Thursday, April 29, 2010

Good Girls And Bad Girls

I live close to the Trident Submarine base. Today it was announced women will be serving on subs for the first time. That's fascinating to me, having been to the base, walked through the subs, seen the challenges of living, working, sharing tight space in such close quarters.

I still remember being in... was it  junior high?... when we female students fought for our rights to wear pants to class. That was back when there were glass ceilings for women.

I live in a region surrounded by soldiers, sailors, pilots, military bases.

My dogs and I were walking yesterday on the beach in our remote backyard.
Then we all stopped in unison, our heads turned upward in synchronicity to the blast of sound, then the sight  of three  blue angel-esque fighters flying in tandem over the bay. They were headed north from south.

I have watched a  mighty Trident sub stop my Hood Canal  bridge crossing.

I observe with awe the battleships ships lined up at the Naval base during my commute through Bremerton.

Occasionally, I attempt to count the military vehicles in the convoys passing me on Seattle's freeways as I head to and from on my investigative rounds.

I have also entered military bases more times than I can count as I visit victims or witnesses.
I am cleared at a security post, where sometimes the wait is quite long,
Sometimes my car is swept inside, out and underneath by a round dish that detects things and a big flat mirror that sees things.

Before entering a base, I have all my  I.D.s' --  drivers license, state P.I. license and auto registration and sometimes, proof of insurance, scrutinized by soldiers much younger than I. And always, I  wait patiently, respectfully and observantly  for either permission to drive on base or for an escort to meet me and lead me in.

Washington state, in the US's Pacific Northwest area, is blanketed by military installations.
I didn't notice it as much when I lived in the tighter confines of North Seattle.

When I moved across the water to peninsula and these endless expanses of forest and water, spotted with people, I have seen more of a military presence than I was ever aware of.
And I am both grateful for and humbled by every one of the men and women who have traded their normal lives for one that puts their structured, regimented and physically uncomfortable lives on the line to protect us.

We here in the Great Northwest are very protective  of our borders as an entry point to our country from Canada.

There are a number of points of entry by ferry and boat via Port Townsend , a popular upscale tourist.

Plus there are the land borders up north to Canada.
Some are  legal, others are not and used by smugglers who have made bold moves... like building a house in Canada one side of the border with a tunnel to our side.

One alleged terrorist was arrested at one of our ferry crossings with  a car full of explosives. He allegedly planned to  blowing up Seattle's beloved Space Needle.

Today I learned that  women now have half of all science and engineering degrees.
Today, women are governors, senators, soldiers, police officers, steel workers, truckers, detetcives.
In my lifetime, I've witnessed  a woman's role roles in society evolve at warp speed from June Cleaver to Laura Croft.

Today women, old and young, can do and be anything.
Many do the right thing.
Some do the wrong things.
Other so bad things.
More than a few do horrendous things.

The link that follows at the end of the post fits the last category.

I can understand why someone would test the waters of the dark side.
I can not understand why anyone choose to swim in them. Especially a child. 

There has been one case I have been studying, that was written about on one of my favorite blogs. "In Cold Blog."

I read the J.R.'s story again, followed a few more links and it continues to make me wonder this:

How did one young girl,  a 12 year old just across  the American border in Canada, become the youngest multiple killer in Canadian history?  I still don't have the answer.Rather, I am left only with suspicion and more questions.

Just click on the next line, which contains a link to "In Cold Blog". it's describes J.R.'s case and the book coming out about it. There are many details in this story worth studying when the subject of why a little girl would turn killer interests you.

 "The Killer Kid and her Metal Prince" from "On Cold Blog"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New York Times Cautions Facebook Users

Today is a day filled with investigations.
So I'm on a quick cyber drive-by with an artcile that addresses an issue you may not be aware of.

The Facebook powers-that-be changed privacy settings on everyone's accounts early in the year.
So people you may not want seeing your private info, can now see it all...
unless you manually go back and reset your privacy settings.

The following link get you to a great article on  the subject.
The title of this blog is also a link to lead you there.

click here:
Check Your Facebook Settings now

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I attempt to meet most of my witnesses, victims, potential clients in their homes, for a multitude of  reasons.

It's easier to talk freely in a home, apartment, motel room, or even a car,  about sensitive matters. Unlike a coffee shop or restaurant where strangers are observed and overheard.

Yet often, people are ashamed of their homes and don't want any one in... especially a stranger who happens to be an investigator.

I get that.
I don't like having strangers in my home either.

However,some of the attorneys I work for... and when I fly solo... in-the-home pow-wows are best.
This allows me to see who we are truly dealing with.
And almost always, other people are present during that meeting.
Some of those people I don't see, they're hiding behind doors or in a adjoining room, eaves dropping.
Some people I an interviewing, want someone sitting in the room with us  an advocate, witness or second set of ears.
Mostly though, I have an audience on some investigations, just because some people have never met a P.I. before.... the only new input in a consistently mundane existence.

With the economy tanking, foreclosures and mortgage walkaways are at the highest point in recent history.
The only people unaffected by the economic collapse are the rich
And even they have watched their holdings dwindle.

I'm not  hard to see how things are changing in people's homes and lives.
Some Americans  have to tighten their belts...others have to expand them, because the only food they can  afford is the fast food variety which is dirt cheap.

When one's money stops coming in, electricity is the first to go.
I've seen many people make do in imaginative ways.

One young woman I recently met, who was severely injured by someone else, decided to fight back. She was at the bottom of the bottom. Squatted in a home she once owned -- she stopped paying mortgage on it for a number of years.

She had the home set up like an encampment because there  was no power.

She showed me how she built a huge layered tent in a small bedroom around her bed, how  the tent kept her warm and that's where she spends most of her time. She lives my candlelight.

I told her I couldn't understand why the mortgage company/bank allowed her to stay there without a single mortgage payment for so many years.  She told me she guessed because it was a nice house, maybe the bank/lender saw her as "guarding it" because there are too many homes out there unoccupied and a whole lot of homeless people.

I asked her how she eats.
She showed me her refrigerator... which was another bedroom, this one so cold, she left everything she'd refrigerate in it and used the open window ledge as the freezer.

I asked her how she powered the cell phone she reached the attorney on.
Starbucks, she replied.
I laughed and told her I do the same thing
I stop for a break and plug whatever device I have into one of many outlets designed specifically for road warriors

She told me how she has a supply of Starbucks coffee cops, fills one with water, saunters in, picks up a newspaper someone left lying around and charges her phone.

I asked who paid for her phone. She said there are people who help her. One person, a guy she used to date, gave her the phone and the minutes because he was worried  about her.

When I broached the subject of family, that's when things got grim. Her mother, father and sister no longer speak to her. They have taken her children away from her and are filing for custody of the two boys. She asked me if anything could be done to stop that.

I looked at her house, at her condition and asked more questions about where the boys were now.
They were safe...and safer... with her family. Well fed, in school, protected.
She knew it, I  knew it, the were better off growing up right now, without living with her.
Problem is, her family cut her off completely and is now trying to terminate any parental visits/right  altogether.

She told me this, "my youngest son said mommy, they treat me differently than they treat my older brother. Don't let them have me. I'd rather live under a bridge with you than live in a fancy house with them."
Then she broke down.

I didn't reach out and touch her hand, comfort her, nothing.
I just sat and waited for the tears to pass.... me the allegedly objective investigator, she the young woman approaching 30 and losing everything

I will admit, she got to me.
She started her life with medical difficulties and several surgeries.
What she accomplished before her world fell apart astounded me.
She told me she  got her college degree on the streets, "except it was lower not higher learnin," she laughed.
She recently received a grant to go back to school.
She wants to be an advocate for the poor and displaced, she said.

I then began to build her up.. told her a story or two of others, myself included, who had walked in similiar moccasins and survived. I said she can do everything she wants in life...provided she develops a plan and moves carefully. She listened with that hunger for knowledge I see so often.

When we parted ways, my investigation complete, I pressed my card in her hand.
 "Just know I am out here" is all I said.

I stopped giving out my cards whenever possible ever since one guy I interviewed got arrested with  crack and my business card in his pocket. I got a call from a family member in the justice system who was present after the arrest of said crack head who wondered why he had my card.

I had met the crack head on an inury case I was investigation about two years before he discovered crack.
He was a bright old guy, dead ringer for an old Bill Cosby, only funnier.
He asked for my card. He said he never met a real P.I. and he carried it, evidently, everywhere in his pocket... until it was discovered after he started using, while he was being frisked and cuffed.

Once I explained my role in his prior case, what could have been a nightmare, turned into a memory that resurfaced in the house the young woman once owned and was now squatting in.

The young woman and I parted ways and I didn't hear from her again until last night.

She had been sending me texts.
She was very depressed and scared, she said.
Her one guy  friend  left her a note that morning and took off for Alaska. He also" cleaned out the house," everything she, or the bank owned.
Fortunately, she slept with the cell phone and it still worked. She thought he might shut it down,

She was terrified, she said and not sure what to do next.
I gave her a list of options I have memorized and shared countless times.
Shelters, advocates, churches, refuges for the misplaced, displaced, desperate, decent and indigent.

My last text to her last night... from my beach house where eagles fly and oysters grow and no one ever knocks at my door because it is so remote and safe... was "I am so sorry for your pain. Just know, life turns on a dime."
I didn't hear back from her until this morning when I opened my eyes and look at her text.
It said, "I am now down to 3 cents .All I need is 7 more.  Then will my life turn?"

I haven't texted her back yet.
Instead, I retreated directly to this blog because, it is the Diary of A Private Eye, and this is how I roll.

Today, I have specific needs.

I need people who have, to understand how hard it is for those who don't.
I need people to know that the homeless and hungry are not idiots, morons, or society's leeches.
I need anyone who reads this to repeat after me when choosing to be judgmental.

"There but for the grace of God, go I."

These are words my mother has told me since I was a kid.

I will text this young woman back after I post this blog.
Sending her money, offering her refuge are not a possibility... professionally, ethically, it's just not done.
I may have testify in her case one day.
My lack of objectivity, my caring and compassion to her plight could be her downfall were I to cross professional boundaries.
Thus, the investigator is often stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Today, I'm between the two... in the sand.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Facebook No-No's

I am on the run, though I caught this story on AOL and thought I'd share the link here while I can.

As I cruise through Facebook notes and profile, I get more than bit bit concerned when I see people posting their personal phone numbers, and extremely private information that gives too much away. What especially concerns me are walls of hundreds of pictures on people's pages -- young folks do that more than old. I'd take down every picture you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper.

Just know you lose your control over those pictures if a bad guy gets them. Or a Human Resources Department or potential employer finds them.

If someone wants to get to you, they will.
However, there are ways to keep yourself safer. This link helps.

What Not To Say on Facebook And Twitter- .

The title of this post also takes you there.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Investigating On Social Networks

Here in Washington State, P.I. Operatives and Private Investigation Agencies must be licensed.
That doesn't stop unlicensed P.I.'s from operating anyway.
And there are still states where P.I.'s are  not required to have a license to operate.
Personally, I liken hiring an unlicensed P.I. to playing Russian Roulette.

A year or so  ago,  I had no internet presence. I believed I was safer that way, especially since I, like many investigators, are often called to do undercover work.

However, I also discovered the times, they are truly changing and I too must change.
Businesses that plan to evolve must expand into cyberspace.
So within the past year or so... I, a technologically dweeb.. set up a Facebook Account, built this blog and figured out a way to do it all without compromising my case, clients and integrity.

I also plugged into one important fact, a lesson taught me many moons ago.
"Never do or say anything you wouldn't to see on the front page of a newspaper or in front of  a jury".

So for that same reason, I'd like to share a great article from Diane Dimond's Blog that shows how social networking sites can come back to haunt you . That link will follow at the end of this post.

First though, let me say this.
It's evident to many of us, that way too many people tend to say way too much on Facebook, My Space, and other Social  Network accounts.
Beyond that, they post way too many pictures an investigator, attorney, anyone can access.
I am amazed and admittedly a bit saddened by the sheer volume of pictures people post of themselves on their sites.
I understand the need to share, I just feel more is less. And the less bad behavior people see, the better.

If there's a picture of you out there getting high, drunk, or a post with cursing worse than a sailor, it can and will come back to haunt you: when you apply for a job; when you  are accused of something you may be innocent or guilty of;  or when you seek a new alliance who sees your dark side posted all over the net.
FB, My Space and Twitter are one of the first stops on a Human Resources train.

In addition, should your computer ever be confiscated as evidence, everything you've looked at... every email, every deep, dark, dirty picture you downloaded, or "downloaded itself" to your compute will expose you.

In the legal arena, cyberspace knows no bounds.
And no one explains it better than Diane Dimond.

I have always respected Diane's on air reporting and admire her exceptional investigative journalism.
While this story appears to be geared to  those us us working the justice system, it's implications and applications are universal. Take a moment to read it. It could save you a whole lot of grief down the road.

"Concentrate On The Case - Not The Web" by Diane Dimond

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Female Operatives - A Different Breed

I remember my mom telling me, "Darling, God gave women feminine wiles. Use them wisely."
This advice has come in particularly handy as a female  P.I. Operative and Investigation Agency owner.

I am often called in on cases after a male investigator has been unable to build a rapport with a man-hating witness.
Undercover, you couldn't pick me out of a crowd.
I am a chameleon by nature... and in this business, by design.

Men, by nature... if not by action.., tend to open doors to women which they may slam on another guy.
As a female operative, you saunter up to a bar on a domestic, over-service or locate... and you are an object of attention rather than competition.
Being a female operative does, however, have it's drawbacks.
Particularly when  surveillance assignments outlast the bladder.
Yet even then, we are imaginative, resolute and manage to keep our vigil, cases and clients.

If you haven't read" Pursuit Magazine" yet this would be the time to start.
Because one of their most recent stories is about precisely this subject.
It's by Thomas H. Humphreys, an award winning journalist who shares his life and work with his wife Kim Green, also an outstanding female operative. They have their own full service private investigations company.

It's a must read for any one who is a P.I. or thinking of becoming and women alike.
Ultimately, we all work this business together, despite the differences in our respective chromosomes.
Evidently Charlie knew all this stuff when he hired his Angels.

Just follow the  below or the title of this post to get there.
Go to "The Unburnable Female Operative" by Thomas Humphreys

Friday, April 16, 2010

Steven Seagal's Dark Side?

I have to admit it. I really liked the guy.
More so since his recent tv show not only revealed he's really a cop, he's also a  firearms expert and a compassionate, loyal, ethical man.
I suppose I wanted to believe in what he positioned himself to be. A good guy.

Then I got a heads up on a story I am linking you to tonight.
It's just coming out in the press.
And of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
I think, however, the tale of  the mysterious Steven Seagal's dark side by Mark Ryan is quite illuminating more illusion shattered.
You can be sure a few P.I.'s are this case.
Just click on this link to get to the story and draw your own conclusions.
Allegedly, Jenny McCarthy is a fairly convincing witness.

"Tales Of Steven Seagal's Dark Side Comes Out"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Surveillance: The Good, Bad and Ugly.

Last night, I blogged re: surveillance and posted a link about how it plays into legal proceedings.
Today,  before heading out on my rounds, I picked up a story off one of my favorite P.I. Info sources, PI Newswire.

The story I am linking you at the end of this post  takes the legal implications of a Private Investigator doing surveillance to the highest of levels.
There are great risks involved in the pursuit of what one believes to be justice.
It is always wise, in all occupations, to be careful who you work for and  be discerning about what you do. This is especially true for PI's.

The book on the left was written by a dear friend and mentor, Gene Robertson, who used to teach my surveillance course at U.W., among many other places. Gene, a retired fed who never retired from helping people: friends, family, clients and new P.I's like me.

My very first surveillance job was under Gene's tutelage. And far as it goes, I don't know a better surveillance man or instructor than Gene. Gene unexpected, recent passing, shocked and devastated his family and the investigation community here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope anyone who is interested in surveillance and how to do it the right way will, will consider ordering Gene's "Ultimate Surveillance-The Basics." from Amazon via this blog link. It's got everything... from equipment, to technique to laws and war stories. You buy it once... and you could be in business.

Meantime, please take a moment to go to P.I. Newswire to understand the legal perils a P.I. faces every day on the job:
FDA Official Followed By New York City Detective

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surveillance And Charlie Sheen Case

Blogs are odd entities.
In order for them to work, they have to stay current, vibrant and ever changing.
That requires the blogger write, edit, post and put it all out there for all these people you don't know.
Even when you are too tired to write or trying hard to forget images you saw on your rounds.

I struggled for many years whether to step out of the shadows and write about this business.
There are ethical boundaries P.I.'s who write must not cross, particularly in active investigations that are not part of public record, yet.
And today, with Court TV, countless CSI's, Law & Orders, NCIS's and a myriad of off-shoots depicting investigators who work for the government... people expect  P.I'.s to be one way.
When in fact, we are very different from those carefully scripted, witty bantering types you see on the tube.

First and foremost, we are chameleons.
Ever changing to conditions, cases and expectations.
We blend.
We engage.
We disarm.
We pursue.
We are relentless .
And many times, you never see us coming.

Last night we did a class on surveillance at the U.

It brought to mind the countless surveillance stories of my early P.I. past,...the mistakes we made before we got good at it. Now we look back and laugh at what were then horror stories which could have cost us our jobs or our lives.

Like the time we filmed the wrong couple in a condo window, thinking instead, we were filming our subject and his mistress.

Or the time we were burnt by a gang of bad boys which ended up in a high speed chase on I-5.

And then of course, there are those moments when you are glued to a position for hours and the one minute you step away from your vehicle because it's so hot you think you will melt, the action happens and you miss it.

Surveillance is a curious art, an exacting science and in many investigations, a legal imperative.
You have cameras and equipment to capture images -- ideally, the money shot, as they call it in the film business. There are federal laws guiding surveillance and there are state laws. Break any of those laws and you go directly to jail.

That's why it's so important to hired a state licensed P.I. for your surveillance work -- someone who understands the privacy  laws, the physical  perils, the business pitfalls. There are things you can and can not do as a P.I. The best of us know those laws and follow them to a tee.

Surveillance is now figuring into the Charlie Sheen case.
Figured I'd add a link to the TMZ story.
As you read... note the last line in the seond to last paragraph.
Either way, if the surveillance wasn't handled properly... and even if it was.... someone's in big trouble.

From TMZ -Sheens Lawyers Challenge Damning Evidence

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nurse Strangles Hitman

This story came to me from a friend who prefers to remain anonymous.
The is one of those friends you talk to on the cell phone during late night drive homes on long, unlit, stretches of highway.

At first, I listened to the story half-heatedly and cynically, treated like it was fiction.
Maybe that's because I hear so many intense stories and see so many dark things, I am innured to the brutalities humans inflict upon others.

Yet today, as I made my investigative rounds, my mind kept going back to the story my friend shared with me more than once.
It's  100% true, my friend insisted.

It went like this:
A husband  hired a hit man to kill his wife, a nurse, with a hammer.
Instead, the nurse turned the tables on the man who was  attempting to bash her brains in.
The nurse strangled the hit man to death in a chokehold.

The person who told me this story met the nurse.
Word is, my friend said,  a TV show, Dateline ID, Dateline Something or a show like "I Survived" is going to do a story on her. The problem was, my friend explained, she couldn't find any info about the case on the net.

That was all she had to say.

I found the info and forwarded it to my friend.
Now I'd like to share it with you because I was wrong.
This is a powerful,  true crime tale that says a whole lot about the will to survive.

Beyond that, I think if someone was coming at me with a hammer I wouldn't think of strangling them to death -- cutting off the airwaves as the nurse did,

It  happened a few years ago, yet remains relevant.
The husband was sentenced and will get out of jail.
Then what?

Here's her story.
Nurse vs. Hitman

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zodiak Killer's Idenity Revealed

When you are a student of true crime, you are a student, at one time or another, of the Case of the Zodiak Killer.
This guy dressed in a black hooded robe, with a special hood piece like the KKK... only this was made of what look like a dark black burlap cloth. It was squared at the top with holes cut for eyes and glasses.
He was a silent stalker who emerged from woods and alleys.
He killed a lot of people in the San Francisco area.
There have been numerous books written on the subject.
He wrote letters to the media, left clues everywhere.
No one could ever catch him.

Then one day the killer simply stopped killing.

Today I found out why. He grew to old to kill, he said.

A series of audio and videotapes were made with Jack Torrance before his death.
I am 100% coinvinced Jack Torrance is the Zodiak Killer

It all started when a man named Dennis Kaufman was watching a tv show... I think it was America's Most Wanted... when the show featured the  mysterious, elusive and unknown Zodiac Killer.

I studied what Kaufman studied.

I listened to some undercover interviews taped with Jack Tarrance, the alleged Zodiac Killer.
Jack's dead now, but before he died he admitted to the killing on tape.

I saw video of a box Jack Tarrance left  in his room.
I saw it opened on video  for the very first time.
When the box was opened, it revealed the costume the killer wore.

And I have studied all the letters and notes the killer wrote; words on the sides of a cars door; and reports handwriting experts with varying perspectives.
It's all availble on the net now. You can study it too.
Just like B.T.K., The Zodiak Killer was a media hog.

When you find yourself at a boring place in space in time....
please go to this site and you'll get a psychology and true crime lesson all at once. Free of charge.

I think it so ironic that the one to discover the killer's identity was his step-son.

Too bad the Zodiak's no longer alive to be forced to face his demons.
The following will take you to  a revealing and fascinating site his step-son is quite involved in.

To The Real Zodiak Killer

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oysters: Pearl of Wisdom

The Big Oyster: History on the Half ShellTonight if you happened by my Facebook page, you will notice I  have oysters on the brain.
I have grown quite attached to the little critters that live on the tidelands of this Port Gamble Bay Beach House.

When I first moved here and the tide was low, the oysters revealed themselves in a blanket of shells that seemed to spread to infinity. I was awestruck as I'd never seen anything like it. That was  more than five years ago. Every single day I would monitor the tide, wait for the lowest time and then head to the beach, flashlight in hand, for my little bucket of lunch, supper mid-day or late night snack.

My oyster loving friends and I would lay on the beach with a lemon, an oyster knife, a corkscrew and wine bottle and laze the afternoon away

Company would come and we would barbecue oysters, steam them,  or eat them raw, or make oysters rockefeller. I also quickly learned you either love the bi-valves or you hate them.
There is no middle ground.

When I first moved into this secret little hideout, oysters became my drug of choice.
Perhaps that was because I tend to be anemic and rebellious.
And oysters are filled with iron and other yummy things the body craves.
They also don't hurt your love life any.
My husband was always game to come with me to the beach when a craving hit at midnight.
He'd happily shuck the shells for me even though the idea of eating them raw, he said, was disgusting.

Over the years, I would gather little buckets of oysters for a snack.
Until one day, I left a bucket by the back door, in the cold evening
I didn't eat them before I went to bed. Just left them there.
I knew how to care for them... covered them in seaweed,  they were still alive.
However, the next morning, when I contemplated eating one, something just happened in my brain.
It was like a switch.
I walked out the sliding glass doors to the beach and set the oysters free.
They bubbled their little thank yous and sank into the bay to live another day.

In the years past, I have seen poachers come and clear out our neighbors' beaches.
One such gang, I  and others reported to the police and they were ultimately busted and sentenced.

However, said oyster heisters wiped out many beaches of the Hood Canal of their very precious and rare resource... without paying the land owners who needed the money they'd be paid for their oysters to hold onto their  land or homes.

Now... I don't know who is reading this, where you live and what you care about.
No doubt you care less about an oyster than paying your power bill.
Maybe your house is in foreclosure, or you just lost your job.
Perhaps your child was abducted, your sister was murdered, you are facing a life theatening illness.

Or maybe, like me, the years are moving way too fast and you are trying to get a handle on the rough economic and political roads ahead.
Whatever point your life is at now, there is a lesson to be learned from the oyster.

The shell is hard.
The inside is soft.
From rough particles grow pearls.

The oyster goes with the flow.
It lets the ebbs and tides do what they will and it holds its ground.
The lowly oyster behaves far more approriately than many heavy handed, big mouth humans.
It minds its own business, just wants to be.
And when the lowest of low tides hit, the ones we call negative tides, somehow the oysters just  burrow in and hangs on until the tide returns.
The dry periods do not kill them and they will not kill you.
Just burrow in and hang on.

I met a man last moth who was a quadrapelegic. He was in his forties. He jumped off a bridge into the local rural watering hole when he was 16 and broke his neck. If that wasn't bad enough he developed retinol myophathy so severe,  he'd been blind since he was 18. So I greeted him, wondering how to do that when you can't shake hands.

I asked him how he was.
"Happy as an oyster," said.
It took me back.
It usually goes, "happy as a clam."

"Is an oyster happy?" I asked back.
"Happiest creature in the world" he said. "Gets to sleep all day in its bed, filter water, make babies, who could ask for more really?"
He had a point.

Here's where to go if you'd like to know more about the oyster.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Money, Money, Money

She was found face down in a creek... only her head was in the water. 
She died sometime during the late night or early dawn.
Her car was found parked by the side of the road.
The car was properly parked, the doors left unlocked.
Oddly, the passenger side door was open.
Her purse was on the front passenger seat of the car.
The car was parked next to a small park in a suburban neighborhood.

The family called me after she hadn't come home that night. They were worried.
I was 3,000 miles away.... so I told them the same thing I'd tell them if we lived in the same house.
"Call the police" I said.
They did and within two hours they found her car, then her body.

She must've walked down the path through the wooded area that led to the stream.
Strewn all over car seat and floor were pills, I believe they were benzos and painkillers.
She was high. For some reason she was escaping reality.
Then some event happened.
Did she trip and fall face down in the stream and hit a rock, black out, then drown?
Was it the pills that brought her down?
Or did she drown herself? Though it hardly seems a way to commit suicide face down in a stream.

Regardless, the coroner concluded suicide, her family disagreed.
They thought it was more like an overdose.
They thought maybe she was a prescription pill addict who hid her addiction with great expertise because they really had no clue she was using valium, oxy, and who knows what else until the tox screens came back postmortem.

A week earlier, she blacked out in her home kitchen at dinner time in front of the husband and kids. 
Everyone was stunned and terrified when they rushed her to the ER.
All kinds of tests proved inconclusive.

I believe they wrote it off as a random single seizure... because she never had seizures before.
I wonder now as I write this whether... had the ER  checked her blood for alcohol and drugs the night she blacked out... they would have ID'd the prescription pill addiction. And maybe that could have been one way to change what turned out to be the inevitable.

Because on the day she was found dead... face down in the stream... she had high levels of  prescribed meds in her system. I don't recall how old she was now. I think in her 30's.

She drove the family corporate ship into a rock and the whole boat sank. All the investors lost their lifetime savings. Her entire family lost their inheritance. All the money went away.

Were she alive today she'd face criminal charge, jail time and a civil suit.  Instead there was her death and a civil suit against her insurance company.

The insurance company refused to pay out. They said she killed herself. There was an one story that the morning she was found dead was the morning  the banker she'd been doing business with  called a meeting involving her. She may have known the jig was up, the insurance company said, and killed herself.

The family said, no way she'd choose that way to kill herself.  Certainly not face down in the stream. The stream she went to was a place she often went to contemplate, get away, she'd gone there since childhood.
Yes, she was high and yes, she knew she a meeting with the banker....however, the family believed she just tripped and fell and drowned.
Or the drugs caused her to black out and  took her down.
Either way, there was a large contusion on her head.

Ultimately, the family won the civil suit against the insurance company. Some members of her family got insurance money, others did not. The investors lost all theirs -- including an 81 year old woman who had her life savings obliterated. Her own mother lost her deceased husband's inheritance and company, which went bankrupt.

I was so curious what she did with all that money.
I think now most of it went up her nose or down her throat.
Or into her kids' and husband's elegant and discreetly extravagant lifestyle... involving designer things and exotic trips.
I believe her husband had no clue she was using or ripping people off.
That's how good people can be at deceiving others.
I was deceived like the rest of them.

The morale of this story is no one is what they appear to be.
Wolves wear sheep's clothing.
Trojan horses carry armies.
Ultimately, the one person we need to rely upon in our lives is ourselves.
So be ever vigilent.
And guard your cash.
There are a whole lot people out there right now trying to separate you from it.