Wednesday, November 30, 2011

About Pepper Spray

By Deborah Blum

One hundred years ago, an American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville developed a scale to measure the intensity of a pepper’s burn. The scale – as you can see on the widely used chart to the left – puts sweet bell peppers at the zero mark and the blistering habenero at up to 350,000 Scoville Units.

I checked the Scoville Scale for something else yesterday. I was looking for a way to measure the intensity of pepper spray, the kind that police have been using on Occupy protestors including this week’s shocking incident involving peacefully protesting students at the University of California-Davis.

As the chart makes clear, commercial grade pepper spray leaves even the most painful of natural peppers (the Himalayan ghost pepper) far behind. It’s listed at between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units. The lower number refers to the kind of pepper spray that you and I might be able to purchase for self-protective uses. And the higher number? It’s the kind of spray that police use, the super-high dose given in the orange-colored spray used at UC-Davis.

The reason pepper-spray ends up on the Scoville chart is that – you probably guessed this - it’s literally derived from pepper chemistry, the compounds that make habaneros so much more formidable than the comparatively wimpy bells. Those compounds are called capsaicins and – in fact – pepper spray is more formally called Oleoresin Capsicum or OC Spray.

But we’ve taken to calling it pepper spray, I think, because that makes it sound so much more benign than it really is, like something just a grade or so above what we might mix up in a home kitchen. The description hints maybe at that eye-stinging effect that the cook occasionally experiences when making something like a jalapeno-based salsa, a little burn, nothing too serious.

Until you look it up on the Scoville scale and remember, as toxicologists love to point out, that the dose makes the poison. That we’re not talking about cookery but a potent blast of chemistry. So that if OC spray is the U.S. police response of choice – and certainly, it’s been used with dismaying enthusiasm during the Occupy protests nationwide, as documented in this excellent Atlantic roundup - it may be time to demand a more serious look at the risks involved.

My own purpose here is to focus on the dangers of a high level of capsaicin exposure. But as pointed out in the 2004 paper, Health Hazards of Pepper Spray, written by health researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, the sprays contain other risky materials:

Depending on brand, an OC spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

Their paper focuses mostly, though, on the dangerous associated with pepper-based compounds. In 1997, for instance, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco discovered that the “hot” sensation of habeneros and their ilk was caused by capsaicin binding directly to proteins in the membranes of pain and heat sensing neurons. Capsaicins can activate these neurons at below body temperature, leading to a startling sensation of heat. Repeated exposure can wear the system down, depleting neurotransmitters, reducing the sensation of the pain. This knowledge has led to a number of medical treatments using capsaicins to manage pain.

Its very mechanism, though, should remind us to be wary. As the North Carolina researchers point out, any compound that can influence nerve function is, by definition, risky. Research tells us that pepper spray acts as a potent inflammatory agent. It amplifies allergic sensitivities, it irritates and damages eyes, membranes, bronchial airways, the stomach lining – basically what it touches. It works by causing pain – and, as we know, pain is the body warning us of an injury.

In general, these are short term effects. Pepper spray, for instance, induces a burning sensation in the eyes in part by damaging cells in the outer layer of the cornea. Usually, the body repairs this kind of injury fairly neatly. But with repeated exposures, studies find, there can be permanent damage to the cornea.

The more worrisome effects have to do with inhalation – and by some reports, California university police officers deliberately put OC spray down protestors throats. Capsaicins inflame the airways, causing swelling and restriction. And this means that pepper sprays pose a genuine risk to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

And by genuine risk, I mean a known risk, a no-surprise any police department should know this risk, easy enough to find in the scientific literature. To cite just three examples here:

1) Pepper Spray Induced Respiratory Failure Treated with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

2) Assessing the incapacitative effects of pepper spray during resistive encounters with the police.

3) The Human Health Effects of Pepper Spray.

That second paper is from a law enforcement journal. And the summary for that last paper notes: Studies of the effects of capsaicin on human physiology, anecdotal experience with field use of pepper spray, and controlled exposure of correctional officers in training have shown adverse effects on the lungs, larynx, middle airway, protective reflexes, and skin. Behavioral and mental health effects also may occur if pepper spray is used abusively.

Pepper spray use has been suspected of contributing to a number of deaths that occurred in police custody. In mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Justice cited nearly 70 fatalities linked to pepper-spray use, following on a 1995 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of California. The ACLU report cited 26 suspicious deaths; it’s important to note that most involved pre-existing conditions such as asthma. But it’s also important to note a troubling pattern.

In fact, in 1999, the ACLU asked the California appeals court to declare the use of pepper spray to be dangerous and cruel. That request followed an action by northern California police officers against environmental protestors – the police were accused of dipping Q-tips into OC spray and applying them directly to the eyes of men and women engaged in an anti-logging protest.

“The ACLU believes that the use of pepper spray as a kind of chemical cattle prod on nonviolent demonstrators resisting arrest constitutes excessive force and violates the Constitution,” wrote association attorneys some 13 years ago.

Today, the University of California-Davis announced that it was suspending two of the police officers who pepper-sprayed protesting students. Eleven of those students were treated by paramedics on scene and two were sent to a hospital in Sacramento for more intensive treatment.

Undoubtedly, these injuries will factor into another scientific study of pepper spray, another acknowledgement that top of the Scoville scale is dangerous territory. But my own preference is that we start learning from these mistakes without waiting another 13 years or more, without engaging in yet another cycle of abuse and injury.

Now would be good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What is Wrong With People?

by Holly Hughes

The more I hear about the Penn State pedophilia scandal, the angrier I get. A bunch of grown men sat around and did nothing for years, allowing who knows how many young boys to be sexually molested. 

It boggles my mind that a grown man walked in on the rape of a child and did nothing to stop it. Forget for a moment the whole question of who it should have been reported to. Just pause and think about what really happened back in 2002 in a Penn State locker room shower. Mike McQueary, a grown man, a graduate assistant at the time, has said he heard the sound of skin slapping on skin. He went into the shower area and saw a young boy, whose age he estimates to be around ten, with his hands pinned up against the wall and Jerry Sandusky was having anal intercourse with the child. In response to this assault McQueary turns and walks away. He doesn’t yell out or stop Sandusky from raping this little boy, he just simply leaves. He goes home and tells his father. Still, neither of them telephone the police. 

To this day, despite the indictment and charges levied against Sandusky, that little boy from the shower is still unidentified. No one knows if he is even alive today. Unfortunately, the statistics tell us that abused children often get into drugs, prostitution and other trouble with the law. McQueary tells his “boss,” Joe Paterno, who passes the information on to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz and nothing is done.

This case is a cautionary tale in many respects. Time after time there were multiple opportunities to stop this monster, Sandusky, from abusing children. As early as 1998, Sandusky was reported to authorities as having inappropriate contact with young boys. Despite the fact that Sandusky admitted to the boy’s mother, on tape, that he had showered with her eleven year old son and other boys and “wishes he was dead”, nothing is done. Despite interviewing another young boy who also reports that Sandusky showered with him, nothing is done. The District Attorney at the time, Ray Gricar, declines to prosecute this predator, and nothing is done. Thomas Harmon, who headed the campus police force at the time, closed the investigation and nothing is done. 

In 2000, a janitor named Jim Calhoun tells a co-worker and his supervisor that he saw Sandusky engaged in sexual activity with a young boy in the showers. The supervisor tells Calhoun who he can report it to if he wants. Again, another grown man, this time Calhoun, does nothing to stop the sexual assault of a child while it is in progress. No one, not Calhoun, his coworker or his supervisor calls the police and nothing is done. 

Another highly disturbing aspect is that all of these grown men (and more) knew Sandusky had six adopted children, took in foster children and ran a charity he had established for “troubled” youth. Did these men honestly think that those children were safe in Sandusky’s care? It is unconscionable to me that all of these men turned away and did nothing at the expense of every victim since the first reported one in 1998. Not one of them can honestly say they thought pedophilia was a one time event. Their behavior is indefensible. 

The average pedophile is said to have 100 victim over his lifetime, but I fear Sandusky is far worse than the “average” pedophile. This is a man who, thanks to his friends, had an endless supply of young boys to victimize. They enabled a child molester to continue unchecked for years. 

The Penn State officials, who had a mandatory duty to report suspected child abuse, never did so. Their answer was to take away Sandusky’s keys to the locker room. Really? Really? So, what’s the message there, “It’s okay to rape children, just don’t do it on our campus"? I have heard all the excuses. They didn’t want to destroy the integrity of the football program? Well, how’s that going for you boys? The janitor didn’t want to lose his job. How about his humanity? His compassion? His sense of decency? 

Having prosecuted homicides, hate crimes and high profile cases for ten years, I didn’t think there was much that could still shock me. I was wrong. The depth of this cover up at the expense of children is sickening. Even as I write this piece, more victims are coming forward. Sadly, there will be more victims unidentified than the number we will know about. 

As the Senate schedules congressional hearings and the California legislature proposes laws to prevent this from happening again I can’t help but think of the sad irony. It takes a tragedy like this for people to wake up and realize that we are failing the children of this country in horrifying ways. 

Frighteningly, it didn’t take a special hearing of Congress to prevent this particular tragedy. It would have only taken one of those grown men to “man up” and take a stand. To report this monster and expose him, before he abused all of his victims. 

Sometimes it takes a village, sometimes it just takes one good man. How tragic that we didn’t have one here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Story – The Friends of Amanda Knox

by Anne Bremner

My initial involvement in the Amanda Knox case came when I received a phone call from King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey nearly four years ago while I was at a conference for the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mike and I talked for some time about Amanda's legal plight. I was interested and probably got hooked on this case at that time. Soon thereafter, I met Mike and Tom Wright for lunch and breakfast at AJ's Restaurant on two occasions in Seattle. Following my conversations with these two remarkable men at those meetings, I was hooked for sure.

What happened next is that we met with the Knox family in West Seattle. I then spent weeks with a certain individual watching the crime-scene videos and studying all the evidence of the case. By then I was more than hooked, and completely convinced that Amanda was innocent. I also conducted my extensive research and found my beliefs to be confirmed.

It was decided that I would release all the evidence to the world's press. The individual specifically required me to not reveal that he was the person behind this. I then released the crime-scene videos to the Today Show and a shot was heard around the world. I felt as if I was Daniel Ellsberg releasing the "Pentagon Papers."

Mike Heavey, Tom Wright and I became “The Friends of Amanda Knox”. We were joined by best-selling author Douglas Preston, “The Monster of Florence” who had lived through the same terrifying experience as Amanda with the prosecutor Mignini; Jim Lovering (our brilliant writer and researcher extraordinaire); Paul Ciolino (famed and talented investigator) and sometime later, Mark Waterbury (extraordinary DNA scientist and author of “The Monster of Perugia). This fine group of people were responsible for turning the “supertanker” around of false and malicious press accounts about Amanda Knox. And in that, they turned around the trial.

The Friends of Amanda Knox consisted of a small group of extraordinarily talented and motivated individuals. What I recount here is but a fraction of what they did. I hope that they tell their stories to show how a group with unique and complimentary talents and skills can turn around an international sensation- in what could be a template for other future efforts to save victims of injustice – innocents abroad. The Friends of Amanda did all of the work, I was the mouthpiece or messenger.

This is what we discovered: the now-famous bra clasp with mixed DNA --purportedly Rafael Sollecito's -- turned from white to black from dirt because it hadn't been collected for months and was dropped repeatedly; a policewoman disturbed the crime scene when she crashed through a window in the house by mistake and shattered glass everywhere; investigators did not cover their heads, letting their long hair hang over the scene; unidentified observers were lounging around the scene and talking on cell phones; and the filming of the evidence was conducted like an old high-school audio-visual class project. We called this fiasco "Fellini Forensics," in mock honor of the famous Italian filmmaker's surreal style. My friend Jim Lovering stayed up all night culling through the tapes and then cataloging them.

In addition, the Italian appellate court would discover that the knife that was such an important part of evidence in this case was shoddily transported in a shoe box, further validating the fact that the forensic evidence was unreliable, contaminated and inadmissible.

I then wrote my piece, "Amanda Knox, My Truth and My Challenge," for the Perugia Shock. I also posted it on my Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper blog for "City Brights." Jim was the genius behind these as well. This was a stepping stone for more articles and discussions, including ones with CNN Anderson Cooper (I blogged for AC 360 on the Amanda Knox subject), Bill O'Reilly, Gerald Rivera, Jane Velez Mitchell,,, MSNBC, CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, NBC, CBS, ABC, the BBC, most of the United Kingdom press, the Italian press and local Seattle media. I made weekly appearances for years in the national and local media. All told, I have made hundreds of appearances on behalf of Amanda Knox.

A number of on-air personalities -- and even Donald Trump -- offered to fly to Italy -- and have Amanda's family flown there -- and advocate and fund-raise for Amanda and do anything they could on her behalf and bring her home. I appeared on Dateline NBC with Dennis Murphy and the Today Show over time. I developed relationships with most everyone in the national and local media. And I appeared with Sollecito's and Meredith Kercher's attorneys on the Italian version of "Oprah," "Porte a Porte."

I spent a huge amount of time trying to turn people around on the issue: All of the previously mentioned media outlets required this. I met with the UK Observer and did scores of BBC interviews. I talked to Nick Pisa and debated Barbie Nadeau on the air. For three-and-a-half years I went on TV and radio weekly to get the word out about Amanda Knox. I met with Time Magazine's Tiffany Sharples and a fantastic Time story resulted from this exchange. And New York Times writer Timothy Egan interviewed me and others on the case. Tim's two pieces were real turning points for Amanda. I partnered with KING-TV Seattle's Linda Bryon as well as Kathy Goertzen of KOMO-TV in public appearances and speeches.

My assistant, Joan Stapleton, and Tom Wright set up the websites "" and "" They hired a lawyer to create a trust fund at our own expense. They worked very closely with the Knox family on both sites and ultimately turned it over to them. Tom Wright, the true heart and soul of the Friends of Amanda, took on the torch of these projects and developed a world class website that was translated into many languages. It was and is the most definitive site for information about Amanda Knox. The site has received nearly a million hits from all over the world.

Tom Wright kept an ongoing blog on the website to inform the public the press about any new developments. The Internet hits exploded off the charts. The research receptacle that Tom Wright and Jim Lovering, our researcher extraordinaire, nurtured was vast. We advocated for the securing of a State Department lawyer. We spent considerable time on this issue. We actually contacted an attorney, who later became President Obama's White House Lawyer. We then spent a lot of time with John Q. Kelly, who was excellent. The family chose Ted Simon, who ultimately found little apparent success with the State Department. We, of course, wrote to Congress and to Obama. The Friends of Amanda Knox was a force to be reckoned with.

I became the target of much ire and vitriol against Amanda because I chose to be the face for the Friends of Amanda Knox. Amanda's attorneys and family were not able to step forward to address the evidence and their public-relations representative was tight-lipped, recommending silence, on the advice of Italian counsel, because of fear of retribution and defamation charges in Italy. Websites adverse to Amanda posted terrible comments about me online, including vicious attacks voiced on the Perugia Shock. Amanda-haters posted tasteless, doctored pictures of me online as well as false and defamatory remarks about me, too. I received more death threats than I can count. Every article or story where my name appeared had hideous, menacing comments. In my 25 years of legal practice, prior to my involvement with the Amanda Knox case, I had never had a negative news article or comment published about me in the media or on the Internet. That all changed with Amanda Knox. I received a virtual avalanche of negative publicity, comments and posts. My involvement in this case nearly ruined my reputation and career.

I staked my reputation and career for Amanda Knox. I would still do it all over again if asked. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Self Mutilation - The New Foreplay

Katherine Scardino

Self mutilation has been around for a long time. Why? I certainly do not have that answer. Experts say that self harmers use violence to the self as a means of coping with intense emotional trauma, pain or distress. It is a deliberate act that can result in serious damage to the skin or underlying tissues, and possibly cause infection. Sometimes there is permanent scarring. It is not a “fad” or something that only young people do. It is more likely to affect young people, but self harm is being seen in any age group, even among the elderly. One in ten teenagers are self harmers, and most do not receive counseling or medical help. Your children, if not a self harmer himself, probably knows someone at school who does.

Self harm is almost always closely associated with a traumatic event of some kind. He or she may feel depressed, confused, angry, frustrated, fearful, guilty, and the list goes on. But, the self harmer feels there is no other sensible alternative (from his point of view) other than to do violence upon himself. One person who engaged in self cutting said that her feelings were so overwhelming that the physical pain of self injury forced her to focus on something other than those debilitating emotions. This practice has been around for a very long time - remember self flagellation by the bad guy in Tom Hanks’ movie “The DaVinci Code”. The ritual of self flagellation is practiced annually by the Shi’ite, using chains and swords, during Ashura where the Shi’ite sect mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The Hebrew Bible refers to the priests of Baal “cutting themselves with blades until blood flowed”. 
Self cutting is the most prevalent form of self mutilation, but burning, head banging, deliberate poisoning, self biting, hair pulling, picking wounds so they don’t heal are all manifestations of the self harmer. The signs of self injury are not always apparent because the act itself is so secretive. Sufferers will often cover themselves up - wearing long sleeves and pants, even in the warmest weather. If anyone sees the injury and inquires, the response is usually that it was an accident.

Self harm is listed in the DSM-IV-TR as a symptom of borderline personality disorder. Depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia and other personality disorders are also associated with self harmers. Self harm is also apparent in high-functioning individuals who have no underlying clinical diagnosis. These people could be the person sitting next to you on the bus or airplane.

Or - even here in Houston, Texas. Last week a jury heard a criminal trial involving two people who were a “couple”, with children in the house, I might add, who were engaging in burning as part of their sex play. The male partner, Gregory Longoria, Jr., was accused of burning the genitals and breasts of the female partner with a Bic cigarette lighter. The prosecution initially claimed that her nipples were melted and her vagina was melted shut. The charge was later lessened from Aggravated Assault with Serious Bodily Injury to Aggravated Assault with Bodily Injury. Apparently, the medical testimony did not substantiate the “serious” part of the bodily injury. 

Nevertheless, a jury found the Mr. Longoria guilty of Aggravated Assault and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. My friend and criminal defense lawyer for Mr. Longoria, Stan Schneider, told me that consent was the defense and that these two had engaged in other types of acts such as bondage and other sorts of specialized “equipment”, if you know what I mean. Mr. Schneider indicated that this type of self-harm had been ongoing.

I have had a case where the wife admitted to self burning as a form of teenage “angst”. It was described as “no big deal”, just a few of us girls getting together and doing it. But, the question most people do not, cannot, understand is “why?” As stated above, the reason is serious and one that needs immediate psychological attention.

So, in summary - it’s a bad thing. It is harmful to the body and a bit strange, but not new. Watch your children. 

photos: ChantelBeamPhotography, escalade328sChrisGoldNY

Friday, November 18, 2011

Penn State’s Shame of Silence

by Diane Dimond

Imagine an 11 year old boy from an underprivileged family who gets help from a local charity called The Second Mile so he can spend time with members of the exalted Penn State University football team.

This little boy is ushered onto campus and is introduced around by one of the team’s top coaches. He gets to work out with the players and see the action up close. This kid feels like a King! Boy, wait till he tells his buddies back in the housing project where he lives with his single mother.

But a part of the boy’s dream includes something he wishes he could forget. The coach that brought him to this wondrous place suggests a shower at the end of their special day and when they are both naked engages in sexually charged behavior with the child.

After the coach drives him home the boy says to his mother, “If you’re wondering why my hair is wet, we took a shower together.”

The outraged mother calls police and the first official investigation of Penn State’s assistant coach Jerry Sandusky begins. The year is 1998.

The mother has two conversations with Sandusky while police listened in. Police confirm Sandusky admitted showering with several young boys and ultimately told the woman, “I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness … I wish I was dead.” The local District Attorney, Ray Gricar, decides there isn’t enough evidence to press charges.

Somehow word gets back to the University and a short time later Sandusky is told by head coach Joe Paterno that he will never be promoted. Sandusky soon retires but retains all university privileges, including keys to the football locker rooms.

Two years later, in the fall of 2000, in that very same Penn State shower room a janitor named Jim Calhoun comes upon a horrifying scene.

Just so you know the nature of what we’re talking about here I’ll quote a brand new Grand Jury report: “Jim observed Sandusky in the showers …. with a young boy pinned up against the wall, performing oral sex on the boy.” Calhoun was gravely upset and immediately told his supervisor, Jay Witherite. Another janitor, Ronald Petrosky, had also observed Sandusky walking out of the building that night hand in hand with a young boy.

Next, it’s March 2002 and a graduate assistant named Mike McQueary entered the locker room one night and heard a “rhythmic slapping sound” coming from the showers.

Back to Grand Jury report: “He saw a naked boy … whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”

McQueary doesn’t call police. He calls someone he believes is of a higher authority – the exalted Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno reports the incident only to his supervisor, Athletic Director Tim Curley. Curley tells the university’s VP of Finance, Gary Schultz, and the university’s President, Graham Spanier.

Not one of these men thought to call police or to try to identify the little boy. Why? Perhaps the 70 million dollars the Penn State football program generates each year had something to do with their silence.

I include the names of all the men who knew about Jerry Sandusky’s alleged activities with young boys because, to me, they are no better than the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who put blinders on and continuously refused to call in law enforcement lest their precious institution be embarrassed. They all consciously allowed the corruption of young children to continue.

The new Grand Jury report outlines sexual attacks by Sandusky on eight different boys. The most disturbing is Victim #4 who was described as being “A fixture in the Sandusky household … (who was) repeatedly subjected to Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Indecent Assault at the hands of Sandusky.” Now 27 years old, the former Second Mile kid says he was victimized in 1996, often when he slept in a basement bedroom at the coach’s home.

Everyone in State College, Pennsylvania knew that Jerry Sandusky had established The Second Mile charity for kids back in 1977 and was actively involved in getting school counselors to refer troubled kids to his program. The Grand Jury reports he would often go to the schools and pull out boys from class for private, unsupervised meetings.

Joe Miller, a wrestling coach testified that in 2006 he found Sandusky in an isolated workout room of the school, on the floor with a young boy in a compromising position. “Miller unexpectedly entered the room and Sandusky jumped up very quickly and explained that they had just been wrestling.”

I’m going to predict we will all be astounded at the final number of young men who come forward to say they were victimized. At this writing the number is said to be more than 20 and some may be the many foster children the Sandusky’s housed over the years.

Sandusky is now out on bail, as are Penn State officials Curley and Schultz, the latter two were charged with lying to the Grand Jury about what they knew and when they knew it.

Some might say I’ve rushed to judge Sandusky but, may I just say, there has been no rush. Instead, there has been a years long campaign of foot dragging and cover up.

Shame on all those grownups who knew or who suspected what was happening and thought their football program was more important.

If Jerry Sandusky has an ounce of compassion he will repeat what he told that mother back in 1998. He’ll say he’s sorry and ask for forgiveness and spare everyone the torture of a trial.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State’s Shame of Silence

Penn State’s Shame of Silence

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cell Phone Forensics

By Andrea Campbell

Statistics are that in 2005 over two billion cell phones were out in the universe. Today that number hovers around five billion. Estimates are that that number of mobile phones will grow by another billion in 2012—that’s a lot of communication devices and evidence.

New Technology

Unfortunately for many crime scene investigators today there isn’t a lot of information about how to collect and use mobile phone forensics because this technology is in its infancy. Unless investigators operate in a large metropolitan area where there are plenty of technology nerds to consult, or unless they have access to professional organization training seminars, odds are they will not have the kind of knowledge needed or know how needed to utilize what a phone offers: data from a call list, photographs, text messages, video and more usable leads.

Cyber Forensics

According to Science Daily, “Approximately 80 to 90 percent of legal cases today involve some sort of digital evidence.” It’s the recovery and interpretation of this evidence that is sometimes in question by the courts and, at other times, just difficult to access correctly or to explain to juries. Cyber Forensics also involves other devices such as mp3 players, CDs, and more. Wayne Jansen, researcher with the National Institute of Standards and Technology says, "One of the first things that's looked at is a cell phone now.” But unclear forensic tactics for gathering evidence means that some investigators resort to ad hoc tools and procedures—making cell data likely to face new hurdles in the courtroom.

Flasher Box

Non-experts can transfer cell phone data to a computer with a flasher box. According to Lester Wilson, managing director of a London company that makes forensic tools and who often works for police extracting evidence, "People seem to take joy in recording their crimes to their mobiles. Anything you can think of--street robbery, kidnapping, sex crimes--they're taking pictures…" Apparently getting a “forensic” tamper-free version of a tool has not always been available until more recent machines and software. There will always be some models for which no existing forensic tools work. In that case, "Sometimes the best tools are hacker tools, as long as they've been thoroughly examined and reverse-engineered," said Jansen, who helped write NIST's official recommendations for documenting the chain of evidence and creating tamper-proof files. And with the plethora of cell phone choices, the more complex models can be problematic as they are vulnerable to tampering. This means that using wireless technology, the data can be changed.

Seize, Isolate and Document: Data Mining

According to the National Institute of Justice, by exporting information from multiple digital devices (such as call logs from multiple cellular phones or e-mails from computers) and importing that data into an analytical software package, investigators using data-mining techniques can diagram and visualize a criminal enterprise or a timeline of events. This graphical representation can make it easier for investigators to understand the complex relationships in a criminal enterprise or for a jury to understand criminal activity and the possible connections among offenders in a courtroom presentation


All cell phone discovery must start with Standard Operating Procedures and handled carefully and documented just as other evidence to prevent contamination or tampering. This starts with the legal rights to collect such evidence, photographing of all phases, isolating the components to prevent remote access or a network signal, maintaining network isolation and proper documentation and, so often overlooked, preparation for the courts. For now some investigators will have to enter into training courses, seek certification and the counsel of veterans, and stay in the loop as far as obtaining the most current software and technologies.

Reference & Resource

Dixon, Evan, “Best Practices in Mobile Phone Investigations”, Evidence Technology Magazine, Sept.-Oct., 2011.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Message Does Lindsay Lohan’s Four Hour Jail Stint and Casual Body Language Give to Young People?

The fact that Lindsay Lohan has just been released from a 30 day jail sentence after four and a half hours sends a horrible message to young men and women. It says that you don’t have to be accountable for your actions and that you will get away with it. Body language wise she appeared relaxed after her sushi dinner the night before, as she entered the jail, knowing full well that she most likely would not be there very long.

Her nonchalant body language gives a clear message that you can chose bad behavior and it will all work out fine because of who you are.

Even if the jails are overcrowded in Los Angeles, in my view they needed to find a space especially for Lindsay to do the time. This was not her first time, her second time, her third time, or her forth time. She needed to be held accountable.

Seeing how she can get away with everything will not help her life in the long run.

Lindsay came to court with her puffy lip trout pout and arrived at the jail with her stylish high fashion makeup, complete with what looks like a double set of lashes and the latest designer clothing . It appears that is nothing but mere a PR showcase for her . There is no remorse for her continued bad and entitled.

Lindsay has been in jail five times already and she is still in her twenties. This is NOT a good sign. Unless she gets major counseling and deals with the underlying cause that stimulates her aberrant behavior ,she is headed for more of the same as she ages. Trouble will follow her forever unless he gets to the root of her troubles- her parents.

There is no question that the root of her problems have a lot to do with her parents in my view. Last week her father ended up behind bars for the sixth time. For violating a restraining order and for alleged abuse. An enabling mother and an out of control father may very well be contributors towards her acting out.

But like her dysfunctional and forgiving parents, Hollywood is also forgiving, especially if there is money to be made. It seems that money will be made with a full frontal nude photo shoot for Playboy.

It seems that those who have been able to insure her for a film also believe they will make money. But the reality of this is that if the Playboy magazines don’t sell or the films in which she appears don’t sell, there is no next time for Lindsay.

After all , in Hollywood, you are only as good as your last gig and if it doesn’t go well, neither will your career. But then there is always the “comeback” as Hollywood loves a good comeback story a la Robert Downey Jr.

While she may have “lucked out” and beat the legal system for now, in the long run as history has shown us, bad behaviors do have a way of finally catching up with people.

Even though it may be disturbing to see her skirt justice and watch her entitled body language , it may be short lived.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Freedom of Speech, the McCanns, and Searching for Maddie

by Pat Brown

I have been getting a lot of questions about my search fund to be established with monies from the sale of my book, Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Some of the stuff certain folks are saying is seriously ridiculous, so I thought it best I make a clear statement with simple points they can understand.

1. I am not giving or receiving any monies from the McCanns' search fund.

2. At present, 50% of monies received from the sale of the Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann will go to the Pat Brown Maddie Search Fund. The other 50% earned from the book is income, not donations. I am selling a product and do not have to donate all earnings (or any) to charitable causes (however, I do pro bono work on other cases as there are OTHER missing and murdered children and adults than Madeleine in this world, so part of my earnings through any means funds this). I have chosen to donate 50% of the book's earnings to my Maddie search fund since she is the focus of this book.

3. The Pat Brown Maddie Search Fund monies will be not be spent on a personal salary (any time spent will be pro bono). Monies will be used for expenses related to doing a search: travel, equipment, hiring of local PIs, or bringing in experts.

4. If I can cover any search expenses by another other method (media, work in the same location, etc.), then I will do so. I always endeavor to always keep costs low when I do pro bono work so that the funds will stretch further: inexpensive hotels, staying with local people, cheap meals, etc.). If I choose to spend above the cheapest rate I can achieve, I pay out-of-pocket.

5. The Pat Brown Maddie Search Fund will be transparent with all monies earned on the book tracked, all monies put into the account tracked, and all monies spent tracked. A full account will be made to the public of everything associated with my fund and my searches.

6. The Pat Brown Maddie Search Fund has no connection with the McCanns' search fund and the McCanns have not given my fund any endorsement. However, it would seem to me if I search in previously untargeted places and either locate Madeleine or eliminate those possibilities, then the search is nothing but beneficial to the McCanns and is following in the spirit of "Leaving No Stone Unturned."

7. There are four theories as to what happened to Madeleine which influence how one searches for the child; whether one thinks she is dead or alive.

One:, the child died accidentally in the apartment in Praia da Luz and there was a cover-up; then we are looking for a dead child in Portugal, Spain, or England.

Two: a local pedophile abducted Madeleine; then we are looking for a dead child in Praia da Luz, Portugal or nearby.

Three: A woman wanted a little girl and got a man to kidnap Madeleine. Then we are looking for a live child somewhere in the world.

Four: A pedophile sex ring kidnapped Madeleine and she is being raped and abused on a continuing basis. Then we are looking for a live child somewhere in the world.

Now, as one only has limited funds (even the McCanns, although they have been quite hefty), it behooves one to put the strongest efforts into the most likely scenario. If the McCanns were not involved in any way (other than neglect) in the disappearance of their daughter, they ought to be using kindhearted people's donations in the most proper way; looking for a pedophile who abducted, raped and murdered their little girl, get him arrested and convicted so that Madeleine gets justice, and prevent another little girl from the same horrible fate. They should be putting a good portion of their search and investigative efforts into locating a local child sex predator.

Why? Because the methodology and descriptions of how Madeleine was supposedly kidnapped and by whom match a person from the area without even a vehicle to take her away in. There is zero evidence of any fancy plot nor even a person smart enough to park a vehicle in the car park right outside the window of Madeleine's bedroom in with which to make a quick getaway. Instead, we have the purported actions and descriptions of some creepy, not-so-bright fellow walking down the street with a child in his arms in full view of everyone. The chances of Madeleine being taken by a desperate wanna-be-Mom or a sex ring are minimal.

Should the McCanns still consider these rare possibilities and still look for a living Madeleine? Well, I can't blame the McCanns (if innocent) for wanting to believe their daughter is alive, so I can understand and accept that they want to put some efforts into that miracle possibility. However, they should be honest enough and good enough stewards of donated monies I(if innocent) to admit the likelihood of Madeleine being dead is very, very high and the likelihood of her being buried somewhere in Praia da Luz or environs is also very, very high. Their efforts should be concentrated there, with some monies set aside for the miracle.

So, I will be focusing on the two top theories; that Madeleine died in an accident and her body was hidden somewhere, or a local pedophile took her and her body is buried locally. IF it turns out that I get ANY information that proves Madeleine was abducted or if any evidence turns up that points to her murder by a stranger, this information will go straight to the police and the McCanns. If Maddie was abducted and murdered by a child predator, I want justice for Maddie and I want that creep put away and I want other children to be safe from him.

My theory as I laid out in my Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is just that; a theory. If evidence surfaces that changes my view of what happened to Madeleine, I have no problem disclosing this and adjusting my theory. Theories change based on available evidence; hence, they are called theories, not facts. Theories often change over time, even those postulated by law enforcement and the McCanns. Even Kate admits in her book, Madeleine, her theories of what happened that night have undergone change as she has spent more time analyzing the evidence or after receiving new information.

Why the McCanns had Carter-Ruck threaten Amazon with legal action to get a theory removed from public view is curious as it is only a theory, an opinion, one person's take on probabilities based on what is known at this point in time. Perhaps we will find out why they went to these lengths when the McCanns get on the witness stand in a court of law (when my lawsuit for libel and tortious interference with business makes it to court; I have retained prominent attorney Anne Bremner of Stanford Frey Cooper). Perhaps, then, they will explain why one person's opinion is so concerning they need to go to extremes to get have it silenced.

Madeleine McCann is the most recognized missing child in the world, with the most media attention of any missing child in the world. Unless I am mistaken, more money has been donated to finding Madeleine McCann than any child in the world. My Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann should hardly affect such a large and successful (moneywise) campaign; so one wonders if the real issue the McCanns have with my profile is that my theory might actually be correct.

I believe in Freedom of Speech. I don't object to the theories of others on cases even if they differ from mine. I don't even object to someone analyzing my theory and writing their opinion of it. I would never try to shut down their viewpoint (even when things are taken out of context and misrepresented in some way); I merely suggest that interested people go to the source and compare the two viewpoints and think for themselves about what theories and concepts are more supportable by evidence and logic.

The McCanns could simply have ignored this profiler's opinion on Madeleine's disappearance or made a statement that they do not think my analysis is very good. If the book was truly libelous as they claimed through their solicitors, Carter-Ruck, they should have informed me of this or sued me directly. Instead, they went behind the scenes and had the book pulled from the market. Inquiring minds wonder why.

I will be in Portugal in February to support Detective Amaral's fight against the McCanns in court, to begin search analysis, and to hear just what Gerry and Kate McCann have to say.

May the truth come out one day and justice for Madeleine McCann prevail.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When Parents Hate Their Children

by Gina Simmons, Ph.D.

I once counseled a 12 year old girl, Amanda, whose parents hated her. Prior to her first therapy session, Amanda had fallen off a wall, breaking her collar-bone. Her father made her wait three hours to go to the hospital because he wanted to watch a football game. In a videotaped session she cried, "why don't my parents love me?" As tears flooded Amanda's cheeks, her stunningly beautiful mother looked at herself on the television monitor and smiled.

While nature provides healthy mothers with lovely bonding brain chemistry, like oxytocin, to stimulate feelings of love and connection, some truly hate their offspring. Hate does not demonstrate itself in simple anger, resentment or hostility. Most parents get very angry when their children misbehave, keep them awake at night, or act disrespectfully. When children disobey parents, a feeling of helplessness follows. When you feel helpless you get angry. Anger can lead to inappropriate discipline and even abuse. In that case parents need anger management training, support and parenting classes. Hate is a different animal.

Another patient described her mother's cold rant, "I wish you had never been born." At 50 years of age the damage from those words still wounded. Another patient said that when her father got angry at the children he would get up from the table and shout, "I'm going to get my gun!" At that point the family would flee the table and hide until the storm passed. When parents hate their children they wish for their annihilation.

The father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, coined the term Oedipus Complex, from the Greek story of Oedipus, about a man who killed his father and married his mother. He used this story to describe a stage of child development when a boy wishes to be close to his mother and push his father away. Eventually, the healthy boy resolves the complex when he identifies with his father and becomes independent from his mother.

I prefer to spotlight the other side of the story, the story of Laius, Oedipus' father. King Laius was told by an oracle that he should never have a child with his wife because that child would kill him, marry his wife and become king. After the birth of his son Oedipus, Laius makes several attempts to kill his son in order to thwart the prophesy and maintain his power. The Laius Complex describes parents who feel so threatened by the power of their children that they wish for and sometimes cause their death.

M. Scott Peck, in his chilling book, The People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil, described a case where a family brought in their only remaining son for counseling due to depression after the suicide of their other son. While chatting with the boy to make him feel comfortable Dr. Peck asked about Christmas, and if he received any presents. The boy said he received a gun from his parents for Christmas. Concerned that the parents gave a depressed and suicidal boy a gun for Christmas, Dr. Peck asked more questions. Not only did the parents give a gun to their son, they gave him the same gun the brother had used to kill himself.

Hatred of this sort has a cold, calculating quality. Children raised in these homes feel confused, like Amanda. They feel love for and attachment to their parents, but don't understand why they get only coldness in return. Pioneering psychoanalyst Karen Horney used the term, "basic evil" to define parental indifference. She believed it was not the heat of anger, but the cold indifference of parents that led to many neurotic disorders.

When children lack basic warmth and affection from caregivers they can and do die. Failure to thrive, refers to children whose current weight and rate of growth are lower than expected for their age and gender. The emotional deprivation of unloving parents is listed as one of the causes for failure to thrive syndrome.

Some of my patients raised in emotionally deprived environments talk about how lonely they feel when they try to tell their story. "Most people say, 'oh all parents love their children, maybe your parents just didn't know how to be parents,'" one patient shared. Sometimes what helps break down that feeling of alienation is when someone says, "yes, some parents do hate their children." And it's not your fault.

Photos courtesy of: Pink Sherbet Photography, Picture Truths and Vlad Sfichi.