Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Does This Mean I Can Get That Cremulator I've Been Wanting?

Los Angeles, CA

Last year, the L.A. County Coroner ran out of space. They were stuffed to the gills with over 400 corpses. They can handle 325 and, at the time, they were getting about 300 new stiffs a week. Add to that the problem that the County crematory over at USC Medical could only handle 90 bodies, and it gets to be all kinds of fun.

But as proof that almost every problem can be fixed if you just throw enough money at it, the County has contracted with a Long Beach facility, Southland Crematory, to the tune of $130,000.00 a year to provide "as needed" barbecue.

Well, hell.  If I'd known there was money in body disposal, I'd have changed careers, by now.

"We're glad we have this backup system in place," said Ed Winter, captain of investigations for the Department of Coroner.
I'm sure you are.  Burn those corpses, captain.  Burn them before the Zombie Plague starts.  Because by then, it's too late.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Apparently, There Is Sex In The Champagne Room

San Bernardino, CA

Ever notice how some strip bars try to class up what they are with a name that's either confusing (Spearmint Rhino), generic (Rouge), or some vague attempt at Fifties titillation (The Pussycat Lounge)? The Flesh Club isn't one of those. The Flesh Club doesn't make believe it's something it's not. It's not a "gentlemen's club", or an "adult lounge". No, that's not how these guys roll. They flaunt convention, they flaunt propriety, they flaunt the law.

The Flesh Club has been shut down and given a $25,000.00 fine for allowing sex in private VIP rooms. Well, duh. The fuck do you think goes on in there? The dancer can make a hundred bucks for a stack of songs or a K for a hummer. Do the math.

So one more vector for the clap is out of commission.

But, surely, I hear you cry, there must be something that an enterprising purveyor of fine pole dancing, inexplicable squatting and ass-slapping can do? They're not all blowing truckers, and alcoholic trailer trash. Think of the young ingenue fresh from Kansas. New to The Big City to make her break in film, who's only dancing because she fell in with wicked men and must pay her rent, purchase a meal, and feed her burgeoning coke habit.

Why, of course, there is. Chutzpah!

Flesh Club lawyer Roger Jon Diamond argued unsuccessfully that only a portion of the business should be shuttered because striptease dancing is a First Amendment-protected activity.
Or, maybe not.

That Devil Cash

Santa Ana, CA

Once considered an up and comer in California Republican politics, Orange County's Sheriff, Mike Carona has come under fire for his creative use of the term "ethics". Issuing badges and CCW permits to campaign contributors, for instance. Getting nailed by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for "loans" that he billed against his campaign committee.

And now he's been indicted on corruption charges. I wonder what took them so long.

Seems Sheriff Carona has been under investigation by the Feds since he was re-elected for his latest term as Sheriff. In January 2006, the Feds subpoenaed records from his reserve deputy program and election committee, and I'm sure accountants have been crawling up his asshole like they're looking for polyps ever since.

The coffin nail in this one, though, seems to be George Jaramillo, a former Assistant Sheriff who's already pled guilty saying that he had collected about $45K in cash and gifts and had lied on his tax returns to hide it.

The 30-page plea agreement describes Jaramillo's involvement with individuals identified as "M.C." and "D.H." Corrado said the initials stand for Carona and former Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl.

The plea agreement says that beginning in late 1998 or early 1999, Haidl arranged for Jaramillo and Carona to be appointed to the boards of directors of several companies that paid them compensation or honorariums.

In the plea, Jaramillo conceded receiving $7,000 from Charity Funding Services, a firm owned by Haidl's uncle. The plea agreement says Carona also received monthly payments from the charity company, as well as an unspecified amount of cash from Haidl.

Jaramillo is looking at up to 23 years in prison. As to Sheriff Carona, it's still too early to tell.

Friday, October 26, 2007

And Tasty, Too

Lancaster, CA

Sheriff's Deputies are looking for one Gregory Jordan, 37, of Lancaster, for attacking a man last night and biting off part of his ear.

The victim was hospitalized, Dunn said. The lower half of his ear was not found, he said.
Of course, you didn't find it. He ATE it.

Ear zombies. That's what they are. Shuffling through the desert, gnawing the ears off hapless victims.

Obviously, I need more caffeine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This is what I get for posting through email

The workinglink is here.

Hat Tip to Dusty Rhoades.

And this is where it all happened

Stephen Blackmoore

A Couple Thoughts On Fire

Los Angeles, CA

It's like a pitcher plant made out of smoke. Getting in is the easy part. Getting out- well, that's a little more problematic. The other side of the freeway is a parking lot. My side is clear sailing. Of course it is. We're the crazy fuckers driving toward the fire.

The sunrise is spectacular. Deep orange and reds behind me as the sunlight punches through miles of real estate sent into the air. Happens every year around this time. Wish I could drive PCH home. The sunset will be amazing. But I can't. It's on fire.

I should take a moment to say that I'm perfectly safe. The fire's miles away. At least ten. You can taste it, see the smoke. Take a deep breath you'll get a lungful of ash. All the cars are covered in it. Kind of air that goes well with a good Islay single malt. If you've got a nicotine habit, you probably won't notice.

The one I'm near right now, the Canyon Fire in Malibu, is about 10% contained. That's pretty good considering the weather and terrain. Seven this morning and it was 80 degrees. The winds are calmer than yesterday, but we've still got the Santa Anas to contend with.

Other fires are still completely out of control. The Harris and Witch Fires in San Diego, the nightmare that is Irvine. Know a kid got evac orders last night in San Diego. I hope he's okay.

Agua Dulce around the 5 and 14 Freeways is a mess. It's mostly scrub brush out there, but the wrong breeze at the wrong time and there are homes and friends in jeopardy.

Now's a good time to be somewhere else.

Done. For A Relative Value of Done

This morning at 6:02am, I typed


I am tired.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Actually, It's Not Always The Quiet Ones

Los Angeles, CA

Take a look at the guy next to you. The one who looks completely normal. Steady job, seems nice. Fun to hang out with, talk sports. Maybe he's got a wife. Never know he's a killer.

Two examples come to mind, Isaac Campbell, who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend, Liya Lu, and stuffing her into a 50 gallon drum before shuffling off to Minneapolis, and Fire Captain David Del Toro, accused of torturing and murdering Jennifer Flores last August, dragging her body a quarter mile down the street in Eagle Rock and leaving a nice long trail back to his door.

Aside from the gruesome natures of these crimes, there's something else similar that I've noticed about them. So many of the people they know who never had a clue.

I got a comment earlier on this post about Del Toro.
There are similar comments, though not so emphatic on their disbelief, regarding Mr. Campbell.

What I think this commenter may not know is that Captain Del Toro has a history. In 2002, the LAPD investigated allegations of domestic abuse. The investigation report does not paint a pretty picture. Statements from alleged victims Melissa Dale and Monica Gibo are equally, if not more, damning. And then, of course, there's the matter of his arrest in 1997 for trying to put out a cigarette on his wife's face after getting drunk. There's all sorts of fucked up psychology in those reports, and not entirely restricted to Del Toro.

From the 71 comments I got here about Isaac Campbell, it appears he had a temper on him, too. A few seem to think he was completely capable of it, many not so much.

Most of the people we know are acquaintances. Co-workers, service people, friend of a friend. But how many of us really see the dark places that they go?

So, I have to wonder, for all of us who know people only as acquaintances, or co-workers, how many of us really see what they're capable of? Who they are, how they're wired? In this age of Facebook, Myspace, blogs even, where the only picture we have of a person is what they present to us, how can we be sure that we really know anyone?

We have this idea of a psychopath as having crazy eyes, maybe a harelip. Doesn't talk. Carries an axe. Definitely something wrong with them. Point is, you'd know, right?

Actually, no. One of the things about a lot of psychopaths (or sociopaths depending on who you ask) is that they're charming, friendly, intelligent. They come across as perfectly normal and sane.

Until they don't. But you won't always know. And you can't always know. Because they won't show you and because they know how to hide and hide well.

So, take a look at the guy next to you. The one who looks completely normal. Steady job, seems nice. Fun to hang out with, talk sports. Maybe he's got a wife.

Never know he's a killer.

When The Hills Of Los Angeles Are Burning

Malibu, CA

It's kind of like that Bugs Bunny / Daffy Duck Cartoon. "Fire season!" "Wind season!" "Fire season!" "Wind season!" Looks like they're both right.

As anyone in this town is aware, lots of places in Southern California are on fire. The reasons? It's hot, dry and windy. Don'tcha just love them Santa Ana Winds?

So, if you're working from home today because the roads you drive to work on are engulfed in flames (thank god that Starbucks in Cross Creek is still standing) I recommend some reading material. Burn by Sean Doolittle, which heavily features our scenic brush fires. If you haven't read it, you should. Now.

And then go on to read the rest of his stuff. His latest, The Cleanup, won this year's Barry Award.

Stay safe, people. Fire's bad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And It's Only Going To Get Worse

San Fernando, CA

L.A. Daily News' Brent Hopkins posts over at the paper's crime blog, It's A Crime, a story on James Anthony Rojas, who, under the business name Victoria Holdings, was arrested September 28th for preying on people whose houses have gone into foreclosure. He's been accused of forging documents to get people to sign their houses over to him, and then turning around and using those houses to secure loans.

Rojas isn't new to this game. Seems he got popped four years ago on grand theft in a similar case using the name Tri-Star Investments. He got off with probation.

Desperate people are willing to believe anything that looks like a life preserver, and cons like this prey on that panic. Downturns are just opportunities to these people. Sort of an economic bellwether. Like flower shops and hem lines. Bank robberies, too, probably. I wonder if anyone's correlated the GDP with the number of bank robberies.

When it comes down to it, two things bring out the grifters; easy money and easy marks. The easy money's gone, but the easy marks are just getting started.

Right To A (Not So) Speedy Trial

San Fernando, CA

Back in November of 2005, John Freeman of Northridge was arrested for allegedly killing a transvestite prostitute with a garden hoe. Yesterday, he finally pled no contest and was sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

He's been sitting in the can for almost two years waiting for this trial.

What does this tell us? That we have too many trials going on for the system to handle, many of which could be dropped if a bunch of stupid shit, like marijuana possession, prostitution or, hell, most misdemeanors, stopped being illegal.

It also tells us that I've been doing this blog way too long.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Brains Behind The Diamond Trade

Valley Village, CA

A diamond trader, whose name is being withheld probably due to embarrassment, had an undisclosed number of diamonds stolen by three men while he was sitting in a grocery store parking lot.
One of the suspects simulated a gun, and the victim handed over a black bag containing an undisclosed number of diamonds, according to police.
Uh huh. Is it just me, or does anybody else smell a hand-off?

Now, I can buy this guy carrying the diamonds with him. I'll give him the benefit of stupidity on this one. Work with anything long enough and it all just becomes stuff. Which is why I don't have a lot of faith in the security of our nuclear arsenal, by the way. Just sayin'.

But how do you "simulate a gun"? Careful, that index finger is loaded and he's got his thumb cocked! And if the guy flashed a fake weapon, why say it was simulated? If this was a real hold-up, then they either got lucky on who to hit, or it was planned and they followed him. In which case, why didn't they have a weapon?

I'm getting the feeling this is going to be like that Ferrari Enzo that crashed on PCH a while back. I don't think this one's even close to over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now That's A Lot of Cock

San Diego, CA

Five thousand of them, in fact. Like Vegas at a porn convention. Only with, you know, roosters.

San Diego police seized five thousand birds used in cockfighting, including over four thousand in one location near the Mexican border. Oddly enough, it's just a misdemeanor. You'd think the way the PETA folks go after this kind of thing it'd be a death penalty felony at the very least.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's cruel and heartless. But then so are those McNuggets I had the other night. And that's just chicken through a woodchipper.

Personally, I've never quite gotten the appeal of cockfighting. I mean, they're chickens.

Now if they were monkeys that'd be different. Monkey fighting. Fuck yeah. Give a couple of macaques some shivs and let 'em go to town. Or mix it up with a UFC bout. Mixed Martial Monkey Arts. Randy Couture and a half starved baboon with a nose full of meth.

My money's on the baboon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tenacity And DNA Will Get You Every Time

Santa Ana, CA

Nine year old Patricia Lopez was bludgeoned to death in 1987. No one was apprehended in the crime. Until now.

Rosendo Lopez, 42, Patricia's brother, was arrested Thursday for the murder based on DNA evidence that was impossible to check 20 years ago. He was picked up at his home Thursday and is being held on $1 milion bail.

Just goes to show you should never underestimate the power of people in lab coats.

Like Choose Your Own Adventure For Stupid People

Costa Mesa, CA

It's round about midnight. You and your college buddies are doing, I dunno, watching TV? Playing Bioshock? Getting baked? Anyway, somebody knocks on the door. Remember, it's late at night. Monday morning, technically. So, what do you do? A) Ignore the knock. B) Check through the peephole. C) Let three armed, bandana wearing burglars in to ransack the place.

Well, it's better than the one where you get eaten by a lion.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Favorite Quote Today

Catalina Island, CA

"You can't just go around cutting deer's heads off."

That's a resident of Avalon on Catalina Island. Seems a city employee is under investigation for killing a deer and sticking its head in a soccer net next to a preschool.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Next Week On "Bones"

Studio City, CA

On Wednesday while clearing brush over by Fryman Road and Dona Maria Drive in Studio City, Forest Service personnel found some bones.

Turns out they're human. Beyond that is anybody's guess.

"I've never had one like this before," said Wheeler, a veteran detective. "Generally, we give the coroner 60 days. Something like this might take quite a bit longer."
Never had one like this before? You mean all those serial killer and police procedural novels have it wrong?! My god, where's Harry Bosch when you need him?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Safecrackers Today Have No Balls

Mission Hills, CA

Way back when, a safecracker was called a "yegg" or a "yeggman". Not a word you run into very often. Early 20th century. Seems to have first shown up in print in a New York Evening Post article in 1903 or 1904. Supposedly coined from a hobo named John Yeager.

Also short for "Crazy Motherfucker".

What they would do, see, because explosives were actually pretty easy to come by, is line the hinges of the safe with putty, forming a channel into which they would pour a measure of nitroglycerin. Then, after this precise, and delicate step was completed they would, and here's the important part, hit the safe with a sledgehammer.

Oddly enough, that's not the crazy part.

Yeggs would traditionally keep their nitro with them at all times. The idea was that they would inject it into a rubber ball which they hung from their necks. And then advertise to the world that this is what they did. It stopped a lot of fights. Either before they happened or right after the first punch was thrown. People learned fast that you didn't get into a fight with a yegg.

So, how does all this fascinating education on hundred year old criminal behavior apply to today?

Seems two gentlemen held up a grocery store and, when confronted by the safe that no one had the combination to, gave up. Now if they'd had a yegg and some nitro with them, the news would be a lot more fun to read about.

Friday, October 05, 2007

That Coffee Really Goes Right Through You

Los Angeles, CA

Michael Shorter, 48, was arrested yesterday morning as a suspect in the robbery of a Starbucks near USC. Did they find him high-tailing it out of there in a stolen Porsche, crawling his way through the sewers in a cat and mouse game with the police, strapping on his rocket-pack and spiriting away on fiery wings?

No, they caught him pissing on a wall.

Dude, at least you could have jumped on a bus.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Abuse The System? That Never Hap- Oh, Wait

Los Angeles, CA

Ah, The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Overworked, underpaid, and stuck pulling duty in the dankest shitholes of Los Angeles County. Can you blame them for wanting to have a little fun?

As a matter of fact, yes.

Seems that members of the LASD have been holding competitions to see who could make the most arrests, impound the most vehicles, grill the most gangbangers. "Operation Any Booking" (who came up with that name?) was a contest to see who could make the most arrests in a 24-hour period.

Unsurprisingly, this has raised a few questions on the validity of said arrests.

Hubert Williams, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation, said the competitions were "highly problematic and inappropriate."

Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge, wondered if the games could prompt deputies to make illegitimate arrests to boost numbers.

Though the arrest numbers didn't go up on the day of a competition, the impound numbers did.

Now, I'm not saying that anyone did anything wrong. But when the entire county is crawling up your asshole like they're looking for polyps you might want to keep an eye on public relations.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Not To Run A Whorehouse

Irvine, CA
  • Advertise on Craigslist where everyone, including the cops, can find you? Check.
  • Set up shop in a heavily trafficked, high class neighborhood? Check.
  • Bring in clientele that freaks out the neigbors? Check.

What could possibly go wrong?

Kyung Ah Lee, 34, Hyun Jung Shin, 28, and Su Jin Park, 34, have been picked up for running a prostitution ring out of an apartment in an upscale complex in Irvine. Seems they've been entertaining "gentlemen" at all hours from their 2-bedroom unit.

Advertising on Criaglist with the phrase, "hottie Asian girls waiting for you ... 1HR 160 roses for your good time ... open 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.," they managed to scare the neighbors enough with the quality and quantity of their customers that they called the cops a couple weeks ago, prompting an investigation. I'm sure the Engrish didn't help.

Lee was charged with felony pimping and conspiracy, Park and Shin with misdemeanor prostitution and keeping a house of prostitution. Seems Ms Park also has some immigration issues, as well. Lee is facing 6 years and the other ladies are facing a year each.

The Least You Could Do Is Change The Title

Some movies shouldn't be remade. Why? Because there's nothing wrong with the original. Sure, if you want to do something that's fifty years old, I might give you a pass. Maybe. If Christian Bale's in it. But if it was made in the last 20 years and the actors are all still around and it was really goddamn good to begin with, don't fucking touch it.

Hence my problem with this.

Sam Bayer is in negotiations to direct Near Dark, a remake of the cult vampire movie Platinum Dunes is producing for Rogue Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
One of the few decent vampire movies out there and they're going to fuck it up. If you haven't seen it, go rent it. Dracula meets Natural Born Killers. Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein.

Yeah, it's a B movie, but so what? It's a great B movie. How can you beat lines like, "Howdy. I'm gonna separate your head from your shoulders. Hope you don't mind none."

So, Hollywood, stop with the remakes. If you've really got that much of a hard on for vampire movies, do something a little more fucking original.

We now return you to your daily dose of crime.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

And This Is Good, How?

San Diego, CA

John Walters, the White House Drug Czar (Is that like a kingpin?) has announced that efforts by the Mexican government to curb the cocaine supply entering into the United States have resulted in a 24% increase in the street price of cocaine to $120.00 a gram. He seems to think this is a good thing.

It isn't.

They're attacking supply, not demand. All this does is make the drug trade even more lucrative. As long as there is a demand there will always be someone willing to take the risks to generate a supply, and the users will always find a way to pay for it.

Think of it like gasoline. According to the numbers (here at the DOE - no idea if they've been adjusted for inflation), the national average price of a gallon of gasoline as of August, 1990 was 119.1 cents a gallon. A 24% increase would have made it $1.43.

It's actually gone up to 278.4 cents a gallon. An increase of about 160%. And yet, you still pay it.

So, why do we keep employing a supply control strategy?

Well, first of all, it's easy to understand. People like easily digestible metaphors and a "War On Drugs" is something that implies strength, an American gung-ho attitude (a phrase I've always found ironic, as it's Chinese), and a willingness to get the job done.

It's measurable. As the above indicates. Progress is important. It shows forward momentum, justifies budgets. Decision makers like numbers and fast numbers are even better. How many illegal pot farms have been burned down this week? How much money in cocaine (which will only turn into money if the cocaine is sold, by the way) has been siezed? How many drug mules have been locked away for their mandatory 5 year sentences before being released back into the wild as better, more effective criminals?

It's also a problem you can throw money at. This goes back to the easily digestible metaphor. If it's something that can go into line items on a budget, it makes it much easier to follow. Analyzing complex problems is not the general public's forte.

And on top of it all, it creates lots of jobs, particularly in law enforcement and the military. Certainly gone to help justify the Mexican army and the DEA.

Going after demand's a lot more difficult. Without even going into whether most drugs should be illegal in the first place, controlling demand requires changing people's attitudes and desires. And those can be some pretty tough things to shift. People are hardwired to want to feel good. Drugs make you feel good. It's the same reason abstinence programs don't work.

It's not easily measurable, it's not easy to wrap our minds around, it doesn't work quickly and it's hard to accomplish.

And politicians hate that.

Monday, October 01, 2007

This Is What Happens When You Ask Me About Zombies

The ever wonderful Angie Johnson-Schmidt recently started up a podcast featuring some great crime writers. She's doing her October podcasts with talks on horror and crime. Two great tastes that taste great together.

For some reason, she decided to kick it off with me.  

I asked her to give me a deep, sexy voice like Barry White, but really, there's only so much technology can do.

I'm Thinking Too Much Grindhouse

Los Angeles, CA

People are often stereotyped by the cars they drive. Volvo drivers are slow and skittish. Mercedes tend toward arrogant and entitled. Camaros? Road rage assholes who wave knives at parties and then run five people down in the street, leaving three seriously injured.

No, really.

They've got him on attempted murder. Usually a hard one to make stick, because you have to prove intent. Which means they'll probably bargain it down to reckless endangerment, impound the car, and hand him 6 months in county and 7 years probation.

Unless he's already got a record, of course.