Coroner seeks ID of John Doe found dead in the Rio Hondo Wash

1003_NWS_WDN-L-JOHNDOE2This comes from a Department of Coroner press release issued Wednesday morning:

The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is seeking the public’s help with the identification of an unidentified male.
On July 31, 2013 at approximately 11:00 A.M., human skeletal remains were found along the Rio Hondo Riverbed bike path near Lincoln Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard in Montebello, CA. The remains were determined to be a White or Hispanic male with an age range between 35 and 55 years of age. He has a partial denture at the back of his lower right jaw. No wallet or other identifying papers were found with him or in the surrounding area.

There’s two sketches included with the press release. This is the one that’s most telling.

Know who it is? Call the LA County Coroner at 323-343-0714.

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New blood spatter technology being developed at L.A. crime lab

While working on an unrelated story Sunday at the L.A. Regional Crime Lab, located on the CSULA campus, I got a glimpse of an interesting, cutting-edge development in crime scene investigation. As Forensic Science Professor Donald Johnson explained, scientists at the lab are developing a technique which allows them to glean additional evidence from crime scene blood stains.
In short, the technique analyzes blood samples to detect tiny, invisible-to-the-naked-eye traces of organ tissue that let the investigator know what type of wound made the stain. For example, if the process detects traces of brain cells in a blood stain, it can be concluded the stain was created by an injury to the head. Traces of lung or heart tissue detected in the blood would indicate a chest wound.
This never-before-available information may one day become valuable evidence in court.
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Crime fighting germs

This from Sandra Tsing Loh at KPCC’s Loh Down on Science:

University of Colorado found that the collection of 150 or so microbe species living on a person’s hand are different from the germs on any other hand. Our germs, like fingerprints or DNA, are a form of ID.

The scientists recently lifted bacterial colonies from computer keyboards used by one volunteer from a group. After comparing the germy DNA to the germy DNA of everyone in the group, the researchers identified the computer’s user.

It’s like Clue!

When the researchers compared their samples to the Human Skin Microbiome project – a big database of people and germs? The positive-ID held up. They could still finger their suspects.

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Thursday’s column

There’s no margin in cop killing.

Just ask members of the Avenues gang, affiliates of the Mexican Mafia, who got rolled Tuesday up by the LAPD, the FBI and an alphabet soup of local, county and federal law enforcement agencies.

It stemmed from the Aug. 2, 2008 killing of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Escalante. A guard in the county jail, Escalante was gunned down in front of his parents’ home in the Cypress Park neighborhood just northeast of downtown.

Cops have charged three affiliates of the gang with the killing, and are seeking a fourth. The arrests didn’t keep the LAPD and the feds from using every weapon at their disposal to crack the Avenues’ hierarchy, many of who happen to be incarcerated.

The list of crimes detailed in the 222-page federal indictment includes murder, robbery, witness intimidation, money laundering, weapons possession and dealing drugs like crack and speed.

| Link: Copy of Avenues Indictment

It could put some of these guys away for life in federal prisons away from the corrupting influence of county jail and state prison.

If the indictment is any indication, members of the gang don’t fear police. They don’t fear the prisons and certainly don’t fear Joe Citizen.

Among their mottos is “Avenidas don’t get chased by police, we chase them.”

Another motto, “Avenidas don’t just hurt people, we kill them.”

As for those named in the indictment, several have had federal cases before, including Alex “Pee Wee” Aguirre, who was a defendant in a large scale case against the Mexican Mafia brought by the feds in 1995.

Some of the acts mentioned in the federal indictment unsealed Tuesday were chronicled as far back as 1999.

Much of the new case appears to have been made with wiretaps. Men and women were captured on tape discussing things as mundane as where they should live or as sinister as creating lists of who should be killed.

A lot of it was done by tapping the cell phone of Richie Aguirre who was doing time in Kern Valley State Prison, but was able to smuggle in a phone nonetheless.

As such, gangsters aren’t the only ones to have to answer for what appears in the indictment.

Gun control advocates should explain how exactly gun control works. Gang members seem to have an endless supply of what are essentilly illegal semi-automatic assault weapons at their disposal.

State and local law enforcement officials have to do some serious soul searching as well.

Sheriff Lee Baca for one should explain how it is that drug smuggling is occurring in the county jails.

State prison officials should explain how the Mexican Mafia is allowed to hold executive level discussions while incarcerated. They might also want to explain how drugs and cell phones get past the screws and into the joint.

These are the same prison guards that nearly bankrupt this state with their outrageous pay, benefits and retirement plans. These are the same prison guards who look the other way when racial tensions flare and prison riots break out.

How much do you want to bet none of this Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or whatever political apointee heads up the state prison system?

Guys like defendant Richie Aguirre know the real score when it comes to state prison guards. During one wiretapped conversation he advises a young woman to stay out of the profession.

“Aguirre told an unidentified female that she should not become a prison guard because they become corrupt and are used to smuggle narcotics into the prison for the inmates.”

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Thursday’s column (Hot dog warnings)

Lunchtime Wednesday.

Cars crowd the parking lot of 7-Eleven at the corner of Pacific and Puente avenues in Baldwin Park. Outside it’s hot. Probably 95 and getting hotter.

Inside, El Monte resident Tony Garcia buys a hot dog and smothers it with relish, mustard and onions.

About 21 other Oscar Meyer meat products rotate slowly on the grill, beckoning the hungry.

Far away in New Jersey, The Cancer Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit vegan group has been making news with its class action lawsuit demanding hot dogs come with warning labels:

“Warning: Consuming Hot Dogs and Other Processed Meats Increases the Risk of Cancer.”

The lawyers want $2,700 for each of their clients to cover damages and attorney fees. That’s some serious lunch money.

“We believe that the consumers should be informed. The plaintiffs feel burned,” notes Jeanne Stuart McVey, a spokeswoman for the group. “They thought hot dogs were safe. They learned they were wrong.”

The defendants in the suit include wieners, dogs and two types of frankfurters.

Brats, kielbasa, andouille, Italian sweets, Slim Jims and foot-long Dodger dogs are apparently unnamed co-conspirators and don’t figure in the case.

Neither does liverwurst, pastrami, bologna or bacon.

Good thing they didn’t find a way to include chicken Top Ramen either, because in my house that list would cover the four basic food groups.

McVey said the case rests on science. Specifically she said the suit cites from 58 studies that link processed meats, like hot dogs, to cancer.

But those studies probably didn’t take into account anyone who bought hot dogs during the past four weeks at the Baldwin Park 7-Eleven.

Just ask Mohan Kamthasamy, who has sold 2,020 “Big Bites” since June 24. Those sales far outweigh the 1,096 purchases of nacho chips, chicken and steak taquitos, pizzas and cheeseburger rolls during the same time frame.

And there’s a good reason for it, that goes well beyond the “A” rating bestowed on Kamthasamy’s store by the county Health Department.

“Everybody wants fast food,” Kamthasamy said. “We’ve never had a problem with people getting sick.

“And, everyone likes hot dogs. School kids, professional people, gardeners, they want to get something to take. And, it’s cheap too. You cannot beat the price.”

Kamthasamy sells a Big Bite, a bag of chips and a pop for $2.99.

Garcia estimates he buys three hot dogs a week from 7-Eleven. And, that estimate doesn’t include the number of times he takes a young relative to the convenience store for a dog after school.

“He loves it,” Garcia said.

Having eaten my share of Oscar Meyer hot dogs from 7-Elevens around the country, often washed down with a beer and a cigarette, I can say with confidence that warning labels are a waste of time.


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Tuesday’s column (Barack Worthington)

Given the fact that the U.S. government just got a 60 percent in General Motors, my guess is that it’s only a matter of time until we see this commercial on late night television:

Announcer:Here’s Barack Worthington and his dog Spot!

Background singers:

If you need a bailout go see Barack.

When you want some easy money go see Barack.

When your corporate bonds are junk,

Cause your owners’ spend like drunks

Go see Barack, go see Barack, go see Barack.

Cut to Barack.

He’s wearing an oversized Cowboy hat, a big, sterling silver belt buckle and smiling way too much. Standing next to Barack is a leashed-and-drooling, buck-toothed, braying donkey.

Barack: Our goal is to help GM get back on its feet … and get out quickly.

Some said a quick bankruptcy was impossible … they were wrong.

Some unnamed critics predicted car sales would fall off a cliff and they were wrong.

Spot breaks from his leash and proceeds to jump up and down on the hood of a 2009 Pontiac GTO.

Barack (laughs) : Hey now Spot, don’t go trashing all this fine surplus merchandise.

(He jerks Spot’s leash. Now speaking through clenched teeth and in a serious, whispered tone): We gotta move these heaps quick. I just put another $30 billion in this junk pile and…

(Smile comes back, Barack turns to camera, begins to speak fast):

Let me tell you good folks about the deals we have this week at Barack Worthington’s Government Motors:

Here’s a 2009 Chivy Suburban. Looks nice, runs great, gets 14 miles per gallon on them city streets and 19 on our government-owned highways.

You better hurry. We’ll be going green next year and you might never get another full-sized utility vehicle like this ever again.

Call us collect. You already bought and paid for this fine vehicle when you sent your taxes in this April. So why not pay for it again?

It’s the American thing to do.

Barack winds up his pitch, The music returns.

Barack just grins and holds tightly to Spot’s leash.

Fine print appears at the bottom of the screen:

Bailout of GM not subject to public discussion. Taxpayers will be lucky if the government ever gets paid back. Don’t expect any relief on California Vehicle License Fees either. Any similarities between Obama Administration fiscal strategies and Soviet-style economic policy are merely a figment of your imagination.

If we can’t feed the poor, fix the highways, mend the prisons, solve the immigration problem, lower the trade deficit, tighten up the banks, improve the real estate market, end the medical care crisis, or make affordable public transportation available, don’t hold your breath for the U.S. Government or its assignees to honor your warranty either.

Your mileage may vary.

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Tuesday’s column (Memorial Day)

Memorial Day got me to thinking about my grandfather Roy Hebert.

He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and earned a living as a journeyman glassblower in Ontario, Canada. Perhaps seeking adventure, as a 17-year-old he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army.

A few months later he was on the front lines in Belgium, fighting in Passchendaele, where the Allies ultimately took 300,000 casualties.

My grandpa was among the wounded. He spent more than a year in a British hospital.

While there, he wrote this six-page letter to my grandmother on stationery emblazoned with the Canadian flag. To me it’s a reminder of why it’s so important to honor our troops for the sacrifices they make:

April 3/18

Dear Friend,

Well Myrtle you asked me if I could tell you about my experience so I’ll try to tell you a little of it. You know if I were to tell all, I’d be writing for a month or so.

I’ll tell you about the Passchendaele scrap in Nov. 1917. Just before we went up to Ypres which was our horse lines we had a few week preparation in a place called bastric. We got to our horse lines about four p.m. and at 7 p.m. half of our boys had to go up to the front line (two) of them being (brothers) and they just got a few hundred yards when (one) got both of his legs blown off and and the other wounds about the body which I witnessed on the morrow when I went up top to bring them their rations. On the third day we, the other half, went up to the front line and took our positions on the left side of the village at the back of it as we had not captured the village as yet.

At 6 a.m. the next morning the barrage was to start so we fixed a few shell holes in a hurry. We pulled a few dead Fritzies in the holes to keep dry. Then got the machine guns ready. At 6:30 a.m on Nov. 6, the day of the battle, he put up a barrage on us and I’ll bet in a half hour of time there wasn’t a square yard of ground that wasn’t freshly turned over by shells.

At 6 a.m. we put up our barrage and the infantry went over the top and captured the village. After they captured it they were relieved but we had to stay and hold the line for nine days after which is the worst part of the battle. We were shelled continuously besides aeroplanes firing at us with machine guns and dropping bombs on us. But the good Man was with us for there was five duds, 9.6s, which came in our emplacement one right after the other. All I got in all that time was a slight wound on the right hip and a scratch on the back of the left hand when a big piece of shrapnel to the protector glanced off my wrist watch, beside being buried by a shell one night.

Then for a rest we came out of the line on the 10th day and pulled ourselves along in the mud from Passchendaele to Ypres, which is about six miles. We had a few hours sleep then the next morning we started on a five day march from Ypres to Mericourt.

Just before we started, while we were waiting ,Jerry dropped a bomb out of a plane into a shell hole with about five dead mules in it and half full of green water which was about 20 feet from where I was standing. It buried and covered me in rotten mule flesh and water also mud. But the mules were all that saved me and many others …

As tea is on the way, I’ll close hoping to hear from you soon and often. I am as ever. Yours truly,


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Thursday’s column (Calling Gov. Arnold’s bluff)

In your face Governor Musclehead.

You tried to hold the state hostage by putting a gun to our heads and threatening us with dire consequences if your budget plan didn’t pass.

It didn’t. Now it’s up to you and your dysfunctional cronies in Sacramento to fix California. The sad thing is that none of you have the political skill to pull the state out of the mess it’s in.

Here are some suggestions from me, an average voter, living an average life in an average California suburb.

Don’t threaten to release the dregs of the state’s prison population into our streets. Instead renegotiate contracts with the prison guards. If they don’t want to work, fire them. There’s plenty of out-of-work Californians who would would relish any sort of job that would permit them to take care of their families.

No doubt many are qualified to work as prison guards.

Move on from there by throwing the special interest lobbies out of the Capitol – get the money changers out of the temple now.

Then, give back the cash you’ve stolen from local governments and let the people decide how best to spend their own money in their own neighborhoods.

Also, privatize useless bureaucracies like the state lottery. Contract out to the lowest bidder all maintenance, engineering and testing work done by Caltrans.

Force school districts to cut back on bloated administrations that include $100,000-salaried assistant superintendents. Get rid of mandates that force teachers to teach to the test instead of teaching to the natural abilities of their students.

Eliminate stupid multi-million dollar scams like the California Air Resources Board’s plan to force gas station owners to check tire pressures using a state-approved gauge.

Don’t believe there’s such a thing?

Check out what the Redding Searchlight wrote back on March 28:

“The air board passed new rules governing tire inflation. They require oil-change shops, smog stations and auto mechanics to check and properly inflate the tires of each vehicle they service, using state-authorized gauges and up-to-date manuals, and to keep records available for inspection by the tire-inflation police.”


And you, Governor Musclehead, had the nerve to blame California voters for the mess we are in ???

Clearly your campaign was the equivalent of cutting out individual letters from newspaper and magazine articles and pasting them on a yellowed piece of lined paper.

“PAy uP NOW or YOUr staTe DiEs!”

If we don’t negotiate with terrorists in this country, why the hell would we give in to your demands?

Nice try. Use the remaining 18 months of your term to fix this state. If you can’t do that, then get back to Hollywood now, perhaps you can pair up with Danny DeVito for Twins II.

After all, as your character Julius Benedict said in the original, “If you choose to bluff, you must be prepared to have the bluff called.”

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