated.  A lot of people speculate whether or not her death was really a suicide.  Handwritten suicide notes were found in which her sister identified the handwriting as Deborah's.  The two suicide notes were written a week before she was found.  The contents of the suicide letters were eventually released:

        To her sister: "You must comprehend there is no way out, i.e. "exit strategy" for me other than              the one I have chosen here."

        Another note described her vacated sentence as: "a modern day lynching" and she further                  explained that she had a phobia of being "in my late 50's a heartbroken, penniless and very                  much alone woman."

Again, obviously people were skeptical.  Dan Moldea, a journalist recalled a conversation he had with the Madam.  He recounted Palfrey had said: " I am not going back to prison!  I will commit suicide first!"  He also relayed that Palfrey had told him that her prior prison sentence had left her with PTSD.

However, Montgomery Blair Sibley, her former lawyer (law license suspended in 2008 in the State of Florida) claimed to have phone records tied to the Presidential election of 2016 (Obama v. McCain).

She is buried in Tarpon Springs, FL.  It took a little creativity to get past the "guards" at the cemetery who stopped us and questioned what our business was at her grave.  A lady explained that Palfrey's family entrusted them that her grave site would be safe.  Of course, with the notoriety, we understood completely.


The purpose of writing this blog post/article is to promote the questioning of which candidate Palfrey could have allegedly have been connected to (darn, I hate ending sentences with a preposition, so I'll add this parenthetical as to distract from that).  Also, the purpose is to make you question whether Palfrey committed suicide.  Can a person not commit suicide and still have handwritten letters in their own handwriting?

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM!


My first trip to Estes Park, CO, in 2019 was awe-inspiring for so many reasons!  Can we say "ELK!!?"  But, the top thing on my list was definitely a night tour of the infamous "Stanley Hotel,"  In fact, if I didn't see anything else, I was determined to see The Stanley Hotel.  Honestly, I just wanted to ride a Big Wheel through the hotel hallways and corridors.  Can ya blame me?


What's the Stanley Hotel?

Otherwise known as the "Overlook Hotel," this is the hotel from Stephen King's book (and later television miniseries) "The Shining!"  Nestled in the scenic mountains of Estes Park, the Stanley is such a stately site!  On the National Register of Historic Places, The Stanley Hotel offers old-world charm with modern luxury accommodations and spectacular mountain views.  And, did I mention they're dog friendly??

Background:
Back in the 70's Stephen King and his family (wife and children) vacationed in Estes Park at none other than the Stanley.  Since rugged Estes Park is one of the few snow-peaked mountainous regions with no ski slopes, its tourism pretty much closes completely for the winter.  When King arrived with his family, it was nearing the end of the tourist season.  Guests packed up and were leaving, but King and his family stayed so he could write.  A hotel worker named Grady, who had already tallied the books for the year, told him, "Your money is no good here." (This is both a character and a famous line in the movie).

One night, King had a lucid dream his son was being chased through the hotel by a fire hose.  King was quoted as saying: "I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies...and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.

King was so inspired by his stay, he wrote not only "The Shining" but "Pet Cemetery" as there is a pet cemetery on the property.  In the 1980's, Stanley Kubrick expressed an interest is bringing "The Shining" to the big screen.  However, Kubrick was deathly afraid of planes and flying, especially into the Rocky Mountains.  Therefore, the hotel at Estes Park is not the same hotel as depicted in Kubrick's "Shining" (another hotel in OREGON!).  My first clue, before my tour began, was the much smaller hedge maze that Danny ran through.  This upset Stephen King as he wanted the filming at the Stanley in Estes.  Additionally, another thing Kubrick did that really pissed King off was hiring Jack Nicholson as the main character.  King did not especially like Jack Nicholson at the time. But, could there have possibly been a better cast for lead male?



Fast forward...King finally does his own remake of his famous fictional novel in a TV mini series.  In the remake, the story is brought back to the Stanley in Estes Park...and the flick features someone we recognize from Wings.

Some interesting facts about the Stanley:

Scenes from "Dumb and Dumber" were filmed at the Stanley.  Jim Carey stayed in room 237 and reportedly left the room in the middle of the night.  He refused to talk about what happened or even stay another night in another room. 

One really famous room is room #217!  A chamber maid named Elizabeth Wilson was lighting all the gas lamps in the rooms.  Unknowingly, there was a gas leak in room #217.  One flick of a match and the room was blown up and her body was was found on the story below, ALIVE with only a few broken bones!

The concert hall reportedly has a host of paranormal activity!  On our tour, the tour guide kept playing ball with a ghost child.  The ball kept rolling back to her.  Magnets or slight of hand?  Who knows!?  But, Harry Houdini performed in this concert hall! In fact, his trap door used to pull off some famous illusions and disappearance acts is still installed on the stage floor!


The establishment has the reputation as "America's More Haunted Hotels."  Guests often leave screaming and upset from the hotel in the middle of the night.

In summation:

If you're ever in the area, be sure to swing by and grab a whiskey sour at the bar!  Ask for Grady!  REDRUM!




Sunday, July 5, 2020

Hungry Like a Wolf

I bet you thought this might be about Duran Duran.  Sorry to disappoint yet again.  I wanted to write a post about the most wonderful place on Earth: Seacrest Wolf Preserve!


So, where is Seacrest Wolf Preserve?
You might think a wolf preserve would be in Colorado, Montana, or Alaska.  However, Seacrest Wolf Preserve is nestled in the midst of bumble-screw panhandle Florida.  Literally, it's out...in the middle...of nowhere.  You can get there by driving from Tallahassee towards Panama City, of all places.

Owned by the Watkins family and operated as a non-profit farm, the mission is to teach the public about the different species and their vital roles in a healthy and balanced ecosystem.  They have over 30 wolves there, and it's the only place in the entire world where they keep the pack structure and allow humans into the enclosures to interact with the pack.  

They have three breeds of wolves: The Timber (or the gray wolf), The Arctic Wolf, and The British Columbia Wolf.  Sadly, the BC Wolf is nearing extinction.  They have the BC female wolves there at the preserve, but they're having a difficult time finding the males.  They did find a few males in Canada, but the relation was too close.  The breed is so smart, they will not breed too close in relation.  They would rather cross-breed with a coyote or a dog than breed within their own family.

My favorite wolf was this cross-eyed beauty, named "America"

If you visit, it's very strict:
You must wear all cotton - NO synthetics.  Seriously, you will be given a hard NO to a tour of the enclosures.  And, the closest Wal-mart, should you need to correct any clothing deficiencies, is a good drive away in Mariana.  Think: cotton jeans or khakis.  No leather shoes or belts.  No exposed ankles or legs.  You must be a certain height limit, so no small children.  They don't want any perfumes or strong scents.  You cannot wear sunglasses or take any cameras or phones inside the enclosures.  This rule is for several reasons.  If the phones break, the glass could hurt the wolves...also, some of these ridiculously obnoxious ring tones could alarm or startle the wolves (and your jugular veins could you strewn about the park).  I mean, these are wild animals, and they survive for millennia by being survivalists.  But, mainly, wolves are playful "tricksters" and will grab anything as a toy and run to the furthest point of the enclosures to play "keep away."  They will allow you bring in a disposable camera.  They also will take professional photos of you while in the enclosure.  However, you run the risk of being like me...last in line, and the wolves were kinda bored by that time.  So, I didn't get very many good photos.  However, the ones in this post are my favorite!


Some interesting wolf trivia and Seacrest Wolf Preserve stats I learned:
They do not spay or neuter the wolves in order to keep them wild.  So, how do they keep them in a pack structure?  Interestingly enough, wolves only mate once a year, and it's the week of February 14 (Valentine's Day).  How romantic, right?  Around this time of year, one can hear the male and female wolves, separated, howling back and forth to each other.

Each pup sees a human the moment he/she is born to learn immediately humans are friendly/good.  The owner is present for each birth. It's scientifically called "ingraining."

The wolf dens are SPECTACULAR!  Humans, with balls the size of South East Rhode Island, can crawl down into one and sit straight up Indian-style.  Also, the dens have what humans would refer to as an escape hatch.  There are smaller tunnels within, in case a predator finds its way inside the den.  The mama wolf can send her kits into the tunnels so they are safe.

When two males are fighting inside a pack, usually it can be worked out.  However, when two female wolves fight, they can fight until the death.  The preserve will separate them into different packs.

Wolves have been vilified and scapegoated by Christians and Hollywood.  When, in reality, they would hide and run from you in nature.  Wolves are not a confrontational species.

The owner of Seacrest was responsible for the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

In summation:

Anyone who has ever wanted to walk into the wild side and be deprogrammed from your Hollywood indoctrination should visit Seacrest Wolf Preserve!  Again, be sure to read through the rules and regulations!



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Alcatraz of the Rockies

We've all heard of Alcatraz, right?  Over two decades ago, my family took a trip to San Francisco and Alcatraz was one of my "Must See" attractions, right after Fisherman's Wharf and riding a trolley.  We took a tour boat out to Alcatraz, a maximum security prison in San Francisco Bay.  The tour was absolutely fabulous, and I recommend it to anyone visiting the city of San Fran.  Alcatraz Island is now a US National Park, having closed in 1963.  It jailed some notorious criminals such as Al Capone and "Machine Gun" Kelly.  


But, have you ever heard of "Alcatraz of the Rockies?"  I introduce ADX Florence, classified as a "SUPERmax" prison, an ever higher level than a maximum security prison.  ADX Florence is the most secure prison in America and sits on 49 acres in Florence, CO (Unincorporated Fremont County), 5580 Highway 67 (100 miles south of Denver and about 40 miles from Colorado Springs).  The Federal Bureau of Prisons needed a site for the most dangerous, uncontrollable, and extremely violent prisoners who were capable of harm on others, especially guards and other inmates.  Here, prisoners spend a total 23 hours a day in his single cell.

Built in 1994, the prison was the answer to a double murder in 1983 when two male prisoners from the Aryan Brotherhood stabbed two guards at the the United States Penitentiary, Marion.  Apparently, the design of the prison was found to faulty.  Therefore, there became a national need for a prison to handle the most dangerous, high profile criminals. 

The facility has reported zero Covid-19 cases due to extreme social distancing.  Though no Covid cases were reported, the facility has been reported to be "hell on Earth."  Short, windowless brick buildings with concrete beds, the prison is guarded by towering razor wire fencing (with attack dogs, laser beams and pressure pads around the exterior).  The prison boasts zero escapes.  Only the sky is visible to the prisoners so he can never know his location.  Only one hour a day is spent in a recreational cage where the prison can only ten steps in a straight line or 31 steps in a circle.  All prisoners are escorted by three guards when leaving his cell.

In 2012 prisoners filed class action lawsuits citing severe abuse and failure to properly diagnose prisoners with serious mental illnesses.  At the time of this lawsuit, at least six of the inmates had committed suicide.  The suicides were blamed on the extended time prisoners were forced to spend in solitary confinement/isolation in his cell.  According to some critics of this Supermax facility, the conditions of Gitmo (Gauntanamo Bay are more tolerable and humane!

The prison was designed for a maximum capacity of 490 prisoners.  As of June 2020, the inmate population is 374.  The prison has never been at full capacity.  


Some infamous prisoners incarcerated at the "Alcatraz of the Rockies":

Zacarias Moussaoui:
6 Life Sentences
He was an Al-Qaeda operative from the 9/11 attacks.  He assisted the hijackers in obtaining flight lessons and funded the attacks.



Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:
Sentenced to death 6/24/2015 and is currently awaiting execution
He and his brother were responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing.  They planted a pressure cooker bomb in a backpack which killed three people and injuring over 250.


Ted Kaczynski:
8 Life Sentences
Ted is the "Unibomber."  He pled guilty in 1998, and was responsible for 16 bombings spanning from 1978-1995.  These were mail bombings that killed three people, injuring over 23.


Terry Nichols:
Serving 161 consecutive life sentences for turning State's Evidences (his buddy, Timothy McVey got "Old Sparky" in Indiana in 2001)
He was the co-conspirator of the Oklahoma City Bombing, killing 168 people (several victims were children in a daycare).



Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: 
Life + 30 years
He is the most prolific narco in history!  Former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was incarcerated for drug trafficking, murder, and money laundering.  Witnesses to his trial said he had tortured the cartel's enemies.  They call ADX Florence "the world's most impenetrable prison" since even El Chapo cannot escape.  He had tunneled out of a previous prison.


These are just a few of the notorious prisoners incarcerated out in the arid, treeless, bleak desert of Colorado!

"Who Hurt You, Kimmie?"..."My Own Expectations"

 Hey Pals!  I hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the entire year as a bonafide foodie).  Plus I got to cuddle wi...