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Monday, June 26, 2006

We make change -- That's what we do

I've given up trying to predict what is going to happen over the next six weeks. The outsourced reservation agents at Delta are currently running a pool on the exact time I will call back and ask for my itinerary to be changed again. Depak in Bangladesh currently has Sunday, July 2, at 6:44pm. I like his chances.

In fact, the changes have been so frequent, even I am not sure what I'm doing. After three rainless months here in South Cackalacky, the skies have opened and even the ducks are wearing rubbers. As the rain pours though my broken gutters, I need to clear my head. However, I have little time before my next call to Depak, so let me offer just a few thoughts.

First, in a tired moment, I found myself watching Trading Spaces with the wife. She insisted she knew one of the participants from 1980s television. As well all know, Trading Spaces is rigged and the "reality" contestants are rarely real. Watch long enough and you'll see Pizza Hut commercial actors, etc. Basically, Trading Spaces is something that tired agents get for their clients to pacify them until the next real gig comes along. So, it was no surprise that my wife was right and one of the participants on the show was an aging soap opera actor who was on Another World in the early 80s.

I, however, was more impressed with one of the female participants, whose credits included one of my favorite roles in all of Hollywood film: Hooker #2 from "Fargo." In this case, it appears Trading Spaces was actually a step up from fake-screwing Steve Buscemi.

In other news, I've solved the American marriage crisis. I call it, Talking By Proxy. Here's how it works: Every morning, your wife and your friends' wives meet for coffee or on a conference call. They tell each other everything that their husband is doing that pisses them off. Then, later, the wives go home and tell their husbands. Then, that night, the men meet for beers and pass along everything that each of them is doing to screw up their marriage. In short, if communication breaks down in the home, you can always count on wives to tell their friends. Furthermore, one can always count on a buddy to give it to you straight. It is foolproof, I tell ya.

I passed this idea along to my wife, who promptly told me is was the stupidest thing she had ever heard. Since she didn't elaborate, I'm waiting on an opportunity to talk to my buddies and see how my wife reallly feels.

I kid, honey. I kid.

In reality, I suspect this idea has as much chance at success as an idea that my friends and I came up with several years ago. We called it the Marriage Reserves. Here's how it was supposed to work: Husbands are dutifully married. However, one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year they act as if they are single.

Yeah, that idea didn't grow legs among the wives.

And that's my time, folks. Hug your wives and kids. Pet your dog. Don't forget to take out the trash. Stop drinking like you're 18. Do your job. Stop bitching about minor stuff.

You know...all the stuff I'm supposed to be doing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cancel Christmas

After spending four days in a state of "100% Not Sure," I am now only about 10% Not Sure. The 90% that is now settled in my aware-brain and stewing like meat on Captain Queeg's boat.

A few years ago, my dad, brother, and I started a running joke around the holidays. Whenever something would happen that caused us to deviate from our plans, we'd feign helpless disgust and yell, "Well, then cancel Christmas!"

Jokey, jokey.

In February, I started planning my summer. By March, I had June-August mapped out. It was going to be busy and require me to spend too much time away from my family. Furthermore, it was going to force me to do something I didn't want to do and heretofore had not announced.

There will be no Bradoween this year.

I figure most previous attendees had figured this out by now. I'd put off making an announcement, because I was still holding out hope (up until a few weeks ago) that I could make it happen. Then, a few weeks ago, I learned I was simply going to be too busy to undertake the massive work that goes along with throwing the annual bash.

I was sad about it, but I had convinced myself it was all for the greater good. My work, which I usually love, was going to take 100% of my concentration and effort.

Well, now it appears everything I was not going to do this summer (Bradoween, blogger gathering, beach trip with the family, etc.) could've happened after all. The six weeks I was scheduled to spend in Vegas has been reduced to about two weeks.

Fear not. I am still gainfully employed. Plans have just changed in a fairly drastic way.

[Note: I got my wife a Nano a couple of weeks ago. It's been playing for the past several hours on the stereo. She asked if it was driving me crazy, because our tastes in music differ quite a bit. I was feeling nice and told her to keep listening. As I type, Gwen Stefani is belting out how this shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s, and I couldn't agree much more.]

So, I had a lot of plans and now they aren't happening. I'd like to say that leaves me with a lot of free time, but, it actually doesn't. So. Well, yeah. So.

I'm reminded what I tell people who are grousing about their life taking unexpected and undesirable turns: Life rarely goes as we expect. Of course, I'm usually shouting this from a platform of 100% Sure.

So, Christmas is canceled.


Monday, June 19, 2006

100% Not Sure

About six months ago, I was in one of those shopping mall chain stores that are made to look like they are a big city boutique, beach-front shop, or small-town general store. It was dark inside and teenagers were running around like their sexual peak was but a month away and they couldn't wait to get there. The girls were asking if there was any way for them to get jeans cut any lower because there was an Ass Crack contest for 11th graders and damned if they weren't going to win it. The guys were measuring their manparts in the dressing room because there was sure to be a penis size museum in their future. Me? Well, I was 32 years old and in search of something to cover my love handles. That was about as close to my sexual peak as I was getting. Love handles.

In an effort to get out of the store before my Social Anxiety Disorder kicked in with all four barrels, I grabbed a shirt off the rack, stood in between the ass crack and the 18-year-old member and got the hell out of there as quickly as I could.

When I made it back out to the food court, I realized I'd bought a pumpkin orange t-shirt that read on its chest: 100% Not Sure.

In all honesty, I bought the shirt because I thought it would be funny at the poker table. You know, an unsure poker player is the kind you want to play with. Me? I considered myself fairly sure about everything, all the time.

It's a comfortable place to be. For most of my life, I've woken up in the morning with a sense that I know what is going to happen before the sun sets. And even when I woke up and I wasn't sure, I was excited about the possibility of what may happen during the moments of uncertainty. In fact, I got off on it. That was part of why TV news was so exciting. It gave me a break from total, all-the-time certainty.

So, now it's coming up on 4am. I've been sitting at the computer for the past 17 hours. Holy shit. Can that be true? Did I just spend 17 hours sitting in front of a computer?

Yeah, I did. What's worse, I just finished working and I'm still on the thing. I can't see straight. My wrists and fingers went numb four hours ago. I've typed thousands upon thousands of words since I woke up today.

So, why have you been subjected to this? Well, it's all because I woke up Friday morning and put on the 100% Not Sure shirt. That was a day that I was sure I was going to be busy. It was a day that I knew would be a struggle. It was a day I was sure that would end exactly as I expected.

And then it didn't.

As of this moment (that's 3:51am Monday morning, for those of you keeping score), I'm am 100% Not Sure about anything. What used to be a joke is now an albatross, and damned if I don't hate this fucking bird.

Now, to be fair, my life is still pretty much in tact. My relative uncertainty could be 1000 times worse. If I were to take off these amber (beer) colored glasses, I'd probably see that I should just shut the hell up and get to sleep. Still, I'm....well, I'm just not sure. 100%

And, so, I comfort myself with blog rambling and my 101st viewing of Point Break on cable.

And if you leave this post with any more certainty than I have right now, feel free to have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Worth 800 words

I'm glad I wasn't 32 years old when I was in sixth grade. Back then, my classmates and I would be beginning our summer vacation. It would be a blissfull enternity of summer bike riding, looking for girls to kiss, and wondering if the girls in seventh grade would like us any more than the girls in sixth grade did. The three months before school started again took forever and that's the way we liked it.

But if I'd been 32 back then, in addition to the potential criminal implications of me sneaking a kiss with a 13 year-old Andee Hill, my summer would've flown by in a second. Summer here in the Carolinas has already kicked off with a combination of drought days and hurricane nights. And it's going to be over before I know it.

Here pretty quickly, I'm going to kick off my summer work season. I can't say that I'm not looking forward to it a little bit. Still, there is a level of dread about leaving my family for so long. There is a slightly less, but still large fear about the amount of work and questionable working environment I'm about to enter.

Still, my buddy Pauly posted a picture on his poker blog the other day that reminded me of this time last year. It's a pretty simple picture taken by the folks from LasVegasVegas.com, but it tell a lot of stories.

There's a lot more to this picture than I can really express. It is, in essence, what I do when I'm on the road. That's me on the far left. Standing behind me is Dan from Pokerati. That's Pauly to my immediate left. B.J. Nemeth, formerly of CardPlayer magazine, is beside him. The picture completes with the girls from PokerWire and poker pro Adam Schoenfeld.

Things you don't know by just looking at the picture:

  • My wife accused me of not wearing my wedding ring. I'll admit it is hard to see in the picture, but when I blew up the photo, I was able to prove to her that I was wearing it. Not that it really mattered. I was in Vegas and it's hard to convince one's wife, even if it is really true, that you're being a good boy. Note: When in Vegas, I only take off my ring to shower or if I've been typing for so long that my hand's joints feel like someone has released a thousand mini-carnviores inside my knuckles. Also note: At the time of this photo, I was the only married person in the picture.

  • B.J. (obviously working harder than the rest of us) would eventually leave CardPlayer and go out on his own as a freelancer. I meet a lot of people on the road. B.J. is one of my favorites.

  • Pauly was in the waning moments of his second freak-out of the WSOP. I was still in a mentally good place and wouldn't lose my mind for another couple of weeks. This year, Pauly and I have agreed to switch places. He's going to stay sane while I loose my marbles in short order.

  • This is one of the few pictures of Dan that would show him in a working environment. I'm not saying he didn't work. I'm just saying he was a phantom.

  • I had been on a rant for several days about how Diet Coke (seen on the table on the far left) had recently started using a bottle with a green cap. More than once, I accidentally picked up a Coke w/ lime and it pushed me closer to edge of marble-world.

  • About 12 hours after this picture was taken, I was still awake and playing cards in another part of the room. I started to question whether my deodorant had failed me or if I had forgotten to put it on the morning before.

  • A few minutes after this picture was taken, I took one of my favorite poker pictures of 2005:

  • That's Jarl Lindholdt, a European poker pro, on the verge of potential elimination from a big-time tournament. I like a lot of things about the picture. First, look at everybody but Jarl's eyes. They are all looking at the same place. They are all watching the center of the table where the final two cards will come out. What's more, everybody is leaning (ever so slightly) toward the table. But look at Jarl. He's not looking at the table. He's looking at the dealer's hands, as if he will be able to see the next two cards before they hit the table. There's something about the picture that has a sense of pure...anticipation. Oh, Jarl ended up winning this hand.

    Anyway, I'm 32 years old and getting ready to head back out to Vegas. I'm wondering, if New Orleans can be called The Big Easy, can Vegas be called The Big Hard?

    Because, really, that would be quite fitting.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Make Otis Your Monkey

    So, we had a lot of change sitting around the house. And by a lot, I mean, it was spilling off our bathroom counter and various pieces of furniture around the house. When the wife took a tupperware container to a grocery store change-cashing kiosk, it ended up being $215 worth of change. Rather than pay the 10% juice to get the cash, Mrs. Otis took the Amazon gift card instead.

    So, now Mt. Willis has a bunch of money to spend on Amazon. I need some new reading material, but I'm stuck. I've read just about everything on my list. I'm going to need at least three new books for the next few weeks. Since we have $215 to spend on Amazon, I need to get some books before the wife finds ten books on the ya-ya panties of the great southern BBQ pit...or something.

    So, shoot me a comment and recommend something. Make me your reading monkey.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Tiffany Souers: Lessons Learned

    By now, Jerry Buck Inman has had his first meal in the Pickens County Jail. He sits in a cell the size of a clothes closet. Magnetic strips on the outside of his jail cell door read "ESC" and "ASLT." Like anyone who knows anything about Inman, the folks in Pickens county know the short, skinny, bald, monster is an escape and assault risk.

    The Chief Deputy of Jefferson County Tennessee has already been spreading the word that Inman confessed to not only Tiffany Souers murder, but also two sexual assaults in Alabama and Tennessee. The deputy reports Inman, when asked why he did it, said, "I'm an animal."

    And that pretty much sums it up. Tiffany Souers' death is like a freak accident borne of humans developing too far into the wild. Sometimes, there isn't enough room for the animals, so they make their way into the city. This animal, Inman, had a wide stalking range. This time, we humans didn't build a condo in the middle of his forest. This time, he came down from the mountain. If only we'd been able to shoot him before he got hungry again, you know?

    Society was smart to keep Inman in a cage for years following his first sex crimes. Once again, a parole board will be forced to ask itself whether it was right to let Inman out of jail a little early. And once again, the debate will be renewed about whether sex crimes should have longer sentences, mandatory minimums, etc. In the past, people have talked a lot and didn't act. I would like to think something would change this time, but I don't have a ton of faith.

    We all should learn our lessons on this one, but we aren't the kind to learn quickly. Most of us, myself included, don't learn until it is too late. In the 36 hours since deputies arrested Jerry Buck Inman, I've did little more than work to catch up on a lot of my regular work. I now have more to do than time to do it. That means I need to stop coddling my crime reporter fantasies and get back to writing about gutshot straight draws and leather-assed poker players. There are animals in that world, too, but they'll only take your money.

    Before I let it go, however, I'm going to list a few things I'd like to remember in the future (and, hopefully I can help others remember as well).

    First, crime profiles can be not only unreliable, but also deceiving. I thought the cops were right to believe the were looking for a young, educated, middle-class, college student who had just committed his first murder. In the end, while we were all looking for a date rape gone wrong, Jerry Buck Inman was doing yard work in Tennessee and likely wondering which state he would visit next.

    That brings me to DNA. I don't think everyone should have to give up their DNA for a database, but I think everyone who has been convicted of a violent and/or sexual crime should be subjected to DNA testing an database storage.

    See, as I said before, had it not been for DNA in this case, we would never know Inman's name. We would've spent years harassing college students and shaking the bushes around Clemson. What's more, more women would've been killed. That is all a short way of saying, don't you think Inman was done. He wasn't.

    As I spend a significant amount of time on the road, I'm now worried more about random crime and my family falling victim to it. I've never worried much about these things. In fact, I've ignored them to a fault. The other night, I was out and a guy game to my house at 9pm and, in essence, tried to get my wife to open the door for him. The cops picked the guy up later, but it was too late for me not to start the process of making sure my family is protected while I'm on the road. Note to potential attackers: First, the cops will know if you break in. A security system will take care of that. And frankly, you better hope the cops get here and arrest you before my wife knows you're in the house. Nuff said?

    Finally, by way of explanation for the last few days of obsessive reporting, I can only say that I'm not fully sure what drove me to focus so much on the case. First, I have a history with cases like this and I'm still hurting for the families of victims in which the cases are unsolved. I didn't want this case to remain unsolved. And frankly, I think it was a coinflip. There was a damned good chance Inman could've walked on this one. I give a lot of credit to all of the Upstate and state cops who brought this case to an arrest.

    Beyond that, though, I would be dishonest if I tried to say this case didn't make me want to be back on the street. In the final few days of the story, I honestly felt like I needed to be involved. I'd never claim to have been a big deal in TV, but if there was anything I did well, it was cover the huge, breaking stories. There was some good reporting and some bad reporting locally. I wanted to be in there, telling the stories, and asking the questions.

    However, there is a reason I got out of the business in the first place, and a large part of my departure was a lack of dedication to good reporting of the news. And money, of course. Money is always an issue, yeah?

    With that in mind, I'm going to leave this case in the hands of the reporting pros and I'm going to get back to making money. And hugging my family. And keeping the doors locked.

    You know. Life.

    Previous coverage

    Tiffany Souers and College Murders
    Tiffany Souers Suspect
    Tiffany Souers: Suspect Still At Large
    Manhunt for Jerry Buck Inman

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    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Tiffany Souers: Manhunt for Jerry Buck Inman


    Jerry Buck Inman
    DOB: December 19, 1970
    Hair: Brown (bald)
    Height: 5' 10"
    Weight: 159 lbs.
    Profession: Construction worker
    Possible vehicles: Red 1990 Chevy S-10 Blazer with silver trim with Tennessee license tag 158 DCX -- Green 1997 Chevy Camaro with Tennessee tag SRD 739 -- Maroon Ford EcoLine van registered to Kenneth McArthur

    Wanted for the murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping of Tiffany Souers.



    Previous crimes:


    1988: Buncombe County North Carolina, Sex Offense 2nd Degree, escape from prison/jail


    Now mentally tied to this case until the end, I started backgrounding Inman from the moment the news conference came on tonight. The above is what you'll find if you look at his release records from the Florida Department of Corrections.

    When released from the Florida DOC, Inman told authorities (and likely his PO) that he was moving to 1197 Swansylvania Avenue in Dandridge, Tennessee. Dandridge is a townn of about 2,000 people in Jefferson County, Tennessee, with a population that is overhwlemingly white--not that that really means anything. The last time the Florida Sex Offender Registry updated its records on Inman in September 2005.

    North Carolina records show Inman served time in North Carolina for a sex offense and at one point either escape or tried to escape from prison. It looks like he actually escape from jail in Buncombe County and then escape from prison in Montgomery County.

    If the records of the North Carolina DOC can be believed, Inman served a little more than ten years behind bars in North Carolina and got out in 1999.


    One hour into the news coverage, Google searches are returning little to nothing on Inman. That will change within 24 hours. Right now, the only national news network giving any coverage to the breaking information is Nancy Crace on Court TV. Her producers are doing some fast work, but as of yet the only useful information that has come out of the coverage there is an interview with the PIO of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. That interview revealed little more than the TBI is aware of the case and they aren't sure if Inman had much to do with Tennessee other than some family connections.

    Left unanswered as of right now is the relationship with Kenneth McArthur (spelling may be wrong here). He's the guy who owns the Econoline van that Inman might be traveling in. I would think if it is important enough to bring up the guy's name, the cops might offer a little more info on who the guy is.

    And consider this. Despite the fact Inman looks like he could bein his late forties, he's only 35 years old. That would put his first conviction for a sex crime when he was seventeen years old. It wasn't long after that that he was convicted for another one. He spent 11 years in jail. That leaves about seven years between the last time the cops had him on a state prison level and now. Methinks there is a damned good chance Souers was not Inman's only victim between then and now.

    The Department of Justice National Sex Offender Registry also lists, curiously, an address in Constantine, Michigan. Constantine is located in the township of the same name in the southwest corner of Saint Joseph County. Not sure what, if any, significance that has.

    9:00pm ET-- Fox News decided to wake up and get on the case. The Hannity and Colmes hour is beginning with the Tiffany Souers case and the new information. The producers are working hard there too. Noted foresnic anthropologist Michael Baden and Souers' mother Bren have bth been interview in the early minutes of the show.

    I'm a bit of a privacy advocate, but I'm willing to bend on this one. A national DNA database is responsible for fingering Inman in this case. Inman wasn't even on the suspect list before his DNA spiked on the national registry search today. That is to say, if it weren't for DNA, there's a damned good chance this case wouuld never have been solved. I mean, Inman is obviously a drifter. I'd put money that he was on some work crew working around Clemson, probably got drunk or high on a Friday night after work, and started stalking the co-ed apartment complexes. All the talk about this likely not being a random crime, I think, just flew out the window.

    DNA. Seriously. Bravo to Robert Stewart and the DNA folks at the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

    9:20pm--The question now becomes, where is the sonofabitch. Local authorities say they don't think he's here anymore. Frankly, that's probably one hell of an understatement. It's a good bet that within 12 hours, they will have a local construction foreman come forward to help out with backgrounding Inman's presence in South Carolina. That might provide a little information on where he is now (maybe he talked to a co-worker about places he'd like to go, etc).

    He has a past in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. Stupid criminals tend to run to the places they know, so those places are obvious. He has a nearly two-week head start, but by Saturday (when I suspect America's Most Wanted will get on the case), Inman's face will be all over national TV. He's going to have to pull an Eric Robert Rudolph to stay on the lam. I think his chances are slim. Now, I think it will only be a matter of whether Inman is taken dead or alive (my guess, alive- he's a coward).


    9:46pm-- As an aside, I'm reminded tonight of how Tennessee and Upstate South Carolina muders always seem to go together. A few yeas back, a guy named Brad Sigmon killed his ex-girlfriend's parents, hid from the cops for a few weeks, then took off for Gatlinburg, TN. I made it to Sevierville, TN a few hours after the cops there caught Sigmon. The next morning in court, Sigmon was without the benefit of an attorney. He felt the need to confess to me and another reporter at length...on tape. It happened to be one of the highlights of my career. My buddy Jay and I spent a lot of weeks on that case and it paid off in spades.

    A year or so later, the former CEO of Sara Lee foods was kidnapped from Upstate South Carolina by a couple of ne'er-do-wells from Tennessee. Cockman, stuffed in a trunk and gagged with duct tape, ended up suffocating. I think those two criminals are on trial as we speak.

    10:00pm-- As we reach the ten o'clock hour, it's time for the local FOX news. There is little doubt that this is one of biggest cases of the the last ten years here. In fact, looking back, the last time this part of South Carolina had this kind of national attention, Susan Smith was on trial for killing her sons. That was a bit of a golden age for the local news stations here. And that's all I'll say about that.

    10:07pm--So, the big white shirt the suspect was wearing when he tried to use Souers' ATM card makes a lot more sense now. With tats all over his hands and neck, a big bult shirt with a high collar a looooong sleeves are good to cover up the ink. You know, the guy thought he was so smart. Good disguise and everything. Then his DNA betrayed him.

    10:20pm--FOX news just reported that Inman's mom saw him today and that Inman was with his sister. When cops went to Inman's sister's house, they were gone. I give it 24 hours before the dude is in handcuffs in the back of the van.


    11:00pm--Now the rest of the local news stations have their chance. WYFF's Erin Hartness pulled a good score in the late hours of tonight and got one of Inman's relatives on the phone. Hartness reported Inman did some yard work this afternoon. Jesus. Dude was doing yard work? In his hometown? Good game, sir.

    I certainly hope my old colleagues have a crew on the way to Tennessee right now. Inman's days as a free man are numbered. Check that. Inman's hours as a free man are numbered. Over/under on Inman's arrest: 9pm Wednesday. I'll take the under.

    12:01am--After scanning some news reports online, it appears Inman actually spent a majority of his prison time in Florida and only got out last September. So he's been loose less than a year and now he's on the run. Perhaps the best report I've seen so far (given, we're only four hours into this portion of the story) has come from one of the Greenville News' least-appreciated assets, Ron Barnett. Ron is the type of guy who LOOKS like a newspaper man, reports like a newspaper man, and usually writes like a novelist. That's why I like him. I know little of his personality, but I know he's a good writer. Just a few minutes ago, Ron published a transcript of his conversation with--get this--Jerry Buck Inman's mother. See, that's the kind of thing that a reporter should be doing. Bravo, Ron. Click here to read the discussion.

    Ron apparently was the first person to inform Inman's mom that her son was a suspect in this crime. She told him that Inman has been living at her house since he got out of jail and was there as early as this afternoon. Vera McArthur (the last name clearing up the earlier question about who owned that Ecoline van) told Ron that Inman is bi-polar and suicidal.

    I don't think we have to think very hard to figure out how this one is going to end.

    12:27am--They got him. Arrested without incident. That should just about do it.

    12:34am-- In the words of my wife, "That's how you do the news." As news broke a few minutes ago, we former news producers turned news consumers turned to all the regular outlets for news. We ended up with our local FOX affilate. Where its competition was running lower screen crawls over the late night talk show hosts, FOX kept its main anchors at the station. When the news broke, they were on the air. Not only that...they had Tiffany Souers' father, Jim, live on the phone. Not only THAT, they were the first people to tell him Jerry Buck Inman was in custody. Yep. That's how you do it. And frankly, though I felt like they kept him on for a little long, their line of questioning and interview was top of the line. Professional as all get out. What's more, they ended the interview in a great way. Kudos to the FOX crew for nailing that one to the wall.

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    Tiffany Souers: The Passion Cross

    Today looks to be what I often thought of as a "down day" in crime coverage. Ever-mysterious and acting somewhat the tease, 13th Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail has announced he will release "significant information" on Wednesday. This will leave us with a couple kinds of news coverage today. The first will be the efforts of the reporters who who try, mostly in vain, to figure out what Ariail will release on Wednesday. The second kind of coverage will be that of the reporters forced into coming up with some sort of fresh angle on the story. If my experience is any indication, the stories will neither be fresh or contain much of an angle. I've been in both positions and I don't envy those charged with the responsibility of filling the news hole today.

    That said, I have taken a liking to Georgia-based blogger who came to fame with his blog-based profile of the BTK killer. Huff's Crime Blog is written by Steve Huff, a guy who writes well and takes everything you've seen here to a much better level. I'm secondarily impressed with his ability to find a name of the kind of cross on the killer's bandana. In First Timer, his profile of Tiffany Souers' killer, Huff points out (with visual aids) that the cross is a variation on the so-called "passion cross." I'd encourage you to check out Huff's work.

    I really need to return my focus to a life more mundane. Someone asked in an e-mail why I have dedicated so many consecutive posts to this subject. There are a ton of reasons, I suppose. First thing, having known way too many victims of crime, I have a very good idea what Souers' parents and family are experiencing now. Second, I have a chemical in my brain that insists missing people should be found and killers should be caught. That's actually another way of saying that I am no longer able to say that I don't miss my old line of work. For the first time in fifteen months, I actually wish I was back on the street. That, friends, is the selfish part of it.

    For now, we wait for Wednesday and whatever Ariail has to offer. The two-day wait leads me to we're about to finally hear something on the physcial evidence front. I guess we'll see.

    Previous coverage

    Tiffany Souers and College Murders
    Tiffany Souers Suspect
    Tiffany Souers: Suspect Still At Large

    Labels: ,

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Tiffany Souers: Suspect still at large

    For regular readers expecting my regular tales here, I must apologize. See, based on the number of e-mails I have received in the past few days, the interest in the Tiffany Souers murder investigation goes far beyond the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Like me, many people find themselves working scenarios in their heads. I suspect, like me, that they realize there are scores of professionals working right now who have had the same ideas and are trying to figure out how it all fits together. We are voyeurs, I suppose. Nonetheless, my past profession connects me to this case with a very, very thin thread and, as such, I find myself thinking about it an undue amount.

    Based on my past relationship with Bob Ariail, 13th Circuit Solicitor, I fully expected an announcement by the end of today (Monday) that a suspect was in custody and on his way to a secure jail. Ariail seemed exceptinally confident--confident enough that, if the cops didn't already have a suspect in custody, they were sitting on somebody and just waiting for the right moment to pick him up. Ariail's statements to the press are almost always extremely measured. That is, if he's telling the press anything, it's already happened or in the process of happening. Ariail's confidence in the Friday news conference (during which the bank video still photos were released) gave me a good feeling that the investigation was nearing its conclusion.

    With the weekend now gone by, my confidence has waned, if only slightly. The reports coming from Pickens County sound like the cops are settling in for the long-haul. And frankly, the long-haul has rarely proven to be a good trip in local investigations. Looking back at some of the highest profile cases in the area, many of those that stretched past a couple of weeks still remain unsolved. The Blue Ride Bank triple murder. The Superbike Motorsports massacre. The case of missing college student Jason Knapp. And that's not to mention the still-open cases of Brooke Holsonback and Norsaadah Husain. It's not a local problem, per se. It's the whole "First 48" syndrome.

    All of that said, with Ariail and SLED (that's the State Law Enforcement Division) on the case, I still have as much confidence as I can have in the solvability of the case. If the case can be solved, it will be. And frankly, this seems to be a solvable murder. The killer was simply too stupid to not get caught. All of this leads me to what is likely happening behind the scenes right now.

    Beattie AshmoreThe first option is now the one I consider the least likely: Somebody is already in custody or is about to be. A lot of people got extremely worked up about the arrest of Stephen David Kudika Jr., a Clemson graduate student who lived near Tiffany Souers and was arrested for sexual assault. Many people--even me, for a time--speculated Kudika would eventually be tied to the Souers case. It now seems Kudika just got caught for his misdeeds--or, alleged misdeeds--at a very unfortunate time. He hired Beattie Ashmore (seen left) to represent him. Ashmore is a former assistant U.S. Attorney and now a top defense attorney. If I ever found myself in trouble, Beattie would be my first call. Ashmore has publicly stated that Kudika's arrest and the Souers case are "unrelated." Even more telling is the fact that Kudika bonded out of jail for $30,000, a relatively small sum. If the Ariail or the cops had much worry Kudika was involved in Souers' death, I suspect a wink and an eyebrow raise could've secured a much higher bond. Then again, I'm simply speculating.

    The second option is probably the most likely right now. There is probably a short-list of likely suspects and the top investigators are working that list really hard. While this team is putting together its case against their man, another group of investigators is doing its due dilligence by running down phone tips and dead-end leads. The problem for the public--and the good thing for the cops--is that this strategy gives an appearance of ineffectiveness. To anyone who only gets their news from the local TV stations or newspapers, it would appear the cops are chasing their tails. I'm not ready to believe that's actually the case. More likely, there are about ten guys who have offered up DNA samples which will be compared (in decidely anti-television drama speed) with samples taken from the crime scene. While this tough work is being done, the cops are performing in the manner the TV viewing public expects them to. They are answering phones, scurrying around, etc.

    Finally, there is the third option. There is, of course, the possibility that Souers' killer is smarter than people think. Even if he was stupid enough to try six different ATMs--unsuccessfully--he at least disguised himself well enough that no one would recognize him. If he's smarter than we think, then there is always the possibility that yet another will go unsolved in Upstate South Carolina.

    For the sake of Tiffany's family and friends, I certainly hope that's not the case.

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    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Tiffany Souers Suspect

    As a one-time and longtime crime journalist, I honestly thought I had put away the days of thinking constantly about a killer. After many, many years of thinking about and talking to murderers, I was sure I could live the rest of my life without becoming obsessed with the capture and conviction of a murderer.

    I was wrong.

    It has now been nine days since a friend found Tiffany Souers' body in her apartment at The Reserve in Central, South Carolina. The 20-year-old Clemson student had been strangled with her own bikini top and left dead in her apartment. It happened somewhere around 1:30am.

    Indeed, it has been nine days and I find myself checking the internet for updates five or six times a day. Someday, I suspect, I'll better explore why I have taken such an interest in the case. For now, I'm actually on a mission and I think you folks are a diverse enough group to help me out.

    Tiffany Souers suspect photo -- Courtesy WYFF.com

    See, the guy in the picture above stole Souers' debit card and tried six times to get money in the hours after he apparently killed the co-ed. Hyper-aware of the security cameras, the dude (a white male) tied a bandana around both his head and face. After failing miserably all six times, the suspected killer took off in an older model (1982-1994) Chevy Blazer.

    With only the car and the bandanas to go on, the cops have put out pictures (click here to see them all) and are hoping somebody can help them out.

    As a guy who likes to think he can find just about anything on the Internet, I was fairly certain I'd be able to find the bandana online. Or something describing the stylized cross on the bandana. Or something. So far, I've found nada.

    So, just to satisfy my curisoity, is there anybody reading that recognizes either the bandana or the cross?

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