Archive for July, 2013




Whether you’re involved in a legal appeal, looking for a job, or waiting for ketchup to come out of the bottle, to a Type A personality everything seems to happen in other people’s time.

As I announced yesterday, Paul Henry Gingerich’s waiver hearing won’t happen until October. Talking with a key lawyer in Austin Eversole’s case won’t happen until the end of September–and that’s just a first step. There are many steps after that.

It’s inevitable that I will die with stuff on my plate. Life despises things being wrapped up with nice bows or happening by our definition of “on time.” Everything always takes at least twice as long as you think it should.

If there is one thing living in the Big Bend has taught me, is you have to learn to be happy with things as they are. This is not to say that you stop pushing for progress… but it will drive you nuts if you are dissatisfied with the present state of things. Being unhappy with what you have leads to more unhappy outcomes in the future. I am convinced of this. Happy outcomes depend on maintaining a positive frame of mind in the present. Otherwise we will miss seeing the opportunities which pop up all the time.

Pushing that elevator button again won’t make it arrive any quicker. You’re only fooling yourself. Enjoy the moment for what it is. It’s all you really have.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Carly Simon performing “Anticipation”


waiting on an angel

girl with angels

I am sorry to inform you that Monica Foster called yesterday to say that she is filing today for another continuance in the waiver hearing for Paul Henry Gingerich. The reasons are that there will be insufficient time for psychologist’s reports to be produced, compounded by the fact of trial conflicts in Monica’s schedule.

I know that this development is extremely frustrating for everyone concerned, but we have to keep in mind that we are reversing a 25-year sentence, and it has to be done right to succeed. It is most likely that the waiver hearing will now be held sometime in October.

Monica has already accomplished more than we were originally told by knowledgeable people was possible. We must continue to trust that Paul Henry’s fate is in strong hands–the hands of our “angel.” We must be patient.

Paul Henry cropped and adjusted


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Ben Harper performing “Waiting on an Angel”


not a fan

facebook - over it

I can’t understand the fascination with Facebook. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all. When I do go out there to see what my “friends” are saying, more often than not I’m disappointed. Few pearls of wisdom there.

Notice I didn’t say “no pearls.”

I did learn that my friend John has married. Congrats. I did see some of my niece’s wedding pictures. Beautiful. And I see that my cousin is making a trip from Florida to our hometown. Have a good time.

But I’m not interested in your on-line games or that you need a token for Farmville or a patch for your virtual merit badge vest. You’re not even a Boy Scout, for god’s sake. You’re a grown adult with real things to do, and from what I can see, you’re not doing them.

Because of the irrelevencies you bring into my timeline, I would like to “unfriend” you, except that I know this would hurt your real feelings…and I would sooner die than do that. It would also reflect badly on the person you and I both sort of know.

So I guess I’m stuck with my “friends” and all the ads for language programs and other “Suggested Posts” which I see are beginning to creep into my timeline. I like the girls in bikinis, but I assure you, they’re no one I know.

Please know that I have little to do with Facebook and endorse none of it.

In fact, I pretty much ignore it.

I can (and do) get into enough trouble on my own.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Lovin’ Spoonful performing “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?”



map of discovery by nc wyeth


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Vaughn Monroe performing “When the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World)”




After yesterday’s post, I am an unpopular person in some quarters. Rightly so.

Yesterday I had said that youth justice advocate Elish “Darcy” Delaproser is a shill. It was wrong and extreme of me, and I am sorry.

Right after she saw my post, a longtime friend of Darcy wrote to me, someone I respect very much, citing Darcy’s generosity and the fact that she has never requested public support for any of her efforts. She demanded a public retraction. She said that Darcy is no longer friends with Steven Sydebotham, was shocked by my revelations last year, and felt a sense of betrayal by him. I believed her. What she did not know is that Darcy had long ago promised to publicly distance herself from Sydebotham, but failed to follow through with that promise–a source of my resentment and suspicion.

She responded that Darcy had reposted my “outing” of Sydebotham, and that this should have been enough. She said that it was unnecessary for Darcy to do more. She knows Darcy better and longer than I; my contacts with Darcy were restricted to a few emails and phone calls, and I read too much into her failure to carry through her promise.

Then Darcy contacted me and said, “Im lost for words I do not give a rats ass about Steven sydebottam (sic) I do not talk to him I could not even tell you what he is up to not that i even give a shit Im so mad seeing my name to this and for the record I have never got a penny for what I do I have help many out of my own pocket I even payed for my own trips out to the states.”

I replied that she had not kept her promise to me, failed to respond to my follow-up warnings, and in my opinion was therefore giving him her passive support.

Then someone else wrote, called me a sorry piece of feces, and promised to make some lawyers available to punish me for character assassination. But I was not cowed by the threat of a lawsuit; I want my actions to be beyond reproach.

I had believed that scamsters like Sydebotham survive and thrive because they surround themselves with an air of ambiguity. “Plausible deniability,” as I believe it’s called. My reasoning was that anyone who aids actively or passively in this obfuscation of truth is complicit, and is therefore a shill.

But I am now convinced I was wrong and I am sincerely sorry for having unilaterally applied my standards to this situation and to have called Darcy’s character into question. I have deleted the questionable passage from yesterday’s post and hope it has not caused too much pain. I hope this public apology will help undo the damage I have done with my harsh words. I am sincerely sorry.

The girl who was set to receive Alex’s funds was offended, too. She said the post was personally insulting, even though she acknowledges it was not specifically written about her but about groupies in general. To her credit, she does not want any money sent at this time. We need to sort things out, including my suspicions.

I am sorry if I have unfairly singled out some people for suspicion. My standards are unduly harsh and inflexible. They have been conditioned by experience. This is the unfortunate thing about creatures like Sydebotham. They make it more difficult for all of us to function. They cause others to doubt one’s good faith.

Not everybody contacted me with words of condemnation. A grandmother who is apparently one of the people who has been independently plugging Alex’s canteen account called to say that she is glad that Alex has someone like me to look out for him. I told her that I have Alex’s back, right or wrong, and that I will send the money if the girl changes her mind and will accept the cash. She seemed okay with this, even though she believes I should not send money to anyone but Alex. This will take some time to play out.

I also heard from a man who has been involved with the kids who wrote: “Like them, I once stood at the precipice of such an act, but I chose to back away.  Was I stronger than them, or weaker?  What is the difference between me and them, other than the act itself, or is there really any difference at all?  What I have found through my introspection and my work with these young men, is that when faced with a similar personal crisis, I was able to see beyond the illusion of being free from abuse, and see the pain and broken relationships that would be an inevitable consequence of such an act.  I found a reason not to kill.  Though I was willing to commit the ultimate sin to stop my own pain, regardless of the consequences for myself, I was not willing to risk the collateral damage to others, whom I still loved.  You know, one of the major discoveries of my correspondence with these young men is that last part, that perhaps their deepest regret is the hurt they caused for so many that they never meant to hurt.”

Obviously, introspection into our personal motives for involvement in this work is a good thing. It keeps us all honest.

We must shed sunshine on our own motives so the scamsters cannot survive among us.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Cream performing “Sunshine Of Your Love”


grifters & groupies

snake oil 2

Since I got into this work, I have met more con-men and groupies than I had encountered in my entire life before. I had done a good job of insulating myself from the seamy side of life, but that all went out the window when I decided to link my life with parricide kids. Grifters and skanks are attracted to these young people like flies to shit.

It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong or bad about the kids themselves. Rather, it is as if the smell of opportunity is in the air, much like the smell of carrion that attracts vultures.

Grifters rely on human nature—the good and the bad—for their confidence tricks to work.

At the heart of any con game is the requirement of trust. A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence. A con artist is an individual, operating alone or in concert with others, who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as honesty, dishonesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté, or greed. A confidence trick is also known as a con game, a con, a scam, a grift, a hustle, a bunko, a swindle, a flimflam, a gaffle, or a bamboozle. The intended victims are known as “marks” or “suckers”, and when accomplices are employed, they are known as shills.

Make no mistake: I have been a mark. Wisconsin child justice advocate Steven Sydebotham is a grifter. Dana Hoffman, the woman who came to West Texas from Minnesota to do research for us is his shill. You have been their ultimate victims.

Sydebotham and Hoffman have preyed on your generosity and compassion and taken for their own benefit some of the resources you had intended to reach young people victimized by their family members, the law, and the so-called correctional system. I have personally notified all donors directly impacted by their scams. Now they have associated themselves with a Reverend Gary Johnson in another advocacy organization, the Legal Corrections Advocacy Group which, given these individuals’ track records, is not to be trusted.

Luckily, these are small-time operators whose transgressions against us were much smaller than they could have been. I cut them off before the damage they might have done could be irreparable. The biggest insult is having been fooled. Because they were exploiting my desire to leverage the work of The Redemption Project into a much larger organization that could do more, I have resolved that from here on out I am only going to work as an individual. I know what is in my own heart, but to know what is in the hearts of others is too difficult and time-consuming. It is a diversion from the real work, which is serving kids in need.

Jailhouse groupies are another category of people who are attracted to these kids. Sometimes they’re helpful, but most times they are not.

They are mostly (but not always) female, and experts have offered a variety of reasons why for their attraction to kids who have killed. Among them are:

  • Rescue fantasies: the groupie wants to believe that she has the ability to change someone as powerful as a killer;
  • Need to nurture: many women have said that they see the little boy in these killers and feel an overwhelming desire to nurture and protect that part of him;
  • The perfect boyfriend: she knows where he is at all times, and while she can now claim that someone loves her, she does not have to endure the day-to-day issues of most relationships; she can keep the fantasy charged up for a long time;
  • Need for drama: during the trial, the daily events in the lives of killers may attract women who want to get close to the adversarial atmosphere and the possibility that something surprising may occur;
  • Hybristophilia: some people are sexually excited by others who commit violence;
  • Exclusivity: there’s a real sense of ownership of the facts about the killers—which confers its own special status—among those who feel intimately associated with them;
  • Regaining the lost male: some who have been abused, neglected or without a father figure look to the killer to fill that need;
  • Vicarious fantasies: some wish to live out their own visions of violence through a person who has  actually act them out;
  • Low self-esteem: some women believe they cannot find a man and since men in prison are desperately lonely, it’s an easy way to get involved;
  • Attention: when they do something like get involved with a killer, people talk about them and often the media puts a spotlight on them;
  • Eminence: they evolve from Nobodies into Somebodies;
  • The chance to show their mettle: they align themselves against the world in a heated defense of their beloved;
  • Beauty and the Beast syndrome: they like the idea of getting close to danger that will probably not hurt them, but there’s always the slight chance.

Interestingly, many groupies are educated and attractive. Some have money, and some are already married. Quite a few are mothers, and it’s often the case that they work in some related field, such as psychology or law enforcement.

In Women Who Love Men Who Kill, Sheila Isenberg quotes psychiatrist Park Dietz on prison groupies: “I would be amazed if they weren’t among the neediest and most dependent of women. As in the transference cure in psychoanalysis, the women are sucking up a part of the men’s ego and that gives them the illusion of being in control.”

In other words, getting involved with such men makes them feel stronger. They can then transcend feelings of vulnerability and poor self-appraisal. That much empowerment makes them feel more vital. Add the fantasy that they are truly loved or are being truly loving, and this connection can become an addictive drive.

Isenberg also notes that a “large percentage were raised as Catholics and were severely affected by church teachings, including sexism, subjugation of women, and repressions of sexuality.” She also writes that their fathers were often missing, withdrawn, or abusive, and their mothers might have been demanding. Many of these groupies also had poor relationships or marriages.

Such women devote themselves entirely to the man and make significant sacrifices, such as sitting for hours every week to await the brief face-to-face visit in prison. They may give up jobs or families to be near their true love, and they will most certainly be spending money on him—perhaps all they have.

A few of these women are also attracted to the celebrity status they gain—even if there is some dubious quality to it. They like going on talk shows to proclaim their love, being interviewed, and being allowed the chance to insist that the convicted murderer got a raw deal, was not capable of those crimes, or is different now. They may even take credit for “reforming” him, as if their love was the magical ingredient.

Theorists have said that groupies may be responding to the overt maleness of the man who has done the most brutal act imaginable. That is, they may be equating this sort of violence with masculine strength and then seeking it as a way to bring such a male into their lives, for protection and for producing offspring with a good chance for survival. Thus, they’re responding to a biological drive that they may not even be aware of.

“In a twisted kind of way,” says Elliott Leyton in Hunting Humans, “the male who is the most strong and dominant—the most violent—will appear to be the most male.” Anne Kingston offers a selection of Web sites, from to Romantic “Anti-death-penalty sites vie with,” she says, “as places for women to meet men.”

Alex King now tells me he wants his monthly payment to go to a girl he has been talking to a lot on the phone. He says he will not be left high-and-dry if his support is diverted to the girl for use for phone expenses; apparently others besides The Redemption Project have been making contributions to his canteen account. He says this girl has done him a lot of good, and that is to be supported. Even if he should run into problems it is not for that much time anyway: his present release date with gain-time is the end of December 2013. Alex and I are also in frequent touch by phone and our arrangement can be quickly changed.

So I have decided to comply with his wishes. Maybe we are being scammed again, maybe not. In either event, it is for six months only and involves a limited amount of money. A small risk by us may result in a big benefit to Alex. Plus, we have resolved to stand behind our kids, even if they make mistakes.

Prison does not teach people to think for themselves. One of the greatest tasks they face upon release is the art of discernment. As our own experience shows, it is a lifetime challenge.

The best we can ask of ourselves and our kids is to not make the same mistakes twice. I hope you will agree.


This post relies on the article “Serial Killer Groupies” by Katherine Ramsland for much of its content.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Who performing “Won’t Get Fooled Again”



According to Molly Born of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

State prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether they will ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to examine the case of a Lawrence County teenager found responsible for the 2009 shooting death of his father’s pregnant fiancee.

Pennsylvania Superior Court on Monday denied state attorneys’ request to rehear the Jordan Brown case, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said.

By law, prosecutors now have a month to request a review from the state’s highest court.

In April 2012, Jordan was adjudicated delinquent, the equivalent of a guilty verdict, in the homicides of Kenzie Houk, 26, and her unborn child and placed in a secure juvenile facility.

Citing unsupported evidence, the Superior Court overturned that verdict in May this year, remanding the case back to Lawrence County juvenile court.

The story attracted widespread attention and interest from juvenile justice advocates because Jordan was first charged as a adult.

He was only 11 years old when prosecutors said he shot Ms. Houk in the back of the head while she slept in their New Beaver farmhouse and discarded the spent shell in the yard before boarding a bus to school.

(First published July 24 at 10:10 am)


Earth from Saturn

That bright speck you see in the bottom-right quadrant, just below Saturn’s rings, is a little place called Earth. On July 19, 2013, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft snapped this photo of our planet from the Saturn system, nearly 900 million miles away.

That we’re even looking at this image is quite fortuitous. Photos typically taken from that distance and direction are usually obscured by the sun, which is hidden behind Saturn.

And while we’ve grown accustomed to images of Earth taken from space, Cassini’s distant portrait of home is a humbling reminder that we live in a great big universe—and that we’re really, really small.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to the London Symphony Orchestra performing Holst’s “Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age”



desert sky 1

It is really surprising to me how this work connects me to the outer world.

My search for a good Texas appeals attorney for Austin Eversole has begun to introduce me to well-connected people in my home state. A couple weeks ago, I talked for nearly an hour with an academic and experienced researcher who works sometimes as an expert witness in parricide trials. She did not have a name for me, but it gave me an opportunity to talk shop with a person who is highly-involved in our rarefied field. The act–and idea–of juvenile parricide is so rare that there are few knowledgeable people with whom to speak. I was genuinely sorry our phone call came to an end. Not only did she confirm that my conclusions about parricide are right-on, but I have a new resource to involve in future cases.

This morning I received a referral to a Texas attorney from the editor of a major Texas newspaper. This is how I was led to Bill Kutmus in Iowa; big-time journalists know who the winningest attorneys are. The ones I want are attuned to, and do not avoid, the media. I don’t know if this editor’s referral will work out, but I will learn a lot from this contact. At the very least, it will lead me to another good person. Isn’t this what networking is all about?

Speaking of the media, yesterday I was contacted by a journalist who is located in the UK. She is interested in doing a story in eight weeks–maybe a TV documentary–about Austin. The next step is scheduling a phone conversation. Said she in an email: “I would call this evening, but our Duchess of Cambridge has just given birth to our future King and I’m covering the story. So right now I am stuck right outside the gates of Buckingham Palace!”

Oh yeah, that happens to me all the time. Talk about brushes with greatness.

But from here, out on the desert? Like I said, surprising.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Marshall Tucker Band performing “Desert Skies”





Groove of the Day 

Listen to Thomas Mapfumo performing “Hanzvadsi”