Its been a bit since I’ve had the chance to update my blog. To my readers I apologize. I’m in the last semester of class and I have landed an internship in victim advocacy- the exact reason I decided to go back to school in the first place! I have a haunting past, and from the flames and shattered glass I rose like a Phoenix, and YOU CAN TOO.

My goal is to show anyone and everyone that no matter how horrific the things you may face or have faced, you can begin to heal ANYTIME you so choose. You can be 80 years old and decide, hey, today I choose to put ME FIRST and heal from what I went thru.

For years of my life I tried to fill the holes in my heart with sex, food, abusive relationships, bingeing, purging, drugs. I suffered from PTSD (I didn’t know until I eventually went to counselling), and I was terrified of failing my children. I took every criticism and inability to provide the best for my oldest children to heart, and that lead me down the path of believing people who said I wasnt a good enough parent, wife, daughter, human.

I wont lie and say that those feelings have disappeared. The real truth is that, like an addict, you will always have moments of self-doubt that can snowball into a million what-ifs and why-didn’t-I’s. However, after we escaped my abusive ex husband, and the courts finally ruled to protect us, a safety plan was put in place and we were able to be SAFE, something slowly started to shift within myself.

Trust that when I say slowly, I am talking about over a period of six years. I began discovering things I never knew I loved to do, such as painting and drawing. I’ve always felt connected to music so I started to rekindle that love affair. I started putting self-love as a top item on my to-do list and have continued to push forward.

By chance a few years ago I was able to attend a domestic violence conference featuring an amazing woman, Leslie Morgan Steiner. She shared so many of my same experiences with her abusive ex, and the more I listened to her talk, the more empowered I felt. It was then that I decided I wanted to DO SOMETHING to help others, so I enrolled in my local school to pursue a paralegal degree. I started networking with other advocates and agencies who are focused on bringing awareness and help to people who need it. Along the way I’ve established the most beautiful, strong and empowered network of women and men who I aspire to be like. Many of them are survivors too, who chose to heal thru the art of helping others. These individuals inspire me every single day. (Eileen King, Melanie Blow, Maralee Mclean, Mildred D. Muhammad, Karen Allen, Barry Goldstein, Julie Owens, Garland Waller, Tommy Womeldorf, Patrice Lenowitz… The list is infinite and ever-growing!)

They say it takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to empower a victim and turn them into a survivor! I thank you all who have shaped me, encouraged me, and shown me what it means to turn things around and into something beautiful.

Part of my healing process has been through my accomplishments; I finish my internship in 88 hours. I’m in the middle of my last class. I have sat for and passed my Accredited Legal Professional Certification exam and am a state certified victim advocate. I achieved all of this over the last few years- rough years at that. I got diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014; a complete hysterectomy and a lengthy battle had me very, very sick. We had a house fire in 2016 where we lost everything, including some of our pets. Our unreliable vehicle often had us walking to and from work and school- some days it was six miles there and back- and bloody toes were a regular thing. But I did not stop.

I fought like I was never able to do when I was a helpless little girl being raped, a terrified child in a new foster home, or a young wife being choked to unconsciousness…

I fought. And I’m winning. And so can YOU.

I want my readers to know that you DO have somebody out there to help you. A LOT of some bodies. You can get out, heal and overcome ANYTHING.

If you need help, many of the above mentioned people have agencies in various states. You can contact them, or your local victim advocacy group. There are abundant resources: Child Justice, Defenders of Children, Stop Abuse Campaign, After The Trauma, Inc, WBGR Health & Wellness Network, Forward Motion, Children’s Justice Campaign…

You will find your villiage. The hardest part is reaching out and saying HELP. Once you do, be proud of yourself. And never, ever give up!

More blog posts to come soon.

Jen

See the source image

 

 

 

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#MeToo and The Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights

So many lives are affected by sexual abuse. The statistics are staggering. The National Statistics on Sexual Violence states that One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Among developmentally disabled adults, up to 83% of females and 32% of males are victims of sexual violence. One in every seven victims of sexual assault is under the age of six. One in four victims of sexual assault under the age of twelve is a boy. Nearly six out of ten sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home or the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor. Sexual assault is the violent crime that is least often reported to law enforcement officials. A 2000 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only 28% of victims report their sexual assault to the police. Victims of rape and attempted rape who did not report to the police did not report for a number of reasons. 43% of victims did not report because they thought that nothing could be done, 27% thought it was a private matter, 12% were afraid of the police response, and 12% felt it was not important enough to report.

My own assault lasted for years before I finally got the courage to tell a family member. That person told me she ‘would tell them to lay off me for awhile’. That day, an 8 year old me who had suffered rape at the hands of three adult males on an almost daily basis since the age of six, lost faith, lost the will to even live. That day I attempted suicide for the first of several times, unable to fathom spending the rest of my days being used, abused and discarded. Finally one day my grandfather packed up his care and we DID leave that place, and although my body eventually healed, my soul and my young mind was forever fractured. They stripped me of my innocence and the little girl I had been before these men came in my life died the day I reached out for help and was denied. I spent the next 20+ years trying to feel whole, to put those pieces somehow back together.

I carried the memory of my life ‘before’, mourning the loss of the joy I had felt just being alive, carrying the sadness with me everywhere I went. I didn’t trust, I didn’t believe, I didn’t hope, I didn’t care if I lived or died. I still carry the events of those years and the shroud of my murdered childhood everywhere I went. Then one day my son opened up to his therapist about his own sexual abuse. They told me together. I was stunned and ashamed and so incredibly angry with myself that I didn’t KNOW. How could I not know?!? After everything I had been thru, all of the ways I tried to educate my children about the dangers of the world and as close as we are- I DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS IN MY OWN CHILD. I had been in his shoes  In my eyes, I had failed him and my other children. I was the worst mother in the world not to have seen exactly what was happening under my own roof. I had LIVED those lies, that fear of my abusers, the fear of telling and yet- I was blind to the suffering of my sweet boy. My horror quickly turned to anger and I became determined that my child would NEVER feel like his assault didn’t matter. Unlike my own guardians, with the help of my sons therapist, we contacted the police immediately. The therapist by law had to contact social services, and after an intense investigation they determined that there had been substantial sexual abuse of both my son AND my baby daughter. Regardless of the evidence, the very brave testimony of my son, his abuser still to this day has not been charged. The police felt there wasn’t enough to charge that evil man. So, like myself, my children did not get Justice in the legal sense. In the 6 years since, thanks to amazing therapists, a move across the country (far away from that sicko) and lots of love from my husband and I, both my son and daughter are thriving. My son will soon be 17, and he is one of the bravest, strongest young men Ive ever met. He is his sisters hero. He told to save HER, and although she was abused, she was only one at the time and doesn’t remember that monster or what happened. She too has thrived in therapy and is an incredible joy to all who know her. My son DID save her, himself and ME.

Thru therapy I learned the cathartic effect of speaking up for others that have been abused, and how to embrace the fact that I’m a survivor and not a victim any longer. Beside my children I learned how to let go of the baggage I had carried thru my life and turn those horrific experiences into something that matters. What matters (to me) is speaking up for those who cant, spreading awareness and hope and hopefully making a change. My story is no different from the millions of other #metoo survivors out there who are brave enough to step forward. It is not east to talk about something so raw and horrific. But SILENCE is what our abusers want, what they rely on so they can continue their sick cycles. For the brave ones that DO speak up, the justice system typically gives the absconders a slap on the hand, maybe some jail time or their names even added to a list. The Survivor meanwhile gets a life sentence.

Actor Terry Crews recently testified in front of congress to advocate for the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which would preserve rape kits, subsidize examinations across the country and protect sexual assault survivors under. Crews said that “I know how hard it is to come forward. I know the shame associated with the assault. I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too… I chose to tell my story and share my experience to stand in solidarity with millions of other survivors around the world.” He added: “This bill gives survivors the right to have time to distance themselves from the immediate trauma before making the difficult decision to report the assault to law enforcement.” I applaud Mr. Crews for having the courage to discuss his own assault, his emotion at times visibly simmering beneath the surface while he bravely continued his advocacy.

Growing up sexual abuse was not openly discussed. In recent years however more and more celebrities and advocates are making their voices heard. People are writing books, making movies and shining light on the things that have been happening behind closed doors for much too long. The effectiveness of the #MeToo movement p The bravery of Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Olivia Munn, Kesha, and others to go on the record accusing Weinstein, director James Toback, Executive Roy Price, director Brett Ratner, actor Andy Dick, Bill Cosby, NPR’s senior vice president of news Michael Oreskes, political commentator Mark Halperin, Twiggy Ramirez… proves- in regard to sexual abuse, sexism and exploitation, that it’s necessary for survivors to pool their strength if they want to make a change. In fact, The #MeToo movement started with activist Tarana Burke.”It’s not about a viral campaign for me,” she told CNN “It’s about a movement that began in the deepest, darkest place in my soul.”

On The Justbeinc website Burke say in 1996, when she was a youth camp director “a young girl, Heaven, struggled to tell me about her “stepdaddy” or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body… I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore…which turned out to be less than 5 minutes. Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could ‘help her better’. I will never forget the look on her face… The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again – it was all on her face. And as much as I love children, as much as I cared about that child, I could not find the courage that she had found. I could not muster the energy to tell her that I understood, that I connected, that I could feel her pain. I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured… I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper…me too.”

The Survivors Bill of Rights Act of 2016 was signed and made into law by President Barack Obama on 10/07/2016. Regardless of the bill being passed, there is still a huge push for it to be recognized nationwide. On February 27, 2018 Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, during a hearing examining the implementation of the bill said “This law was created because survivors’ advocacy groups worked diligently to bring this issue to the attention of Congress and to guide introduction of a bill that quickly became law. These advocacy groups, such as RISE, started by Amanda Ngyuen, are responsible for enlightening us as to how the treatment of the victims of rape and other sexual offenses varies from state-to-state. In some cases, victims feel their voices go unheard in a system that they are initially told is there to help them through the arduous and sometimes traumatic process that comes after being sexually assaulted. Victims of sexual assault are victimized again when they find themselves alone and without help to navigate policies and procedures that block their access to the justice system and, thus, their ability to obtain actual justice. That is why passage of the ‘Survivors’ Bill of Rights’ was critical. This law should help guarantee that these rights are enforced uniformly throughout the United States.  Geographic location should not dictate the quality of attention or degree of information provided to victims. In addition, the ‘Survivors’ Bill of Rights’ was enacted with the goal of ensuring that victims are included in the investigation of their cases; that their input will be required and respected; and that they will remain informed and involved. When we extended these rights under federal law, we hoped that it would serve as a catalyst for state legislatures to adopt similar laws to ensure uniform treatment of sexual assault victims in state courts, as well.”

It appears that the more we listen to survivors, spread awareness and advocate for one another that we CAN make a difference.

If you need help there are many ways you can reach out. Ive included some of them. Please reach out. You may think you are alone- but you AREN’T. You have a network of people who have been thru similar things and can stand with you as you heal. Go to a place that makes you feel safe. Contact someone you can trust, like a friend or family member. If you call a statewide hotline, you will be connected to the sexual assault crisis center nearest you. All direct services are free and confidential.Try to preserve evidence. If you think you might want to have an exam done or report the crime to the police, do not shower, douche, eat, brush your teeth, smoke, urinate, or wash your clothes.Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

You have the right to request that someone you are comfortable with stay with you in the examination room. You have the right to have a sexual assault counselor or advocate accompany you to medical, law enforcement and legal proceedings. You have the right to have your conversations with a sexual assault counselor or advocate remain confidential. You have the right to decide whether or not you want to report the assault to the police. You have the right to ask questions and get answers regarding any tests, exams, medications, treatments or police reports.

Remember, You are NOT to blame for what happened. You have the Right to be Safe and to Heal. You may feel anger, fear, guilt, embarrassment, depression, isolation, denial, shame, or emotional shock. It is normal to experience these feelings and more. Your emotions are valid. You are not alone.

#MeToo

❤ J

1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

http://www.nsvrc.org/organizations?field_organizations_target_id=8&field_states_territories_target_id=All

You can also access 24/7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org.

Cited:

https://endsexualviolencect.org/resources/get-the-facts/national-stats/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/terry-crews-senate-testimony-sexual-assault-1123360

www. justbeinc.wixsite.com/justbeinc/the-me-too-movement-cmml

http://www.nadler.house.gov/press-release/ranking-member-nadler-statement-implementation-survivors-bill-rights-act

 

Lost Boys of Arizona

My last blog focused on cold cases of young girls in Arizona, however the recent identification of the skeletal remains of missing 10 year old Jesse Wilson is a stark reminder that males are just as at risk as females. Sadly, there are just as many reported missing males and unidentified John Doe Jrs as there are Janes/Females; numbers that are absolutely astonishing and frightening.  Many of the unidentified remains are Hispanic, making me think that maybe they are remains of undocumented immigrants. Their families probably think they are living the American dream, but in reality they never got the chance to try.

Jesse Wilson disappeared in July 2016 from his home in Buckeye Arizona, and for two years police treated his case as if he was a runaway. Three months ago his remains were found less than six miles from his home and police are considering his death to be a homicide. One has to wonder if the police had initially treated his case as an abduction he would have been found sooner, or maybe even still be alive.

Ten-year-old Jesse Wilson disappeared from his family home in the Sundance neighborhood of Buckeye, Arizona in the early morning hours of July 18, 2016. (Buckeye Police Department)

13 year old Alexander Roberts went missing July 29th 1960

13 year old Robert Parks went missing on April 11, 1974

10 year old Randy Parscale, Missing since April 7, 1979

No photo available

13 year old Brian Bleyl, Missing since February 28, 1981

No photo available

John Doe Jr, Found April 22, 1982, in a remote area of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in Maricopa County, Arizona. The John Doe is believed to be between 13 and 15 years of age. No clothing or personal artifacts were recovered. Based on the condition of the remains, it is suspected he could have died as early as 1979. The featured reconstruction is an artist’s rendering of what the John Doe may have looked like. Anyone with information should contact the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, reference case number DR 82-08291 or the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office, reference case number 82-0785. ( I am going to call in to make sure they’ve ruled out Robert Parks, Brian Bleyl and Randy Parscale. See Above)

No photo available

1 year old Jayson Pearce, Missing since April 18, 1983

No photo available

16-18 year old John Doe Jr found on April 5, 1988,  partially buried in a remote desert wash south of Valencia Road, near Ryan Airfield in Tucson, Arizona (Pima County). He had an extra left rib and may have experienced “pinched-nerve” symptoms as a result.  Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML88-0380.

No photo available

13 year old Myron Traylor, Missing since July 27, 1988

16-18 year old John Doe Jr found June 8, 1990,  in a holding tank at a water treatment plant in Phoenix, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Phoenix Police Department, reference case number 00330884

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12 year old James Hendrickson, last seen on June 12, 1991.

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13 year old Brad Hansen, last seen November 10, 1995 after a fight with a classmate in Phoenix, Arizona.

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10 year old Kristopher Loesch, Missing since August 31, 2000

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John Doe Jr found May 22, 2001, found in the attic of a local mortuary in Flagstaff, Arizona. (It is believed that these remains were originally found in the late 1950’s in the area of Williams, Arizona!)  Anyone with information should contact the Flagstaff Police Department, reference case number 2001-10911 or the Coconino County Public Health Services District Medical Examiner Office, reference case number 01-162.

No photo available

3 year old Ptah Diamond, missing since May 27, 2001

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13 year old Justin Richardson, Missing since July 2, 2001

No photo available

14 year old Jesse Florez, Missing since September 14th, 2001 from Phoenix Arizona.

No photo available

14-18 year old John Dr Jr, Found August 18, 2002, wrapped in an off-white colored blanket. Feather shaped keys were found with the John Doe and have been identified as “feather lite” luggage keys. A key ring with a “Fry’s Food Stores” membership card attached was also located near the body.

No photo available

14-18 year Old John Doe Jr Found on July 15, 2003, in GuVo Village in Pima County, Arizona (Tohono O’€™Odham Nation Reservation). The decedent was found wearing a rosary around his neck. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML03-1214.

No photo available

16-18 year old John Doe Jr, found February 11, 2004, in Mesa, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Mesa Police Department, reference case number 20040420916.

No photo available

3 year old Christian Diaz-Borjas, Missing since March 25, 2005

No photo available

4 year old Leonardo Diaz-Borjas, Missing since March 25, 2005

No photo available

16-18 year old John Doe Jr, Found July 18, 2005, in Sells, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML05-1295.

No photo available

1 year old Samuel Robinson, Missing since September 30, 2006. (Possible parental abduction)

2 year old Ephraim Richeson, missing since October 22, 2007

16-17 year old John Doe, Found December 3, 2007, in Casa Grande, Arizona. The decedent was found wearing blue jeans, a black leather belt with a white metal chain and a white metal belt buckle that says USA, and a watch (Tommy Hilfiger€ brand). Other items found near the body include a black and yellow backpack, a religious book, and deodorant.  Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML07-2219.

No photo available

15 year old John Doe, Found January 19, 2008, in Tucson, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML08-0140.

No photo available

13 year old Erick Salguero Franco, missing since May 16, 2008.

15-18 year old John Doe Jr, Found August 1, 2008, in Tucson, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML08-01472.

No photo available

13 year old Jose Henriquez-Diaz, missing since June 3, 2007

14-18 year old John Doe Jr, Found August 1, 2008, in Tucson, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML08-01472.

No photo available

14-18 year old John Doe Jr, found July 11, 2010, in Tucson, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML10-01380.

No photo available

6 year old William Ruthenberg missing since August 21, 2012

15-18 year old John Doe Jr, Found on June 23, 2012 in Queenswell, Arizona. Anyone with information should contact the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, reference case number ML12-01485 or the Tohono O’Odham Police Department reference case number 120623222.

No photo available

15 year old Treyozie Hardman last seen on October 13, 2015

No photo available

1 year old Evan Cox, missing since September 13, 2016

No photo available

15 year old Lester Torres, missing since December 3, 2016

No photo available

15 year old Erli Diaz-Lopez, Missing Since June 16, 2016

No photo available

 

14 year old Elijah Duncun, Missing since October 11, 2017

Elijah Duncan

12 year old Isiah Beckford-Thomas, Missing since  November 6, 2017

14 year old Ethan Layaou, Missing since December 21, 2017

Ethan Layaou

16 year old Calvin Rogers, Missing since February 2, 2018

No photo available

13 year old Fredrick Ashford, Missing since March 9, 2018 (Note his picture says AR, instead of the correct location of AZ)

Fredrick Ashford

If you feel you have information about one of the above pictured young men, please contact:

The Arizona Department of Public Safety: 602-223-2000

Arizona Missing Database: 1-855-2FIND-THEM

or contact 911. Any tip can be confidential.

If there is a young man missing in Arizona that I did not list, please let me know and I will add them to my list.

J

 

 

Who is abducting and killing children in Arizona?

I spent the majority of my youth in Tucson, Arizona and, although I’m no longer there, it will always be home. It is also a place where I have long suspected someone (or a group of someones) has been targeting female children for over 20 years. One of my first ‘experiences’ with murder happened when I was in 8th grade, as we solemnly watched  as the body of 7-year-old Esther “Lizette” Galaz, who disappeared from her home in December 1994, was removed from the drainage ditch near her home.  Her tiny nude body was found raped, murdered and discarded beneath a mattress that had been ‘our’ landmark. This was an area the students at our jr high, Naylor Middle School, frequented; a place of first kisses, skipped classes, and first cigarette drags, an area we felt safe with our school looming above it. Poor Ester had lived in a complex closeby that many of our classmates lived, and she was taken from the 7-11 that we hit every day after school as we waited for the city bus to take us safely home. Perhaps the fact that her case was so close to home is why, whenever a child goes missing in that area, we flash back to that day when Esther was recovered. Her case, like several other VERY similar cases, Galaz’s murder remains unsolved.

Esther Galaz

Just two years later on January 11, 1996, 7-year-old Karen Grajeda went missing, and to this day has not been located. Karen had been rollerblading in her apartment complex with friends when she disappeared, no one saw or heard a thing.

No photo available

Rodolfo Sedeno Morales, was a suspect in both cases as he was charged and found guilty of kidnapping five girls in 1993 and 1994. He was never officially charged in their cases, although his victims were all the same general age and ethnicity as both girls.

When looking at similar disappearances, not including males (that will be a later post of its own) or teenage females who are considered runaways, the amount of cases in the area is alarming.

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Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child JACKIE LESLIE

Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child CYNTHIA LESLIE

12-year-old Amy Marie Yachimec last seen November 06, 1981
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Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child JANE DOE1982

Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child SHEMAEAH GUNNEL(1)

13-year-old Brandy Lynn Myers Missing May 26, 1992 nrandi

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Danielle Pitcher, Missing Since May 23, 1993

No photo available

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11-year-old Mikelle Diane Biggs, Missing January 02, 1999

Image result for Mikelle Diane Biggs, Missing January 02, 1999

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5-year-old Estrella Cordova-Arias, Missing Since Jan 3, 2006

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Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child ALICIA SCOTT

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13-year-old Rita Gutierrez, missing since January 08, 2009
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12-year-old Yareli Marlem Barajas missing since August 11, 2009upload_2018-3-7_11-52-27.png

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5-year-old Jhessye Shockley, missing on Oct 11, 2011No photo available

Isabel Celis, missing April 2012- her body found in a desert in March 2017, case remains unsolved.

Image result for missing tucson az 1990

13-year-old Maribel Gonzales missing June 4, 2014, and her body was found in a desert area a few days later.

Image result for maribel gonzales

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Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child VICTORIA QUINONES

Screenshot-2018-6-17 Have you seen this child TIFFANY PHARES

 

A total of 179 missing and unidentified children span the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Arizona database. Are any of these cases related? My gut tells me yes. Probably not ALL of them were abducted by the same individual or group- but the possibility is there. All of the Jane Does have been determined to not be the remains of the named missing children, although the similarities between some of them made me double check this fact.

If you think you’ve seen one of the still missing children, or may know something that can help find them, or their killer/abductor, please contact:

http://api.missingkids.org/cybertipline

1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

Or call 911.

❤ J

 

Product Review: Blue Apron

When my friend Ellen recently invited me to try Blue Apron, a diy meal delivery service, I was trepidatious. Being someone who is very selective in picking thru my own produce and other grocery items, the idea of a chilled box bringing them via mail puts a LOT of trust in a new(ish) company. I had a list of concerns. How do I know the food has maintained temperature? (I’ve had food poisoning before. It’s awful.) Do I have the time to cook the meals they might send? Will we even LIKE whats on the menu? Is it truly cost-effective with our budget? When Ellen told me that she had a code and we could try the company for free, it seemed like a no-brainer to give it a go.

Creating my account was easy. I clicked the link, created the profile and In less than five minutes it was time to select our meals. We are a family of 4, and half of us don’t eat meat. This was surprisingly not an issue, because you can select meals that don’t include the foods you wish to avoid. The website was incredibly easy to navigate, and I soon found that there is more to Blue Apron than simply a food delivery company. Each selected meal not only has recipes and cooking instructions but it also includes videos, nutrition information- even suggested wine pairings! It seemed almost too good to be true!

In the week we waited for the box to arrive my daughter and I were doing research. We watched the videos of the meals we would be cooking, looked at the other options should we decide to continue with Blue Apron, and did many price comparisons. I asked other people what their own experiences have been so far, and even looked into a few other similar businesses. Each day my initial hesitation slowly evolved into excitement. We could hardly wait until our box arrive so we could get down to business!

Finally, our box arrived. My daughter screamed in excitement and even my husband couldn’t wait to open the box to see what was in store. The box was slightly soggy on the bottom, but condensation will do that. Opening the box you immediately see that it is enclosed in a huge refrigerated bag. When you open it, two large ice packs were inside, keeping the produce chilled. Right away I liked how the contents were arranged. The two days of ingredients were separated, with bags clearly labeling which recipe they belong too. You get illustrated instructions that are clear and concise, and you also get a full print out of nutrition, calorie count etc. (I’m thinking we will get a notebook and organize the recipes. If we stick with the program).

We started pulling out the produce and the meat and I started to do my usual inspection. Horrified, we discovered a FLY in the package of sugar snap peas. Barf. Looks like we would be making the chicken kung pao without them. The chicken wasn’t frozen, and I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be or not. I’m not trying to die of salmonella, so I reached out to my friends on social media. Almost immediately several of my friends said that I should give Blue a call, and all stated the customer service is fantastic. I was hesitant to call, as this IS a free experience. It’s only a fly after all, and in organic produce, sometimes you’re gonna come across a bug or two. We won’t eat the beans, but we will plant them. Seems like that balances things out.

We decided to make the pizza recipe for supper and began prepping. Usually, dinner during the week is rushed. Usually one of us is doing stuff around the house while the other cooks. Baths are given, grass is mowed, laundry is started. Today was different. We worked as a team and began the process together. Pretty soon chicken was sizzling, broccoli was roasting and the dough was rising. It was an absolutely wonderful, lovely evening.

The food was already perfectly portioned, the shopping was done and I didn’t have to rummage thru the fridge for ingredients to measure things out. Time is precious to me as a student, a mom, and a wife, and it was a refreshing little break for me. I’ve learned that you must appreciate something when you have it- and I certainly plan to enjoy this experience. However short it may be.

Within a half an hour we were pulling our pizzas from the oven ready to devour. It smelled delicious, but would it taste as good too? More importantly, would the picky eaters in the household actually eat it? Suddenly we were food critics discussing, between bites, the tastes and textures of the food as if we are culinary geniuses. (We most definitely arent!) There weren’t many crumbs left on our plates once we were finished, that’s for sure.

The following day we made the Kung Pow Chicken. Overall the recipe was a success, even without the greens. My young daughter thought there was too much spice, but my husband was a huge fan. The clear over-all winner was the roasted brocolli and goat-cheese side dish. I can see making it as a side dish often in the future. We probably never would have made either of these recipes ourselves, but I’m so glad that we did! Both will be on the menu again.

Price wise, I ran the lists thru the checkout counter on the Publix and Wal-Mart websites. Both came in about 20 dollars less than Blue Apron, with Wal-Mart being the lesser of the two. For busy families, without a whole lot of time to go shopping, I can absolutely see an extra 20 bucks being worth the purchase. For our middle-class income family, an extra 80 dollars a month- which equals almost an entire weeks groceries is money we need.

After much discussion and weighing the pros and cons of everything, including price, convenience and product quality, the decision to continue the subscription truly came down to the issues with the fly and the cost. The fly was probably not an everyday issue, and honestly, we could probably forget about it. The price ultimately pushed us to make the decision that Blue Apron doesn’t fit our household. We loved the recipes, the packaging and the taste of each plate. There is no question that the company strives to make the customer happy. In the future, after I graduate and income increases, we may revisit this decision. For now, we will continue to get our produce at the local farmers market and grocery stores. Don’t take my word for it, however. Give it a try! You may find its a perfect fit for your family.

http://www.blueapron.com

Big Box, Happy Husband

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1500 Missing Immigrant Youths and the #WhereAreTheChildren movement; Explained.

Earlier this week a story broke, alleging that there are currently 1,500 immigrant children that the US can not account for.  A #WhereAreTheChildren movement has been circling social media, demanding accountability and answers. There seems to be a uniformed consensus that this number is outrageous and unacceptable.

The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children averages that 531,928 children are missing right now. That doesn’t include the 1,500 missing immigrants.

Cnn reported that Steven Wagner, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services, gave testimony “during the last three months of 2017, the ORR lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children”.  (ORR) refers to The Office of Refugee Resettlement Agency.  The agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant children.

According to ORRS’ website http://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/programs/ucs

  • March 1, 2003, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Section 462, transferred responsibilities for the care and placement of unaccompanied alien children FROM from the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service TO the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
  • ORR:
    • has cared for over 175,000 children,
    • Was established by the
      • Flores Agreement in 1997,
      • the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (and its re-authorization acts)
      • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Re authorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005 and 2008.
      • ORR promptly places unaccompanied child in “the least restrictive setting and in the best interests of the child.
      • Consider “danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight, the unique nature of each child’s situation.”
      • Incorporates clinical and child welfare placements, case management, and “release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”
Wagner testified that ORR “reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied children to check on them. But “Are unable to determine the whereabouts of 1,475 (or 19 percent), 28 of those are assumed to be runaways.” Wagner also testified “I understand that, according to interpretation of the law, ORR is not legally responsible for those children after they are released from care”.
Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, during a Senate hearing this month, said “Similar separations happen in the US every day. Those caught crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted even if they are claiming asylum or have small children. Parents prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.” On May 7th, district Attorney General Jeff Session confirmed that statement.
President Trump tweeted, in response to the missing children outcry, for American citizens “To pressure the Democrats to end the law that separates children from parents once they cross the border.” (It was his cabinet who implemented the Zero Tolerence Policy… but, I degress.)
Regardless of the political banter, the majority of headlines currently seem more concerned about FINDING these kids.
As they should be…
Honestly, I can not think of a group of children more vulnerable or at risk for exploitation then these kids. In all reality the number of ‘unnacounted for minorts’ itself is probably larger if you were to add unreported cases.
These kids are not cattle, they are not property. They are human beings that deserve to be safe and loved, regardless of where they’re from, who they are or what their parents ‘may’ have done.
Cant We can hash everything “else” out later?
Be a decent human. Demand action and answers.
FIND THEM.
#WhereAreTheChildren

Florence Hildreth

September 6, 1987, A nude, beaten, sexually assaulted female body was discovered by a local farmhand. On a rural dirt road, in darkness, a terrible crime had occurred, leaving behind very little clues as to the identity of the victim, or her attacker. The dirt surrounding the victim showed signs of a struggle. With only one set of footprints at the scene, it became apparent that most likely the woman had been dragged from the vehicle and attacked.  Tire prints, some broken jewelry and a pair of jeans found by her battered unidentified body was all law enforment had to try and catch a killer.

There were no missing person reports describing the girl, so detectives had little to identify who Jane Doe might be. Or who had committed the heinous crime. When the pockets of the victim’s jeans were checked, however, they discovered a set of two keys with the letter “F” attached. This would be the breadcrumb that would lead investigators to the mailbox and apartment door belonging to Christine Hildreth.

Mrs. Hildreth had to then identify her own old daughter, Florence, as the victim. As a parent, it is incomprehensible for me to fathom the despair Christine must have experienced the moment she recognized her baby. To lose your child in such an egregious manner is every parent’s worst nightmare.

17-year-old Florence, a popular, honor roll student, dreamed of going to medical school. As a member of the cheerleader team, she was involved with her classmates and excelled in her extracurricular activities. Florence was well-loved by her family and friends. Her sunny disposition brought sunshine into the lives of everyone that she knew. Her senseless death shocked and saddened her community.

Once they verified the identity of their Jane Doe, detectives had very little clue as to who would have murdered Florence. The medical examiner determined her cause of death was from multiple stab wounds, and indeed had been sexually asaulted. Her attack was vicous; family, friends and the detectives working her case wanted her assailant to be found and for justice to be served. As quickly as possible.

The last time anyone had seen Florence was the night of her murder. She left her cousins house around 11pm to walk home, less than 3/4 of a mile away. This was a route she had walked countless times, without any trouble. Her friends and family were adamant that  Florence would have accepted a ride from a stranger; atleast, not willingly. Whoever had picked her up was suspect number one to authorities, as he or she was the last person to see Florence alive.

At the scene of the crime the footprints indicated the perputrator was wearing size twelve Brooks brand athletic shoes. Tire tracks revealed the letters D, S and V- possibly from ‘Limited Edition’ printed on the side thread of a spare tire. It wasnt much to go on but it was a good start.

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Once word of Florrences murder began to spread, detectives  received a tip that would lead to that very person. A witness who lived close to where Florence’s’ body was found said she noticed a red truck parked on the side of the road that night. She was driving home approximatley midnight, and remembered that the truck had ski racks on top. Because of the rural farming area, ski racks were unusual in the area. The description of that vehicle was familiar to detectives allready. It belonged to a family friend Ronald, who was staying at Florences uncles house. The very house she supposedly left to walk home that fateful night.

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Detectives immediately brought Rodney Berryman in for questioning. He had a criminal past in several states and owned a vehicle matching the witness description. During questioning, Rodney denied that he was ever in the area of the attack, having Florence in his vehicle at any time or loaning his vehicle to anyone else. Upon inspection detectives noticed his truck did NOT have a spare tire matching those found at the scene, nor was there any blood inside of the vehicle. But then, far beneath the seat, easily overlooked, forensic experts located a few small peices of gold links, matching some of the jewlrey at the crime scene. The gold was sent to a forensic expert who was able to compare the peices found at the scene of FLorenses murder and the gold links found in the truck and that they matched the links exactly. The spare tire was found in the backyard of Florences own family member. Testing determined the tire matched the prints found at the crime scene.

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Throughout Rodneys interview he continued denying involvment. He had scratches on his face, possiby defense scratches Florence caused while fighting him off. Rodney was wearing size 12 brooks athletic shoea, and on those shoes were visible droplets of blood. That blood would later match Florence’s. A fingerprint found on the dashboars inside of his vehicle would later be identified as Florences as well.

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Less than 24 hours after Florence was murdered, Rodney Berryman was arrested for her murder. Due to the amount of evidence the prosecuter presented, the jury would find Rodney guilty of first degree intentional felony murder, rape, and use of a deadly weapon.  He was sentence to the Death Penalty. He later appealed, which the courts, rightfully so, denied his motion.

Justice Served.

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Sources:
Martin, K. A., Kelly, B., & Stuart, C. M. (Producers), & Ropp, H., & Walters, L. A. (Writers). (n.d.). Weakest Link [Television series episode]. In Forensic Files. Hulu. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from https://www.hulu.com/watch/988793

Senior Producer Kelly Ann Martin

https://law.justia.com/cases/california/supreme-court/4th/6/1048.html