Predator in the park Part 3

With Jerry Watkins securely behind bars, the actual killers of Peggy Sue Altes were now free to pursue their depraved criminality without fear of having to answer for their bloody deeds.  For 16 years after committing this unspeakable act of evil, the murderous jackals continued to stalk the innocent while Peggy Sue’s blood stained their clothes and the sound of her cries and pleadings reverberated in their drug and alcohol soaked memory.  And despite the knowledge that Jerry Watkins could not have been Peggy Sue’s assailant, which included star witness, Dennis Ackeratt, recanting his testimony, Hancock County officials fought like hell to keep the wrong man behind bars.  

Eventually, on April 25, 2000, U.S. District Judge David E. Hamilton overturned Watkins’ 1986 conviction, citing DNA and additional evidence investigators and prosecutors failed to disclose to the defense at the time of Watkins’ trial.  In addition to the DNA evidence eliminating Watkins as Peggy Sue’s rapist, Judge Hamilton’s decision cited the eyewitness to Peggy Sue’s abduction at Porter Park, another suspect who had failed a polygraph, men who had admitted involvement in the crime to others and a man who was seen wearing bloody clothes the night of the murder all as evidence “that no reasonable jury would find Watkins guilty of murdering Peggy Sue Altes.”

Naturally, Myrlene Altes, Peggy Sue’s mother, was devastated.  “If you want a pervert out on the street, that’s what you’re going to get.  I’m very angry because this guy is dangerous,” Mrs. Altes told reporters.  It is certainly true that they were letting a pervert out onto the street.  Jerry Watkins had inflicted immeasurable and lasting damage on the Altes family, but he could not have been Peggy Sue’s killer.  Those degenerate monsters were still at large, slinking in the shadows between brief stretches behind bars for other criminal offenses.  

In August of 2001, the same DNA evidence that led to the release of Jerry Watkins shone a spotlight on one of the shadowy predators.  Joseph Mark McCormick was found to be a match to the crime scene DNA to a certainty of one person in 1.5 billion.  “We put the evidence through an analyzer and it mapped everything,” Indiana State Police DNA database supervisor Paul Misner told The Daily Reporter.  “All we did was use the computer to match the sample we had with anyone in the database.  Everyone arrested in Indiana on crimes against persons or serious offenses is required to provide a DNA sample that is kept on record.  We just did a cross match and found a match.”

McCormick, who investigators learned was living across the street from Porter Park at the time of Peggy Sue’s abduction, was “in the wind” at the time of his identification.  “He is on probation for a theft and burglary conviction in Marion County but has skipped out on his probation officer,” Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Captain Jim Bradbury told reporters.  After embarking on a reinvestigation of the case following the Watkins exoneration, Bradbury uncovered another interesting lead that was showing some promise.  “I had been talking with a confidential informant that was questioned when the original investigation was going on.  I talked with him and he began to tell me little bits about what he knew about the girl’s killing,” Bradbury said.  The informant was able to show investigators the precise location where Peggy Sue’s body was found, and according to Bradbury, “He told me things that only someone who was involved in the case would have known.”  Bradbury also revealed that the confidential informant was safely behind bars under protective custody.

Detectives also interviewed the young men who were then the young boys seen playing with Peggy Sue at Porter Park prior to her abduction.  “The original witnesses to the abduction, who were like 7 years old or 8 years old at the time, said there was more than one (abductor),” Hancock County Sheriff Nicholas Gulling told the Indianapolis Star.  “And the information we received subsequently indicates there was more than one.”  Here Gulling could be indicating that the confidential informant confirmed this piece of information.  Setting aside the DNA match, if all of these witnesses were questioned at the time of the original investigation, why weren’t they taken more seriously then?  Even if investigators felt that Watkins was involved, they had ample reason to believe that others participated as well.  Yet they discounted and even suppressed that information.  Nevertheless, authorities got a tip on Sunday, August 5, that McCormick was in attendance at a party in Morgan County.  Investigators rushed to the scene of the festivities, but a slippery McCormick had left the party by the time they got there.  They missed him by that much.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2001, 39-year-old Joseph Mark McCormick of Indianapolis walked into the Greenfield police station shortly before noon to turn himself in.  His long hair and bushy beard gave him the look of a survivalist or a former Manson family member.  He told police he did not have a permanent address and had been living in motels.  After learning that he was being sought by authorities, McCormick got a ride from a friend to the police station.  The friend, however, didn’t stick around to answer questions.  Despite turning himself in to the wrong law enforcement agency, the Greenfield Police held the bedraggled drifter until Hancock County Sheriff’s officials could arrive.

At an initial hearing, McCormick was charged with murder, felony murder and two counts of child abuse to which he pleaded not guilty.  Despite new suspects and solid evidence connecting Joseph McCormick to the crime, Hancock County still wasn’t finished trying to put Jerry Watkins back behind bars.  “We have seen a lot of twists and turns in the case.  The tests show that Jerry Watkins didn’t have anything to do with the sexual assault.  That doesn’t mean he didn’t kill her but it does point to McCormick,” said Hancock County Prosecutor Terry Snow, seemingly unable to decide whether to state his case emphatically or undermine it by not letting go of Watkins as a suspect.  While indicating that other arrests were possible, Captain Jim Bradbury agreed with Snow that the investigation still included Jerry Watkins.  “We are still not done yet,” Bradbury told reporters.

Indeed, they weren’t done, not by a long shot, and not letting go of Jerry Watkins as a suspect was just the beginning.  Investigators and prosecutors were just getting started on their clumsy efforts to sabotage their own case, practically ensuring that none of the men responsible for the rape and brutal stabbing of Peggy Sue Altes would do time for her murder.   

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)

New glasses, new problems

Lately, I’ve been receiving signals that I ought to do something about my eyesight.  The menu board at an unfamiliar takeout restaurant can be confusing enough, but if you can’t read the selections, then you’re pretty screwed.  I tried just making up menu items for a while.  I would say, “Just give me a club sandwich, or something.”  Then the order taker would politely inform me of their choices that most closely resemble a club sandwich, which often just included the addition of avocado, and I’d say, “That would be fine,” and we’d go from there.  But, lately, they’ve begun to treat me like I’m illiterate or something, speaking to me slowly and patiently like I’m a child.  Even my own daughter began to shoot me looks that seemed to doubt my literacy.

So, at the urging of my better half, I decided to get new glasses.  Several hundred dollars later, these cheap plastic spectacles seem to have brought about an entirely new set of challenges.  Don’t get me wrong, they’ve also opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  Before, I mostly stuck to driving familiar routes because I had difficulty reading signs and recognizing landmarks.  But now that I can read highway signs, I’m exploring entirely new realms and unfamiliar territory.  Also, it came as a pleasant surprise to see that the speed limit on most highways has been raised from 55 to 70.  This explains why I’d been the recipient of so much hostility from other drivers in recent years.

The challenges invariably arise when I’m indoors.  I seem to have difficulty and lack confidence knowing where to place my feet.  This has caused me to stumble around and bump into doorways at work.  My boss has been looking askance at me like I’m intoxicated or something.  But I assured her I haven’t been drunk or stoned at work for pretty close to ten years now.  Also, going down stairs is like descending into a murky abyss.  Sometimes I just close my eyes and hope for the best.

However, an incident this morning might be the final straw as far as these new glasses are concerned.  I had just gotten a cup of coffee at Starbucks from the friendliest group of young people you’d ever want to meet, when I merrily strode out to the parking lot to get in my car and head to work.  For some reason, however, I had a difficult time unlocking the car door.  The key fob didn’t seem to work and when I tried to manually unlock the door, the key wouldn’t fit in the lock.  After a few moments, a woman came running out of the Starbucks with one of the larger male employees shouting at me to get away from her car and that she’s calling the cops.  Mortified, I noticed that my car was in the next space over, so I hurriedly jumped in it and sped out of there like Vin Diesel.  I made it to work without incident, not knowing whether an a.p.b. had been issued for my capture.  At any rate, I’m probably going to ditch these glasses, but I may wear them for another week as an aid to eluding authorities, or at least until the heat has died down.

Predator in the park Part 2

After a year in which there seemed to be little movement in the Peggy Sue Altes murder investigation, suspicions came to rest squarely on the brother-in-law, Jerry Watkins.  Two days prior to Peggy Sue’s disappearance, Watkins was caught by his wife, Janice, molesting the girl in the couple’s living room as Peggy Sue watched cartoons.  According to his testimony at trial, it was the “second or third time” he had molested Peggy Sue, and he also admitted molesting another Altes sister on multiple occasions.  Janice moved out of their home that Saturday, but the couple reconciled the following day after Watkins made a public admission to the family that he had molested Peggy Sue.  That weekend, Watkins cut his hair and shaved his beard for the first time in several years.  He expressed an interest in attending church with Janice and appeared ready to turn his life around.  The next day, Peggy Sue went missing.  

Eventually, the timing of the Watkins’ disclosures just prior to Peggy Sue’s abduction, rape and murder would seem like too much of a coincidence to overlook for both the family and authorities.  However, other than the admissions of molestation, there was no evidence to link Watkins to Peggy Sue’s murder.  On August 14, 1985, Jerry Watkins pleaded guilty to molesting Peggy Sue.  Additional charges of assaulting a five-year-old boy were dropped as part of the plea agreement.  Watkins was sentenced to serve two years at the Indiana State Farm, but ended up serving only five months after a judge reviewed his case and released him early.

It wasn’t long after Watkins’ release from prison that he was arrested and charged with the murder of Peggy Sue.  Following the arrest, Hancock County Sheriff Nick Gulling revealed that Watkins had been the focus of authorities since “the initial stages of the investigation.”  Gulling went on to disclose that a search warrant had been served at the Watkins’ home shortly after Peggy Sue’s body was discovered.  Additionally, investigators searched Watkins’ car and drew his blood for testing and comparison. Results of testing came back negative or inconclusive.  Sheriff Gulling admitted the search netted “some evidence, but I’m not sure it was critical evidence.”  Indianapolis Police Department investigator Alda Kaiser echoed the notion that the investigation zeroed in on Jerry Watkins almost immediately.  “I’ve always felt the molesting disclosure had something to do with her murder,” Kaiser told reporters.   

Clearly, Watkins is someone investigators would want to take an intense look at due to his ongoing abuse of Peggy Sue and her sister.  But it seems like investigators went all in on Watkins to the near exclusion of other investigative leads, despite having no evidence against him.  According to Sgt. Louis J. Christ of the Indianapolis Police Department, “Our primary thought throughout the entire investigation was to try and locate physical evidence to connect the perpetrator to the crime.  From the very beginning we came to the realization that we had no real evidence to tie the perpetrator to the crime.  Anything we found we processed through the lab, but we had no identifying evidence.” 

So how were authorities able to execute an arrest on Jerry Watkins?  What was the crucial piece of evidence that dropped in their lap tying Watkins to the crime?  Enter jailhouse snitch Dennis Ackeret.  According to Ackeret, on August 14, 1985, he shared a cell with Jerry Watkins in the City-County building while Watkins awaited sentencing for his Marion County molestation conviction.  At that time, Watkins told Ackeret that he had killed a girl, slashed her throat and dumped her in some bushes in Hancock County.  This was the big break investigators had been waiting for.  They had their confession and didn’t seem to mind that it was made not to authorities, but to another inmate.

Watkins went on trial in September of 1986.  The prosecution’s case relied almost exclusively on the jailhouse confession and their ability to poke holes in Watkins’ alibi.  Dennis Ackeret was the star witness, describing for the jury a distraught Watkins so wracked with guilt that he felt compelled to unburden himself to a cellmate, Ackeret, whom he had just met.  The defense pointed out that Ackeret was a thief and a forger, and that he had previously worked as a paid police informant.  Other defense witnesses testified that Ackeret made up the story to get a reduced sentence, and that Ackeret boasted about how to become a state’s witness by researching crimes in the newspaper.

Forensic pathologist Dr. John Pless, who conducted the autopsy on Peggy Sue, testified that she died from 15-20 stab wounds to the left side of her neck.  Some of the wounds severed a jugular vein and a carotid artery.  The doctor testified that Peggy Sue had abrasions on her hands and neck, plus a bite mark on one of her breasts.  Additionally, there were other wounds that indicated a sexual assault had taken place.  Regarding time of death, Pless could be no more specific than sometime between the day of her disappearance and the day before discovery of her body.  While there was no murder weapon presented, prosecution witnesses testified that Watkins was sometimes seen carrying a knife at work and at church. 

Watkins himself took the stand.  His testimony focused mostly on denying the accusations made by other witnesses and establishing an alibi for the day of the abduction and the days that followed.  Watkins testified that he had worked from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on the day of Peggy Sue’s abduction.  His testimony was corroborated by his employer.  After work, he and his wife, Janice, moved furniture back into their house that had been removed during their brief separation.  This testimony was corroborated by Janice and Watkins’ mother.  At 7:00 p.m. the couple attended a church revival at Bethel Tabernacle 4232 S. Foltz St. Indianapolis until 10:00 p.m.  After the revival, the couple returned to Janice’s parent’s home to find out that Peggy Sue was missing and participated in the family search until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  Subsequent days were spent searching, working and attending church revival meetings in the evenings.

During closing statements, Hancock County Deputy Prosecutor Pete Shumacker attacked the veracity of Jerry and Janice Watkins’ testimony.  “If you’re going to be a liar, you better have a good memory.  Janice doesn’t have a good memory and neither does Jerry.”  For prosecutors, the fountain of truth and virtue was Dennis Ackeret who wanted nothing for himself, but willingly gave testimony “as any human being with a soul that had information would come forward with it,” said Prosecutor Larry Gossett.  Furthermore, prosecutors would assert, Ackeret’s testimony had to be credible because he gave details that went unreported in newspaper accounts.  According to Prosecutor Gossett, newspaper articles made no mention that Peggy Sue’s jugular vein had been cut as Ackeret had testified.  In fact, Judge Richard Payne allowed newspapers to be entered into evidence to allow jurors to verify that the information could not have been gleaned from news articles.  I’m no lawyer, but this seems like a highly prejudicial move.

Despite the scarcity of evidence, Watkins was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.  In the end, Watkins was an admitted child predator who had molested Peggy Sue and her older sister on numerous occasions, making him a wholly unsympathetic character in the eyes of the jury.  It is not hard to imagine how law enforcement, prosecutors and jurors would think he had to be the guy.  However, there are abundant reasons to believe that investigators should have known he wasn’t the guy.  First, during the investigation, he and Janice both passed a polygraph examination.  While not admissible in court, detectives used the exam to eliminate certain suspects.  Why wasn’t it used to clear Watkins?  Especially, since it lends credibility to what was a pretty solid alibi.  Second, tests on seminal fluid revealed that Peggy Sue’s attacker must have had type B blood.  Watkins was blood type O and Peggy Sue was type A.  How is this not evidence that the rape was commited by someone else?  Third, investigators had a witness that saw Peggy Sue get pulled into a black Camaro at Porter Park around 2:30 p.m. on November 12.  Not only did Jerry Watkins not own a black Camaro, his employer confirmed that he was at work at that time.  Apparently, this bit of evidence was not shared with the defense.  In the end, the exculpatory evidence is much weightier and far more credible than the evidence to convict.  On this knowledge alone, investigators should have known they were pursuing the wrong man and that the real killer or killers were still on the loose.  Although it would take several years and investigators would resist it tooth and nail, eventually DNA technology would set them straight, eliminating conclusively Jerry Watkins as Peggy Sue’s assailant and redirecting the focus onto a man named Joseph Mark McCormick. 

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)

NASA to attempt to play Asteroids at scale

Tonight at 7:14 p.m. ET officials at NASA will insert an inflation adjusted three quarters into their specially designed gaming console and attempt to play the popular 80’s video game Asteroids at scale.

Guiding their DART spacecraft perilously through a field of randomly moving asteroids, NASA officials will specifically target the Dimorphos asteroid moonlet.  NASA officials expect a number of engineers to take turns guiding the spacecraft to its target. 

This is believed to be NASA’s first attempt to recreate video games at scale.  In 2006, NASA made plans to develop a live action video game after detecting columns of space invaders slowly advancing towards earth.  However, the strange space creatures mysteriously disbanded before NASA had a chance to zap them.

If the mission is successful, NASA plans to deploy the technology to repel space objects that have the potential to collide with earth.

The private sector also appears to be getting in on the action.  According to reports, Elon Musk’s Boring Company is currently in the process of developing a large, yellow, disembodied mouth capable of munching and swallowing nearly everything in its path.  However, the mouth seems particularly vulnerable to ghostly apparitions.  Boring Company engineers are currently working on developing a power pellet capable of rendering the ghosts vulnerable to the large, disembodied snapper.

Predator in the park Part 1

Hidden behind working-class homes on the eastside of Indianapolis, Porter Park isn’t visible from the city streets that surround it.  If you’re driving on English Avenue by the Greater Shepherd Baptist Church, you might catch a glimpse of the park behind the church’s parking lot.  Otherwise, you could pass it everyday and never know it exists.  Maybe the city prefers it that way, because the park looks more like a municipal afterthought than a destination for fun and excitement.  Surrounded by a crooked chain link fence, the park boasts some swings, a basketball court, a jungle gym and a large open field.  The only way to access Porter Park is via the aforementioned church parking lot or the nearly hidden alleyways that split off of Hamilton Avenue or St. Paul Street.  Undoubtedly, it is a source of amusement for the neighborhood children, but it lacks a parking area, and there is little chance any area family loads up the minivan and heads out for an afternoon of laughter and thrills at Porter Park.   

But Porter Park is where 11-year-old Margaret “Peggy Sue” Altes found herself on the afternoon of Monday, November 12, 1984.  It was Veterans Day and a school holiday.  Peggy Sue had left her home at 442 St. Peter Street around 1:00 p.m. to meet a friend at a neighboring residence where the friend’s grandmother resided, while Peggy Sue’s mother and sister attended a church revival.  However, when no one answered the door at the residence, Peggy Sue did what a lot of kids did in those days, she went to the local playground to pass the time and connect with neighborhood friends.  Around 2:30 that afternoon, Peggy Sue was seen playing in the park with a couple of neighborhood boys.  Peggy Sue was a fifth-grader at School 48.  She was five foot tall with blondish brown hair.  She wore a white furry jacket, burgundy corduroys and blue tennis shoes.  A witness saw her playing on the swings.  By all accounts she was taking full advantage of time away from teachers and parents to have a carefree day of play and fun.

However, there were others in this neighborhood who were also taking the day off.  Not because they were honoring those who had nobly served their country, but because for these men of low character most days were an exercise in scoring dope and getting high, or swigging whisky and getting wasted on a weekday afternoon.  And if that is all they did and they confined their activities to the dark places, the seedy bars and grubby apartments that concealed their shabby and disordered lives, then maybe their weakness of character could be forgiven.  But men like these are not content to stay in the shadows.  They are jackals hunting the weakest prey, stalking innocent lives for their own vile and twisted pleasure.

One of these jackals was creeping through the streets surrounding Porter Park in a black Chevy Camaro.  A witness described seeing Peggy Sue enter the passenger side of the vehicle.  The witness, a delivery driver whose schedule routinely brought him to the area, said Peggy Sue was forced to get into the car.  He told authorities, “she didn’t want to get in, he grabbed her by the sleeve.”  The witness described the black Camaro as having gray stripes that ran the length of the car along the door handles.  The car had rust over the rear wheel well, a blue interior, and a piece missing from a wing on the back of the car.  The witness described the driver of the Camaro as having a mustache and black curly hair that puffed out in the back.

The parents of Peggy Sue Altes did not realize their daughter was missing until 7:00 p.m. when they received a phone call from the family of the friend she was supposed to have met that afternoon.  Peggy Sue’s family immediately began searching the area and reported Peggy Sue missing to police around 11:15 that night.  In the days that followed, the search continued with family, friends and church members joining in to search neighborhood streets and abandoned buildings.  A flier bearing Peggy Sue’s name, age and description was distributed to neighborhood businesses imploring anyone who had seen her to contact “missing persons.”  However, family members charged that the police response was nearly non-existent with Peggy’s brother James telling the Indianapolis Star, “they haven’t done all they could do.”  IPD detectives didn’t exactly dispute James’ claim, responding that they had entered Peggy Sue’s name and description into a state and a national database, which apparently constituted the extent of investigative effort for locating missing eleven-year-olds at the time.   

Peggy Sue’s nude body was discovered by hunters in a Hancock County field around 10:00 a.m. the following Saturday, November 17, 1984.  Although reports initially claimed she had been shot, it was later confirmed that she had been stabbed in the neck.  Her body was located about 100 yards off Jacobi Road just north of County Road 300S in Hancock County.  A group of hunters had parked their truck just off the road and we’re following a path on foot back to a wooded area.  About a hundred yards in they discovered the body of Peggy Sue lying face up along the path.  The four men quickly returned to their truck and drove to a nearby house where the owner immediately contacted Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Bradbury who was a resident of the area.  

Hancock County investigators were on the scene by 11:00 a.m.  There they discovered that the path leading back to the scene was deeply rutted with tire tracks.  In some places, the ruts were more than 12 inches deep, indicating a vehicle may have become stuck in the mud at some point.  Investigators made plaster casts of the tire tracks.  They also photographed the scene extensively and recovered several items, including a thin gold bracelet.  Present at the scene were Hancock County Prosecutor Larry Gossett and Deputy Coroner Fred Counter.  Sheriff Detective Technician Bill Applegate and Captain Malcolm Grass supervised the evidence gathering.  Around 3:00 that afternoon, Counter and Applegate assisted as Peggy Sue’s body was carefully sealed in sterile wrappings and transported to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis for autopsy.  Investigators concluded that Peggy Sue had been murdered at the scene because her hand was found to be clutching grass and weeds, and initially they thought her death had been quite recent.  While awaiting autopsy results, Hancock County Sheriff Nick Gulling told reporters, “Until we get those results, we’re operating under the assumption that we had Saturday, and that is that she died sometime Friday night or Saturday morning.”

That she may have been killed the morning of her body’s discovery seems like a pretty startling assertion.  Based on their assessment of the crime scene and the condition of the body, homicide investigators, a crime scene tech and the county coroner were of the opinion that she likely died within the previous 24 hours, maybe even a mere few hours prior to discovery.  That would mean that she had to have been held somewhere in the intervening days since her abduction Monday afternoon.  

The autopsy report would tell a different story, although it would fail to nail down conclusively when Peggy Sue Altes was slain.  Forensic pathologist Dr. John Pless would conclude that she died of knife wounds to the left side of her neck that severed a jugular vein and carotid artery.  No other wounds were indicated other than some superficial cuts.  There was evidence of rape which included the presence of semen in her vagina and a tear caused by penetration.  The time of death was estimated to be at least 48 hours prior to the discovery of her body.  

Perhaps investigators could be forgiven for being a few days off on the time of death.  After all, it was November, so cold temperatures probably made it difficult to determine with any degree of certainty.  But, in retrospect, crime scene investigators’ failure to distinguish a stab wound from a gunshot wound may have revealed a lack of experience, if not a lack of competence, and that misstep may have proven to be a rather ominous sign of investigative failures to come.  Because this is a case where poor decisions on the part of investigators and prosecutors sent an innocent man to jail and allowed guilty men to walk free, all while two grieving parents eventually went to their graves having never seen justice for their slain daughter.

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)

When your brain has taken too many wrong turns: Raised with the wrong politics edition

Occasionally a piece of journalism emerges that really puts in perspective the hidden challenges and private struggles facing a wildly successful Hollywood movie star.  Those of us in the general public often take it for granted that celebrities have fairy-tale lives, and seldom pause to realize that the fact that big stars want for nothing sometimes means they’re susceptible to torment by just about anything.  Things most of us might casually brush aside as a minor annoyance often account for a great deal of distress in the life of an insanely popular and fabulously rich Hollywood movie star.  

One such Hollywood starlet this week laid bare her struggles with being raised by parents with the wrong politics.  As someone who was raised in a working-class, earth-people-inhabited den of cannabis, it never occurred to me that being raised in a Republican household could inflict so much trauma on a person’s life.  Haunted by nightmares of Tucker Carlson relentlessly tormenting her, this starlet just can’t bring herself to forgive her parents for her Republican childhood:

“I just worked so hard in the last five years to forgive my dad and my family and try to understand: It’s different. The information they are getting is different. Their life is different. I’ve tried to get over it and I really can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry I’m just unleashing, but I can’t f— with people who aren’t political anymore. You live in the United States of America. You have to be political. It’s too dire. Politics are killing people….I don’t want to disparage my family, but I know that a lot of people are in a similar position with their families.  How could you raise a daughter from birth and believe that she doesn’t deserve equality? How?”

Somehow, though, against all odds she managed to break free of her Republican programming, and despite her parent’s insistence that she just meet some nice young boy and give them lots of grandchildren, she managed to carve out a career for herself in Hollywood, rising to become one of the most celebrated celebrities and highly paid actors in all of tinsel town.  If only her parents had supported her and given her a proper upbringing, perhaps her star could have risen even higher than Leonardo DiCaprio.    

Those of us not on the red carpet or the silver screen, who are just trying to put food on our laminate table top, don’t appreciate how important it is to be political.  It’s true: politics are killing people.  So, by all means, let’s all become more political.  It appears to be doing wonders for the mental health of those who have discarded their marbles and jumped headlong into the fray.

Local man figures he better do something about all those beers in the fridge

Momentarily setting aside his wife’s “honey-do” list, Ed Walker opted instead to take on a project he’d been putting off for quite some time: taking care of all those beers that had accumulated in the couple’s refrigerator.

“Well, I figured it was time,” said Walker.  “Those frosty cold beverages were taking up valuable space and they weren’t going to empty themselves into my gullet, so I took it upon myself to get the ball rolling.  Sure, the old-lady objected a little bit, but once she gets a look at how much more room she’ll have for leftovers and the like, she’ll be glad I moved this project to the top of my list.” 

Walker also addressed the mystery regarding how the surplus beers came to occupy so much real estate in his fridge.

“They’re mostly the remnants of fishing trips, or left by friends dropping by, that I never got around to finishing.  I really felt sorry for the little fellers.  They’re kind of like cast-offs, orphans, if you will,” said Walker, getting a little emotional. 

So what was it about the present moment that made it right for taking on such an ambitious project? 

“Well, it was a combination of factors that sort of all came together in a perfect storm,” Walker said.  “But mostly it’s because there’s a pretty important game on this afternoon.”

Are Delphi investigators closing in?

During the past week, a great deal of new information has emerged regarding the Delphi murder investigation.  We learned that the Indiana State Police briefly took custody of Kegan Kline, for what purpose we do not know.  However, around the time this was occurring, a search of the Wabash River ensued in an area of Peru near where Kegan Kline lived with his father at the time of the murders.  We also found out that Kline is currently in negotiations with prosecutors regarding the numerous charges that are currently leveled against him.  All of this leads many to speculate that he may be cooperating with authorities in the Delphi investigation.  

However, the first piece of information to drop, the big steaming matzah ball served up for public consumption by the Murder Sheet podcast that kicked off this latest round of discussion, revealed that “Kegan Kline had searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station in Delphi on the day of the murders.”  This information set off a frenzy of speculation regarding what significance the Marathon Gas station might hold in the investigation.  Of course, it is impossible to know and any guess is bound to be way off base, but there are a few things we can deduce.  We know that Kegan Kline’s phone was in Peru at a location on Country Club Road around the time of the murders.  In the interrogation transcript, investigators indicate that they do not believe that Kline committed the murders.  Sure, they could have been blowing smoke up his fat, lying ass, but it is generally assumed that, while he possesses some knowledge of the crime, he is not the perpetrator.  

It seems reasonable to speculate that someone planning to commit an act like this would probably not carry with him a device that could potentially be tracked at a later date.  A cellphone with Google Maps would likely be left behind by the perpetrator.  He probably wouldn’t even want to drive a newer vehicle with some sophisticated onboard computer.  The perp has knowledge that the girls are going to be at the bridge, because he has obtained the information through either Kegan Kline or Kegan Kline’s device.  The predator drives to Delphi without a smart device.  It’s easy to find, he knows how to get there.  Maybe he’s been there before.  However, once in Delphi, he is unsure of the location of the Monon High Bridge, or he has questions.  Obviously, he’s not going to ask any locals for information or directions, because he knows what he is about to do, and he doesn’t want to present himself to a local resident as the stranger in town looking for what is about to become the site of a heinous crime.  He needs to talk to Kegan.  He looks for a payphone.  He finds one at a gas station nearby.  He places a call to Kegan and gives his location, prompting Kegan’s search for the Marathon Gas station.  Kegan then gives him directions to the Monon High Bridge.   

Obviously, there are countless possibilities why Kegan Kline searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station on the day of the murders.  The one just presented, while plausible, is almost certainly not the correct one.  Additionally, the news that the FBI failed to obtain security footage from the gas station is extremely disappointing, but seems about right for this case.  An unseen predator walks in and out of the crime scene area and no reliable description or likeness can be obtained.  The monster is caught on video, but the image is so grainy that still very little can be known for sure about his appearance.  And now it’s possible he may have been at a location where he could have been captured on security video, but instead he again eludes investigators.  At times this predator seems like a shifting spirit of evil formed in the darkest corners of the internet, manifesting as a figure of terror on a bridge.  However, the picture seems to be getting clearer and investigators appear to be closing in.  Hopefully soon, there will be resolution and justice for the families of those two innocent children of Delphi.

People are talking about all the times they were “quiet baked” at work, and the internet is abuzz

Quiet quitting, quiet firing, quiet hiring, it seems you can’t pick up the internet these days without reading about how the workplace is being transformed in very subtle ways by Millenials and Gen Z.  

Sensing a change in attitudes about how we think and talk about work, Gen Xers are also beginning to unburden themselves regarding the unspoken practices they’ve brought to their working routine.  

“I’ve been ‘quiet baked’ at work for decades,” said Roger Ambrose, a line cook at a very upscale Chicago eatery.  “I used to wait until my shift was over to fire up a bowl, but eventually I just said, ‘fuck that.’  I need to establish a more healthy work/life balance.” 

So Roger started getting baked before work, at break and sometimes even in the restroom.  But rather than ask his supervisor for permission, Roger took it upon himself to quietly carve out a little time for himself to attend to his mental health. 

“Well, the truth is, my boss was getting super stoned as well.  I mean, he was so bloodshot and pie-eyed, I just figured he’d never notice if I snuck a toke or two,” Roger said.

“‘Quiet baking’ is a rejection of extreme ‘hustle culture,’” said leadership expert and Tik Tok guru Emily Armstrong.  “These workers are turning their back on the notion that if they go above and beyond their regular duties, then they will be rewarded with raises, bonuses and promotions.”     

“That sounds about right,” said Roger.  “Often I make sure I get a little ‘quiet compensation.’  As long as I get the waitstaff ‘quiet baked,’ they don’t notice if a few bucks go silently missing from the tip jar.”

Murder Sheet podcast throws pretty big matzah ball out there regarding Delphi investigation

This week’s Murder Sheet podcast details the FBI’s gross mishandling of allegations against Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by agents working out of its Indianapolis field office.  These are some of the same agents who were on the scene in Delphi at the very earliest stages of the investigation into the murder of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.  According to details released in the podcast, a law enforcement source revealed that “the FBI was in charge of obtaining relevant surveillance from local establishments.”  These establishments included a Marathon gas station.  At the 31:16 mark, podcasters drop this large, steaming matzah ball into the proceedings:  “As it turned out, our sources tell us, Kegan Kline had searched for the location of the Marathon Gas station in Delphi on the day of the murders.”  The Murder Sheet podcasters go on to detail how the FBI failed to obtain the surveillance footage from the Marathon Gas station, thus eliminating any opportunity to discover whether or not it contained any footage relevant to the investigation.  Could someone resembling Kline or bridge guy have appeared on that footage?

As if Kegan Kline didn’t have enough explaining to do regarding the stack of “coincidences” linking him to Liberty German, or his strange and incriminating online behavior around the time of the murders, now we find out that he or his device is searching a Delphi location the day of the murders.  Of course, there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation involving Kegan falling asleep super stoned and his Las Vegas buddy commandeering his device.  It isn’t hard to imagine Kline spinning some improbable sequence of events.  However, it would be interesting to know when on that day the search took place.  Is the search done around the time of communication with Liberty German?  Is the search done around the time of the murders?  Could the search have been involved in the planning of the crime, or could it have been connected to the commission of the crime?  Maybe it’s just a big nothing matzah ball.        

It is still hard to imagine Kegan Kline as the perpetrator of these murders.  He doesn’t resemble bridge guy and he appears incapable of the physicality required to carry out the attack.  It seems more likely someone else is accessing his device, or he is conducting these incriminating communications and searches at the behest of another.  Regardless, the more details that come out, the more it appears Kegan Kline is the key to unraveling this case and identifying bridge guy once and for all.