Posts tagged "Crime"

Serial Killer Stalking Virginia

Nancy Dunning, a real estate agent and wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning, was shot and killed in her Alexandria home in 2004. For several years, her husband was a suspect in his wife’s death, and had not been ruled out as a suspect at the time of his death in 2012.

Last November, Ronald Kirby, a city transportation planner was killed in broad daylight in his Alexandria home. He was shot after presenting himself at the front door.

Last month a man approached the Alexandria home of music teacher, Ruthanne Lodato. When she opened the door she was shot and killed. The man also wounded her caretaker.

All three killings took place around noon and within a two mile radius of each other.

Police have now linked these three killings through forensic investigation. Bullet fragments have been compared in all three cases and found to be similar. With this third victim, police are now investigating whether there is a serial killer in the area. At this time, only the gun has been linked to all three killings, but the timing and location suggests a serial killer. No common motive has been found.

Police say they are looking for an older, white male with gray hair and a full beard. Police have released a sketch of the suspect in Lodato’s murder and are asking for the public’s help. The FBI is also assisting officers field leads.

Book Trailer for CHASING DEMONS by Melissa M. Garcia.

Created by Haley Kamola

For more information on CHASING DEMONS visit www.melissamgarcia.com

Sliders: The New Crime Wave

What is a “Slider”? Sliders are a new type of thief that targets your unlocked vehicle as you pump gas or leave it unattended for just a minute. They take advantage of your distraction and slide into your unlocked car door, steal your belongings, and drive away in their own vehicle. It takes only seconds and often, you have no idea it’s happened until the slider is long gone.

They aren’t looking for confrontation, so they work quickly and quietly. They are similar to smash and grab thieves, but they have no reason to smash anything. Often the victim has left the car unlocked requiring little work for the thief.

Per ABC News, Slider crimes are on the rise and many have been caught on gas station cameras.

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How to protect yourself from Sliders:

  • Lock your car. Even if you’re just going in to pay for gas and won’t be gone long.

  • When pumping gas, ensure your valuables are hidden out of sight and your passenger doors are locked and your windows are up.
  • Keep your valuables with you. Don’t leave a purse or wallet in your vehicle.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all time and pay attention to other ‘customers.’

I’m attending the Writer’s Police Academy!

I’m all signed up for this year’s Writer’s Police Academy in North Carolina. I’m looking forward to flying across the country to learn how the East Coast handles crime. There will be police, fire, crime scene investigators and science experts. So much information and hands-on activities are planned.

I also get to meet two wonderful writers I haven’t had the chance to meet before, Lisa Gardner and Kathy Reichs. These are two of my favorite authors to read.

The Conference sold out in six days and the agenda hasn’t even been finalized yet. An amazing testament to the work they have done the past few years on this conference. This will be my first time attending and will blog about it for you while I’m there.

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Missing for 2,000 Days

Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran 2,000 days ago.  Levinson, who became a private investigator after retiring from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was working on a cigarette smuggling case when he disappeared more than five years ago while on a business trip on Iran’s Kish island on March 8, 2007.  A proof of life was provided in 2010 where Levinson asks the US Government for help.

The FBI has offered a reward of $1 million for information leading to Levinson’s safe return, but no new leads on who is holding him or what they want. The US continues to put pressure on Iran for information on Levinson’s whereabouts.

Ripped from the Headlines

A hospital comes up with a great kickback scheme. They hire some marketers to bring in homeless patients to their hospital and treat them for imaginary illnesses. And charge the government. They get rich, the homeless get used and abused, and the American taxpayer is swindled.

Sounds like a great crime novel, right? Well,I’m sorry to tell you the story is taken. But not by a fiction writer.

Los Angeles Doctor’s Hospital, Inc., pled guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal through the payment of illegal kickbacks to “marketers” who recruited people to act as patients. Some of the recruits were found on the famous Skid Row in downtown LA. They were treated, even if they did not need treatment in exchange for a small payment.

It appears other southern California hospitals were involved in similar schemes. All to the toll of almost $16 million!

A Waste of the Red-Soled Heels

On July 27 and August 14 customs agents seized 20,457 pairs of fake Christian Louboutin shoes at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport. The five shipments came from China and could have brought $18 million if they had reached the online and underworld markets.

The worst part is the shoes are going to be destroyed. I understand the reasoning, but it seems like such a waste. Couldn’t we donate these to less privileged people who need shoes or would it seem too weird to see the homeless people around the world walking around in red-soled heels?

*Not fact or fiction, these are just my musings.

Five Reasons Why Fiction Writers Shouldn’t Serve on a Jury

For the fourth time I was summoned to appear for Jury Service in hopes of finally being placed on a jury. As I sat in the waiting room, I prayed for a criminal case due to my interest in crime and mystery writing. When my name was called, I was apprehensive, but so very interested. What could the case be about? Would they place me on the jury or find my interest in crime writing a reason to dismiss me? As I sat in the courtroom my mind spun out of control and as I was eventually dismissed, I started thinking of the reasons why fiction writers, especially crime or mystery writers, shouldn’t serve on a jury.

1. We turn a civil case into a criminal case. As I listened to the judge talk about why the US uses the jury system, I stopped listening and stared at the plaintiff and the defendant sitting at the table. We hadn’t even learned what the case was about, and I was already trying to figure out if the defendant looked like a murderer or a thief. I looked around the room for detectives that may be testifying later to see if they were believable or reliable or maybe they had a grudge to bear against the defendant. Turns out it was just a civil case for damages.

2. We create back stories for the lawyers. As I watched the plaintiff’s lawyers question the jury, I found myself wondering about his red eyes. Was he a drinker? His untucked shirt and long tie, seemed to suggest he dressed in a hurry. He seemed nervous. Was this is first case? His questions jumped around and he forgot people’s names. I wondered if he was trying to throw us off or was he recently diagnosed with short term memory loss? I wondered if he had been thrown in at the last minute to help another lawyer in trouble. The defendant’s attorney sat back in his chair eying everyone with a cocky grin. I wondered if he was just that confident or if he was imaging how he was going to sleep with the women on the jury. He seemed annoyed to be listening to the other attorney and seemed overly interested in the jury’s answers to mundane questions like the names of their dogs. Did he know something no one else knew?

3. We jump to implausible conclusions. The jury was finally told that the case was about a woman who lost her house either due to negligence or fault of a company. But “lost her house” was too vague. I wondered if it had burned to the ground in a disastrous fire or was demolished by a bulldozer. Was the poor woman forced to live on the streets because a massacre had taken place inside her house? What had the man done to destroy this woman’s house and what could be his reason for intentionally doing so? Was he a serial house-destroyer or was he hired to ruin this woman’s life by an ex-boyfriend out for revenge?

4. We observe every minute detail and try to find meaning in it. As the judge was talking, I was watching every movement by the defendant and plaintiff. What were they writing down on those papers? Doodles or confessions? What we they whispering to their lawyers? I watched as the woman plaintiff played with her wedding ring, but there was no husband in the courtroom. Had he decided drinking was a better option than being with his wife in the courtroom, forcing his wife to consider divorce? I found myself watching as the court reporter and the deputy talked during breaks. Was there more to the glances and hushed conversations? Were they having an affair? Did her husband know?

5. We shout, “You can’t make this shit up!” Mark Twain once said, that the difference between Fact and Fiction was that Fiction must be believable. Every fiction writer out there has been told their story seems unbelievable or implausible at one time or another. Yet, crazier stuff happens in real life every day. In 1994, fiction writers everywhere stared at their television as a former NFL running back led police on a low-speed pursuit through Los Angeles freeways. We cursed as we knew that if any one of us had written something so outrageous we would have been laughed at. When listening to real life incidents, all we can do is shake our heads and hope we can make it more believable when we set our pen to paper.

About Melissa M. Garcia

Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia (@MelissaM_Garcia) has lived most of 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. Melissa is the author of the Luc Actar crime series including FALLING ANGELS and CHASING DEMONS (due out Fall 2012) and the Death Valley Mystery series (STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY). Melissa recently released an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair.

For more information visit www.melissamgarcia.com.

*Not fact or fiction, these are just my musings.

My Top Crime Stories for the Week

MISSING. In Evansdale, Iowa, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook were last seen by their grandmother on Friday when the two cousins left to go on a bike ride. Their bicycles were located hours after they were reported missing near a lake. A massive volunteer search over the weekend failed to locate the girls. Scent dogs used by searchers looking for signs of two missing young girls in Iowa ran around a lake and stopped at the water’s edge, but the mother of one of the girls doesn’t believe the girls had gone swimming. She believes the girls were abducted.

 

ARRESTED. Police have made an arrest in the abduction attempt in South Philadelphia that was caught on video. The surveillance video shows a 10-year-old girl, with her 2-year-old brother, walking home on Tuesday afternoon. The video shows an unknown male following them in a white vehicle. The video shows the suspect grabbing the girl and attempting to carry her away, but she bit him causing him to drop her. He tries again, but the girl fights as her brother screams. The man eventually let the child go and ran back to his vehicle. A suspect was arrested after turning himself into authorities.

IDENTITY THEFT. An Estonian man was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday for his role in stealing more than 240,000 credit card numbers. Aleksandr Suvorov hacked into a computer system belonging to the Dave & Buster’s restaurant chain to steal the credit card numbers of 81,000 customers. Suvorov attempted to sell more than 160,000 stolen credit card numbers to a buyer in San Diego.

ART CRIME. Undercover FBI agents in Florida found what investigators believe is a stolen Henri Matisse painting that had been missing for nearly a decade. Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City were charged with transporting and possessing the stolen painting after trying to sell “Odalisque in Red Pants,” valued at $3 million to undercover agents.

And finally…

STRANGE. A woman in Texas was charged with child endangerment for leaving her children after her car collided with a Houston bus. She allegedly walked to a nearby CVS drug store and started taking off her clothes as she ate ice cream. The Texas mom’s three children, ages 5, 12 and 16, were in the car when the collision occurred.  Officials say all three suffered minor injuries and have since been released to their grandmother.

And this is why I write crime fiction…

The Butcher of Montreal

Luka Rocco Magnotta, the Canadian porn actor (dubbed “The Butcher of Montreal” by French media) accused of killing and dismembering a man and mailing body parts to politicians, was arrested in Germany and will be extradited back to Canada.

The case began on May 29, when police were called due to complaints of a strong smell coming from an alley behind Magnotta’s Montreal apartment building. Investigators found a torso stuffed inside a suitcase. Later that day, officials at Canada’s Conservative Party headquarters received a package addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that contained a foot. Officials later intercepted a package addressed to the Liberal Party that contained a hand.

The 29-year-old, Magnotta faces first-degree murder, defiling a corpse and other charges.Police identified the victim as Chinese university student Jun Lin, 33, who they believe had dated Magnotta.

Police suspect Magnotta filmed the murder after a grisly video was posted online showing a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up.

The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man’s throat and goes on to dismember the corpse and perform sexual acts with it. Police have confirmed that the sickening film is authentic.

Magnotta’s intense desire for attention was his downfall. He was arrested at an internet cafe in Berlin where he was perusing online articles about himself.

Police are still searching for the rest of Lin’s remains as Magnotta sits in solitary confinement awaiting extradition.

FAITH DEPARTED Now Available in iBooks

Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair by Melissa M. Garcia is now available for download for your iPod, iTouch, and iPhone for only $1.99 in the iTunes store and iBooks App.

Purchase Now!

About the Book:

A collection of five short stories written by mystery and crime author Melissa M. Garcia.

-In “Faith Departed,” a man struggles over a moral dilemma.
-A dying man requests the help of a seasoned detective to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in “The Other Son.”
-In “The Pond,” a young girl channels her evil side to ward off trespassers to her quiet seclusion.
-A man running late desperately struggles with the world for a cup of coffee in “Coffee Break.”
-In “Cross To Bear,” a priest tries to comfort a mysterious visitor.
-Also includes a free excerpt from STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY, by Melissa M. Garcia.

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Departed-Stories-Mystery-ebook/dp/B007YJVCQQ/

About the Author:

MELISSA M. GARCIA (@MelissaM_Garcia) is a member of Sisters in Crime and is the author of the online blog “Musings from a Crime Writer.” She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in English/Literature with a love of crime & mystery novels. Her first crime novel, FALLING ANGELS, was published in February 2006. Her most recent novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY was released in August 2010. Melissa published an e-book collection, FAITH DEPARTED: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair in April 2012. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on CHASING DEMONS, the sequel to FALLING ANGELS due out in Fall 2012. For more information, visit www.melissamgarcia.com.

Cheaper Than a Cup of Coffee

Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair by Melissa M. Garcia is now available for download at Amazon.com for your Kindle for only $1.29.

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Purchase Now!

About the Book:

A collection of five short stories written by mystery and crime author Melissa M. Garcia.

-In “Faith Departed,” a man struggles over a moral dilemma.
-A dying man requests the help of a seasoned detective to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in “The Other Son.”
-In “The Pond,” a young girl channels her evil side to ward off trespassers to her quiet seclusion.
-A man running late desperately struggles with the world for a cup of coffee in “Coffee Break.”
-In “Cross To Bear,” a priest tries to comfort a mysterious visitor.
-Also includes a free excerpt from STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY, by Melissa M. Garcia.

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Departed-Stories-Mystery-ebook/dp/B007YJVCQQ/

About the Author:

MELISSA M. GARCIA (@MelissaM_Garcia) is a member of Sisters in Crime and is the author of the online blog “Musings from a Crime Writer.” She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in English/Literature with a love of crime & mystery novels. Her first crime novel, FALLING ANGELS, was published in February 2006. Her most recent novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY was released in August 2010. Melissa published an e-book collection, FAITH DEPARTED: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair in April 2012. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on CHASING DEMONS, the sequel to FALLING ANGELS due out in Fall 2012. For more information, visit www.melissamgarcia.com.

All her novels are available on the Kindle through Amazon.com and Smashwords.com

New Mystery Short Story Collection Now Available on Kindle

Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair by Melissa M. Garcia is now available for download at Amazon.com for your Kindle for only $1.29.

Purchase Now!

About the Book:

A collection of five short stories written by mystery and crime author Melissa M. Garcia.

-In “Faith Departed,” a man struggles over a moral dilemma.
-A dying man requests the help of a seasoned detective to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in “The Other Son.”
-In “The Pond,” a young girl channels her evil side to ward off trespassers to her quiet seclusion.
-A man running late desperately struggles with the world for a cup of coffee in “Coffee Break.”
-In “Cross To Bear,” a priest tries to comfort a mysterious visitor.
-Also includes a free excerpt from STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY, by Melissa M. Garcia.


About the Author:

MELISSA M. GARCIA (@MelissaM_Garcia) is a member of Sisters in Crime and is the author of the online blog “Musings from a Crime Writer.” She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in English/Literature with a love of crime & mystery novels. Her first crime novel, FALLING ANGELS, was published in February 2006. Her most recent novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY was released in August 2010. Melissa published an e-book collection, FAITH DEPARTED: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair in April 2012. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on CHASING DEMONS, the sequel to FALLING ANGELS due out in Fall 2012.

All her novels are available on the Kindle through Amazon.com and Smashwords.com

www.melissamgarcia.com

Faith Departed available on Smashwords.com

Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair by Melissa M. Garcia is now available for download at www.smashwords.com.

Smashwords.com provides e-books for download in several different formats.

Faith Departed will appear in the Kindle and the iBooks Stores shortly.


About the Book:

A collection of five short stories written by mystery and crime author Melissa M. Garcia.

-In “Faith Departed,” a man struggles over a moral dilemma.
-A dying man requests the help of a seasoned detective to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in “The Other Son.”
-In “The Pond,” a young girl channels her evil side to ward off trespassers to her quiet seclusion.
-A man running late desperately struggles with the world for a cup of coffee in “Coffee Break.”
-In “Cross To Bear,” a priest tries to comfort a mysterious visitor.
-Also includes a free excerpt from STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY, by Melissa M. Garcia.


About the Author:

MELISSA M. GARCIA (@MelissaM_Garcia) is a member of Sisters in Crime and is the author of the online blog “Musings from a Crime Writer.” She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in English/literature with a love of crime & mystery novels. Her first crime novel, FALLING ANGELS, was published in February 2006. Her most recent novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY was released in August 2010. Melissa published an e-book collection, FAITH DEPARTED: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair in April 2012. She currently lives with her husband in Southern California and is at work on CHASING DEMONS, the sequel to FALLING ANGELS due out in Fall 2012.

Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia has lived most of her life in the sometimes gritty, but always entertaining landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. Garcia is the author of the Luc Actar crime series (including Falling Angels and Chasing Demons) and the Death Valley Mystery series (Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery). She has also published an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair.
www.melissamgarcia.com

twitter.com/MelissaM_Garcia

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