Monday 3 April 2017

Modern day kidnappings and child abductions

These crimes have been around for thousands of years. No one is exempt from being kidnapped or abducted other that presidents and kings since they are so heavily guarded, therefore it would be impossible to kidnap them. There are two exceptions however. At the close of the 12th century, King Richard, the Lion-Hearted was kidnapped upon his return from the Crusades and held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor. He was eventually released. In April 2000, when my wife and I were on a boat tour on the Danube River in Austria, we stood within a mile of the castle where he was imprisoned. The second exception took place in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, was captured and killed on the 20th of  October in 2011 during the Battle of Sirte. Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed rather cruelly shortly afterwards. Rebel fighters beat him and one of them sodomizing him with a bayonet before he was shot several times as he begged for his life. Gaddafi's body was later buried in an unknown location in the desert together with those of his son Mutassim Gaddafi and the regime's defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr.
There is a difference between kidnapping and abduction. Kidnapping is usually done for a ransom. Abduction is when someone uses deceit or force in order to take a person or a child away from their home or relatives. In this article, I will not be including the abduction of children by one parent in order to deny the other parent the rightful custody of their child. The motives of those who abduct children are generally for sexual purposes.

Marion Parker lived a privileged life as the 12-year-old daughter of a wealthy Los Angeles banker in 1927. In December of that year, a man arrived at Marion’s school claiming that he needed to speak to her immediately because her father had been in an accident. There was no accident, but by the time school officials discovered the ruse, Marion was gone. For the next few days, the man sent a series of threatening notes to her family demanding large sums of money for Marion’s return. He signed these notes “The Fox.”

After several terrifying exchanges, Marion’s father agreed to meet the kidnapper in downtown Los Angeles at night, where he would hand over $1,500 for his daughter. At the meeting, Mr. Parker could faintly see his daughter sitting in the passenger seat of the kidnapper’s darkened car, appearing to be alive and well, and quickly handed over the cash. Marion was dumped on the sidewalk, and the car sped away. When Mr. Parker approached his daughter, however, he was horrified by what he saw. It was Marion’s lifeless torso. Her legs and arms had been severed, her eyes had been sewn open to give the appearance that she was alive, and various organs had been removed from her body and dumped all over Los Angeles.

The extensive manhunt for “The Fox” quickly narrowed in on its main suspect, a disgruntled former employee of Marion’s father named William Hickman. He was apprehended a week later, brought back to Los Angeles, convicted of Marion’s murder, and executed a year later at San Quentin. His death was obviously horrible since choking to death in a very small room with cyanide gas filling the room is a horrible way to die. Actually, who cares that this monster died so horribly?

In the United States, one notorious failed example of kidnap for ransom was the 1976 Chowchilla bus kidnapping, in which 26 children were abducted with the kidnapper’s intention of demanding $5 million ransom. The kidnappers hid the bus in a drainage slough and drove the children and bus driver around in two vans for 11 hours, eventually taking them to a quarry in Livermore, California. There, the kidnappers imprisoned the victims inside a buried moving van with a small amount of food and water and a number of mattresses. The children and driver escaped from the underground van without the aid of law enforcement. The three kidnappers had been unable to phone in their ransom demand because telephone lines to the Chowchilla Police Department were tied up by media calls and families searching for their children.

The truck used in the kidnapping was registered to the quarry owner's son, Frederick Newhall Woods IV.  His accomplices, Richard and James Schoenfeld, surrendered to authorities in California. James was caught shortly before he was able to do so. All three were sentenced to life in prison. Richard Schoenfeld was released in 2012. James Schoenfeld was paroled August 7, 2015. Frederick Woods was denied parole on November 19, 2015 because he continued to minimize his crime and had disciplinary problems, including possession of a cell phone, pornography, and photos of naked children. Similar problems were noted at his 2012 parole hearing. He will not be eligible for another parole hearing for three years. If he is paroled in 2018, he will have served forty-three years in prison for a crime that netted him no ransom money.                                                                                     
Many of the children who were kidnapped by these three criminals continued to report symptoms of trauma at least 25 years after the kidnapping, including substance abuse and depression, and a number have been imprisoned for "doing something controlling to somebody else.”

Danielle Nicole van Dam (born September 22, 1994 – murdered.February 1, 2002) was an American girl from the Sabre Springs neighborhood of San Diego, California, who disappeared from her bedroom during the night of February 1–2, 2002. Her body was found by searchers on February 27 in a remote area. Police suspected a neighbor, David Alan Westerfield, of the killing. He was arrested, tried, and convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death and is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. Incidentally, as a criminologist, I was invited in 1972, by the California authorities to visit their prisons. I spoke to some of the condemned men on death row at the San Quentin Penitentiary also spent a few minutes in the death chamber. Back then, death was by gas. Nowadays it is by the needle.

That was the last time a criminal was convicted of a kidnapping that occurred in the United States.  Now I will tell you about abductions of children in both the United States and in Canada. Nowadays, kidnapping in the United States and Canada for ransom is rarely if ever done anymore. In another article, I will tell my readers about the scourge of kidnapping for ransom that is happening in other countries.

In the rest of this his article, I will deal only with the abductions of children. I will not include parental abductions but instead I will tell you of abductions of children by persons other than by their parents.

There are few things as haunting as child abductions. Whether they end in horrible circumstances or remain unsolved, their lingering effects haunt families and communities alike.

In 1999, in the United States, it was estimated that as many as 58,200 children were victims of non-parental abduction. The federal government noted an estimated of 840,279 missing persons cases in 2001, about 50,000 were classified to be younger than 18. According to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, referring to U.S. Department of Justice reports, about 800,000 persons are reported missing every year, making it above 2,000 missing persons a day. Around 5% of these are under the age of 18.

In August 1911, five-year-old Elsie Paroubek left her home in Chicago to walk to her aunt’s house a block away. Hours later, her alarmed parents realized that she had never reached her destination, and police launched a massive statewide investigation to find the missing girl. The prevailing theory was that Elsie had been snatched by a caravan of gypsies, and every gypsy encampment within a 160-kilometer (100 mi) radius was scoured, but there was no sign of the girl.

Two days later, workers in the town of Joliet made a grim discovery: the body of a young girl floating in a drainage canal. It was Elsie. The medical examiner found that she had not drowned in the canal but had likely been suffocated. There were cuts on the left side of her face and indications that she had been beaten before her death.

Despite the Chicago police department’s resolve to find the killer, the investigation was hindered by conflicting eyewitness reports and a number of dead ends. In the end, Elsie’s homicide was never solved. Her father passed away two years later on the anniversary of his daughter’s funeral, never knowing what really happened to her. In my opinion, I believe that she was raped before she was murdered and probably by someone who could have identified her killer is she had survived the ordeal.

Why would any parent let her five-year-old child walk down a street alone?  When I was six, my mother let me walk to school on my own and go to a movie on my own. In the community I live in, I never see children that young walking alone to school or a movie.  They are accompanied by much older kids or their parents.

Even when a parent is close by; a child can be abducted. Four-year-old Michael Dunahee disappeared from a playground  in Victoria, British Columbia in March 1991. At the time, he was playing just feet away from his parents. Michael’s father momentarily turned his attention away from the playground, and when he looked back, Michael was gone. Police presumed that Michael had been abducted, but no one witnessed him being taken from the area.

Canadian police launched a massive search for Michael and amassed a number of tips from the public, none of which panned out. Twenty years after his disappearance, the Victoria police department continues to investigate. Most recently, there was widespread speculation in a small British Columbia town that a young man who bore a striking resemblance to Michael may have been the missing child, but DNA tests determined that he was not. It is not known if the boy was murdered or is still alive.

The last unconfirmed sighting of Michael was in June 1991, when a man attempted to abduct a seven-year-old girl in New Jersey. The girl and a friend claimed to have seen a little boy matching Michael’s description in the backseat of the man’s car. However, this sighting has not brought police any closer to discovering Michael’s fate, nor have any of the hundreds of other tips from the public throughout the years.

The abduction of Morgan Nick is one of the most haunting cold cases in Arkansas history. On the evening of June 9, 1995, six-year-old Morgan went to a Little League game with her mother. She played with a group of children only 45 meters (148 ft) away from the baseball field where her mother was sitting. When the other children returned to the field, Morgan was not among them.

Witnesses reported seeing a strange man watch the children play, and some of the children in the group stated that a man had spoken to Morgan directly. A red pickup truck with an attached camper was also seen leaving the parking lot around the time Morgan disappeared.

Police have a composite sketch of the unidentified man who was seen talking to Morgan that evening but little else to go on. Almost 20 years after her disappearance, they are still actively searching for Morgan. Her bereaved mother founded the Morgan Nick Foundation to aid families of missing children.

Jessica Marie Lunsford (born October 6, 1995 – murdered February 27, 2005) was a nine-year-old American girl who was abducted from her home in Homosassa, Florida in the early morning of February 24, 2005. While she was held captive over the weekend, she was raped and later murdered by 46-year-old John Couey, a convicted sex offender who lived nearby. On August 24, 2007, a judge in Inverness, Florida sentenced Couey to death for kidnapping, sexual battery, and first degree murder. However, Couey died of natural causes in 2009, before his sentence could be carried out.

In Canada, there are very few kidnappings where a ransom is demanded. In fact, there are very few instances where people in Canada are kidnapped. According to Canadian law enforcement agencies, about 50,492 missing children were reported to be missing in 2009. From 2000-2001, of about 90 incidents reported, there were only two that were actually stranger abductions. Police statistics show that 25 children out of the 46,718 reported missing in 2011 were listed as being abducted by stranger. According to the report, four of the five children were killed and it was estimated by the investigating officers that the four of the victims were killed within the first 24 hours.

On a late spring day in 1995, nine-year-old Joleil Campeau set out to walk a friend’s house in Laval’s Auteuil district in Quebec where she lived. She left her home and was never seen alive again. After she disappeared, 400 volunteers combed the area around her house looking for the girl. One of  the volunteers found Joleil’s black belt near a swamp. The water was pumped out, and Joleil’s body was found at the bottom. She was fully clothed and her body was weighed down by rocks.

Erik Daudelin, who was 21 at the time of the murder, was a prime suspect because he had lived in the neighbourhood and has a string of prior sexual assault convictions. Traces of sperm were found on the girl’s underwear, but at the time DNA testing wasn’t advanced enough to match it to a specific suspect. The case was reopened in 2009 and scientists were able to match the sperm to Daudelin.

Daudelin admitted to the crime to undercover investigators during a police sting operation. However, Daudelin’s lawyer maintained that Daudelin lied on the video and that police planted the DNA evidence.

Nearly 20 years after Joleil was killed while on her way to a friend’s house, her killer was convicted of murdering nine-year-old Joleil. Eric Daudelin was found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual assault and illegal confinement at the Laval courthouse and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. Daudelin has continued to maintain his innocence his arrest in 2011.

Emanuel Jaques was the son of impoverished Portuguese immigrants from the Azores. On July 28, 1977, 12-year-old Jaques, who worked daily shining shoes on what was then the seedy Yonge Street Strip, was lured into an apartment above the Charlie's Angels body-rub parlour at 245 Yonge Street[ with the promise of $35 for help moving photographic equipment. He was then restrained and repeatedly sexually assaulted over a period of twelve hours before being strangled and drowned in a kitchen sink.

Several days after Jaques's disappearance, well-known Toronto gay activist, George Hislop received a late-night call from Saul David Betesh, a sex worker who confessed to the murder and told Hislop that Jaques's body had been hidden under a pile of wood on the roof of the small building at which he had been abducted. Hislop arranged for Betesh to hire a lawyer, contacted Metropolitan Toronto Police and then persuaded Betesh to turn himself in.

On a tipoff from Betesh, three other men — Robert Wayne Kribs (41), Joseph Woods (26) and Werner Gruener (28) — were arrested on the Super Continental train to Vancouver as it passed through Sioux Lookout Ontario. The three had been employed as security doormen at Charlie's Angels. The four were charged with Jaques's murder. According to evidence introduced at trial, Betesh held the boy under water until he drowned while Kribs restrained Jaques's legs. In 1978, Kribs pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a jury found Betesh guilty of the same charge, while Woods was convicted of second-degree murder, and Gruener, who had held open the door of the body-rub parlour to allow Betesh to bring the boy in, was acquitted since he had no way of knowing that the boy would be killed.

Since I was at the time of their sentencing, the editor of a police magazine, I was permitted to sit in the jury box with other newsmen during the sentencing of three of the men. They were sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole until they served at least twenty-five years.

In October 2002, twenty-five years after the murder, Robert Kribs was denied parole. Woods died in prison in April 2003, after being denied parole four times. Kribs and Betesh are still behind bars at Warkworth Institution a medium security prison near Campbellford, Ontario, after decades spent at a maximum- security prison. That means that so far since when they were first arrested in 1977, been incarcerated as many as 40 years. Betesh was eligible for a parole hearing in 2002, but he waived the right and has continued to do so every two years, probably because he knows that he’ll never be released. In Canada, the sentence of life doesn’t necessarily mean only 25 years. I could be until the killer is deceased. These two child killers may actually die in prison like Woods did.

If you think they have suffered enough for the horrible killing of the 12-year-old boy, then listen very carefully, because if you do, you will hear one of my crocodile tears hitting my floor. 

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