Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A cave

That's where I want to go. I want to go into a cave and hibernate until this year is finally over.

In yesterday's paper they had a very touching article about Denise. I thought it went light on the Charlotte County's Sheriff's office because it failed to mention our feelings about a cover-up. I would love for just one newspaper or TV reporter to ask Bill Cameron who was Communications Chief that night "why didn't you and your department make the North Port Police Department aware of Ms Kowalski's call?" The CCSO knew the call referred to Denise. The CCSO knew Ms Kowalski was the last person to see Denise alive. And the CCSO knew of the grave importance of the call. If the CCSO didn't, we're really in trouble. If they were confused and just assumed someone did call teh NPPD, why didn't the Communication's Chief (Bill Cameron) make sure and follow up? Not letting the NPPD know about Ms Kowalski's call was either an attempt at a cover-up or gross negligence. All just my opinion, of course. Sadly, the soon to be Sheriff Cameron just won't answer the question. I wonder why not?

All in all, I believe Jason Witz did an excellent job on the article. It spelled out Nathan's goals and that's what is important.

See link below:

I was going to blog about it today in depth but have since changed my mind.

This is why:

Also in yesterday's paper was a story about a man being killed in a wreck on I-75. I read it but it didn't move me. It was just another story about someone dying in a car wreck.

Then there is this in today's paper:

Now I didn't really know this young man. I've only met him a couple of times. Knowing him or not what a very VERY sad and TRAGIC story. He was the golf pro that helped with the first Denise Amber Lee golf tournament. Nathan and Mark knew him better than I did. Mark worked with him several times a week for several weeks. The paper is correct in saying what a nice, kind, giving man he was.

I can't imagine what his wife and family are going through. I'm just stunned that God could be so cruel.

People tell me it's not God that did this. It's not God's fault. That it's our free will in action. Huh? I just don't get it. Where's the free will? The young man had obviously been up all night with the delivery of a new baby. He was on the way home from the hospital! The driver of the truck that hit him didn't intentionally hit him and wasn't charged with any crime. I just don't get it.

I wonder sometimes if there really is a God. And if there is what kind of drugs is he doing. Because it seems to me that he's on some really bad trip.

I used to laugh and say God has one wicked sense of humor at times. Well, I'm no longer laughing.

When Denise first died, I was truly fighting to save my faith. I felt that if Michael King's evil infiltrated and destroyed my faith then evil would win out. And I refused to give in.

But this story about a young man, who was a "born again Christian", who just had his first baby, who was so generous and kind and his untimely death is pushing me over the edge. I just don't know if I want to believe in such a God.

I believe I can live a life by following Christ's actions. I'll still be kind, loving, generous, truthful etc.... I'll still do my best to follow in Christ's path. I'll have to work on the turning the other cheek part. And I'll have to struggle through the forgiveness part. But I can do all those things. And therefore evil will not win out totally.

Through all the tragedies that have happened this past year, I have learned of so much goodness in this world. There are so many good people. More good people than there are bad. And I'll try to be one with them the best I can. I'll try not to become bitter. I'll try not to be a shrew.

But as far as God goes... I honestly think I'm done with him. I don't think there is one. I believe there was a Christ. But I don't believe he was God. I believe the people made him to be a God.

I believe there is a Heaven and Hell. And that Heaven is a place where the people who have followed you here on earth continue to love you as they loved you when you were alive. In other words, if you were loved, revered and honored, you will continue through eternity to be loved, revered and honored. And that if you were evil, despicable, and hated here on earth that you will continue through eternity to be despised.

Denise will always and forever be loved as she was loved on earth through eternity. She's in Heaven and she's an angel. Mother Teresa will be revered through eternity. She too is an angel. People like Hitler will be hated through eternity. Denise's and Mother Teresa's Heavens (just examples) will be knowing that others will follow who will look back on the lives they led and those people will try to live as they did. Lives of love and selflessness.

At least, that's what I'm thinking. These thoughts are not new to me. I've often throughout the past 30 years thought these thoughts. I just think this past year has confirmed them.

Aside to the Pearson family if you ever read this: May life bless you and see you through these dark days knowing how much Drew was loved. He's definitely in Heaven, in my opinion.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What a year! A roller coaster post.

How to describe 2008? That's the only way I can describe it. What a year. It started out pretty good. We spent last New Years with some of our bestest dearest friends. We had lobster, champagne and high hopes. 2007 wasn't that great of a year financially so at the end of it we were very much looking forward to 2008. Most of our friends in Florida work in the real estate/mortgage industry. So by the end of 2007 we honestly thought "gee, it can't get much worse. It can only get better". We were all using slogans like "things will be great, in 2008!"

Well, we all know what happened to those hopes.

2008 started with someone's son (someone who we are very close to and love dearly) committed suicide. We should've know then how things were going to go after that. He was such a wonderful young man. He was on the dean's list at the University of Connecticut. I can't remember how old he was 22-23? How our hearts grieved for his mom and family. It was heartrending.

Then, of course, the worst possible nightmare for us started just about a week later. Well, we won't go into that. We all know what happened to Denise. I will say what happened to her taught me a lot about her. I never knew how smart she was, how brave she was and how selfless she was. When her nightmare began her first thought was of her kids when she got the monster as far away from them as she could. When her nightmare was over her last thought was of Nathan when she took off her ring to leave for him to identify.

Then the financial quandary Mark and I were facing took a back seat to Denise's tragedy. This past year has been pretty much devoted to Nathan, Noah and Adam and trying to mend our family.

Much of our year was spent in numbness. A lot of our year was expressed in anger. But I still think the majority of it was spent in loving each other and trying to help each other through some pretty tough stuff.

Mark and I did get remarried this year on what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary and was our 25th anniversary according to the Catholic church which is where we were originally married. I told a friend this past year that even though we had given up on ourselves and others had given up on us, at least the Catholic church kept faith. And according to them we were never divorced considering they don't recognize divorce. So, Mark and I accompanied by Nathan and the babies got married at the courthouse. The only two missing from the ceremony were Brian (he was up in Tampa) and, of course, Denise. Both were there in spirit.

Then Mark pretty much lost his job. The mortgage company he had been working for had gone out of business in late 2007 and Mark went to work for a new mortgage company. We had great hopes and truly like all the people he was working with. But as you know, no matter where you work in the mortgage industry things are bad.

So many of our friends and even family members have lost their homes and their livelihoods.

With the loss of Denise, it's been hard for Mark and I to think straight and make major decisions. And now we're losing our home too. We think we need to be out of this house the middle of January. How we got to this place, I have no idea. It's been hard on Mark especially with his work. His job is basically sales. How do you remain upbeat and positive when you're experience so much grief, anger and perpetual numbness? It was just impossible. Also, think about all the calls he gets from people who are losing their jobs and their homes begging him for help. Crap! He couldn't get them loans even if they had jobs.

Then Mark's brother and our sister-in-law moved away to Tennessee. They, too, have experienced a horrific year. It was our sister-in-law's nephew who committed suicide that I spoke of earlier. Double whammy for them. They, too, have been numbed. On a positive note, they have started over in Tennessee and are running a restaurant. My sister-in-law has the most amazing personality and I'm sure is perfect for what she's doing. She's also probably the best cook I know. So.... at least, they're moving on.

But it was still a loss for us. We miss them more they can possibly know.

One of Mark's best friends passed away this year. To an aneurysm of the aorta? He was in his late fifties and seemed to us to be in perfect health. What a shock that was. This man, was one of the nicest, friendliest, kindest persons I have ever EVER met. He was so upbeat and so positive. He was so caring. He left behind a beautiful wife and a lovely 13 year old daughter. Sadly, we're still grieving so badly over the loss of Denise that we're not nearly as supportive as I believe we'd normally be. Also, with losing our home in less than a month, we're.... Well.... it's taking all our emotional energy just to get through the holidays, help Nathan and figure out what we're going to do. We still don't know.

One even greater loss than all the above is my loss of faith. I'm trying desperately to hold on to my faith but I just can't find it. Sometimes it seems as if it's coming back and I start to rejoice a little but........ it's like trying to catch a butterfly.

The year is ending on a positive note.

The two most important things in my opinion are happening. My brother Danny is returning home from Iraq the end of January. Thank God. He was injured the beginning of this month but he's okay. I can't express how proud I am to have him for a brother. His courage, his honor, his bravery, and just his person are all so special. As the younger baby brother he was the comedian in our family. He always brings joy to us. Sometimes it's a sarcastic joy... But he's one to make us laugh. So, trying to visualize him in his tank in Baghdad is extremely difficult. But he's doing what he always wanted to do and that's being a soldier.

The second positive note is that Nathan is doing his best to move on. He's started, of course, the Denise Amber Lee Foundation to help improve our 9-1-1 system throughout not only Florida but the country. He started the foundation in Denise's honor to help pay back our community for all the love and support they've given him and us. He's doing very well with the boys. Noah and Adam are happy and healthy (other than Adam having constant running noses mostly from picking things up at daycare). They are pretty much very normal kids. They know they are loved. I think they are a tad spoiled in certain ways. But, hey, with what they've been through they deserve to be spoiled, in my opinion. Adam is very attached to his bottle, blanket and Binky but that's okay in my opinion. Being shuttled around the way he is and not having a memory of mommy, what they hey? Let him have them if they bring him comfort. Nathan is doing is best to try and move on past the pain that engulfed him this past year. Oh, watching him in pain was the worst thing and is the worst thing I've ever experienced in life. The pain of losing Denise totally trumps the pain over losing our house. Anyhow, Nathan is trying to reach past the pain. He's started to date someone new. He hasn't closed Denise's chapter. I'll doubt he'll ever be able to do that. Her chapter continues on with the babies and she's a person who was so perfect, it'll be difficult for him. But he does need to get past the pain. Getting past the grief will be much more difficult, but the pain at times was unendurable for him. I remember going over to his house in the morning and picking up as many as 50-60 Kleenex's off the floor. It's just not healthy for the babies to be around so much pain. Being around grief? I think that's okay. After all, they need to know how much their daddy loved their mommy. And how much we loved their mommy. In any case, it's been almost a year.

A year of great pain and sorrow and much much loss.

For those of you who believe we shouldn't be dwelling on these losses and that we have to get past them. I don't know what to say to you. Other than, it's not so easy to get over.

And believe me. We know the positives. We know what our blessings are. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to go on.

And I'm constantly reminding myself just how good I have it. Look at that beserk Santa out in CA wiping out an entire family. Look at the Anthony's losing a grandchild.

I belong to a support group where so many have lost people to murder. One couple in particular, I can't help thinking of constantly. Lloyd and Deborah's ex son-in-law not only shot and killed their daughter, but he shot and killed their two beautiful grandchildren too. Both under the age of 6. Then he shot him self. A whole family wiped out. We still have our grandbabies and we still have Nathan! And we were probably only about a half an hour away from possibly losing all. If Nate had come home a half hour earlier, what would he have found? A man in his home with a gun. Nate and the babies could very well be dead too. So, trust me, we KNOW WHAT OUR BLESSINGS ARE!

We've made so many new friends who I just can't describe how selfless and wonderful they've been. We've experienced more hugs and prayers than you can imagine. The outpouring and generosity of our community, of strangers, and even an on-line community of piano lovers has been nothing less than phenomenal.

The world is filled with so many good people. The other day I received a package from Australia. Half a world a way where they are celebrating Christmas at summer time. A woman, I've never met other than on-line sent the boys little trinkets from Australia! How cool is that?

Another woman, I've only met on-line, provided us with our Christmas tree and gifts from Mark and me to the kids. We didn't have money for presents this year. But we were able to bake cookies, decorate and celebrate all because the woman's two little boys raised money on Noah and Adam's behalf. How cool is that? I look at my tree and I think of her and how wonderful she's raising two boys to be as wonderful as she is.


I've received tons of pictures of my family on Christmas cards but then pictures of strangers too. All happy, all smiling, all joyful. It's good to know that life is continuing around us. I find hope in those pictures. I find hope in my grandchildren.

And, Brian, if you're reading this. Truly..... I love you with all my heart. I'm so proud to have you for my son.

I've learned the good trumps bad.

Am I looking forward to next year? I'm trying to. When one door closes another opens.

I do sincerely wish everyone who is reading this a genuinely loving, happy New Year. And thankyou so much for being a part of my life. You are all angels in your own ways.

Monday, December 22, 2008

John Walsh excerpt

I've been reading John Walsh's book "Tears of Rage". I'd like to quote p 289.

He says:

People who haven't been hit by crime can still enjoy what Reve and I call "the luxury of being naive." They go around thinking that it could never happen to them. I envy those people; I truly do. They don't know any better. They don't understand that, once it happens to you, everything changes. Every tiny aspect of your life. And even though you may look the same on the outside and may be acting the same way, on the inside you're coming from a totally different place.

To us, even back in the early days, our most basic understanding was always unspoken: Adam cannot have died in vain. If we had not gone on to do what we eventually did, we would have remained as we were: two grief-stricken, hand-wringing parents whom other people looked at and felt sorry for. But what we both came to believe was that if you are given the opportunity to change things, then how can you not at least try?

There will always be murdered children. There will always be abductions. But at least we tried to pull something out of the ashes.

That explains perfectly exactly how Mark and I feel about 9-1-1. People are very naive in thinking that it's a perfect system and that they will always save you. No, obviously they can't always save you. And human error will always exist. But to ignore it and not try to fix it seems sinful to me. No, 9-1-1 will never be perfect. But if we can improve it, who wouldn't anyone want that? A life was lost to not only human error but to negligence on the department's part by ignoring and not addressing the fact that one of their own refuses to to use the technology at their disposable appropriately.

Recently Nathan was on Dr Phil. Dispatchers from across the country expressed anger that their profession was under attack. No one's attacking their profession. We're simply trying to point out that things can and do go wrong that could be prevented. Teletype machines can and do go unmonitored and BOLOs are missed. Technology can be and is misused by ill trained people.

We've talked to other families who have lost loved ones to not only crime but to 9-1-1 mishaps. It's horrific. You have to deal with not only the ugliness and horror of what your loved one experienced but also you have to think about how they thought they were going to be saved.

I honestly believe Denise thought she was going to be saved. When she saw the cousin of the perpetrator and screamed "call the cops" you know she thought he would call the cops. When she got a hold of her captor's cell phone and had the 9-1-1 call taker on the phone for 7 minutes, you know she thought she was going to be saved. Naively she may have thought, "I'm on a cell phone, they can find my signal". I would have thought that!

And then when she could have been saved and should have been saved she wasn't. Due to bad management, bad training, and being understaffed.

So, I guess Mark and I are obsessed. But reading John Walsh I realize he was obsessed too.

It truly doesn't go away. Even at Christmas. I have a very difficult time watching people shop, and blithely go along their merry way in Charlotte County. They go along not knowing that their 9-1-1 system is in serious need of repair.

And their newly elected sheriff won't comment. As far as we know nothing's changed.

I'm almost angrier at Davenport, Cameron, and Roguska than I am at the murderer. We all know the murderer is a scumbag. But the people above are supposed to have honor and integrity. We raise our children to look up to them and emulate them. It makes me ill that they have the opportunity to change the wrongs in our 9-1-1 center but continue in their arrogance to ignore and deny.

Just my opinion of course.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Card to the Puentes

I just want you all to know, how very VERY much I'm missing each and every one of you. I have so many fond memories of our Christmas' together. The times when all the presents were lined up on Grandmom and Granddad's stairs. The times with Bobby, Kathleen, Tommy and Cathy.

I remember the year Ann told me there was no Santa:0) LOL!

And the times Terri, Chris and I would watch that tower out the French windows of our bedroom and think the red flashing light (I think it was the tower on Television Hill) was Rudolph even though that flashing light was there all year round.

Remember coming home from school to see the note taped to that old black and white television announcing:

"Do not turn on TV. Rudolph is coming on tonight!" For fear the TV would black out and the screen would get smaller and smaller until there was only a dot! hahahhahahaha

Anyhow, I didn't send cards this year. I didn't know what to say. So I decided to send this!

It's been a tough year for our family down here but each and every one of you truly stepped up and have helped us through it.

Thank you for that.

Some of our friends and family down here want us to move on and forget this past year. But, Ann knows, I'm sure that will never happen.

We watched John Walsh the other night on TV and even after 27 years, you could still see his heart breaking. And from the members of the support group I talk to, it seems that's the reality of murder. It's not gotten over so easily.

I know Rich understands. He's been absolutely phenomenally supportive. Dear Rich. I ached so bad for you when you lost Alice but I had no clue as to how much you were truly in pain. Now I know. Thank you for being there for Nate and me and Mark and Brian. You know and you get it!
Anyhow, sorry for this to get this way. I didn't mean to go into that. I seriously wanted this to be an upbeat Christmas note with wonderfully fond memories of singing around the piano.

I'll never forget Ann's impersonation of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas hubba hubba.

Or David McDermott stopping by to see either Mike or Jimmy on Beacon Hill. Dad made him come in (and I know David had to be high on pot, Dad probably knew it too) and he had him sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing to my piano playing. Poor David! He sang it, right there next to the mantle.

Anyhow, God bless you all with a very blessed Christmas.

Please know, we're in pain but it's a natural pain that should be expected. It's not an illness. It's a reality.

I miss you and love you all so damn much.

Christy, Brian bought a goose this year and he's fixing it with fond memories of the year Wayne fixed that goose.

Michael, I'll never forget that at least you know We Three Kings on the piano.

Oh, geez, I could go on with memories but best not. It'll sound like Meet Me in St Louis. Christmas carols around the piano and everyone asking me not to sing and just play.

Mom's cookies...... Honestly? Maybe they're what I miss most!!!!! LOL!

Love and merriness to all of my family scattered throughout the world.

And, Danny, please come home safe and sound. Of all my memories of Christmas, seeing you as a little boy while I was a teenager and watching your pure joy at receiving Army men. YOU, Dan, made Christmas' the best time of year.



PS Denise would've fit in perfectly. I know you know that after that first and only 4th of July she shared with us. She loved our family and she and Nate wanted so BAAAAAD to move to Maryland. She just loved all the activity and joy.
Again, God bless you all with a very blessed Christmas
PPSS I added a few friends who are like family to me so if you see names you don't recognize, it's just because they are so special to me and have been wonderful as well. Some I TRULY do consider my family down here. They've been that wonderful

Friday, December 19, 2008

Charlotte County 9-1-1 Center (setting the record straight)

First, some of the news centers and papers have erroneously reported or inferred that all the calls made to 9-1-1 centers that night were mishandled. This is simply untrue. The calls that were handled in Sarasota County and by the North Port Police Department were handled very appropriately.

There were 5 calls all together.

1.) Nathan's original call was handled by the North Port Police Department.

2.) Sabrina Muxlow's call (I believe) was handled by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

3.) Harold Muxlow's call (I believe) was also handled by the SCSO.

4.) Denise's call was handled by Sarasota County as well.

5.) Jane Kowalski's call was handled by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

All were handled appropriately and in a timely manner except for Kowalski's call. Please, understand that we understand that the women on duty in the Charlotte County 9-1-1 center were under severe stress. They were also understaffed. They were working a 12 hour shift. And were at the tail end of it. They should know that we forgive their human errors and we hope we can one day move on from this and fix some of the things that went wrong that night. I've read the Internal Affairs report 3 times. There was human error. But there was also neglect on the part IMO of the call taker and by some of her superiors.

1.) She wasn't using the CAD properly and not the way she was trained to use it. Apparently she's been reprimanded for this before at least twice. Personally I have a very difficult time forgiving her negligence in not using the technology she had at her fingertips the way it was meant to be used. She's obviously been trained to use it but has repeatedly refused to. This IMO and other mishaps directly led to Denise's death.

This is where I would like to explain what the CAD is. CAD stands for Computer Aided Dispatch. You can google CAD system images to see what it looks like but I think I can describe it to you. It looks like any other computer monitor. The call taker is supposed to enter information into the computer as she's receiving it from the 9-1-1 caller. The call taker asks questions, should control the conversation and at the same time input the information the caller is giving her in real time. At this same time deputies in the field have CAD systems in their cars and are keeping their eyes on them. They can see the information the call taker is entering instantly.

2.) Now our call taker was on the phone with Ms Kowalski for 9 minutes. Plenty of time to enter at least a little bit of information if not all of the information. You can hear on the 9-1-1 tape she's rattled. You can hear her stress. At the very least she could've typed "Camaro going southbound on 41 and turning east on Toledo Blade Blvd" in less than one of those precious nine minutes. According to the testimony of the Charlotte County deputies in the field that night they were waiting by their computers in their cars. Unfortunately, our call taker has to write things down on pieces of paper before she can enter any info into the CAD. So from the time Ms Kowalski's call came in at 6:30PM it took our call taker until 6:42PM before she entered it into the CAD. That's twelve close to thirteen precious minutes. Even one of the dispatchers in her testimony expresses frustration and says this is "archaic" and "why have the system if we don't use it?". Good question. You can have the best technology in the world but if you don't use it, it's worthless.

3.) Also, our call taker shouted the information across the room. She testifies she shouted it to Dispatcher A, but Dispatcher A and Dispatcher B say she shouted it at Dispatcher B. Huh? Yeah. That's what I thought.

4.) Our call taker doesn't confirm her information was received. She just assumes according to her own testimony that the information went out. Huh? I've read the Charlotte County 9-1-1 call taker training manual and it says nothing about pieces of paper or shouting across rooms. The training manual also says that not using the CAD in an appropriate manner is "unacceptable". Gee. It also says without confirmation there is no communication.

5.) This woman has been a call taker for 15 years. When asked about her training she chuckled. What did that chuckle mean? That her training was useless? That she doesn't need training? What's there to chuckle about? A life was lost.

If I sound angry, well, I am. This woman is still on the job, still doing things the same way, still writing on pieces of paper and still shouting across the room.

That's scary and that's wrong. This woman does not deserve to keep her job. Is it her fault? IMO Yes and no. Yes, because she doesn't take enough pride in her profession to respect and use the technology available to her and no because her bosses let her get away with this. Well this time it cost a life. It cost a toddler and an infant their mother. With the job climate the way it is, I believe they could find someone a little more suitable.

Sadly, it comes down to politics. Just as everything always does. Her husband has been a fire man for 25 years for the county. She's experienced. They hate to lose her. Bah! IMO, this woman has no business being a call taker. She is obviously incompetent in the eyes of most people. If the CCSO is hesitant in firing her, at least, transfer her to a department where lives are not at stake.

If that hasn't already made you sick, read this. In the call center there are four jobs:

shift supervisor
call taker
Teletype operator

Well, tragically, for Denise and our family on the day Denise went missing, the CCSO sent their Teletype operator home early so as not to pay overtime. Under normal circumstances, I don't know, this may be okay. But this isn't a normal circumstance because one of their own sergeant's daughter was missing. You'd think they call someone and bring some extra help in. Someone to keep an eye on the Teletype machine. No, they don't do that. They rely on the two overworked overstressed dispatchers to monitor the machine every 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind, a Teletype machine does not turn off. It just types and types as long as there's information to type. So it's tap, tap, tap, tap in the corner. And keep in mind it's 5 PM and the dispatchers have been on the job since 6:30AM. What is received over the Teletype? BOLOs. Be On the Look Out alerts. Our Teletype machine went unmonitored IMO for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Three BOLO alerts came over the Teletype from North Port at 4:59, 5:58, and 6:46. All 3 mention Denise, a green Camaro, and pudgy white guy 30-40 years of age. These BOLOs are obviously supposed to go into the CAD system we talked about earlier so the deputies in the field can see them. Not one was entered into the CAD. Not one deputy saw them. Not one was responded to. They were all ignored.

These BOLOs are also supposed to be entered into a "pass on log" for the oncoming shift to read and initial. Nope. Not there either. The deputies in the field testify "there were no real leads" as late as 6:45PM. When all along the BOLOs were coming as early as 4:59PM. The deputies were complaining that North Port wasn't giving them any information. I remember Rick's frustration and the CCSOs frustration out at the house that North Port was not giving them anything to go on. BUT they were! The dispatchers just weren't passing it on. Clearly, the dispatchers who were supposed to be monitoring that machine were not. Is this their fault? I don't know. They were obviously overwhelmed.

Meanwhile the dispatcher the call taker handed the piece of paper on doesn't read it. I guess she didn't think she had to because she knew eventually it would be entered into the CAD. I don't know. But she passes on the piece of paper not to the person who was relieving her from her shift but to the other dispatcher's relief person. Huh? So, now the oncoming dispatchers have the piece of paper but it never gets aired. Huh?

The on coming dispatchers testify that at 6:45PM all they knew from the pass on (which I have a copy of) is that Rick Goff's daughter was missing, the children may have been involved and that K-9 was requested. Huh? This is 6:45, what about what came over the Teletype and the 6:46PM Teletype?

What about the shift supervisor who was supposed to be in control of the situation and be in charge?

The shift supervisor testified "I didn't know what was going on. I mean, I was patching radios. I mean, I knew Millie had a call but I didn't know what it was all about" or something to that effect. Only Mille (the call taker) says she knew about a green Camaro and she testifies twice that it was because she heard it over the Sarasota County radio. Not her own dispatchers or Teletype. Huh?

Yes, I know. It sounds as if Larry, Moe and Curly could've done a better job.

Frustratingly, we know that people in authority knew all about this. We know from Kowalski's call. When you listen to the call you hear the call taker asking for direction. "what does 'he' want to do?" You also hear her say "Please, bear with me ma'am, Everybody in here is hollering at me". Well the only people who would be hollering would be people in authority.

It's even more frustrating that we don't know who these people are. It's not the shift supervisor, because she didn't know what was going on and was patching radios. The other two people in charge? Bill Cameron (the newly elected sheriff) was Communications Chief that night. And Capt Donna Roguska was Director of Communications. Fortunately for them Capt Roguska led the investigative team into the I/A report. How convenient. And Bill Cameron wasn't interviewed.

They insist and said this just this past week that we have nothing to worry about because the FDLE (Florida Dept of Law Enforcement) sat in on the entire investigation. WRONG AGAIN! Another lie to add to their holsters. The FDLE sat in on very little of the investigation and didn't ask a single question. How convenient.

You may wonder why I'm writing this. Well there are a couple of reasons. Yes, it's cathartic but more importantly we know these things are still going on with the same inept people. We feel it's our moral and civic duty to bring these mistakes to light. And there's more but this is all I can get out right now. We do not want to see other lives at risk. And they are. As long as that woman is employed as a call taker it'll continue to happen. I don't trust her or her superiors. Any woman who chuckles while testifying about a tragedy like this could be considered a psychopath in my opinion. It's just heartless. She doesn't see that she did anything wrong in her testimony. It's disgusting.

Please understand that I have the greatest admiration and respect for the men and women who risk their lives for us everyday in the CCSO. Especially those in CCSO uniforms who helped us search. And any call takers and dispatchers who they employ who are honorable and take pride in their profession.

But there are certain people in the CCSO that have brought dishonor to their uniforms. They've tainted the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office with their politics and manipulation of the facts. The way they've treated our family, and the way they treated Ms Kowalski was and still is unconscionable. But that's another post for another day.

This one has become too angry.

added edit: John Davenport and Bill Cameron would have the public and us believe that they issued a BOLO at 6:36 in response to Kowalski's call. WRONG! Another attempt of spin and manipulatie of the facts. In their own internal affairs report it is testified by several people that the BOLO issued by the CCSO was requested by Sgt Floyd Davis. He and Rick had just finished listening to the frantic 911 call from Denise where she confirms she been kidnapped and was in a green Camaro. It was only after this that CCSO deputies knew to start looking for a green Camaro. 6:36PM. And most of them heard about the green Camaro from officers in the field. Not dispatch. Geez, maybe they should read their own I/A investigation so they can get their facts straight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Denise Amber Lee and setting the record straight

I've read countless blogs, news reports, stories etc... writing about Denise. First let me say most, if not all, have been very moving and supportive. Some are all too true but others have errors. I don't think the errors have been intentional. But it's a complicated case and it's very emotional. You almost have to harden your heart a bit to be able to write about this stuff because some of it is very unpleasant. But then other parts leave a person in awe. Those parts are inspiring. Denise's strength, her heart and her smarts were amazing. I don't know anyone who could have fought for her life harder, stronger and smarter than she did.

For those of you just learning of this story. I'll give you a brief synopsis of what happened to Denise on January 17, 2008. Sometimes I forget how much people DON'T know. Even people who think they do know, have the story skewed because of false information that was reported.

Anyhow, here is an attempt to dispel certain urban legends about Denise and to offer answers to popular questions.

1.) She DID NOT know Michael King.

2.) She WAS NEVER at the post office.

3.) She would NEVER leave her children alone unless she felt their lives were in danger. It is my belief she wanted to get the monster as far away from her children as possible.

4.) We can only speculate as to how Michael King got into the house. She may have answered the door. She was a very sweet person. The windows were open and he may have crept in. She may have thought it was Nathan coming home early. We honestly don't know.

5.) We have no clue as to why he picked Denise. She was a very quiet, sweet, unassuming individual. She was shy. But she was also beautiful. Even without make-up she was beautiful. She was wholesome, petite and simply a nice person. She wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was home. She wasn't a person to flaunt her boobies on the beach. She was modest. And she certainly wouldn't even have looked at a person like Michael King unless maybe he needed help. She was kind and caring. We know he was stalking at least two other women. We don't know if or for how long he may have been stalking her.

6.) We'll probably never get the truth out of Michael King. His stories have changed far too often.

7.) He's in jail. And the trial date has been moved back now to Aug 2009.

8.) The day she was taken we know Michael King met with an attorney and filed bankruptcy around noon. Then he went to a shooting range. An hour after he was done at the shooting range, Denise was gone.

All I can remember of that horrific day is being at work and receiving a phone call on the work phone. I work in a bookstore. It's unusual for me to receive calls at work. But, there I was being called over the loud speaker to the phone. To this day I've only received one other call at work and let me tell you the hairs on the back of my neck rose, I got goosebumps and didn't want to go anywhere near the phone. But on with the story. Mark, my husband, called to tell me Denise was missing. Huh? He told me Nathan had arrived home from work to find Denise gone. Both boys were home (Noah 2, Adam 6mo) and in the same crib but not Denise. I immediately wanted to have Mark pick me up to take me to the house. (I didn't think I could drive, I was so shaken). My boss kept asking me "would she leave?" "is she like that?" And I kept think "NO!!!" It was incredible. Mark was already on the way to the house so I did have to drive. Oh, was I praying. Shaking. Calling people. Speeding. Oh, I was bad. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. Anyhow, I kept thinking. NO. Denise wouldn't leave. Then you start thinking.... Well, who knows what goes on in another person's marriage. Maybe she did leave. But it was still, NO! She worshiped the ground Nathan walked on and besides even if she hated Nathan (which she didn't) she would never have left the children.

I get to the house and it's totally surreal. Cops, helicopters, dogs, police tape. Nathan looking as if he's going through hell. (For those of you who don't know, I'm Nathan's mother). It was so heartbreaking watching him suffer and worry. I know I was in the way and he kept telling me I could leave but any mama bear knows you don't leave your young when they're in grave danger. And Nathan was a suspect. They always have to consider the spouse as a suspect. And I wasn't leaving. I tried my best not to hover. I tried my best to stay on the sideline. I tired my best to stay out of the way. But I wasn't going to leave him. He WAS MY BABY.

One thing that really bothered me about law enforcement that night. One of the Charlotte County officers (I won't mention his name) was almost flirting with me. I guess he was trying to make me comfortable. He was saying stuff like "your too young to be a grandmother........". He wasn't hitting on me, he was just annoying me with that talk. I tried to be gracious but..... it was just weird. Then later he kept wanting me to go over and distract and occupy Rick (Denise's father). He said "can't you distract him and talk to him for a while." As if Rick was in the way. I can't remember the exact words but he asked me to do that 3 or 4 times. I kept saying "Rick doesn't want me to do that" and "no, I can't".

Geez, my son's a suspect, my daughter-in-law is missing, I'm a wreck wondering if she could've left on her own, I'm thinking the unimaginable, knowing the worst and that just seemed bizarre to me. And I say I knew the worst because in my heart, I knew for a fact, Denise would never leave Nathan and the babies of her own free will.

Now this is where I'm going to have trouble separating the emotional parts of what we were experiencing as a family and what was going on at the sheriff's office.

I think I'm going to stick with my experiences first, at least, for that first night. Then tomorrow I'll get into what went on in the CCSO. And I'll alternate.

So, at the house we don't know what to do. All the babies clothes, bottles, diapers, sheets etc... were in the house. Of course, the house is sealed off because it's a crime scene. Earlier, Sue (Denise's mother) had taken the babies to her house. Nathan's being questioned. The North Port investigator was very kind. He needed to ask Nathan some horrific questions because he was a suspect but he also knew that he could possibly be a victim.

Then we get news that Denise was alive. That she was definitely abducted and that she made a 9-1-1 call from her captors cell phone where she stayed on the line 7 minutes. Poor poor Rick. He had to listen to it to verify it was indeed his daughter and not a prankster.

You wouldn't believe the nut cases that come out during these kinds of tragedies. It's awful.

so HOPE! She's alive. She's smart. She's still in North Port. She confirmed what we had been saying all along that she was taken against her will. Oh the beautiful brave baby. I'm in tears thinking of how smart she was.

Then another 2 hours go by and nothing. Nothing. No sign of her. Where'd they go? The police go to Michael King's house and no one is there. There's hair and duct tape but no persons.

Huh? We're all in disbelief.

Finally around 9 PM they tell Nate to go home. Rick stayed and assured Nate he'd call. But Nate needed to see the babies. So, I had to drive Nate home. It was awful. We were both numb. He kept saying "I hope he hasn't hurt her" because we're still thinking she's alive. We're stopped by a cop who shines a flashlight in our car. We don't tell him who we are but we're thinking "wow, their searching everybody". This is good. The exits on and off of I-75 are closed. We're thinking this is good.

But then the phone call at 9:15PM. We're almost home when Rick called Nate. Poor poor Nate. Rick says they found Michael King, they found the car, and they found her ring, but not Denise. This we know isn't good.

I was driving. Oh my. What do you do? Your son's life is being shattered before your eyes and there's not a damn thing you can do. Oh the hell.

So, I take Nate to Rick and Sue's to stay so he could be close to Rick and any news. He's broken up. It's more than any person can stand. The not knowing. The pain.

I picked up Noah and brought Noah home with me. Sue kept Adam.

At our house Mark had picked up his mother who was in the guest bedroom prostrate with grief and worry.

The boys didn't have any of their toys from home. The cops picked out some clothes from the house and threw them in a clothes basket. They sent them out of the house for the boys. In the basket were some of Denise's clothes and underwear (it was awful) and not one matching pair of socks for the babies. No stuffed animals, no favorite toys just mismatched clothes.

added edit: We had to go out and buy diapers, bottles, wipes, Binkys, clothes, socks, food, formula etc...... IMO that was bizarre. Thank goodness we had the money. This stuff's expensive. Imagine poor families who have lost loved ones to murder and they don't have an extra $150 to go out and start buying stuff. Plus, we're numb. It's midnight. And we have to go shopping at Wal-Mart? Poor Mark. He's the one that had to do that. He didn't know what he was shopping for. These are the things you don't think of. And all the while we're not knowing where Denise is.

Too surreal for words.

It was too sad to be a nightmare. There's no word to describe it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome to my world

oh my, this is something new. Tammy got me started on this and I believe it's a very good idea. It's been almost a year since we lost Denise and I best start writing.

As you know, this is an attempt to spell out some of the things that went wrong for Denise that night. Maybe by writing about them I'll be able to move on. To be honest, I don't really want to move on until some of the problems are addressed and fixed. Nathan is tackling the nation and trying his best to bring about 9-1-1 standards across the country. That's a pretty big dragon. We believe that most of the 9-1-1 centers are probably doing an acceptional job. But many are not. We'd like to raise the standards of those that are not.

Mark and I have been trying to tackle our local sheriff's department. We're trying to bring light to our own issues in our own back yard. We truly believe that even though they didn't pull the trigger, what they did and didn't do directly led to her death.

John Davenport and Bill Cameron would prefer that we just go away. But we're not. We're going to try every medium possible to expose the problems. John Davenport says it was a "missed opportunity" and "by doing too much, we did too little". Well it's a lot more complicated than that. Bill Cameron said "we have excellent dispatchers" and "no issues in our 9-1-1 center" on his campaign trail to sheriff. He's since been elected. If he truly believes that and was being what he thought was honest then perhaps he'll read this blog and have his eyes opened. But then he was in charge that night so truly, he should know better.

I guess I sound very angry. And that would be true, I am. But I'm also very sane and very sensible. I can forgive human error. But this goes beyond that.

Welcome to my world. And this truly has taken over our world outside our family. Our family was very close and tightly knit before this happened. We've come together and are even more tightly knit now. Our world mostly revolves around our family. Especially the babies, Noah and Adam. They come first. But anything extraneous in our world now revolves around this.

We can't do much about the perpetrator who is behind bars. But we can tell Denise's story. And we can tell our story which has been a story of grief. And we can tell of our frustrations with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

Let me make this clear. This isn't an indictment against the entire CCSO force. They have been wonderful. They were right there along side Nate when we were searching. The majority of the men and women working for the sheriff's office have been nothing but kind. It has only been a select few who have disgraced, in our opinion, their CCSO family by the way the treated our family, this incident and the subsequent occurrences since the incident.

We have nothing against the men and women who put their lives on the line daily for us.