No Honor

DorthyDorthy Moxley is a friend of mine. She is also the mother of Martha Moxley, who was bludgeoned to death by Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel on October 30, 1975. On June 7, 2002 Skakel was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley and sentenced to 20-years to life in prison.

 

Despite numerous failed appeals over the years, Connecticut Judge Thomas Bishop yesterday granted Skakel a new trial on the grounds that he received inadequate trial representation from his high profile attorney, Michael (Mickey) Sherman.

 

“The defense of a serious felony prosecution requires attention to detail, an energetic investigation and a coherent plan of defense (capably) executed,” Bishop wrote in his decision. “Trial counsel’s failures in each of these areas of representation were significant and, ultimately, fatal to a constitutionally adequate defense.”

 

In death penalty cases it is common for appeals attorneys to claim that trial counsel was ineffective. Proving that their lawyer was ineffective at trial is a way for convicts and their appeals lawyers to get their convictions overturned. This is a right that is protected by the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution.

 

Unfortunately, Dorthy Moxley has no such rights. Unlike Michael Skakel she will never be free. Over the years Dorthy has attended numerous court hearings over Skakel’s appeals and parole. “It’s a tough lesson to learn but you realize it never goes away,” she said.

 

Dorthy Moxley is a gentle, soft spoken soul. She is diminutive in size, but gigantic in character. I just wish that Connecticut’s criminal justice system gave her the respect that it has doled out to a convicted killer. Then, perhaps, justice would finally be served.

 

 

 

Missing in San Jose

Finding Madeline and Emily

Learning that Madeline and Emily Dorcich had been found was like a breath of fresh air until it wasn’t, because when you scratch beneath the surface something stinks! The girls were reported missing by their father after they failed to return home from a church event at San Jose’s Del Mar High School around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 13, 2013.

 

By Tuesday, October 15, friends and other volunteers, including members of Mr. Dorcich’ church, were posting fliers throughout the South Bay. The girl’s father Chuck Dorcich said, “I think they are somewhere in the South Bay. I can’t imagine anywhere else they would be.”

 

Chuck Dorcich set up a Facebook page “Finding Madeline & Emily” to assist in the search and quickly attracted the public’s attention gaining more than 4,000 likes (including mine). It was renamed “Safe and Sound: Madeline and Emily” after they were recovered at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16. The page currently has 5,054 likes.

Safe and Sound Madeline and Emily

On Wednesday, October 16, the San Jose Police Department issued the following advisory: The two missing sisters (Madeline and Emily Dorcich) have been safely located and are with their biological mother. The entire incident was related to a child custody matter that will have to be resolved in family court. No criminal acts were committed and the San Jose Police Department will be closing the case and no further action will be taken.

 

My questions are pretty basic. If Madeline and Emily’s parents were engaged in a child custody battle, and Mrs. Dorcich had relocated to Pismo Beach, why did Mr. Dorcich say that he couldn’t imagine that they (the girls) would be anywhere else but the South Bay? Mr. Dorcich said that the ordeal gave him empathy for parents whose children have gone missing. “You assume the worst.”

 

If I were Mr. Dorcich I would have assumed that my ex-wife were somehow involved, or at least checked with her prior to reporting them missing to the police, freaking out the Bay Area, soliciting an army of volunteers to distribute 1,500 missing flyers, and posting a Facebook page that grabbed the attention and solicited the sympathy of thousands.

 

I will not go so far as to say that Mr. and Mrs. Dorcich used these lovely young girls as weapons against each other in a custody battle, but I will say that they need to re-evaluate their parenting skills and figure out their priorities because I don’t see that the best interest of the children were served.

 

As the parent of a child who really was missing, I do know what the parents of missing children go through. I also understand how families, friends, neighbors and communities are affected when the worst is feared. In this case there really wasn’t anything to fear. Police, media and community resources were expended to recover two girls who were never really missing in the first place and nobody is being held accountable.

Who is Little Maria?

Maria 1On October 16, 2013, during a drug and weapons raid, a little blond, blue eyed girl who goes by the name of Maria was found living in the squalor of a subsidized Gypsy encampment in central Greece. A local prosecutor on the scene became suspicious because the little girl, thought to be five or six-years-old, did not resemble her parents or siblings. A subsequent DNA test has determined that she is not related to other family members. The parents, who are also suspected of welfare fraud, have been arrested. They have provided conflicting reports on how Maria ended up in their custody. Maria has been placed with charity that is trying to locate her biological parents.

 

Parents

It is thought that there are upwards of 270,000 human trafficking victims living in the European Union at a given time. However, according to the latest data, a total of only 5,535 human trafficking victims were identified in the 24-European Union member states in 2010. 80% of victims were female and 17% were girls under the age of eighteen. The majority (around 62 %), of the victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, around 25 % for labor exploitation and around 14 % for the category “other”. Female victims have the largest share of victims classified under other forms of exploitation such as forced begging, selling of children etc., and there has been a gradual increase in the number of male victims across the three years. A clear majority (61 %) of the identified and presumed victims come from EU Member States.

 

Because the Greek birth registration system is antiquated welfare fraud is rampant. The couple who claimed to be Maria’s parents claim benefits totaling about $3,200/month for a total of 14-children, only four of whom have been identified. Various court records reveal that the woman was giving birth every four months during one period of time.

Parents 2

Maria’s Gypsy parents clearly have something to hide. The Gypsy couple say that they love Maria and are raising her as one of their own children, video suggests that she may have been singled out for exploitation. Initially they said that Maria had been given to them by her biological mother shortly after giving birth, but that story has changed repeatedly since they have been in custody.

 

Although this case is moving backwards in that the missing child was discovered before she was knowingly reported missing, it has already given hope to other missing child families. Madeline McCann’s parents have said that their hopes of being reunited with their daughter is reinvigorated by the discovery of little Maria. Similar sentiments have been published by the parents of other missing children.

Maria 2

There is a good chance that Maria will never be reunited with her biological family. If that occurs, let us hope that wherever she ends up, it is with a loving family who will give her the opportunities experience and love life that she never would have found in the squalor of the Gypsy village.

Polly Klaas – Jan. 3, 1981 – Oct. 1, 1993

1.5 yr & Dad on Merry Go Round

In 1993, 868,345 persons were reported missing in the United States of America. I wish to write about, remember, and honor one of them.

 

1993 sometimes seems so near that I can reach out and grab it, and sometimes so distant that the details are blurred memories, but since very few people who were touched by her plight ever met Polly, I will do my best to tell you about her. She was a very pretty, smart, cheerful and engaging girl who was just beginning to realize life’s potential. She was a skilled actor who could nail the first read through of a script. She could ride a bike, had mastered swimming and wanted me to teach her how to play baseball, so that she could ‘play with the boys.’ On Sunday evenings I enjoyed sitting on the couch with Polly on one side and Violet on the other. Polly and I would cackle at Homer and Bart Simpson’s mindless antics while Violet looked at us quizzically and asked what was so funny? Even in life we thought of Polly as an old soul because of the depth of her compassion and capacity for love. She was the kind of a girl who would make her presence known when she entered the room. When she left it would be with an unspoken, “Hey, remember me!”

 

Polly lived with her mom in Petaluma, but we had joint custody. She would spend 2-days a week with Violet and me, take vacations and spend most Holiday’s with us. We talked on the phone almost every night. The last time we spoke was on October 1. She was very enthusiastic about the slumber party she was hosting for her girlfriends. Before we hung up I told her that I loved her. “I love you too Daddy,” she replied.

 

If Polly were kidnapped in 2013 instead of 1993, things would have played out very differently. In 1993, when the authorities issued an APB with the stipulation that Polly’s kidnapping was “Not for press release,” that led to a series of systematic failures that might have cost Polly her life. Two Sheriff’s deputies that confronted the killer about an hour after she was kidnapped had no idea who they were dealing with and sent him on his way instead of arresting him on the spot. Today we have inter-agency cooperation, written protocols, computer system interoperability, and a much greater awareness of the issue. The two deputies who helped a killer pull his car out of a ditch would have been informed and might have been able to solve the case much more quickly. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that today the killer would be a third striker which means that he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to kidnap, rape and kill because he would already be incarcerated. We simply don’t revolve recidivist offenders through the turnstile as quickly as we did in 1993. Finally, today we have the Amber Alert which was originally designed for this type of scenario. Unfortunately, as it became institutionalized its effectiveness was substantially diminished.

 

Ironically, I don’t know how many of those changes would have occurred if it had not been for Polly. She had become the face of American victimization as quickly as her killer had become the face of crime in America. She was the symbol, first of hope and then of loss. She was the impetus, but certainly not the inspiration, for California’s hugely successful 3-strikes law. The FBI wrote the first predatory abduction protocol based on her crime, she was the Internet’s first missing child, and all future community responses and volunteer search efforts have been measured against Petaluma’s heroic effort.

 

I think that the work the KlaasKids Foundation has done on Polly’s behalf has had an influence on our cause. One of the reasons that Polly’s situation received so much attention is because my family and I were unrelenting in our desire to bring her home alive. Prior to Polly’s kidnapping there had been a rash of predatory abductions in the Bay Area. They would all begin with a roar and end shortly thereafter in a whimper. We embraced the media as partners, not adversaries and did everything that we could to keep her story alive, because we knew that if the media went home people would stop caring. If the people stopped caring there would come a time when law enforcement would stop investigating. I feared that we would join the ranks of those caught in the limbo of “not knowing”.

 

Also, throughout the past 20-years KlaasKids has been there for the families of the missing. We are invested in preventing future abductions, but are also ready to respond if a child is missing. To date, KlaasKids SAR has helped 866-families of missing children throughout the United States, including numerous high profile abduction cases. We’ve conducted 273 searches for missing persons around the country; trained over 1100 professional search and rescue volunteers; and assisted in the recovery of 39 women and children involved in sex trafficking throughout the United States.

 

With BeyondMissing our flyer creation and distribution technology was utilized by registered law enforcement in 35 states in the search for 340 abducted/missing children. BeyondMissing tools had a 95% recovery rate and to date registered users have recovered 323 children. BeyondMissing was utilized by law enforcement to issue 174 Amber Alerts, 56 Local Amber Alerts, 16 Abduction Alerts and 94 Missing Child Alerts. Collectively, BeyondMissing has distribution 1,231,500 emails, 34,400 text messages and initiated distribution to 1,721,800 faxes to “targeted” recipients on behalf of law enforcement. The BeyondMissing Parent Flyer Tool has been accessed and utilized over 3,560 times by families and organizations searching for a missing child.

 

Our community outreach program, the Print-A-Thon, has enabled us to travel to more than 40-states where we have interacted with young families, fingerprinted/photographed and provided comprehensive suites of child safety materials to more than 1,000,000 children without ever charging a family for the service or database personal or private information.

 

We were front line soldiers in the effort to provide interoperability between government computer systems, truth-in-sentencing, Megan’s Law, the Adam Walsh Act and prevention funding for at risk youth so that they would have options in life beyond drugs and crime. We did not help to get 3-strikes passed, but have defended it passionately in the years since. During the last election cycle we took a leadership role in Prop.35, which targets human traffickers, provides much needed services for victims of human trafficking and passed by a greater margin than any other ballot initiative in California history.

 

Our website, KlaasKids.org is nearing the completion of a major overhaul that will make our suite of online services even more powerful, vibrant and excellent than they already are. Our popular comparative analysis of each state’s Megan’s Law has been updated and redesigned with the latest data.

 

We believe that the future of child safety exists in technology. There are documented cases of FB & Twitter having been instrumental in the recovery of missing kids.  There is thousands of missing child pages on FB & numerous communities dedicated to recovering the missing. Each of those pages provides multiple pictures, video, links to articles, & testimonials thereby making organizations like NCMEC virtually obsolete as far as the public is concerned.

 

Smart phone alert apps like PGA can bypass government bureaucracy and distribute missing child information in minutes instead of hours. Free child friendly web browsers like Cocoon for KlaasKids protects children from rogue marketers and other dangers that exist online. We anticipate that GPS technology is on the cusp of great changes that will be protective of kids. Database technology and computer system interoperability are fully realized concepts. Technology’s dream is fast catching up to technology’s reality and KlaasKids will continue to explore how it can prevent, respond to and recover child abduction.

 

Unlike other, much better funded child locater NPO’s the KlaasKids Foundation staff and volunteers do more than sit behind our desks answering phones and posting flyers on our website. We innovate, we advocate, we search, we educate, and we take a stand where others remain silent.

 

Late at night on October 1, 1993, when Polly was being forced into the night at knifepoint, under the threat of death she said, “Please don’t hurt my mother and sister.” At that moment in time she was the bravest little girl in the world. She remains our beacon, our inspiration and the reason that we will continue to focus on the fight for America’s children until we draw our last breath.