Dec 28, 2008

Kids & Charitableness

I found this very poignant post today (above) whilst perusing the Connecticut blogosphere-And yes, there is a Connecticut- specific blogosphere believe it or not. First I found this blog entitled " This is Connecticut"

where I read about their "noteworthy blogs", some of which I was already familiar with and a few other worthy ones that I was not. From there, I linked to"Connecticut Weblogs" , a site whose sole purpose would seem to be the gathering of all blogs that are Connecticut-based and listing them by category and most recently updated- a style akin to the mainstream blog directories like Technorati, etc

However as I scanned the listings of blog titles at the Connecticut Weblogs site, I couldn't help but notice that somehow my blog had been shall we say... overlooked-?.An oversight that I hope to remedy shortly with a shout out to that Blog's webmaster. It could be that they will be hard pressed to fit Chasing Justice into any of the Blog categories that they presently use, as it easily vacillates from "Opinion" to "Politics" with occasional wanderings into Religion/ spiritual for good measure. Perhaps I can convince the owner to open up a new category or two just for me- like Activism or Crime/Justice or even Woman's issues. Who knows, perhaps the advent of new category will encourage other new blogs about you know...deeper stuff.

In any event... throughout this veritable labyrinthine of blogs, Posts and bloggers, I stumbled upon some very good sites, mostly by following interesting blog titles that I noticed within each blogs"blogroll", eventually landing on this so called "mommy blog" which pleasantly surprised me by containing a very relevant and very poignant story about the blog owners recent experience bringing her two young children to a Domestic violence center over the holiday, in order to hopefully foster the beginnings of social conscience and a lifetime involvement helping those that are in need. I'm sure most of you will be as moved as I was.
Kids & Charitableness BlogHer

Dec 23, 2008

Soaring Rates of Violence Against Women

A 42 percent increase in partner violence, and a 25 percent increase in sexual assault over a two year period is staggering -
And even if, as suggested in the article, the numbers are being affected somewhat by a change in the methodology of the survey taking, and presumably are thus more accurate now, this only means that our previous reports in 2005 and earlier, greatly underestimated the degree of intimate violence that was happening in our country.-Either way we have a much more widespread problem with violence against women than we were aware of.

Our incoming administration needs to address this issue straight away. In fact I was very disappointed that there was little to no mention of this country's problem with violent crime, and specifically crime against women, within the Obama' campaign or within any of his very memorable speeches about the change that our country so needs and desires.
This was especially puzzling to me as Vice president elect Joe biden has had a heavy hand for many years in the entire violence against women movement; He co-authored, lobbied heavily for, and pushed through congress, the first ever"violence against women act"(VAWA) in 1996.
This was a major accomplishment that has been a pet project of bidens since the late eighties.
VAWA was passed again in 2006 and signed by president Bush -but with several cutbacks in funding. (surprise surprise)

Truth be told, Joe Bidens devotion and hard work with Domestic violence, among other things, was one of the main reasons that I voted for the Obama/Biden ticket Although extremely intelligent and articulate, Obama had yet to really prove himself via amassed experience, as a devoted and capable leader. I did however have faith that he would not be an autocratic leader by any means, he had humility, he knew his strengths and his weaknesses and would thus collect the most capable minds in every area of political expertise, surround himself with these folks, deferring to them freely and often in the daily business of the running our country.

I certainly hope that this issue is treated by our new leaders as seriously as it deserves to be. The results of this survey suggest a spiraling epidemic, and it is our beloved women's bodies and souls that are at stake here.

Dec 21, 2008

Elderly Woman Attacked in Waterbury home

This is absolutely heartbreaking, more as developments occur.

How Much is a Petit Murder Suspect Costing You?

This latest soapbox of Mike Lawlor is rather puzzling to me, the general public has known about the obscene amount of money being spent on Joshua komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes,' (defendents in the Petit murders) for many months now indeed there have been a myriad of articles in mainstream publications citing the maddening details of those costs since mid-August. Yet, Lawlor, a well known assemblyman and vice chair of the Connecticut Judiciary Committee, chooses now to seize upon all of this and be publically outraged.

It certainly would seem like yet another politically motivated opportunity to inject himself, in a favorable fashion, into the fray of the state's hotly debated criminal justice issue.

An aside; To give you an example of just how far he is willing to go to mislead the public and ride the political wave de jour; In One of his recent election time mailers it stated that he was, among other things , "the author of a brand new three strikes legislation" for the state of
Connecticut. This after he has pontificated ad nauseum, for a solid year, that a three strikes law a)"wouldn't have prevented the Petit crimes anyway",
b) would not be used by prosecutors even If passed ..

And c) is in fact just a political gimmick of house republicans to appear tough on crime in the wake of the Petit Crimes hysteria and court scrutiny.

lawlor also voted against the bills passage a total of three times and even more importantly influenced a great many other legislators in voting against it.
He was also quoted within an interview as saying that all the attention that was being given Connecticut's criminal judicial system after the Petit crimes was ill placed and that "our judicial system works pretty well." The inference was that The Petit crimes and the other two murders that occurred within that same short time period in 07, eac one committed by paroled repeat offenders who were given lenient plea deals,were isolated incidents .

Now its one thing to be a politician in the worst sense of the word, when it comes to more innocuous issues like taxes and such, but this is far too important. How we decide to handle Violent criminals in this state will directly effect how many more innocent lives are snuffed out, and others maimed. Persistant violent offenders are people who repeatedly inflict terror and brutality upon vulnerable human beings, often leaving a veritable trail of broken bodies and broken lives in their wake. This is what the three strikes issue is about.

Its too easy for politicians and laypeople alike, to gloss over the awful reality of violent crime with words like "tragedy" "persistent offender' "home invasion" and even "three strikes law".
These words make more antiseptic and palatable, the terror and pain that is violent crime, They help people to distance themselves emotionally from the human suffering that is at the core of this entire discussion.

I propose that we ask and expect more from our public servants, our presumed leaders and lawmakers; They should not be allowed to squirm away from the cost of thier actions or inaction regarding this issue- this currency is human lives. I daresay, as lawmakers they will never have a more important task.

The worst part of this is that Mr Lawlor clearly has the intelligence, the leadership skills, and the political influence to do right by the people of Connecticut regarding this critical issue.- I can only hope that he is comprising a New years resolution list that includes less posturing and
photo-ops and more empathy and intelligent action on behalf of victims of violent crime in this state, past, present and future. Fixed and Consistent sentencing will serve as a deterrent for all violent crime as well as insurance that violent offenders are kept in prison where they may not continue to violate, maim and kill .

Dec 16, 2008

Women Self Defense info and Videos

While I wish that we lived in a world where it wasn't necessary to become adept at defending oneself from physical attack, the reality is that it is.
And due to our size, comparable strength and other factors, women are simply at greater risk than our male counterparts, as potential victims of such attacks.

Some of these attacks will be fatal. We"Fortunate" victims will live to tell about it, unwittingly becoming "survivors" in the process. That survival often comes with a heavy price; Post traumatic stress disorder is a common seleque of any life threatening happenstance, and it often carries with it significant life changing symptoms that include severe anxiety, depression, suicidal desires and more.

In P.T.S.D the severity of the lasting trauma, as well as the length of time that it takes to heal, is often much greater for victims of events that are inflicted purposefully by fellow human beings as opposed to natural and unnatural disasters; war, car accidents, plane crashes etc. Violent crime is one of the hardest to come back from. It only makes sense that the emotional insult is far worse when we are assailed not only physcially but physchologically-with the personal knowledge that our fellow man is capable of wreaking such brutality. Although we see such crimes on the news and in the papers, it is quite different to live through one. There is an emotional and spiritual crisis that often accompanies surviving violent crime and It is safe to say that however one deals with its aftermath, they are forever changed.The world will never seem a safe place again.

The self defense videos at the link above are available free of charge and I strongly suggest that all women- including teenage girls- familiarize themselves with the basic maneuvers shown, using an actual male partner acting as the "bad guy." These are relatively straightforward defense moves that most of us are physically capable of practicing until we know them instinctively.

For those who would like to go a step further, there are self defense classes specifically for women in every city and most townships across the country. These are not elaborate martial arts programs, but rather short term classes that will teach basic self-defense methods and how to "think" and carry yourself defensively This includes\how to deal with the typical adrenaline rush that accompanies any incident where we believe we are fighting for our life. Too often, this surge of adrenaline can hamper a victims reaction and may cost them their lives. Any quality class will address this issue and help the student to contend with this inevitable physical reaction.

For the sake of our children, let us be examples of strong, empowered women that for all appearances would make " bad victims"( read the linked information regarding what makes a "good" and "bad" prospective victim in the eyes of an assailant.)

Dec 11, 2008

Luminaries Light Town In Honor Of Petits

I think its beautiful that this has become an annual event in Cheshire-Not only does it raise good money for the MS foundation, it creates an atmosphere of faith and healing, and augments an entire communities sense of connectedness. God bless all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen, and may the New Year bring much peace to the people of Cheshire.

Dec 3, 2008

Judge tosses Duncan appeal

Good news. Now Let's say our prayers for Shasta and the entire Groene/mckenzie family,
that this appeal shall stand, as friday is the deadline for re-applying for one.

This brave young girl deserves to heal and recover and re-claim her life. The never ending
auto-pilot appeals process for death penalty cases in this country is ludicrous and flies in
the face of decency,especially for the victims of these crimes.

Dec 2, 2008

Criminal Justice in Crisis

Here is an interesting study that was conducted across the country concerning our criminal justice system; What the public perceives the problems to be with it-and what criminal justice professionals within the system pinpoint the problems as.

As Studies go It is informative and fairly accurate, but in the end it is a study-neat and tidy, devoid of the human suffering that is at the very core of its findings. In the end we are left with the crucial question; Since we now know what the problems are, will we finally commit to fixing them? How many lives must be lost, and destroyed, how much unnecessary grief and collective suffering before the various arms of our governments see fit to take action?

Nov 27, 2008

An Effort to Integrate Crime Data in Conn Gets a Chief -

Good news; a new chief has been appointed to head up the States brand new centralized criminal data base.

The database was conceived of and passed into legislation during last years emergency session called over the states criminal judicial crisis-The sessions were a direct outgrowth of several murders that occurred over a short time span in the second half of 2007. In each case the crimes were committed by recent parolees, all of whom had lengthy criminal records, were given plea deals that involved reduced prison time and charges, and then in some instances paroled after less than half of their already- reduced sentences.

Although there were clearly several missteps in the judicial handling of nearly every one of the criminals involved in these crimes, lack of communication between the states various judicial arms was a central theme.

Many state residents have been waiting to see the myriad of criminal/ judicial changes that were voted into legislation last year, become a reality. Among these, a new parole board, which was to include at least one full time criminal psychologist, as well as monies allocated for the hiring of new prosecutors, and presumably the re-training of existing ones.

This last reform is of critical importance and needs clearer clarification for the people of this state; The wording of the bill was extremely vague, especially considering the amount of money that was involved. Ie When the bill was first proposed it was to be for the hiring of more prosecutors period-the logic being that our courts were going to be trying more criminal cases in the future and plea bargaining less-this as information re the states inordinately high percentage of plea bargaining -96 percent of all criminal cases) came to light after the home invasions and murders in Cheshire and new Britain.Since is original inception however, I have seen the verbage of this bill twisted this way and that until one can no longer be certain exactly what those monies, specifically 600,000, is allocated to.

One thing remains clear and that is that we, the conscientious citizens of this state must keep a vigilant eye on the legislature and our courts for the practical application of each and every bill that was passed in the wake of last years tragic murders. The price paid for these measures were human lives and suffering. This includes the so called persistent offender bill that was passed in lieu of a public backed true three strikes bill; I have seen virtually nothing insofar as any data gathered regarding how -and indeed if, our courts are implementing this critical piece of new legislature. I hope this law is not rendered merely another phantom bill passed in what we can presume is good faith by the house, with no actual usability in our recalcitrant Connecticut courts.

Nov 19, 2008

A Sanguine Birthday

The following Birthday memorial was taken from this weeks Hartford Courant; It was written and posted by Dr Bill Petit for his daughter Michaela who was taken from this world far too soon. Eleven years old at the time of her murder she would have been 13 years old this November.
Rest in peace and Happy Birthday Michaela, we are all striving to honor your memory by living the ideals that you so clearly prized,

MICHAELA ROSE PETIT Nov 17 1995-July 23 2007

"Happy 13th Birthday, You were starting to try to be the change you wanted to see in the world. At the end of your 5th grade year you asked me about Barack Obama. Today you would be whooping it up with your friends, as your candidate won it all. Elizabeth is trying to keep your memory alive with and she is doing a great job. Your simple beauty and kindness is juxtaposed. "Deeds of kindness are equal in weight to all the commandments." (The TALMUD) Your cousins Andrew Paige Brooke Abby Molly Jacob Lydia Evan Michael Tristan Katherine Josh and Hannah, all miss you and think of you as their hero.
Your classmates and friends from Cheshire Academy Cheshire United Methodist Church and Chase Collegiate School as well as your "big sisters" from Miss Porters think of you every day. Your scholarship fund purchased a book of some of the poems of Robert Frost for all the 7th graders at Chase; the first stanza of " RELUCTANCE"

"Out through the fields and woods And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view And looked at the world and descended;
I have come by the highway home And lo it is ended. "

Our time with you ended far too soon and I still look over the walls and hills to see you.
I miss you and love you but know you are in the God's loving embrace. "

All My Love,
Your Dada"

Nov 17, 2008

Suggestions To Help State Budget

The excerpt below was taken from the linked article in this weeks Hartford Courant. Its
about about the obscene money that the state of Connecticut is spending on things like 24 hr prison guards who are posted on the two men that are awaiting trial for the murder and assaults of the Petit family in July 2007.

The costs of the guards alone is over 300, 000 year and this does not include the additional monies spent on roof snipers, special guards and deputies that accompany both men individually to every single court date related to thier respective cases.

As well we should consider that the state is also paying for an exhaustive criminal defense for what is a death penalty capital murder case; Both have public attorneys that are high up on the states pay-scale, due to their longevity and position---
And rather ironically we are of course also paying to prosecute these same men that we are paying to defend so vigorously-this is being handled by one of the top prosecutors in the state and his team of lawyers, investigators, paralegals and clerks, And the word is that the actual trial for this case is not expected to ven begin until sometime in 2010! Besides that fact that this time period is a travesty of justice for Dr Petit and the family of the victims, That's also another 2 years of paying for their prison upkeep; their food. tioletries, television, books and of course their dental and medical needs-something that many hard working and law abiding citizens cannot afford for themselves and thus must do without. Steven Hayes the older of the two defendents has reportedly been given anti-anxiety and pain medication on a daily basis for unknown"conditions" since he was first incarcerated.

The truth be told, this is just the tip of the iceberg re the state money spent on these two men,- And thus, each time I hear a legislator say something to the effect of how much money a three strikes law would cost the state-I say... take a look at what not having a repeat offender law or responsible senetencing practices, has cost us .! Just look at this case alone; if we had kept even one of these two men in prison, where they both clearly belonged, regardless of whether they committed the crimes against the Petit family or not, (noone should serve 3 1/2 years for over 20 felony convictions and even more actual charges as Komisarjevsky did ) we would have saved millions of dollars and much more importantly, Hayley, Michaela and Jennifer Petit would still be alive, spreading their goodness and compassion all around them.

"I understand that Hayes has been under a one-to-one watch since July 2007. That means each day, one correction officer on each eight-hour shift is assigned to watch Hayes in his cell. The person assigned to it is either on overtime or someone is called in to fill the regular job of the person assigned to Hayes and is paid overtime. That's time and a half most days, and double time and a half on some holidays. If a chemical agent has to be used in a nearby cell, that officer is not allowed to move. He or she sits there.

Here's the stupefying math: With regular overtime, we can estimate it's costing $40 an hour to watch Hayes for 168 hours a week . That's $6,720 a week, $349,440 a year. No other Northern prisoner has ever been on a one-to-one watch for more than a couple of weeks.

Hayes is neither an assaultive inmate nor a gang member. If he's a suicide risk, there's a medical unit at Northern. There's also Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown where, according to the DOC website, "adult male offenders with significant mental health issues have been consolidated at this Level 4 high-security facility."

Some spending cuts will be painful. Plenty, however, won't hurt at all. Start with Steven Hayes. Spending $350,000 a year on a fiend taunts taxpayers.

• Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at

Suggestions To Help State Budget --

Nov 15, 2008

"Operation Fuzzy"

Just when I think I simply cannot bear another day of bad news about yet another violent crime, along comes a hero or two just in the nick of time, to reaffirm my faith in the basic goodness of mankind.

Today this story was about an organization called the Frank Foundation and their project to help child victims of sexual abuse called "Operation Fuzzy." I stumbled upon a story about it
on former FBI profiler John Douglas's Mind hunter website and was at once saddened and moved by the back story, as is usually the case when reading about any victim support programs for children. On one hand I despise the fact that a program of this sort is even needed for children who have been sexually abused -while at the same time, the me that is grounded in reality, knows too well that there are hundreds of kids that will benefit from just such a program this year alone.

Needless to say, it's a thoughtful and wonderful program that helps fulfill a sad and unfortunately viable need; helping children to cope with the aftermath of sexual abuse crime. And like most programs of its kind, it is in dire need of funding, especially during these difficult economic times when donations and funding are at their thinnest.

The program, like so many others like it, was founded by people who have lived through their own life changing experience with crime; Two mothers of children whoe were victims of sexual abuse decided to take their mutual pain and turn it into effort, in order to fulfill a need that they were both intimately aware existed; helping children to better communicate, and cope with the painful aftermath of sexual abuse.

To read more about the Frank foundation and Operation Fuzzy, and/or to make a donation, please visit their website The Franks Foundation

Nov 13, 2008

Bloggers Against Abuse revisited


The above link will bring you to a very good article that helps explain how and why abusive relationships happen and evolve. We often hear " why does she stay with the abuser, she must want to be abused.... right? An emphatic no is the answer to this question!

It is not true that if the victim REALLY wanted to leave, she simply would for There is an emotional and psychological breaking down of the abuse victim that typically occurs long before the physical abuse begins, And this is then only excarcerbated as a result of the physical brutalization and ithe inherent fear involved with knowing what the batterer is capable of-
And it is this cycle that keeps the victim in the grasp of her batterer.

In order to understand how this happens, we would all do well to give ourselves and our loved ones a short course on the" battered woman syndrome", a term coined by psychologist Lenore walker, a therapist who has studied thousands of battered women as well as men that batter, and has made landmark discoveries about the nature of abusive relationships as a result.
She has written several books compiling all of the information that she has gleaned thru hundreds of studies and interviews. The books are very readable, easily teaching the average person about the previously mysterious nature ofdoestic violence. Walker has changed the way that partner violence is understood and to a lesser extent, how it's handled within our criminal justice system.

There is a quote by Voltaire 'that says "Evil exists when good men do nothing" and in the case of domestic violence and violent crime in general, this sentiment is especially apt/
So much pain and suffering could be avoided if more people would simply become involved when they see or hear of abusive situations within the realm of thier daily lives. In fact If I could have one wish for the coming new year it would be for all of us to make the following pledge...

'If I suspect that someone I know is being abused or is in danger of being abused, I will report the abuse or the potentialr abuse to the appropriate authorities. I will thus avail myself of the local agencies and authorities for Domestic and partner violence, and educate myself and my(age appropriate) loved ones about the methods for safe intervention on behalf of an abused or endangered person.

All change must begin on an individual and community level Violent predators and batterers are out there and they are not going away- our complacency and our unwillingness to think about these"unpleasant things" have been their accomplice for too many years. From serial rapists and murderers to domestic batterers, these people often live among us. They are not the bogeymen of our childhood fairytalesand imaginations, in fact, they are often innocuous and unassuming in appearance, which only serves to aid and abet their predatory habits--They are more likely to be trusted because they blend in.. To see a terrible example of this in action, watch the next episode of dateline's "To catch a Predator" The would- be pedophiles that are nabbed in the midst of trying to seduce underage children for sex, are consistently average- looking men, usually middle Class to upper middle class. many are married, with children of their own, including the men who were trying to seduce very young boys.
This show only proved that predators are manipulative-and very good at playing the part of responsible "normal "people These are traits that are hallmarks of the sociopath persona -a personality disorder that is a common thread in sex criminals and Batterers.

The good news is that with a shift in awareness, we can begin to re-shape our societys attitudes surrounding this issue and we will then see a sharp decline in the violence that seems to be growing upon itself in our suburbs and our cities, in our streets and our living rooms. As the message gets carried forth that any and all violent crime will be treated the most severely no matter the relationship between assailant and victim, that it will result in a dogged pursuit of conviction and a maximum prison sentence, it will soon become more and more of a rarity. And the entire landscape of this country will change. This is my hope anway--Please do your part.

Nov 9, 2008

National Domestic Violence Hotline Desperately Needs Money

On September 30th, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) answered its two millionth call. This milestone represents two million families that have received help and hope since the Hotline’s inception in 1996

Now, the National Domestic Violence Hotline needs our help. It is running out of money at a time when it will be most needed. With weather disasters, economic displacement and the approaching holidays, the Hotline will be challenged more than ever as families cope with mounting financial and emotional strain.

Their goal is to raise $1 million by the end of the year so the Hotline can continue to answer the ever-increasing calls from those in need. Plain and simple, more people will die if there is no one to answer the phones.

The Hotline’s success underscores the importance of helping our friends and neighbors when they are most vulnerable. Domestic violence does not discriminate among its victims. It has devastating consequences for families who endure it and communities that tolerate it.

You’ve seen the recent headlines in the news. Domestic violence and the tragedy it entails can happen to anyone from the Hudson family to your own friends and family.

During 2008, call volume for the Hotline rose by approximately 1,000 more calls each month as a direct result of the country’s worsening financial conditions and the burden this places on family and relationships. At the same time, funding from private sources has been cut dramatically. A staff reduction was implemented in October, but the Hotline will be forced to lay off many of its advocates without immediate emergency funding.

You can help right now. All contributions are tax deductible. Please send contributions to: National Domestic Violence Hotline, P.O. Box 161810, Austin, Texas 78716. or give on-line at

Or for more information, you may contact Ann Dowdy at 800-525-1978.

You can also help by forwarding this Post to friends, family and colleagues. You will be helping people break the cycle of domestic violence to build a more stable and joyful future for themselves and their families.

Nov 5, 2008

Riverside County Cal to pursue extradition trial for Joseph Duncan

It looks like the state of California is trying to extradite Joseph Duncan from Idaho in order to try him for the 1997 assault and murder of little Anthony Martinez. Duncan just began serving 6 life sentences as well as awaiting a death sentence, all of which were bestowed for the crimes he committed against the Groene/Mackenzie family, including the kidnap and murder of 9 year old Dylan Groene in June 2005.

Duncan allegedly confessed to the 1996 murder of Anthony Martinez, as well as two other child murders, all committed while he was on Parole for the aggravated rape of a 14 year old boy.
The Martinez case is historic in that it was actually solved well before Duncan's confession, by of all things, an amateur crime blogger, by the name of Steve huff, who had been closely following the Groene case on his blog.

Huff used the Internet as his primary source for tracking Duncan's whereabouts in relation to various unsolved child murders that had occurred in the same geographic areas that Duncan was known to have been within the proper time frame of those murders. What made this possible at all was the fact that Joesph Duncan was keeping a blog himself in which he recounted many of his travel and vacation activities. This, amid self persecutory rants that were supposed to enlighten society to the sex offenders terrible plight.

There were those in fact that felt thatDuncan was actually using the blog as an alibi measure in case he was "accused" of any child crimes in his area. The problem is that he was in fact guilty of just such crimes and thus, inevitably his online journal helped to place him in several crime scene vicinities; That is, if anyone was compelled to put the information together. Steve huff did just that, and as one of his original readers, I was privy to the entire thing as it unfolded.
It was impressive for a so-called amateur.

Where does all of this leave little Shasta Groene, the now 11 year old lone survivor of a quadruple murder/ kidnapping? She is finally done with the criminal cases connected to those crimes and is reportedly beggining to heal. No easy task considering that she has had to hold on to the horrible memories of the entire experience in case she was needed to testify against the man that had committed such brutality against her and her beloved family.

On Monday, the very last group of charges against Joseph Duncan were adjudicated with a heaping of 4 more life sentences added atop the 3 he already was serving for the first murders of Shasta's mom, step dad and older brother Slade.

According to Police sources, Duncan reportedly also told the then 8 year old Shasta that he killed Anthony Martinez , going so far as to give details of the crime, this while he had shasta in captivity! And thus, she may very well be called to testify in Anthony's murder trial in California next year. Her dad Steve Groene, wants to avoid this at all costs and he has made it very clear that he thinks that a trial for Anthony is unnecessary, in that it is redundant and costly in terms of both money and pain to all the families involved.

The state of California in turn believes that it owes Anthony and his family, a trial whereby his murderer is formally brought to justice for kidnapping assaulting and taking his life.
This is a tough one and I personally feel that the parents of little Anthony should decide
if there is a trial or not. For some people it would be a pointless formality, but for others, the only way that they can feel a sense of closure. Either way, let the family decide.

Nov 4, 2008

Time and Old Wounds: Dr. Petit's Strikes

Below in the italicized text is an article culled from a Blog called "Red Notes from a blue state" written by writer/ columnist Don Pesci.

I particularly identified with the closing statement of Dr Petit's, for indeed so many crime victims feel once again victimized by the very system that is in place to protect and provide justice for them. There is even a name for it now its called legal abuse syndrome.
Perhaps in 2009 Connecticut will address this in a viable, honest fashion.

Time and Old wounds; Dr Petit's "strikes"
There are some wounds time won’t heal. Such is the murder of three members of Dr. William Petit’s household.

The household -- Dr. Petit, his wife and two daughters – was attacked by two career criminals, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, both on parole.

A recent news story – “Second look, A Year After Cheshire Home Invasion, William Petit Speaks Up For Tougher Crime Laws” – pithily describes what happened: “On a July night in 2007, intruders clubbed and trussed Petit at his home in Cheshire, the start of an ordeal that ended with the deaths of his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Hayley, 17, and 12-year-old Michaela.

“Hawke-Petit and Michaela were raped. The mother was strangled. Both daughters were left bound in their beds, the house doused with gasoline and set afire.”

The scene of the crime has since disappeared. Where before there was a house and a family, now there is nothing. The erasure process, sometimes confused with a healing process, has now begun. It is as if Huns had appeared out of the black night, destroyed a village, burnt it to the ground and sowed the scene of the devastation with salt, so that not even the memory of the village would survive.

Since the commission of the crime, Dr. Petit has given up his practice and devoted himself to a worthy cause: He has become, according to one news story, “an activist now, willing to stand with any candidate who pledges to support a mandatory life sentence on violent three-time felons.”

"I support the Three Strikes Now Coalition and the concept because I feel it's the government's first duty to protect its citizens," Petit said. "I'm not sure we need much government if the government can't protect us."

The two vandals will be prosecuted under Connecticut’s Rube Goldberg-like death penalty process, and by the time justice is finally served, there will be, it may be safely predicted, dozens of “second looks.” Dr. Petit, the sole survivor of the murder of his family, will have miles to go before he sleeps. Ahead of him lies the trial of the two career criminals, a series of appeals, a mandatory sentencing, common in death penalty cases, trial appeals, sentencing hearing appeals, and finally, at the end of a seemingly interminable string of trials, re-trials, hearings, rehearings, appeals and unexpected interventions, Dr. Petit may, if he is not by that time spiritually exhausted, receive an approximation of justice.

We have seen this process in play during the trial and execution of Michael Ross, a legally twisted affair in which a judge philosophically opposed to the death penalty intervened in the case at the last moment and bullied Ross’ lawyer with the suspension of his law license until he agreed to yet another death penalty hearing. Even Ross, by this time, was exhausted: He wanted the death penalty imposed, if only to spare the families of his eight victims further unnecessary emotional suffering.

One of the fathers of the last 14 year-old girl murdered by Ross weathered all the media hoopla, all the trials and hearings, many more than three, and after Ross’ execution was delayed once again by the intervening judge, some solicitous reporter stuck a mic in his face and asked him for his “reaction.”

The face that looked out at the camera was spiritually wasted.

“Everything has been said.”

The dogged reporter asked him again for his reaction, and she was greeted with an exhausted silence.

No one was counting the number of strikes, many more than three, the man had been lashed with.

The Ross trial now has become a distant memory. It will appear in reports during the Hayes and Komisarjevsky trial as a piquant statistic.

"Even now,” Dr Petit said in a recent interview, “you feel like you are being abused. Somebody murders your family in 2007, and they tell you they're going to go to trial in 2010. Wow, what a great system we have."
Posted by Don Pesci at 11:47 PM
Time and Old Wounds: Dr. Petit's Strikes

Mike Lawlor: Soft On Crime

Very good, and timely, article in this week's "headless horseman"

Oct 30, 2008

Say No To Violence Against Women

Hey all...
Please visit the above link and read up on this great new International Program for combating violence against women affiliated with the United Nations. You can help by adding your name to the "Say No to Violence Against Women" Campaign.

There are only a few more days left in Domestic Violence Awareness Month so please do your part in raising awareness for this life and death issue!

Oct 24, 2008

Jury foreman for Duncan trial still haunted

This article is a perfect example of just how far reaching each and every violent crime can be.
A few months back I read a different article about one of the Policeman who was called down to the original crime scene at the Groene/Mcckenzie home in Cour de lene idaho.

He was one of the men that found the the bodies of Brenda and Slade Groene and Mark Mchzenzie, each of them brutally murdered by Joseph Duncan 111 a convicted and out on bail sexual predator with a history of violence. That policeman wound up so deeply disturbed by the crimes that he thought to leave the force completely, but instead took four months off in order to find a way to process the evil that he had been witness to.

This most recent story is about the Jury foreman from the second trial for joesph duncan- This trial was for the kidnapping of 8 year old Shasta and her brother, the sexual ccrimes against them and the eventual murder of 9 year old Dylan Groene. Duncan, who pled guilty, was given the death penalty after a 3 hour deliberation.
Many members of the Jury, as well as the media that were in court daily covering the trial, admit to being boldly affected by these crimes. There was video evidence shown in the courtroom of Dylan Groene being abused horribly by Duncan, and anyone who has seen the video relates the same feelings of helpless anguish, terrpr-and yes, furious anger. Anger against not only the man that perpetrated these vile acts, but the system that saw fit to release joseph Duncan so easily despite his dangerous past.
Jury foreman for Duncan trial still haunted

Oct 22, 2008

State-wide support for Three strikes law continues to grow

There will be a news conference held in Bristol tomorrow afternoon covering another official show of support for a State-wide Three strikes law.

Participating will be assemblyman William Hamzy, who strongly supported A three strikes bill in last years legislative sessions, and GA candidate for the 77th district seat, Elizabeth Fitzgerald.
She will be signing an official promise to vote for a meaningful three strikes law for the state if she is elected.
Dr William Petit sole suvivor of last years triple murder in Cheshire will also be in attendence acting on behalf of the Three strike Now coalition a grassroots organization devoted to the passage of a solid three strikes law for Connecticut.

This is a good time to remind every Connecticut resident to pay close attention to your own town Representives and candidates regarding their position concerning both the three strikes bill as well as violent crime in general. ie What is there voting record on any and all bills concerning crime? (And remember to look at past years voting records, not just recent election years.)
How did they vote in last years emergency special sessions on crime and the regular session in Jauuary, where many violent crime issues prompted by multiple statewide fatal crimes- were addressed and voted on?
All legislative sessions are now televised live on Connecticuts local cable channel and thus video transcripts are available to the public. Watching them is often an eye opener insofar as how our law makers really operate.

I suggest that as conscientious citizens, we use our voting power and our voice to make a strong statement to the leaders of this state That we will no longer tolerate a laissez faire approach to the operation of our Connecticut courts-we simply cannot afford to any longer.

Last year both Governor Rell and several key legislators assured us that the few reforms that were passed were not a quick fix and indeed were" just the beginning"- of a statewide revamping of what is clearly a problematic judicial system.
Lets show our lawmakers that we have not forgotten this promise.
Fitzgerald, Hamzy to back three strikes law

Oct 18, 2008

Petit family campaigns for 3 Strikes Law Redux

One has to be impressed with the Petit family's tenacity insofar as their inexhaustive championing of a three strikes law for the state of Connecticut.

Dr William Petit, as most of us know, lost his wife and two daughters in a violent home invasion that occurred in Cheshire
last July. The two men who committed the murders each had over 20 felony convictions on their individual records, and were both on parole when the murders occurred, one, after serving just over a third of his original sentence!

The older of the two defendants, Steven Hayes, had a history of breaking the terms of his parole each and every time he'd been granted it. He also had numerous write ups in a recent halfway house stint the last of which resulted in his being returned to prison. Three months later he was granted parole nonetheless.

Last year, following the scrutiny of this brutal crime's aftermath, and a subsequent state-wide push for a three strikes sentencing law, there was heard a constant refrain from many democratic legislators (with judiciary committee co-chair Mike lawlor somehow always loudest and always leading the pack ) they claimed that "A three strikes law would not have prevented the Petit crimes from happening anyway had it been in existence at the time !" Albeit a moot point in the grand scheme of things, it was still only partly true and misleading at that: The crime of night time home break ins or robbery when the home owner was in the home, was not considered a violent or serious felony prior to the Petit crimes.
Using common sense as a guide, it clearly should have been considering the potential for violence. But as it was, it was a felony that at that time would not qualify as a "strike" under most of the proposed versions of the various three strikes bills bandied about in last years legislative sessions.

This is pertinent because Mr Komisarjevsky, co defendant in the Petit murderers (and considered the probable mastermind of the crimes), had created for himself a specialty of sorts, committing just such break-ins, citing to police that he "didn't get a rush if people weren't home when he broke in' .
He had over 23 convictions across several counties for this type of burglary, almost all of them committed while the homeowner were home and sleeping- nonetheless in Connecticut at least it had been rather recklessly treated as a lower level non-violent felony, despite all of our hard won knowledge regarding criminal psychology and the evolution of predators.

After the Petit crimes the Connecticut General Assembly was prompted to create a new crime of "home invasion " ,which they defined as any residential break in that is committed at night, a time when presumably most people are in their homes, the thinking being that this increases
the likelihood of a confrontation and the potential for violence and loss of life is thus very high.

Many people, including myself, were very disappointed that Connecticut legislators did not see fit to re-categorize all break ins as home invasions, This would have automatically qualified any illegal break in into our home as a class b (ie violent) felony, which had the duofold benefit of carrying the accompanying severe prison sentence as well as qualifying as a strike under the sates repeat offender law.. This would make a clear statement that our homes are sacred and off limits and if you break into a home for self preservation we will have to consider your motive as being the most sinister; rape murder assault.or all of these.
At the very least as a compromise the state could have designated any home break that occurs at night or when the resident is in the home, as an automatic home invasion/class b violent felony.

All of this simply follows the logic that many folks do not work a 9 to 5 schedule, including third shift employees, stay at home moms and other such retired residents .This adds up to plenty of innocent people being in their homes during daylight hours. Despite several versions of the home invasion law that did include similar provisions, the nighttime version was the one that passed muster.

And as if the universe were conspiring to send just such a terrible message- just months after all of the legislative wrangling, a fatal daytime home invasion occurred in a middle class suburb of New Britain ; Two elderly women enjoying an after church brunch were home invaded,robbed and one shot in her head and left for dead. The second woman was then abducted by the intruder who had just shot her friend, she was sexually assaulted and then shot herself, her body dumped in some bushes some 20 miles from her home.
The home invader/ murderer..? A newly paroled felon with a criminal history that included
a sexual assault of a 10 year old child. Another Predator on parole.,2933,343675,00.html

Now bear in mind that A three strikes proposal calls for SEVERE life sentence after a third violent felony conviction . A conviction is not an arrest or a charge, And yes there is a big distinction; The average number of crimes actually committed by a defendant before he/she is actually convicted of one, is ridiculously high in our state, this is largely due to the inordinately high number of plea bargains, Nollie's and dropped cases in so many Connecticut courts.
There are an inordinate amount of what amounts to "freebie" crimes that simply fall by the wayside within what has become Connecticut's administrative processing of, rather than adjudication of, even our most serious crimes.

Case in point: Joshua Komsiarjevsky was convicted for over 22 home break ins/ robberies,
most of which, as I mentioned, were committed while the unsuspecting home owner was in the home- a dangerous scenario indeed. !
His eventual plea deal involved dropping outright a total of 14 charges within the "deals" that he was given. An entire crime spree in one separate jurisdiction was dropped and he was given "time served" for that succession of robberies, this for the short time that he was in jail awaiting trial on a separate set of break-ins.

This same offender was also given a number of breaks by various police departments who handled his multiple arrests and the drawing up of his warrants; They could have easily charged him with several other crimes within his robbery sprees, serious crimes, such as stalking, To which he freely admitted doing with his robbery targets, prior to breaking in to their home. He sometimes even used tools which hed ordered on the Internet, such as night vision goggles in order to watch his targets from their own yards.
Yet possibly due to his young age or perhaps his families roots within the community, this offender was not even charged with every crime that he actually committed and was given big breaks all the way from his arrests to his plea deals in court to his prison sentences, and eventual early parole- A parole that was clearly ill advised, not just in hindsight due to the Petit murders, but based upon the fact that it was approved by the Connecticut parole board with a scant amount of his criminal history files or sentencing reports-oversights that were not exclusive to this case,we were to learn in the wake of the Cheshire crimes.
It had been going on for years and indeed had become the status quo.

Three people are now dead as a result of the many criminal/ judicial leniency's and oversights, most of which would seem built- in to our present Connecticut judicial system.
However there are many other victims of this very same system, this set of crimes were just so glaringly over the top brutality-wise that they begged us all to peer into the system that allowed it to happen. What we found was preposterous.

As such, no one can blame the lone survivor of these murders, a man who not only lost his family, but was assaulted so severely himself, that he nearly died---for trying to spearhead a better more rigid sentencing system for our state? A system not built around a revolving door for dangerous repeat offenders to brutalize more people, destroy more lives.
It is too late for Dr Petits wife and daughters but it is not too late for the many others who will be victims if nothing changes.

For concerned citizens who would like to support a three strikes sentencing law, or at least
find out more about it, Please follow this link, read the accompanying info and hopefully add your name to the list of

Oct 11, 2008

A heartbreaking memorial video

This link will bring you to a terribly sad video but I suggest that you watch it nonetheless.
It is a tribute to the many children who were abducted and murdered in the United states in past several years. It is obviously heartbreaking, but also extremely sobering -to be faced with one beautiful little face after the next, each one sharing a terrible fate; Their innocent lives were all snuffed out by violent predators, many of whom had prior criminal histories but were given light sentences which in turn placed them squarely in the path of our children.

After watching this video I suggest that you take the inevitable heartbreak that you'll feel and put it to good use; Make a commitment to all children as well as yourself to take positive action this year towards the abolition of crimes against children.

You can start with your own home-state, by working toward any and all criminal /Judicial reforms that are necessary in insuring that all crimes against children are prosecuted responsibly and severely.

Many of you will say to yourselves 'of course I want to protect our kids... but how would I even begin such an endeavour-I know nothing about our courts and prison system.?'
You will need to first do some investigating into your states current laws and sentencing practices regarding both violent crime in general, and all crimes against children This means finding out what is actually being carried out in your states courts, not simply what laws are on the books. Many times, special sentencing laws exist in states which allow prosecutors to impose stricter prison terms for potentially dangerous or repeat predators, but they are rarely if ever.

This needs to stop, and the first step towards this end would be acquainting oneself with your state's particular weaknesses and strengths re violent crime and crimes against children; This includes sentencing guidelines and actual procedure, minimum sentencing and very importantly, parole procedure both formal and actual, bail policies, IE do minimums exist and what are average bail amounts imposed for violent crime and crimes involving children, and remember These two groups of crimes are usually handled in a like fashion.

Be certain to include statistics for so called "lesser" crimes that have historically been treated in some courts as " nuisance "crimes, despite reams of profiling research that clearly proves that these "lesser" crimes are very often criminal precursors to later abductions, sexual assaults, and murder. In effect they are red flags for our courts for marking potential predators.

Crimes such as exposing oneself to a minor, sexual molestation without "actual rape" or penetration, or molestation not accompanied by violence, These types of crimes until very recently have been treated as lower level classes of crime by many many courts, often leading to tragic consequences for children who are then unnecessarily exposed to repeat offenders who have been already caught and thus within the grasp of our system through out varying stages of their criminal evolution.

Joseph Duncan was one such predator; He was in fact bailed out and on the lam for one such "annoyance" type crime when he decided to go on his now infamous murderous rampage in Coure de lene Idaho, where he eventually killed an entire family ;Brenda Groene, mother if 3, her fiance Mark McKenzie and their 13 year old son were all bludgeoned to death with a framing hammer in their own home in order to kidnap the two youngest children for sadistic pedophilia.
he ultimately killed one of the two children, sweet faced Dylan Greene, then was caught by police with 8 year old Shasta still alive, tho the lone survivor of what turned out to be the most horrific set of crimes against children ever within this century.

Duncan's bail amount for his latest run- in with the law was set at a ridiculous 15,000 dollars by an inept or lazy- prosecutor, despite multiple felony convictions on his record all committed when he was only 17 years of age for what turned out to be the kidnap, rape and torture of a much younger boy at gunpoint!

Thankfully Duncan served the full sentence possible for that crime, as once in custody, the state of Washington recognized his potential for further violence and responsibly did their absolute best to keep him institutionalized for as long as the law would allow: This turned out to be a 20 year prison sentence, during which time he admitted to psychologists that he'd actually raped a total of 16 boys by the time he was 14, although he was never caught for 15 of the rapes.

The subsequent crime that Duncan was bailed out over involved him pulling down pants of two little boys at a school playground, and videotaping the incident. Fortunately, A nearby adult saw the commotion and intervened. Duncan fled but was later recognized in a mugshot by witnesses- He was a registered sex offender due to his very first RAPE conviction. Bear in mind too that the entire sex offender registry was the work of a group of tenacious child crime activists, all led by the parents of a murdered child. This system saves hundreds of lives every year and would not be in existence if not for the hard work of some regular citizens like you and I, who cared enough to go the extra mile-for our innocent children...

The judge who took all of the flak for releasing Joseph Duncan on such a low bail amount has stated that he was never made aware of Duncan's criminal past. Knowing how most courts daily dockets run, I would say that this was a failure on the part of the prosecutor, for the judge typically defers to him at all pre-trial hearings, such as Duncan's standard arraignment and bail hearing.
bottom line is that had that court done its job properly, Joseph Duncan would have been immediately recognized as a dangerous repeat offender that was acting out criminally once again on defenseless children And thus, what at first glance could appear to be "just" some park pervert child molester, was in fact a level 3 dangerous SEX offender with a criminal history of kidnapping and rape. Thus it would have been surmised that he was likely attempting to do the same with the little boys that he had tried to molest and film that day.

. Tragically, his past was not known to the court, either because a multi-state criminal record check was not conducted prior to the bail hearing, or worse, it was known to the prosecutor ,and he didn't pass this crucial information to the judge, nor consider it himself when recommending a bail amount.

Note ; a 15,000 bail equates to a 1500 dollar bond via the use of the standard bail bondsman. which is made available at every courthouse to any person charged with a crime. 10 percent of the total bail amount is all that a bondsman asks for up front by the defendant.

The type of crime that Joseph Duncan was arrested for one month before the kidnapping and murders of the Groene family needs to be recognized and treated as the serious "bridge" type crime that it in fact actually is. It is at this point in a child predators criminal career that we need to end that "career" via a zero tolerance policy. This must include bail constraints, rigorous sentencing and complete probation and parole limits for any crimes against children.

We have long known that child predators have extremely high recidivism rates It is high time to apply all of our hard -won knowledge to the practical end of our criminal justice systems, as this is where we are clearly weakest. Please get involved.

Oct 6, 2008

Donate old cell phones for Domestic Violence Awareness month

October is Domestic violence awareness month and this is a great opportunity to become more involved with this important cause.

We know that domestic and partner violence is all around us, the papers and evening news are filled with stories about women who have lost thier lives at the hands of husbands. ex husbands boyfriends and dating partners. Yet many people are still reluctant to talk about the core issue of partner violence and they often dont know what to do when a friend or loved one becomes involved in a potentially abusive relationship.

The numbers of teenage girls who report having been physically abused in some form or another within thier dating relationships, is at a record high. For the sake of our youth we must address this issue now and with a vengeance, We simply cannot afford another silent generation of domestic violence victims and those who enable this kind of abuse with thier silence or complacency. Awareness is the very first step towards eradicating partner Violence.; Learn about the signs of an abusive relationship and the personality traits of abusive partners--there are classic warning signs and it is often within the early stages of a relationship that the would be abuser is gauging whether or not his partner will make a "good" victim, consciously or otherwise. .

We want our teenage children and young women to respond in a strong and assertive manner if they finds themself involved with any abusive person-or situation. Remember, there are almost always other signs that precede any actual hands on violence, and this can include verbal abuse, threats, controlling or coercive behavior, and extreme jealousy and possessiveness, which often starts early on within the dating relationship.

In 2006 The national domestic violence hotline and Liz Claiborne combine forces to form a 24 hour national teen dating violence hotline and website for teens and young women and men up to age of 24, who have questions or concerns about abuse within thier reltionships or just want general information for themselves or a friend. This website hotline venture is aptly called Have a visit, and look around.

For instructions on Donating your old cell phone(s) follow this link;

Domestic Violence Awareness Month -

Click on this link for lots of information on DV and for more ways to get involved within your community.

Sep 27, 2008

Cindy Renn Talks About Petit family Crimes

Below is an honest and heartbreaking look at the effects of the Petit family murders, from the perspective of family member Cindy Renn, only sibling and sister of Jennifer Hawke Petit, the 48 year old mother of two who, along with her two daughters Hayley and Michaela, was murdered in last years home invasion in Cheshire. The story is excerpted from a local newspaper in Cindys home state of North Carolina.

In my opinion, stories like this are most essential when it comes to violent crimes. For many people, it is only in hearing about the personal details of the crime that they can truly grasp the scope of life-altering pain that is part and parcel of every violent crime. It is within these details that most news stories do not delve. Typically, we are given an antiseptic recounting of the facts of "the case", how many murdered, when and how and by whom, or we are fed a voyeuristic seeming clutch of details regarding the crimes, usually for the sake of sensationalism equals ratings.Meanwhile all would seem to steer clear of any coverage of the true human element; the spiritual and moral crisis that occurrs when any of us becomes intimate with violence and brutatlity committed against one human being by another.
This article which is in effect an interview, strays from the beaten path and cites such things; details like Mrs Renns heartbreaking account of her search to find any intact remnants of her sisters and nieces lives, left in the now burnt out shell of a home where the crimes took place: The terrible smell of the few items that she did manage to salvage, that repeated washings never seem to completely remove.

She shares with us in perfect recall her last phone conversation with her sister on the day of the murders, and the self-tortuous thoughts that if she had only kept her sister on the phone just a little while longer, maybe, just maybe, she could have somehow caused her and her niece to avoid their fateful intersection with the two men that wound up targeting and stalking them for an evening of criminal rampage.

These are but a few of the painful memories and emotional wranglings that this family has surely had to endure as a result of this crime. And while it is certainly tempting to turn away from these very real and very painful details, sparing ourselves the collateral pain that is sure to result from becoming privy to them, I propose that it is essential that we do not turn away, we do not turn the page.

At one point in the story Cindy wonders aloud about the last moments of her sister and her nieces lives,what they thought, what they felt as they were being prepped to be killed, horrible thoughts yes, but real- this happened, and we owe it to these victims to put ourselves in thier shoes when we visit this crime in our hearts and minds. We will then carry this feeling into any proper adjudication of this criminal case.

It is not neccesary to swim forever in these troubled waters however, and this is where it gets hard for some people, particularly the very sensitive among us and those closest to a crime like this. In the best scenario, we can take our feelings of empathy, outrage, grief and disgust and use them as powerful impetus for change within a system that too easily allowed this to happen.

The Bottomline is that as caring and compassionate human beings, we have a basic debt to our sisters or brothers that have fallen victim to violence, to allow ourselves to consider thier experience and to listen. Listen to thier pain, in doing so, we share in thier burden ever so gently, They are not alone.

At the end of the following reprinted article is a link to the story as originally published in The News Observer. It contains photos as well as an audio taped interview segment with Cindy Renn that is very moving.
CHAPEL HILL - Cindy Renn relives July 22, 2007, in her head every day.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. She was talking to her older sister. They had talked twice that day. They were planning an August trip to Carolina Beach.
"'I just can't wait to have a North Carolina beach vacation,'" Renn remembers her sister, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, saying.
Renn, of Chapel Hill, and Hawke-Petit, of Cheshire, Conn., were both busy raising teenagers, but they tried to get their families together at least once a year. As girls, the sisters had vacationed at Carolina Beach.

That day in July, they hung up from their first call. Then, later, Hawke-Petit called again to confirm that her whole family was coming.
Renn couldn't talk. She was on her way to her children's swim-team potluck. She told her sister she would call her right back once she got on her way.

She dialed her sister back -- she remembers it was at 5:33 p.m. No one answered.
Hanging up from that second call eats at Renn every day.
"If I had talked to her longer, they would not have met those guys in the parking lot," Renn says. "Maybe they wouldn't have been there."

She says this because she's pretty sure that after they hung up, her sister left home with her daughter Michaela, to go to the grocery store. And that's where police believe two men, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, both with long criminal histories, spotted them and followed them home.
About 3 a.m. the next day, police allege, those two men found an unlocked door and broke into the Petits' home. They terrorized the girls -- Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17 -- and one drove Hawke-Petit to a Bank of America to withdraw money. When they returned, police say, they killed Renn's sister and her daughters.
It's a case that echoes the killing of UNC student body president Eve Carson. According to reports, two men with long criminal histories kidnapped Carson early in the morning and drove her to a Bank of America, forcing her to withdraw money. Then they shot her, in a neighborhood that resembles the Petits' Cheshire subdivision.
For Renn, the randomness of her sister's death -- and Carson's -- haunts her. That something so horrible could happen for no reason, on such an ordinary day, forced her view of the world from an optimistic, upbeat outlook to losing her belief in innocence.

It's why she goes over the details that would have changed the outcome. A preschool teacher, Renn says she's afraid that she's obsessed with her grief.
Now, she has to learn to live with it the rest of her life.
'Just have to know'
The deaths of Hawke-Petit and her daughters made national headlines, covered by the likes of The New York Times, People magazine and Dateline NBC.
After the initial media blitz and memorial services with thousands in attendance, Renn was left to figure out how to grieve such a violent event that left three family members dead.
She's constantly checking the Web for new details on the case. She's read every article. Every affidavit. Every warrant. The transcripts of the 911 calls and police conversations.
"I just have to know; I have to understand how it happened," she says.
She knows that the intruders beat Hawke-Petit's husband, Billy Petit, with a baseball bat and tied him up, leaving him for dead in the basement. They went upstairs, raped Hawke-Petit and Michaela, and tied Hayley to her bed.
Before the sun rose, police believe, Hayes went to buy gasoline before taking Hawke-Petit to the bank, forcing her to withdraw $15,000. When they returned to the home, Hawke-Petit was strangled, and the gasoline was poured on the girls. The house was set on fire.The girls, tied to their beds, died of smoke inhalation.
Billy Petit, a prominent doctor in the area, escaped out of the basement. Then flames engulfed his home and his family.

The intruders tried to flee, but police had surrounded the house and arrested them six hours after they'd entered the Petit home.

Renn's thoughts are always going to the last minutes they faced. She wonders about her sister being raped and strangled; her little niece -- sweet, sweet Michaela -- being molested and Hayley, a tall girl who was about to start her freshman year at Dartmouth University, having gasoline poured on her.

Renn never says the names of the accused -- just calls them "the guys." She wants them to die.

"I didn't think I would have that anger," she says.

She's attended most of the hearings for the accused, including a pretrial in July where she sat just feet from Hayes and Komisarjevsky. She imagined her eyes being daggers, so with one look they would be dead.

"They just look like evil, puny, wimpy men, which is sort of surprising for what they pulled off," she says.

She plans to rent an apartment for the trial, expected to take place in 2010. "It makes me sad because when my son is a senior in high school, I will be leaving part of the year for the trial," she says. "I'll feel cheated out of that year of his life. But on the other hand, I feel obligated. I think my sister would have done it for me."

Brother-in-law had nothing

The day after the killings, Renn flew to Connecticut with her husband, Bill, their two children, and her parents.

They rushed to the hospital to see her brother-in-law, who had almost bled to death after suffering blows to his head.

"I know you don't want to see me," Renn remembers him saying as he lay in his hospital bed. "I know you wish it was her who was lying here."

Renn assured Billy they were grateful at least one person had survived. But he didn't want to be alive, she says.

As they sat in the hospital lobby, Renn saw her sister's face on the news. That's when she realized it really had happened. And this hit, too: Her brother-in-law had nothing. No house. No wife. No kids.

Renn went to her sister's house, too. From the front, it still looked like the idyllic sage green, American colonial on the corner lot the family had lived since 1989. From the back, it was just a shell, burned from the fire.

Everything inside was gone, including the family's pets. Renn and other family members endured the horrid smell of burned flesh as they searched for anything that could be saved. Renn grabbed a few things in the house: a summery pink and green skirt her sister loved; Hayley's Vera Bradley bookbag.

Both had to be washed dozens of times to get the smell out.

Renn is always scared. She's always making sure her doors are locked. When she goes to bed, she swears she hears people walking downstairs.

Nightmares haunt her sleep. In them, her house is on fire, and she thrashes around trying to figure out who to save first.

To cope, she wanted to connect with someone who'd gone through a similar experience, so she joined Compassionate Friends, a group for people who have lost a child or a sibling. She was too afraid to tell her story in detail until she met a woman whose daughter was stabbed to death.

"I thought I would scare everyone to death," she says. "I can't let them be horrified."

Carson was killed in March, just miles from Renn's home. Renn sobbed and didn't sleep for days after Carson's killing.

"That someone was running around in our own town," she says. "[Carson] seemed like a wonderful person."
Renn's church made a quilt for Carson's family; church members decorated the quilt squares. Renn wrote a note on her patch.
"I lost three family members to a violent murder," she wrote. "I feel for you and feel for your family."

Then she wrote her phone number and offered for them to call in case they wanted to talk.

A few months before the the deaths of her sister and nieces, Renn had read a true story, "Theresa: How God Orchestrated a Miracle," in which a 2-year-old was beaten, raped and left for dead but survived. Renn remembered that the girl's family in the book forgave the men who hurt their daughter.

"I thought it was odd that family was able to forgive them," Renn says.

But she wanted to make some of her hurt go away, so she decided she needed to forgive the men accused of killing her family.

She wrote letters to both men but never sent them.

She told them about her sister, who chose to become a nurse and take care of people, and how Renn had always looked up to her. She described her nieces: Michaela, an animal lover who always befriended the outsiders, and Hayley, a rower who had plans to follow in her father's footsteps and become a doctor.

"They were everything to us," Renn wrote.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be your teacher to have taught you the basics," she wrote. "I was raised to believe we are all children of God. I'm sorry you didn't choose to believe that."

Then, she wrote, "I forgive you ... because that will help to set me free."

But now, she's not so sure she can forgive the men. She believes her need to forgive was selfish, thinking it would make the pain go away.

Today would have been her sister's 50th birthday, and she's not here to celebrate it, and those guys are to blame.

"I believe God wants us to hate evil, and to me they are evil in its purest form," Renn says. "I don't feel compelled to forgive evil."
To contact the area chapter of Compassionate Friends, call 877-969-0010 or go online to

Sep 24, 2008

Appalling Crimes

Warning; The linked article concerning the Groene family crimes contains graphic and very upsetting facts concerning the kidnappings of Shasta and Dylan Groene and the subsequent murder of little Dylan at the hands of Joseph Duncan a previously convicted and out- on- bail child rapist.

I write about these cases because I feel strongly that the public needs to understand the potential violence that our courts are routinely releasing upon our innocent citizens every time that they offer;

lenient plea bargains with lowered charges for violent crime or crimes againt children

probation with suspended sentences,

early release parole,

and irresponsibly low bail amounts
Such as the 15,000 bond that Joseph Duncan was released on when he committed the murders and kidnappings of the Groene family members, leaving 4 people dead including two children, and an 8 year old survivor who must now battle the memories of unbelieavable brutality and carnage. Eight years old.

In order for Shasta, who is now eleven, to heal will require money. She will need every
possible advantage in overcoming her experience with violent crime, and this will continue to require counseling and funds.

Her dad, Steve Groene,has been treated for cancer recently and lost his voicebox as a result.
He is now unable to work full time. The two have faced difficult economic times as a result of his illness as well as the murder of Shasta's mom and step-father.
Their community has come together to build a home for Shasta and her dad which they have thankfully now moved into. The house is in a trust for Shasta and she will assume full legal ownership when she is 25 years old.

A fund has also been set up for the homes property taxes for the coming years.The goal to set aside the property tax monies for the rest of Shasta's life. We can all help with even the most modest of donations, for every little bit adds up. Donations can be sent to;

Windemere/Coeur d'Alene Realty
Attn: Midge Smock c/o Shasta Groene
1000 Northwest Blvd
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Appalling Crimes: Investigation at

Sep 17, 2008

Road race generates $225,000

With all of the horrible things that Ive been reading and writing about lately, it was most heartening to come upon this piece of news regarding The Petit family Road Race this past July; The official totals are in and it looks like the entire race day event raised a whopping 225,000 for The Petit Family foundation!

The foundation raises money for victims of violence and several other very important causes-
That is a lot of lives that will be made better thanks largely to the contagious spirit of goodwill and generosity that began in the town of Cheshire in the months following the tragic home invasion which took the lives of three members of a beloved local family.

The desire to extract something positive from such a terrible violent act seems a natural outgrowth of the memories of the three people who were taken within that set of crimes; Jennifer hawke Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela, were each known for an uncanny spirit of altruism and kindness. The people of Cheshire, Plainville and indeed the rest of the state, have strived to honor that spirit by adopting it as their own, perhaps sparked by the words of the lone survivor of the attack Dr Bill Petit, who,within his family's memorial oration , closed with these now-infamous words;
"If anything is to be gained from the senseless deaths of my beautiful family, it is for us all to go forward to live with a faith that embodies action; ,love your family, help a neighbor, fight for a cause."

Bravo to everyone who contributed to the race day event, in even the smallest of ways.
And of course thank you to the founder of the event, and the Petit Family foundation, Dr Bill Petit, a man whose grace, courage and integrity have become a shining example for us all.

Sep 11, 2008

September 11th - A Survivor's Story

This 9/11 survivor's story  speaks volumes about this terrible day in our history, exactly seven short years ago.

Her experience, as all of the victims' of that day- whether they survived or not, is the very embodiment of this entire tragedy, its definition. And as with any violent crime, it is only through a victims eyes that we can truly comprehend the full weight of it.

Sept 11th Story

This is the entire article in Time magazine that the story was excerpted from, for those interested  September 11th A Nation Remembers

Sep 5, 2008

Is There an Army Cover Up of deaths of Women soldiers?

Too many non-combat deaths for women.

A few months ago I'd heard that there were record numbers of US military women committing suicide in IRAQ this past year. Yet something about the numbers and the facts surrounding this did not sit right with me at the time- but I pushed it back into that part of my brain that says look into this later when you have more time and information. And Now I know that the almost- visceral sense of unease and dread that I felt then, indeed had its roots in fact.

'Why, I remember thinking,' is there such disproportionate number of women soldiers committing suicide in Iraq and not anywhere near that many men? '
I knew what the reflexive, although unofficial, military answer would likely be,and so I will debunk it, depite the fact that it is not even official;
Women are"naturally" more sensitive, and as such, more prone to experience anxiety depresssion and PTSD during active war-time.( In other words, men are tougher)
This doesnt add up when so many of the women who died susppiciously were described as not at all depressed when they died and even often the term "upbeat",and other like it were used by other soldiers within the deceased's unit, superior officers and family members, the latter who had in many casesspoken to their loved one days or weeks within their so called "suicides" .

As you look over the nooniefortin website you will see that 2007 was the worst year overall with 27 deaths of female soldier since the inception of "Operation Iraqui Freedom ". Interesting that the very first articles written about this entire issue within the mainstream media were late last year/ early this year-- and thus far, we've seen a rather yearly-proportionate drop in these deaths so far in 2008.

Perhaps the US military has begun taking some measures agaisnt whatever has actually been
going on-and believe me, they likely Know precisely what is going on, they are just not going to share about it openly-This is the US military's historic way of handling anything that can bring negative press, especially to an already unpopular war, experiencingwith recruitment shortages..

This by now classic subterfuge is compounding a very very serious problem and enabling the violence and murder to continue. If silence is a co-conspirator what then for those that would cover up brutality and violence? This is infuriating. Young women are putting thier lives at risk for the protection of thier/our country, indeed for all of us, AND YET they are being raped and killed in a foriegn land by the very men who are trained fight beside them!?

If the word rape caused you to flinch and say what let me say that We now do know for certain that there have been confirmed numerous documented cases of rapes of female soldiers as well as US female employees of military contractors, Many took a long time to prove and despite chronic subterfuge by higher ups within the military, they've been proven.
As well There have also been a handful of murders of female soldiers that were so overt that the army basically had to admit to them from the onset. (Ie there were witnesses.)

When looking at the figures which are very high for this kind of homicide,even when considering that this is a somewhat perfect environment for getting away with murder, I cannot help
but wonder if there isnt a direct correlation between the high incidence of rapes and possible homicides and the fact that army recruiting has been admiitedly dropping thier standards over the past 2 years. It's been well publisized that Army recruiters, facing dwindling recruitment numbers due to this wars growing unpopularity, and facing big pressure to meet thier quotas,have been giving out record numbers of "Moral Waivers" for men who have criminal records, including violent felonies like assault and even gang related activities.

The combination of an already violence-infused atmosphere, and the simple geographics of a very far away land which could seem to to offer the guise of a more lawless existance, combined
with the opportunistic shroud of sub-culture secrecy that is the United states military, well,
this could be a perfect combination for the criminally directed soldier to operate.

When reading about these cases of unexplained female deaths with barely a modicum of scrutiny, it beg the question- WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!
Official Causes of death that don't add up, details of deaths and autopsies withheld, tampered with, and lied about- on official records, as well as to the inquiring families.
Case after case after case. Read about some of them on the web links that I have provided below. There will be much more to follow.

It was one womans case of "noncombat incident" which cited Fatal siezures that really caught my eye in an otherwise perfectly healthy young female soldier. I was contemplating the fact that many times head injuries cause seizures, and I know from experience that often those same head injuries can have a surprisingly little-to-no visible bruising or overt symptomology-
and still cause death(specially if the temporal or occiputal area of the head are struck into a hard surface like a wall or floor. This gal was found in her quarters alone by her roomate.

Then I read about the very next female soldier on the list. I saw that This woman died inexplicably of an unexplained head injury-of seemingly unknown origin! She was found in her quarters alone as well. Head injuries from assaults are very common, as often the assailent will first try to render the victim defenseless,particularly prior to a sexual assault, but also in "imple assault." Its called a blitz style attack" and serial women killers are often known to use this to render victim compliant or unconscious.

Then there were literally a slew of so called "self inflicted gun shot wounds" -more "non combat incidents" under investigation- except where noted in other words where there were actually
witnesses to the woman being shot by a fellow male officer, or the death scene was so overtly a homicide. Other than these few cases, the inference seemed to be that
these other soldiers on this list had shot themselves. In fact 2 on the list that were previously under Investigation have reportedly now been declared sucicides vy the army according to one
of the liked articles.

Problem is that in several cases grieving family who were suspicious of what the army was claiming, investigated themselves and each time the result was that there was no way the woman could have or did kill themself given the facts of the death scenes. ie the manner in which the soldiers bodies were found, either in relationship to thier weapons, thier dominant hands, details such as a total lack of gunpowder on either hand, addnlunexplained injuries upon thier bodies such as bruising scratches, drag marks etc. The list just goes on and on and on.

Read about it, talk about it We owe it to the women that are fighting in our countrys name to have the truth about thier tragic and untimely deaths, told. Whatever they are. We also owe every other soldier the basic right of safety from those they would trust to be thier brothers, on the line.

Is there an army cover up

Sep 2, 2008

Petit family cousin Killed In Georgia,0,6051247.story

I just heard the tragic news that a paternal cousin of Dr Bill Petit became the victim of a fatal Domestic violence incident this past week on August 23, in her own home in Athens Georgia.

Forty four year old Tracy Beaulieu, a native of Plainville Connecticut, was apparentlly
murdered by her estranged husband Dale Cook during the statistically-very - dangerous- time-period pre-ceding thier final divorce proceedings. Reportedly, Cook was angered by something that had occurred during the couples Court mediation proceedings earlier in the day. After the hearing He went to the former family home, bludgeoned his estranged wife to death and then fatally shot himself.

Tracy Beaulieu filed for divorce in february and the legal process was nearly over, when the
murder occurred. As mentioned, the period surrounding the cessation of any abusive
relationship is one of the most dangerous times for the abused- This includes emotionally abusive relationships where no overt physical abuse has neccesarily occurred...Yet.
Emotional abuse can include behaviors such as extreme jealousy and possessiveness, chronic belittling or degrading, purposeful isolation of the abused from family or friends Attempts to control partners career or school descisons, the goal typically is keeping the abused from any upperwardly mobile career/school decisons (=Independence)
And ultimately, the abuser will begin threatening the abused, her children, her Pets or even yes, the abuser themself---- ie suicide.
Example"if you leave me I will kill myself..."

To the abuser, a request or a filing for divorce or seperation, represents a complete loss of control -of his wife or partner. As such, this is when he may decide to exert the ultimate act of control, ending her life. This also may serve the dual purpose of ensuring that" if he cannot have her, no one will" .

A private funeral was held in Tracy's home town of Plainville Connecticut. He obituary describes an artistic, sensitive and kind person, someone who loved animals and the great outdoors.

She leaves behind three children and two grandchildren, all of whom presently reside in Bristol Ct.\
Reportedly Ms Beaulieu was very supportive of Dr Petit in the many long months following the devastating loss of his wife and children in a violent crime which rocked the entire state of Connecticut.Her family has listed the Petit Family Foundation as a charitie that will recieve memorial donations in Tracy's name.
The Petit family foundation information can be found below-Online donations are also available by following the Web Address that is posted.

Ironically, one of missions of the Petit Family Foundations is to assist people affected by violent crime, Just recently, they helped to fund the construction of a new Domestic Violence shelter in New Britain, Connecticut.

Our thoughts and prayers are with both the Beaulieu and the Petit families.
We are so sorry that they must once again contend with the far reaching devastation of violent crime within thier family-fold.

Petit Family Foundation
P.O 310
Plainvilled, CT