by Anne Bremner
Co-Authored by Bob Sims
Oh no, like salt on snow
I've been melted
Left alone on the side of the road
Is this where I am over
For your sake
Stuck between sleep and awake?
Having been snowbound for days here in wintry Seattle, my thoughts have drifted lately. But, still, I remain vigilant in my thinking about my cases, especially the ones involving missing persons and how inclement weather conditions sometimes affect the lack of crime.
I began pondering this when I started thinking about my clients Chuck and Judy Cox, and their missing daughter, Susan Cox Powell. More than two years ago Susan went missing when her husband Josh Powell supposedly took the couple's then 2- and 4-year-old sons camping in snowy Utah at midnight, browning marshmallows by campfire in the dead of winter.
Many speculate that Susan is out there in the snow, the snow that has melted and then fallen again and again over two long intervening winters. Others speculate she is alive and at some point has been kept secretly by Josh Powell and his father Steven Powell. But not many do. She is somewhere between sleep and awake.
Statistics show that snowy conditions reduce crime rates. This has been described in Dr. Emily Bloom's "The Ice Factor," where she wrote about how "snow slays crime."
And it is true. Crime declines during snowstorms. Is it the calming quiet that tames the beast in us? Or the inablity to get out and do things -- good or evil?"
It reminds me of what my psychiatrist father said when he was doing studies for Prozac, in the face of claims that Prozac made some people kill. My father said it just helped them get out of bed and they would've killed anyway.
"The first fall of snow is not an event, it is a magical event."
The thoughts of an icy, snowy death are unimaginable to me, like learning about those mountain climbers who died on Mt. Everest, as expressed so eloquently by Jon Krakauer in his book, "Into Thin Air."
It's almost akin to Titanic passengers drowning in the dark, icy North Atlantic waters long ago -- the same fate for some on the sinking cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Italian coast recently.
I believe Susan Powell didn't die in the snow, and the snow story just might turn out to be the Cox family's salvation. Almost everyone who has heard the story has scoffed and pointed toward her husband Josh Powell as a person of interest, for the very reason he has concocted this improbable tale.
"The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread, for every step is sown."
Crimes are not committed in snow.
In fact, such a claim makes me incredulous. As a prosecutor, I use the "footprints in the snow" analogy to describe circumstantial evidence.
When you retire to bed at night, the ground is covered with fresh and pristine snow, untouched. When you wake up in the morning, there are footprints in the snow, leading to your doorstep where the morning's newspaper is there. You didn't see the person deliver your newspaper directly, but circumstantial evidence tells you, via footprints in the snow, that someone indeed did.
Snow. Crime. Punishment. Help us find Susan Cox Powell.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
by Anne Bremner
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
Now Doug, also professionally known as D.P. Lyle, M.D., has also acted as a consultant and advisor on various television shows like Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Monk and House, so I know he is adept at research and his medical background makes him one of the best.
There are no "typical" questions as these are forming the basis of fictional stories that involve crime and essentially made-up situations. The questions are however, broken up into parts such as: Traumatic Injuries, Illnesses, Doctors and Hospitals in Part 1, to another part such as: The Coroner, the Body and the Autopsy in Part IV, and, what could be my favorite and final section Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds making up Part V. And, of course, one of the fun parts is that these questions come from storytellers both famous and not, whose goal it is to want their readers to turn the page, so some of them are truly "out there."
And actually, here is a partial answer to a particular question and it is also related to one of my pet peeves (I will explain after): "Do teeth and their fillings remain in a skull twenty years after death? A.: Actually, the teeth often fall from the skull and jawbone. This is due to decay of the gum and the socket tissues that anchor the teeth in place. It depends on the degree of decay and how long after death the skull is found. You can construct your story either way..."(and so on).
As for my own pet peeve, how can someone find an ancient skull and the lower part, the mandible, is still attached? "In decayed bodies, the mandible becomes detached from the skull as the temporomandibular joint and supporting ligaments deteriorate," yet we often see the skull with the jaw attached, even after discovery of years!
More Forensics and Fiction, by D.P. Lyle, paperback, 432 pages, Medallion Press, April 2012.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Okay, I feel like I am in an alternate universe on the sad story of missing baby Ayla. Am I the only one who is not buying a word from Trista Reynolds or even her father? This week on The Vinnie Politan show for HLN the focus was to be of the grieving grandfather and victimized mother Trista. My impression of the grandfather’s reaction was totally opposite. Here is a man whose daughter Trista was in drug rehab for alcohol and “other” drugs. Why is this family responding the way they are with nobody addressing how Trista has been as a mom. She was living with an aunt doing drugs. She needed to be forced into rehab and her kids taken from her by the child welfare agency and given to the father. All of this while she has a 9 month of baby from another man. Hello? Are we asleep here people?
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
- Watch if they shirk back or lean away from the interviewer or the attorney when crucial information is discussed.
- They may rock back an forth a means of self soothing.
- They may bush repeatedly brush off imaginary lint on their clothing.
- Fiddling with their hands and wringing their hands on crucial information.
- Repeatedly scratching themselves as though they have an itch.
- Shuffling their feet during key questioning
- Not moving arms or legs when speaking
- Hands folded on lap and no movement whatsoever
- Audible breathing or immediate changes in breathing pattern
- Hunches over during crucial questioning or discussing significant issues
- Blushing, flushing or blanching during significant questioning.
- Pulling on their nose or ears
- Scratching their head , nose or ears, or cheeks,
- Puffing out their cheeks and quickly exhaling a large amount of air.
- Upper chest breathing and taking in large amount of air.
- Adams apple movement and swallowing during crucial questioning
- Cotton mouth
- Lip licking and licking of teeth
- Pursing the lips indicating they are holding back information.
- Tilting head to the side during key questioning
- Rapid eye blinking
- Breaking eye contact during crucial questioning
- Not looking at questioner at all
- Eyes can widen during key questioning indicating surprise at getting caught
- Rubs eyes during key questioning
- Bows head down
- Nervous coughing
- Constant throat clearing
- Dying off at end of sentences
- Mumbling or speaking inaudibly
- Pitch of voice raises during key questioning
- Gets defensive or overly aggressive during key questioning
- Answers a question with a question
- Repeats verbatim question interrogator or attorney asked
- Stammers or hesitates over key words
- Says like um uh a lot when explaining things
- Goes off on tangents and doesn’t get to the point
- Gives too much detailed information
- Often doesn’t make sense
- Inconsistent stories
- Monotone or inappropriate emotion based on topic discussed
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Photos courtesy of pink sherbet photograpy and ugg boy ugg girl.