Archive: September 2009

No “Issues with Jane” tonight 9/30/09

In my last post, I said I’d be back on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell tonight (Wed., Sept. 30), and that was the plan, but there’s been a late-breaking change, and I won’t be on tonight after all.  As soon as I know the next time I’ll be on, I’ll let you know on my Facebook fan page though!

Defending the cops in California 9/29/09

Did you see Tuesday night’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell?!?  We talked about a missing-persons case in which a young woman went to a Malibu, California restaurant alone, behaved bizarrely (reportedly saying she was here from Mars to avenge the death of Michael Jackson), ran up a tab of approximately $90, and had neither money nor a credit/debit card to pay the tab, at which point the cops were called, who then found marijuana in the woman’s car, arrested her, impounded the car, took her down to the cop station, booked her, and released her on her own recognizance several hours later, at which point she walked out of the police station, apparently slept for a while in the backyard of a nearby house, and hasn’t been seen since.  No one knows what happened to her.  Maybe she suffered a psychotic break and is now walking around aimlessly in a dissociative “fugue” state (in which she doesn’t know who or where she is), and/or maybe she’s a victim of foul play (maybe someone slipped something into her drink and took her money, but the cops intervened before that person could lead her out of the restaurant, and then after she was released from custody, she was still somewhat out of it and was victimized by someone, either the same individual who drugged her — maybe that person was lying in wait outside the cop station — or maybe some other individual who came across her later and took advantage of her).  So, on the program with us were the missing woman’s father and the family’s lawyer.  I felt terrible for the father, as I’m sure we all did — his daughter’s missing, and he’s probably an emotional wreck — sad, scared, angry… .  The lawyer, on the other hand, seemed more interested in setting up a lawsuit against the Malibu cops than in finding the missing woman.  He vehemently argued that the cops should’ve kept the woman in custody until she could’ve been evaluated by a shrink, and I stepped in to defend the cops because I’m sick of cops being accused of mistreating people before the evidence is in.  In this case, the cops had absolutely no duty to detain the woman unless, at the time of her release, they knew or should’ve known that she was a clear and present danger to herself or others, period!  Now that she’s missing, it’s easy to say that the cops should’ve seen it coming, but I doubt they did.  I give the cops the benefit of the doubt and assume that if they believed the woman was in imminent danger, they would’ve tried to prevent it.  In fact, one police department employee reportedly did offer the woman the option of spending the night in the cop station lobby rather than walking home at night alone, and she apparently declined that offer.  The lawyer seemed to think that the cops had a duty to detain the woman against her will simply because she had behaved bizarrely earlier in the evening, but that’s just plain wrong!  We don’t know how she behaved in police custody.  Maybe by the time of her release she seemed reasonably lucid, but even if she was still behaving bizarrely, she may not have posed a clear and present danger to herself or others.  She wasn’t driving a car — her car had been impounded because of the marijuana, remember?  Imagine if the law required the cops in California to detain every person who behaves bizarrely in that state until they could be evaluated by shrinks — every jail in the state would be overflowing every day, and the state would’ve been bankrupt decades before now, not to mention the Constitutional issues it would raise (you’re free to be bizarre in this country as long as you’re not posing a danger to yourself or others)!  Another guest chimed in with the lawyer and accused the cops of “harassment” for arresting the woman because people with prescriptions for it are allowed to possess marijuana in California — never mind that it’s absolutely still a crime for people who don’t have prescriptions, as this woman apparently didn’t, to possess it!  See what I mean?  There’s no evidence that I’ve seen that the cops wanted to harass this woman, nor have I seen any evidence that they had reason to believe, at the time they released her, that she was a clear and present danger to herself or others.  The lawyer first told me I didn’t know anything about the law on the temporary detention of people on mental-health grounds, then after I informed him that I’m both an attorney and a shrink, he suddenly claimed to have tapes which prove that the cops released the woman when it was clear that she was a danger to herself or others, at which point I challenged him to provide copies of those tapes to the network.  First, he hedged, saying he’d need to discuss it with the family, but when pressed by Jane, he said he’d show up on tomorrow night’s show with the tapes.  It’s on folks!  I’ll be back on the show tomorrow night as well, and I’ll predict right now that there will be no tapes (I don’t know how he could possibly have jailhouse video this quickly, especially jailhouse video that the network doesn’t have), and if there are tapes, I predict that they won’t come close to proving that any reasonable cop should’ve deemed the woman a clear and present danger to herself or others at the time of her release.  I could be wrong, and if it’s proven that I am, then I’ll join the chorus criticizing the cops, but until then, I’d like to see the focus be on finding the missing woman instead of on nailing the cops!  Tune in to Wednesday night’s Issues to see what happens next!

(P.S.  A quick Anthony update:  Florida prosecutors are saying that high-tech forensic evidence will show 1) that a young child in a fetal position was in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car at some point, 2) that hairs matching little Caylee’s were also found in the trunk, and 3) that the hairs matching Caylee’s were shed from the scalp of a deceased person.)

Hollywood hoodlums 9/28/09

Randy Quaid – celebrated actor, arrested with his wife in Texas for allegedly skipping out on a substantial hotel tab, and this allegedly isn’t the first time they’ve done it.  Add this one to the list of incredibly-stupid legal problems that celebrities have created for themselves over the years, everything from shoplifting (Winona Ryder) to drugs (too many to mention) to drunk driving (too many to mention) to accidentally shooting themselves while carrying guns illegally (Plaxico Burress).  As I always say, these tend to be really stupid people who tend to have a lot of money and tend to get a lot of adulation and deference from sycophantic fans, so they end up feeling like they can literally do whatever they want.  Props to the cops in Texas for disillusioning the Quaids!  I can’t wait to hear the completely-bogus “I was doing research for a role” defense!

Roman Polanski – acclaimed director, had sex with a 13-year-old girl three decades ago, allegedly drugged her first, fled to Europe, now arrested pending extradition back to the U.S. to finally face a judge in California.  Some in Hollywood are defending this guy, but what’s happening is exactly what should be happening to him!  I don’t care that he’s elderly now; we can’t have a justice system in which you get a pardon if you remain a fugitive long enough.  Some are saying that it’s OK to let Polanski off the hook if the victim’s OK with it.  Nope, can’t do that either.  First of all, we can’t have a justice system that says an adult can have sex with a 13-year-old as long as she doesn’t mind, either at the time or later in life.  The reason it’s a crime in the first place is because the victim, whatever he or she may say later in life, is presumed to be incompetent to consent to sexual activity at that age.  If she wants, I guess she’s free to tell the court that she doesn’t feel harmed by what Polanski did, and I guess the court can take that into account in sentencing if it’s so inclined, but as I understand it, that’d be a reversal of what she said earlier in life when she reportedly received a monetary settlement from Polanski for damage that she alleged he did to her, so I personally wouldn’t give much weight to whatever she says now.  On top of that, the sex crime isn’t the only crime Polanski committed.  He also fled the country, remember?  That’s a crime, too.

(P.S.  These hoodlums aren’t from Hollywood, but there’s been another horrific beating of a teenager by other teenagers, this one fatal, a Chicago honor student beaten to death by several of his teenaged peers on the walk home from school.  As I wrote earlier this year when a similar (thankfully non-fatal) incident happened in the Atlanta area, the attackers’ behavior was crazed, but they weren’t crazy.  It was clearly premeditated – it was videotaped – it was brutal, and it was merciless.  The attackers deserve to be charged as adults and sent to prison for the rest of their lives with no possibility of parole (that’s the max in Illinois).  These are profoundly-dangerous people whom I’ll never feel comfortable having on the streets with me and the people I care about (which includes you).  Plus, as I also recently wrote, the victim’s never going to walk the streets again, so I don’t want to see any of these attackers walking the streets again either.)

The truth about false allegations 9/27/09

A female student at Hofstra University will face NO CHARGES after admitting that she falsely accused five men of gang-raping her in a dormitory bathroom (brings back bad memories of the Duke lacrosse case).  Instead, prosecutors accepted her agreement to go to therapy and put in some community-service hours.  This is an OUTRAGE!  We do not do enough in this country to punish people who make false accusations against others, and we SHOULD!  False allegations can often do equivalent damage to people as the falsely-alleged behavior could’ve done.  In addition, false allegations hurt victims of real crimes by making their stories less likely to be believed and possibly even deterring them from reporting such crimes at all.  The accuser in this case belongs right where she tried to send five INNOCENT people — in JAIL!

Census worker found dead in Kentucky forest 9/27/09

The FBI is investigating the death of a federal census taker whose body was found near a secluded cemetery in a Kentucky forest, hanging by his neck from a tree naked, bound, gagged, and blindfolded with the word “fed” written across his torso in magic marker.  A preliminary manner-of-death determination is “asphyxiation” (no surprise there) occurring approximately two weeks ago, and the apparent cause of death is obviously murder, but few other details of the investigation (like whether he had any reason to have been near the crime scene voluntarily or was more-likely forced there by whoever killed him), have been made public.  It doesn’t really look like suicide is a possible alternative cause of death, and it doesn’t look “ritualistic” (something Blair Witch-like), and if the reported “fed” writing is accurate (and not a ruse to throw law enforcement off the trail of someone with whom the victim had been acquainted), then I’m thinking maybe he came across someone cultivating drugs (which goes on with some frequency in rural forested areas like the area around the crime scene) who killed him to eliminate a witness and to deter law enforcement from coming into that area (like that’s going to work, but then again, we’re probably not dealing with the brightest person(s) on the planet).  Stay tuned.

Study this 9/25/09

Study this:  A new study suggests that spanking makes kids less intelligent.  The study looked at several hundred children and found that the IQ’s of the kids who’d been spanked in the previous four years averaged a few points below the IQ’s of the kids who hadn’t been spanked.  So, the researchers essentially concluded that spanking makes kids stupid.  Hmmm, how would that work exactly?  I mean, unless the spankings were to the kids’ heads, it seems to me like there’s a much more plausible interpretation of this finding (if it’s even accurate — it’s a relatively small IQ difference among relatively small groups of kids).  What if less-intelligent parents happen to spank their kids more often than more-intelligent parents do?  Wouldn’t it then make sense that the kids of the parents who spanked frequently might have just inherited some less-intelligent genes?  That seems to me like it would account for the observed IQ differences more clearly than the spanking.  (And by the way, I’m not saying that it’s stupid to ever spank kids, nor am I saying that spanking never has detrimental effects.  Physical discipline isn’t my recommended “Plan A” for parents, but I still believe there are times when it can make sense — i.e. prevent more harm than it causes — like when a kid who’s too young to be reasoned with needs to learn not to run into the street or not to put his/her hands on the stove.  If it’s overdone, however — i.e. used when non-physical techniques would be equally effective — then I think it can certainly cause problems, maybe not stupidity but other undesirable outcomes like anxiety, low self-esteem, and aggression.)

“Horrorcore” killer 9/24/09

First, an update:  The director of the Washington mental institution that houses the psycho killer who was allowed to go on a “field trip” to a county fair during which he escaped for three days last week has tendered his resignation.  The inmate, now back in the asylum, says he didn’t plan the escape and just seized an opportunity “to get some sun.”  Right.

Now, speaking of psycho killers, how about the “horrorcore” rapper who allegedly bludgeoned his girlfriend, her mother and stepfather, and one of her friends to death in Virginia?  “Horrorcore” music, as I understand it, consists of graphically, grotesquely-violent lyrics superimposed over rap beats.  This guy in particular reportedly rapped about the “joys” of killing numerous people.  What makes it even crazier is that the teenage girlfriend’s mother reportedly took her to a therapist out of concern about the girl’s interest in this genre of music but simultaneously continued to allow her to see the boyfriend and even took the girl to “horrorcore” concerts.  I wrote about a similar case back on May 26, 2009 involving the vile music of “artist” Marilyn Manson, and since it’s been a few months, I think my bottom line bears repeating:  A person who enjoys graphically, grotesquely-violent music and imagery is, in my opinion, psychologically-bizarre at best and downright dangerous at worst, and I think it’s reasonable for a parent to worry that a person (whether it’s his or her own child or someone with whom his or her child associates) who not only enjoys but creates such imagery is at the dangerous end of that spectrum.  I think the therapy idea was a good one, but along with that, for as long as she could, I wish the mother would’ve kept the girl away from that music and away from that guy.  If she had, four people might be alive today.  Instead, it sounds like some creep will be sitting in jail writing another song about how much “fun” it was to kill them.  It’s another sad illustration of the “cultural chaos” that I think is behind an uptick in the frequency of grotesquely-violent crimes in the U.S.A., and I’ll be discussing that in detail in an upcoming column, so stay tuned.

Travolta, Anna Nicole, Mackenzie Phillips, a slew of updates, and an inappropriate “study this” 9/23/09

Cummings update:  Misty Croslin Cummings’ brother reportedly has told police that he believes his sister left the Cummings home on the night that little Haleigh went missing.  Since that revelation, there’s reportedly been a “blowout” argument between Misty and Ron Cummings, followed by Misty leaving town.  Sounds like there may be something to the reports that Misty has failed multiple polygraph examinations about what happened on the night of Haleigh’s disappearance.  Stay tuned

Travolta update:  As we discussed on Tuesday night’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, John Travolta is in the Bahamas for the blackmail trial of an e.m.s. worker and a former Bahamian legislator who allegedly threatened to reveal medical records about Travolta’s son Jett immediately following Jett’s fatal seizure last year if Travolta didn’t pay them $25 million.  I’ll bet if I polled my readers and viewers and asked them to rank the seriousness of various crimes, blackmail wouldn’t rank as highly as it should.  Psychologically, every case of blackmail is pre-meditated, and every blackmailer knows exactly what he or she is doing.  There’s no element of mistake, no “heat of passion,” no “insanity,” no excuse (e.g. “I had to feed my kids”).  Like identity theft, it’s a stone-cold attempt to profit off of someone else’s pain or embarrassment, which makes the person who would do it more dangerous than one might think at first glance, which is why society needs to punish that behavior more harshly than it usually does here in the U.S.  If the allegations in the Travolta case are true, hopefully the Bahamian court will get it right.

Florida family massacre update:  Also on Tuesday night’s Issues, we reported that the man who allegedly murdered his wife and five young children in Florida and then fled to Haiti is now in custody in Haiti, but it’s still unclear whether and when Haitian authorities will return him to the U.S. to face trial.  In what Naples, Florida law enforcement officials are calling the most horrific crime in their community in memory, all six victims had their throats slashed.  The suspect reportedly has said that “something evil” made him do it, and for some observers, I suppose it’d be comforting to think that a man who could slash his own children’s throats must’ve had some kind of mental illness going on, but as I’ve pointed out many times, flight after the fact clearly indicates consciousness of guilt.  We’re also hearing now that there was a long history of violence in that home.  Some relatives have said that the mother stayed with the father because she wanted help providing for the children as well as a “father figure” (wow, some father figure!) for them.  I actually doubt that.  If you do the math, most of the five children were born after the first reported incident of domestic violence in the home (almost a decade ago).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really blaming anyone but the slasher, but I generally don’t buy the line that women who stayed with violent men “did it for the kids.”  Rather than acting with the kids’ best interests at heart, I think these women are more often motivated to stay by their own twisted needs for the chaotic relationship.

Annie Le update:  Annie Le’s fiancé reportedly is wearing the wedding ring that he was to have received at their wedding on the day Le’s body was found.  That’s totally understandable.  I don’t know what I’d do if something ever happened to my girlfriend, but I know that the emptiness I’d feel would be unbearable.  Nancy Grace has first-hand experience in this area – her fiancé was murdered back when she was a graduate student, and she gives a fictionalized account of what that’s like in her new book, The Eleventh Victim.  It’s totally normal that a person in that situation would want to do anything he or she could do to hold onto a piece of the person who passed away, and I think that’s clearly what Le’s fiancé is doing.

Anna Nicole update:  Also from Tuesday night’s Issues, newly-revealed records in the investigation of Anna Nicole Smith’s death suggest that two physicians prescribed “pharmaceutical suicide” to Smith (not that they instructed her on how to commit suicide and gave her the means to do so, but that they gave her copious medications for various other reasons that, taken in combination, brought about her untimely death, most proximately, once again, anxiolytics in combination with painkillers in combination with sleeping pills).  Both physicians are also accused of violating ethical regulations by having improper personal relationships with Smith in addition to their professional relationships with her.  At the micro level, it looks like a classic case of “Hollywood health care.”  At the macro level, the apparent prescription of a dangerous “cocktail” of drugs to get Smith “over” the death of her son is, I think, reflective of a broader “quick-fix” pill-popping culture in which people want to take what appears to be the fastest road to happiness rather than the most lasting or meaningful road; they don’t want to do anything hard, overcome any obstacles, etc., but some things in life are hard, like losing a loved one, and there’s growth to be attained by overcoming (rather than side-stepping) obstacles.  I’m not saying there’s never a time when psychoactive medication makes sense.  I’m saying that for coping with stressors that are parts of life for everyone, I’d like to see more people confronting those stressors head-on and working through them (e.g. in therapy) rather than trying to escape from them with substances.  Jane Velez-Mitchell writes about that very concept in her new book iWant.

Mackenzie Phillips:  80’s sitcom actress Mackenzie Phillips reportedly is claiming in a new book about her life that she had a sexual relationship with her father, the late musician John Phillips, beginning when she was 19 years old and continuing for years thereafter.  Given the reported chaotic history of both individuals, including massive drug abuse, I guess anything’s possible, but parent-child incest typically begins well before the child is 19, so I have to wonder if it’s also possible that Phillips, whose career has never recovered from the loss of her role on One Day at a Time(due to drug abuse), might be simultaneously taking out anger at her father over a whole host of things while trying to sell books by confabulating.  At least one of Phillip’s sisters, singer Chynna (a half-sister actually), apparently believes it’s plausible that there was a sexual relationship between their father and Mackenzie.  Either way, Ms. Phillips story is very sad.

Plaxico Burress:  On Tuesday night’s Issues, we also discussed the case of NFL star Plaxico Burress, who is set to spend two years in prison for bringing a loaded gun into a New York nightclub and accidentally dropping it, at which point it went off, putting a bullet in Burress’ own leg.  When you look at the Burress case in the context of other cases in which people have died (we showed video of two other NFL players who drove drunk and killed people and served far less than two years), it does seem unfair, but my point was that the way to resolve the unfairness is to lengthen those other sentences, not necessarily to reduce Burress’ sentence.  After all, it was sheer luck that Burress was the only one hurt when his gun went off.  Someone could’ve been killed.

Dugard Update:  Jaycee Dugard reportedly has said that Phillip Garrido did not sexually assault the two children that he had with her.  I’m somewhat surprised by that, but I certainly hope it’s true.

Study this:  A new study revealed that medical students, who should be smart enough to know better, are posting inappropriate content online with alarming frequency.  This only adds support to my contention that this sort of thing is going to be the new face of sexual harassment in the American workplace, including the health care workplace.

Men on the run (allegedly) 9/20/09

A Washington man went on the run after eluding mental-hospital workers while on a FIELD TRIP – do you believe this?!?! – to a county fair.  The man was hospitalized after being found not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity in the late 1980’s, when he (allegedly) murdered an elderly woman because “voices” in his head “told him” to do so.  Even though he reportedly had assaulted a staff member and briefly escaped once before (in the early 90’s), he apparently had a backpack on him when he escaped, which NO ONE SEARCHED, which could’ve contained a change of clothes, survival supplies, etc., leading Washington law enforcement officials to conclude that he may have “planned” his escape.  Many in the media called the missing man “criminally insane.”  Hmmm, he’s supposedly “insane,” yet his mind’s apparently working well enough to “plan” escapes?  Makes me wonder just how “insane” he really was back in the 80’s, when he allegedly buried the victim’s body to make it difficult for authorities to identify her.  (Can you say “consciousness of guilt”?)  Thankfully, the guy’s back in custody now.  Wonder if he’ll be found not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity for fleeing.

A Florida husband and father is on the run (allegedly) after his entire family, his wife and five children, were found murdered in their home.  Evidence of “domestic violence” reportedly was found in the home, but a motive for killing the whole family remains unclear.  The man apparently has fled to his nativeHaiti, which could make it difficult to find him and even more difficult to get him back to the U.S.A. to face justice (Haiti has a relatively poor track record of cooperating in extraditing fugitives, especially Haitians, to the U.S.).

Ex-senator and presidential candidate John Edwards is on the run, not from the law, not yet anyway, but from the media as an ex-staffer reportedly is confirming that Edwards is in fact the father of his mistress’ baby.  You heard that here (allegedly) long ago!

(P.S.  This guy never really went on the run, but I had to laugh when I heard someone suggest over the weekend that the suspect in the Annie Le case, a lab technician, might have killed Le because of the way she treated lab rats.  First of all, there’s nothing to suggest that Le ever mistreated a lab animal.  Second, and more importantly, men generally don’t kill women because of the way they treat rats.  Men generally kill women to get things from them that the women don’t want to give.)

A quickie 9/18/09

The “person of interest” in the Annie Le case is back in custody — apparently his DNA matched DNA found on the body.

The high school football coach who was on trial for allegedly causing the death of a player by forcing the player to overexert himself in extreme heat has been found not-guilty of wrongdoing.  (I still think we’re overemphasizing sports to a dangerous degree in this country, especially when it comes to kids’ involvement with sports and sports figures.

Lastly, a quick “study this”:  A new study found that teen pregnancy rates don’t seem to correlate well with rates of religious practice in the U.S.A.  In other words, in areas where the percentage of the population identifying as religious is high, teen pregnancy rates tend not to be lower and in some cases are higher than in less-religious areas.  This doesn’t really surprise me.  Unfortunately, I find that a significant percentage of people who identify as “religious” are “religious” pretty much in name only — i.e. the extent to which religion actually influences how they live their lives seems fairly small compared to the extent to which they profess to be “religious.”  And by the way, I’ve found that to be a cultural truism not just in the U.S.A. but also in most regions of the world that I’ve visited, which are many.

Liar, liar 9/16/09

OK, the “study this” is the main thing tonight, but first, a couple of updates:

Bones have reportedly been found on the California property owned by the Garridos (where Jaycee Dugard and her children were held captive for years), but it’s unclear at this point whether the bones are human or animal.  California authorities have been investigating any possible links between the Garridos and unsolved missing-persons cases.

Autopsy results show that the cause of Yale student Annie Le’s death was “traumatic asphyxiation,” meaning suffocation involving injury to the airway, which would be consistent with either bare-hand strangulation or strangulation with an object (like a tool or ligature of some kind).  Generally speaking (because there certainly can be exceptions) tool or ligature strangulation would suggest to me more premeditation than bare-hand, which would suggest to me more rage or panic.  The man who was being interrogated by police when I last wrote about this case, a lab technician employed in close proximity to where Le’s body was found, actually was released (in the custody of his attorney and under police surveillance) pending the results of tests to determine whether his DNA is on the body.  In the meantime, the cops are calling him a “person of interest.”

Now, study this:  A new study conducted in the U.K. found that on average, men lie twice as often as women — an average of six lies per day for male respondents and three per day for female respondents.  A lie told routinely by both sexes was, “Nothing’s wrong.”  Beyond that, the men routinely lied about alcohol consumption and about their reasons for not calling women.  The ladies, on the other hand, routinely lied about spending money shopping.

Victims don’t get paroled 9/14/09

I’ve been asked what I think about the California Board of Parole’s denial of Susan Atkins’ 13th and likely-final request for parole.  Atkins was a follower of Charles Manson and participated in the horrific murder spree orchestrated by him 40 years ago.  She’s now 61 years old and dying of brain cancer.  What do I think?  Too bad.  Until her victims get “paroled” from their graves, I see no reason to parole this woman from prison.  I don’t care if she’s “sorry” now.  I don’t care if she’s found religion or helped some people out in prison.  And I certainly don’t care where she would “prefer” to die — she didn’t care when or where her victims would’ve preferred to die, did she?  In fact, in 1993, Atkins admitted the following about her murder of a pregnant woman:  “She asked me to let her baby live.  I told her I didn’t have any mercy for her.”  Atkins killed the woman, and of course the baby as well.  A premeditated murderer’s victims don’t get “paroled” — the victims get the death penalty, for doing nothing wrong.  (And by the way, the victims’ loved ones don’t get “paroled” either — they get life sentences, having to go the rest of their lives without the victims.)  If we’re not going to give the murderer the death penalty, then we should at least make sure that his/her life is effectively over as well, by making sure that he/she spends the remainder of his/her life in a box only slightly larger than the ones to which he/she sentenced his/her victims.  To do otherwise, I think, is an insult to the victims and to the victims’ families.  And for those pragmatists who think Atkins should be sent home so that the state can quit paying for her health care, it wouldn’t happen — if she got out, she’d still be getting health care on the taxpayers’ dime as a Medicaid patient.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m fine with not paying to prolong this woman’s life, so I’ll go you one better:  keep her in prison, cut off the expensive curative care, and just do relatively-inexpensive palliative (pain relief) care.

Kicking off the week 9/14/09

Hope everyone had a good weekend.

A pro-life activist was shot in Michigan on Friday.  Wonder if the same people who said that O’Reilly and I were responsible for the shooting of abortion Dr. George Tiller this summer will be intellectually consistent and pin the blame for Friday’s shooting on media personalities who were critical of the victim?  They probably won’t (be intellectually consistent), but I will — no one is to blame in either case except the person who pulled the trigger.  It’s likely that both killers were motivated by ideology, and ideologically-driven killers are among the least likely to be talked into or out of killing (especially by TV hosts and pundits).

Yale graduate student Annie Le has been found deceased.  She disappeared last week just days before her wedding date, and I didn’t spend any time on it then because Connecticut authorities were saying that there was no reason to suspect foul play, so I thought that we probably were looking at another “runaway bride” case.  Well since then, evidence (unspecified items but reportedly involving blood) was removed from her apartment apartment, and an intensive search of the campus and surrounding areas turned up Le’s body hidden behind a wall.  A suspect is in custody.

A close associate of and fundraiser for indicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has died of a reported overdose of an over-the-counter pain reliever.  The deceased was headed to prison for as long as eight years for his involvement in the corruption in Illinois and was under pressure to give evidence helpful to the prosecution of Blagojevich.  It’s tough to imagine someone accidentally overdosing on an over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s also tough to imagine someone poisoning another person with an over-the-counter pain reliever as a means of committing murder, so this is looking like the suicide of someone who was loyal to the end to a guy who’s, at best, questionably-deserving of such loyalty.

And finally tonight, surprise, surprise, more celebrities behaving badly over the weekend and today.  First there was hip-hop artist Kanye West, who accosted country singer Taylor Swift on stage as she was receiving a Video Music Award, seized the microphone, and opined that the award should have gone to fellow hip-hop artist Beyonce.  Then there was tennis player Serena Williams, who had to be docked a point and fined $10,000 for threatening a judge at the U.S. Open after the judge made a call adverse to Williams.  Last but not least, there was singer Whitney Houston, who kept smiling as she told Oprah about the copious amounts of various drugs that she has ingested over the years, which she purportedly deeply regrets — hopefully, it was just “nervous laughter,” but it didn’t inspire confidence that Houston’s truly done with drugs.

Blushing 9/14/09

Spotlight: Dr. Brian Russell

I’m blushing after reading the piece that Jedediah Bila wrote about me today!

9/11 and mental health 9/11/09

On this eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, when we pause to remember the thousands of innocent lives that were lost, it’s important also to remember all the lives that were spared but altered, both physically and mentally.  Fortunately, many of the psychological effects of trauma are amenable to treatment by trained professionals.  The following, originally posted on 9/11/08, discusses the lingering mental health effects of the 9/11 attacks:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lingering mental health effects of 9/11

This seventh anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., including the attack that was foiled by heroic Americans over Pennsylvania, is a day to remember and recount losses, and some of those losses occurred in the area of mental health.  A study published in the Journal of Urban Health estimates that 35,000-70,000 people developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) following exposure to the New York attacks alone.  That estimate, even the low end of it, seems unrealistically-high to me, but there’s no doubt that many people suffered post-traumatic stress after 9/11.  PTSD is different from grief.  Grief is the profoundly negative emotional experience of people who’ve suffered a loss, like the loss of a loved one on 9/11, and it’s characterized by sadness and sometimes by emotions like anger and guilt.  While it can seem unbearable at or near the time of the loss, grief usually becomes less intense with time.  It’s not that people ever forget lost loved ones but that they become better able to contemplate the future without them.  PTSD is the negative emotional experience of some people who’ve suffered or observed a traumatic event, like the collapse of the World Trade Center, and it’s characterized by recurring memories of the event (sometimes in the form of nightmares or flashbacks) and by anxiety about a recurrence of the event.  PTSD can get worse over time.  As is the case with other anxiety disorders, like OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), people often change their behaviors to avoid feeling anxiety, but those behavioral changes can end up reinforcing and perpetuating anxiety to the point that it becomes debilitating.  For example, a person who felt uncomfortable being inside of tall buildings or flying on airplanes immediately after 9/11 and responded to that feeling by staying out of tall buildings and not flying for the past seven years might now be physically unable to enter a tall building or fly on an airplane without experiencing a panic reaction (increased heart rate, hyperventilation, possibly even fainting).  The good news is that PTSD is treatable, and many people who’ve experienced it are now living normal lives.  If you think that you or someone you love may be experiencing PTSD, there’s a good chance that a local psychologist trained in the treatment of PTSD can help (and for residents of New York City, treatment for mental health issues related to 9/11 is still available at no cost, sponsored by the City).

A tale of two speeches 9/10/09

President Obama has made two major speeches in the past week.  The first was to school children, mainly about the importance of staying in school and ultimately becoming part of an educated American workforce.  Some people worried that the President was going to use that speech to “indoctrinate” American kids with socialistic principles, and some even took their kids out of school on the day that schools all over the country broadcast the speech in their classrooms.  I wasn’t worried about it at all, and I thought that most of the hubbub about it was silly.

The second speech was to a joint session of Congress, about the President’s proposed reform of the American health care system.  Many people had big problems with this one as well, both with the philosophical and practical aspects of the proposed reform and with the President’s tone and candor in pushing it.  This time, I have to agree with those who were put off by the speech.

I’ve written extensively about my views on health care reform.  “Dr. Brian’s Rx for health care,” originally posted during last year’s presidential campaign (9/8/08), outlines the basics of the issue as I see it, so if you’re interested in what I think about it, that’s the place to start.  Then if you’re still interested, here’s a rundown of other postings I’ve written to date on various specific aspects of the issue:

On why “mental health parity” was a bad move (9/25/08)

On the impending shortage of doctors (11/18/08)

On why socialism is not the solution (4/28/09)

On the President’s verbal attack on doctors (7/23/09, eighth paragraph)

On the inefficiency of government-administered insurance (7/25/09)

On the psychology behind demand for health care services (7/28/09, first paragraph)

On why Medicare is not a model program (7/30/09)

On the tenor of the health care debate (8/5/09)

On the importance of a free market for health services (8/11/09, fifth paragraph)

On the President’s appeal to morality (8/21/09, last paragraph)

If you read them all, then you get a star for expertise on the health care reform issue, and the President should be proud of your educational efforts (OK, maybe not, but if you’re interested in the issue, enjoy)!

Bondage and castration (don’t leave this one on the screen if any kids use your computer) 9/9/09

On Tuesday’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, we talked about Phillip Garrido’s (the man who allegedly kidnapped, raped, and held Jaycee Dugard captive for 18 years) alleged fascination with sexual bondage.  Jane asked where the lines are between normal and abnormal, legal and criminal when it comes to bondage-type sexual behavior between adults.  If we’re dealing with adults who are capable of giving consent to engage in such behavior, then the line between legal and criminal behavior is relatively easy to draw – it’s basically where someone is forced to do something to which they have not consented.  The line between abnormal and normal is somewhat blurrier – I explained that there’s sort of a continuum of sex and power.  Basically, for normal adults, the urge to have sex with other consenting adults is one of our most primitive, survival-based urges, so at the mild end of the continuum, having someone “submit” to our urges can be exciting in a way that’s well within the range of normalcy, but the voluntariness of that person’s submission is key.  Moving toward the other end of the continuum, if a person starts needing to feel that he/she is forcing him/herself or inflicting pain on another person in order to become sexually excited, that’s what’s called “sexual sadism,” and it’s definitely disordered.  There are many theories about the origins of such disorders, about how the brain’s “wiring” for sexual arousal gets “twisted” in some people, theories ranging from genetically under-developed arousal systems that require excessive stimulation to become activated to sexual trauma experiences that sort of “lock up” the arousal system such that it only becomes activated when the person re-experiences or reenacts their trauma experiences.  The important thing to remember is that these sexual disorders, including sexual sadism, pedophilia, etc. (the “paraphilias”), don’t make anyone do anything.  The disorder is the desire to do perverted things.  Acting on that desire is a choice, and it’s just as reasonable to expect people with such disorders to restrain themselves as it is to expect the rest of us to restrain ourselves (i.e. restrict ourselves to the appropriate times, places, and manners for satisfying sexual urges).

Later in the show, we discussed castration as an appropriate consequence for sex offenders like Garrido.  Physical castration has actually been used for centuries as a means of punishing sex offenders and preventing sex-offense recidivism, and more recently, chemical castration (the administration of testosterone-inhibiting drugs) has been employed.  Several U.S. states include castration among the sentencing options for sex offenders, but generally only for repeat sex offenders.  There is research to support the idea that castration, of one form or the other, does reduce the likelihood of recidivism in many sex offenders, and believe me, it’s fine with me if they neuter Garrido, but there are some problems with the procedure.  As one of my fellow panelists pointed out, the Supreme Court has frowned upon forced physical castration as “cruel and unusual punishment” while taking a less-restrictive stance on chemical castration given that it’s reversible in the event of an erroneous conviction.  More importantly though, it doesn’t stop all offenders from reoffending.  I’ve explained in the past that I disagree with people who say sex offenses are only about power and not at all about sex.  The data on sex-offense recidivism among castrated offenders clearly indicates to me that there’s a strong sexual-arousal component to these crimes, which is what castration’s designed to address (although a significant percentage of the castrated men who’ve been studied have remained capable of becoming sexually aroused).  But there’s also that power component to these crimes that I discussed above, which castration doesn’t really address.  That’s why I said that I still prefer to just keep these people locked up!

Catching up 9/9/09

Busy week, and a day off because of the holiday, so here’s my effort to catch up:

First up, an Anthony update:  The prosecution has released more “evidence” including lots of pictures of little Caylee before she disappeared.  I’m not sure most of it’s really evidence, at least not for the first phase of Casey’s trial (maybe for the penalty phase, if she’s convicted).  The reason is simple.  The test of evidentiary admissibility is generally this:  Does the probative effect of the evidence outweigh its prejudicial effect?  In other words, does the evidence tend to prove enough to reasonably be helpful to a jury in determining what happened, or does it serve to pretty much just make people angry at the defendant while proving relatively little?  In this case, pictures of Caylee before her disappearance prove nothing about what happened to her, so I don’t expect many of those to be shown at trial (assuming there is one, maybe just a few photos to acquaint jurors with who the victim was, but not slide shows taking hours to complete and serving only to make people want Casey’s blood for what happened the beautiful little daughter).  The prosecution also has revealed that the duct tape found on little Caylee was a relatively rare brand of duct tape, reportedly also discovered at the Anthony home.  Now that’s a different story.  I think the probative value of that evidence, while still not as strong as I’d like it to be (obviously, there are others in Florida who had that duct tape even if it’s rare, but looking at it as one of multiple pieces of a chain of circumstantial evidence all pointing to the same person, Casey), outweighs its prejudicial value.  Meanwhile, the defense wants a judge to dismiss or at least postpone the civil defamation lawsuit filed by a woman bearing the name of the apparently-fictitious nanny whom Casey accused of kidnapping Caylee.  That actually makes sense, and here’s why:  In a criminal case in which your life and/or liberty is/are in jeopardy, you have the right to remain silent, to not incriminate yourself.  In a civil case, in which only your property is in jeopardy, you generally don’t have that same protection – you can generally be forced to testify.  Problem is, Casey’s facing civil and criminal cases at the same time.  If she’s forced to testify in the civil case before the criminal case goes to trial, the testimony that she gives in the civil case can be used against her in the criminal case.  Therefore, at least postponing the civil case until after the criminal case has concluded is the right way to go.

Coach trial update:  Testimony is underway in the trial of David Stinson, the coach accused of literally running one of his high school football players to death in extreme heat because he didn’t think the team was committed enough (see my previous post dated 1/24/09).  However it turns out, I think this case should make every parent of a young athlete rethink the importance of sports relative to other things.  As I’ve said many times, I think there is way,way too much emphasis on sports in our culture, and it’s causing young people to idolize people who aren’t worth idolizing and to prioritize activities that are relatively unlikely to contribute very much to how well they do in life.  There are some good life lessons to be learned from participating in sports for sure (about trying to develop skills and talents fully, about being physically-fit, about being part of a team, about winning and losing gracefully, etc.), but like most good things, it can be taken too far, and when we have apparently-healthy kids literally dying over football, parents getting in fistfights at kids’ games, etc., I think we’re there.

Another web-cam suicide:  A young man in Chile reportedly initiated a live web-cam chat with his ex-girlfriend about a year after their relationship had ended, only to commit suicide on camera while she watched helplessly.  The woman (I feel terrible for her) apparently tried to get some of the man’s friends to stop him, but they didn’t arrive in time.  This is actually the second time in a year that I’ve reported on a live web-cam suicide.  The first time was back on 11/22/08.

Boy found behind grandma’s wall:  About two years ago, a young boy disappeared with his mother following a custody battle between the mother and the boy’s father.  As a court-appointed child-custody expert, the possibility of parental kidnapping is always in the back of my mind – a parent doesn’t like the custody decision, so he/she absconds with a child, or worse.  Well in this case, there’s been a happy but bizarre ending – the boy, now six years old, was discovered in his grandmother’s house in Illinois, hidden in a secret room, more like a “crawl space.”  Apparently, he’d been confined to her house, rarely if ever going outside or interacting with anyone other than his mother or grandmother, for the past couple of years.  He’s reportedly relatively healthy, but the ending’s not all happy of course.  He’s been without his father for a long time now (the mother apparently alleged that the father had been abusive, but there’s apparently been no substantiation of that), and it looks like now the mother and grandmother will be locked up in their own little rooms for quite a while (as they should be, but I still feel bad for the kid).

Tila Tequila:  Another “reality” TV star, “Tila Tequila” this time, is at the center of an alleged domestic incident.  She reportedly alleged that a pro-football player choked her and wouldn’t let her leave his house.  The accused reportedly said he never abused her in any way but did refuse to let her drive home drunk from his house.  From the way in which the cops handled this one – reportedly requiring Ms. “Tequila” to write up her own “citizen’s arrest” complaint rather than filing a complaint on behalf of the people of California, I’m thinking this one may be less about domestic abuse and more about drama, and if so, I think it does a disservice to women who already tend to be reluctant to report real abuse, not to mention the damage that it could do to the guy involved.  Speaking of defamation (in the Anthony update earlier), he very well may have been defamed by all of the “twittering” that Ms. “Tequila” reportedly has been doing about the incident to her 200,000+ fans (I’ve written and spoken before about how I think social networking is the new face of defamation and sexual harassment in America, and this may be an illustration of that).

Wrapping up the week 9/3/09

Michael Jackson has been laid to rest, finally, in a private service held in California Thursday evening.  The legal repercussions of his death, however, are far from over.  Stay tuned.

Jaycee Dugard’s aunt has spoken publicly about Jaycee’s reunion with her family.  The aunt said that there have been many joyful moments in the past week and that she, like me, is optimistic about the prospects for Jaycee’s and her children’s futures.  She remarked on how intelligent the two children seem to be despite having had no formal education, which, in conjunction with the resilience and “plasticity” (malleability) of children’s minds that I mentioned earlier in the week, bodes well for the children’s prospects of “catching up” educationally.  People have been asking me whether I think we’ll see Jaycee on t.v. anytime soon.  I don’t know how soon, but I predict that it will happen eventually, so again, stay tuned.  (By the way, Garrido apparently was arrested for raping a young girl even before the rape and kidnapping for which he was sentenced to 50 years, which should’ve had him behind bars instead of out on parole at the time Jaycee was kidnapped.  The charges in the first rape case – the first one that we know of anyway – were dropped, apparently because the victim didn’t want to testify.)

Last week, I told you about an Ohio teen who fled to a Florida church after converting to Christianity, fearing that her Muslim father would kill her.  A judge now has ruled that there’s enough of a question about her safety with her parents that she can remain in Florida indefinitely.

Check out these bizarre crimes:  A Pennsylvania woman is in custody for allegedly raping a man by restraining him and using the threat of being burned with a hot curling iron to coerce him into having sex with her.  A bystander at a California health care reform rally was mistaken for an opponent of health care reform and confronted physically by a pro-health-care-reform demonstrator who ended up biting one of the bystander’s fingers off during the ensuing fracas – obviously the attacker, who got away, is highly concerned about people’s health!  A Las Vegas woman is in custody for allegedly murdering another woman by restraining her and pouring boiling water over her body in an apparent dispute over crack.  And, a Montana teen has been charged with assault for attempting to get her father to eat Jello that she made with lamp oil in it, apparently because she was angry at him for grounding her and wanted to give him diarrhea, no lie.

Study this:  A German woman with a benign tumor on her amygdala (a brain structure known to be involved in emotional activation, excitement, fear responses, etc.) reportedly has developed hallucinations that she and other females are becoming males, the first case of its kind, suggesting that the amygdala may also be involved somehow in gender perception.  You may have learned in school about Phineas Gage, the 19th-century railroad worker whose personality changes after an accident in which an iron rod penetrated his skull helped the fledgling field of neuroscience begin to understand the role that certain brain structures played in psychological functioning.  This new case shows how, despite all of the technology now available in the field, the experiences of individual patients still help shape our understanding of how the brain works.

Finally tonight, it’s looking like a giant fire that’s been raging in California and has killed two firefighters was caused by arson.  When a similar arson fire was raging back in 2007, I wrote about why someone would do such a thing.  If you’re interested, I’ll reprint it below.  Thanks for reading and watching this week, and have a great Labor Day weekend!

Motives for Arson (originally posted 10/27/2007):

Now that we know that some of the devastating forest fires burning in California this week were caused by arson, people are asking why someone would commit such extreme and seemingly random violence.  First of all, let me just say that the “experts” who’ve been talking about some connection between arson and sex need to stay off of TV and just curl up in front of their fireplaces at home with their long-outdated Freud books.  Now, let’s get real.  Deliberately-set fires fall into two categories:  1) fires set to accomplish tangible secondary goals, and 2) fires set for purely psychological reasons.

Fires that fall into the first category can be set to terrorize random people or specific groups of people (there’s been no indication that this week’s fires involve terrorism, but recall the string of fires at southern black churches a few years ago), or to harm a specific person or organization financially (like the burnings of luxury homes in California and ski resort buildings in Colorado by environmentalists a few years ago, or the burning of a business by a disgruntled former employee), or as a means of committing murder (even mass murder), or to cash in on an insurance policy (despite the weak housing market right now, the suspects who’ve been identified in this week’s California fires so far have not been area homeowners), or to cover up evidence of another crime (it’s been suggested that at least one of this week’s fires may have been a diversion, set to distract federal authorities while large quantities of drugs and illegal aliens were smuggled across the southern border).

Fires that fall into the second category can be set for the arsonist’s excitement, or to give the arsonist a sense of power, or to draw attention to the arsonist (there have even been cases in which firefighters and forestry workers have set fires apparently so they could fight them and be “heroes”), or to accomplish some psychotic, delusional goal (like “to purify the Earth”).  People talk about “Pyromania,” a trance-like fascination with watching fire, as a potential psychological motivation for setting fires like the ones burning in California, but that’s probably one of the lower-probability explanations.  While Pyromania remains a psychiatric diagnosis, there’s controversy about whether it really should be one.  If it truly exists as a distinct disorder, it’s extremely rare and probably occurs more in children who, for example, keep lighting matches despite repeated warnings from their parents (setting small fires that would grow out of control only by accident rather than big fires that were meant to be big, as evidenced by spreading accelerant over a forested area).

You heard it here first (as usual) 9/2/09

You heard it here first!  Sounds like we’re going to get some kind of insanity defense from Mrs. Garrido — her lawyer reportedly is already talking about her “mental state” when she (allegedly) helped kidnap Jaycee Dugard, facilitated the rape of Jaycee, and participated in the confinement of Jaycee and the two children (including serving as the sole captor while the husband did jail time after the kidnapping)!  I’ll bet we’re in for a huge load of crap about how Mrs. Garrido was “under her husband’s control” and how she “was a victim herself” and how she was “brainwashed” into believing that they were a “family”!  Oh how I would LOVE to be the prosecution’s expert on this one!

In other news, a Florida man reportedly is alleging that there was some kind of decomposing amphibian (e.g. frog or tadpole) in his Diet Pepsi.  My question for the folks at Pepsi is whether Diet Pepsi is pasteurized, and if so, whether it’s pasteurized in the sealed can?  If so, then it might be easy to prove whether this plaintiff-to-be is full of crap — if the Diet Pepsi was pasteurized but the animal remains were not, then there’s no way the animal remains were in the can when it was pasteurized, right?  (Believe it or not, I actually know of a case like that!)

What’s with these wives 9/1/09

When the Dugard case broke last week, the first thing everyone seemed to want to know about was Stockholm Syndrome (I said that assessment was premature and explained that kidnapping victims sometimes don’t seize opportunities to escape due to duress, like having kids there who might be punished for the parent’s escape, and another psychological phenomenon called “learned helplessness” — I don’t want to directly compare a human’s psychology to an animal’s, but strictly as an over-simplified analogy, it’s kind of like when a dog wears a shock collar and can’t leave its yard for years and then still stays in the yard even when the collar is removed, not necessarily because it wouldn’t enjoy leaving the yard but because it’s given up on the possibility of ever really doing that).  Then, as the story developed, people wanted to know what goes on in the mind of a guy like Garrido (I said he was likely a psychopath, i.e. a cowardly narcissist who subjugates, damages, and destroys other people simply to make sure that his/her own desires get satisfied, who knew both what he was doing and that it was wrong, regardless of whether or not he also has some kind of religious delusions — consciousness of guilt, in the form of years of concealment, is readily apparent).  Then, people wanted to know what Jaycee and her kids can reasonably expect to achieve in terms of some semblance of normal lives (I said there was no way to give a victim-specific prognosis without examining the victim, so it’d have to be a day-by-day thing, starting with constant assurances and reassurances of safety and unconditional love, so no victim feels guilty about anything done or not done during the ordeal, and while I acknowledged that there’s no way to restore lost years to someone, I held out hope that some semblance of normal lives could, over time, be achieved for Jaycee and her kids — perhaps even more so for the kids because still-developing minds can be even more resilient and amenable to change than fully-formed minds, but then again, Jaycee at least had 11 years of relative normalcy before the ordeal while her kids have no such frame of reference).  Most recently, people’s questions have turned to the psychology of Mrs. Garrido and other women who’ve allegedly collaborated with their husbands in horrific sex-slavery cases (most notably, in addition to Dugard, the Fritzl case — the Austrian “dungeon guy” who raped his daughter for years, fathering several children with her — and the Rinehart case in Missouri, in which a father allegedly repeatedly raped and impregnated his daughter, whose babies allegedly were delivered with the help of the man’s wife, who’s also the victim’s mother).  Fritzl’s wife reportedly said she didn’t know what he was doing in their basement for all those years, and I think that was crap.  At least Rinehart’s wife in Missouri was apparently more honest, reportedly saying that she never could’ve found another man if she’d left Rinehart, and I think that shows what’s really going on with these women — I think they’re as much psychopaths as their husbands in that it’s all about them and their wants, to the extent that they’re willing to condone and even collaborate in the kinds of horrific abuse that we’ve seen in these cases, even of their OWN children!  I think we saw it to a lesser extent in the Neveah Buchanan case, where the mother apparently was having a sexual relationship with a man she knew was a sex offender, again, putting her own sexual desires above her child’s safety.  The psychopath label sounds like a fit to me even if all Mrs. Garrido did was go along with her husband’s actions, but it looks likely that she was actually an active co-abuser — Mr. Garrido reportedly spent four months in jail in 1993 for a parole violation, AFTER the Dugard kidnapping, so it looks like Mrs. Garrido kept little Jaycee captive when she (Mrs. Garrido) could have let her go with absolutely nothing to fear from her husband.  If that’s the case, then I think the psychopath label is all but a slam dunk.  To be fair and balanced, criminal profiler Pat Brown was on Campbell Brown with me last week, and she had a different theory:  she thinks that these women are so sexually terrorized by their husbands/boyfriends that they go along with the kidnapping of sex slaves to get some relief for themselves.  (Even if that’s the case, I’m not sympathetic — nothing justifies these women condoning this kind of abuse at best or participating in it at worst!)  I would LOVE to be the prosecution’s expert when Mrs. Garrido tries to say that she was under some kind of duress herself, or that she had “battered wife syndrome,” or whatever other story she tells.  I’m really not that worried about whether she or her husband will face the death penalty for what they did to Jaycee and her kids — given my study of other heinous child abusers’ prison experiences, I think that what could happen in prison, at least to him, could be some even harsher justice, and if it is, I won’t lose a moment’s sleep over it.  I think the death penalty remains a possibility though, at least for Mr. Garrido, because California authorities reportedly are investigating any possible connections between him and the murders of several prostitutes (though none have reportedly been found yet).

(I told you over the weekend about a massacre at a Georgia trailer park in which seven people were killed and two injured, one of whom has now died, bringing the death toll to eight.  Details have been slow to come together.  It looks like at least several of the victims were members of the same family, that it was not a murder/suicide, i.e. none of the victims appears to have also been a perpetrator, and that the manner of at least some victims’ deaths was some kind of blunt force trauma rather than shooting. The man who apparently reported that he had arrived on the scene to find his “whole family” dead was taken into custody when law enforcement arrived for allegedly being in possession of drugs and tampering with evidence, but it’s still unclear whether he’s the likely or the only perpetrator — law enforcement reportedly is looking for at least one other individual.  Hopefully we’ll get a clearer picture of what happened in that trailer park and why as events and details unfold.)

(Also, the more I learn about the death of this “D.J. A.M.” guy — like a bunch of undigested oxycodone pills reportedly found in his body during the autopsy — the more it looks like a suicide to me, but not all of the facts are in on that yet either.)

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