The “Event in Question”

Friday night at 11:17 pm Tara L. Cruse, 34, called 911. Evidently she was crying as she told the dispatcher that she had stabbed her husband Brian D. Cruse, 36, because he had hit her. She allegedly also told them that she thought she had stabbed him in the heart and that he was dying.

Brian Cruse was found on the couch in the living room with stab wounds to his chest and upper body. He was transported to a medical center where he was pronounced dead. The couple had three children, and two of them were present in the home and witnessed the “event in question”.

Her first appearance in court was Monday, and she entered a not guilty plea, and requested a public defender. Bail was set at $1 million dollars and an additional $53,000 in a personal recognizance bond. Cruse stated that neither she nor her family could come up with that amount of money, and that she wanted to spend time with her children. The judge issued a no contact order for the children.

The case will be going to the grand jury.

Neighbors have said that Tara Cruse was good to them. She was known for feeding the neighborhood kids and shoveling the neighbors driveway. But they say the couple may have been having marital “issues” for a long time, and at least one neighbor reports hearing the Cruse’s having “marital difficulties”, but say they never imagined it would end like this.

The children have been placed with family members.

http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060627/NEWS01/606270312

http://www.nbc4i.com/news/9425983/detail.html

http://www.onnnews.com/?sec=home&story=10tv/content/pool/200606/516783710.html

I haven’t seen any mention of the police findings at the scene or whether there was any recorded history of domestic violence in the home.

Three children, ages unknown. And at time when they have lost their father and need her the most, their mother is unavailable to them. Because their father died at her hands. And not only is she not available to them, they are certainly going to be the main sources of information about what happened in the home that night. So they could possibly end up having to testify against their only remaining parent. What a position to put them in.

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Grand Jury indited on one count of aggravated murder and two counts of murder.

http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2006607010313

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There are tokens of devotion, and there are other tokens

A 32 year old woman filed for an emergency protective order last week. Police say that there had been an “incident” between the couple and that charges of a class A misdeameanor from that incident may be filed.

The woman is now filing for a full protective order. The woman recieved a package at her home last Fri. It had allegedly been mailed to her home by her ex-boyfriend. It contained a letter to her and in an enclosed ring box- was a finger.

Police say the finger appeared to have been severed in a clean cut, then possibly washed. The letter allegedly read “This is the last chance to touch you”. The letter allegedly also contained threats against the woman.

Police are now seeking the ex-boyfriend. It is illegal to send threats through the mail, so the U.S. Postal Service Inspector has been notified. Police say that additional charges could come from the incident.

http://www.caller.com/ccct/local_news/article/0,1641,CCCT_811_4804719,00.html

I think I prefer flowers.

I cannot imagine the fear that I would feel on receiving a package from an ex-boyfriend, against whom I had filed a temporary protection order. I am chicken enough that I probably wouldn’t have opened it. Much better to take it to the police station and let them deal with it.

To open it and find a finger is the stuff that nightmares are made of. I hope the woman in question has sought some shelter somewhere. Because if police don’t find him first, I cannot see a good ending in this. This looks like pretty obsessive behavior, and it is anyone’s guess whether he will turn this obsession against himself or against her the next time.

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Police have released the identity of the finger giver. His name is Robert Hanna. He is believed to be in the Corpus Christi, Texas area. Hanna is facing two assault charges, the first happened about a week before the finger arrived. Additional charges are for the threatening content of the letter.  It is possible that federal charges could also be filed, as it is illegal to mail a body part, but no word yet from the postmaster about what is being planned.

Evidently this is not the first time that Hanna has been accused of assaulting women. His ex-wife has said that he used to beat her and she also has a protective order against him.

More info on the letter “I want to let you know, this is how much pain I’m going through because of the pain I’ve caused you.  I want you to know this is my last attempt to reach out and touch you.” The girlfriend is moving out of her apartment, because of her fear of Hanna.

Hanna’s family is concerned for him and his state of mind.

http://www.kristv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5086589   (Picture of Hanna at link)

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4006570.html

It’s a judgement call

A 5 year old boy went to school Fri. and teachers noticed what appeared to be bruises on him. They called the Department of Families and that agency called the sheriff.

An examination of the child revealed bruising to  “his face, his chin, his left ear, right lower lip, and broken vessels around both sides of his neck, chest and under both arms.”

Police say that 31-year-old Timothy Otworth has admitted to hitting the boy in the face with an open hand, several times on Thurs. Allegedly he also told them that he held a pillow over his face to stop him from screaming. Reportedly the bruises on his neck came from being grabbed by the neck from behind, and squeezed. From what Otworth told investigators, the boy “was talking back and misbehaving”. The boy’s 8 year old sister told a sheriff’s detective that Otworth put the boy in a corner, then hit him in the face 5 times. After that she was sent to her room.

Otworth was the mother’s boyfriend. He is reported to be 5’11” and 165 lbs and works as a laborer. Allegedly he called the mother 30-year-old Lottie Holdren after the ‘incident’ and told her what had happened and that he had bruised the boy’s face. Allegedly Holdren first told investigators that she was not aware of her son’s injuries until Fri. morning. Later she allegedly admitted that she knew prior to that. Before sending the boy to school on Fri. she allegedly attempted to cover the bruises with makeup. “She had told the child that she was doing it so nobody would see the bruises.”

Holdren told police that the reason she didn’t call police was that she was afraid of the effect it would have on her job and professional license. She is a registered nurse at a hospital.

Because of the injuries being concentrated to the head and neck area and due to the seriousness of the injuries, Otworth has been charged with attempted murder for the beating. Holdren has been charged with child neglect and failing to report child abuse. Otworth is being held without bail, and Holdren has not yet paid her $11,000 bail.

Otworth’s family have hired their own investigator for a separate ‘investigation’.

The boy is now in the custody of Children’s services. There was no indication of the status of the girl.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9427934/detail.html

http://www.ocala.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060625/NEWS/206250378/1001/NEWS01

Ok, ‘mother’ is a registered nurse. Nurses work with sick and helpless people. They provide both direct care to the patient and supervisory care over the patient. Most often they follow doctors orders and established medical practice. But ever so often, they do have to make judgment calls.

There is nothing in the article that ‘mother’ made the boyfriend move out on Thurs. after hearing of her son’s abuse. There is nothing said about the ‘mother’ having someone to go pick the kids up and provide care for them until she could take over. She did not make a report to police or Dept. of Family Services (in most states nurses are mandatory reporters for child abuse, though I am not sure about this state).

Makes you wonder about her judgment, doesn’t it?

He wasn’t a terrible person, he needed help

Robert Travers, 50, and Carol Lama had been long time friends. They met when they were three and had kept in touch throughout the years.

As a teen, Travers began using drugs, and became addicted. However, in 1998 Travers had completed a rehab program and had come out clean and sober. Carol Lama offered him a place in her home. And reportedly the two had a brief romantic relationship at that time, however that didn't work out.

Lama says she helped him to move out to an apartment of his own. And the two evidently kept in touch. According to Lama, in May she recieved an email from Travers, threatening to harm himself. She went to his home, pounding on the door and when she did not get an answer, she broke a glass to gain entry. She found Travers unconcious, beside two empty pill bottles. She contacted 911, and arranged for him to be taken to the hospital. And was suprised when they released him the same day.

His landlord's have said that Travers appeared emaciated. And that he had not paid rent in eight months, but that he was trying to get his life together.

After the suicide attempt, Travers reportedly began threatening Lama. Lama says that she has a new boyfriend, and that Travers was afraid that she wouldn't have time for him any longer. She helped him find a therapist and she went to his first appointment with him.

Reportedly Travers had previously broken into her home. And allegedly he had abused her in the past and that he had begun stalking her. She warned him that she was sleeping with a loaded gun by her bed. She says she didn't report his threats to police, because she didn't want him to lose the new job he had gotten.

Early Saturday morning, Lama says she was awakened by the sound of her door opening. Then he said her name. She reportedly asked hiim not to kill her, and she says she saw a weapon in his waistband. As he charged toward the bed, she shot and killed him. Police say he was armed with a pellet gun.

Lama was not harmed, nor were her son or his girlfriend who were also sleeping in the home.

The investigation into the crime is continuing. Lama has not been charged with a crime. Statements have been taken and will be reviewed by the district attorney.

How Travers got into the home is not clear. According to Lama, she doesn't know how Travers got into her home. And she says "It's not a thing someone should ever have to do," "He wasn't a terrible person. He just needed help."

http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/429885p-362341c.html

http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/longisland/ny-lishot264796567jun26,0,1247688.story?coll=ny-linews-print

Coming out of rehab, he immediately found a "savior" who offered a place to live, friendship, and even a romantic relationship. And though the romantic relationship is reported to have been short term, lasting only a couple of months, the ongoing friendship he had with her- I can see him confusing his sobriety as being dependent on her support. And thus a new boyfriend could seem to threaten both his well being and his sobriety. I wonder if he had possibly turned to drugs again? The comment about him being emaciated, troubles me. It could be a sign of a physical illness, mental problems, or drug usage.

The fact that it is unclear how he entered the home, is troubling. Still having lived there, and been a long time visitor, he would have known which doors or windows might have been prone to being left unlocked.

He attempted suicide, and she stopped him. Right away, he seems to begin threatening her. I wonder if she had ever advised his therapist of the threats? Certainly his suicide, his threats to her could have resulted in a psychiatric hold in a hospital if the therapist considered them to be credible indications of "threatening harm to self or others". Yes, it could have caused him to lose his job, a job he had obtained recently after a long period of unemployment. But it could have prevented the tragic result.

Still, it is easier to stand outside the situation and say 'should have done this, should have done that' than to have lived through it.    

To learn more about the warning signs of mental illness, click here. If you know of someone with these signs, be sure to discuss them with the persons doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist.

No Children

Thomas and Amy Ceslia had recently split up, and Amy moved in with her father in another county. Amy Ceslia then filed for divorce on June 9. The couple did not have children.

Thomas Ceslia had been working as a sheriff's deputy, in corrections, since 2004. And on June 20 th, he submitted his resignation. Details about the resignation have not been made available, though it is said the resignation was unexpected. Ciesla had recently been turned down for a job on a city police department.

On Fri. a call was made to 911, regarding a domestic dispute at the home of Thomas Podejko, Amy's father. Though one article states that the call the police received was a hang up call. Another article says that the call came in from a cell phone as a domestic dispute, and is divided on whether the caller hung up or whether the phone line remained open, recording everything that happened in the home. 

Thomas Ceslia, 28, had shown up at the Pokejko home. According to friends who have spoken with one of the witnesses, he put a gun to his wife's head and he said ‘I’m going to get even with you for what you did to me,’ ”  “And you’re going to watch your family die.’ “And that’s when he started blasting.”

He shot Thomas Podejko, 63, his wife's father. He also shot his wife's aunt Carol Lindner, 62, who was present at the home. Both were killed. Another shot went to her uncle Thomas LIndner, who was injured but alive. Both Lindner's also resided in the home. Amy Ceslia was present at the home, but was not injured. After the shootings, Ceslia turned the gun on himself.

Thomas Lindner was shot in the hand, and he was hospitalized in fair to good condition.

Many details of the shootings are not clear. Motive for the crime is not known. An investigation is being done on why an officer who had responded to the scene fired a shot at the scene, even though he did not hit anyone.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/jun/25/cape_coral_shooter_former_collier_deputy/?local_news

http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/breaking_news/14900596.htm

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13535431/

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060623/NEWS0101/60623055/1075

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060625/NEWS0101/306250002/1075

Why would he go to the home and shoot his wife's father, aunt, and uncle and leave his wife alive? Had there been a family dispute? Did he blame the family for the break up between him and Amy? Or was he wanting his wife to live so that he could ensure that she suffered?

She did not cause the shootings. She had no way of preventing the shootings. Though there seems to be no fault pointed at her, likely she will have guilt over this. She lost her husband and her aunt, all at the hands of the man she had brought into the family. A man she had once loved, maybe still loved to some extent.

Luckily, the couple did not have children. And this case does strongly make me think of the incidents where a parent will kill their children at the time of a separation or divorce. He apparently did tell the wife that he wanted her to suffer. Since there were no children, he then turned to the nearest family members.

When a law enforcement officer is killed, there is a shock throughout the entire law enforcement brotherhood. Every day they fight crimes together and they have to be able to rely on each other, their lives often depend on it. When an officer dies like this, in the midst of a personal crime and at his own hands it is especially hard. Because not only have they lost a brother, it somewhat erodes the trust they in each other.

Two dead, one injured, and a wife left with all the questions and doubts.

In front of her son

It was 1:30 am on Saturday. Tracy Bennawit, 33, along with her 14 year old son and her new boyfriend Adam Strickland were just arriving at Bennawit’s home.

Waiting in a wooded area near the home was Darren Bridgeman, 34, Bennawit’s ex-boyfriend. Bridgeman began shooting and Tracy Bennawit was killed, Adam Strickland was shot and injured. Bennawit was pronounced dead at the scene and Strickland was airlifted to the hospital where is reported to be in serious but stable condition.

Police say the attack was premeditated, that Bridgeman waited in that wooded area for them to come home.
And they say that the 14 year old boy did witness the attack.

Bridgeman left the scene and is not in custody. Police are searching for him at this time. Bridgeman is 5’8″, has a cleanly shaven head, and speaks with a British accent. He is believed to be armed and dangerous.

http://www.local6.com/news/9422169/detail.html

http://www.wftv.com/news/9422410/detail.html

http://cfn13.com/StoryHeadline.aspx?id=16716

One thing I usually try not to do is to visualize the scene. But this time I did.

1:30 am, the end of your day and you have just arrived home. Your defenses would be down, due to both the fact that you are tired and that you are now home.

It is dark. You get out of the car, suddenly there he is, then loud gunshots, maybe screaming, blood, then the sudden silence. And only one person left standing. A 14 year old boy/man.

He was left to call police. And in the minutes before they arrived, he was there with two people who had been shot. His mother dead, a friend injured. The minutes before help arrived must have seemed like hours. He was left to answer police questions, and to go over and over what happened in his mind, reliving what he saw that night. I cannot guess what he did after that. Did he sit in silence and shock when he wasn’t being asked questions? Did he sob with grief or cry silently? Those things I cannot guess.

But one thing I will guess at…..I would guess that while he sat there in grief, he wished that his mother could
be there to put her arm on his shoulder, to give him a hug. To hold him.

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Tracey Bennawit and Darren Bridgemann used to be engaged and the two owned a video game business. When the relationship broke up, she bought him out.

Tracey had sought and received a protection from abuse order the day of the shootings.

The 14 year old boy has gone to his fathers. His father has stated that he was shot at, but managed to escape.

http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/23728

I believe this is the gaming site owned by Tracey Bennawit. It seems that Saturday night the center was hosting a ‘Charity Fight Night Tournament’ The proceeds were to benefit New Hope for Kids, a non-profit organization that works with kids dealing with grief.

http://www.kinetixgaming.com/events.php

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I have just come off a forum where I read a lot of responses about Tracy Bennawit’s death. And I have to say that I was amazed at the support, care, and concern those members showed for each other. They are angry, yes. But they are handling their anger very gracefully. And more than angry, they are determined. Determined that Tracy not be forgotten, and determined to help each other through the ordeal. Though most appear to be young, they seem more mature than many adults I know.

Through their words, and through their actions, Tracy became very real to me. And I could tell what a good person she was. And I think she would be very proud of them right now.

Tracy’s son and boyfriend also posted there. And her son seems like a young man that any Mother would have been proud of even before that night. And from what I read, he was more a man that night than a 15 year old boy. He did what was needed to be done and he did it well. I am not going to post his name or his nic……as I think he is entitled to his privacy. But if he ever makes it here, I want to let him know that he was a man that anyone would be proud to know and any Mother would be proud of.

Adam is out of the hospital, and seems to be doing well. Evidently his brush was more serious than what was published.

A memorial site has been set up in Tracy Bennawit’s memory: http://ftopro.com/tb/index.php

Still nothing yet on Bridgeman.  

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A partial transcript of the 911 call, and a testimony of the bravery of Tracy Bennawit’s son.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9444817/detail.html

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Seminole County has been planning to develop a domestic violence unit since 2004 and they have applied for a grant to help make it possible. With the most recent murders, Seminole County is now second only to Miami-Dade county in having the highest number of domestic violence related deaths.

But after Tracy Bennawit’s death, there is more urgency and they say they will go forward whether they get the grant or not.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9451539/detail.html

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Investigators now believe that Bridgeman planned his escape in advance. He is believed to have gotten in a plane headed for England on June 24, in Atlanta. The ticket was reserved on June 23, and paid for with cash in Atlanta 15 hours after the shooting. He had also withdrawn a large amount of cash from a bank before the murders. Bridgeman was picked up by a friend in England. Scotland Yard is now involved in the search.

Police are asking the public’s help in trying to determine how he got to Atlanta. They are asking anyone who may have come into contact with him to please contact the police. “He may have had blood on his clothes,” Martin said. “He may have had a weapon in his position that he discarded somehow. Any point that he traveled is a potential location for a witness to help us in finding out if he had accomplices who knew what he did.”

Allegedly Bridgeman left a suicide note in his home, but it is believed that may have been an attempt to throw police off his trail.

Police say that Tracy Bennawit was shot 6 times.

http://www.wftv.com/news/9472489/detail.html

http://www.local6.com/news/9474663/detail.html

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Steve Huff has now done an article on the murder of Tracy Bennawit at Crime Library.

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/original/0706/0602_darren_bridgeman.html

Police still looking for the gun used in the murder and for how Bridgeman got from central Florida to Alanta, Ga. Scotland Yard is involved in the search for Bridgeman, but it is not certain that he remains in England.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/seminole/orl-ontherun0606jul06,0,2676963.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-seminole

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More details on what occurred that night and what her son went through as Bridgeman looked for him.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17342770&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=manhunt–name_page.html

Darren Bridgeman has been reported to have turned himself in to authorities in England. He is being held on a provisional extradition warrant and is due in court on Fri.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5156956.stm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-5935688,00.html

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Bridgeman appeared in court and he is refusing to consent to extradition. He will be taken back to court on July 13.

The authority from the US indicated to the court that when Bridgeman turned himself in to the Worchester police station, that was by prior arrangement.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5159664.stm

Refusal to consent to extradition, this article says that he is due in court again on Thurs.

http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/breaking_news/14988300.htm

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The story of Adam Strickland’s miraculous survival. His dogtags were positioned over his heart at the time he was shot. They deflected the bullet, the bullet then hit his chest and went out of his arm.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17353333&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=-miracle-escape–from-us-shooting–name_page.html

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Bridgeman is due in Bow Street Magistrates’ Court in London where it is said he will appear via video link, on Thurs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/5174740.stm

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Bridgeman remains in the U.K. Grand Jury indited him for the murder of Tracy Bennawit and the attempted murder of Adam Strickland. He is fighting extradition.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006330319,00.html

http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060719/APN/607190608

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Tracy’s obituary

http://obits.lancasteronline.com/index.php?action=view&obit_id=1685007

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Bridgeman appeared in court in the UK on Aug. 11. Due back in court again on Sept. 7.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/4783759.stm

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Darren Bridgeman now in the U.S. in the Seminole county jail where he is being held without bail.

orlandosentinel.com

Company president

Michael Lentz's family reported him missing shortly after Memorial Day in May. Lentz, 58, was a widower, his wife had died several years ago. He had three children. He owned a manufacturing business, and was known to travel to his other two homes and to Las Vegas.

Lentz had been having some financial difficulties, his home was in foreclosure and he had some federal tax lien's on his business in the past. Police initially did not suspect any foul play. The business was closed shortly after his disappearance.

Neighbors reported the last time they had seen him was around Mother's day. Investigator's twice contacted authorities in the county in Wisconsin where he had a home, and they reported they did not find anything suspicious.

Wednesday people who worked near his closed business began to complain of a foul odor. Police came to the business and found his badly decomposed body under some cloths in a garbage drum. Police say it is hard to pinpoint when Lentz died, due to the state the body was in. But it appeared that Lentz had been shot to death.

A murder investigation was begun, and Lentz's home and business was searched for clues. Police said it was not a random killing and they quickly zeroed in on a suspect.

Police have arrested Christy Lentz, 32, in the death of her father. She has been charged with 1 st degree homicide, concealment of a homicidal death and obstruction of justice. Police have recovered a gun they believe was used in the murder and are examining it for further evidence.

Police believe the two had had a dispute on the business property where Christy also worked. They believe that Christy had shot him and then cleaned up the scene and then later, along with her sister- reported their father missing.

The attorney for the business has said that earlier this year, Lantz had had papers drawn up making Christie the president of the company while he retained ownership.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=202012

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4301636

http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=202196

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-060623lentz,1,4578007.story?coll=chi-newsbreaking-hed

Police have said the full motive may never be determined. And that is the way it often is with family.

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 Authorities say that Michael Lenz was shot two times in the back of the head, while he was sitting in his office chair. He was killed about a week before Memorial Day. Authorities also have stated that Christy Lenz wrapped her father's body in plastic and duct tape, and that she attempted to set the garbage in the garbage drum on fire.

Bail has been set for Christy Lenz in the amount of $3 million dollars.

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4304783

No Crime

First of all I have to admit that there does not appear to be any crimes committed here. But the story is intriguing. And two families are very concerned and seem to be heartbroken. And even though there is no crime, the story is making national headlines. I first heard about it on The Early Show this morning.

Jennifer Malone picked her 8 year old son up at school on June 16. She said he had a dentist’s appointment. Then her husband realized that she hadn’t shown up for work that day. And he found out their bank account had been drained. The couple’s 10 year old son was in school as usual.

Prior to her disappearance, Jennifer Malone had just gotten a new job. She had been working as a trainee counselor at a school for children with behavioral problems and autism for about two weeks. Her husband Rodney Malone has said that he had changed recently. Says that she had switched from listening to country music to listening to hip-hop. And that she had started wearing low riding jeans.

In May Malone had been fired from her previous job. A parent of one of her students came home and found Malone with her 16 year old son, Christopher Cole. She called police. Division of Youth, Children, and Family Services is investigating those allegations. Hours before her disappearance, investigators had contacted Malone and requested that she appear for an interview on the following Monday.

Christopher Cole was last seen June 16, when he picked up his check at his job. Warrants have been filed for Cole.

There have been sightings and contact from the trio. One of their first contacts was with Cole’s grandfather. He is a truck driver, and the trio had met up with him in Illinois, on his route. He talked with them and says that he advised Cole to return home and gave him $100.

On Thursday, Rodney Malone received a package from his wife containing a short wave radio, and apology for taking  it. But no mention of the child. On Friday a friend turned two letters over to police that she had received from Malone. Witnesses have spotted the three in Tampa, Florida and said they appeared tired. The van owned by the couple has been found in Clearwater, Fla. It’s license plates were missing, and the plates have reportedly been spotted on two other vehicles.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2006/06/24/missing_boy_spotted_in_tampa/

http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060624/REPOSITORY/606240321

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Son+begs+mother+to+bring+his+brother+home&articleId=81415ee2-f8ce-4a40-ae0a-157626ab06bb

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Florida+sightings+may+lead+to+missing+New+Hampshire+trio&articleId=ef90f496-4084-4149-9fa2-73e28d56a7a1   (Pictures of Jennifer Malone and son at link)

Cole was 16 years old. Since he was over the age of consent, there is no crime there for any relationship he may have with Malone.

Malone was the other parent of the child who was taken from the school. As his guardian, she had the right to take him.

But the fact that there is no crime, doesn’t give the families any comfort. It doesn’t stop Christopher Cole’s mother from worrying about him, or Rodney Malone from worrying about his son and maybe even his wife a little bit. It doesn’t stop the 10 year old from missing his mother and his brother.

And of course it isn’t over yet. There are still issues to be dealt with over the relationship between a student and his school counselor. And questions about where they got the cars they have been seen in in Florida. Not to mention assisting a minor to run away from his home.

So instead of No Crime, perhaps I should say that charges are being explored.

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A bus station worker noticed a trio acting ‘strangely’ last week. He says the way they were acting strangely was that the two were ‘making out’ while the 8 year old watched. Over the weekend the worker saw the broadcasts about the missing persons reports, and when the three showed up at the bus station, he called police. Police stopped the bus they had gotten on, and now have them in custody. Rodney Malone has talked with his son on the phone and is making plans to go there and file for custody.

Police say the three had spent their nights between a Salvation Army and sleeping in the broken down van.

There is now a warrant for Jennifer Malone charging her with interference with custody, for taking Cole from the state without his mother’s permission. Police are also exploring to see if any other crimes have been committed. They want to talk with her about the other vehicles they had been reported to be in.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2006/06/26/search_continues_for_missing_boy/

A nice normal family

Joseph and Vincenza Importuna had been married for approximately 15 years. They had two young children, a 9 year old girl and a 4 year old son. He was part owner of a pizzeria and she was employed as a real estate agent. They had purchased and moved into their home in September. Vincenza Importuna's father had been staying with them, but had returned to his home earlier on Monday. Neighbors who say they didn't know them well, say they appeared to be a nice, normal family.

Last week Joseph received a letter telling him his wife was taking steps to obtain a divorce. However, court records do not show that she had actually filed for the divorce yet. It is not known if there was any history of domestic violence in the home.

 About 4:45 pm, Joseph took the two children to his brothers home and said that he needed to speak to his wife privately.

Police say that he returned to the home and shot his wife in the chest, then shot himself in the chest.

Joseph's brother called the home multiple times. When he did not get an answer, he and his wife went to the home about 10 pm. They found the couple's bodies in the master bedroom.

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060621/NEWS/606210411/1001/ENT

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060621/NEWS/606210407/1004/NEWS01

I cannot imagine being the brother or his wife. First to have had to go to the home and find the bodies. Then in the midst of their own shock, horror and grief to have to go home and tell their children. How do you tell them their parents are gone forever……and how do you answer their questions of how and why? The children are now reported to be staying with relatives. I am sure they do not think of themselves as lucky. But they were taken to their uncle's home first.

I did find an interesting article associated with how to tell children. It doesn't address how to children about their own parents, but it does discuss telling the other children. Because even though it wasn't their children, friends of the children may be traumatized also. :

Children's questions about violent acts should be answered with sensitivity 

One thing I noted that was a bit curious. The letter arrived last week. Yet the murder suicide did not occur till a week later. And Vincenza's father was staying with the family until the very day of the murder suicide. I am not sure how that relates, just find it curious.

When I hear of couple's divorcing, I always tell them to forget what they knew of their spouse. Because no matter what they think of their spouse, no matter how mild mannered or civilized…….when divorce becomes a reality, tensions escalate, stress mounts, decisions have to be made, and often there is some grief at the loss of the relationship, and people often do not behave as they do in normal times.

In front of witnesses

In June 2005, Siraquana Cotton, 25, told the court that she feared her boyfriend Charles Epperson would kill her. She was granted a protection order for one year. It was due to expire in a week.

The family says that there was domestic violence in the on again, off again relationship. And that they had warned her to stay away from him. But they say that she did not report the times that he violated that restraining order, and they say he did violate it.

On Thursday, it is reported that Cotton was at home with two of her children, and there were several children and other adults present in the home. Allegedly Epperson barged into the home, told her he was going to get her, he had a gun and he shot her. It is said that before she was shot Cotton pleaded for her life. Others who were in the house fled, and on Epperson's way out of the home, he shot her two year old daughter. Family says that the infant the couple shared was in the home, but was not harmed.

Cotton was pronounced dead at the scene, and 2 year old Marisa was transported to the hospital where she was later also pronounced dead.

After leaving the home, Epperson went to the river. One report states he was in the company of a woman there. Some reports say that he shot himself and fell into the river, some say that he jumped in. Police searched and were able to recover his body. Allegedly the woman with him called police and family to the scene.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060623/NEWS01/606230407/-1/BUSINESS07

http://www.wxyz.com/wxyz/nw_local_news/article/0,2132,WXYZ_15924_4793959,00.html

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/9409952/detail.html

Siraquana Cotton had three other children, who will be mourning the loss of their mother and sister. Her oldest son was living with his father, her oldest daughter was living with her paternal grandmother, and now her youngest who someday will learn how his father killed his mother. There are relatives and friends who will also be mourning their loss. Some of them will be reliving the events they saw happen that day, many times.

And Charles Epperson's family will also be mourning him. Just as great a loss to them, but one that will always be somewhat colored by the actions he took that day. I wonder if it ever occurred to him to wonder how his son would feel, when he grows old enough to learn how he lost his mother?

Again, a history of domestic violence, a protection order in place, a couple that never seemed to break off completely, and another death, or in this case deaths.

If you are at the point where you have to file for a restraining order, a temporary protection order, or you have filed charges- you need to develop a safety plan. Even if you are not to that point yet, it is a good idea to become familiar with it. Learn what is available in your area for domestic violence victims. And use them. A domestic violence support group can even be helpful if you haven't made the decision to leave yet. If you know someone who has domestic violence in a relationship, make them aware of the services available in the area, offer to assist them when they are ready, and encourage them to attend the support group for domestic violence victims.

For information about safety plans click here and here. Or enter the keywords domestic violence safety plan in any search engine.

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