The Forsberg Mystery: Where is Marcia?

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The Forsberg Mystery presents the kind of intrigue journalists often find irresistible. Rick and Marcia Forsberg might understand such curiosity. They met nearly 4 decades ago as student journalists. This is from the Oxnard (CA) Press-Courier, Oct. 26, 1975, an article about Ventura College’s student newspaper, the Pirate Press:

During the years romance also entered into the Pirate Press staff activities. Rick Forsberg, editor in 1968, married Marcia Litoff, editor in 1969, and they are pursuing literary careers together.

Now no one has seen 61-year-old cancer survivor Marcia Forsberg for months. Her husband is missing too. It’s probably not a big surprise that he’s also a person-of-interest in Marcia’s disappearance.

The last time Orange County Sheriff’s detectives saw Richard Forsberg, age 61, was Tuesday, August 24. That’s when detectives with the Sheriff’s Dept. interviewed him about his wife’s vanishing act. After all, he’d never filed a missing persons’ report, even though friends had not seen Marcia since February.

The couples’ friends found it odd when Marcia blinked out of sight a few months ago. Richard’s behavior didn’t help. From the Orange County Register:

Carrie Aberto, a neighbor, said she received a letter from one of Forsberg’s friends from Oxnard. The friend wrote that she was concerned for Marcia, and wanted to know if there were signs of her in the neighborhood. But neighbors hadn’t seen her either.

Aberto said Richard Forsberg also began acting strangely about two months earlier. When talking to neighbors he would ramble into tangents, she said. When asked about his wife, he said she had left him and gone to Arizona.

Cops asked Richard about not filing a report and he told them the Arizona story. Richard said he’d last seen her on March 13.

Marcia’s Arizona friend said Marcia wasn’t there.

Cops tried to follow up with Richard but couldn’t find him.

Cops have searched the Forsberg’s residence in Rancho Santa Margarita and most recently gone door-to-door searching for the Forsbergs. Richard hasn’t shown up to his job with the Costa Mesa Coast Community College District.

There hasn’t been any activity on either his or his wife’s cell phones.

As recently as October, 2009, the Forsbergs seemed like a healthy, happy couple. They were featured in an article in the Ojai Valley News. The article was about Nordhoff High School’s 100th anniversary celebratory festival and something called “Dance For the Generations.” Rick and Marcia Forsberg smile at the reader from a blurry photo accompanying the piece. The article tells how the Forsbergs met “on the first day at Ventura College” in journalism class. The Forsbergs went to Nordhoff High reunions on an almost yearly basis so Marcia could see old friends. The article continued:

Marcia is a retired writer and editor who has done graduate study in art history, and Rick is a college administrator. Marcia Forsberg especially wants to add, “Everyone who organized this, our whole class says thank you! We are having a blast. The class of ’67 rules!” She and her former classmates piled into the photo booth that was in the Nordhoff gym lobby during the dance to capture another memory in the warm Ojai legacy.

Police believe that if Richard Forsberg is still alive, he is in his wife’s silver VW Bug, CA license # 4TIM403.

Police In Washington State Seek Violent Felon John Allen Booth Jr. For Triple Homicide

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John Allen Booth Jr./Lewis Count Sheriff

Authorities in Lewis County, WA are seeking convicted felon John Allen Booth Jr. as a suspect in a triple homicide. The Onalaska resident is believed to have killed 3 and wounded 1 earlier this morning in Salkum, WA.

Deputies went to the 100 block of Wings Way in Salkum around 2 a.m. Saturday, answering reports of shots in a residence there.

Police reports indicate they found 3 dead on the scene and another victim in critical condition. Local news outlets report the survivor was “airlifted to a secure, undisclosed location where they are listed in critical condition,” indicating fear for the survivor’s safety while John Allen Booth Jr. is on the run.

Police say Booth is armed and dangerous. A $1000 reward has been offered for information that might lead to Booth’s arrest.

Booth, 31, has spent time in prison for assault convictions, which he was appealing as recently as the fall of 2009. Prior to that Booth was convicted of first degree burglary and second degree assault–in addition to several juvenile convictions, which he once contended had been unfairly used against him once he was an adult. A close reading of the court decision vacating a lower court’s findings against Booth in 2003 indicates he is a criminal of long-standing, having committed the juvenile crimes in question before he turned 15.

Booth may be in a blue/teal 1988 Dodge Diplomat, Washington license 550 YFA. He’s the kind of guy you just run from if you see him, calling 911 as you go.

Julian Assange Accused of Being Even Creepier Than He Seems [See Update at End of Post]

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(I debated tackling something this big in the first real post here because no one reads this blog yet–there’s nothing to read. Then I decided, ‘to hell with it, you gotta start somewhere.’)

Make no mistake – Wikileaks.org does good work. They seek to shine a light in some of the darker corners of existence, scare human cockroaches and make them scuttle into the open. However, Wikileaks was founded by a strange, troubled, brilliant man, 39-year-old Australian Julian Assange. Assange, for all his genius (and this is not debatable; there is ample evidence the man is literally a genius), also seems deeply self-absorbed, grandiose and in the grip of a persecution paranoia that may outstrip any any actual persecution thrown his way. Today he has more reason than ever to claim persecution: he has been accused of rape and molestation.

He allegedly met one of his accusers last weekend in Stockholm while in Sweden to lecture on one of his pet themes, that the “first victim of war is truth.” Assange allegedly met his second accuser in Enköping last Tuesday morning, reports the Swedish tabloid Expressen. Stockholm City prosecutor Mary Häljebo Kjell Beach told the paper that Assange has been charged in absentia, as Swedish authorities have been unable to track him down. (Expressen appears to have an Enquirer-like reputation in Sweden, but The National Enquirer has also broken some very real and big news in the United States in recent years.)

The Swedish paper reports, via anonymous sources, that the alleged victims are frightened of Assange’s perceived power and hesitant to go forward with their cases. A source who knows the women said they  know each other.

Julian Assange, as anyone might do, has defended himself against the allegations via Twitter: “Julian Assange: the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.”

Wikileaks also posted a blog entry about the charges:

On Saturday 21st of August, we have been made aware of rape allegations made against Julian Assange, founder of this project and one of our spokespeople.

We are deeply concerned about the seriousness of these allegations. We the people behind WikiLeaks think highly of Julian and and he has our full support…

Wikileaks stated that it will continue its normal operations while Assange defends himself against the accusations.

Another tweet regarding the charges against Assange was striking in that it was clearly part of a long-term Wikileaks effort to make it clear that they are an organization (however loosely organized) under siege. The tweet contained a link to the Expressen article and this statement: “We were warned to expect “dirty tricks”. Now we have the first one…”

The implication seemed clear: the accusations against Julian Assange are part of a likely CIA-sponsored campaign to discredit Wikileaks by attacking its most visible representative. This would be in retaliation, of course, for multiple (and in one case, massive) Afghan and Iraq-related leaks posted on the organization’s main website.

In Wikileaks’ defense, there is no debating the fact that the Pentagon is angry at the previous exposures–they have stated as much, calling the Afghan War Diary documents damaging and dangerous, both to American soldiers in the field and Afghan operatives assisting in the fight against the Taliban. If Julian Assange is innocent of the charges and Wikileaks is correct about “dirty tricks,” the ironic thing is the incident plays into a mindset that Assange has already expressed for years–even before he had any clear, logical reason to feel as if he was being oppressed.

In his blog at IQ.org, kept for several years in the last decade, Assange often expressed an outlook limned with paranoia, but one particular blog post published in July, 2006–around the time Wikileaks first went online–seemed unusually insightful:

If there is a book whose feeling captures me it is First Circle by Solzhenitsyn. To feel that home is the comraderie of persecuted, and infact, prosecuted, polymaths in a Stalinist slave labor camp! How close the parallels to my own adventures! What longing one has when reading Solzhenitsyn’s love for his first cell of self similars! Such prosecution in youth is a defining peak experience. To know the state for what it really is! To see through that veneer the educated swear to disbelieve in but still slavishly follow with their hearts! 

Assange goes on a poetic tangent about Saturn’s rings after the paragraph above (he was fond of poetic tangents in many posts on IQ.org) and ends with a flourish:

True belief begins only with a jackboot at the door. True belief forms when lead into the dock and referred to in the third person. True belief is when a distant voice booms ‘the prisoner shall now rise’ and no one else in the room stands. 

The takeaway? Even when accused of sex crimes, it may well be that Julian Assange is exactly where he wants to be–on a crucifix he lovingly fashioned long ago inside his mind.

UPDATE: As this post was nearing completion, Swedish authorities dropped the arrest warrant for Julian Assange. Al-Jazeera reports that the chief prosecutor said there is “no reason to suspect that [Assange] has committed rape.”

Given his past statements about the joy of persecution, it may be Julian Assange who is most disappointed by this development.

Georgia Tech’s Samurai Problem

The Weber Space Science and Technology Building at Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta was the scene of a bizarre assault on Thursday. A man wielding a samurai sword attacked one person inside the building. A Tech campus cop was also injured while subduing the the would-be Ninja psycho. Early reports indicate the maniac was at one time a Ph. D. candidate at the University. The victim has been participating in a postdoctoral fellowship. The attacker was charged with aggravated assault. [WSB Atlanta]

Raven Abaroa Arrested for the Murder of Wife Janet

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The man who once bragged to an acquaintance about being Internet famous due to his status as the prime suspect in his wife’s murder has been arrested at his home in Idaho. Raven Abaroa is now awaiting extradition back to North Carolina to face the charge that he murdered his wife, Janet Christiansen Abaroa, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Until April 26, 2005, Raven Abaroa was an everyday, workplace sociopath, embezzling from employers and charming everyone around him into believing he was way too nice a guy to ever do anything as horrible as murder. Then on that April day his wife Janet was brutally murdered in the home the couple shared on Ferrand Drive in Durham, NC. To me and most of the folks discussing the case online, it seemed blatantly obvious from the beginning that the one and only logical suspect was Raven Abaroa. He was already accused of criminal behavior and Janet was pregnant with their second child at the time of the murder. It didn’t help Raven that he’d once posted strange videos online where he demonstrated a knife he’d received for a holiday gift and stated in a low voice that he “liked… knives.”

Janet’s family suspected Raven as well and participated at times in discussions of the case on the Web. While amateur sleuths bemoaned the fact that Raven seemed to move on with his life, moving to Utah and eventually even re-marrying (it didn’t work out, go figure), the Christiansens seemed to maintain their faith. The following is part of a statement they released upon news of Raven’s arrest: 
Throughout the years the Christiansen family has remained confident and held to the faith that one day there would be justice for Janet’s murder. The Christiansen’s are especially grateful to tireless efforts of detectives and agents with the Durham Police Department, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and the FBI. As far as commenting on Raven’s guilt or innocence, the family will leave that to the judicial system…
 It’s nice to see the family’s faith was not misplaced.

According to North Carolina TV station WRAL, Raven Abaroa’s arrest was the result of cooperation between numerous law enforcement entities, including “the Durham Police Department, the FBI Task Force, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Montpelier Police Department in Idaho, the East Idaho STAR (Special Tactics and Response) Team and the Bear Lake County Sheriff’s Department in Idaho.”

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Prior to his wife’s murder, Raven Abaroa had an extensive online presence, which he set about erasing as soon as he realized he was a suspect. Eventually the lure was too great, however – he returned to the Web as “blakpijeon” and “blakpijeonmusic.” The photo at the top of this post was published in Abaroa’s music MySpace account, which was linked from his Twitter account, which had the same screen name. “Blakpijeon” also had a blogspot account, which talked little about himself but seemed to be about his journey as an apprentice at a refinery.In that account he referred to himself as Sam – Raven Abaroa’s middle name.

Still, Abaroa’s current web presence is nothing like the extensive website he ran prior to Janet’s murder: RavensTree.com. Abaroa maintained that site between 2001 and 2005 and it was fascinating because it portrayed nothing less than the gradual subtraction of Janet from his life. In 2001 Raven’s Tree was all about the young married couple, as seen in a photo (right) posted on the site at the time. The mildly romanticized account of their first meeting was clearly written by Raven Abaroa:

Janet and I met on August 17, 1998. It was in the Main Hall of Southern Virginia College where I (Raven) made the move that would change my life forever.

What I saw was a beautiful girl who was obviously not happy to be at this school. As she walked stubbornly in front of her family, I introduced myself to her little brother, welcoming him to the school. After a few laughs her parents said that “she” (pointing to Janet) is the new student. We talked for a little bit, the rest of my friends introduced her to the team, and only two days later we were watching the sun go down together, for the first time…

 By 2004, Raven’s Tree was all about Raven.

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On his 2004 “My Life” page, this was how Abaroa described meeting his wife: “Janet and I met in unique circumstances. Our journey can be fast forwarded to North Carolina.”

I suspect but have no way to prove that Raven Abaroa once contacted me under the guise of someone who was dating him but suspicious of him, perhaps mistakenly assuming I knew more about the investigation into his wife’s murder than I did. Suspicious from the beginning, I was careful to word e-mails between “Ash” and myself in a way that hopefully wouldn’t spook the sender. I didn’t say I thought he did it, but I told “Ash” to be wary as anyone should be when becoming involved with a man whose first wife had died under mysterious, violent circumstances.

Unearthing a lot of stuff on the Web about Abaroa (a little background – almost all my original crime blog posts about this case are offline, but I began the discussion on Websleuths.com, which eventually expanded into multiple threads filled with more information than Abaroa probably even remembered putting on the Web) wasn’t that hard. The Internet was an irresistible lure to him, a place where he could proudly display his fantasy self. That he returned to a life online as “Blakpijeon” knowing that he was likely still under investigation for stabbing his pregnant wife to death was further testimony to how Raven Abaroa’s ego couldn’t stand to hide his light under a bushel.

Now he’s where he belongs, in an Idaho jail without bond, awaiting a return to North Carolina.

Like I said, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.