Tag Archives: Crime

The Security Breach

24 Oct

We had to move to our apartment (in a new state) sight-unseen.  We have 2 cats.  And a strict budget–especially at that time, b/c moving is expensive!  No one called us back in Salt Lake City.  Everyone who responded at all, never even read our out-of-state situation, and invited us to a showing.  When we couldn’t make a showing “tomorrow” they just didn’t correspond with us.  It was everyone.  How nice for realtor’s in SLC that it’s a seller’s market.

Bottom line:  We pretty much had to take what we could get.

It was OK.  The apartment was a little larger and better then what we had in Spokompton.  The neighborhood was quiet, but had tons of potential.  The park across the street was not like the ghetto-homeless situation of Mission Park near our apt in WA-state, but largely empty.  And quiet.  And they did lawn maint like 4 times a week.

But recently things have slowly started to change.

Every once and again there will be a homeless person sleeping it off under a tree in the park.  Someone parked their shopping cart 5 blocks up on the sidewalk next to the main street.  Nothing big.

The change from quiet to icky came with this homeless family.  A man, woman, toddler, and dog lived in their car.  And parked the car in our complex’s parking lot.  Like, every night.  Nobody seemed to notice, and they stayed under the radar for 5-6 weeks.  Everything started sliding downhill after that:

8/17/2016:  Wrote in the apartment portal that homeless people were living in the car in our parking lot.

9/2/16:  Texted the manager that the homeless people were still parking/living in our apartment’s parking lot.  Was informed the manager was out of town and instructed to call police about it.

9/13/16:  We came back from an out-of-state week-long trip and suddenly the homeless family in the car weren’t around anymore.

Wed Sept 28:  A knock on the bedroom window at 11 PM.  Cool had turned on the bedroom light to change for bed, and the knock came.  Then there was the sound of some tool trying to pry open the window frame.  She didn’t want to call 911 only to find it was a squirrel not an emergency (and she was still a little manic) so she she ran out of the apartment, to the entrance of the back alley.  She held up the flashlight app on her phone, but our window is toward the 300W street-side more, so the person she saw was not detailed.  She DID see a person in black clothing, holding something red (a cigarette or a pen light?) and at our window!  She called 911 and they sent 6 police officers and a dog.  They did an official sweep of the apartment, holding up guns, and calling for intruders.

I wasn’t too, too concerned though.  Because I thought it was probably a crime of opportunity.  There is an apartment on 300 W, and its parking lot is behind their building.  It ajuts to the end of our (dark, abandoned) fire alley.  They must have had problems with prowlers because they no longer park cars behind the building, favoring the side of the building, which is visible to the street.  They also installed a bright light in back.  The light illuminates a portion of our fire alley, but the first window in the dark is ours.  So I figured someone just went to the first dark window they saw.  And the person must have been dumb or not sober.  Because Cool had just turned on the light when she heard a knock–and who breaks into an apartment when the light is on, meaning someone is home?!  And a bunch of cops came in about 5 minutes, so I figured whoever it was went along their way.  And would never be back.

Fri/Sat, Sept 30:  The next door neighbor fixed the hole in the fence between the dark parking lot behind the next apartment and our fire alley.

Sat Oct 1:  I closed the black-out curtains, tucking them between the dresser and the wall.  We are watching a movie in the living room, and there are a lot of people outside their apartments talking, smoking, and drinking.  I hear what I think is Goose fussing with the curtains, trying to get in the window sill to look outside (it’s his fave thing to do).  Thinking he might pull the whole suspension bar holding the curtains down (and holding my dinner at the time) I ask Cool to go in the bedroom and check on him.  She reports someone is knocking on the back window.  I’m scared–who comes back a second time?!  I was too scared to open the curtains and see who it was.  I would be face-to-face with them, and that’s too much!  My adrenaline was pumping from the fear and I banged (3+ times) on the inside of the window with my fist, hoping to scare the would-be intruder away.  I banged a 2nd time (3 loud knocking sounds), while Cool was on the phone with 911.  Whoever was on the other side of the window. . .  Didn’t startle away–they knocked again.  This told me about their frame of mind and made me even more afraid.  I knocked on the thin wall of our bedroom, hoping to get help from the neighbor.

Bronco ran out to the fire alley, but all was quiet.  A police officer arrived about 20 min after our call, and stayed a long time, hearing our story, the neighbor’s opinions, and offering suggestions:  Lights in the alley.  Remove the abandoned/broke-down cars b/c they are a thief/vagrant attractant (and a fire hazard).  Put razor wire along the top of the fence surrounding the alley.  The police officer did not seem impatient or eager to leave.  I could hear calls on his radio on a busy Saturday night, but he made sure to get the whole story and he made sure he answered all of our questions.

We were afraid all the time at this point.  It felt like we were waiting with dreaded anticipation for someone to come back and try to get in.  I was afraid to open the windows.  I didn’t want to shower when I was home.  I was afraid to sleep and let my guard down, in case someone tried to break in.  I checked every noise to make sure it wasn’t someone trying to get in the apartment.  Every time the cats jumped in or out of the window, I was alarmed.  I listened for footsteps in the alley.  I felt stressed and unsafe.  Cool became crazy.  She started hearing things.  She wouldn’t go to sleep when I wasn’t home.  When I finally coerced her to sleep so that she could make it to work in the day, she wouldn’t sleep in the bedroom.  She had all the lights in the apartment turned on all the time–even while she was sleeping.  She started bothering the neighbors, asking them to check the alley.  We were scared in our apartment.

Sun Oct 2:  We were also scared about being away from the apartment for 11 hours, because someone could get inside.  So I took 1.5 hours of vacation and left early (forfeiting some of my weekend double-time) to go guard the house.  We bought a bat, a strong flashlight, and strong, locking bars to block the window and the door closed.  After work at 6:30 PM we inspected the fire alley (carrying the bat) and saw a broken bench was propped up on the chain link fence.  It looked like maybe someone had attempted to throw it away at the dumpster across the parking lot–just my theory.  And someone else came along and dragged it over to use as a step-stool over our fence.  We pushed it away from the fence and it folded in half, making a crunching/squeaking sound.  It ended up about 2 feet away from our fence and folded sort of in half (because it had already been broken).

Mon Oct 3, 1 AM:  I awoke to hear that same bench being moved.  It happened only briefly.  No one came to our window.  In the daylight I checked, and the bench was still away from the chain link fence.  I wasn’t going to mention it to Cool, because she was already freaked, and I wasn’t 100% certain (just 98%), but Cool mentioned she had heard it, so I know it happened, b/c we had both heard it.

Wed Oct 5 a pack of stray cats were eating from our bird feeder and making a tapping sound on the window.  Cool thought it sounded like the knocking of before so she knocked on our neighbor’s wall.  We absolutely know the first 2 incidents were a person though b/c the first time Cool had run outside and actually seen a person.  And the 2nd time, I had banged HARD on the window.  Hard enough that my knuckles were bruised the next day-and I never bruise.  No animal would have sat there for that banging.  And I had done it multiple times, twice.  It would have startled away any animal.  And after I had banged, someone knocked back at me.

Thurs Oct 6, 12:30 PM:  A man was sitting in Bronco and Cough’s parking spot, which is directly across from my living room window.  My curtains had been open.  I took a pic, but his head was down.  He stood and looked into my apartment so I called the non-emergency police line, but before I could complete the call, the man meandered to 300 W.  I asked for police patrol.

11PM:  heard walking in the fire alley and a quiet jangling (like keys in a pocket).

10-6-16:  Texted the apartment manager asking when any safety measures will be taken–never got a response.

10-6-16:  Wrote in official apartment portal-

Someone tried to break into the bedroom window this last Wednesday (9/28) at 10 PM. On that occasion, a person knocked on the window, then used some sort of tool to try to pry the window frame apart. Luckily one of us was home and called 911. We also reported the incident to management the next day, but so far no additional security has been completed. Saturday (10/1) at 8 PM, someone came back to the bedroom window and knocked. I pounded the window to scare them off–and they tapped again. We called 911 a second time, and the officer gave us some tips: 1) The cars on the side of the building are an attractant to burglars and homeless people. Some are also in violation of fire code. 2) Get a motion sensor light. 3) Put razor wire along the top of the entire fence, because someone is probably climbing over. 4) Consider a gate on the back side of the fire alley. I need to feel safe in my apt–please make some changes soon so we don t have to move.

Sat Oct 8, 5 AM:  Saw flashlight through blackout curtains (through sleep mask while sleeping).  But for certain.

Sat Oct 8, 5:10 AM:  Thud on bedroom window.  Goose ran behind curtains and stayed, so it may have been a cat.

Sun 11 PM:  tromping in fire alley (may have been police patrol).

Mon 1:40 PM-police drove by front of apt.

Tues 10/11, 3 PM:  marked police car was sitting on the street next to the park.

Wed, 1 AM-ish:  I got home from work, and the homeless car was parked street-side at our apartments.

Wed 3:15 PM:  the same man that had been sitting in front of the window last Thursday slowly walked past our window toward 300W.  He was with another guy, and they walked slowly, looking in the apartment.  The neighbor also came outside and commented how the two guys had been leering into his apartment–so it wasn’t just me that noticed.  I called the police just to make a report.

Wed 4 PM:  The apartment manager (Royal) was leaving and we caught him.  He has been on the job 4 days Bryson left in Sept?, a woman took over for a week, Dusty was with us for a week or 2, now this guy.  We asked for locks or lighting or safety measures and he said the management company couldn’t do anything–it was all up to the owner.  He was defensive and scoffed in our faces as if we were being hysterical and unreasonable.  He kept saying they are not the police and cannot have 24/7 security.  I tried to tell him there were things that could be done–such as the police suggestions.  Lights for starters.  I also said we were coming from a place of frustration, b/c we were living in fear, and no one from the apartments had even acknowledged our requests/complaints.  And no action had been taken.  He told us he/the management company couldn’t do anything because everything was up to the owner.  We don’t have contact info for the owner.   Royal said the owner wouldn’t do anything–and didn’t have to.  He also told us the housing association doesn’t regulate apartment owners.  The conversation escalated to a confrontation for sure.

Wed 4:30 PM:  The police called back to get a full report of all the incidents.  I recounted the 4 incidents we called about and offered the other 2 that I thought/hoped were the police.

10-13-16, 12:45 AM:  Noticed homeless car parked street-side at our apt as I got home from work.

Oct 15-16:  Started looking for a new apt.  Contacted several options located around work.

10-16-16, 1 AM:  Someone moved the bench.  We then heard footsteps in the back alley.  After an hour, finally called the non-emergency police line to report it.  While on the phone with the dispatcher, flashlight shined in the bedroom.

10/16, 2 AM:  2nd flashlight swept across bedroom–assumed/hoped it was the police.

10/17/16:  Went and looked at a unit in a different apartment complex.  Turned in our application for it.

10/17/16, 2:30 PM:  A homeless man and woman with a bike and a sleeping bag were on the walkway directly above our apartment waiting for the neighbor to get home.

10/17, 12AM:  Possibly homeless car parked street-side by our complex.  Looks slightly different than the homeless car that I remember before, but still the same size and color.  A woman was outside of the car, and stuff was on the complex lawn outside the passenger side.

10/17, 12:35 AM:  Flashlight through bedroom window and footsteps, assumed/hoped it was the police.

10/18/16:  Application for new apartment approved.  The new landlord just needs a reference from our current apartment.  She calls and calls, but cannot get through.  Cool makes a dozen phone calls to random places because our management company has no evident contact information, and we never had contact info for the apartment owner.  Finally, a different complex managed by the same company gets in contact with the regional office who gets in contact with Royal, our apartment manager.  He is annoyed anyone is contacting him.  When Cool asks him to contact this new apartment landlord, Royal off-handedly mentions how our current owner contacted him and said they didn’t want to renew our lease.  We are out at the end of December.  Also, his demeanor on the phone was annoyed/rude.

So I’m not sure,

  1. why, out-of-the-blue the owner (with whom we’ve had ZERO contact) would terminate our “lease.”
  2. I’m suspicious our confrontation with the new manager, Royal, where we asked for ANY security such as lights or removal of concrete blocks and broke-down cars from the fire-alley had everything to do with this given the timing.
  3. We don’t have a lease until December.  The only lease we ever signed for this current complex was the first one when we moved here.  It was for 6 months, and ended October 2015.  That lease specifies that if no other lease is signed, it defaults to a month-to-month arrangement.  And month-to-month is an additional $100/month.  I’m sure we just slipped through the cracks, because it’s been a full year since our original lease expired and no one asked us to sign another lease–or raised our rent price.
  4. I am concerned about an eviction.  I don’t want it on my rental history.  And WHY?  We just passed on info from the police about amping up security.  We’ve paid all our rent, have been quiet, and clean.  We’re actually great tenants.  We just demand things like hot water, flushing toilets, and ask for ANY security measures.
  5. I’m SUPER concerned once they find out we don’t actually have a lease through December, they will put us out in 15 days, without cause, per our original lease conditions.  That’s October 30.  Our new apartment isn’t vacated and available to us until Nov 15. . .  And that’s before any carpet replacement or painting that they will surely do, driving the date back.
  6. We had to band over backwards to contact the manager–and he had already known about our non-lease renewal–when was he going to mention this to us??!
  7. I’m so, so, so glad we were all but in a new apartment at that point, because this news would have REALLY flipped me out if we had to start from scratch.  It’s not always easy to get into a new apartment.  Especially with cats–and he have a price range that can’t budge b/c we had absolutely no notice or time to plan/save.

later that day (10/18/16) I typed up a formal notice of termination for the current apartment.  It asked that we get a walk-though in order to redeem our deposit, and that we leave last day of December (or mid-Dec if they are willing to pro-rate rent).  And I typed it into the apartment portal online.  There is no formal address to mail it to, and that makes me nervous.

10/19/16:  Dropped formal leaving letter off where we drop rent, since we have no contact info for the management or owner, and there is no formal office for anything, and we can’t even send it certified mail.

10/20/16:  Paid $400 deposit at new apartment.

10/21/16:  Our letter with prospective move-out date still hasn’t been acknowledged.

10/24/16, 12:30 PM:  A group of 3-6 people dressed in rags had a bike and shopping cart and bags on the sidewalk between our complex and the studio property next door.  They seemed to be hanging around, and I wondered if that was a new bus stop or if the park was doing some kind of maint and asked them to step off that property for a time.

2:35 PM:  When Cool got home from work the group was still loitering around on the sidewalk.  We closed all of our curtains b/c where they were standing had a direct view in our apartment.  After we did our afternoon workout, about 3-ish PM, I looked out and they had moved along.

10/25/16:  Our letter with prospective move-out date still hasn’t been acknowledged.  Cool called a lot of numbers trying to see what recourse we have if they just never respond.  Because I don’t want to go and get slapped with abandonment fees.  No one knows–everyone just gave her more phone numbers to try.  We texted the number for the apartment managers and heard nothing.  So Cool called the number.  Royal is no longer our person.  Now we have Brian.  This is the 5th manager we’ve had since August (2 months).

10/28/16:  Still haven’t heard anything about our lease (they think we have), and acknowledgement of our end date, or a walk through.

10/29/16, 5-ish PM:  Saw the police go to apt #2, two doors down.  Eddie, who lives there, said someone in a red hoodie had banged on his front window (blinds closed) and shouted his name.  The police and Eddie came to our door, because we were peering out our (blinds open) window, and since we had had trouble with banging on our window.

10/30/16, 3PM:  The homeless car parked inside the laundry area.  Looked they’d been in our apt complex for awhile and were very comfortable here.

11/1/16, 10:38:  Noticed the homeless car in the complex parking-lot by the laundry area.

Upstream

8 Jul

Both the pedestrians and the cars are stupid here in SpoKompton.  The drivers are really terrible tail-gators, aggressively following too close most of the time.  They will abruptly change lanes (cutting off other vehicles) when someone is turning in front of them, instead of waiting for 2 minutes.  They NEVER slow down in snow.  There are several other annoying driving behaviors, but you get the gist.  

The pedestrians cross the street anywhere.  Even if a crosswalk is less than a block away.  And they’ll just dart out in front of cars–even if there is a mile gap behind the car.  They don’t wait.  Worst of all, the people out after dark tend to wear BLACK.  They don’t know about white/light/reflective clothing for night strolls.  So drivers really have to keep their eyes peeled.

As a result of this combined stupidness there are tons of hit & runs in town.  I can’t even count them.  One guy at the end of our road, was crossing in a dark area that specifically has a road block and signs that say “do not cross” (probably wearing dark clothes and maybe on substances) and got run over.  Well, when all was said and done, the man was hit by 4-5 drivers who then left the scene.  He was killed, of course.

So that’s the bleak side of it, here’s a little firsthand story that might lighten the mood:

I was driving down a main road after work one night (last summer?) after dark.  I saw something shine in the median and immediately slowed down.  It was a wheelchair bound person crossing the street about 2/3 block from the stoplight and crosswalk.  

in the street–jaywalking or is it jay-rolling? 

I saw they intended to cross in front of me–though I was the only car in sight at the time.  But I also saw that since this was not a crosswalk, there was a curb on the side of the street.  This wheeler was obviously not paying attention to that because they proceeded to cross the dark street.  

Meanwhile the light from the intersection behind us changed and a group of cars came speeding up.  Seeing me stopped, they all went to change lanes to pass me.  Unfortunately, the wheelchair (remember it’s dark) had made it to the outside lane and I held my breath thinking they were sure to be hit.

Luckily, at the last minute the front car slammed on its brakes seeing the impediment in their lane.  But the wheelchair couldn’t get out of the road because of the curb.  There were 2 choices:  Either drive along the road to the next light or go the opposite direction of traffic upstream in the lane) and go to the next road where there would be no sidewalk.

Obviously, the person in the road had a mind to do option number 2.  And sat waiting for the group of cars to reverse enough so they could pass.  So there were 4 or 5 cars reversing so this wheelchair person could go opposite of traffic and find a low spot to go over.

 That’s the kind of thing you get here.  I was just glad no one was hurt and relieved I wasn’t a witness to anything.

Only Between 7AM and 9PM

3 Jul

Are certain things normal/acceptable.  On the off-hours those same behaviors draw attention and seem out of place.  For instance:

The German by Cool 002

I was driving home from work at 5AM.  And when I stopped at the 4 way stop, a teenage girl came running around the corner, down the street, followed by a high school-aged boy on a bike.  Did she know him?  Was she being chased?  I sat at the stop, watching to see if she needed help, and they seemed to know each other.  Both stopped near a set of stairs and hung out.  I wondered what two teenagers were doing running around at this early hour.  Drugs?  Did they just commit a robbery or something?  I left without doing anything, because I didn’t really see anything–it was just the time of day that made it weird. . .

Michael Douglas

One Sunday at 6AM I saw two of the neighboring business owners standing across the street with tools, trying to cut down “5 minute parking” poles (not the signs, the metal poles) from a different business across the street.  I guess that’s weird at any hour.  And I thought it was a strange endeavor for 2 middle aged personal business owners to do at all.  Parking Nazi Thugs.

biel on mirror

 

The second story is perhaps more confusing:  I woke up at 3AM this morning, so rather then wasting time in bed waiting for 4AM to go clean at work, I just went to get it over with.  When I was driving to work (around 3:30AM) there was a woman walking up the sidewalk.  No one else was about, so I just assumed she just got dropped off by the bus and was Amazing_Electron_Microscope_Photos_Mosquito_Head-1mdCUheading to the nearby housing.  I finished driving to the end of that block, did a u-turn, parking in front of work, and that same lady was in the middle of the intersection–not 10 feet from where I had first seen her–and was staring at me.

light 1Hmm.  I sat there deciding whether or not it would be safe to get out of the safety of my car.  It was dark, and the gal was about a block from my car, so I couldn’t even see the color of the clothes she was wearing.  Not black though.  I also couldn’t tell if she was wearing a hat or had her hair pulled back.  And making out any facial features was out of the question.  I could just see a white lady with a small build standing motionless in the middle of the intersection.  Just looking back at me.  For 5 minutes.

Well, because my apartment AND my work are not in very good areas of town, and due to the unusually early hour (and darkness) I had brought bear spray with me–which I very rarely do.  Since the lady wasn’t aggressing toward me–or even moving a muscle, I decided if I came all that way, I was going to get paid.  And I got out of the car, half expecting her to approach me and ask to come inside.  I quickly went around my car, up the stairs, across the porch, and up the stairs and unlocked the 2 locks as fast as I could.

Then, I looked toward the intersection from inside.  Still there.  Still unmoving.  It crossed my mind to go all the way in twirlie sphereand call the police about a disoriented woman–doing no crime.  But I figured if the police couldn’t be bothered to find an attacker/murderer on the Centennial Trail, coming out to see a woman doing nothing wasn’t happening.  I punched in the security code, clocked in, and stood on a chair to look outside again.

The woman had moved–but only as far as the sidewalk of that same intersection.  I thought maybe she was waiting to get picked up.  Maybe for beetlea drug deal or waiting for a john or her pimp.  Who knows?  She sort of stood on one sidewalk, then crossed the street and stood on the opposite sidewalk, then she turned and looked right toward me again.  Did she see me?!  I ducked lower in case she had–certainly she hadn’t, but it sure looked like she was looking right at me.

Then, she leaned down and picked something up off the ground.  Then crossed to the opposite corner of the intersection, knelt and picked something else off the ground.  Then, the went further away on the sidewalk and stopped again to pick something up.  But she didn’t appear to have anything in her hands or put anything anywhere.  She was picking up either pebbles or something only she could see.  I watched her repeat her actions until she was out of view, then ran up stairs where she was in view again.cheshire cat

She stood very still, staring, meandered forward, picked something off the ground over and over until the trees obscured my view of her.  I have no idea what she was doing in the empty neighborhood at 3:45AM!  Drugs is my best guess. . .  At 4PM I wouldn’t have though twice, but as it was–it was weird.

Deb Wong 3After work, on my drive home I looked around for her.  And on the church lawn I saw someone sleeping (I think they were sleeping, at least) and I assume it was the same gal.  But it wouldn’t be unheard of for someone else to be passed out around there–the section 8 housing is sketchy, there’s a large bus stop right there, and the corner stores draw in a sort of transient, sketchy crowd.

PS–I’ll bet you didn’t know that SpoKompton has the 2nd highest crime rate per capita in the entire nation.  True story.

Fast Food: Detained, Strip Searched, Sodomized

16 Apr

EnronAll from phone instructions of a person claiming to be a police officer or upper management. Enron 2 It sounds crazy, but I remember taking Social Psychology for extra credits in the summer and people will do strange things.  For instance, whe group mentality drives people to shout “jump” to a suicidal person on a ledge.  Or how the ethos at Enron let them perpetrate such obvious crimes.  Humans are wired in certain ways, and it can have very scary consequences.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strip_search_phone_call_scam

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

 

Here’s what happened from http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20051009/NEWS01/510090392/A-hoax-most-cruel-Caller-coaxed-McDonald-s-managers-into-strip-searching-worker:

She was a high school senior who had just turned 18 — a churchgoing former Girl Scout who hadn’t received a single admonition in her four months working at the McDonald’s in Mount Washington.  But when a man who called himself “Officer Scott” called the store on April 9, 2004, and said an employee had been accused of stealing a purse, Louise Ogborn became the suspect.  Summers said “Officer Scott” in Mount Washington knew the color of Ogborn’s hair, as well as her height and weight — about 90 pounds. He even described the tie she was wearing.  Summers, 51, conceded later that she had never known Ogborn to do a thing dishonest. But she nonetheless led Ogborn to the restaurant’s small office, locked the door, and — following the caller’s instructions — ordered her to remove one item of clothing at a time, until she was naked.

By the time the caller telephoned the company-owned McDonald’s in Mount Washington in April 2004, supervisors had been duped in at least 68 stores in 32 states, including Kentucky and Indiana. The targets included a dozen different restaurant chains.  Managers of at least 17 McDonald’s stores around the nation had been conned by that time, and the company already was defending itself in at least four lawsuits stemming from such hoaxes.  Some of the strip-searches weren’t even reported to police, because embarrassed restaurant officials were reluctant to publicize them, said Jablonski, the ex-FBI agent. The fiercely competitive chains also initially were reluctant to talk to each other. “For a variety of reasons, they were slow on the draw,” he said.

By now, Ogborn had been detained for an hour. Her car keys had been taken away, and she was naked, except for the apron. She would later testify that she thought she couldn’t leave.  “I was scared because they were a higher authority to me,” she said. “I was scared for my own safety because I thought I was in trouble with the law.”

He pulled the apron away from Ogborn, leaving her nude again, and described her to the caller. He ordered her to dance with her arms above her head, to see, the caller said, if anything “would shake out.” He made her do jumping jacks, deep knee bends, stand on a swivel chair, then a desk.  He made her sit on his lap and kiss him; the caller said that would allow Nix to smell anything that might be on her breath.  When Ogborn refused to obey the caller’s instructions, Nix slapped her on the buttocks, until they were red — just as the caller told him to do, Ogborn testified later.  Louise Ogborn had been in the back office for nearly 2½ hours when the caller said she should kneel on the brick floor in front of Nix and unbuckle his pants.Ogborn cried and begged Nix to stop, she recounted in her deposition. “I said, `No! I didn’t do anything wrong. This is ridiculous.”  But she said Nix told her he would hit her if she didn’t sodomize him, so she did.

Like the rest of her ordeal, it was captured on a surveillance camera, recorded on to a DVD. And it continued until Summers returned to the office to get some gift certificates, and Nix had Ogborn cover herself again.

And finally, she realized the same. She called her manager — Lisa Siddons — whom the caller had said was on the other line. Summers discovered Siddons had been home, sleeping.  “I knew then I had been had,” Summers said. “I lost it.  “I begged Louise for forgiveness. I was almost hysterical.”  Summers watched the store video later the same night, saw what Nix had done, and called off their engagement. She hasn’t spoken with him since, according to her attorney.  She initially was suspended, then later fired, for violating a McDonald’s rule barring nonemployees from entering the office. A couple of weeks later, she was indicted on a charge of unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor. Nix was indicted on charges of sodomy and assault.

Many police departments filed their case away under “miscellaneous” because they couldn’t figure out how to pursue the caller, Prewitt said, or had trouble figuring out what crime, if any, he had committed.  Several departments were able to trace the calls to phone booths in Panama City, Fla. But that was as far as any had gotten until the Mount Washington hoax.  He eventually learned the call had originated in Panama City, and that the largest seller of phone cards there was Wal-Mart. But that didn’t help much — the largest seller of everything is Wal-Mart, and it has three stores in Panama City alone.

The camera at that store was trained on the registers, and it showed the purchaser was a white man, about 35 to 40, with slicked-back black hair and glasses. The same man could be seen on Flaherty’s video entering the other Wal-Mart, where he was wearing a black jacket with small white lettering.  Flaherty and a colleague flew to Panama City on June 28, 2004, and local officers immediately identified the jacket as the uniform worn by officers of Corrections Corp.of America, a private prison company.  When they showed it to the warden at the company’s Bay Correctional Facility, he identified the man as David R. Stewart, 38, a guard on the swing shift.  Stewart denied making the calls, but when confronted, he started to “sweat profusely and shake uncontrollably,” Flaherty wrote in a report. Stewart also asked, “Was anybody hurt?” and said, “Amen, it’s over,” according to the report.

Stewart eventually was brought to Bullitt Circuit Court, where he pleaded not guilty to solicitation to commit sodomy and impersonating a police officer, both felonies, as well as soliciting sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment, both misdemeanors. He was released on $100,000 bond pending his trial Dec. 13. His bond was posted by his brother, C.W. Stewart — a retired police officer from Cheektowaga, N.Y.  Detectives in other jurisdictions say they didn’t press charges because the caller’s crime would be a misdemeanor for which he could not be extradited.

Across the United States, at least 13 people who executed strip-searches ordered by the caller were charged with crimes, and seven were convicted.  But most of the duped managers were treated as victims — just like the people they searched and humiliated.  Many of the supervisors were fired and some divorced by their spouses, Annunziata said. Others required counseling.  But the duped managers have been condemned by others.

McDonald’s blamed what happened on Stewart and Nix, over whom it says it had no control. The company has sued both of them.  In court papers, McDonald’s also has blamed Ogborn for what happened to her — saying that her injuries, “if any,” were caused by her failure to realize the caller wasn’t a real police officer.  Questioning Ogborn during a deposition, Patterson suggested that although she had no clothes, she could have walked out of the office, but stayed voluntarily to clear her name.  “Did it ever occur to you to scream?” he asked.  Her therapist said she followed orders because her experience with adults “has been to do what she is told, because good girls do what they are told.”

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Nobody Wants to be THAT Silent Bystander that Could Have, but Didn’t, Prevent Tragedy

25 Mar

Walking about-July 2012 030Today, when I went to class I saw something a little unusual.

I drove to the parking lot and parked, and saw a man walking through the lot.  He was around 50 years old, so not your traditional student.  And he was wearing a green army jacket–not typical of faculty.  He didn’t seem to be DOING anything in particular, I just thought he looked out of place.  But really, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice under normal circumstances.  The real thing that caught my attention was what he carried.  He didn’t have a back-pack or a brief case or any kind of binder of notebook, or even a rake or something that screamed student, staff, or maintenance.  All he had was a crow bar.  And he walked down the row of cars, and sort of meandered further into the middle of the parking lot, instead of the road or exit he had initially been approaching.

And I thought he looked like he could try to break into cars, smash windshields, or worse shoot up a campus.  He just didn’t seem to fit the environment.  And I thought some desperate homeless person or veteran with terrible PTSD could have come from the train tracks behind us or from downtown very nearby the campus.  I didn’t especially WANT to find out what he was doing, and being the only person in the vicinity I did not want to become victim #1, so as I walked I kept an eye on him.  Even through he was now sort of behind me, I just ignored the flashcards in my hand and glanced back every few steps.  And he watched me too.  So I was a little suspicious and unnerved.

I didn’t want to over-react in any way, and certainly I was not alarmed at this point.  BUT if the guy was up to something or intended on some horrible crime, I didn’t want to be that person that everyone interviewed afterward who looks all dumb.  Dumb because they saw something that wasn’t right, realized it, then ignored it and let tragedy ensue.  So I planned on reporting the incident (or non-incident as the case may be) to the front desk when I got inside the school.

But before I made it, there were 2 guys who looked like part of the school’s landscaping crew.  I said excuse me and asked if there was a third man working with them–which confused them greatly.  So I just mentioned the unusual man carrying the crow bar through yellow parking.  I didn’t want a scene or anything, in case the man had been doing something perfectly legit, but I didn’t think it would hurt for someone to ask him what was up either.  And I think landscaping headed over there to check it out, but I’m not sure if they followed up.  So I didn’t report it to anyone else–that felt like over-kill.  And luckily, no one shot up, bombed, or vandalized the school that I know of.

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