In Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery, many characters are caught in the whirlwind of drugs. Ric Delgado, once a narcotics detective in Los Angeles, is all too familiar with the problems that arise with drug abuse. When he moved to Lake City, Nevada, a small desert community near Death Valley, he had hoped to rid himself of the dangers of drugs. Unfortunately, like many small communities around the US, Lake City is not immune to the rising dangers of drugs. When the stakes are raised, Ric Delgado decides to fight the war on drugs in a big way.
For the past fifteen years, illicit or clandestine methamphetamine labs (“clan labs”) in the United States have declined since laws were put into place to limit the availability of the ingredients required to manufacture methamphetamines. Due to the restrictions, large-scale productions in Mexico thrived as drug cartels added meth to their already booming business of moving heroin, cocaine, and marijuana across the border.
But the landscape changed again in 2005. With the help of the United States, the Mexican government began fighting the meth problem. The government banned imports of pseudo-ephedrine (one of the main ingredients in meth). Current trends show that meth production is now making it’s reemergence in many California desert counties.
American meth makers have found a way around many of the laws created to prevent meth production, including a technique called “smurfing” where groups of people go to pharmacies to purchase small quantities of pseudoephedrine and then pool the score together.
But law enforcement isn’t just seeing a rise in small clan labs. Larger “super labs,” once only seen south of the border are now popping up in the United States. Last September a super lab was discovered in Riverside County, California. It wasn’t a traditional meth production facility, but was producing a refined liquid meth into crystal form.
We are far from winning the war on drugs, but Ric Delgado knows the dangers of a meth lab extend to more than the drug abusers. Anyone living in or near a clan lab is exposed to immediate dangers and chemical contamination. The toxic nature of the ingredients leaves behind a hazardous waste. When the ingredients are combined, then can ignite, causing explosions, fires and the release of toxic fumes. Many times the waste material is dumped outdoors, causing damage to the environment and drinking water.
Learn the signs of a potential Meth lab, including a strong smells, residents never putting their trash out, lab materials surrounding the property, and laboratory glassware or rubber tubing being carried into the residence. If you see signs of a meth lab in your neighborhood, please report it immediately. For more information visit the following sites:
A lot has been said about the LA Sheriff’s possible mishandling of the arrest of Mitrice Richardson on September 16, 2009. Whether they should have released her in the dead of night with no transportation, no cell phone and no identification is up for debate.
What’s more alarming is what happened after she walked out of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station at 1am. Mitrice disappeared.
Nearly a year later, on August 9, her nude remains were found in the Lost Hills/Malibu Canyon. Sheriff’s officials stated there was no sign of foul play. Nor do they believe she fell to her death. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office estimated that her remains had been there at least six months, or possibly the entire time she had been missing.
In November 2010, during a family excursion to the remote, rugged area, Latrice Sutton, the victim’s mother found a finger bone. In February, eight more bones were discovered by the Coroner’s office and search and rescue teams. All nine bones have been confirmed to be from Mitrice Richardson. Just recently, some of the clothing found near the scene was finally sent to the LASD Crime Lab for examination.
It can be confusing that a young beautiful woman, with bi-polar disease could be released in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on her back, but what’s more disturbing is no one is searching for a possible killer.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winters at the LA County Coroner’s office has agreed this case was not handled properly from the start. Among the issues, Sheriff’s deputies removed the bones from the site against the will of the Coroner’s office. Also, certain tests of the remains were overlooked prior to her burial.
Mitrice’s remains were exhumed on July 13 and will finally undergo important analysis overlooked two years ago. Maybe now we can find out what really happened to Mitrice Richardson and search for a possible killer to face justice.
In Falling Angels, protagonist Luc Actar grew up on the streets of Los Angeles. As a child he spent years living on the street with his father jumping from shelter to shelter. They eventually found temporary housing, but the scar of living poor threatened them daily. At a young age Luc was exposed to the dangers on the streets, such as drugs, gangs, and violence.
In the novel, Luc Actar grew up hungry and determined to stay alive at whatever cost. His drive to survive pushed him to a life of crime. Through his pain, he vowed to never be homeless or hungry again.
To many people, the face of homelessness is the man standing on the side of the road begging for money.
According to “The State of Homelessness in America 2011,” a report recently released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness , the nation’s homeless population increased by approximately 20,000 people from 2008 to 2009. The largest percentage increase was in the number of family households. While most people experiencing homelessness are sheltered, nearly 44% are living on the street, in a car, or in another place not intended for human habitation.
Up to 2 million young people per year are living homeless. While homelessness can affect anyone, there is a disturbing upward trend in young people. There are many reasons for homelessness among children. Poverty and the lack of affordable housing are the two central reasons, but domestic violence, the challenge of raising children alone, and a decrease in government support are also factors.
Up to 5,000 homeless youth die each year from assault, illness, or suicide. Homeless youth are often victims to poor health. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, they have higher rates of ailments like asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and other stress-related ailments. They also have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems. Worse, research has shown that youth experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk of experiencing abuse, violence, and exploitation.
Unfortunately, homelessness is a nationally overlooked problem that affects too many of our young people. There are ways you can help. Get involved. Support your local homeless shelter and food bank. Contact to your local school district’s homeless education department for directions to drop off supplies. Make a donation to your local charities. Spread the word. Let others know the magnitude of youth homelessness. Below are a few links that can help.
As the Casey Anthony jury decision had many people questioning our legal system, Bryan Stow, the Giants fan beaten at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day lay in a hospital bed waiting for justice in his case.
Last week, three people were arrested in the Dodger Stadium beating case. Three people completely unrelated to Giovanni Ramirez, the LAPD’s first prime suspect. Since May 22, Ramirez’s name has been dragged through the mud and his picture blasted on the media, all while the public waited for charges to be filed. Which never came. Why not? Because the police didn’t have enough evidence. Many complained about the prosecution’s delay of justice as Ramirez’s attorney started to wage a war of his own in the media.
But the evidence wasn’t there. Ramirez wasn’t at Dodger Stadium the day of the attack. He wasn’t guilty and thus the prosecution did the right thing. They waited for evidence, forcing the LAPD to continue to review all the evidence, to interview over 600 people, and devote thousands of hours to find the right suspects.
This is how our system is designed to work.
The three suspects will be arraigned today as information is slowly and methodically released to the media (this time). Ramirez has been completely exonerated, but remains in jail on unrelated charges. Bryan Stow is starting to recover from some of his massive injuries, but has a long way to go.
With over 13 million Americans having used or tried Methamphetamine, it’s no wonder drug trafficking is a worry in the US. But unlike other drugs, the main source of meth is actually within our own borders. It is produced in clandestine meth labs, which can be found in a variety of locations, including garages, apartment rentals, trailers, motel rooms, houseboats, motor homes, and mini-storage units. Meth production is increasing all across the country. Recipes for making meth can be simple but extremely dangerous and toxic.
In my novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY a businessman learns how lucrative the illegal meth business can be. He also learns how dangerous it can become.
Los Angeles’ Skid Row covers about 10 square blocks in the heart of the city. At night, more than 15,000 people gather to sleep in cardboard boxes that line the streets. The city, known as the first “third world” city in the United States is just the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 110,000 people will be homeless in Los Angeles County at some time during the year with over 15% being children under the age of 18. People of all nationalities and backgrounds here are homeless. Some are trapped by drug addictions or mental illness, but most just couldn’t keep up with their rent payments. The main cause of homelessness is unaffordable housing for the poor. Women and children are now the fastest-growing segment of Los Angeles’ homeless population. Some sleep on the streets or in abandoned buildings, hungry, dirty, and in harm’s way.
In my novel, FALLING ANGELS, journalist and car thief, Luc Actar grew up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. He escaped with the scars to prove it. Back in LA, Luc Actar remembers how the city treats the poor and the disadvantaged. He will employ old friends and encounter childhood rivals in order to save the angels falling around him.
Rebecca Zahau was found hanging off the balcony of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California (owned by Jonah Shacknai) last week. Although Police suspect it was a suicide, many have been wondering about the strange death as it has been revealed by police that her hands and feet were bound and she was hanging completely nude. Normally, I would tend to believe the police in this situation as no one knows what thoughts can go through someone’s head before they try to kill themselves.
But the story gets stranger, when another death happens within days of the suicide. Two days prior to her death, Shacknai’s six-year-old son fell down a stairway at the Mansion and days later succumbs to his injuries.
Neighbors have also stated there was a party held at the mansion the day between the boy’s fall and the supposed suicide.
I don’t tend to believe in conspiracy theories, but I’m also not naive. There is definitely more to the story here and I’m interested in hearing from the police as they continue their investigation.
Catherine Kieu Becker was jailed yesterday for drugging her husband, cutting off his penis, and running it through the garbage disposal. The couple have been going through a divorce. (And others complain their divorce is nasty!) The southern California woman claims he deserved it.
This incident comes 18 years after Lorena Bobbit severed her husband’s penis and threw it out in a field. This case was famous in the fact that it brought up the subject of marital rape and domestic abuse to the general public.
One has to wonder what Becker’s husband did to deserve this treatment. I eagerly await more information and the jokes that are sure to come…
Crime novels give us something real life cannot. A sense of justice, understanding, and closure.
Casey Anthony will be released from jail this week after she was acquitted of killing her two-year-old daughter. People everywhere are asking how someone so obviously guilty of killing her child can be set free. Why would she destroy the life she brought into this world. How could the jurors not want to give justice to little Caylee.
Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, the man that murdered seven people (including his own 12-year-old daughter) held the entire city of Grand Rapids hostage for nine hours last week before killing himself. Why did no one try to help this man before the rage and violence escalated to the unstoppable? Why did he kill himself before we could ask why?
Real life never gives us what we need. My prayers go out to the innocent victims.
There is a dead body in room 110 of the Death Valley Motel, and the evidence points to murder. Managers Ric and Alex Delgado, siblings with police work in their blood, chose this small Death Valley city specifically because it appeared to be a quiet place in which Alex could heal from the violent traumas of her past. Now a killer has struck too close to Alex, opening old wounds and threatening her new life.
The situation gets more complicated when Detective Will Stellar trains his observant eye on the siblings and ascertains they have something to hide. Murder seems to follow Alex Delgado, and Detective Stellar is certain she is a dangerous woman. Racing against time and against each other, the Delgados and Detective Stellar risk their lives to uncover the truth, which is ever more complicated and dangerous than any of them have imagined.
After a panicked call from his best friend, Mattie Hardwin, Luc Actar must return to Los Angeles and the life he fled three years earlier. Mattie’s husband, a prestigious lawyer named Spencer Hardwin, has mysteriously disappeared. Desperate for assistance, Luc enlists the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in his search to find Spencer, despite his better judgment. But he soon learns that the detectives have their own reasons for locating Spencer—the lawyer has become the prime suspect in a drug dealer’s brutal murder.
As he hunts for the man he thought he knew, Luc’s history with Mattie haunts his dreams and drives him to the depths of the misery he once escaped. Back on the streets of Los Angeles, Luc employs old friends and encounters childhood rivals to take on the sheriff’s department, while a slew of lawyers impede his every move to save those closest to him from an unknown killer.
Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia has lived almost her entire life in the sometimes gritty, always entertaining, and ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. She published her first mystery novel, Falling Angels, in 2006. Her second novel, Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery was published in 2010. Melissa is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and supports the Crime Lab Project. Her novels are available in paperback and ebook formats. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on her next novel, Chasing Demons, the sequel to Falling Angels due out in 2012.