I Am Offline: Be Back Soon


I am currently offline and will be for a few days. Denene and I are assisting with repairing damage to family property caused by the recent hurricane that struck the East Coast.

Many roads in the area are still flooded, impassable, and/or totally washed out. Some businesses and homes are still partially submerged and people sometimes navigate parking lots and side streets in small boats.

Conditions in many places are definitely less than desirable and in some cases, devastating. But it is what it is and the locals are survivors.

Until I return, I thank you for your patience.

In the meantime, #hurricanematthewsucks

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering the Fallen



Officer Lesley Zerebny, 27

Palm Springs California Police Department

October 8, 2016 – Officer Lesley Zerebny was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance. The suspect, a known gang member, fired at officers through a closed door after telling family members he wanted to shoot police officers.

Officer Zerebny is survived by her husband and her four-month-old child.


Officer Gil Vega, 63

Palm Springs California Police Department

October 8, 2016 – Officer Gil Vega was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance. The suspect, a known gang member, fired at officers through a closed door after telling family members he wanted to shoot police officers.

Officer Vega is survived by his wife and eight children. He was scheduled to retire in two months, after serving 35 years as a police officer.

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Juvenile Crime: Before and After the Arrest


Prior to serving as a police officer and detective, I was employed in the prison system as a corrections officer. I spent part of this miserable portion of my life working in a prison that housed a unique group of inmates, those who were absolutely and totally unwanted by the state’s numerous other institutions. It was a place for criminal misfits. They were unmanageable, unruly, and they hated the air and the sky, the water they drank, and they hated themselves. Just plain nasty is what they were.

This particular facility, the place where I spent most of my waking hours in those days, was divided into four separate buildings with each surrounded by a tall fence. One section was for the super mean and out of control, another for just regular mean guys, a third for prisoners with special needs, and the fourth for mentally ill inmates who’s diet consisted largely of handfuls of medications such as Thorazine and Wellbutrin.

The prisoners there enjoyed throwing things at us (feces was a favorite). They liked to fight us. They often attempted to catch one of us alone so they could deliver a beating from hell. Escape attempts were often and killing other inmates was a sport. Didn’t happen too often, but when it did the fellows seemed to derive a bit of pleasure from seeing blood and dead bodies.

The place was a nightmare for officers. As I stated earlier, it was miserable.

In the late 1980’s, Virginia opened the doors to what they called the Youthful Offender Centers. These were prisons designated to house young males between the ages of 18-21 who’d been convicted of various crimes.

It was my understanding, after speaking with a few of the officers who worked there, that they, too, felt pretty darn miserable at the end of the day. You know, same old, same old—the victims of tossed feces and squirts of urine and other body fluids, fights, escape attempts, yada, yada, yada. Most of the officers there also said they felt as if they worked in a facility that trained young inmates to be better older prisoners and the best criminals they could possibly become.

But this is where the young criminals ended up. What about prior to prison and the process that eventually lands those troubled youths behind bars?

Well, in Virginia, for example:

  • Juvenile is any child under the age of eighteen.
  • Delinquent: A juvenile who has committed an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.
  • CHINS – Child in Need of Services: A juvenile whose behavior, conduct or condition presents or results in a serious threat to the juvenile’s well-being and physical safety of another person.
  • Child in Need of Supervision meets one of these criteria:
    1. A juvenile subject to mandatory school attendance, is habitually absent without valid excuse.
    2. A juvenile who remains away from his family or guardian.
    3. A juvenile who escapes or remains away from a residential care facility ordered by the court.
  • Child Abuse and Neglect

    1. A caregiver who creates or inflicts a physical or mental injury upon a child.
    2. A caregiver who creates the child to be at risk of physical or mental injury.
    3. A caregiver who refuses to provide for juvenile’s health and well-being.

    Court Services: 

    1. Intake – Reviews all complaints regarding juvenile crime and determines whether there are enough facts to involve the court. If so, the intake officer may either proceed informally to make practical adjustments without filing a petition (a petition is basically a warrant, akin to an adult arrest warrant) or the intake officer may authorize the filing of a petition (a warrant) to bring the matter before the judge. An intake officer may also order the placement of a juvenile offender in a secure detention facility designated for juveniles whose present offense requires such security prior to a detention hearing by a juvenile and domestic relations district court judge. Note: Intake officers used to be called probation officers.
    2. Investigation – Intake officers conduct background studies, such as examination of a juvenile’s familial, social and educational history. Such studies may be used by the court as a factor in determining the disposition appropriate to the subject and by the probation staff in the formulation of a services and supervision plan.
    3. Probation. Supervises delinquent juveniles and children in need of services released into home probation and supervises adults released on probation in support and other cases involving the defendant’s relation with family members and individuals to whom he has a support duty.

    Residential Care: Supervises juveniles being held in detention, shelter care and post dispositional probation facilities. In most localities, the staff of these facilities are employees of the localities served by the court and work cooperatively with the staff of the respective court service unit.

    Social Services: Welfare and social service agencies are in frequent contact with the court in certain types of cases. They perform the initial investigation in abuse and neglect cases. Juveniles may be committed to such agencies when they are removed from home. Other agencies provide such services as may be ordered by the judge.

    Juvenile Delinquency and CHINS Cases; Adult Criminal Cases Detention or Shelter Care

    A juvenile may be taken into custody if one of the following applies:

    1. A judge, clerk at judge’s direction or intake officer issues a detention order requiring the juvenile to be taken into custody.
    2. A juvenile is alleged to be a CHINS and there is clear and substantial danger to the child’s life or health and this is necessary for the child’s appearance before the court.
    3. A juvenile commits a crime that is witnessed by a police officer or would be a felony if committed by an adult (a crime punishable by more than 12 months in jail).
    4. A juvenile commits a misdemeanor offense involving shoplifting, assault and battery, or carrying a weapon on school property.
    5. A juvenile has absconded from lawful incarceration or a court ordered residential home, facility, or placement by a child welfare agency.
    6. A juvenile is believed to be in need of inpatient mental health treatment.

    If not immediately released by the intake officer or magistrate, the juvenile is held in custody (detention) until being brought before the judge for a detention hearing. The juvenile’s detention hearing should be held the next day the court sits within the city or county but no longer than 72 hours after being taken into custody. Prior notice of the detention hearing must be given to the juvenile’s parent or guardian, and to the juvenile if over 12 years of age. A detention hearing is not a trial, but merely a hearing to determine whether the detention of the juvenile should be continued.

    The judge decides whether to hold the juvenile in secure detention or release the juvenile to a parent, guardian or persons having custody of the juvenile, or to shelter care. Shelter care is defined as the temporary care of children in a physically unrestricted environment.

    The judge may set bail and/or certain rules to be followed while the juvenile released awaiting trial. The judge may order the juvenile be held in detention if the judge believes that there is probable cause the juvenile committed the act and:

    1. The juvenile is charged with violation of probation or parole.
    2. The juvenile is charged with a felony or class 1 misdemeanor and: (a) is a threat to self or others or the property of others or (b) has threatened not to come to court or has failed to appear to court within the past 12 months. While the juvenile is in a detention home or shelter placement, parents or guardians wishing to visit may do so only during permitted visiting hours. Parents or guardians should find out in advance of a visit: the hours of visitation, the documentation needed, dress code, the number of visitors allowed at one time and any restrictions concerning who is allowed to visit.

    Certification or Transfer to Circuit Court for Trial as an Adult

    A case involving a juvenile 14 years or older accused of a felony may be certified or transferred to circuit court where the juvenile would be tried as an adult. A hearing to determine whether to transfer the case cannot occur unless the juvenile’s parents or their attorney are notified of the transfer hearing.

    Certification to Circuit Court

    A juvenile 14 years or older at the time of the alleged felony offense(s) may be transferred to the circuit court and tried as an adult. Some felony charges require that a judge make the decision whether to hear the case in juvenile or circuit court. The Commonwealth must provide notice requesting transfer of the juvenile’s felony cases to circuit court. This written notice must be sent to the attorney for the juvenile or to the juvenile and one parent or legal guardian. A judge will hold a hearing to consider whether probable cause exists regarding the offense(s) charged and whether transfer of the case to circuit court is appropriate. Some factors the judge may consider when determining whether the case should be heard in circuit court or in juvenile court are: the juvenile’s previous court contacts, competency, school record information and the child’s age and emotional maturity.

    Transfer to Circuit Court

    If a juvenile was 14 years or older and charged with a violent felony, then the Commonwealth may certify the charge to circuit court for trial. Written notice to the juvenile’s attorney or to the juvenile and one parent or legal guardian, must be provided. In these cases, the judge solely determines probable cause as to whether or not the charged juvenile committed the crime. These charges are: felonious injury by mob, abduction, malicious wounding, malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, felonious poisoning, adulteration of products, robbery, carjacking, rape, forcible sodomy, or object sexual penetration. OR A list of these violent juvenile felony charges is listed in Virginia Code section 16.1-269.1C. If the judge finds that probable cause exists that the juvenile committed the crime(s) charged then the juvenile’s case will be tried in circuit court.

    The crimes of murder or aggravated malicious wounding are automatically certified to the circuit court if the juvenile is 14 years or older at the time of the offense and the court has found probable cause that the juvenile has committed the offense(s) charged. No Commonwealth request is needed.

    Statements made by the juvenile during the transfer hearing may not be used as evidence of the offense at a later court hearing but may be used if the juvenile testifies during trial.

    Both the Commonwealth and juvenile may appeal a transfer decision within 10 days of the transfer hearing. Any juvenile convicted in circuit court will be treated as an adult in all future criminal cases.

    *Much of the information in this article is from The Commonwealth of Virginia, The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. I suppose to copy and paste is lazy, cheating, and plagiarizing. All I can say is “Guilty!” But I’m in a time crunch today. Still, the information is important and I’m really hoping the text, since it’s a government agency, is in the public domain. Fingers crossed. In the meantime … wish me luck, and I hope you find the material useful. By the way, as far as I know the little guy in the top photo is not a juvenile delinquent. 



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Help! My Name is Lee and I Have a Problem

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 11.59.29 AM

Hi, my name is Lee and I have a problem.

I admit it, I’m addicted to nostalgia.

I like old music, and I like to see and touch and experience things from long ago, especially old books, and I have a lot of them.


In fact, I have many things that once belonged to relatives who’re no longer with us, especially items that belonged to my beloved grandfather. Having those items nearby often conjures up fond memories of seeing him hold or use them. It’s a warm feeling sort of like that first cup of coffee in the morning, or snuggling deep beneath the covers on a cold winter night.

It’s a happiness that fills the insides. It’s hot chocolate and pumpkin spice.


My grandfather’s old bottle opener he kept on his fishing boat. The other item is what he referred to as his “juice harp.” 

My mind often takes me back to the days when radio was king and TV was a treat.

When Elvis was thought to be a novelty and computers and cellphones were, well, they weren’t.

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 11.58.06 AM

Yep, those were the good old days.

Nowadays I like to sift through age-yellowed family photographs.

Seeing family members doing what family members did when times were bad but good.

However, sometimes those photographic, historical journeys back in time occasionally reveal unexpected things.

Like the discovery that a family member’s home was used by Harriet Tubman as part of her Underground Railroad network. Cool, I know.

But, sometimes the things in the shoeboxes of old photos and newspaper clippings reveal things you wish you hadn’t seen.

Perhaps you’re related to the evil guy who once stole an apple from Pete Johnson’s Corner Grocery? Or the kid who skipped school and was caught fishing in old man Kelsey’s creek.

Or, is it actually possible that you’re related to the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln? Or it was your relative who married into the Booth family.

Suppose you stumble across an old newspaper article that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Could it be true? After all, someone in the family thought it important enough to save.

Well, after the passing of my parents I wound up with a few boxes of photos, books, photo albums, a family Bible, and lots of old items such as those pictured above.

It was one item, though, that really caught my attention and sent my curious mind into a spin. I found it while leafing through the antique Bible. It was an article that had been clipped from a local paper and then placed and preserved between the fragile pages.

Here, have a look. I’ll wait while you read.


All done? Okay. So why had this article, the wedding announcement of Victory Bateman (niece to Edwin and John Wilkes Booth) to Harry Tweed Mestayer, been kept by a member of my family and then passed down to my grandparents and then to my mother and now to my hands? Why cut the article from the paper if there wasn’t some sort of exceptional significance?

I’d like to think that the piece was kept due to a possible historical aspect; however, there was not another article relating to any historical event to be found. Not one. Besides, the fleeting mention of an assassin is not all that noteworthy, unless … that assassin is either related to you or your dear relative is marrying into his family.

So, is it possible that I, someone who has read and owns numerous books about the life and death of Lincoln, am actually related to his killer? After all, I’ve been fascinated by Lincoln since I was old enough to study history in school, and that was long before I discovered this article. Coincidence?

I’ve not had any luck finding information that would either confirm or deny, but what I did learn was that Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, was an accomplished actor who toured by Europe and America performing Shakespearean plays. He opened Booth’s Theater in New York and he’s often considered as the greatest Hamlet of the 19th century. And he’s still, to this day, considered as one of the great actors. Oh yeah, he’s also the brother of the man who killed Lincoln.


Edwin Booth

Of course, we all know that John Wilkes Booth was an actor who fired that fatal round in Ford’s Theater.


John Wilkes Booth

I did manage to discover that Victory Bateman, relative to me or not, was a woman determined to remain married to a Booth, even if doing so meant marrying her own cousin, Willfid Clarke, who was the nephew to Edwin Booth.

Screen Shot 2016-10-09 at 8.06.56 PM

From The Daily Tribune, Terre Haute, Indiana – December 12, 1902

For now, I’ll leave the thoughts of Victory Bateman and the Booths behind and return the article to its spot in the family Bible.

I prefer to remember the good old days, back when Elvis was king and the night my mother got me out of bed to watch The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. She thought their performance would be one of historical importance. Well, she was correct. Of course she was. Mom’s know these things, right?

It was also a bit of history watching the Sullivan show on the first TV we ever owned.

By the way, for those of you too young to remember, we had to get up from our chairs, or the floor in my case, and walk over to the set to switch the channel. No remote. No cable. No color. And only 13 stations on the dial. We could receive only three or four, though. And we were able pick up that many only when the weather was clear.


Volume knob on the left and knob for switching channels on the right

My mother was addicted to Elvis and, of course, I have many of her treasured keepsakes. Things I’ve added to my own collection.


There’s a stack of old records, collectables, postage stamps, autographed items, and much, much more. A lot of Elvis stuff. A lot.

Oh yeah, Kennedy was president back in those days, and he was followed by LBJ. At least we didn’t have scandals and other such nefarious details surrounding politicians back in the “good old days.”


Yes, my name is Lee, and I’m addicted to nostalgia. But after writing this article, well, I’m not so sure I’m the one with the problem.


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Infidelity is for the Birds

Benson Trucant never liked the beach, with its roaring and roiling surf and constant sizzle of undulating sea foam.

The place was absolutely maddening.

Add to that, the salty air, thick with the disgusting cacophony of offensive scents that practically turned his sensitive stomach inside out—sun-baked rotting kelp, bloated and sun-baked fish carcasses, and decaying crustaceans.

White-capped breakers slapping the soft sand with the precision and timing of a metronome—a sound that never failed to send jolts of electricity dancing and darting across his hypersensitive nerve endings.

Pigeons, seagulls, and plovers pecked and plucked fiddler crabs from their hidey-holes, screeching and shrieking as they fought over the tasty bottom feeders. If he had his way each of those useless creatures would disappear from the earth.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.

Trucant, the owner of a small town hardware store, couldn’t imagine enduring another day of this unholy dissonance.

From his vantage point, he spied a small, wooden trawler chugging northward between the setting sun and a channel marker. He imagined the boat’s outriggers creaking and groaning against the weight of massive waterlogged nets laden with sea bass and perch.

More of those dreadful screeching gulls diving in the wake, searching for bait remnants tossed overboard by the ship’s crew.

The seller of nuts and bolts, assorted nails and paints and brushes, wanted to wave his arms and yell. He wanted to catch the eye of the boat’s bearded captain and his crew. He wanted to holler and jump up and down. Fire a flare gun. Build a fire to send smoke signals. Throw a rock. Hell, anything to alert the crew to his presence.

But all the trying on earth wouldn’t help him, because rigor mortis had Benson Trucant’s arms pinned tightly to the wet sand beneath him.

A massive dose of oleander into his salad did the trick, and the next thing he knew his wife of eighteen years and her “lover du jour” dumped him there among a hearty stand of sea oats.

Death wasn’t as he’d expected. Not at all. There were no bright lights or long tunnels. No joyous reunions with dearly departed loved ones.

Just rigor mortis and the overwhelming desire to blink.

He tried to scream … again.

Not a sound.

In fact, the only thing that emerged from his mouth, a gaping maw forever locked open, was a tiny crab seeking a bit of sunshine after enjoying an evening of dining in.

Sizzle, slap, shriek, screech.


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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering the Fallen



Officer Blake Snyder, 33

St. Louis County Missouri Police Department

October 6, 2016 – Officer Blake Snyder was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call. When he and another officer arrived on scene gunfire immediately erupted. The suspect likely ambushed the officers.

Officer Snyder is survived by his wife and two-year-old son.


Sergeant Steve Owen, 53

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office

October 5, 2016 – Sergeant Steve Owen was shot and killed while responding to a burglary call.

L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the gunman executed Sergeant Owen by first wounding him and then standing over him to fire four additional rounds into his body before an unsuccessful try to steal the sergeant’s weapon with the intention to use it to kill another deputy. The suspect then attempted to steal a patrol car, ramming it into a second patrol vehicle before fleeing on foot. He was captured a short distance away.

Sergeant Owen is survived by his wife and two children.


Agent Victor Rosada-Rosa, 55

Puerto Rico Police Department

October 5, 2016 – Agent Victor Rosada-Rosa was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a vehicle after a pursuit of a fleeing larceny suspect. It was at the traffic stop when a vehicle struck the agent’s motorcycle from the rear.

Agent Rosada-Rosa is survived by his wife and two sons.


Jailer Robert E. Ransom, 62

Gregg County Texas Sheriff’s Office

September 30, 2016 – Jailer Robert E. Ransom, a 36-year veteran, suffered a fatal cardiac event while assisting an inmate who had suffered a medical emergency. Jailer Ransom was rushing to retrieve a defibrillator to revive the prisoner when he collapsed.

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