Sweet Sentiments

“I have no doubt that we are meant to be together forever, you are everything to me and without you I would be lost in this crazy world.”

“He needs someone who’s faithful, only his lips may she kiss.” A stanza of a poem

Both messages were found on the MySpace page of Bekime “Becky” Elshani and believed to have been written to her by Daniel Dereere.

Something was worrying the parents of 22 year old Bekime “Becky” Elshani, so on Monday they called police. A part of their concern may have been the history.

Becky lived with 25 year old Daniel Dereere (I have also seen it spelled Dereer, I’m not sure which is correct.) And as it is sometimes put “there was a history.” Last May the two had an altercation, possibly over telephone calls that Becky Elshani had received from her ex-husband. And according to reports, Becky Elshani struck Dereere in the face. Later in Oct. there are reports that Dereere and Becky were at a party and Becky felt that Dereere was too intoxicated to drive. She attempted to get his keys from him, but when she did he tased her. She reported to police it was about 20 times. Both incidents were charged, both went to court and both were dismissed.

Some reports indicate that Becky Elshani may have been seeing her ex-husband late last year. And that Dereere was upset over that. So the way he expressed himself was to reportedly hack into her MySpace page and post nude pictures of her online. She filed charges on that and it was due to go to court last week. But the two reconciled.

Her father says that he didn’t see the anger in Dereere. So it may have been the information that a friend has alleged that Dereere had also threatened Becky and said that if he couldn’t have her, no one could. That he would kill her, then himself.

The couple were at her parents home on Saturday and Becky stepped outside the home. She may have stepped outside to meet with her ex-husband or Dereere may have thought she was meeting him. The two argued that night. That is the last night that Becky was seen.  

Her parents called police and asked them to check on Becky on Monday. And police went to the home. They report that as they arrived they heard a popping sound. They made entry into the home and found Daniel Dereere dead from an apparent suicide. Police report there was no sign of Becky in the home, there was no sign of a struggle and Dereere did not leave a suicide note.

But when police checked Dereere’s vehicle they say they found blood, tests are being run to determine if it was Becky Elshani’s blood. Police believe that it may be a sign of foul play.

Bekime “Becky” Elshani was last seen last Saturday. She is described as 5’5″ and 110 lbs, white female. Police have been conducting aerial searches of areas that Dereere was known to frequent for camping and family and friends have been conducting ground searches.

Police say the ex-husband is not a suspect in Becky’s disappearance.

Police are asking that if anyone saw Becky Elshani or Daniel Dereere that weekend they would like them to make contact with police.

fox21news.com                   koaa.com                       krdo.com

krdo.com            krdo.com          gazette.com        gazette.com

The words are romantic, the sentiment sweet. But even back when this was written there are hints of what was to come.

“We are meant to be together forever” leaves me to question what happens if one decides to leave? What does forever mean to him and what if forever doesn’t last?

“You are everything to me” Everyone has other things in their lives, if that person is focusing to the extent that they believe you are all- what happens if you change your mind?

“Only his lips may she kiss” to me the line just oozes possessiveness.

Yes, receiving those messages would have been flattering at first. But when you really think about such messages they seem more ominous. Sweet sentiments are easy to say and even can be easy to write. But you also have to look at the actions behind the words.

Talking to her ex-husband caused an argument that became violent. Yet she cared enough about Dereere to try to stop him from driving drunk. And for that, she got tased.


Searches are still being conducted for Becky Elshani. Premier Helicopter company has volunteered a helicopter and pilot to the search and newschannel 13 is also volunteering. More ground searchers are needed.



The Fear, The Terror

Cindy L. Bischof, 43, wore many hats. She was a realtor, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a colleague. And due to recent experiences in her life, she told family and friends she was considering putting on another hat. She was thinking of becoming a domestic violence advocate.

Cindy knew what domestic violence was like. She had been married, but her divorce was amicable and she remained close to her in-laws. Then she began dating. About three years ago she began dating 60 year old Michael L. Giroux. The two ended up moving in together and for a time things were good. But last year there were problems and the two decided to separate last May. And then more problems developed.

Bischof came home one day to find her home vandalized. She got a restraining order. She found Giroux on her patio one day trying to hang himself. He was arrested. She moved out of her home for a time, she had cameras installed. He showed up at her office and other places she went. Giroux was arrested for violating the protection order at least three times. At one point Giroux was reportedly in a psychiatric unit via a court order for several months, but he was released in Nov. At one point Cindy reportedly came home and found Giroux in her dark garage.

According to her brother

“This was eight months of terror,” “She had a constant fear for her life. She tried everything. The system failed my sister.”

In Nov. Giroux was also convicted of a violation of the protection order. He was sentenced to 63 days in jail, 60 days of home confinement and 2 years of intensive probation. Since then, things had been quieter. Cindy’s mother has told media that the end of Feb. her daughter did hear from Giroux. He called and apoligized for what he had done. Because the call appeared harmless, Cindy didn’t report it.

Giroux finished his term on home incarceration just this month. On Mar. 7 th Cindy Bischof was leaving work. As she tried to enter her car she was shot. After shooting her, Giroux turned the weapon on himself. Giroux was pronounced dead at the scene. Cindy Bischof was taken to a hospital where she later died.

Now her family and friends are left to pick up the pieces. And they remember what Cindy said about becoming a domestic violence advocate. Since she can no longer become an advocate, the family has decided to do it in her name. They are determined to become advocates on women’s issues and they are starting with the need for electronic monitoring in similar situations. They also want to make protection orders more effective, and try to come up with ways to make the victims safer as they try to get out of the situations.

According to her brother

“There are going to be a lot of people like Cindy, after Cindy, unless things change,” Mike Bischof said.

dailyherald.com          dailyherald.com    chicagotribune.com

chicagotribune.com    chicagotribune.com

She asked for protective orders, she followed through, she got cameras for her home, she moved out of her home and stayed elsewhere. She did everything she could to help herself short of disappearing.

And the system actally worked as far as it goes. Police actually made the arrests. Prosecutors actively prosecuted the cases. Judges did impose sentences including jail time. He was even sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Still Cindy Bischof died.  This case, along with others, illustrate how desperately domestic violence laws need to be strengthened, and how new technology needs to be incorporated into the laws. Had electronic monitoring been made available, there would have been an alert to the fact that Giroux was in the vicinity of her workplace.

Cindy Bischof’s Memorial page and the beginning of the domestic violence foundation. If you live in Illinois and wish to help, they have listed contact information. If you live in another state and are thinking of doing something similar, you may wish to make contact also.

There is a lot of good information coming out in the above articles. For instance information about risk factors

Studies of women killed by an intimate partner have identified common traits among the perpetrators. Among them: access to a gun, previous threat with a weapon, estrangement from the partner, stalking, forced sex, abuse during pregnancy, drug abuse and unemployment.

“When individuals are unemployed or they start spiraling downward … then that’s a huge, huge red flag,”

In certain cases, however, no jail sentence — no matter how long — would dissuade someone from harming their intimate partner, experts say.

That’s why women who face abuse or harassment are encouraged to seek help outside the legal system. Domestic violence agencies can assist victims in creating comprehensive safety plans, which can include changing their name and even relocating.

Sometimes only the most extreme measure works, said Kathy Doherty, executive director of Between Friends, which provides legal advocacy to domestic abuse victims.

“We’ve helped some women disappear,” she said.


It doesn’t seem fair that the victim should have to be the one to change her lifestyle in order to survive. But until a better system is developed, it may be best to start  over somewhere new and make the changes, than to live with the fear and the terror or to not survive. And sometimes that is the only choices you have.

Meanwhile, there is a need to fight for stronger laws, better technology, more effective treatment for offenders.

“Self defense” ?

Denise Blanton, 38, and Nicholas Wolke, 47, were in a relationship. Police have described the relationship as

“on again, off again”

According to law enforcement

“We have responded to that location before several times,”  “It’s certainly been a volatile situation for some time and we’ve been to that location and dealt with these individuals before in a domestic violence sense.”

Law enforcement says they had been called to the home multiple times. According to reports, they had been called to the home once in Nov. of 2007. When the first officer arrived, Wolke allegedly picked up a phone and hit the officer in the head as the officer attempted to check him for weapons. Wolke then fled the home.

Officers were still at the home when the phone rang. Reportedly it was Wolke, calling to tell Denise Blanton where he was and telling her to bring his clothing to him so that he could leave the state.

Law enforcement proceeded his location and took him in custody with the help of a police dog. During the process, Wolke reportedly received a dog bite and had to be taken for medical treatment. That situation has been described as still unresolved.

Tues. night/early Wed. AM, Wolke was reportedly back at Denise Blanton’s address again. Denise Blanton was there with her son and two teen daughters. And allegedly another argument took place. According to reports Wolke walked out of the home and outside he shot Denise Blanton’s 21 year old son Jonathon Gilkison. Allegedly when Denise Blanton came out of the home, he shot her too. Wolke then left.

An adult daughter had been away from the home, but she arrived soon after. Her sisters rushed to tell her what had occurred, she reportedly saw her brother lying in the gravel and her mother lying on the sidewalk. There was no phone at the home. So the daughter put her sisters in the car and the three drove to call 911.

Voice of 911 Operator: “Where was this at?”

Tiffany Adkins told the dispatcher: “180 Brown Hill Road. My mother and my brother have been shot in the head by her boyfriend, and I don’t know where he’s at.”

Both Jonathon Gilkison and Denise Blanton were pronounced dead.

A search began for Nicholas Wolke. Despite fears that he may have fled the state, police soon received tips that Wolke was still in the state. He was located at a friend’s home two counties away.

Wolke was taken into custody and later transferred to the county in which the crime happened. A cluster of news reporters were waiting for him to be brought in. Wolke reportedly had something to say to reporters. He supposedly looked at them and said two words:


Police have denied the shooting was in self-defense. Wolke has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and is being held with a $1 million dollar bond.

The adult daughter has told media

“Peoples have told me he could do something like that. I just never thought he would.”

wcpo.com             maysville-online.com           news.enquirer.com

kypost.com         peoplesdefender.com

The daughter said she never thought this could happen. And she isn’t alone. Most likely her mother never thought it would happen either. Or if the thought that he might kill her had crossed her mind- she more than likely never thought he would harm her children.

That happens a lot. The violence happens, it is bad for a while, then it is over and life goes on as before. It doesn’t happen all the time. And to try to get along, most victims will try to put away any resentment they may feel, may even feel guilty because they feel that resentment. After all- he is sorry, he is being nice, he is trying right? So things are better until the next time.

And he has never killed before- though some abusers will threaten to. The victim may know someone who has had problems with a relationship violence- but they lived through it. And after all, the victim thinks- he didn’t try to kill me. So if they think of the danger or have any fear, most victims will also try to put that aside along with any resentment or other negative emotions.

But domestic violence, domestic abuse, troubled relationship, volatile situation or however you wish to term it means a danger to the victim. An increased danger they could be maimed or murdered. Because the abuser has never killed before doesn’t mean that at some point they won’t.

And sadly, others can be at risk also. Family or friends, police officers or even strangers who attempt to intervene can also be at risk. Or they could also be at risk just because the abuser knows the victim loves them.

I have been thinking about the teen girls who were home with their mother and brother. First the argument going on. Then just as it looked like it was over and he was leaving the home, the gunshot. Their mother going out the door to see what happened and another gunshot. The fear they must have felt, with no phone to call for help, no way of knowing if he would return, no way of getting help for their Mother and Brother.

Their sister driving up thinking about who knows what, just another evening. Suddenly, aware of the crisis in their lives. And unprepared, without even time to absorb what has happened, as the only remaining adult she has to take charge.

Update: Just another domestic disturbance call

On Feb. 8 I wrote the entry Just another domestic disturbance call about Teresa Lynn Baker, a woman who lived next door to her daughter. A daughter that had had a history of alleged domestic abuse with her partner. And I admitted I was conflicted about what Teresa Baker had done. She called police to tell them about what was happening at her daughter’s home. And when they failed to respond in an hour, she left her home and went to her daughter’s home where she allegedly proceeded to shoot Jeffery Sadler, her daughter’s boyfriend and the father of some of her grandchildren.

Well I still believe that the only valid reason for taking a life is in defense of self and others, but I am a little less conflicted about it now. More information about the case came out in the preliminary hearing.

According to the defense attorney, Teresa Baker heard screaming at her daughter’s house. And one of her grandchildren told her that the couple was fighting. And according to the defense attorney Teresa Baker was told

“he had been threatening her with a knife, saying he was going to gut her.”

She didn’t rush over there and insert herself into the argument. She called police. The dispatcher reportedly told her

“We’re going to get (police) right there,”

She knew about the history of violence in the home. She had been told he was armed with a knife. She had been told of the threats. And she went out on her porch and sat and worried and waited with a gun in her houseshoe. 

One hour went by. A very slow 60 mins. A total of 360 seconds. She had a child in that home with a man wielding a knife and threatening her. She had grandchildren in that home who were watching what was happening between their parents, who had heard the threat. For one hour she sat and worried and waited. And no police.

She finally got up, went to the home and shot Jeffery Spadler.

Forensics detectives have said they found “stab marks” in a wall of the home.

Police have said they did not respond because they did not have officers available. They have said that because Baker was calm in the initial phone call they put it at a lower priority. Now they say that if Baker had told them she had a gun, that would have probably made it a higher priority! They also commented on the fact that in the initial call, Baker appeared calm.

My computer won’t play the 911 video’s that are listed (I only got part of the last call to play) and I haven’t found a written transcript of the 911 calls. But I question whether the first call was a calm and collected person, or a scared mother struggling to remain calm so that she could give the police the information that was needed in order to get police to come to her daughter’s aid.

After the murder she did not appear calm, she also didn’t attempt to hide what she had done nor did she appear to have attempted to hide evidence of what she had done. She reportedly went home, picked up the phone and called the police back and hysterically told the dispatcher what she had done. Finally police had the emotion they say was missing in the first call. So much emotion the dispatcher reprimanded her repeatedly to calm down.

herald-dispatch.com                     wsaz.com (video with links to the 911 call)

As I have said before, while I don’t condone what Teresa Baker is accused of doing… if I felt my child was in danger, and police did not respond… I don’t know if I would have done anything different- except probably I wouldn’t have waited the full hour.

In time Teresa Baker will be in trial and facing a jury. Most likely she will not be facing a jury of persons who had been in domestic violence relationships or who had lost someone to domestic violence. This jury will probably know the myths and misconceptions that go along with domestic violence. But they may not know the facts, the things that only come from surviving it- either directly or through a loved one.

The struggles that a parent, child, sibling, cousin or friend goes through as they watch their loved one struggle with domestic violence. The fear and worry they live with as they try to advise their adult loved one, and the helplessness they feel when the adult child remains in the relationship. The grief and struggles they go through when they lose them forever.

At some point Teresa Baker will face that jury of citizens from that county. I am not going to ask you whether you think what she did was right or wrong, that is for the court to decide. But I will ask if you were in her shoes, what would you have done? Do you feel that you can reach out and help the citizens in that area to understand this from the point of view of a person who has been there?

Herald Dispatch Letters to the Editor

Huntingtonnews Editor

Everyone is Entitled to an Attorney

Andrew L. Boisvert, 37, and Margaret “Meg” Ninos, 47, used to be a couple. Though their marriage did not last, they did share a daughter in common. Both were in helping professions, with Ninos a nurse and Boisvert a paramedic. But after a few years they divorced about 3 years ago. Boisvert has since remarried and Ninos had a boyfriend. According to at least one report they two had a disagreement about custody issues and had planned to meet on Wed. to discuss the issue.

Investigators say that at one point Margaret Ninos had a restraining order on Boisvert. But her boyfriend who she had reportedly been dating for a year says

“I didn’t know that. I wish I had known that,” said Ninos’ boyfriend, Paul Tibets, of Medfield. “She never put (Boisvert) in a bad light. That’s the type of person she is. He had a very bad temper. They said he could be volatile at times. There were numerous incidents between the two of them where he abused her.”

Wednesday night police say they got a call from Boisvert. And they say the 7 year old daughter was in the vicinity when he called. When police arrived at the home they found the body of Margaret Ninos. They report she had suffered fatal head wounds and have said it was an extemely violent attack. Police haven’t said if the child was home at the time of her mother’s death.

Boisvert was interviewed Wed. night and into Thurs. AM. But he was released. Boisvert was seen Thurs. evening but hasn’t been seen since. Police have since named him as a suspect in the death of Margaret Ninos. Police say

“We were gathering pretty strong evidence. How he became aware of that, how much he perceived what we had, might have affected the way he proceeded,”

It is reported that Boisvert may be driving a black 1998 Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler had a Mass. license plate 781-KLO. Now the odd thing about the Wrangler is that it reportedly belongs to an attorney who had previously represented Boisvert in a bankruptcy hearing. Police also report the attorney and Boisvert have a “personal” relationship.

Police have said that Boisvert may be armed with at least one weapon and they say they believe he could be dangerous. They are asking that if you see him, that you should report to police but not to approach him. A warrant has been issued for Boisvert’s arrest. Boisvert is described as 5’5″, 180 lbs. Brown hair and brown eyes. Police say he may have a cut on his head and may be wearing glasses.

Police say the child is in a safe place. Family members have said the child was not at home when her mother died. They report she has been told her Mother is dead, but not how she died or that her father is thought to be involved. Reportedly after police arrived her father sent her to a neighbors home to stay during the investigation.

bostonherald.com (picture at link) boston.com      boston.com

thebostonchannel.com (picture at link) bostonherald.com

dailynewstribune.com (friends and family talk about memories)


Everyone is entitled to an attorney. But not every attorney will supply a vehicle.


Andrew L. Boisvert has been found. A rest stop employee in NC first located the vehicle he was driving. Then Andrew Boisvert was found after he apparently committed suicide. Authorities say he did leave a suicide note in which he stated that he was wanted for murder but said it wasn’t an admission.

The DA has given more details into what was known about the death of Margaret (Meg) Ninos. A witness reportedly saw Boisvert near the home of Meg Ninos earlier in the day, but wearing different clothing than he was wearing later. It is believed that after beating Meg Ninos to death that Boisvert cleaned up, and then went to the bus stop to pick his daughter up. He took her to a movie, then stopped at a convience store. It was after that that he called police. Durning a search of his truck, police found bloody clothing.

Police believe that financial and other “family issues” led up to the murder.

milforddailynews.com          bostonherald.com            wsoctv.com

Just another domestic disturbance call

In June, police reportedly charged Jeffrey Sadler with a misdemeanor domestic battery. However, he failed to show up in court to answer to the charge so a warrant was issued for his arrest. That warrant was never executed. According to records Sadler’s girlfriend Alison Grieco had reported that she had asked Jeffrey Sadler about some missing money and he had hit her four times and told her that       

“the next time he would rob her blind.”

Also in June, Alison Grieco filed for a restraining order. She filed a second one in Aug. Reportedly they were both granted on a temporary basis, but were later withdrawn when she failed to show up for court hearings related to the order.        

Sadler’s grandfather, Cabell County Magistrate Darrell Black, said the couple had its share of problems, but everything usually worked out. He said the family was at a loss for words Tuesday.      

“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “It normally would just work out. One would go one way, and one would go the other way.”

Media reports indicate that that Sadler came and went from the home and that he stayed there periodically. Also sharing the home were three young children. One was Alison Grieco’s child from another relationship, the other two were reportedly children that Alison Grieco had with Jeffrey Sadler.

At 7:58 pm Monday night, police recieved a call from Teresa Lynn Baker, the neighbor to Jeffrey Sadler and Alison Grieco. Teresa Baker is also the mother to Alison Grieco. In her call to police Monday night she reported a domestic problem next door at her daughter’s home. Police say that she was calm and collected during the call. According to police they did not have anyone immediately available to answer the call. At 9:07 pm she called back and reported that she had shot Sadler.

When police arrived they found Jeffrey Sadler dead. Reports indicate that Alison Grieco has told police that she heard Jeffrey Sadler and her mother Teresa Baker, then heard three shots and saw Jeffrey Sadler fall. According to reports the children also saw it happen.
Police have said that it is their understanding that Jeffrey Sadler was waiting on family to pick him up and take him away from the home. They also explained that their officers were busy that night and that when the call came in they had to prioritize the calls. They explained that from Teresa Baker’s demeanor

(Baker) was very calm and collected,” Holbrook said of Baker’s first call. “It didn’t raise any tremendous flags. It wasn’t like there was an assault in progress. There was just an argument.” 

The victim’s grandfather has said        

“In an argument between a man and a woman, things can get out of hand right then,” he said. “One of them can get seriously hurt or killed, like Jeff.”

Police have charged Teresa Lynn Baker with first degree murder.

herald-dispatch.com           herald-dispatch.com     wboy.com     wowktv.com   

huntingtonnews.com            wsaz.com

I really don’t know what to say.

As a crime blogger and a domestic violence observer, I believe it is wrong to take the law in your own hands. She should have called police. But she did and they didn’t respond. There has been no indication as to how severe the domestic disturbance had gotten. No indication as to whether the daughter had injuries. No indication as to whether Baker had just gotten tired of the arguments next door or whether she was acting in defense of her daughter and grandchildren’s safety and well being.

Most police departments take domestic violence situations very seriously. Many have said they feel that domestic violence situations are the most frustrating situations they face and often the most dangerous to them, to bystanders and to the victim. Yet after an hour this department had not responded. Is this why? If this had happened while the couple had been at a mall or a school, would police have thought this had a higher priority? Is it that they were in their own home that caused it to be a lower priority on the initial call? Is it that they go to so many domestic calls that de-escalate once police arrive that they minimize the dangers involved? Were they unaware that with a couple with a previous history that a ‘dispute can go from mild to lethal within minutes? Or do they just feel that it happens so often that they are tired of being involved? Or maybe they just aren’t aware of the dangers of domestic violence.

Had they at least gotten the names of the parties during the inital call, they could have gotten those and ran them through their computer system. They would have at least found the existing warrant on one name- that surely would have given them some indication that this wasn’t “just another domestic disturbance call.” But then maybe they were aware of the warrant and were aware of the couple’s history. After all, someone had investigated the previous call.

As a mother myself, I don’t know what I would have done in Teresa Baker’s shoes. As a mother I don’t like anyone hurting my child, I fear anyone harming my child. As a mother she would have been aware of the previous incident that led to the misdemeanor charge- and probably was aware of others that didn’t get to court. As a mother I know how hard it is to stand by and leave the decisions on what will be done after a domestic violence incident to your adult child and to the legal system. Even when you think they are wrong. For a mother who lives next door and hears the incidents as they happen, well that would be extremely difficult. Then to have make the call and have police not show up for over an hour….

I still don’t agree with what she did, unless there is some indication that her daughter or her children were in immediate danger. But I also know that standing by and not doing anything would be almost impossible if I had been in the same situation.

At least the department did show up after the report of the shooting. Maybe that was what they were waiting for.

The Dreamin’ Demon has also written his thoughts on the case. He also has the couple’s myspace URL’s.

No Longer a Normal Day

Thursday was just another week day like any other week day. Families got up and prepared to begin their day just like all the other weekdays that came before. Parents to work and kids to the 5th grade. Just routine. Maybe the kids liked school, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they liked their teacher, or maybe they didn’t. Just routine for 5th grade kids. They had no way of knowing that today would be no where near normal or routine.

Traditionally teachers don’t discuss any problems with their private life with their students, so the kids may or may not have known the teacher Christi Layne, 53, had separated from her husband. She filed for divorce on Jan. 25. Police had reportedly been involved in a domestic dispute around that time. Most likely they weren’t aware that she had also obtained a restraining order on Jan. 15. In the restraining order that was requested on Jan. 15 Christi Layne stated that her husband Michael Layne had threatened her and her son and that:

“He said I better enjoy myself because it will be soon,” she wrote in a restraining order request. “I am afraid that he will hurt me or my son when he is mad.”

Reports now indicate that at some point Christi Layne moved out of the home she shared with her husband and had a security system installed in the home she moved to.

Most likely neither the kids nor their teacher were aware of a stabbing that happened not far from the school about 9:12 am. Stephanie Loop, 22, was reportedly outside her home when a man came out of nowhere and began stabbing her. Her cousin was also there and indicates that the man was Michael Layne.

Not long after school began and shortly after the knife attack on Stephanie Loop word got out that there was a shooting at the school. Police were notified at 9:16 am. They report they were at the scene by 9:18 am. Parents began to gather near the school. Unable to get into the school because it was in lockdown for the children’s safety and it was a crime scene. The parents unable to get to the children and not knowing exactly what happened or whether their children were safe. Cell phones ringing and rumors flying. Most likely each parent was eager for any bit of news, but how do you know which rumor was true? Were the kids ok, what had they seen or heard, were they safe, had any of the kids been hurt, how are the kids, what is happening, are the kids ok?

Finally after what must have seemed like an eternity, the kids were escorted out of the school. Some were probably crying, some were probably in shock. But all were physically ok. Some had seen a man enter the school and approach the teacher. Some fled the room others headed for a nearby closet. They heard a gunshot. Some saw their teacher lying on the floor bleeding as they were escorted from the room by police officers.

Michael Layne was found at his home. During the three hour standoff at his home, several shots were heard. Layne fired several, police did shoot out a security system camera at the home. When attempts to make contact with Layne failed police did enter the home and found Michael Layne dead from what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Much of this is still being investigated today, a lot of what was happening or why is still not known. Early media reports said that Stephanie Loop who was stabbed near her home was possibly the mother or sister to Christi Layne. Today’s reports say that Michael Layne considered Stephanie Loop his girlfriend. At least one report indicates that Stephanie Loop had been at Michael Layne’s home the night before and requested someone to come and get her. Stephanie Loop was taken to a hospital and her condition is is reported as critical but stable. Her exact relationship to Michael Layne is not known, but police have said she was not related to Christi Layne. It is unknown what the motivation for her stabbing was. There were witnesses to her stabbing.

Christi Layne was taken to the hospital and remains in critical condition. Early reports indicated that she had been shot. Some children reported hearing a shot. Today’s reports indicate that she had been stabbed and maybe shot.

wdtn.com     timesreporter.com   portsmouth-dailytimes.com

 chillicothegazette.com     portsmouth-dailytimes.com

portsmouth-dailytimes.com          portsouth-dailytimes.com

I began watching media reports on this one soon after it had occurred. And what stuck in my mind was those parents standing in the cold not knowing. I know I am a parent that will not be satisfied that my child is ok until I actually set eyes on them. But for the child’s own safety the children couldn’t be brought out until police were satisfied there was no further danger to them. Standing and waiting, not sure…. it had to have been terribly difficult.

Much of the information about what happened is still unknown. If you follow media reports about a crime you will find that sometimes the information will change and evolve. Police usually can not and will not give out the results of their investigation until they are satisfied they have all the information they can get and can reasonably prove what they know. Media gets their info in pieces from what they see, what little they can get from police and from witnesses, relatives, neighbors and friends that they can get to talk to them. They will also check background records such as court records. So often media reports will seem to change and evolve as more info becomes known.

Trench has also blogged this at the Chronicles and you can find those posts here, here and here.

I will be blogging another case today that sharply contrasts with this case so stay tuned or check back later.


Reports indicate that Stephanie Loop has been released from the hospital.


The Previous History

Let’s go back to a date in Mar. of last year. Mar. 6, 2006. Police receive a call to the address. They may or may not have recognized the address, but it was the address of a county special deputy. Or they may have recognized the address through previous calls. The history indicates there had been 6 times in the last 2 years.  

Nikki Henderson, 29, lived there with her husband Ray Spradley, 42 and at least one child, Nikki’s 7 year old daughter. And despite the 2 year history of domestic violence, the couple were newlyweds only married a few short months. Of the previous calls to the home, Ray Spradley made 4 of those calls with allegations that he was being beaten. Nikki Henderson was arrested once, and was given a diverson program. Spradley at one point had a restraining order against Nikki Henderson.

So on Mar. 6 when police arrived they found the body of Nikki Henderson. She had been shot, allegedly there were a total of 11 shots fired. The defense attorney has stated the events occured like this:

“Ray took the gun away from Nikki. Nikki took the gun away from Ray. Ray took the gun away a second time and then fired 11 times at Nikki Henderson,”

After the shooting Spradley left the home. It was up to the 7 year old child to go to a neighbor for assistance and make contact with police. Some articles indicate the child witnessed the shooting.

Now it is almost two years later and the case is coming to trial. Spradley has been in jail without bond since he turned himself into police shortly after the shooting. He is expected to testify in his own defense. It has been indicated that he intends to claim “battered husband” as a defense. According to the defense attorney:

“We believe that given the circumstances and the fact that there had been other instances of violence between the two persons committed by her — we think the evidence will show that he took the only course of action available to him under the circumstances,”

theindychannel.com         theindychannel.com    theindychannel.com         indystar.com

Now that is going to be an interesting trial. The defense attorney of course gets his information from his client. His client is claiming that Nikki had the gun, then he got it, then Nikki got it, then he got it back. Now this is just my opinion- but whoever holds the gun has more control of a situation. And if this story is true (hopefully there will some evidence at trial to prove or disprove that)- that would mean that Henderson had control at first, Spradley second, Henderson third and Spradley had the final control. The way I am seeing it, whoever had the gun had the means of leaving the situation. I would like to know why when either of them had the weapon did they not use that to keep things in control long enough to leave? Yet neither did. Instead possession of the weapon seems to have been the priority.

HSH guilty of gender bias? I had a lot of trouble writing this one. I found myself questioning if he may have had the knowlege and experience to perhaps turn any abuse complaints to his advantage. I found myself questioning why he stayed with her and why they married if there was previous abuse (sound familiar? the cliche often used when females claim abuse and don’t leave the relationship.) And I found myself wondering if his allegations that Nikki Henderson was the one to introduce the gun were really what happened. And I found myself thinking that if I had heard this as the female doing the shooting that perhaps, just maybe in some ways it could be “self-defense” but a man?

And I realized that if it had been the female who had done the shooting instead of the reverse, I wouldn’t have been as questioning. So yes, even I sometimes have some gender bias. That is something I work on. Maybe he is slanting the story to excuse the shooting. Or maybe he is being truthful. One thing I did note is the number of shots. 11 shots, they wanted them dead. Overkill. Yet that is something that I often hear about when a woman who has been abused does kill her husband/boyfriend. As if once they get started, they don’t or can’t stop. There have actually been studies showing that the abused person sees the abuser as all powerful and they continue because they think that is needed to make sure they are safe. Or it is a sign of extreme rage.

I think this trial will be interesting because the evidence will say a lot, his testimony will say a lot. But the biggest factor is going to be how the jury perceives it. And traditionally juries don’t accept “battered wife syndrome” very well, so what will they do with “battered husband?” But no matter what the gender, one thing that will be looked at is did they have a way to leave the violent episode. And having possession of the gun and not leaving will probably be looked at.

All this reportedly happened in front of a 7 year old child. A 7 year old child that in spite of her fear of the events, in spite of the sight of her mother and in spite of her age had to seek out a neighbor for comfort and assistance. Children who lose their parents at this young age do suffer a lot of anguish at the loss of a parent. But this child will have more- she not only lost her mother, she lost her through violence and she saw it happen. And with 11 shots being fired, she could also have been endangered if not directly by the gun going off during the struggle, then by a stray bullet.

Instead of one of them using their control of the situation through possession of the weapon to leave, we have a mother dead, a child endangered and motherless, and a man in jail and facing a possible prison sentence. Nobody ever wins in a domestic.

A big thank you to DP for the tip on this one.


Thanks to J we have an update. Ray Spradley was found guilty of the charge of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. He now faces sentencing which could be 20 to 50 years in prison.

theindychannel.com               indystar.com


Now we have more information. During the trial an expert defense witness hired by the defense testified that Spradley did show signs of “battered spouse syndrome”, but a psychologist hired by the prosecution testified that he also showed signs of some characteristics of an abuser.

Spradley had taken a protection order out against Nikki Henderson. But at one point Nikki Henderson had taken out a protection order against Spradley. The defense brought up the previous police reports of injuries that Spradley alleged he recieved from slaps, bites and punches from Nikki Henderson- but police noted the injuries were minimal.

It was also noted during the trial that Spradley first fired three shots into Nikki Henderson’s front and she fell face down. But after she tried to speak, he then fired eight (8) shots into her back.

Spradley told police the argument began after Nikki Henderson learned that he had been given cologne as a birthday gift from a co-worker.

Family has also said they had heard Spradley verbally abuse and ridicule Nikki Henderson.


Kids and Christmas

There is something really special about kids and Christmas. So trusting and so innocent. So earnst as they make their Christmas lists and try to guess what Santa will bring them. So totally trusting that they are invincable and that there is a Santa Claus.

But one little girl didn’t ask for what she got for Christmas.  She was with her mother and her mother’s 37 year old boyfriend on the Sunday before Christmas. The boyfriend Daniel Heninger allegedly began beating her mother. And according to at least one media report this 6 year old child allegedly tried to stop him. According to reports she was repaid for trying to protect her mother. Allegedly Heninger punched her, he kicked her and he threw her to the floor several times. Per police:

“The suspect picked the child up numerous times and physically threw the child to the floor,” says Sargent Pat Ross of the Springfield Police Department, “causing severe head trauma and numerous fractures.”

She was taken to the hospital in what was first called life threatening injuries. According to reports she had multiple fractures, bruises and cuts.

It seems that Daniel Heninger does have a history. In 1991 he was convicted of drug and weapon offenses and put on probation. But in 1994, he reportedly violated that probation and was incarcerated for 2 years. And in 2005 he was allegedly arrested twice. Once when he whipped the children of a girlfriend and left bruises and another time when he allegedly hit a woman in the face with a bat. However, no charges were ever filed on those arrests. The woman allegedly didn’t cooperate with police and it is unknown why there were no charges in the spanking incident. According to media, Heninger is already on probation for a domestic battery in Sept. 2006. Reportedly he has completed the required anger managment course and was due to attend a hearing in Feb. to pay his fine.

The litte girl spent her Christmas in the hospital, but reports indicate that her condition has been upgraded to stable. I have not seen any reports on the mother’s condition. At the time of the altercation there were two other children in the home ages 3 months and 13 months. They were not harmed. I have not seen any charges filed for the alleged abuse of the mother.

Daniel Heninger has been charged with aggravated battery to a child and attempted murder.

sj-r.com                        illinoishomepage.net              wthitv.com                      southernillinoisan.com

She is 6 years old. She has no say about who her mother dates and probably didn’t know Heningers criminal history. All she knew was that her mother was being hurt. And she wanted it to stop.

Instead of a happy Christmas, she spent the day surrounded by nurses, and strange sounds and strange equipment and in pain. She has already or eventually will have to talk to other strangers and tell them what happened to her and who did it. She will need time to heal from her injuries, and may be delayed in returning to school to tell her friends what she got for Christmas. And that Sunday as well as many times since that day she has been scared and in pain.

 This may or may not be the first time she saw her mother being hurt. But this time she tried to stop it. She did not know the danger she was putting herself in, she just wanted to stop her mother being hurt. Children rely on their parents to keep them away from dangerous situations where they can be physically abused or emotionally traumatized. In relationships where there is domestic violence, there is also an increased risk of child abuse. Something every parent in an abusive relationship should keep in mind.

I just hope that this brave little girl got every other wish she had for Christmas.

After the alert

Last Wednesday 23 year old Crystal Tijerina left her parents home and they were concerned about her. By Thursday a public alert was issued asking for reports of her whereabouts. It was believed she might be suicidal and armed.

She was heard from next when a report came in from her ex-husband’s home. A neighbor knew of the alert and had seen her enter the ex-husband’s home so he called police. She had showed up at the home in violation of a protective order against her. Police responded at 5:45 pm, but when they arrived she was gone. Police say that visit had been relatively non-confrontational. There was a 2 year old child in the home at the time and the ex-husband had family pick the child up as a precaution. The protection order also covered the child.

Less than 30 minutes later the boyfriend stumbled out of the home with a bullet wound to his neck and was seen by the neighbor. Police were called back to the scene. Tijerina had returned to the home and this time showed a handgun. As the ex-husband attempted to flee the home, she fired. Though the  ex-husband had heard a shot as he was leaving the home, police had to wait for a swat team to arrive. The swat team surrounded the home and as a precaution some neighbors were evacuated from their homes. But when police made entry to the home it was determined that Crystal Tijerina was dead, police say her death was at her own hands.

Police have announced that Tijerina’s family were not aware of any danger to her ex-husband. The ititial alert was from a concern for Crystal’s safety. There was concern that the ex-husband’s injuries might be serious because of the location of the wound, but he was taken to the hospital, treated and released.  

There was a history of previous domestic violence complaints. Crystal Tijerina was arrested several times in 2006.

sltrib.com                sltrib.com               heraldextra.com            desertnews.com

The majority of domestic violence seems to be perpetrated by men against women. More women die than men. But men do not go unscathed. Men do die from domestic violence also. In this one he was lucky and survived. But just like any other victim of domestic violence- he is left with the memory and the scars of that day.

I know it may not seem macho or manly. But men do sometimes need to take out protective orders. And men who do need to take that step also need to take precautions for their safety. Any time there is a dispute and one party of the dispute becomes suicidal, then the other party needs to take precautions.

This is purely speculation. The 2 year old child that has been mentioned has not been mentioned as her child. But I do wonder if the child was their child in common and if this was over a child custody dispute?

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