Filed under: Madeleine McCann

Blotter-y

It’s a fact — writing for a living naturally robs this blog a little of my attention. I can’t apologize for that — I can actually be practical from time to time, and it’s only practical to let paying work be a priority over blogging for the heck of it.

I did realize that I still do a lot of web-surfing geared towards finding new material, and that a lot of that new material would be most appropriate here, so I’ve decided to do an ad-hoc series of entries where I just hit on crimes that I’ve read about in the news. It may be a random list, it may have a theme — I’ll decide as I go along.

JUNIOR’S GOT A GUN

Cockeysville, MD — At one point, Nick Browning was apparently working on becoming an Eagle Scout. Now he’s being held as an adult for the murders of his mother Tamara, father John, and little brothers Gregory and Benjamin. Police in Maryland say the 15-year-old Browning ‘had a disagreement’ with his attorney father that ended in Nick killing everyone with Daddy’s handgun. Nick then ditched the gun in some bushes and went to hang out with his friends. He returned to the house a day later and behaved as if he’d just discovered the murders. Nick Browning is in the Baltimore County Detention Center, juvenile section.

Loganville, GA — Darryl and Cherri Spearman were found beaten to death in their home in Loganville on Friday. By Saturday police had charged Joshua Spearman, 18, with their murders. The Walton County Sheriff said his department had been called to the Spearman home in the past for domestic violence, when Josh was still a juvenile. I’ve received an e-mail from a long-time reader indicating that Josh may have had a bizarre online presence, but I haven’t been able to prove to myself yet that the sites in question were created by the same Joshua Spearman. Any tips about this part of the story with links are welcome.

UPDATE: This appears to be Josh Spearman’s MySpace profile:

http://www.myspace.com/chaotic_daydreamer;

And his MySpace blog:

http://blog.myspace.com/chaotic_daydreamer.

There are too many scary things in Spearman’s blog to really fit in this part of this blog entry, so a quote from his May 6, 2007 post about his “top 3 people” will have to do:

With out my parents i would not exist. I wouldn’t know the joy of living. The ability to give life is an amazing gift and with out that gift no one would be able to do anything because none of us would be here. My parents have taught me so much that with out there teachings i wouldn’t be able to function. They taught me how to speak, how to tie my shoes… everything. All the basics of human life and i think that counts for something. Ok, it count for a whole lot of something.

Next would be Hitler. Although he did some pretty messed up stuff his motives were noble In his mind he was trying to help his country and rebuild the greatness that Germany once had. Also with out the cruel experiments the Nazis performed we wouldn’t have many of the scientific breakthroughs(like the great improvement on curing aids and things like that) we have today. Also with out them we wouldn’t even have a space program. So Hitler has done some messed up stuff yes, but with out him we wouldn’t have some of the great advances we do today…

In case Spearman’s MySpace Blog in particular goes bye-bye, I’ve made a mirror that can be seen here:

http://mirror.huffsblog.com/chaotic_daydreamer.htm.

THE LANE BRYANT MURDERS

Tinley Park, IL — A gunman killed 5 women in a Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, near Chicago, on Saturday morning. Police believe the murders were the result of a robbery gone bad. The suspect is still at large and was said to be a black man of medium height, heavyset, wearing a black waist-length winter coat and dark clothing. Only one victim’s name has been released — 33-year-old Carrie Hudek Chiuso, a social worker at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

ARREST IN GALVESTON BABY MURDER

GALVESTON, TX — I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking if I’d cover the story of the horrific death of Baby Alijah, and I have to be frank — I can’t always deal with crimes like this. Travis Mullis, a perfect candidate for Useless Waste of Skin of the Year™ if there ever was one, apparently stomped his infant son’s brains out and left the child in a carseat near the seaside in Galveston. Mullis turned himself into police on Saturday in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the route from where Mullis is now to burning in the fiery pits of hell isn’t a straight one (unless Bubba gets to shankin’ post-haste), so we may have to tolerate the idea that he’s breathing our air for a little while longer.

THE TWO ETERNALLY MISSING GIRLS

ARUBA — You can comment in an open thread about the new developments (if that is what they truly are) in the Natalee Holloway disappearance by clicking the link on the left. A Dutch journalist is supposed to air what he says is former suspect Joran van der Sloot’s confession detailing what happened to Natalee tonight on Dutch TV. The same special will be broadcast by ABC tomorrow night here in the U.S.

PORTUGAL — In an interview to be broadcast in Portugal on Sunday, the head of the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ) Alipio Ribeiro, has said that the PJ’s decision to make the parents of Madeleine McCann official suspects in her disappearance was too hasty. This comes at a time when Kate and Gerry McCann’s attorneys are pushing to have the couples’ status as “arguidos” officially lifted.

*****

More quick hits on crimes in the news may be added to this entry as developments warrant.

A New Open Thread For Madeleine McCann: Six Months Later

Madeleine McCann disappeared from the Mark Warner resort on Praia da Luz in Portugal six months ago today. And half a year later, it seems as though no one is any closer than they were on May 3, 2007 to finding the girl.

Madeleine is perhaps the most widely-discussed missing child since the Lindbergh baby. At this point the McCann disappearance may be more infamous than that crime from the early 1930s.

Few blog commentators are as dedicated as commentators who chat about Madeleine McCann.

The previous open thread here at The True Crime Weblog has 1,239 comments and counting (the first link will permit you to comment on the weblog proper; the second link takes you directly to the haloscan-hosted thread). Many comments are left by European readers and readers in the UK, but plenty of Americans are discussing the British toddler, too. Another crime-centered site, Websleuths.com, has a huge number of U.S. readers, and there is an entire forum there devoted to Madeleine.

Currently, a Google search yields nearly 2 million hits on the little girl’s name.

Commentators who have followed the discussion: You should no longer post to the previous open thread. Please continue below. If you wish to reference comments left on the previous post, each comment has a number sign beneath it. Click that to directly link a particular comment.

Please, as always, keep the discussion civilized and on-topic.

NOTE, 12/13/07

LINK TO THE HALOSCAN HOSTED COMMENT THREAD. You may use that for reference, or you may wish to continue leaving comments using the new threaded, more forum-like system.

By Popular Demand: Open Thread for Madeleine McCann

There is no end to public fascination with the disappearance of the little British girl from Praia da Luz early last May.

Because several requests have been received, the purpose of this post is to simply start the discussion and let readers go.

To give some focus to the discussion, this article could be considered suggested reading.

The piece relates the news that Portuguese police may be looking for DNA and fingerprints the Britons who were at the Mark Warner-owned resort when Madeleine disappeared.

Apparently there were samples found there that investigators would still like to identify.

Detectives may be chasing signs of a kidnapper, after all.

If they are… well, what the hell happened to pointing the finger at Madeleine’s parents, physicians Kate and Gerry McCann?

If you prefer to read comments in-line — beneath the entry, on the blog itself, do the following once you’ve entered your comment:

* Instead of clicking “comment”, click the title of the post (“By Popular Demand…”), then scroll down and enter your comment in the box. Some people seem to find the pop-out box that comes when you simply click “comment” from the blog’s main page confusing;

* After you press “publish”, press “F5” on your computer keyboard. You may also click the “refresh” button on your browser — usually a looped arrow
.

Comments have a 3,000 character limit, and the Haloscan format doesn’t like overly-long URLs.

I am considering opening a thread to discuss the murder of Chicago-area pharmaceutical sales rep Nailah Franklin, but there were a few trolls following those entries before. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but while I’m adding old entries to this site and making other improvements I don’t have the time or patience to mess with that sort of nonsense.

As always, please keep the discussion civil and on-topic. Any off-topic, offensive, or frankly, just plain stupid posts may deleted and the user banned.

The way you close comments with Haloscan doesn’t really close them. The previous thread at this blog (TrueCrimeWeblog.com) can be reached here.

Open Thread: A photo of Madeleine McCann?

Madeleine McCann disappeared in May of this year. Since the 4-year-old vanished the mystery of what may have happened has consumed people all over the “Western” world. CrimeBlog.US has always had a good number of visitors from outside the United States, but hits from readers in places like Portugal, Spain, and the U.K. have risen exponentially. (Though the second highest number of visitors have usually come from the United Kingdom.)

Recently, Portuguese authorities made it clear that they were targeting Madeleine’s physician parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

Yet like so many supposed developments in this case, this one has seemed to lose its spark since it was first announced.

If a full-blown blog entry here was devoted to each turn and twist in the McCann mystery, this would just be a blog about Madeleine McCann, and it is not. (When I say “blog,” I do NOT mean a single post, I mean the entire body of the weblog. A “blog” is not a single entry, it is the whole shebang. Again, this is an area where people get confused. You are reading a blog post. It is part of a weblog. Any questions? Ask me later.)

However, open thread discussions do provide a forum for intelligent, thoughtful people to talk about new developments, to debate, and update one another. Open threads also come close to letting commentators do what they sometimes think they are doing — blog about this case. If you are unfamiliar with my pet peeve about commentators who write as if they are blogging (“I’ve never blogged before, but…”), just go here.

Most current developments in the search for Madeleine:

* Is Madeleine McCann in Morocco? It seems like a bizarre question, a non-sequitur. Yet I must admit that this photo gave me pause. That’s saying something, because I usually am a skeptic about new developments in this particular mystery. At the same time, I must admit — the picture of a little girl who may look like Madeleine smells a lot like many other past (non) developments in the case. It’s vague, suggestive, anything but concrete.

* How reliable is the lead detective in the case? Joana Cipriano, age 9, vanished from the Algarve in Portugal in 2004. The circumstances seemed to resemble those surrounding the McCann disappearance. Her 36-year-old mother Leonor was eventually convicted of Joana’s murder. Now Leonor is apparently saying that Gonçalo Amaral, one of the main investigators in the McCann disappearance, sat idly by as police literally beat her into confessing to her daughter’s murder.

There’s always plenty to talk about where the McCann disappearance is concerned. So, talk amongst yourselves. Please keep it civil and on-topic.

Madeleine McCann: A new twist in the case?

Media in the United Kingdom and the European Union are reporting this morning that the parents of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann have been declared suspects in their daughter’s disappearance. Kate and Gerry McCann may be arrested as early as today.

Intrepid journalist Paulo Reis, who has been covering the McCann disappearance in minute detail since Madeleine vanished, stated baldly in his blog/online paper, Gazeta Digital: “KATE McCANN COULD BE CHARGE [sic] TODAY IN CONNECTION WITH MADELEINE’S DISAPPEARENCE [sic].”

Madeleine, age 4, was allegedly asleep in an apartment with her younger brother and sister while her parents dined several yards away on May 3, 2007 in Praia da Luz, in southwestern Portugal.

Documenting all the twists and turns in the investigation into Madeleine’s vanishing from Praia da Luz last May would require a separate weblog. There have been suspects aplenty and sightings of the child all across the European Union. Madeleine’s physician parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have become grim celebrities, with the ear of no less than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (until recently that is, when it appeared as though Brown may have put some distance between himself and the couple). Multiple websites and personal profiles have been created by Americans, Britons, and Europeans alike. Message board and blog comment threads have been filled with speculation and painstaking analysis of every aspect of the truly troubling disappearance of the toddler from Leicester. A fairly concise and essentially neutral overview of the case so far can be found at Wikipedia — “Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.” [The Wikipedia entry on Madeleine’s disappearance has numerous legitimate sources of information linked in the notes.]

In the last few days, suspicion of the missing child’s parents has increased as the McCanns found themselves under heavy questioning by Portugal’s criminal investigation outfit, the Polícia Judiciária, or PJ. Early in the search for Madeleine the McCanns were naturally subject to suspicion, but by late July much of the public focus had turned away from the parents and towards some sketchy characters living near Praia da Luz at the time of the child’s disappearance.

Early today, a Portuguese language paper, Sol, reported that there was “fortes possibilidades” — a strong possibility — of Kate McCann becoming “arguida” — a suspect in her daughter’s disappearance, presumably in Madeleine’s death.

In a statement to news services such as Reuters and the AP, McCann family spokesperson David Hughes said that during Kate McCann’s continued questioning by the PJ she would no longer be done as a witness but a suspect, or “arguida.” The status of “arguida” is not quite as serious as the designation “suspect” might be in the UK or the United States. U.S. authorities, for instance, have become quite careful in the last decade or so about calling someone a suspect — many people accused of crimes have remained simply “persons of interest” right up to the moment they were in handcuffs. In Portugal, “arguida” is a legal designation that permits deeper questioning of the person under interrogation.

Fine distinctions between the meanings of “arguida” and “suspect” notwithstanding, the world press has seized on this development as a truly shocking turn of events. The McCann investigation was initially all but ignored by the American press, even as it was becoming a tremendously high-profile case across the Atlantic. The traditional media here in America are all over the story today.

Are the PJ out of other suspects and simply reverting to the most likely culprits? Statistically, harm is most often done to children by a caretaker or someone close to them. When some, including bloggers posting here at CrimeBlog.US, were hesitant to express too much suspicion of the McCanns, commentators frequently expressed the feeling that the couple was being cut too much slack.

It may be that there is forensic evidence pointing towards the McCanns, evidence that has only recently become available. This report from Reuters contained statements from another friend and spokesperson for the McCanns, Justine McGuinness:

“She will formally be declared a suspect,” said Justine McGuinness, a spokeswoman for the McCanns. “Kate knows it’s possible that she could get arrested.”

[. . .]

McGuinness said McCann had told her that police found blood in a car hired by her and her husband, Gerry, but there was no confirmation it was Madeleine’s blood. The car had been hired 25 days after Madeleine disappeared.

“They believe they have evidence to show in some way that she is involved in the death of her daughter, which of course is completely ludicrous,” McGuinness told BBC television.

If the McCanns are arrested in connection with their daughter’s mysterious disappearance, it will truly be an amazing turn of events. Kate and Gerry McCann haven’t just had the ear of the British Prime Minister, they’ve spoken to Pope Benedict XVI as well as sympathetic celebrities in Europe and the U.S.

After the initial outcry against their perceived lapse in leaving Madeleine and her siblings alone on May 3, public perception of the couple grew steadily more sympathetic. They became more comfortable as well, making multiple high-profile public statements. Gerry McCann even began to blog at FindMadeleine.com. His entry from September 6, 2007:

Day 126 – 06/09/2007

Everyone will know that Kate attended for interview as a witness with the Portuguese police today. This is only the second time Kate has been interviewed and although it was a long day, going on past midnight, this was shorter than my second interview which lasted 13 hours! The suggestion that Kate is involved in Madeleines disappearance is ludicrous. Anyone who knows anything about the 3rd May knows that Kate is completely innocent. We will fight this all the way and we will not stop looking for Madeleine.

Admittedly, there had been a strangely blasé tone to many of Gerry’s previous blog entries. He still sounded at times like a man on holiday. Gerry’s entry from September 4:

Day 123 – 03/09/2007

After dropping the twins off Kate and I popped into church for 10 minutes to pray for Madeleine. Spent most of the day going through mail, e-mails and I had a number of calls to make. It was good to spend some time with my family and Sean and Amelie certainly enjoyed their auntie’s dinner- sometimes it is hard to beat mince and ‘tatties’!

A bereft father struggling to keep his fear and anxiety at bay, or a tone-deaf narcissist unable to perceive the shallow nature of such a statement? There seemed to be an inappropriate, perfunctory, almost business-like tone to the post quoted above: Dropped off the kids, check — prayed for the missing kid, check — sorted mail, e-mail, phone calls, etc…. another day at the office.

The fact is, there have been many moments in the McCann investigation when there was “BREAKING NEWS” of one form or another. Blogging about the case slacked here at CrimeBlog.US in part because of this — entries would be half-written only to discover that a sighting of the missing girl was false, or that a new suspect was no longer a suspect.

Discussion of the McCann disappearance continued in comments left on blog posts, though. It was clear that many readers were daily seeking some new development, some sign that the little girl with the teardrop eye might one day come home again. Even as British posters gave the McCanns the benefit of the doubt and Portuguese readers seemed more and more cynical, suspicious of the situation, this hope for Madeleine still seemed to be one point on which the two views agreed.

This desire to find that hope inside this story brings up another spectre raised by heavy suspicion falling on Madeleine’s parents. Implied in allegations of new forensic evidence and naming Gerry and Kate suspects is a terrible conclusion — Portuguese authorities believe the child is dead, and that she may have been dead since May 3, 2007. If the McCanns being named ’suspects’ can be called a shocking development, this is the core reason for the shock. While there was a possibility that Madeleine had been abducted by a stranger, there existed a glimmer of hope that she might still be alive.

The possibility that both parents had a hand in her disappearance suggests strongly that Madeleine is long gone, and may never be found.

Even new suspicion directed at Madeleine’s parents may prove unfounded, in the end. Gerry and Kate, in that case, will have been through more hell than most parents could ever imagine.