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RIP Grumpy Cat :( I will miss you.

« on: November 20, 2009, 04:09:14 PM »


by John G. Winder , The Cypress Times
Published 11/20/2009 - 12:49 p.m. CST

“There’s no such thing as monsters.”  We tell our kids that.  The truth is that monsters are real.  A real live monster might live next door to you, or across the street from your child’s school, even around the corner from your church.  These monsters are called “Sex Offenders”, a label that is far too innocuous to convey the evil of those who have earned it.

Somer Renee Thompson, of Jacksonville, Florida, was on her way home from the second grade on Monday, October 19, 2009 when she ran ahead of her siblings.  No one knows why she ran ahead of the others.  Maybe she was anxious to see her Mom.  Maybe Nickelodeon was calling her name.  Maybe it was a Monday and she was glad to have the first day of school behind her.  Maybe she just ran ahead of the others, including her twin brother, because she was only 7 years old, and that’s what 7 year olds do.  Unaware, unafraid, she ran home.  Why not?  After all, “there’s no such thing as monsters.” 

We’ll never know why Somer ran ahead of her siblings and friends that Monday in October of 2009 because on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, Somer’s body was found in a landfill in Georgia.

Police are continuing to investigate her disappearance and her murder.  Only one thing is known for certain: on the way home from school that fateful day, Somer met a monster face-to-face.

On October 23, 2009 the body of missing 9 year old, Elizabeth Olten, was found in Missouri.   Horribly, these stories are now common in post-modern America.

Ignorance is bliss. 

The bliss of ignorance is a state of mind many of us may prefer because to accept the knowledge that “monsters are real” is too much to bear for many of us parents.  The news of Somer’s disappearance came to me via my television set.  It saddened me.  It saddens me deeply every time I hear of evil, yes evil, befalling a child. 

My sadness gave way to something else that day, to a deeper worry and fear.  In this particular horror story about Somer, I was shaken from the “it can’t happen to me or my kids” mentality that the bliss of ignorance and the security of denial fosters within us. 

The news anchor covering Somer’s story said that Police, who were searching for Somer, were in the process of interviewing the 160+ “registered sex offenders” living within a 10 mile radius of Somer’s home.

I thought the reporter misspoke.  Sadly, he had not. 

Denial kicks in quickly.  I immediately assumed that the Jacksonville, Florida area must be some sort of haven for Sex Offenders, child molesters and pedophiles.  I decided to see how it compared with other areas. 

Surely, what was happening in Florida was the result of some liberal laws that offered some sort of “protection” for sex offenders.  Otherwise, how could so many congregate in one area?   It just didn’t seem possible.

I knew one thing for certain, or so I thought, as I examined the situation through the haze of ignorance, I knew that kind of thing could never happen here in Texas.

Ignorance is bliss. 

Knowledge brings fear, rational fear.  I went online to and searched the National Sex Offender Registry.  The National Sex Offender Registry lists all registered sex offenders in the U.S. by State, City & State, even Zip Code.

I decided to start my search by looking at how bad the situation in Jacksonville, Florida really was.  I entered the City and State for my search criteria:  Jacksonville, Florida came back with an astounding 1,174 total registered “Sex Offenders”.

Shocking!  Stay out of Florida, I thought.  So, what of Houston, Texas?  We’re tough on crime.

Houston has 1,337 registered “Sex Offenders”.   Shocking again. 

Surely, it would be different out in the “burbs”.  Cypress, is safe.  Cypress is upscale. 

So, this time I entered my zip code:  77429.   

155 registered sex offenders reside in the 77429 zip code. 

It is sickening to sit and stare at the colorful display indicating the location of these “Sex Offenders”.   A map pops up, ala Mapquest, and on that map are tiny little squares in varying colors; “Green”, “Blue” and “Red”.  Almost festive in appearance except for the secret terror they conceal.   

Green indicates “Other Offense”.  There were a few green squares in Cypress. 

“Sexual Battery” was designated by blue squares.  There were several of those.  The vast majority of the squares however were red. 

Bright red. 

Blood red. 

Red is the color used to indicate the location of a sex offender who has committed an “offense against children”.

There is also a colorless square with an “X” through it.  These icons indicate a school, park or church school. 

I looked at the elementary school nearest our home; Farney Elementary, and learned that there are three sex offenders within a half mile of Farney Elementary.

There is one within 1,000 feet.  His name, address and photo appear when you click the icon.  He lives 0.18 miles from Farney Elementary.  If your child walks to school every day, he or she passes his house, as well as the house of the two other “registered sex offenders” within the half mile radius.  All three of these “offenders” have a Red Square designator.

Willow Creek Elementary has five registered “Sex Offenders” living within a half mile radius of the school.  The closest is just 0.15 miles away.

Lakewood Montessori School: two sex offenders within a half mile radius.  The closest is 0.18 miles away.

“There is such a thing as monsters.” 

86 of them live in the 77433 zip code.  289 are listed for the 77065 zip code, although some of these do overlap with other zip codes as the map provides a radius. 

The best indicator is to check your child’s school, and your home address. 

Reed Elementary has seven sex offenders within a half mile radius.  Tower Christian Academy has six sex offenders within a half mile radius. The list continues

Lieder Elementary:  4

Bear Creek Elementary:  2

Harmony School of Excellence:  4

Cypress Christian School:  2

Christ The Redeemer Catholic

Church:  8

B.F. Adam Elementary:  7

Epps Island Elementary:  5

Carmichael Elementary:  9

Brentwood Children’s Academy:  6

How does the rest of our area fare? 

Katy, Texas (proper) has 84 registered sex offenders.

Pearland, Texas has 297 registered sex offenders

Sugarland, Texas has 267 registered sex offenders

Conroe, Texas has 114 registered sex offenders

Tomball, Texas has 99 registered sex offenders

From teaming metropolis to small town, the rest of the U.S is no better. 

Los Angeles, CA – 1,664

Billings, Montana -   680

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – 150

Philadelphia, PA – 1,348

Little Rock, AR -   196

These harbingers of horror lurk from border to border, from city to town, all across our country.  They haunt the highways, and two-lanes, the cul-de-sacs and prominent upscale communities where we, as citizens and parents ignorantly cling onto a false sense of security.

Monsters are real. 

Monsters could be next door, or across the street from your child’s school or church.  Now you know.  You are ignorant no more.  What next?

With newfound knowledge comes responsibility, and the fear and the inability to logically continue to live in denial.  There also comes a need to act.  What can we do?  How can we protect our children? offers these even more terrifying statistics:

1 of 5 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be molested before their 18th birthday.
90% of all sexual assaults against children are committed by someone whom the victim knew.
The typical sexual predator will assault 117 times before being caught.
The re-arrest rate for convicted child molesters is 52%.
A report titled “Understanding And Protecting Your Children From Child Molesters And Predators” offers more startling information:

 “The FBI estimates that there is a sex offender living in every square mile of the United States.  One in ten men has molested children. Most child molesters are able to molest dozens of children before they are caught and have a three percent (3%) chance of being apprehended for their crimes.

“Boys and girls are at nearly equal risk to be abused and almost a quarter will be molested sometime before their 18th birthday. Fewer than five percent (5%) will tell anyone. The overwhelming majority of child victims are abused by someone they know and trust, someone most parents would never suspect. No one can protect your children but you.”

When you consider the vast number of “registered” sex offenders, and then contemplate the numbers who have managed to escape detection and arrest thus far, the actual volume of how many dangerous people are out there truly begins to become mind-boggling.

The FBI says most only have a 3% chance of being apprehended for their crimes!

Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S. and Steve Jensen, M.A. are the author’s of “Understanding And Protecting Your Children From Child Molesters And Predators”

The 11 page report is filled with vital information for protecting your children and offers up insight into the ways in which these predators target and attack.   The report begins by breaking down the various types of offenders:  Child Molesters, Pedophiles, Predators, Incest Offenders and Sex Offenders.

Any one of the offenders in these categories can do great harm to your child, but pedophiles are perhaps the most dangerous in terms of those who actively target children they do not know.

The report defines PEDOPHILES as follows: 

PEDOPHILES - Are adults who are sexually attracted to children and have a primary or strong interest in children. They offend children because they desire sexual contact with children.

Most hold responsible jobs and frequently align themselves with reputable organizations, sports leagues and churches.
They may work or volunteer with children.
They are likely to be single or live with their parents or have a dysfunctional marriage.
Some appear socially inhibited while others can be extremely charming.
Many target pre-pubescent boys.
Most do not have a criminal record.
Most have molested many children before they are effectively reported to law enforcement.
The majority are highly likely to re-offend.
A recently discovered ring of sex offenders in Missouri garnered headlines when it was learned that an entire family of adult men, a father and his four sons had been actively targeting and attacking children .  Three of these men were lay ministers in the Community of Christ Church in their rural hometown.

We can’t simply look at the monsters and know who they are. 

Cory Jewell Jensen, M.S. and Steve Jensen, M.A also report the following: 

“Another common group of offenders includes the molesters who work or volunteer in settings where they can purposefully obtain regular access to children. This group includes coaches, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, ministers/priests, school bus drivers, day care providers and other people whose professions or .community service. puts them in contact with children. Like the first group, these people molest boys and girls and usually offend many children before they get caught. Their profession or the appearance of “altruism” makes it harder for people to believe they are capable of these crimes. They can be some of the slickest and most charming people we know and, because of this people fail to believe they are guilty and, again fail to report them to police.

“When people finally discover that they have molested dozens of children, they are shocked. There are also adult offenders who may not fit in the above groups but still abuse children. This group includes exhibitionists who expose to children, .computer travelers who contact and solicit children over the Internet and child pornographers. Some of these people exploit and abuse children in a variety of ways. They are our neighbors, friends and relatives. Some are “loners”, while others look just like the above groups. Females account for ten to twenty percent (10-20%) of child molesters.”

Are we then to hide our children from every teacher, coach, pastor, youth minister or volunteer we meet?   Of course not, the majority of people who choose to work with children do so out of a genuine love for children and a desire to help those children.

CONTINUED in next post......
« Last Edit: November 20, 2009, 04:12:58 PM by Nut44x4 » Logged

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'I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind' -Edgar Allen Poe
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2009, 04:11:31 PM »

So what is a parent to do? 

Knowledge is again the answer. 

This time it is a more difficult knowledge than even perhaps our own acceptance that these monsters exist.  This is now a harsh knowledge we must share with our precious children.

The Jensen’s report continues with advice for talking to your kids about Sexual Abuse


Talk openly with your children about sexual development, behavior and abuse.
Use proper or semi proper names for body parts (penis and vagina), and phrases like; private parts are “private and special”.

Tell your children that, if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts, tries to get them to touch or look at another person’s private parts, shows them pictures of or tries to take pictures of their private parts, talks to them about sex, walks in on them in the bathroom or does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable to tell you or a “support person” as soon as they can or the next time they see you.

Tell your children that some children and adults have .touching problems.. These people can make “secret touching” look accidental and they should still tell you even if they think it might have been an accident.

Tell your children that touching problems are kind of like stealing or lying and that the people who have those kinds of problems need special help so they don’t continue to have problems or get into trouble. Don’t describe it as a .sickness..

Tell your children that some people try to trick kids into keeping the touching a secret. Tell your children, .We don’t want those kinds of secrets in our family..

Give your children examples of things that someone might use to try to get them to keep it a secret; candy, money, special privileges, threats, subtle fear of loss, separation or punishment etc.

Tell your children that touching other people’s private parts is not ok for children to do or for adults to do with children. Tell them that you do not want them to do “secret touching” with other people but that you will not be mad at them if they do come and tell you it has happened.  Even if it has been happening a lot.

Talk to your children about safety issues at least two or three times a year.
Develop a family plan for answering the phone, fire safety, getting lost and secret touching.. Play “what if” games with them on a regular basis (monthly).
Make sure they have support people they can talk to at home, at school, in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your phone and let them know that, if for any reason, they cannot talk to you - that they should call/or go see another support person.

As a father, I cannot readily come to grips with having such difficult world changing conversations with either my 12 year old son or my four year old daughter.  It seems to be a terrible way to remove them from their innocence and deposit them knee-deep into the hard realities of the world in which we live. 

These are the types of decisions and conversations over which parents spend sleepless nights.  However, given the realities and the gravity of the rampant sex abuse in our nation today, it would seem highly irresponsible of any parent not to provide as much protection as possible for their children, even at the risk of upsetting their child’s innocent view of the world.

There is no pat answer; no magic wand we can wave to make the monster’s go away.  We can hold our children closer and we can be more vigilant.   

The ideas offered up by the Jensen’s do not constitute the only approach, but do seem to be in line with most mainstream recommendations. 

However, I find this wholly unsatisfying as an answer.  I want something more decisive.  I want the magic wand or magic pill or the special fence or moat which I can use to protect my children.  Sadly, it doesn’t exist.  Sadly, it is up to us to act, and to remain forever diligent. 

The Cypress Times welcomes your thoughts, and commentary, on this vital subject and we ask that you share any advice or research of which you may have information that would assist parents and their children in dealing with the issue of monsters in our neighborhoods.

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware/Of giving your heart to a dog to tear  -- Rudyard Kipling

One who doesn't trust is never deceived...

'I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind' -Edgar Allen Poe
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 01:16:58 PM »

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) 
October 25, 2009 Sunday 
1974 Five girls, ages 6-12, disappear in Jacksonville in a three-month span;
2009 A 7-year-old Orange Park girl goes missing as she walks home from school
Once upon a time, parents didn't have to think twice about letting their kids walk home from school or bike to the playground.

But now? It's a different world.

That's what we keep saying while trying to make sense of the senseless, the fliers with smiling young faces, the string of children we never knew but now refer to by their first names.

Maddie, Caylee, Haleigh, Christopher and now Somer.

It's a different world. More dangerous, more evil.

How can you not feel that way after what happened last week? A first-grader disappeared on her walk home from school in Orange Park. A frenetic search ensued. And then, 48 hours after Somer Thompson was last seen, came the news that sent waves of emotions - sadness, anger, fear - throughout South Georgia and North Florida.

A body was found in a landfill in Folkston.

The news spread nearly instantly, not just locally but nationally. People near and far reacted, saying it was horribly sad. Saying it was sickening. Saying it was another sign of the times, of a world that is dramatically different from the one they grew up in.

But is it?

Or does the technology of today - the 24-hour news cycle, the Internet, the Amber Alerts and sexual predator maps - make it seem different?

If you go into The Times-Union library, to the shelves where stories written before the digital age are filed alphabetically by subject, you'll find a series of manila folders labeled "MISSING PERSONS." Pull out the one from 1974-75 and you will find 70 pages of yellowed newspaper clippings.

One starts with this sentence: "In 1974, some 3,093 Duval County residents were reported to police as missing."

The story says that eventually police found 2,913 of them. Many were runaways. Some were adults. But, it becomes clear by flipping through the pages, some were neither.

Thirty-five years ago, in October 1974, the big story in Jacksonville was the ongoing search for five girls, ages 6 to 12, who had disappeared in a three-month span.

There were front pages with pictures of children, some with gap-toothed smiles, each identified by single names. Jean, Annette, Mylette, Virginia, Ann.

There were descriptions of massive searches, shocked neighborhoods and worried parents.

There were quotes from people, wondering what had happened to the world they lived in.


One mother said at least three-fourths of her neighbors are fearful of letting their children out to play or go to the store anymore alone (and) are taking them to and from school. "They're all afraid, and I don't blame them," she said. -- The Jacksonville Journal, Oct. 28, 1974.

On July 21, Jean Marie Schoen, a 9-year-old student at Love Grove Elementary, left her grandmother's house in Springfield and headed to Hanna's Food Store on the corner of Pearl and 17th streets, about two blocks away.

On Aug. 1, Annette Anderson, 11, and her sister, Mylette, 6, were left alone briefly at their Oceanway home. Their mother went to care for a sick relative shortly after 6 p.m. Their father, a commercial fisherman who was expected to get home by 6, got delayed by outboard motor problems. Sometime during a one-hour window, the two girls disappeared.

On Sept. 27, Virginia Helm, 12, disappeared after going to a convenience store one block from her home on the Southside. A story three days later said, "Police have received reports of young girls being approached by two or three persons in a car, then threatened and followed home when they didn't get in the vehicle."

On Oct. 12, Ann Greene, 12, missed the bus and stayed home with her mother. At 10:30 that morning, she went to a nearby grocery store to get some soft drinks. She bought the drinks, talked to the butcher, told him she'd see him later, then left by a side door.

By the fifth apparent abduction, the news was in the paper the next day with a large front-page headline:

Girl, 12, Missing Here; Fifth in Last 3 Months

There were massive searches involving horses, helicopters, four-wheel drive vehicles and volunteers. The City Council voted to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to a resolution. In a sign that murder isn't a new concern, one council member questioned setting that precedent, pointing out that three people had been killed in his district in the last week.

More than two weeks later, a couple who had been looking for pine cones for Christmas decorations stumbled upon a body buried near a dirt road off Beach Boulevard. The police were called. Two of the homicide detectives who arrived on the scene were Lester Parmenter and Richard Pruett.


"You'd hate to push a panic button and make a martial law type of situation in which children shouldn't be on the streets by themselves in daylight. People can't lock their children in the house and not let them out ... " Sgt. Jim Suber in an Oct. 28, 1974 story.

For Parmenter and Pruett, the news of police finding Somer's body in a Georgia landfill brought back memories of 1974 and, in particular, going into the wooded area off Beach Boulevard on a Sunday night.

"Of all the cases I worked, that particular time is still hard for me to deal with," Pruett said last week. "Those guys [who found Somer] are going to remember this forever, too."

Parmenter praised the Clay County detectives, noting that it wasn't new technology but old-fashioned legwork that led to the Georgia landfill.

"It's sad all the way through," he said. "It's sad for the families. It's hard on those officers. Some, if not all, probably have children of their own, maybe even children of that same age."

In 1974, Parmenter and Pruett did.

The body turned out to be Virginia Helm, the fourth girl who disappeared. She had been shot in the head.

"I had a little girl who at the time was about the same age, same size, same color hair - and so did my partner," Parmenter said. "We were out there at 1, 2 o'clock in the morning, digging that little girl up with our bare hands to keep from causing any other harm to her body. As we were digging, he was on one side and I was on the other. We'd look up at each other every once in a while and we both knew what the other one was thinking: It could be ours."

Four years later, on Feb. 8, 1978, it almost was Parmenter's daughter. Then 14, she left her middle school and prepared to walk home. It was raining so she called her mother, who sent an older brother to go get her.

When he drove up, a man was talking to her, claiming to be a firefighter. Something didn't feel right. So he didn't just get his sister and drive her home. He wrote down the license plate number of a nearby van.

The man turned out to be Ted Bundy.

The next day he killed 12-year-old Kimberly Leach in Lake City. She was his last victim. Bundy was apprehended and convicted, partly because of the help of Parmenter and his children.

"There's no doubt in my mind, learning what we found out later, that my daughter would have been one of his victims," Parmenter said.

So you ask the former homicide detective, the father of a girl who almost became one of Bundy's victims, if it is a different world.

He says he often wonders about that. He thinks some criminals have become more brazen. But is it truly different?

"Today you've got the sources to make everyone more aware of crime," he said. "And you've got a larger number of people. ... I don't know."


The air-conditioned emergency command center ... maintained contact with more than 200 persons in the field with portable radios. Police said the radios were not powerful enough to relay signals through the regular radio net at the courthouse, several miles away." -- The Times-Union, Aug. 4, 1974.

It was a different world. No question.

You look at the newspaper clippings from 1974 and are reminded of that over and over. The yellowed newsprint alone is a reminder. Step back 35 years and the technology used today by the police, media and public feels like something from a sci-fi novel.

There wasn't, or Twitter.

There weren't any Amber Alerts. (One story details changes being made in the reporting missing persons, saying that in some cases the paperwork took days.)

There were no maps of sexual predators. There wasn't even that term, although a headline on an Oct. 8, 1974, story said: "Sex Pervert Angle Is Probed in 4 Missing Girls Case."

There was no Nancy Grace or Greta Van Susteren, no CNN or Fox News.

There was local television. But, as former TV-12 news director Howard Kelley recalls, the stations didn't have the ability "to literally broadcast from the front yard." They shot film on the scene and went back to the station. They led the nightly newscasts with stories about the missing girls. But there wasn't the 24/7 news cycle of today's television and Internet.

"You didn't have the speed of technology, which heightens a lot of things," Kelley said.

It heightens and extends the ability of the police to get information out to the public. It also heightens and extends the sense of community. And the sense of fear.

It's not just that the speed or volume of coverage has changed. Crimes that once were local stories now become national news. If a young child disappears in Colorado, we might hear details of it in Florida. And vice versa.

In 1974, few people outside of Jacksonville followed the cases of the five missing girls.

The morning after the body of Virginia Helm was found, another massive search ensued. But no other bodies were found in that area.

Prosecutors eventually concluded that the two Anderson sisters had been abducted and killed by mass murderer Paul John Knowles, a 28-year-old Jacksonville resident who was killed in December 1974 while trying to escape from Georgia authorities.

Three years later, the remains of Rebecca Ann Greene were found near Heckscher Drive.

The bodies of the two Anderson sisters and Jean Marie Schoen never were found. Police believed the abductions, which all happened in different parts of town, were unrelated. The pain, however, was felt across the city.

When Maddie Clifton's body was found in 1998, Elizabeth Anderson told the Times-Union that they hadn't moved or changed their phone number since 1974 because her husband "always thought the babies were coming home."


This is International Walk to School Month, an event that was highlighted by students at schools in more than 42 countries walking to school one day in October.

Once upon a time, there wasn't such a thing, because every day was walk to school day.

Forty years ago, 41 percent of children walked or biked to school. By 2001, only 13 percent did.

And last year, a 10-year-old boy in Mississippi made headlines when he told his mother that he wanted to walk to soccer practice, about a mile away. Several people saw him walking and called 911.

A police officer showed up, drove him the rest of the way and reprimanded his mother, telling her if that if anything had happened she could have been charged with child endangerment.

Some felt it was an appropriate reaction. Others pointed to it as a prime example of overreactions to a small number of high-profile incidents.

According to federal statistics, about 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year in the United States. More than 500 die in fires each year, more than 1,000 drown and more than 2,000 are killed in automobile accidents.

Of course, those statistics are of little consolation to anyone who has had a child among those 115. And when you open up the paper or turn on the television and hear about a missing child, there is a strong and natural reaction, one that is the same in 2009 as it was in 1974.

We hold our own children a little tighter.

We say it's a different world.

A retired detective isn't sure.

"I think it's always been the same," Pruett said. "Thirty-seven years on the job, it never changed. Information travels faster, but as far as human nature? There are people out there who are just plain bad. Always have been. Since Cain and Abel, there has been killing."

Murders and abductions aren't 21st century inventions. But the technology used to uncover them, cover them and react to them is.

Maybe that continues to change our world.

Or maybe, more than anything, it changes our perception of it.

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware/Of giving your heart to a dog to tear  -- Rudyard Kipling

One who doesn't trust is never deceived...

'I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind' -Edgar Allen Poe
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RIP Grumpy Cat :( I will miss you.

« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2012, 08:34:04 PM »

Bill offers another way to track sex offenders (Editorial)
Press-Register Editorial Board
Posted:  02/27/2012 5:59 AM

STATE SEN. Ben Brooks, R-Mobile, and the father of murder victim Polly Klaas are working together on updating Alabama’s sex offender law.

Legislators should approve and Gov. Robert Bentley should then sign Sen. Brooks’ bill, SB-161, which has two main changes.

It requires sex offenders to register the name of their Internet service provider with law enforcement, just as they are now required to register their addresses and other personal information. And, it requires that multiple sentences on a second and subsequent conviction be served consecutively, not concurrently.

Sen. Brooks says he was honored when an employee of the Mobile County district attorney’s office asked if he would meet with Mr. Klaas, who came to Mobile.

"I have two daughters," Sen. Brooks said. "He didn’t have to say a whole lot to me to convince me of the merits of carrying this bill.

 ::snipping2::        Full Story >>

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware/Of giving your heart to a dog to tear  -- Rudyard Kipling

One who doesn't trust is never deceived...

'I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind' -Edgar Allen Poe
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