findingcaylee.jpgOrange County law enforcement and the FBI are investigating the remains of a child found at a location less than a quarter-mile from the home Casey Anthony shared with her missing daughter Caylee and Casey’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony.

A meter reader seeking a hidden spot to relieve himself discovered the body in a plastic bag around 9:30 this morning near the intersection of Chickasaw Trail and Suburban Drive. According to MSNBC, a responding officer stated that the remains appeared to be those of a small child.

Drew Tate, who has helped in the search for Caylee, spoke to a local reporter and said he felt certain that the remains were Caylee Anthony’s. A spokesperson for Texas Equusearch told WESH TV that the area where the bag of bones was found was under water during one search by the volunteer recovery group and then blocked off by a hurricane fence during another search.

A public information officer told media at the scene that the Anthony family and corrections officials have been informed about the grisly discovery. George and Cindy Anthony were out of town and are on a plane returning to Orlando.

Local media has reported that Casey Anthony occasionally frequented the area where the remains were found — one reporter termed the area a “hideout.”

No one has said that the body is that of missing 3-year-old Caylee Anthony. Police do not yetweshcap.jpg know whether the remains are those of a boy or a girl. Local reporters, however, are describing the police response to the scene as “major” and “massive.” They have compared it to this false find from mid-November and say law enforcement seems to be much more serious about this find. All the Orange County law enforcement “top brass,” including Sheriff Kevin Beary, have headed out to the scene. Speaking to reporters, Beary would say little other than the skull, possibly of a small child, was found 20 to 30 feet from the road.

Beary did indicate that he felt this find likely marked the end of the search for Caylee Anthony.

This discovery comes on the morning that Casey Anthony saw her murder trial postponed till early January, 2009.

If this is indeed the body of Caylee Anthony, I would be surprised to see any more of George or Cindy Anthony on TV anytime soon. But you never know. Nothing about this case is sane or normal.

One thing we probably can guarantee — these aren’t the bones of Trenton Duckett — but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. [FoxNews.com, WESH.com live video]

The video above was Amanda Knox’s first unwitting foray into acting onscreen for a large audience, as she tried to convince a friend and some cute guys that she was drunk after just one and a half shots of some sort of liquor. The video came to light after Knox was arrested along with her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and an Ivory Coast native named Rudy Hermann Guede and charged with the murder of Knox’s flatmate during her year of study in Perugia, Italy, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found dead in early November, 2007, and Italian prosecutors have focused on Knox, Sollecito and Guede ever since, insisting that Kercher’s death was the result of some sort of sex play gone awry.

Now the London Times is reporting that an Italian filmmaker has used Amanda Knox’s pretty face for an experimental film about prisoners daydreaming of freedom. From the Times:

The film, entitled The Last City (L’Ultima Citta) features 12
women inmates at Capanne prison just outside Perugia, where Ms Knox has been
held since Ms Kercher was killed in November last year.
[…] Claudio Carini, the former theatre actor who directed the movie, said he had
shot ten hours of film which had been cut in the final version to 55
minutes. It was made on a budget of €10-15,000, and filmed entirely in the
prison.

The film apparently begins with close shot of Knox’s “striking blue eyes,” before the shot widens to show Knox gazing “wordlessly” into the camera. According to filmmaker Claudio Carini, the film then tells of an “imaginary journey” for the the 12 women prisoners in which they visit both the real world and the worlds of their dreams.

Amanda Knox recites a Shakespeare soliloquy in the film and verses by Arthur Rimbaud, Fernando Pessoa and Pedro Calderon de la Barca. Knox reportedly told other prisoners that she had a “beautiful experience” making the movie.

The Last City‘s release in Perugia has been delayed in order to avoid another round of publicity like the publicity surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (her lover at the time of Kercher’s murder) were supposed to go to trial this month but procedural snags postponed the trial date to January 16. Rudy Hermann Guede is already serving a 30-year sentence for his part in the Kercher murder after a “fast track” trial in October.

We won’t know if Knox is a murderer (in the eyes of the Italian judiciary, anyway — many Americans believe she’s being railroaded) until early 2009, but one thing already seems clear — the camera loves her, and she loves being the center of attention. In the end, this may be her downfall. It may also be the true beginning of a bizarre sort of long-lasting celebrity for Knox. No matter the outcome of Knox’s trial in January, it will be a career born in blood and the Kercher family’s tragedy. [TimesOnline.co.uk]

An MSNBC segment about the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (D-IL)

Well, this is fun. Early this morning the Feds arrested llinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, say the Feds, was basically trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Well, that’s not all he was doing, but it’s probably the cherry on top of Blagojevich’s alleged corruption sundae. The FBI caught the governor through wiretaps.

Anyone old enough to have been annoyed that the Watergate hearings were pre-empting their cartoons feels a twinge of deja vu when stories like this hit the airwaves. I come from Tennessee, myself, and after Watergate my home state still had to contend with our own uber-crooked gov, one Ray Blanton. For me, the Blagojeviches and the Blantons actually make politics interesting.

But this is a crime blog. And even though Rod Blagojevich has been arrested and charged with all kinds of juicy criminal corruption, the story is still more political than anything. Your best bet for finding out the nuts and bolts of this sordid tale so far is to follow these links:

* The USDOJ’s release about the arrest of the governor and his Chief of Staff, John Harris.

* And of course, The Smoking Gun has more than 20 pages of uncensored criminal complaint goodness. One of the many money quotes — Blagojevich, referring to Obama’s empty Senate seat and his ability to appoint someone to fill it: “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” Perhaps you see what I mean about the guy being a tool as well. As if his hair wasn’t enough of a giveaway.

If you’re looking for some irony (or something like it) related to this story, look no further than this announcement at Illinois.gov. Quote: “CHICAGO – First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today announced December’s selection for her Children’s Reading Club – How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.



An Associated Press video report about Michael Mele, a person of interest in the abduction of Laura Garza.

He’s only 23, but Michael Mele, late of Walkill in Upstate New York, has graduated quickly from registered sex offender to suspected killer. Police in New York believe that Mele, the son of a former assistant deputy chief of police, had something to do with the disappearance of pretty 25-year-old Laura Garza, of Brooklyn.

Garza was last seen leaving a New York City nightclub with Mele and another man on the night of December 3. Garza, who had recently come to New York from McAllen, Texas, met Mele at the Marquee in Manhattan that Wednesday night. She probably had no idea as to what she was dealing with.

Michael Mele was sentenced early in 2008 on charges related to “forcible touching.” He would approach women at the Palisades Center Mall in Clarkstown, NY. Mele would sometimes touch and masturbate on his victims. Police in Clarkstown nabbed Mele after they matched his DNA to semen found on the clothes of one of his victims.

Since he had no previous record, Mele was granted six years’ probation after pleading guilty to the most serious charge against him. He was placed on the New York State sex offender registry at level 1. In most states, level 1 offenders are generally regarded as the least likely to re-offend. The police chief of Clarkstown, however, told ABC News that Mele was “a crazy sucker,” and that Mele’s behavior was “escalating.” Chief Bernard Cummings also said, “In all my years, seeing this kind of behavior is a little off the radar here.”

Michael Mele hasn’t been charged with anything in connection with the disappearance of Laura Garza. He has allegedly violated the terms of his probation: drinking, not seeing his probation officer, and not attending any sex offender treatment program. When he turned himself in it was for an outstanding warrant connected to a traffic violation.

Police have been searching in and around Mele’s condo in Walkill, NY and neighbors have reported seeing troubling items picked up by the investigators, such as weapons and a woman’s clothing.

Worse yet, Mele may have cleaned his apartment with bleach, and potentially most telling of all — he allegedly had bite and scratch marks on his body when he was jailed on Friday.

According to most reports, Laura Garza came to New York for the very same reasons so many young people flock to that city — she had dreams of becoming a dancer. Neighbors in video reports have universally described her as friendly, open, and kind. In other words, the exact sort of victim sexually predatory animals tend to seek.

Michael Mele is due back in court on December 22 to answer for his probation violations. Mele was hit with more warrants late Monday afternoon — this time for indecent exposure, in Paramus, NJ.

[LoHud.com, ABC News. Also — Laura Garza’s private MySpace. Hat-tip to Michelle in the comments for this post.]

houstonpress.jpg According to a special report published on December 2 by the Houston Press, 9 out of 10 Texas parolees never end up paying state-mandated restitution. From Chris Vogel’s article:

The Houston Press originally intended to investigate
restitution payments by probationers and parolees. Probation, run by
the county, is given instead of jail or prison; parole, run by the
state, is for offenders who are released from prison before their
sentence is over. This soon, however, proved to be problematic.

The Press filed a request under the Texas Public Information
Act asking for a list of probationers in Harris County over the past
five years who had been discharged even though they still owed
restitution, including names, how much they paid and owe. The county’s
Community Supervision & Corrections Department denied the request,
saying state district court judges have decided not to release
information located in probationers’ files, which county attorneys say
is allowed under state law.

In Harris County TX alone, the Press discovered that “$928,400 in restitution was never paid.” Just over $30,000 was collected — that amounted to “3.1 percent of the money owed by offenders who were successfully discharged.”

Check out the rest of the well-researched and sobering article here.

leroynash.jpgViva Leroy Nash is 93 years old and the oldest death row inmate in the nation. He has been awaiting execution since 1984. Writing in the Phoenix New Times, Paul Rubin tells the story of this career criminal and homicidal curmudgeon who recently wrote to the paper outlining some of his thoughts about who should or should not be put to death by the State. From the pen (or prison-issued pencil) of Viva Leroy Nash:

There are obviously many weird people in our world, with twisted minds, that have a tendency to not only kill helpless people, but often do it in a despicable manner. Often, psychos turn into insane serial killers who should be promptly eliminated, not tortured to suicide, as I’ve seen happen.

Genuine serial killers should be eliminated by execution quickly, but not by prison guards or their contemporaries. Same for adults or homos who kill children. Or Mormons who habitually force children into marriage.

Usually I’d say oldsters like Nash have earned the right to opine on such things — being… old, and all — but I’m not so sure about Mr. Nash.

For “Nation’s Oldest Death Row Inmate Will Never Be Executed,” Rubin interviewed a witness to a murder committed by Nash. She detailed Nash’s cold, cruel execution of a young man named Greg West on November 3, 1982:

This was after Mr. Nash shot Greg the first time. I was looking at the barrel of the gun and, for some reason, I flashed on my daughter, who was around 9 at the time.

He pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire, and I dropped down under the table. I still don’t understand why Nash didn’t come around and kill me.

Greg was on the floor there bleeding. He was saying, ‘Please, God. Please, God, don’t shoot me.’ I was trying to stay still. Then Nash fired into Greg twice more. I watched him die. He was like a brother to me and to my husband.

Kind of puts Nash’s thoughts on execution, etc. in perspective, doesn’t it?

For Paul Rubin’s fascinating narrative about the life and crimes of a man who talks like a “grizzled old coot” but kills like Cormac McCarthy’s fictional Anton Chigurh, just click the link in brackets below.

[Phoenix New Times]

ojsimpson.jpgToday, a judge in Clark County Nevada sentenced O.J. Simpson to 15 years in prison for multiple counts related to an armed robbery that occurred there in September, 2007. Judge Jackie Glass called Simpson “arrogant” and “ignorant,” and stated that the evidence against the former football star was overwhelming. Simpson tried to apologize for the crime, but in the process he continually minimized the act, and Judge Glass was having none of that. She also ruled that Simpson can’t go free on bail while waiting for any appeals.

For anyone who followed the double-murder trial against O.J. Simpson back in the mid-1990s, this does feel like just desserts. Even the father of one of the victims of that crime, Ron Goldman’s father Fred Goldman (and his mustache), said today that he felt justice was done. When Fred said this, folks familiar with the case in the 90s (a link for you in case you lived in a cave then), knew exactly what he was talking about. He was just happy that a pathological narcissist like O.J. was now going to get a substantial amount of time in prison to sit and really think about all the golfing he could no longer do in his avid pursuit of the people who “really killed” his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman. O.J. will likely be in protective custody as well, which sounds like a good thing — unless you understand that a guy like O.J. has always thrived on attention.

Nope. It’s official. O.J. Simpson’s real nightmare has just begun, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. For reaction from one of TCR’s sister blogs, see NudeCelebrityDeathSUV: “O.J. Simpson: Sentenced To Close To 20 Years … Now Go To Jail, Asshole.” [SportingNews.com/AP]

I blogged yesterday about the 4 teens accused of killing a “John Doe” in New Hill, NC. The Wake County NC Sheriff’s Office has confirmed today that the “John Doe” was indeed missing 18-year-old Matthew Josiah Silliman. Police still haven’t said how Silliman was killed, nor have they indicated what the motive may have been. Aadil Khan, Allegra Dahlquist, Ryan Hare and Drew Shaw are all being held without bond. [NewsObserver.com]


A goofy video made by murder suspect Aadil Khan. None of the other teens who appear in this video are thought to be involved in the alleged crime discussed below.

NEW HILL, NC — Matthew Josiah Silliman was only 18, but according to the Silver Alert issued for Matthew on November 26, 2008 he may have been suffering “from dementia or some other cognitive impairment.”

The 5’8″ teen was last seen in Apex, NC at an address on Oakgate Court.

Matthew Silliman may never come home again. WRAL TV published an online report this afternoon indicating that 4 teens were in custody in New Hill. The teens being questioned about a body that is currently being called John Doe. The kids in custody are 17-year-olds Aadil Shahid Khan and Allegra Rose Dahlquist, Ryan Patrick Hare, age 18, and Drew Logan Shaw, 16. While police haven’t said the John Doe is Matthew Silliman, Silliman’s parents told WRAL that they heard from police on Wednesday morning. The cops said that they had a crime scene on their hands inside a home on Olive Branch Lane, which looks to be about 12 miles from Matthew’s last location. They told the Sillimans that the scene “might be connected” to Matthew’s disappearance.

Khan, Dahlquist, Hare and Shaw will likely be charged with murder sometime today.

Of the teens in custody, Aadil Khan wins first position in the cybersleuthing lotto — his online presence was too extensive to ignore. His MySpace: AryanTemplar. Khan’s YouTube account: Xaryan13. That’s just two out of several.

I don’t know if Khan’s seeming embrace of Nazi-like words and imagery was intentional — he clearly stated on his profile that he was an anarchist, which is, (if we are to take a 17-year-old M. Night Shyamalan wannabe halfway seriously for a moment) a pretty anti-fascist way of life. Whatever the case, in his MySpace “About me,” Khan wrote:

i can start off by saying my name is Aadil Khan…translated from urdu (which is an Indo-Aryan language that is prominent in pakistan) it means Just Ruler (one who rules with justice)…which brings me to my next point…my name is misleading when it comes to what i’m really about…i believe in justice…but my own kind…i dont’t believe in any one person or many persons ruling over me…seeing how all people were created equal…y would i let someone equal to me rule over me…this brings me to my next thing…i am an anarchist…i believe in absolute freedom it is usually hard to place me in a social group simply because i dont really fit in one…im against the idea of social groups or cliques or whtever…they make ppl conform and restrict themselves too much and then they cannot be all they can be…i think people should be true to themselves and not be restricted like that…ppl have insulted me, made fun of me, but i proudly say that i am something that they’ll never be…and they can all go to hell because i could care less about them and their sorry ass lives… i usually get along with people, or end up hating them for all eternity (this has only really happened once…i usually tolerate ppl pretty well)…i don’t get into fights for a good reason…and i dont feel i have to justify myself so nobody is gonna ever get to kno :)

So the kid who now may be charged in some sort of murder plot had issues with rules. Somehow, there’s not much of a surprise there.

I don’t want to pick on Aadil Khan — there are three other alleged teen murderers to go. Like Allegra Dahlquist. With her mother, Allegra ran a “professional and loving pet sitter and dog walking” service in and around Cary, Apex, and West Raleigh. This was the website for the service: HoofandPawPetSitting.com. From the “About Us” page:

About Allegra: I am high school student at Apex High. I love animals! I’ve been around animals my entire life. We have always had dogs and cats, birds, the occasional ferret or hamster. Currently we have 2 dogs, 4 cats and 3 horses.

I started riding horses when I was 5. I spent seveal years riding hunters, and in the spring of 2006 switched to eventing. I love riding, especially eventing, and I work very hard to be the best rider I can. I also have an awesome trainer that makes each lesson a great learning experience. Hopefully one day I will be an Olympic rider.

I imagine the site will be gone soon, so check it out while you have a chance. Dahlquist, who also went by “Legra,” had another personal profile here: http://humanpets.com/809893008. Her MySpace page, screen name brain_dead_zombie, was private.

For his part, Drew Shaw — downwitdaclownz on MySpace — considered himself “basically just a down ass juggalo, you need someone fucked up, shit stolen, bud to smoke shit to drink im your boy hit me up if your tryin to do any of that shit for real i got your back homie, even if i just fuckin met you.” (Hey, Juggalos and Juggalettes — I’m just reporting what he said on his page — I know ICP doesn’t condone murder, so don’t start leaving the pissy comments, y’hear?)

Drew might have had his friends’ backs, but one friend didn’t necessarily have his back. On December 3, a “Cody Milligan” wrote the following on Drew Shaw’s MySpace page: “god damn drew you fucking idiot why the hell are being convicted of murder.”

As you might expect, Ryan Hare also had a MySpace profile, but he chose to make his private. His quote read, “I can imagine a world of love, peace, and no wars. Then I imagine myself attacking that place because they would never expect it.” Ryan Hare’s status said that he was “[Trying to heal] a little tired, a little stressed, a little bored, a little hurt, a little depressed, a little sore, still alot in love.”

So… we know that the (technically still) missing Matthew Josiah Silliman was somehow disabled. We know that alleged killer Aadil Khan was a self-styled anarchist and wannabe filmmaker. Alleged killer Allegra Dahlquist was a professional dogwalker and equestrienne with Olympic aspirations. Drew Shaw, if his MySpace page is accurate (always a good question), was a self-described juggalo (fan of Insane Clown Posse) who liked his bud and his buds. Ryan Hare was stressed, bored, hurt, etc…

But how did they all come together? How did “John Doe” end up in that abandoned house on Olive Lane? The real story is in the answers to questions like these.There will be a certain logic to it. Many who follow crime stories in the news will find it familiar. But no one will ever truly understand. [WRAL.com]

UPDATE

McClatchy News reported this evening that all 4 of the suspects — who have now been charged with murder — were Facebook friends with Matthew Silliman. I double-checked, and they were indeed among Silliman’s 142 friends on that social networking
site.

lauschumacher.jpgThanks to the estimable Henry K. Lee, who covers crime for the San Francisco Chronicle, we have this news: Caren Ramirez has been arrested. The 43-year-old Ramirez is said to be the aunt of the teenager who dramatically reported his alleged abuse and captivity by Michael Schumacher and Kelly Lau.

The teen, wearing only boxers and dragging a chain, entered a Tracy, CA gym earlier this week. He was emaciated. He’d been cut. He was bruised. He was utterly terrified. The Schumachers were arrested later the same day. They are suspected of having tortured and abused the boy for some time now — possibly as long as a year. Before that, Ramirez was charged with 4 counts of abuse against the same child. She received 5 years of probation for the charges, but the probation was over once Ramirez failed to show up for a hearing in April this year.

Also thanks to Mr. Lee, I found Lau’s MySpace page. No, the intrepid reporter didn’t violate any of his paper’s editorial policies — he simply quoted a line from Lau’s profile, which made the page pretty easy to find if you know your way around the Web.

Here was how Kelly Lau described herself in the “About Me” section of her page — some edits have been made to remove her childrens’ names:

30 yr. old mom of 4 beautiful kids […] Happily married to a man who I love to death. He is my best friend and a wonderful father to our 4 kids and I wouldn’t trade him for anything in this world. We live in Northern California where I am a stay at home mom and my husband is a Contractor. We have a typical life I guess-our oldest daughter is involved with Girl Scouts and […] is our Ballerina in training. My boys just kick back and wait there turn to do something fun. We have a dog named BUBBA and no white picket fence but our neighbor has one. LOL!!!!!!

Elsewhere in her profile, Kelly Lau wrote that she was a “hopeless romantic,” who loved the movies Gone With the Wind and Casablanca. Kelly also wrote about loving “the outdoors, camping, and spending time” with her kids.

Girl scouts, ballerina training and all for the Schumacher kids, and they were living in Tracy, which is one of the top 50 safest cities in the country. One of those places where every day is a “Chamber of Commerce” kind of day.

Awesome. Just one happy little suburban family who allegedly had a teenage whipping boy and slave stowed away in the laundry room or cellar somewhere. No wonder I’ve always found the suburbs so creepy. [Henry Lee’s article at SFGate.com]