Boy found in suitcase remains unidentified

A month after his discovery, the deceased body of a boy discovered in a wooded area in a remote part of southern Indiana has yet to be identified.  The child is described as black, approximately five years old and about four feet tall with a slight build and short hair.  He was discovered inside a suitcase discarded about 80 feet off the roadway in the 7000 block of East Holder Road in New Pekin, Indiana.  A man out hunting mushrooms on Saturday, April 16 came across the suitcase around 7:30 p.m.  The suitcase bears a graphic that reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada.”  Autopsy results could not determine the cause of death, but police believe the boy had been deceased less than a week.   

Despite widespread media attention in the days following the discovery, no one able to identify the child has come forward.

“For some reason, nobody’s noticing that he’s missing.  It could be someone not from this country.  Very possible.  We’re not precluding anything like that in the investigation,”  Indiana State Police Sgt. Carey Huls told WAVE.  “We have to ask ourselves, how can a young boy go missing and nobody know that he’s missing?  It’s very troubling and something our detectives are working around the clock to find answers for.”    

As time goes on and no one comes forward, it seems increasingly likely that the person responsible for caring for the child could also bear some responsibility for his death.

“He was in someone’s custody and care for his daily needs….Somebody was taking care of this little boy.” Huls stated at a press conference in April.  “Someone somewhere knows something.”

Whoever was responsible for caring for this child, it appears they have yet to report him missing to any law enforcement agency nationwide.

“If it’s a child on a missing children’s list anywhere in America, that’s already been looked into,” Huls stated in a recent case update.  “They’re not finding any matches there.”

Jeff Meredith, the mushroom hunter who discovered the body, took WHAS to the spot where he made the discovery.  “I decided to cross over (the road) and mushroom hunt on this side here.”  It was then that he spotted the brightly colored suitcase about 80 feet off the road.  

According to WHAS, Meredith “immediately thought to call the police. But, he hesitated. He thought if they came all the way out there and it turned out to just be a suitcase he’d feel like a fool.”

So he opened the suitcase and discovered the lifeless body of the boy inside.  “When I first saw that little feller, immediately, I felt that he was telling me ‘Help me, I need help.”

Whoever is responsible for placing the boy’s body in those woods, it seems strange they would drive out to this remote area near the dead end of a country road, walk a short distance into the woods and leave the brightly colored case where it is fairly easy to spot.  They could have buried it or covered it with brush.  They could have thrown it in a ravine somewhere or a body of water.  Why go to the trouble of driving out to the middle of nowhere and then leave the body where it could be easily discovered?  People live on that road.  Most likely, the case containing the body was out there only a few days before discovery.  

Investigators are frustrated that all of the 500 calls into their national tip line have resulted in dead ends.  Most of the calls alert the ISP to missing children they’re already aware of, or offer recommendations on how to investigate.  As Huls told WAVE, “We don’t want those tips about, ‘Have you thought about using this or trying this?  We want firsthand knowledge.  Somebody knows this young man, somebody has knowledge (if) he’s not home, he’s not where he’s supposed to be, he’s not in school, and that’s the information we’re really looking for.” 

“Time is something we don’t want to fight too long with obviously,” Huls recently told WLKY. “We would’ve liked to, and thought we would, have more answers.”

“Somebody out there has first-hand knowledge,” Huls said. “Not something they have looked up on the internet. We mean first-hand knowledge. Everyone wants answers. Everyone wants to bring justice and a voice to this little guy.”

The Indiana State Police have set up a national tip line to help identify the boy. The number people can call is 1-888-437-6432.

The Collectors

On Tuesday, October 9,1990, a meeting of the city council of Sedona, Arizona convened at 7:00 p.m.  After the meeting was called to order and the Pledge of Allegiance recited, a brief moment of silence was observed.  Next the roll was taken and the floor opened for public comment.  Second to approach the microphone was a clean-cut young gentleman who introduced himself as Ben Porterfield and informed the gathering that he had submitted an application for the position of City Magistrate.  According to the minutes of the meeting, Porterfield “advised he wanted to give the Council an opportunity to match a face with a resume and that he would be available after the meeting for questions.”

As Ben Porterfield took his seat for the duration of the meeting, it is not known if he questioned the decision to use an alias on his application.  Perhaps a man who aspires to administer the law for a municipality ought to do so under his real name.  This might hurt his chances of getting the job, he possibly thought, especially if they do a background check which was certain to be the case.  Also, he may have wondered if managing a trailer park counted as relevant experience for issuing warrants and reviewing matters of law.  No matter, Ben Porterfield, or whatever the young man’s name was, had a number of ongoing projects in various stages of development.  Whether or not he got the City Magistrate position was of little consequence.  

Unsurprisingly, Ben Porterfield was passed over for the position of City Magistrate of Sedona, Arizona.  Months later, however, some who attended the city council meeting that night may have wished they’d taken a greater interest in the man at the microphone with the face and the resume.  Because Ben Porterfield was eventually going to become the subject of an arrest warrant, possibly issued by the newly appointed Sedona City Magistrate, and the target of a manhunt for absconding with an indeterminate quantity of Sedona residents’ precious bodily fluids.

Just a few months after the meeting, as the year drew to a close, concerned parents began presenting their teenage offspring at local medical clinics for examinations.  At the same time, the Sedona Police Department started receiving reports of a mysterious couple who were offering area teenagers ten dollars to draw a vial of their blood.  It took authorities a few weeks, but eventually they were able to zero in on a mobile home at the Windsong Trailer Park, located along U.S. 89A in west Sedona.  The trailer belonged to Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield, managers of the park.

Sedona Police Chief Bob Irish was at a loss to explain why these two individuals were collecting the blood samples.  “The possibilities of it are only limited by your imagination.  At this point, it is one of the most bizarre situations I have ever seen.”  At the time, it was thought that at least a dozen teens had allowed some of their blood to be extracted for money.  According to accounts, the teens were taken into a bathroom where a syringe was used to extract a sample of their blood.  “It looked okay to me,” said a 15-year-old who lived next door to the couple.  “They would unwrap each needle and put a brace on your arm and have you fill out a questionnaire.  You had to be 14 or over, and you could only give three times.  But the questions were really weird, like, ‘Did you use Clearasil…Are you on drugs or alcohol?’”  The young woman went on to reveal that her boyfriend and his friends had sold their blood numerous times to the couple and that the pair had taken more than 100 samples from at least 30 teen-agers.  Interviews with additional teens revealed the couple posed as representatives of the government and that the blood was needed for the testing of lasers.

Blood wasn’t the only thing the strange couple was collecting.  According to authorities, the pair had been collecting rent checks from Windsong residents and depositing them into their personal account.  This led to an arrest warrant being issued for a Benjamin and Sarah Birdsong on charges of child abuse, embezzlement, impersonating medical personnel, aggravated assault and operating a clinical laboratory without a license.  Apparently the age requirement and the questionnaire subjects were asked to fill out were insufficient to secure licensing for the couple’s blood drawing enterprise.  Investigators were also not entirely clear regarding the true identity of the individuals.  Chief Irish thought the couple’s names were possibly aliases and that they were known to have used the names Millett and Stewart when they lived in the Phoenix area.

On Monday, January 7, 1991, Sedona Police and an official from the Arizona Department of Health Services served a search warrant at the Camp Verde home of Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield.  The couple were not present at the time of the raid and had been last seen at the residence the previous Friday.  Items taken from the home by police included two handguns, two shotguns, a Mac-10 submachine gun with silencer, an IBM computer, a printer and computer storage disks – the standard items necessary to get a teen blood-buying business up and running.  Also taken in the raid were a book of satanic rituals, the Satanic Bible by Anton Lavey, photocopies, posters and banners containing occult logos and satanic imagery.  Satanism quickly moved to the top of the list of possible motives for the strange couple’s blood-buying activities.  “It seems to be the forerunner as far as theories,” said Chief Irish.  The chief further speculated the blood might be used as part of an “occult-type” ceremony, admitting that, “The worst-case scenario would be drinking it (the blood).” 

Meanwhile the search for the pair continued in earnest.  The couple owned two vehicles, a 1968 Ford pickup and a 1974 Volvo station wagon, that were now missing from the couple’s Camp Verde home.  Acting on a tip, authorities closed in on a motel in Mesa, Arizona, but missed capturing the pair by two hours.  Later, authorities admitted they could not confirm that the motel occupants were the fugitive couple.  Investigators now believed the actual identity of the pair to be Charles E. Stewart, 32, and Sharon M. Smythe, 23, who went by the aliases Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield while living in Sedona.  A number of town residents had encountered the couple, describing them as friendly but very private.  None interviewed were able to provide any worthwhile leads.  An 11-year-old neighbor of the Porterfield’s described how he was well treated by the couple who would buy parts for his bicycle and take him on camping trips.  He did admit, however, that they had some strange habits.  “I never saw any of that devil stuff.  But there was always weird, loud music in the middle of the night.  All the time, they would go camping in Boynton Canyon and then we would hear about animals that were sacrificed up there.”

Investigators continued to pore through materials seized from the couple’s home.  A computer specialist was called in to examine the contents of the Porterfield’s home computer.  At one point, the expert thought the couple may have booby-trapped the device to erase its contents if tampered with.  Eventually, however, the computer revealed little useful information about the Porterfield’s or their secret government research into blood lasers.  Occult experts brought in to examine the satanic materials concluded they showed nothing to indicate active occult involvement.  The elusive couple, who seemed to become more mysterious with every bit of information discovered about them, had seemingly vanished with potentially over a hundred vials of blood extracted from the town’s teen-age population, all while abandoning a cache of weapons and a computer.  Perhaps Chief Irish was wishing he’d introduced himself to Ben Porterfield when he had a chance.  “I remember at a City Council meeting, he went up to the microphone and said, ‘I’m Benjamin Porterfield, and I’m available to meet with you.’  He looked like a clean-cut, all-American kid,” Irish recounted.         

It should be noted that many residents and visitors to Sedona claim the city rests on a large energy vortex composed of a number of smaller vortices, the most significant of which is the Boynton Canyon vortex.  These swirling concentrations of energy are linked with any number of strange phenomena.  Perhaps a mystery couple collecting blood samples from local teens is a fairly mundane occurrence in an area where unexplained healing powers, strange spirits, ghostly hauntings, UFO activity, and Interdimensional Portals are part and parcel of the landscape.  And if two mysterious travelers conducting highly sensitive scientific research should suddenly be called to deliver their collection of samples back to their obscure corner of space and time, and if the pair of strangers should suddenly vanish through the interdimensional doorway from which they possibly emerged, perhaps it should come as no great surprise.

Violence interrupters deployed to Minneapolis streets

After divesting more than one million dollars from the city’s police budget to fund “violence interrupters” to intervene and defuse potentially violent confrontations, the Minneapolis City Council’s plan to provide a “holistic, public health-oriented approach” to public safety is nearly ready for primetime.

The deployment of holistic public health and safety healers is desperately needed as residents have seen the city’s crime rate soar recently.  Murders this year are already ahead of the total for 2019, so there is an urgent need to get a force out on the streets to interrupt the violence.   

“If we have these systems in place we are getting ahead of the violence,” said Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham. “That’s why I have advocated so strongly for the violence interrupters, because if they are interrupting the violence before the guns are being fired, then the MPD doesn’t have to respond to that violence.”

Over the past month, a trial group of violence interrupters has been out on the streets of Minneapolis de-escalating conflict in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.  Wherever there is a dispute, and tensions are starting to rise, the violence interrupters swoop in and skillfully defuse the situation without resorting to the rough stuff.

In order to come across as non-threatening, the violence interrupters dress in sandals, khaki trousers, and casual button down shirts sporting the Minneapolis municipal logo.  Windbreakers and baseball caps emblazoned with “MVI Chillax” were scrapped after being deemed too federal agent looking.  

All violence interrupters utilize body cameras, which they prefer to call “harm reducers,” to ensure professional conduct and avoid misunderstandings.  A video released to the public recently shows a typical interaction where a violence interrupter de-escalates a potentially dangerous situation:              

“Uh, hold on a minute, young man, looks like you’re a bit hot under the collar.  You’ve got your heater there and you’re thinking about busting a cap.  I know, I can tell, I’ve been there myself.  Once, a fella tried to get fresh with my girl and I almost had to give him the business.  So let’s, you and me, talk this out man to man like, and get to the bottom of what’s upsetting you.”   

It isn’t long before the pair develop a meaningful dialogue and the troubled young man willingly hands over his firearm to the violence interrupter. 

Getting ahead of the violence and interrupting it is the name of the game.  But some worry the violence interrupters might make a situation already fraught with danger even worse.  

“Listen, we get it, nobody likes to be interrupted when they’re about to stick up a liquor store,” said one recruit.  

In some instances, violence interrupters have been hospitalized and treated for inadvertently using their face to interrupt a violent assault.  “I guess some find our constant interruptions a little annoying,” the recruit said.