Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Today's Victim Is Tomorrow's Suspect"

Los Angeles, CA

Last week, on the LAPD Blog, Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph challenged critics of the LAPD to do a ride-along through Skid Row, that hell-hole in spitting distance of City Hall.

Mack Reed over at LA Voice took him up on it.

Like a twisted reality "Jungle Cruise", Mack journals this Conradesque landscape with the simple facts of his ride-along. Skid Row is, hands down, the worst that Los Angeles has to offer, and Mack doesn't flinch in his reporting of it.

Los Angeles has the largest Skid Row in the nation, comprising about 50 blocks of homelessness, insanity, drug business and prostitution. Over 400 registered sex offenders live there. Up to 10% of the residents test positive for HIV. Crack whores are turning tricks out of porta-potties. It is the largest open-air drug and weapons market in the country.

Recently, Chief Bratton put more boots on the ground, and the increased police presence has helped significantly, but it's going to take much more to put a real dent in the problems there. More police, more services, more real solutions to the problems that make Skid Row what it is.

Proposition 63, which is expected to put millions into local mental health facilities, might offer some relief, but so far no money has appeared. And that doesn't help those with substance abuse or health issues. Nor does it address the problem of homelessness directly.

The problems of Skid Row are the problems of national poverty writ large. If we can solve it here then there's some hope. But a single glance is enough to show that it's going to be a long, hard slog.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

If He Had Stayed In Bed Instead / He Would Have Been One Head Ahead

Garden Grove, CA

Here's a headline you don't see every day. And I would worry if we did.
"Naked Man Decapitated When He Runs Into Traffic"
Omar Flores was killed by a car when he ran, au naturel, into traffic on Chapman avenue last night around 11:30. Coroner's running a tox screen on the body, but alcohol doesn't appear to be a factor. Test results will take about 6 weeks.

Drugs? Psychotic break? Jackass stunt? What do you think?

Roast Gangbanger, The New L.A. Fad

Los Angeles, CA

Here we go again.

Firefighters found the partially burned body of 19-year-old Jaime Julio Padilla. He was found stabbed to death in his car in the 5000 block of Slauson last night around 8:10pm. Police think that it's gang related. Ya think?

As was pointed out in previous comments, many of the fires I mentioned the other day have actually been occurring in the Inland Empire, not Los Angeles. But if this keeps up we may be able to give Riverside a run for its money.

Go Masuda, Go!

Los Angeles, CA

This one's a few days old, but I got a request to spread the word on this one, so consider the word spread.

Back on September 3rd, Japanese photographer Go Masuda, ran out of gas on the 405 freeway near Montana and used a callbox to request assistance. When the CHP arrived, the car, still full of photography equipment, was parked on the side of the freeway. Only one problem.

No Go.

There doesn't appear to have been any foul play, and he's described as both physically and mentally healthy. According to his family, his disappearance is out of character. He knows Southern California, having lived in San Diego for some time, and speaks English as well as Japanese. He's 5' 8", 170 pounds. Black hair, brown eyes. When last seen, he had a dark blazer, white shirt, blue jeans.

If anyone has information on Go's whereabouts, the LAPD would like to speak with you at (213) 485-5381 or (877) 529-3855 on weekends or evenings.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fire Season

Inglewood, CA

Yet another burning corpse in Los Angeles. This time in Inglewood. In the last couple of weeks we've had, what, four of these? Five? I've lost count. I'm not suggesting that they're at all related, of course. They're in different areas, have different MO's, etc. But I have to wonder what the hell is up with all the burning bodies.

Did somebody burn on CSI? Gilmore Girls? Pokemon? Where are you people getting this? As ways to obscure identity it's not very effective. You still have dental records, facial reconstruction, DNA matching. So either you don't know how it works (very possible) or you're really, really pissed off (also very possible).

To the residents of Los Angeles, stop setting dead people on fire. Jesus. Can't you come up with something less messy? A trash compactor, maybe? How about a hole? What's wrong with a goddamn hole? It's bad enough you're killing people in the first place, do you have to stink up the streets with barbecue?

So stop it, already.

The Fearmongering Power of Pit Bulls

Whittier, CA

Proof that it's a slow news day. Woman, Teen And Pit Bull Accused Of Shoplifting.

Seems a woman, Michelle Lynn Kuegler, and an unidentified teenage boy were arrested after walking into a pet store with a pit bull, and being accused of shoplifting by the manager.
In the midst of the alleged shoplifting spree, the teenage boy with the pit bull was confronted by the manager. The suspect threw a doggie ball at him and threatened him with bodily harm. The manager backed off as the trio made off with various merchandise, Zuhlke said.
A doggie ball. Yeah, there's a dangerous weapon. And this is a "shoplifting spree".
The pit bull (whose name was withheld) and a second juvenile were not arrested. The pit bull was reportedly cooperative at all times -- and it was determined the third member of the human trio was apparently not involved with the shoplifting, Zuhlke said.
Who wrote this news story? I want to know the name of the pit bull. It's important, dammit. What right do they have to withhold the dog's name? Fascism, I say! Fascism!

Apparently, pit bulls are news even when they're pleasant, well behaved and on a leash. Morons.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Kudos For A Killer Year

Earlier this year a bunch of debut novelists got together and came up with the idea to help promote each other's books. Thus Killer Year was born.

They've managed a Herculean task: sending out press releases, making t-shirts, putting out a website, running a group blog and generally trying to do right by each other.

I was lucky enough to meet a few of them at the International Thriller Writers inaugural conference, Thrillerfest, this last June, and gotten to know a few others through their online world. All amazing people and damn fine writers. They have really done an enormous amount of work to get where they are.

And now they're getting a little help.

The ITW has officially taken on helping the Killer Year group by providing support, mentoring and promotion. On top of that the ITW is taking on Killer Year as an ongoing program, so another group of new writers can get that same support and benefit every year.

The Killer Year crowd is Brett Battles, J.T. Ellison, Jason Pinter, Sandra Ruttan, Robert Gregory Browne, Bill Cameron, Toni McGee Causey, Sean Chercover, Patry Francis, Marc Lecard, Derek Nikitas, Gregg Olsen, Marcus Sakey, and Dave White.

I can only hope to some day be in such fine company.

A Simple Rule: Don't Shoot The Baby

Baldwin Hills, CA

Yesterday, Cesar Avila, 24, was taking his two daughters out of the family car when a minivan pulled up outside their apartment. An armed man stepped out, identified himself as a gang member, and proceeded to shoot at the man and his children.

Avila was injured and his three-year-old daughter was killed.

There's no evidence Avila was in a gang. Certainly, the three-year-old wasn't, unless they're jumping them in early these days.

I've mentioned before that I'm for the death penalty. I actually realized recently that I'm not. It takes too long, sucks up too much time and money, sometimes it's the wrong guy (interesting order of priorities there, huh?), and so on.

What I realized, actually, is that I'm for, as my dad used to put it, "killin' people what need killin". I understand this is a popular pastime in Texas. I can only hope that someone finds this monkey fucking, trout stroking, shiesse video fluffer, strings him up to the nearest utility pole and takes potshots at him with a nail gun. Maybe a kneecapping or two for good measure. I think I've got an air compressor and a crowbar if that'll help.

You don't fucking shoot children. Period. This guy's already blown his chance at being a semi-decent cog in the human machine. He needs to be removed from the gene pool in as violent and prejudicial a manner as possible. The only highlight to this is, considering his lifestyle choices, someone's likely to do that before too long. Preferably sooner rather than later.

Baby Got Back

Los Angeles, CA

Sometimes it's not the story, but the tag photo that makes it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Do They Have A Ribbon For This, Too?

California

A few days ago Jan Burke, she of the leet writing skillz and founder of The Crime Lab Project pointed out that it is DNA Awareness Month here in California.

I don't know how well this stacks up against Breast Cancer, HIV, or even Dengue Fever Awareness Month, but it's something that everyone should know about.

Jan makes the argument that the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Forensic Services located in Richmond, California needs substantially more funding, and gives some numbers to back up her assertions. I like numbers. Sometimes they make me feel warm and cozy. More often they make me feel nauseous and scared. These numbers, for example:
According to a recent article by Henry Weinstein in the Los Angeles Times, "the starting salary at the Richmond lab is $3,100, compared with $4,600 a month at the Los Angeles Police Department laboratory and $4,200 a month at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department." And in a story on this backlog in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Paul DeCarlo reports, "Their counterparts at the San Bernardino County sheriff's scientific investigations division, who enter DNA profiles of most Riverside County cases as well, earn about $8,667 per month."
Essentially, the California DOJ lab is losing people left and right because they can get better salaries somewhere else.

There's a backlog of 300,000 DNA samples that this lab is currently handling. So they sit, lonely and forlorn, just waiting to be processed. Poor samples.

There are a lot of problems with forensic science that has nothing to do with science. Lack of resources, lack of funding, lack of enough samples, poor collection techniques, mistakes, idiots and the dreaded CSI Effect. Some of these we can fix, some of these we can't.

But maybe during DNA Awareness Month we can all be more, I dunno, aware? And whine at our state senators and make them more aware, too. And go hug a forensic pathologist while you're at it. They need love, too.

And I Thought The Point Was To Hide The Body

Studio City

Somebody went to a lot of trouble.

Jose Alfredo Morales was shot multiple times, stuck in a black pickup stolen from a Glendale Park and Ride, driven to a nice neighborhood in Studio City, and then set on fire.

Morales was found this morning around 3am. A gas can and a pair of gloves were found a couple of blocks away.

It's A Bad Sign When The Neighbors Can Smell It

Reseda

The decomposing body of a woman was found inside a shed behind a house on the 7900 block of Lindley Avenue near Strathern Street yesterday afternoon.

No details yet on who she is, how she died, or how long ago. What I want to know is who owns the house. Something tells me the body didn't just spring up there on its own.

Author Events This Weekend

The Mystery Bookstore

Westwood, CA

Saturday, September 23rd

Diane Emley signs The First Cut at 3:30pm

This sounds very much an L.A. novel. Set in Pasadena and the Valley, this book introduces Pasadena police officer Nan Vining.
Vining's just back at work after a life-threatening attack, and her first case is the murder of a fellow officer. The officer, who'd been working Vice, was missing for 16 days before she was found with her throat slashed, dumped into the arroyo under Pasadena's historic Colorado Street Bridge. Vining starts to have visions that may be connected to her own assault, but may also provide important clues to the killer.
Sounds like fun. And this is listed as Bobby's favorite. Trust Bobby. The man will not let you down.

Margaret Cole signs The Drowning Man at 4:30pm

A sacred petroglyph, the Drowning Man, disappears from a wall of Red Cliff Canyon. Within days, the Arapahos and Shoshones receive a ransom demand from the people who chiseled it away: for $250,000, they can have the image back. Meanwhile, Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden prepares to defend a man accused of manslaughter after a similar glyph theft seven years earlier.
Not something that goes missing every day.


Charlie Huston signs A Dangerous Man at 6:00pm

Okay, for the record, this man is a GOD. Well, his writing is god-like at any rate. Author of the noir novels Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things and the fucking fantastic vampire noir Already Dead, his prose is sharp, clean and has just the right mix of horror, tragedy and humor.

If you like violent, fucked up, brilliantly written noir, read his books. His latest, A Dangerous Man, continues the story of Hank Thompson, who just can't seem to catch a break.
Hank stole and lost $4 million from a Russian mobster; now, he’s working off his debt as a hit man. As a change of pace, his boss assigns Hank to protect a fellow debtor, a young baseball star with a gambling addiction of his own. When Hank must follow Miguel Arenas to New York City, he finds himself once again running for his life.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be making it to this one. But if you can, get out there and buy his book. His stuff is great.

===

Book'em Mysteries

Pasadena, CA

Sunday, September 24th

Charlie Huston signs A Dangerous Man at 2:00pm

If you missed him in Westwood, check him out here.

===

Mysteries To Die For

Saturday, September 23rd

Diane Emley signs The First Cut at 11:00am

If you're over in the valley, this one might be easier to hit.


Charlie Huston signs A Dangerous Man at 1:00pm

Good thing for him he's giving himself a lot of time to get over to Westwood.

===

The Secret Headquarters

Charlie Huston yet again at 6:30pm.

He'll be signing A Dangerous Man and having his book release party. It's a comic store. There will be beer. If I can make it to any of these things I will make it to this one. Beer! Comics! Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Kids Are (Not) All Right

Los Angeles, CA

In response to yesterday's post on Kayla Wood, commenter angry in l.a. points out the site missingkidsla.org, the Los Angeles County Runaway and Abducted Foster Children website.

The site is a web searchable database of runaways and abducted children from the County foster care system. The site lists close to 800 children (239 abductions and 511 runaways), their ages, descriptions and, in some cases, photos. These are cases going as far back as 1991 and as recently as this last August.

Just grabbing at random there's Christopher Stevens, Jaquina Aguilar, Courie Alexander.

Eight-hundred children. Most don't appear to have any further information. Those that do paint a picture maybe a little brighter than the foster system might care to admit. "Minors visited relatives in Mississippi. Have not returned." "Thought to be living with father" "Abducted by mother and thought to be in Mexico." And so on.

The runaways are not all that surprising, though as angry in l.a. says, "I wonder where they are running from and where they are going."

It's the abductions that have no further details that I find particularly chilling. In the absence of fact conjecture fills the void. How many of these children are buried in a concrete slab somewhere or in an Angeles Crest ditch?

What I find truly disturbing is the sheer number of them. I don't know how many children are in the foster system, but dear Christ it has to be a lot. And I have to wonder how many of them are going to end up on this list.

More Fire, More Bodies

Mountain Center, CA

Riverside detectives are investigating the discovery of three bodies at a burning building in the San Jacinto wilderness as a possible triple homicide. A woman was found outside the house and, after the flames were put out, two more were found inside.

Not a lot of info on this one, yet. Autopsies are pending, bodies are unidentified, yada yada yada.

Drug deal gone bad? Meth lab went up? Somebody horning in on the blackmarket fried turkey market and didn't want the competition?

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Hollywood, CA

Used to be, if somebody called the cops and said they'd been robbed of their pot plants, they'd be the ones going to jail. But things are a little different, now.

On August 27th, The Hollywood Patient Collective near Gower was robbed of $12,000.00 worth of medical marijuana (as opposed to the fun kind?), $2000.00 cash and a laptop, by two men posing as LAPD officers. The facility was reluctant to report the theft until the next day, as the thieves took some IDs and threatened future violence if the police were contacted.

Yesterday, the LAPD released video showing the suspects.
The clinic had video surveillance that recorded the robbery. The still photos show the suspects' faces. One suspect wore an LAPD baseball cap and the other a Hawaiian shirt. The suspect in the Hawaiian shirt is seen holding a police scanner, Vernon said.
If you happen to know where $12K worth of pot plants happen to be the LAPD (as well as half a million people in Los Angeles) would like to speak with you at (213) 972-2955 or on nights or weekends at (877) 529-3855.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Drugs, People, And Knock-Off Disney Pinatas

Calexico, CA

One of the things that you can always count on is that smugglers will find a way to move product to their customers. Recent crackdowns in border security only bring out that much more ingenuity in people. Like the latest 400 foot tunnel found linking a home in Calexico to another in Mexicali.

One has to wonder what really gets moved through these tunnels. Drug runners aren't the only ones feeling the pinch here. What about the coyotes bringing desparate day laborers into San Diego, or the flod of Bruja endorsed home remedies that don't work or make nerve gas.

Personally, I think it's all of the crap that piles up in front of those downtown stores with handpainted signs; Spanglish DVD knockoffs of Titanic, Nine Inch Nails covers by Menudo, oddly shaped "massagers" that short out at inconvenient times and cause women to walk funny for days. I'm picturing an underground warehouse of Mickey Mouse pinatas with "Dsiney" stickers stuck on the side.

It's an epidemic, I tell you.

Instant Karma

Long Beach, CA

An 18-year-old man is in critical condition after a car accident Sunday night. Seems he had just perpetrated a hit-and-run, and while he got the "hit" portion right, he seemed a little unclear on the whole "run" aspect of things.

Escaping from the first scene, he ran into another car, a Long Beach Fire Department battalion chief's SUV, in fact.

Which promptly burst into flames.

Once he wakes up, he's facing some unpleasant charges.

A Long, Hard Road To Hell

Moreno Valley

Last week, I mentioned Kayla Lorrain Wood, 16, who was found stabbed to death in a burning house in Moreno Valley. It would appear that someone murdered her, and then set the abandoned house ablaze to hide the evidence. I asked the question,
But what drives a person to murder a 16-year-old girl then set fire to a house to dispose of the body? Drugs? Sex? Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Family pastor? Something darker and more twisted than even I can come up with?
The answer, it would appear, is a little more complicated.

Michelle Linder of Riverside emailed me a couple of links the other day that shed a little light on Kayla's life.

The first, is a Press Enterprise story about the incident.
Kayla Lorrain Wood's short life was defined by turbulence and violence. She was sexually abused. She was diagnosed with a mental disorder. She ran away from foster care in two states and she was suspected of prostitution.
There are so many things in this story that speak of tragedy, heartache and a desperate plea for help that either never came, or came too late.
The blond, blue-eyed girl had been missing for nine days, after again running away from a group home. Kayla's body was found with her aunt's phone number tucked in her pocket. Relatives say they think she just wanted to come home.
I don't think I can imagine more tragic circumstances.

The situation opens a number of questions. Why did she run away? How did she get out of the group home she was in? Why weren't her family members told of her absence until after she was discovered dead?

The details of Kayla's life paint a pretty bleak picture. Substance abuse charges against her parents, molested at the age of 10, raped at 13. She was put into the group home just before her 14th birthday in 2004 after her mother was arrested.

In the last month, Kayla attempted to run away from the foster home a least 10 times. Members of her family had been attempting to gain custody of her for some time.
Kayla reportedly wrote a letter to a friend saying a pimp had picked her up in front of the Moreno Valley group home and dropped her off in an Arizona park, her grandmother Vivian Wamsley said.

Kayla returned July 27 and in the letter she named the man who took her across state lines and Kayla said he threatened her.
In all of this there is only one thin, silver lining.
Investigators were able to locate and arrest three primary suspects (1 adult, 2 juveniles) in this case. They were located in Moreno Valley and Riverside, interviewed and subsequently booked into Robert Presley Detention Center and Juvenile Hall for the homicide. The name of the male adult suspect will not be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
The investigation into her death is ongoing. If you know anything, please call the Moreno Valley Police Department at 951-486-6700 or Investigator Seckinger at the Central Homicide Unit at 951-955-2777.

Thanks for the links, Michelle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lady In The Water

Newport Beach, CA

Yesterday, a woman was found wrapped in a blanket and floating in Newport Harbor.

Though information is slow to come out, Newport police have identified the woman. Release of the name is pending notification of her family.

The autopsy is still pending, but it appears that the woman was stabbed. Police have reason to believe that she was killed in her condominium and taken to the harbor later. Bloody bedding was found nearby.

This is actually pretty quick work. My hat off to the Newport police for their speed in getting this far.

A Milestone He Probably Wishes He Could Have Avoided

Santa Ana, CA

Robert Castillo, 34, of Orange County was found guilty yesterday of forcible rape, forcible sodomy and kidnapping in a 1995 rape case that had gone unsolved until he became the 100th person in the state to be arrested due to DNA.

He was picked up on a parole violation a while back, allowing the state to get a DNA sample. His DNA was then submitted to a statewide database in 2002. Years later, while combing through the backlog of cases, they got a hit.

Castillo faces 25 to life. Let's hope he gets the whole magilla.

Beth Short On The Silver Screen

Los Angeles, CA

The Black Dahlia opens today in theatres all over the place. Brian DePalma brings James Ellroy's novel about the infamous 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short to life.

I have hopes and trepidation about this one. The Black Dahlia was the first Ellroy novel I ever read. That was years ago and I didn't know who the hell Ellroy was. That said, I thought the book plodded along a bit. L.A. Confidential, I feel, is a much better book.

What I did like about it is that the story is less about the murdered girl and more about the obsessive detectives on the case, their own personal lives and how the murder sets off a series of events that really fuck them up.

Here's a spoiler: They don't solve it.

Sorry, no Scooby-Doo moments in this one. This is about as noir as you get.

Kind of like Titanic, ("Whatta ya mean, the boat sinks!?"), the public details of the Dahlia's murder are well known, so no surprises there. The killer's identity remains a mystery, and the novel doesn't really try to dig that one up. It's really not about Elizabeth Short. It's about the impact of her death on the men and women surrounding her.

I have a lot of respect for some of DePalma's work. I loved Body Double, for example. But I always got the sense that he was trying to be some bastard amalgam of Kubrick and Hitchcock. I'm worried that he's going to screw this one up, and it really deserves to be a great film. I'm not expecting it to be true to the story, hell, L.A. Confidential didn't come close, but I hope that it will at least maintain the things that make it a great story.

Author Events This Weekend

The Mystery Bookstore

Westwood, CA


Saturday, September 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Caroline Lawrence signs Fugitive From Corinth

Even kids need a good murder now and then, and it sounds as though Caroline Lawrence's historical Roman mystery series fits the bill nicely. Her latest, Fugitive From Corinth has her protagonist, Flavia, track her tutor across Greece when he flees after being accused of murder.

She will also have copies of her earlier books, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Gladiators of Capua and The Enemies of Jupiter.

Recommended for ages 9-12. I'm thinking we're not talking Roman Noir here.


Saturday, September 16 at 4:00 p.m.

Mark Zubro signs Everyone's Dead But Us

Is there a big market for gay mysteries? I think there'd have to be.

Anyway, Mark Zubro's latest mystery in his Tom and Scott series takes his two protagonists to the Greek islands where, surprise, people die. The hook with this seems to be the relationship between the two protagonists. Sounds awful cozy-ish. Gay cozies? I think I've seen those down at the Pleasure Chest.


Saturday, September 16 at 5:00 p.m.

Dan Vining signs The Next

Now this one sounds much more up my alley.
Vining’s first novel, THE QUICK, introduced private investigator Jimmy Miles, a “Sailor” who lives in the territory between life and death. He died, but lives again with someone else’s face, and recognizes others like him. In this sequel, Miles agrees to tail a woman who’s joined a suicide cult, and he learns more about the purpose of the Sailors.
I'll definitely be picking this one up.

---


Mysteries To Die For

Thousand Oaks, CA


Saturday, September 16 at 11:00 a.m.

Aileen Brown signs The Torch of Tangier

1942 Tangiers. Lily Sampson is an archaeologist and spy feeding information to Eisenhower for the war effort. Now there's a set up. Sounds like fun.


Saturday, September 16 at 1:30 p.m.
Paul Levine signs Kill All The Lawyers

The second (I think it's the second) book in the Solomon and Lord series brings Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord back. The two Florida lawyers are dealing with a killer, a pissed off radio DJ, each other and a 300 pound marlin stuck in Steve's front door.


Saturday, September 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Dan Vining signs The Next

Two chances to see Mr. Vining and get his new book.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Unfortunate Saga of David Klotz

Last week, I mentioned David Klotz, a 26-year-old accountant from San Francisco, who died after arguing over a $960.00 lapdance bill at the Spearmint Rhino strip club in Santa Barbara. He was having trouble breathing and died at the scene.

And why was he having trouble breathing?

Because the two bouncers holding him down choked the shit out of him.
According to eyewitness Kyle Hembree, “The guy was struggling and kicking, just fighting back for a while. But then he went limp and they just stayed on him.” Several witnesses concur that two of the bouncers held Klotz to the ground using a combination of arm holds and a forearm “sleeper,” or choke hold, around his neck. Both bouncers - who police estimated were 6 3 and 240 pounds and 6 11 and 460 pounds - remained on top of Klotz until the police arrived. According to Klotz’s friend and local resident Vincent Lara, doctors told a group of people gathered in the hospital early Saturday morning that Klotz died after approximately 15-20 minutes of asphyxiation.
David was 180 pounds, five-foot-seven and severely drunk. He had a BAC of .19.

Together the bouncers top about 700 pounds, outweighing him by almost 400%. He was asphyxiated for almost half an hour. We're talking about guys who could crush a Volkswagen between their buttcheeks. For somebody like this Walking into a room and sneezing is excessive force. A quarter ton bouncer does not need help subduing a drunk man a third his size.

So far, no one has been charged in his death. With luck, we'll see a couple of manslaughter charges soon.

Thanks to the anonymous commenter who handed me a link to the Independent story.

Prostitution, Drugs And The Menacing Ravages of The Rug Doctor

Lancaster, CA

Los Angeles County Sheriffs hit a house in Lancaster Wednesday, arresting Jennifer Gray, 29, Lee Jones, 34 and an unnamed 15-year-old girl for drug sales and prostitution. Gray and Jones would apparently drive the young girl to Los Angeles, selling her out until she had netted $500.00 to $600.00. The girl was picked up on two prostitution warrants, while Gray and Jones were nailed on suspicion of possession of rock cocaine with intent to sell and furnishing a child for prostitution.
The teen had scars on her back from where she was stabbed during an assault by a potential customer...
Jesus. Something to bring out the next time your 12-year-old starts whining about his wounded childhood.

In addition, three children at the house, a 4-month-old girl, a 4-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl were taken into protective custody. God only knows where they'll end up, but I can only hope it's better than where they've been. Considering the people they were living with, I can only hope that the kids were gotten to before the grown-ups could start renting them out. But I'm not betting on it.

And then we have the piece de resistance.
A third adult, identified as Timothy Goldman, 21, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a "Rug Doctor" he had rented and not returned.
It's many a man who's been brought down by The Rug Doctor.

What's Next, The Teleprompter Bandit?

Santa Ana, CA

The FBI is looking for a man responsible for five bank robberies in the Orange County area since September 1st. He goes up to tellers with a note taped to a binder demanding money in $50 and $100 dollar bills. They have dubbed him the Cuecard Bandit. I guess The Trapper Keeper Bandit was just too long.
The suspect is described as unshaven, 5 feet 6 to 5 feet 8 inches tall and 170 pounds, with dark hair. He wears a baseball cap with an unknown type logo, black framed sunglasses, a buttoned shirt and jeans, Eimiller said.
If you have information, it is requested that you call the FBI at 310-477-6565. Personally, I'm too paranoid. They've probably got me wiretapped already. This is why I always answer the phone, "Fuck Hoover".

Do They Charge Dock Fees For That?

Newport Beach, CA

A woman's body was found wrapped in a blanket and floating in Newport Harbor near the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Wednesday.

It's probably going to be a little bit before we get a cause of death, or how long she's been in the water. Floaters are notoriously hard to work on, especially if they're been in there for a while. With any luck the blanket will have helped preserve some things, at least keeping some of the nibblers off her toes.

Unsurprisingly, Newport Beach police are treating this as a homicide.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

That RICO Guy Sure Gets Around

Los Angeles, CA

First the Vineland Boys, now the 18th Streeters.

Eleven members of the 18th Street gang have been indicted on 17 counts of Federal racketeering charges for their crack cocaine business.
Gang members allegedly gave drug dealers exclusive right to sell in certain territories, providing them protection while charging a percentage of their drug profits, also known as "rents," in exchange. Prosecutors say if rents went unpaid, the cliques would assess fines or use violence.
Crime is just another way of doing business. Hmm. Maybe we could, I dunno, legalize and regulate the drug trade to keep this shit from happening? Nah, that's just crazy talk. Next thing you know, I'll be advocating the legalization of prostitution to keep women from being beaten to death by pissed off pimps.

After all, Prohibition worked so well in the Twenties.

Catch A Crook Win A Buck

Los Angeles & Palmdale, CA

We got ree-wards!

The LA City Council is offering $50,000.00 for information in a drive-by that killed Marvin Powell, a 27-year-old man in the 77th Street Division back in February. It's nice to see they're on the ball with this one. I mean, it's only been seven months.

Marvin was shot near the intersection of 48th and Budlong while riding his bike at 2:30 in the morning.

So if you know something about this and your memory hasn't been fried by the intervening months of meth, call the LAPD's 77th Street Homicide Division at (213) 485-1383 or (877) LAWFULL.

Now we turn our attention to the desert pit that is Palmdale. With more exploding meth labs per capita than the Salton Sea.

We have a $45,000.00 reward for information on a man who raped a 10-year-old girl in a movie theater at the Antelope Valley Mall on August 29th.
The man, who spoke with a "Nigerian-type" accent, was described as black, about 35-45 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds, with a black/gray mustache. He was wearing a white, short-sleeve shirt and dark blue sweat pants with white stripes on the outer seams.
They've set up a 24-hour hotline at (866) 247-5877.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Insult to Injury

Anaheim, CA

An alleged drug dealer, running away from undercover cops, gets hit by a car and goes down. Then the cops shoot him.
Details were still sketchy this evening, and the sergeant said he did not know if the man had a weapon, or if he had gotten up off the ground before he was shot.
Bad drivers and trigger happy police officers, another tool in the war on crime.

Adventures In Babysitting

Palmdale, CA

Today's Amber Alert is brought to you by Maria Cedano Ayala.

Joliet Cedano is a five month old infant who was taken from her mother after birth and put into protective foster care because she was born addicted to narcotics. Hmm. How does something like that happen?

Anyway, an unnamed man snatched the kid from her foster mother at William J. McAdam Park yesterday afternoon. The man took off in a car driven by a woman. Later, the guy was found and questioned. Looks like Joliet's with her oh-so-stable mother.
Ayala, the biological mother, is described as 43 years old, about 5 feet 5 and weighing about 150 pounds. She may be driving a blue four-door 1995 Mercury Marquis, license plate number 5RSK813, according to the sheriff's department.
Anyone with information on Joliet or Ayala, please call the Sheriff's station in Palmdale at 661-272-2400.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Burning Down The House

Moreno Valley, CA

Kayla Lorrain Wood, 16, was found dead in a burned, abandoned house at 4939 Cactus Avenue in Moreno Valley Saturday morning by firefighters. The Riverside coroner's office has deemed her death a homicide (story is about 10 down).

More so than with adults, I find myself wondering what sorts of psychodramas play out when adolescents are murdered. Gang killings are one thing, they're more often impersonal battles for territory and a twisted sense of honor. As someone I met who had served in Vietnam once told me, "They're not shooting at you, they're shooting at the uniform."

But what drives a person to murder a 16-year-old girl then set fire to a house to dispose of the body? Drugs? Sex? Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Family pastor? Something darker and more twisted than even I can come up with?

The sad truth of these things is that it's probably something so insipid and banal that it won't even be reported in the local news. A high school rivalry over a boy. Being dissed at a party. Getting high and falling out of a moving car, the driver freaking out. Whatever it is, it's a tragedy that will likely be recorded as a statistic long before it's mourned.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the stabbing death of Walter Rivas, an 18-year-old man from Palmdale who was stabbed to death in a Huntington Beach hotel. Very little detail, very sketchy information. It generated the most heated comments that I've seen here. Anonymous comment arguing with anonymous comment. Some angry with my post, some angry with each other's comments and opinions.

One thing was abundantly clear, Walter Rivas was loved.

From the text of some of them I would say I had a few teenagers poking around. A quick Google search reveals a couple of sites memorializing him. At least one on MySpace.

What got me thinking was the fact that I have mentioned other teenagers murdered, jailed or in the process of being convicted, and none of them generated the kind of traffic that my post on Walter Rivas did. Why him and not the others? Sure, people cared about him, and from the comments I've seen about him, rightly so.

But what specifically is it about this that drew people to be so vocal? Is it because there wasn't much mentioned of him online? Was it because his seemingly wide circle of friends is so wired that blogs and online communication are second nature to them? Is this the MySpace generation and the way it rallies against an unkind fate? Is their barbaric yawp a string of floating bits?

I have no expectation that I will ever know. Part of me hopes that I get as many comments about Kayla Wood, angry or otherwise. At least it would show that someone cares enough to be shattered by another person's death.

If anyone has any information on Ms Woods' whereabouts, or who she was with, the Moreno Valley Police Department would like to speak with you at 951-486-6700 or 951-955-2777

The Grifters Revisited

Long Beach, CA

Jim Thompson would be proud.

A mother/son team, Lisa Ruby Adams, 37, and Marcello Adams, 20, were arrested in an undercover sting operation after screwing up a small time long con on an elderly man in Long Beach. After approaching him in a parking lot and offering to fix a dent in his car, they became friends and soon convinced him that they had a sick daughter in the hospital and $1500.00 would fix things right up.

The trick to a successful con is consistency and believability, which is why the short and simple cons are usually more successful. People want to believe. Paranoia is not something we're born with, which is why so many of us are suckers. And this is where things fell apart. The mark got suspicious when they asked him to wire transfer the money to an unknown man in a different city.

So the mark checked the hospital. No daughter. He contacted the police and they set up the sting.

Lisa's wanted both here and in Florida for this sort of thing, and the two are believed to be connected to an organized crime ring that bounces through the countryside preying on the elderly. Like Dracula, or something.

If we're lucky we'll find out that there's actually a sordid, incestuous love triangle. I have my hopes.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This Is Why Accountants Shouldn't Get Lapdances

Santa Barbara, CA

Okay, this isn't in L.A., and it doesn't look like it's a crime, but it has strippers and death, so it's good enough for me.

San Francisco accountant, David Klotz, 26, died at the Spearmint Rhino strip club in Santa Barbara after contesting the bill for a 70-minute lapdance.

When police arrived they found him wheezing and called paramedics. He died at Cottage Hospital.

Our choices are:

A) Mortal Man was not meant to endure over an hour of such sublime ecstasy from the talented and tattooed Miss Boom-Boom.

B) The ex-Dallas Cowboys, linebacker bouncer, faced with a mid-twenties Jewish accountant from the Bay Area, breathed in, sucking all of the air out of Mr. Klotz's lungs, causing inevitable collapse.

C) He died of shock from the $960.00 bill.

I'm going with C.

Bodies In A Trunk - The Sequel


Gavilan Hills, CA

Two arrests have been made in connection to the two bodies found stuffed in a trunk in the Lake Matthews area earlier this week.

Omar T. Hutchison, 30 and Brooke M. Rottiers, 26, were arrested on suspicion of murder and are being held in Riverside County Jail.

Ain't they a purty couple? Rottiers, it seems, has some priors for burglary, robbery, forgery and possession. Movin' up in the world, I see. Have fun in Chino.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Probably Won't Last The Full 18

Santa Monica, CA

Three years ago, 89-year-old George Russell Weller, mistook the gas for the brake and plowed through the crowded Santa Monica Farmer's Market, killing ten people.

He's up for trial this week on ten charges of manslaughter, which, if convicted, could get him 18 years behind bars. That will make him 107 by the time he gets out.

Actually, no. Let's be honest here. He'll make it two days before getting shivved in the shower room. Old people and prison do not mix well.

The question in the trial is whether this is a crime or the grand-daddy of all senior moments. He's also being hammered by civil wrongful death suits.

Personally, I think he'll get off. The man's 89-freakin' years old. At that age, prison is a death sentence, and I suspect the court will look at it that way. As long as he doesn't come across as an angry, "Mr. Wilson" curmudgeon.

Oh, wait, that's the prosecution's argument.
[Deputy District Attorney Ann] Ambrose said two witnesses will testify that after Weller's car stopped, he said: "If you saw me coming, you should have gotten out of my way."
Next thing you know they'll pull in folks who saw him shake his fist at them and told them to get off his lawn. Dammit.

Summer Is Officially Over

Los Angeles, CA

Thirteen homicides, eleven of which were GSWs.

Let's see what we've got.

Four in the 77th Division. Shocker there.

Double homicide in South L.A. Saturday night where Sabrina Taylor, and her sister, Charlotte Johnson were allegedly shot by their step-father Robert Lee Phillips at Taylor's 30th birthday party. I think this qualifies as a dysfunctional family dynamic.

Then there's Cesar Eduardo Reyes, who had his guts blown out with a shotgun by an armed robber on Sunday.

Then we have a drive-by in Korea Town. A man and a woman were shot while driving near 80th and Western by gunmen in a white van. The man died, and the woman was critically injured.

Then we have a son shooting his mother in that godforsaken of all places, East of the 110.

And it wouldn't be complete without an officer involved shooting. When police pulled over an SUV that they thought was stolen, Robert Henderson stepped with a handgun and died at the scene. Funny thing, though, the car wasn't stolen.

Now I count ten there, which means there's one more GSW I'm not seeing and two more homicides with other implements, like garden weasels or rolling pins. Or maybe chainsaws. We just don't see enough chainsaw deaths in this town, do we? Maybe a belt sander.

Though we've managed to drop the gap from last year's homicide numbers by 7% in the course of a weekend we're still down 3% from last year. My money's still on Compton.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

PALE IMMORTAL - Buy The Book, Dammit

Tuonela, WI

Anne Frasier's new novel, Pale Immortal, officially comes out today.
Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.
I was lucky enough to get hold of one of the ARCs a few months ago. Amazing imagery, strong characters, a great story. Couldn't put the damn thing down.

Now, we all know that I'm a mercenary, opportunistic whore. But I don't sell out for just anything (Unless it's ordnance, suitcases of cocaine or Panamanian hookers - you hear me, Terrenoire?). This is a really enjoyable book. Chilling, and dark. Just like I like it.

So go buy it. Now.

You can also find more info about her other books at her official website here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Body Dumping L.A.

Lake Matthews, CA

The bodies of two unidentified men were found bound with twine and stuffed in the trunk of a Honda Accord out by the Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve, down by the 91 and 15 freeways. The car was discovered by an off-roader Tuesday afternoon.

God that must have been ripe. It was 102 out there on Tuesday.

Now, I've got an Accord. It's got some roomy trunk space, but it ain't that roomy. Not saying you couldn't do it, but you've got to do some serious bending to fit two full size adults into one of those. Don't ask me how I know this.

Anyway, something tells me they were already dead when they went in.

If you happen to know anything about this give the Perris sheriff's station a call at (951) 940-6200.

Unclear On The Whole "Home Invasion" Concept

Silver Lake, CA

Two men broke into a Silver Lake home Thursday morning, tied up the residents, and then left. Didn't take anything. Didn't hurt anybody.

Practice run? Maybe, but the police are looking for these guys in posible connection to another home invasion that happened in Los Feliz a couple weeks ago.

Maybe they were just going for their Pioneering / Home Invasion merit badges?