Posts Tagged ‘crime’

By Jane Ridley

Four years ago, Lillyth Quillan cowered behind a padlocked door as her teenage son, taller and stronger than she is, paced back and forth in a rage.

Suddenly he went quiet. “Don’t let me hurt you, Mom,” he said, his voice sounding chillingly calm.

It was the first time the high school freshman had used that particular tone, but he continued to deploy it as he menaced his mom and dad.

“He used the kind of language of abusive husbands — manipulating and controlling,” says Quillan, who had installed locks on every door in her house except her son’s bedroom. “I was terrified of what he was going to do next.”

The boy — whom Quillan chooses to call Kevin in her interview with The Post in reference to the unnerving Lionel Shriver novel “We Need To Talk About Kevin” about a school shooter in upstate New York — was out of control.

After years of cruel and violent behavior plus multiple suspensions and expulsions from school, psychiatrists finally diagnosed the then-14-year-old Kevin with “conduct disorder,” which, in its most extreme form, can be a precursor to psychopathy.

Psychopathy, which is often used interchangeably with the term sociopathy, is believed to affect 1 percent of adults. Key attributes that sociopaths and psychopaths have in common include a disregard for laws, social mores and the rights of others, a failure to feel remorse or guilt and, in some but not all cases, a tendency to violence.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) dictates that people under the age of 18 cannot be labelled psychopaths. However, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association decided to include the condition “conduct disorder with callous and unemotional traits” for children ages 12 and over.

According to a 2001 report published in the journal American Family Physician, approximately 6 to 16 percent of boys and 2 to 9 percent of girls meet the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder — only a fraction of which have the “callous and unemotional” label that can potentially lead to psychopathy in adulthood.

More than 50 studies have found that kids with the latter diagnosis are more likely to become criminals or display aggressive, psychopathic traits later in life. It has been reported that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who allegedly shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month showed classic signs of the disorder as a child, including abusing animals.

“Psychopaths don’t just appear when they are 20. They are always different from an early age,” Kent Kiehl, a psychology professor at the University of New Mexico and the author of “The Psychopath Whisperer,” tells The Post.

Characteristics to look for — as detailed in the widely used Hare Psychopathy Checklist Youth Version considered by clinicians and researchers to be the “gold standard” in assessing psychopathy — include lack of empathy, lack of guilt and regret, pathological lying, grandiose self-worth and failure to accept responsibility for actions such as fighting and bullying.

“Individuals who score high on those traits are more likely to produce further violence,” adds Kiehl. “If they are sanctioned but continue on the same path, it’s not a perfect indicator, but it’s enough to cause concern.”

Kiehl notes that research has shown that psychopathy is hereditary roughly half of the time. But his own breakthrough was the discovery that the psychopathic brain has a different structure than a “normal” one.

In 2014, he conducted a major study that found at least two abnormalities in the brains of adult psychopaths. There was a lack of gray matter in the section involved in processing emotions, while the area that reacts to excitement and thrills is overactive. Although the research has not been carried out yet, the pattern is likely to also occur in the brains of “callous and unemotional” children. “Brain science has helped us understand what is different about these kids,” adds Kiehl.

At the moment, there is no such thing as a “cure” for psychopathy or conduct disorder. But early intervention can be key for harm reduction, even with children as young as 2 or 3.

Paul Frick, a psychology professor at Louisiana State University and the author of “Conduct Disorder and Severe Antisocial Behavior,” recommends a range of therapies, most of which revolve around rewards systems rather than punishments.

“There are so-called ‘emotion coaching’ techniques that parents and therapists can employ to help children pay attention to the feelings of others,” he explains. “We find that they miss the cues that another child is upset.

“By saying: ‘Can you see how Johnny is feeling?’ [when a toy is snatched from him] and getting them to respond correctly, you can motivate them. You give them a star or a sticker as an incentive.

“Even though it doesn’t come naturally to them, they can learn others’ perspectives.”

Experts can identify a callous and unemotional child when they are as young as 3 or 4. Faced with a crying peer, typically developing children either try to comfort them or take flight. But those with the mental condition remain in place, showing apathy and coldness.

Remarkably, the psychology department at King’s College London has been able to trace the characteristics back to infancy. They tested more than 200 babies at 5 months old, tracking whether they preferred looking at a person’s face or at a red ball. The tots who favored the ball displayed more callous traits two and a half years later.

For Quillan, hindsight is 20/20, but she distinctly recalls the first signs that Kevin had behavioral issues at the age of just 8 months.

“He had teeth and would bite me while he was breast-feeding and he would laugh. He thought it was hilarious. I tried looking very sad and mimicking crying to show it was hurting me, but he would only laugh,” says Quillan, who ended up having to put him on formula.

“It didn’t occur to me until much later that this was a child for whom the amusement of my reaction when he bit me was a greater reward than food.”

Now 18, Kevin, who has had numerous run-ins with police, including for shoplifting, was made a ward of state and no longer lives with his parents. He lives in a residential school for “at-risk” youth in California, where he is on a waiting list to receive treatment, such as therapy, to build empathy.

“Because there is no real treatment for conduct disorder. All you can do is wait for your child to be arrested and enter the juvenile system and hope they get better,” says his 40-year-old homemaker mom.

“Luckily, Kevin is no longer violent and is actually cooperative.”

He is doing so well that he is about to receive his high school diploma, recently won an award for wrestling and has encouraged his mother to tell his story.

Now Quillian, who has no other kids, is focusing on advocacy and encouraging parents facing similar nightmares to hers. Three years ago, she formed a support group for families with kids with CD that has 420 members worldwide. More recently, she launched the Society for Treatment Options for Potential Psychopaths to bring awareness and to campaign for treatment for these children before they cause serious harm.

Adds Quillan: “As every news article came out about Parkland and Nikolas Cruz, I thought: ‘My God, this could easily be one of our kids.’”


George Dore, a librarian in Orlando, Florida was suspended from his position as branch manager after an investigation revealed that he had created a fake identity to borrow library books that were falling out of fashion. His creation, the fictional Charles Finley, was given a career (ballplayer), a drivers license number, an address and a voracious appetite for reading. He was also endowed with a wide-ranging taste in literature.

Basically, Dore was gaming the system. Finley’s reading marathon was engineered to inflate the library’s data, tricking its algorithm by creating the appearance of popularity for books that were not being borrowed much. (Culling books that have not been read for a long time is a common practice at libraries.)

Finley borrowed more than 2,300 books over the course of 2015, increasing circulation at East Lake County branch by 3.9%. He was also a super-fast reader, checking books in and out within an hour. Nine months into Finley’s reading marathon, his speed-reading led to suspicion and an investigation, which began in November 2015.

The notion of rebel bibliophiles breaking the law to save books is undeniably charming to book lovers. But actually, the librarian is alleged to have committed fraud and authorities in Florida are not impressed. The inspector general’s report on Dore states that creation of a fake library card “amounts to the creation of a false public record.”

Dore was recommended for termination and put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He says he was just trying to save the library time and money, as books that are not borrowed are deemed irrelevant by the software that the local library system uses to track circulation and taken off the shelves. Then they are often repurchased again later.

But there are several twists to this story. Circulation can influence annual funding. Nine city-run libraries in Lake country receive nearly $1 million based on circulation. Chuck Finley’s prolific reading not only made East Lake Country library books seem more popular, it cast doubt on whether other libraries were involved in similar book-checkout schemes. A county-wide audit is underway

Jeff Cole, director of the Lake County Public Resources Department that oversees library services, wouldn’t comment on whether other libraries were involved but he told the Orlando Sentinel, “I think we’d have to evaluate it if the [allegations] bear out.”

Meanwhile, Dore’s library was not among the nine receiving money from the County so funding was not an incentive. He says his aim was actually to save the library money in the long run, by not having to repurchase books which often go in and out of fashion with readers. One of Finley’s choices, for instance, was John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”

If Dore is to be believed, he’s not the only renegade librarian fighting the algorithms. His colleague, library assistant Scott Amey, who helped dream up their fictional reader was reprimanded for being part of the scheme. And Dore told investigators that gaming the system with “dummy cards” is common, noting, “There was a lot of bad blood between the libraries because of money wars.”

A librarian in Florida went rogue to save 2,361 books from an algorithm

Thanks to Tracy Lindley for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.


San Bernardino, CA – An armed man who entered an adult-themed store Wednesday and demanded cash was chased off by two employees who lobbed sex toys at him in a bizarre confrontation that was caught on camera.
The man can be seen pacing around outside Lotions and Lace, which bills itself as San Bernardino’s “One Stop Sex Shop,” before pulling a hood over his head and entering the store. He marched toward the cashier’s counter with gun drawn, but two women working the late shift refused to back down.

Instead, they began yelling at the man and throwing sex toys at him.
“It blew me away,” said store owner Janel Hargreaves. “I initially walked in and see all these toys all over the store, and I say, ‘Did you throw these at him?’ They’re launching them all the way from the cash register all the way up to the front door. It just blew me away that they took it into their own hands.”

Hargreaves said the employees thought the gun might be fake, but added employees are encouraged to avoid any type of confrontation.
The man demanded cash, but left with nothing under the barrage of adult merchandise. One of the sex toys appeared to sail just over his head, but a second struck him in the upper body.
Cameras showed the robber walking out with his back turned to employees, but not before they tossed a third toy that rolled on the floor near the robber’s feet as he left.
“I told the girls it was not a good idea,” she said. “But nope, they took it one step further.

“I think they felt violated. Away from home, this is their home. The message is get out, we’re not going to stand for it.”
No arrests were reported.

Thanks to Michael Moore for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.


A woman who was recently released from prison in Oregon robbed a bank in Wyoming only to throw the cash up in the air outside the building and sit down to wait for police, authorities said Friday.

Investigators say 59-year-old Linda Patricia Thompson told them she wanted to go back to prison.

Thompson said she had suffered facial fractures after strangers beat her at a Cheyenne park last weekend.

She said she couldn’t get a room at a homeless shelter and decided to rob the bank Wednesday because she could no longer stay on the streets, court records say.

She faces a detention hearing Tuesday on a bank robbery charge and doesn’t have an attorney yet.

FBI Special Agent Tory Smith said in court documents that Thompson entered a US Bank branch in Cheyenne and handed a teller a cardboard note that said, “I have a gun. Give me all your money.”

The teller turned over thousands of dollars.

Outside, Thompson threw money into the air and even offered some to people passing by, Smith stated. He added that Cheyenne police Lt. Nathan Busek said he found Thompson with a large sum of money when he arrived at the bank.

“Lt. Busek asked Thompson what was going on, and Thompson replied, ‘I just robbed the bank, I want to go back to prison,'” Smith wrote.

Thompson had been serving time at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon, for a second-degree robbery conviction in Union County until her release in June, Betty Bernt, communications manager with the Oregon Department of Corrections, said Friday.

Thompson told investigators then that she didn’t want to be released and advised the Oregon state parole office that she would not do well on parole.


By Peter Holley

For more than two decades, Terry Jude Symansky appeared to lead an ordinary life in Pasco County, Fla.

He had a wife and a teenage son, owned property, and “worked odd jobs,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The only problem, police say, was that Terry Jude Symansky was not really Terry Jude Symansky. He was actually an Indiana man named Richard Hoagland who vanished 25 years ago and has been considered dead since 2003, the paper reported.

The lie lasted more than two decades. In the end, a single online search was all it took for the ruse to unravel.

The truth began to surface when a nephew of the real Terry Symansky — who drowned in 1991 at age 33 — started an family search, according to ABC affiliate WFLA. Knowing that his uncle was dead, the nephew was surprised to find someone with the same name living in central Florida.

“He looks up his real uncle Terry Symansky and realizes that he died in 1991, which the family knew,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told the station. “He then starts scrolling down the page and sees more details that Terry Symanksy was remarried in 1995. He owns property in Pasco County, Florida.”

Fearing that their fake relative might try to harm them, family members waited three years before eventually contacting authorities in April, police told the Tampa Bay Times.

Hoagland, 63, was arrested Wednesday and charged with fraudulent use of personal identification, the paper reported.

How exactly Hoagland came to assume the identity of Terry Symansky — who moved to Florida from Cleveland to work as a commercial fisherman — remains a complicated mystery.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that investigators suspect it occurred as follows:

Deputies think Hoagland stole Terry Symansky’s identity like this: Hoagland once lived with Terry Symansky’s father in Palm Beach. Hoagland found a copy of Terry Symansky’s 1991 death certificate and used it to obtain a birth certificate from Ohio. With the birth certificate in hand, he then applied by mail for an Alabama driver’s license and used that to obtain a Florida driver’s license. That’s how deputies think Hoagland came to spend more than two decades living in Florida as Terry Symansky.

As Terry Symansky, he married Mary Hossler Hickman in 1995. The couple lived in Zephyrhills. He also fashioned a medical card to obtain a private pilot’s license as Terry Symansky from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Before he began the process of assuming a new identity, Hoagland left his old life — which included a wife and four children — behind in Indiana, according to Bay News 9. His former wife in Indiana told police that Hoagland had three businesses related to insurance.

She told investigators that Hoagland told her in the early 1990s that he was wanted by the FBI for embezzling millions of dollars and had no choice but to leave town, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In reality, police told the paper, Hoagland told investigators that he left Indiana to get away from his wife.

Eventually, the paper reported, Hoagland’s wife assumed her husband was dead.

“This is a selfish coward,” Nocco said. “This is a person who has lived his life destroying others.”

Gerry Beyer, a law professor at Texas Tech University who studies identity theft, told the Tampa Bay Times that Hoagland’s alleged actions are unusual because most identity thieves steal people’s names to commit crimes.

He told the paper that the fact that the real Symansky never married or had children made him a “perfect” candidate for identity theft.

Yet, he noted, Hoagland’s ability to maintain the lie for more than two decades was shocking. It was a lie that was probably made easier, Beyer said, because it began before digital records were commonplace.

“You just never know,” Beyer told the paper. “It will all catch up with you.”

Hoagland’s Florida tenants told Bay News 9 that they were shocked that their landlord was not who he said he was.

“We’ve been personal with him quite a bit, and Terry’s the nicest guy anyone could ever meet,” Gregory Yates told the station.

“He’s a really nice guy, and he’s a really good landlord,” Dean Lockwood, another tenant, said. “Never would have known this, couldn’t imagine this was happening.”

Perhaps most damaged by Hoagland’s hoax, police said, was his wife in Florida, who learned about her husband’s alleged crimes only when detectives showed up at her door last week.

“For 20 years, she’s been lied to, so now she doesn’t know what she has to do as far as whether her marriage is even legal — what’s going to happen to all the properties they own, their bank accounts,” Detective Anthony Cardillo told Bay News 9. “The son has the last name Symansky.”


Arapahoe County prosecutors on Wednesday, July 13, cleared a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy in an off-duty shooting stemming from an attempted robbery in January.

Deputy Jose Marquez was shot in the shoulder and abdomen during the Jan. 26 attempted robbery in an apartment parking lot on East Adriatic Drive near Rangeview High School.

One of the suspects fled the scene and has not been identified. The other, Jhalil Meshesha, was wounded in the leg and later arrested, prosecutors said.

In a letter to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said Marquez, who was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the robbery, acted appropriately.

“Deputy Marquez reasonably believed that his life was in danger and acted reasonably in shooting Meshesha, and that he used an appropriate level of physical force. I further find that Deputy Marquez’s actions were justified and he did not violate Colorado law,” the letter said.

Marquez told police he was visiting his girlfriend at her apartment when he went outside to grab something from his car. As he walked back, he saw two young men with masks on their face. One of the men told him to “give it up,” Marquez said, and pulled out a pistol.

Marquez said the two men fired first and he returned fire.

One of Marquez’s bullets struck Meshesha’s pistol, traveling straight down that gun’s barrel and disabling it. Police called the shot “one in a billion.”


German police say they’ve arrested an 18-year-old man who was wanted for evading a prison sentence after he ventured out to play the newly launched “Pokemon Go” smartphone game with friends.

Police in Trier, on Germany’s western border, said the group’s “peculiar behavior” as they played the game in the city on Friday prompted officers to check their papers.

The 18-year-old initially gave a false identity but police quickly established that there was an arrest warrant out for him. He was detained and is now serving a six-month prison sentence he had previously avoided serving — police wouldn’t specify for what.