One of the complaints we receive from the entrapment whiners is there aren’t any real children on craigslist. So whenever someone is busted by police posing as an underage ad poster on craigslist the whiners cry entrapment. Well, the police in Manchester, Connecticut may disagree.
It was in Manchester where police arrested 36-year-old Luqman Gotti on charges of soliciting and receiving child porn. Gotti allegedly responded to an ad placed by a 13-year-old boy in the casual encounters section which read…
“Sub young looking for dom near manchester,” and said, “I’m a teen under 18 looking to get dominated, or just casual sex.”
Gotti is said to have responded to the ad, then the 13-year-old sent Gotti explicit images and videos of himself. Gotti then reportedly sent the boy a sexually explicit picture in return. Gotti was found out when the boy’s mother had discovered the messages between the boy and Gotti on the boy’s iPad. As usual we have a ‘To Catch a Predator’ type excuse from the suspect. He claims that his conversations with the boy were all talk because he was bored. Manchester police were more than happy to respond to that claim.
A detective then showed Gotti a printout of the conversation with the boy in which he first asked for the boy’s age and then later requested that the teen send photos of himself, the warrant says.
“Gotti then told police, ‘I understand where you’re coming from and I understand where it makes me look bad,’” the warrant says.
It’s also worth noting that conversations between the boy and other men were found as well. So, to say there are no children posting ads on craigslist is just wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the victim. He obviously has had some kind of trauma or bad influence to where he’s into BDSM at the age of 13. You can talk about sexual exploration all you want but no 13-year-old should be posting these kinds of ads on craigslist.
Lastly, the boy mentions in his ad that he is under 18. If craigslist moderated their own site this ad would have never seen the light of day.
52-year-old Winston Blacker of St. Ann, Missouri, has been arrested for allegedly soliciting underage sex on craigslist. According to St. Louis County Police, Blacker reportedly placed an ad on craigslist that was “offering shelter to teen girls.” I’m sure it was purely out of the goodness of his heart and he had no other ulterior motives, except when investigators responded to the ad posing as a 14-year-old girl and he agreed to meet the girl at local motel. He was probably there just to read passages from the Gideon Bible with the girl.
Once again, this is your clientele craigslist. Facebook was recently criticized by Congress for not being able to control its own power. It would be a shame if legislators started looking in your direction to see all the predators you allow to use your ads that you refuse to moderate.
A man in Aberdeen, Washington, was held captive and beaten by three people who thought the man burglarized their home. The people had originally caught two other people who were trying to rob their home. The robbers indicated a third person was involved in the robbery. Rather than calling police they tracked down this man through OfferUp. The victim was selling a phone through the app and when he got to the meeting place the people tied him up and pistol whipped him before calling police.
“The way the guy looked when he was trying to cock his gun and it jammed,” Peterson explains. “He got mad at me because he couldn’t knock me out so he just kept beating me even harder with the bat. I thought this is it, you know?”
Needless to say, the would be crimefighters were arrested and the victim is not believed to have had any actual involvement in the robbery.
So first off, the vigilantes actually believed the word of two other people who broke into their home. Why would criminals have any reason to lie, right? Secondly, while bizarre and unlikely to happen, this is just another reason to use a police station for a meeting place when using an app like OfferUp. Lastly, leave the crime fighting to the professionals. You’re not Batman, you’re not The Punisher, hell, you’re not even Hawkeye.
28-year-old Martin Eddie Herrera has been in a Texas prison since 2007 on multiple aggravated robbery charges. Apparently, this hasn’t stopped him from running a criminal enterprise that deals in the trading of people.
With all the Congressional hearings and possible legislation against Backpage, the child sex trade is still going on unabated on their website, even though they’ve lowered themselves to accepting gift cards as payments for ads. With any luck, the legislation will go through, the Backpage heads will be prosecuted and their seized assets will be put to better use, like providing resources for all of their sex trafficking victims.
Another headline that has been assaulting my inbox since the Sunderland Springs shooting is that a Christian private school in Miami, Florida, has been offering bulletproof panels for student backpacks on the school’s store website. This is not uncommon as this idea has been floated around for years and usually surfaces after a high-profile shooting. In my opinion this is nothing more than fear profiteering. Profitfearing if you will.
While mass shootings have been a hot topic in our society, the odds of being a victim in a school shooting are rather low, especially in a big city like Miami. Not only that, but the backpacks provide minimal protection. The Miami Herald has reported the panels will withstand the force of .44 and .357 bullets, but not those from rifles, you know, the guns of choice by the majority of recent mass shooters. That’s not even mentioning that while this may be a good idea in theory, if it came to an actual active shooter, there’s no predicting how effective the backpack would actually be. That’s not even taking into account that even if you crouch behind the backpack, there’s still enough surface area exposed for a victim to be seriously injured in a shooting. Let’s also not forget that anything that’s bulletproof isn’t really bulletproof. The correct label is bullet resistant. Bulletproof vests also don’t work like you see on TV. If someone in a bulletproof vest is shot at point-blank range they don’t get up a few seconds later to subdue the evildoer. More often than not they’ve suffered broken ribs at the least which can lead to punctured lungs. Bulletproof vests are also not the best protection against knives either, obviously, or they would be called knife-proof vests. Lastly, at $125 apiece, they don’t sound like much protection to me.
In the wake of the shootings at First Baptist Church in Sunderland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed, I was assaulted by the following headline by multiple news sources: “Columbine is no longer one of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history.” I understand why the media is doing this. They’re trying to get the point across that there’s been so many mass shootings recently that one of country’s greatest tragedies has been eclipsed by recent events. However, in doing so they’ve done a great disservice to many people in the process.
First off, in this society that either only reads the headlines, or only clicks on listicle links, it lessens the impact of Columbine and what happened there. While there were other school shootings in the late 1990s prior to Columbine, Columbine was the flashpoint where school shootings were added to the common American vernacular and has sadly influenced almost every school shooting since. To say it’s been somehow ‘demoted’ from this dubious list not only lessens its historical impact, but it also trivializes the lives and deaths of the 13 victims who died and the many who were left with lifetime scars from the Columbine shooting.
Secondly, lists like this that are ranked by body count, turn mass shootings into a competition. While I’m not saying this article will spur dozens of mass shooters trying to make the ‘top ten’, there may be at least one who was already planning a mass shooting who’s now looking to crack the list. This is not a competition. All the numbers listed on the article are people who are now dead due to some selfish asshole who couldn’t deal with their own inadequacies in their lives.
In my opinion this is irresponsible journalism designed to get clicks rather than to inform.
I’ve been writing about the murder of 15-year-old Jennifer Parks for the past 12 years, and I always feel a little bad when I write about it. I feel bad because whenever I write a new post on whatever the latest development is, I have to write about the details of her murder which are still horrific to think about. Since Jennifer’s murder, I have become friends with people who were close to Jennifer’s family and I’ve become friends with Jennifer’s mother, Laurie Parks. While Mrs. Parks is aware of what I write, I always feel guilty when I bring up Jennifer’s murder again for whatever reason. With this post I feel twice as bad.
For those of you who may be new to the site, Jennifer was killed on July 30, 2005 by 18-year-old Jonathan Zarate and his brother, 14-year-old James Zarate. Jennifer’s family were neighbors with the Zarates in Randolph, New Jersey. The two brothers stabbed and beat Jennifer to death in their basement just because Jennifer reported to her school that James Zarate was bullying her. After the Zarate brothers killed her, they dismembered her body so they could fit her remains into a trunk. The trunk was left in the back of the Zarate family’s Jeep until they could try to dispose of her body. Her body was there 24 hours before the brothers and an accomplice tried to dispose of her remains in the Passaic River. A police officer caught them trying to dispose of Jennifer’s remains. Jonathan Zarate was tried first and in 2009 was sentenced to life in prison. Then James Zarate was tried as an adult and later that year was sentenced to life with eligibility for parole after serving 76 years of his sentence. In 2016, a resentencing was ordered for James Zarate based on court rulings that state mandatory life without parole for teens is cruel and unusual. Back in September, it was ruled that James Zarate would remain sentenced as an adult.
Now, the reason I feel twice as bad with this post is because this past week, the same judge who sentenced James Zarate to life was forced to resentence him to 50 years with the eligibility for parole after 43 1/2 years. Back in January, the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled that juvenile killers need to have a meaningful chance for parole from their sentences. This is not surprising, considering New Jersey abolished the death penalty when they had someone like Jesse Timmendequas (TL;DR The monster who killed Megan Kanka resulting In Megan’s Law) sitting on their death row.
To this day James Zarate has denied any responsibility in the killing and has become a paralegal while in prison. Meanwhile, Jennifer Parks’ death shows the massive loss of potential that she could have given this world. Jennifer would have been around 27 now. She could have been planning for her wedding or already taking care of a young family while her parents could have been the adoring grandparents. Or she could have been a strong woman entrenched in her career or causes. Tragically, neither is the case. After Jennifer’s death her parents divorced and later after that, her father died of a heart attack. So Jennifer’s murder has cost a family more than the loss of a daughter. However, if the Daily Record will allow me to indulge in a liberal dose of fair use I’ll let Laurie Parks’ own words speak for themselves.
“The heinousness of the crime is exactly the same as it was 12 years ago. Not a day has gone by since July 30, 2005, that I don’t miss my daughter Jennifer Parks. The horrific things that the defendant and his brother did to Jennifer remain exactly the same. They tortured her, punched her, stabbed her with a knife and choked her. When she begged for her life, they shoved a bandana down her throat to stop her from screaming,” Parks said.
“What kind of people can do such a thing? Only monsters,” Parks said to the judge.
“Because of the defendant I was not there for Jennifer when she took her last breath or said her last words. I cannot even imagine the fear and pain she went through in her last moments. I lost my daughter, my husband, my home and basically my whole life and the defendant still stands before us breathing. I buried my daughter in pieces but the defendant still gets to fight for his life, something he took away from Jennifer. Something I believe he planned for a long time,” Parks said.
“He still gets to see his mother and his father. He still gets to live and stand before this court and say ‘my life matters.’ Well I say it doesn’t,” she said.
“He should have to remain behind bars. He should never experience freedom. He took that away from Jennifer, from me and all of Jennifer’s friends and family. I’d like to end by saying Jennifer Parks was a beautiful soul, a beautiful girl and she matters. Jennifer’s life matters,” Parks said.
It doesn’t get more powerful than those three words: Jennifer’s life matters. She didn’t ask to be killed. She can’t appeal her death. The New Jersey State Supreme court can’t make a judge rule her back to life. Jennifer doesn’t have the same luxuries that James Zarate does. Therefore, James Zarate’s life should be forfeit and he should be made to spend the rest of his unnatural life behind bars. Rehabilitation should not come at the expense of justice.
In Henderson, Nevada, 53-year-old Wendell Melton is accused of allegedly shooting and killing his 14-year-old son, Giovanni Melton. Giovanni was openly gay, and by most accounts was well-liked by his friends and classmate. Many of the headlines on this story are saying that Wendell Melton killed Giovanni because he was gay, however, it’s not that clear just yet. That’s not to say that Wendell Melton isn’t a Grade-A monster.
The reason Giovanni’s sexual orientation has been making headlines is because Giovanni’s foster mother said Wendell Melton hated his son for being gay. According to the foster mother, Wendell Melton once pulled a gun on his son after finding Giovanni with his boyfriend. The foster mother believes that Wendell Melton “would rather have a dead son than a gay son.” Wendell Melton claims he shot his son in self-defense, however, police have said Wendell Melton changed his story several times. Police also think Wendell Melton drew his weapon before he was in any alleged danger.
So as of right now, the motive in the shooting is not 100% conclusive, but for the sake of argument let’s say Giovanni was shot by his father for being gay. I am close in age to Wendell Melton. There was a time when I was much younger when I was a legitimate homophobe. As I gained more experience in the world and experienced different cultures and lifestyles I realized something. How does someone being gay affect you? It doesn’t, unless you’re a close-minded bigot. To all the men who feel the need to put up some kind of super macho persona, having a gay son doesn’t make you any less of a man. As a matter of fact, if you have gay children and accept them, that makes you more of a man and more of a father.
33-year-old Christopher Wall, of Weatherford, Texas, is accused of shooting and killing Ashley Phorence, 23, and Krista McClellan, 21, in Willow Park, Texas. Wall allegedly found McClellan and another woman on Backpage and contacted them for a massage at his workplace. McClellan allegedly told Wall that the pair of women had recorded him soliciting them for sex and were extorting him for $8,000. Phorence, McClellan, and the other woman met Wall at a bank in Willow Park to get more money from him. Instead, Wall reportedly shot and killed the two women while the third waited, and eventually escaped, in the car.
If reports are to be believed, then no one is innocent in this story. However, extortion is not an excuse for murder. First off, try not to find yourself in situations to be blackmailed, like ordering women off of Backpage. That’s the wrong thing to do for a multitude of reasons I’ve discussed before. If someone does threaten extortion against you in a situation like this, go to police. Yes, you may be cited for soliciting prostitution and have to deal with the repercussions from that, but you won’t be spending a possible life sentence in jail for first-degree murder.