Next Generation Threats: The Future of Crime and Crime-Stoppers

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Photo courtesy of aarp.org.

It’s the year 2020 – which means, the future is upon us. And, as we look back at the past 20 years, it is apparent that business, technology and cultural norms have rapidly evolved.

So, it is no wonder that criminals and the crimes they commit have also evolved – and will continue to evolve in our crazy world.

Experts believe that so-called “traditional” crimes will continue to give way to cyber-crimes. Essentially, the street hustlers and bank robbers will be replaced with discreet hackers and computer savvy criminals who can operate from behind closed doors.

Here are some crimes that are sure to surface in the near future. And, on the flip side, here are some examples of how future technology will enable law enforcement to be more efficient and effective.

Crimes of the Future

Human Malware

As medical technology becomes more sophisticated and mainstream, many of us will become dependent on Wi-Fi enabled medical implants. Current examples are insulin pumps and pacemakers. But, with the way technology is moving, that list will continue to grow to the point where large swathes of the population will be fitted with hi-tech medical devices.

When that happens, it is inevitable that criminals will figure out how to hack your implant and install malware, which is shorthand for ‘malicious software.’

The malware could be used to for murder, assault, blackmail, revenge or other nefarious objectives that we’ve yet to even contemplate.

Cyber-Jacking and Assault

The sophistication of today’s computer hackers will pale in comparison to those in the future. As new technologies emerge, the criminal elements of society always seem to be one step ahead. With the advent of self-driving technology for automobiles and the evolving tech surrounding aircraft flight management systems, there is a significant possibility that criminals will cyber-jack aircraft and cars.

Cyber-jacking is a scary thought, especially considering that passengers in the plane or car will not even be able to confront their attacker. Controlling an aircraft from the ground with ill-intent is something that law enforcement and those in the airline industry will have to deal with in the near future.

And then, there’s cyber assaults. So many people have ‘smart’ devices in their homes, ranging from refrigerators to televisions to security cameras. Now, imagine a hacker gaining control of these devices and using them to attack you – like hacking your lighting system to an insanely bright level, causing temporary blindness. Or, using your own security cameras to spy on you with the aim of assisting a physical intruder to learn about your movements and attack you at your most vulnerable moments.

Brick Attacks

When it comes to financial fraud, most everyday citizens fear the thought of fraudulent credit card charges. Brick attacks are far worse than anyone could possibly imagine. Basically, hackers implant malware into a computer system and then render them useless. After a brick attack, you cannot even turn on the server or computer ever again.

So, if sophisticated hackers were able to gain access to say, Bank of America’s system, they could wipe away all of the financial data – bankrupting the monstrous bank and leaving its customers penniless.

Genetic Data Theft

As biometric security (i.e. fingerprint scanners, retina scans, etc.) becomes increasingly popular for both commercial and personal use, so does the market for black market genetic data.

Like anything in this world, it’s about supply and demand. So, as old-fashioned lock and key security gives way to retina scans, there will be a demand for illegally obtained retina data and a whole slew of other genetic material. If the demand is there, there surely will be plenty of criminals willing to provide the supply.

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Photo courtesy of theconversation.com.

Crime-Stopping in the Future

Surveillance State

We’ve all noticed it over the past decade – cameras are everywhere! Whether it’s a group of teens taking selfies or your local municipality monitoring downtown with CCTV, we just cannot escape cameras capturing footage of everything and everybody.

Over the next 15 years, we will see an explosion of security cameras in public spaces. Nowhere will be safe from the watchful eye of Big Brother. From alleys, to apartment buildings, to parking garages, every square inch of public life will be monitored.

Taking this into consideration and coupling it with the emerging technology of AI (artificial intelligence), law enforcement will certainly have an advantage in capturing moments of criminal activity in real-time. And the AI will allow police to immediately identify the culprit.

While some may fear this is an intrusion on privacy, others will cheer the positive ramifications, namely – increased efficiency in finding missing persons and fugitives, while eliminating faulty witness identification.

Drug Decriminalization

It’s no secret that the global drug trade is one of the most pressing issues facing our law enforcement community. The violence begins in the country of the drug’s origin and it follows all the way to the nation of the narcotic’s consumption.

Experts opine that, as more nations decriminalize illegal narcotics, the violence will be reduced significantly, as the black-market shrinks. Not only will decriminalization make an impact, but so will the new trend of illegal dark web transactions. Over the past few years, more and more drug deals occur anonymously on dark web markets. Since no one ever meets face-to-face on these transactions, the violence associated with drug deals is reduced.

No one knows for sure if decriminalization will lead to a significant reduction in violence and arrests, but governments are willing to give it a try, given that the current system is not working very well.

Pre-Crime Policing

Analytics is all the rave these days. Whether its professional sports or marketing firms, everyone is using ‘data’ to get a step ahead of the competition. And, along those lines, law enforcement is also implementing predictive analytics to track past criminal activity in order to predict future behavior.

As more and more data points are inputted into the software, the analytics will ‘learn’ exponentially, and, in turn, become more effective. Truly, the sky’s the limit with predictive analytics, and its usefulness could become a game-changer when it comes to crime prevention and reduction.

 

There are so many possibilities for the future of crime and its prevention. Have you recently read or heard anything of interest that belongs on this list?

 

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SUPER EXCITED to reveal the cover and description of FLOWERS ON HER GRAVE, Book 3 in the Detective Katie Scott series. Out on 24th March. Available to pre-order now:

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NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Cover Reveal For My Next Crime Thriller FLOWERS ON HER GRAVE #Bookouture #PreOrder #Thriller

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SUPER EXCITED to reveal the cover and description of FLOWERS ON HER GRAVE, Book 3 in the Detective Katie Scott series. Out on 24th March. Available to pre-order now:

 

SYNOPSIS:

On the floor, amongst the piles of freshly pressed laundry, lay the woman’s lifeless body, her pale yellow nightdress soaked in blood. “I didn’t do it…” came a whisper from the corner of the room.

Detective Katie Scott has never seen two people more in love than her aunt and uncle as they danced together on the night of their wedding anniversary party. But the next morning, when Katie finds her aunt’s body sprawled across the floor, that perfect image is shattered forever.

All fingers point to Katie’s uncle, Pine Valley’s beloved sheriff and protector – after all, his prints are all over the antique knife found at the scene. Grieving, but certain of her uncle’s innocence, Katie is consigned to the cold case division after she’s discovered searching the house for clues. Does someone want to keep her as far away from this investigation as possible?

Ignoring warnings from her team, Katie digs into her uncle’s old case files and discovers photographs of the body of a young girl found tied to a tree after a hike in search of a rare flower. Her body is covered with the same unusual lacerations her aunt suffered. Katie knows it can’t be a coincidence, but every lead she follows takes her to a dead end.

Moments before the sheriff is arrested, Katie realizes that a single piece of thread she found at the crime scene could be the missing link that will stitch old crimes to new. But how can she prove her uncle’s innocence without throwing herself directly into the line of fire? She doesn’t have a choice, he’s the only family she has left…

A totally jaw-dropping crime thriller with an ending you will never see coming! Perfect for anyone who adores Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh.

 

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Character Interview with Detective Katie Scott from HER LAST WHISPER #crime #thriller

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What is your name?

My name is Detective Katie Scott and I’m the main character in Her Last Whisper by Jennifer Chase.

What do you look like?

I’m five foot six inches tall, long dark hair, with a fit body because I have to be able to hold my own against bad guys if necessary.

Where are you today and what are you doing?

It’s my day off, so I’m on a hike in the mountains with my military K9 Cisco.

You come face to face with your worst enemy. How do you react?

This is nothing unusual for me. I’ve been in the army leading a team with my K9 through dangerous situations.  If I met my worst enemy, I’d stand strong and get ready to fight with everything I have.

You keep a photo album of memories from your lifetime. If you could only keep one photo, which one would that be?

It would be a photo of me when I was about thirteen years old with my parents. We were at the county fair. I lost them a few years later to a drunk driver.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning person. I love to get up just before sunrise and go on a run. It’s my quiet time before I go to work as a cold case detective.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

A well-worn pair of jeans and cowboy boots.

Do you have any phobias? What are they and how intense are they? How have they impacted your life?

No phobias, but I came back from Afghanistan with a case of PTSD. It has tried to take over my life, but I don’t let it. It’s a work in progress.

How do you feel about mortality?

Mortality is something that every soldier and police officer thinks about—but I don’t let it run my life. I want to live my life—my life will end when it’s time.

What scares you?

Not being able to find the killer before he/she kills again.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

I write in my journal. It has helped me deal with my PTSD and give to thanks for all that I do have.

Who is your best friend?

My military dog Cisco who just happens to be an eighty pound black German shepherd.

Who is your worst enemy?

Anyone who wants to hurt someone else or abuse an animal.

Are you faith-oriented?

Absolutely. You cannot go through what I’ve experienced without having faith in God. It’s by that faith and understanding I am who I am today.

Are you married or in a relationship?

I’m in a relationship with my childhood best friend Chad.

You just woke up to find that war has been declared. What’s the first thing you would do?

Plan. Get ready. And fight for what’s right.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A dog trainer.

(Courtesy of the Literary Nook http://theliterarynook.blogspot.com)

 

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SYNOPSIS:

Katie focuses her mind, trying to keep another anxiety attack at bay. The victim’s long brown hair is slick and wet, her body rigid in the grass. She looks more like a mannequin than the woman Katie had spoken with only yesterday, the woman she had promised to protect…

When a cold, naked body is discovered by a couple on a jog through the lush woodlands of Pine Valley, California, new recruit Detective Katie Scott is stunned to discover the victim is Amanda Payton – a much-loved local nurse and the woman at the heart of an unsolved case she’s been investigating whilst getting a grip on her crippling PTSD.

Weeks earlier, Amanda had run, battered and bruised, out into the headlights of a passing patrol car. She claimed to have just escaped a kidnapping, but with no strong evidence, the case went cold. The Pine Valley police made a fatal mistake…

Katie is certain the marks on Amanda’s wrists complete a pattern of women being taken, held captive and then showing up dead in remote locations around Pine Valley – and she won’t let someone die on her watch again.

But then a beautiful office worker with a link to the hospital where Amanda worked goes missing. With only days before the next body is due to show up, can Katie make amends for her past by saving this innocent life?

Totally gripping crime fiction for fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh. Nothing will prepare you for this nail-biting roller-coaster ride…

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Making Magic Happen for Eight Year Old JJ: Paws 4 Autism #GivingTuesday

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I don’t make it a secret that I love dogs–I talk about them a lot and I even feature them in my fictional stories. Dogs have this amazing way of healing and helping us that we don’t completely understand–and even take for granted.

I know an incredible family, the Durrants, that have four children and they opened their home to three (siblings) making their family with seven children. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be, but it’s done all in the name of love. With everything going on today, I take heart and pause for selfless, loving people. And sometimes people need just a bit extra help.

Joshua “JJ” is a very special boy. His mom whom I’ve know for about ten years told me this:

“JJ is one of the most unique children you will ever meet. Along with autism, he has synethesia – he sees color when he hears sound; any sound. He’s great with math – he can solve math problems out loud that children his age aren’t doing yet. He can listen to his sisters practice a song on the piano then sit down and start playing what he heard. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty amazing. Along with the ADHD and autism diagnosis, we saw markers for anxiety and ODD.”

If you can remember what it was like to be eight years old, playing outside with your friends, going to school, making new friends, and enjoying everything that a kid should–and then mix in a disability that makes you different. I was heart-broken to hear that JJ was not only teased, but bullied at school for being different. Now imagine being scared to go to school to makes friends and learn.

JJ is a perfect candidate for a special dog: Paws 4 Autism.

Please visit JJ’s fundraising page if you feel so inclined to give anything so that he can have a specially trained dog companion.

“EVERY child should feel safe going to school. This dog will be the difference between my son attending school and being isolated at home instead of taking advantage of all of the enriching things our schools have to offer. This is his hope for more independence, his hope for feeling safe so he can learn, and his hope for making friends.”

JJ’s mom told me that when he heard that people he didn’t even know were donating so he could have an autism dog, he was SO happy and teared up.

The poster is located at the bottom of this post.

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For more information about the Durrant family: Please click HERE

Click HERE to donate: JJ’s Paws 4 Austim Page.

 

Joshua 1;9

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
  ~KJV

 

 

JJ

 

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Thanksgiving Forensics: 2 Killers Finally Brought to Justice

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Photo courtesy of suno.edu.

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when many of us show our gratitude for life’s blessings. For some people, however, this holiday is just another reminder of a horrific memory that never relents. And that haunting recollection is the unsolved murder of a loved one.

But, despite all of the pain and horror that has consumed their lives for many years – there is always a glimmer of hope that the killer will be brought to justice.

Through the combined efforts of dedicated law enforcement personnel and the marvels of modern forensic science, these cold case murders are now finally solved. Which means – the victims’ family members can at least experience this Thanksgiving with the knowledge that justice has somewhat been served.

The Sock that Solved a Murder

In a wooded area on the outskirts of Philadelphia, the body of Denise Kulb was found on November 12, 1991. It had been nearly a month since Denise went missing, and her family members had already feared the worst.

When her body was discovered, Denise was wearing only a sweater. But, in addition, someone had placed a pile of her own clothes on top of Denise’s body. The clothing pile included two pairs of pants, a T-shirt, a jacket and importantly – one yellow sock.

Denise had a history of drug abuse, prostitution and other legal problems, including losing two of her children to foster care. But, many in her family saw a noticeable improvement in her life after she moved in with her boyfriend, Theodore Dill Donahue.

But her positive life change was fleeting. In fact, she moved out of the apartment within a few weeks. And Denise began to work the streets again. On the night of her disappearance, she was last seen arguing outside a bar with Donahue.

Of course, after she went missing, the boyfriend became a prime suspect. Donahue relied on Denise’s checkered past as a way to discredit her and bolster his claim that a “John” must have killed her.

Despite investigators’ gut feelings that he was the killer, the evidence against Donahue was weak, so they were unable to arrest him. But, the police never gave up on the suspect, who proudly (and strangely) told people that his nickname was “Ted Bundy.” (Oddly, his email address was also Bundy’s name.)

The case went dormant until around 2015, and that is when the yellow sock became a crucial piece of evidence. Weirdly, as mentioned above – Denise’s body was discovered with one yellow sock lying on top of her.

Police, eventually though, discovered the “other” yellow sock in Donahue’s apartment. Utilizing the power of forensic photography experts, the police were able to definitively confirm that the sock found on top of Denise’s body was an exact match to the one found in Donahue’s apartment.

After confirming that the socks were a match, investigators looked into the many inconsistencies of Donahue’s ever-evolving statements of what occurred in and around the time of the murder.  All of the evidence gathered directly linked Donahue to the murder. This led to Donahue being arrested about 2 months ago for a killing that occurred almost 20 years prior. An amazing job by law enforcement to have never given up on securing justice for Denise.

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Photo courtesy of science.unctv.org.

Bone Evidence Leads to Killer

In 1972, on Thanksgiving Day in the Southern California city of Torrance, the Hollis family frantically called police. Why? Because their 11-year old daughter Terri-Lynn went out for a bike ride, but never returned.

The next day, Terri-Lynn’s body was found by some fisherman about 50 miles north on the rocky shores of the Ventura County coastline.

Despite numerous leads, as well as the arrest – and eventual release – of an admitted sex offender, there were no convictions. The case went cold about 2 years after the killing.

Then, in 2000, the police revisited the matter.

After reopening the case, investigators discovered a DNA swab that had been taken from Terri-Lynn’s body around the time that she was found in Ventura. The DNA sample was sent to the Los Angeles County Crime Lab for testing.  Six years of random testing resulted in no match being found in the federal Combined DNA Index System.

The case went cold – again.

Not giving up just yet, investigators tried once again in 2015. At that time, the DNA was sent to a Virginia-based genetic genealogy lab for testing. Three years passed and still no match. Then, in 2018, investigators had a major breakthrough. The genetic testing led police to a potential relative of the person whose DNA was found on Terri-Lynn’s body.

Relying on the test results, the police located the suspect’s relative. That led investigators to discover the identity of the suspect – Jake Edward Brown. The killer was 36 at the time of the murder and, in the passing years, he had died and was buried in Arizona.

In an effort to finally resolve this almost 50-year old cold case, Arizona police exhumed the body of Brown. After removing his body, the suspect’s remains were sent to a Florida-based lab for analysis by forensic experts specializing in bones.

Investigators had an exact match. They found their killer.

Torrance police officially announced – in September 2019 – that the killer was found, and the case was closed.

Although nothing can heal the wounds inflicted on the families of the victims, there is a sense of closure that investigators have provided. And without the tireless efforts of law enforcement and forensic scientists, these cold murder cases would have never been solved. 

Are there any cold murder cases in your area that have recently garnered attention?

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War Dogs: The Real Story Behind Police and Military Canines

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Ricky, a Belgian Malinois at Maritime Safety and Security Team San Francisco, is shown outfitted in his vertical delivery gear consisting of a hoisting vest, eye protection and hearing protection during training at Coast Guard Base Alameda, August 16, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Coast Guard/Brandyn Hill)

Dogs are amazing animals. Fierce, loving, loyal and all-around awesome.  They’ve lived among us as companions for over 20,000 years. From the first grey wolves that bonded with ancient hunters to the canines that defended our soldiers on the battlefields of WWII, dogs have been a constant and welcome aspect of the human experience.

All modern dogs are part of a singular subspecies, which is directly linked to wolves, foxes and jackals. And although our pups have domestic temperaments, we all know those wild instincts stir inside of them.

When you combine those primal survival instincts with a dog’s loyalty and affability, it’s no shock that they make excellent partners in high-pressure situations, like combat and policing.

History

Military

Utilizing dogs for military purposes dates back to ancient times. Civilizations such as the Romans, Greeks, Persians and Egyptians used canines in various roles during armed conflict. Sentries and scouts were the most common jobs for dogs during this period, but occasionally dogs would be sent into battle alongside soldiers.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the late 1800s; there, we find the first organized military dog training program, which was implemented by the Germans. During WWII, both the Axis and Allied armies were helped by dogs, which carried supplies to the frontlines, located wounded soldiers, and carried messages between platoons.

Here, in the United States, canines were used in unofficial military capacities dating back to the Civil War. It wasn’t, however, until WWII that the first “official” K-9 corps was established by the US armed forces.

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Tommy, a Chief Explosives Detection canine stationed at Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Kings Bay, receives applause Thursday, July 27, 2017, during his retirement ceremony in St. Marys, Georgia. Tommy has served in the Coast Guard for nine years and has been on 24 deployments. (Photo courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard/Anthony L. Soto)

Currently, there are in excess of 1,500 military dogs being utilized across all branches of service. They play invaluable roles in helping with patrol, search and rescue, tracking, detection of explosives and, of course, combat.  These dogs of war are held in such high-regard, that the military has implemented an unofficial hierarchical policy, whereby a dog is always one rank higher than its handler.

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Lucca, a 12-year-old retired Marine Corps military working dog, visits Camp Pendleton Feb. 29, 2016. Before her retirement in 2012, Lucca completed two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan where she led approximately 400 patrols until she was injured by an improvised explosive device. No Marines were injured on any patrol she led, including her final patrol where the explosion cost Lucca her front left leg. Lucca received the Dickin Medal, a European award that acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery or devotion to duty by animals serving with the armed forces or civil defense. (Photo courtesy: U.S. Marine Corps/Caitlin Bevel)

Police

For over 100 years, dogs have been used by law enforcement in some capacity. In 1899, Belgium was the first country to establish a formal police dog training program. And by 1910, neighboring Germany had police dogs working in over 600 cities across the country.

In the United States, the use of canines by police became prevalent in the 1970s. Presently, dogs are utilized in every major police force across America, with many of the dogs wearing standard-issue badges.

Training

As you can imagine, the training of police dogs is a very arduous task. The first order of business is training the handler, who must first complete the requisite police academy training and have a few years of patrol experience. Once those requirements are met, the police officer is transferred to the special canine unit for intensive handler training.

With respect to the dogs themselves, each pup must pass a basic obedience program, which includes the ability for the dog to obey their handler without any hesitation. If a dog is trained in a foreign country, the officer will generally utilize those commands, even if that language is not the police officer’s native tongue.

Each dog is trained for either “single” or “dual” purpose.  Most “single purpose” dogs are used for tracking, personal protection or backup. The “dual purpose” canines can handle everything that a “single” one can accomplish with the added bonus of explosives or narcotics detection ability.

Breeds

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Photo courtesy: http://www.akc.org

German Shepherd 

They’re obedient, strong and very intelligent. And because of that, German Shepherds are a favorite for many in law enforcement. They excel at many aspects of policing, with particular prowess in the detection of explosives and narcotics. And, of course, apprehension of perps.

Labrador Retriever

Labradors are even-keeled dogs that are utilized for tracking of people and detection work. They are generally not used for suspect apprehension.

Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd

The Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd are both well-regarded in the law enforcement area for their exceptional abilities in the accurate detection of explosives, drugs and arson accelerants. These obedient, easily trained dogs also track suspects and apprehend dangerous fugitives.

Giant Schnauzer

A working breed developed by the Germans in the 1600s, the Giant Schnauzer was originally used to drive livestock to market and guard the owner’s property. These massive beasts became popular for military usage during the two World Wars. Now, they are used as “dual purpose” canines that can handle pretty much any police or military task to which they are assigned.

Military and Police Roles

The role of canines has developed over the centuries. And during the early days, dogs were used for a wide array of unspecified, often dangerous, tasks. But, in the modern age, canines have very specific roles, which are humanely designed to match that breed’s special skillset.

Detection

Due to a dog’s exceptional sense of smell, these animals can detect very faint odors and slight changes in the chemical composition of a substance. And because of their literal superhuman sense of smell, these dogs are critical in detecting the trafficking of illegal narcotics and in securing locations from potential explosive devices.

Apprehension

One of the most interesting and popular roles of police dogs is suspect apprehension. The animals are trained to bite the suspect in specific locations on the body. And to hold the suspect in place until the handler arrives to complete the arrest.

German Shepherds are the most famous suspect apprehenders, but the other herding breeds also conduct these type of operations. The intelligence and brute strength of these herding dogs make them ideal candidates for identifying and taking down a suspect.

Search and Rescue

Whether searching for a lost child stranded in the woods or for the remains of a wartime casualty victim,  these dogs are able to hyper-focus on their objective by placing all senses in a heightened state of alert.

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Dogs are the most popular domesticated animal on the planet. And it’s no wonder. These furry creatures help keep us active, happy and secure. Their dedication to us in dangerous, high-stress situations deserves the utmost respect. Have you ever had the pleasure of encountering a police or military dog? If so, what’s the story behind the encounter?

 

My love for dogs has always been a strong bond for me.

Pictured below: My first rescue dog when I was two years old, and my rescue dog today, Odin. He clearly should have been a police or military dog, but he’s settled in as my buddy now.

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Halloween Murders: The Story Behind 3 Gruesome Killings

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Photo courtesy of yahoo.com.

Halloween is that uniquely fun time of year when we get in the mood for all things scary and spooky.

Whether it’s decorating your yard with creepy zombies – or dressing up as a serial killer for your neighbor’s party – many of us get a taste for the macabre during this holiday season.

Keeping with the morbid theme, here are three true-life murder stories that will certainly send a chill down your spine.

The Candy Man

Every so often you hear a story that sickens your stomach. And this one surely fits that mold.

On Halloween in 1974, Ronald O’Bryan and his neighbor Jim Bates took their kids trick-or-treating around their Texas neighborhood. The kids were having an excellent time going door to door collecting candy.  The evening was turning out to be a success. Until the unthinkable happened.

The kids arrived at a home and proceeded to knock several times. After knocking on the door a few times, the children realized that no one was home. So, they ran off to the next house.

But, before they got to the next door, O’Bryan stopped the kids. With a big smile on his face, O’Bryan told the kids that after they ran off, the homeowners eventually answered the door. And that they gave him candy to hand out to the kids. So, that is what O’Bryan did. He handed five 20-inch long Pixie Stix to his son and his friends.

Soon after, it started raining, so the crew all went back home. Within moments of being home, O’Bryan called 911 to report that his son ate poisoned candy. And he was right – his 8-year-old son Timothy had been poisoned with a potassium cyanide-laced Pixy Stick.

It was soon revealed that the neighbor never opened the door to give O’Bryan Pixie Stix. No, the creep made up the whole story. The poisoning was a pre-meditated murder scheme to collect $60,000 in life insurance off his son’s death.

This horrible man planned on killing the rest of his children for insurance money as well. And if these facts weren’t bad enough, his intention was to kill other parents’ innocent children to make it look like someone else had committed the crimes.

O’Bryan was eventually arrested after police discovered where the poison was bought and that he was the purchaser. Additionally, investigators learned that the killer had recently taken a community college class in chemistry, during which time he had asked the teacher very specific questions about lethal dosages of potassium cyanide.

Dubbed “Candy Man” in prison, O’Bryan died by lethal injection about 10 years after murdering his own child.

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Photo courtesy of nbcnew.com.

The Nun Killer

It was a calm Halloween night in 1981 at the St. Francis Convent in Amarillo, Texas. After finishing her prayers, Sister Tadea Benz started to get ready for bed. And that’s when the peaceful 76-year old nun met the horrific fate of murder.

The next morning, another nun entered Sr. Benz’s room only to find the naked and bloody body of her beloved friend.

The police quickly arrived to begin collecting evidence. Two knives were found – one under the victim’s bed and another in the convent’s driveway. Fingerprints were lifted off the knives. Another key piece of evidence was the cut window screen in the convent’s community room.

Eventually, the police found their suspect – 28-year-old Johnny Frank Garrett. Eyewitness testimony had Garrett running from the scene of the killing on the night of the attack. Also, the knives obtained from the scene matched the kitchen set from his home.

The killer was eventually tried and convicted for the rape and murder of Sr. Benz, a woman who spent her life in poverty in the service of others.

Garrett was sentenced to death, but right before he was scheduled to be executed, he was given a governor’s reprieve at the behest of Pope John Paul II. This reprieve was short lived, as the killer was executed by lethal injection only a few weeks later.

The killer’s infamous last words: “I’d like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me. The rest of the world can kiss my ass.”

All Rage, No Motive

Halloween night was going well. This Forth Worth, Texas neighborhood was partying until the wee hours of dawn. While the party raged on, Daniel Haros and Philip Evans Garcia were in a driveway speaking with a few of the neighbors, including Cary Heath and his wife. Most of the neighbors all went home, but Daniel and Philip continued chatting.

Then, moments later, Cary Heath returned to the driveway with a rifle. He shot and killed both men.

And then, after shooting them several times, Heath took the butt of the rifle and began to beat their heads. Some witnesses tried to stop him, but he threatened them with his loaded rifle.

After killing the men, Heath went back home and put his rifle away. He then requested that his wife clean the blood from the gun case.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for this schoolteacher turned killer. Heath got an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. No one has any idea as to the motive. Heath never revealed the motive to his wife or the police. Family members of the victims cannot fathom how a seemingly cordial conversation resulted in the killing of two innocent men.

Despite no apparent motive, the prosecution was adamant that it must have taken a great deal of anger for him to not only shoot the victims, but then to also viciously beat their heads with the rifle.

The killer’s wife is on trial due to her role in the attempted cover-up of the killings.

Murder is a sad reality of life on this big planet of ours. And, although killings occur pretty much every day, there’s something extra creepy about Halloween murders. Are there any Halloween horror stories from your neck of the woods?

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