Police in Baltimore Maryland rescued a 15-year-old girl who was being prostituted on the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com Police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and their first place to think to look was backpage of course.
Arrested and indicted for trafficking the teen was 31-year-old Melvin Douglas, aka Melvin Longwood, of Washington D.C. Douglas/Longwood is also accused of transporting the girl across state lines for the purpose of prostitution so he’s looking at federal time. That would be 10 years to life but as I’ve said before, if history is any indicator it will be closer to ten than to life.
Meanwhile backpage keeps saying that if they shut down their adult section it will be harder to find these girls. That’s true to a point. It will be harder to find them because there will be less of them being trafficked. Backpage allows a national marketplace for pimps and traffickers. One less outlet that size will mean they’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to traffic these girls and women. Also what backpage forgets to mention is that the revenue they make from the ads is propping up their dying print media business.
I’m only a passing fan of Edgar Allan Poe. Of course who doesn’t enjoy The Raven but Poe was the author of one of my favorite stories of all time, The Cask of Amontillado.
What I’m more of a fan of is the tradition of the mysterious figure clad in black who would leave roses and brandy at the grave of Poe on his birthday. A tradition that some say not only goes back to the 1930s but has possibly spanned through generations of the Poe Toaster’s family.
Now it seems that the tradition is now as dead as Poe and just as shrouded in mystery as the tortured author’s death.
For the third year in a row the mysterious figure has not left his traditional tribute on Poe’s grave.
In past years some less than scrupulous people have tried to discern the man’s identity and that may have killed the tradition outright. As I’ve said in previous years some things should just remain mysteries.
Now the official attendees of the annual tradition have said they are calling off their annual pilgrimage to Baltimore after this year.
I always wanted to attend but it seems like this dream for me will remain unfulfilled.
And yes I finally gave in to using the ‘Nevermore’ cliché.
I very rarely blog about missing person cases. It’s not that I don’t care about the people that are missing however a lot of missing person stories seem to bring out the crazies who think they’re some kind of super sleuth. However there is a case that has caught my attention.
Phylicia Barnes is from Monroe, NC which is one town over from me. She is an honor student at track star at Union Academy which is a charter school. She is on track to graduate early and plans on attending Towson University in Maryland.
On December 28th she was in Baltimore visiting her sister when she disappeared. Due to the lack of evidence and the fact that Phylicia’s ATM card and cell phone have not been used police believe she has been abducted. Baltimore investigators are also afraid that she has been taken far from the Baltimore area. 100 detectives have been assigned to her disappearance however police in Baltimore have been frustrated that they have gotten very little media attention outside of North Carolina and Baltimore.
One paragraph from the Baltimore Sun article really got my attention.
Late Thursday afternoon, after The Baltimore Sun contacted several television networks seeking comment, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said he received calls from producers, and he and the commander of the homicide unit were booked on CNN’s “Nancy Grace,” CBS’ “The Early Show” and NBC’s “Today.” However, the “Nancy Grace” show fell through; Guglielmi said the show’s producers never called him back.
I hate to use Phylicia’s disappearance for my personal soapbox but I think I figured out why the Nancy Grace Show passed on this story and it’s not as obvious as you may think.
A lot of people would be quick to point out that Phylicia Barnes is black and that’s why Nancy Grace didn’t do the story. I think that’s part of it but I also think there is more to it than that.
My theory is that there is a formula to determine if a missing persons story gets national media attention and I think the qualifying factors are…
Let’s break down a couple of infamous ‘Nancy Grace’ type stories that have garnered national media attention.
First off let’s apply the theory to the Natalee Holloway case.
Gender: Female (+)
Race: White (+)
Location: Aruba (+)
Social Status: Well off (+)
The Hook: Unexplained disappearance, person of interest not arrested, body never found (+)
Let’s try another one. Let’s use the Casey Anthony story specifically the victim in the case, Caylee Anthony.
Gender: Female (+)
Race: White (+)
Location: Florida (X)
Social Status: Moderate (-)
The Hook: A week before Caylee was reported missing, outrageous claims made by family (+)
Now I think you can ignore one or 2 factors of the theory if some of the others are too dominant. In the Casey Anthony case I think the hook overrides the location and social status.
Now let’s apply the theory to a story that I know for a fact that Nancy Grace passed on and that would the story of missing child Giovanni Gonzalez which bears a lot of similarities to the Casey Anthony story…
Gender: Male (X)
Race: Hispanic (X)
Location: Near Boston (-)
Social Status: Struggling (X)
The Hook: Father is in jail refusing to tell where his son is. (+)
As the saying goes three strikes and you’re out.
Now let’s apply the theory to the disappearance of Phylicia Barnes.
Gender: Female (+)
Race: Black (X)
Location: Baltimore/NC (X)
Social Status: Unknown but let’s assume the media thinks the family is poor (X)
The Hook: None (X)
Shows like Nancy Grace don’t do what they do to help people. They only do it for the ratings which equals advertiser dollars and I think these are the factors that determine the best stories for them to run in order to make the most money.
Unfortunately if there’s nothing in it for the networks then they’re not interested.
Anyone with information on the disappearance of 16-year-old Phylicia Simone Barnes is urged to call Baltimore police at 1-855-223-0033. The toll-free number is staffed 24 hours a day. Phylicia is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a blue peacoat with a hood, a turquoise thermal shirt, blue jeans and white slipper-boots and was carrying a caramel-colored purse.
Patrick posed as a cancer stricken lesbian teen on MyYearbook named Leah. He would prey on underage girls sympathies and convince these girls that they were in some kind of relationship. Then Patrick would get his victims to send them pictures of their genitalia.
Sexual predators will tell any kind of lie in order to get what they want. As I keep saying only watchful parents can keep these online predators from victimizing your children be it physically or virtually. Also I’m sure that a lot of the pictures that Patrick received were taken on webcams. I know I sound like the proverbial broken record but no child should have a webcams and kids computers should be kept in a common area that it is easy to monitor.
This story is yet another reminder of craigslist is far from having cleaned up their site.
In Baltimore, Maryland 25-year-old Jamie Paul Lybrand has pleaded guilty to trying to solicit a minor for sex through craigslist. Again the article doesn’t say what section of craigslist he used but it’s safe to assume it was the casual encounters section.
Lybrand posted at least two ads on craigslist in February and March of this year that was looking for a “Daddy/Son Combo” and a “Real Daddy/Son Combo.” That’s poor code for a pedophile looking to have sex with a boy who another adult may have in their charge.
He got a response to one of his ads but thankfully in was undercover police who arrested Lybrand in a sting operation. Lybrand showed up to the hotel where an undercover detective answered the door and said the boy was in the bathroom. Lybrand took off his clothes and laid on the bed. That’s when police stormed the room and had him arrested.
Lybrand claims that he was happy it was a sting because he was afraid what he might have actually done and that he’s a crackhead. Somehow I doubt that he was happy he was caught.
With his guilty plea he’s looking at 10 to life and a lifetime on the useless registry. Again it will probably be closer to ten than life.
Before I was a “crime blogger” I was a “dark poet”, and there was none darker than Edgar Allan Poe. And once again as I do every year I missed my chance to go to Baltimore to witness the mystery man who leaves roses and a bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave each year for Poe’s birthday. No one knows who he is or how he gets in to the graveyard. However it seems I probably missed my last opportunity to do so because assclowns are starting to ruin it for everybody…
Some of the 25 spectators drawn to a tiny, locked graveyard in downtown Baltimore for the ceremony climbed over the walls of the site and were “running all over the place trying to find out how the guy gets in,” according to Jeff Jerome, the most faithful viewer of the event.
Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, said early Thursday he had to chase people out of the graveyard, fearing they would interfere with the mystery visitor’s ceremony.
“In letting people know about this tribute, I’ve been contributing to these people’s desire to catch this guy,” Jerome said. “It’s such a touching tribute, and it’s been disrupted by the actions of a few people trying to interfere and expose this guy.”
Is this the last we’ll hear of the Poe Toaster? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
Mystery fan marks Poe’s birthday:
Dammit. I missed it again. One of these days I’m going to get to Baltimore to see the Poe Toaster. I am glad that I didn’t go this year. It sounds like a couple of assclowns can’t play by the rules. For one day out of the year this guy (or guys) get to be Batman, Darkman, and The Crow all into one. Respect the guy’s wishes and family tradition. Let him pass. Don’t try to reveal his identity. There are not a whole lot of mysteries left in the world. Leave this one alone.