I Am My Own Worst Enemy

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I scroll through social media often, probably too much honestly. During 2019 it often made me more depressed than I already was seeing all the positive things happening to my friends. Yes, I know of impostor syndrome and I know people rarely like to post about negative aspects of their lives, but these positives were too much for me to bear. I felt happy that my friends had great things going on in their lives albeit new babies, new jobs, exciting vacations. Then I would turn inward and repeatedly tell myself how horrible I was and that I haven’t accomplished nearly what I thought I would. Because…

I am my own worst enemy!

We all are. Most of us tell ourselves we can do better. Just strive harder, work longer, sleep less to have more time to do more stuff. The one major addition to this is the two (yes two!) episodes of major depressive disorder I was going through in the majority of 2019 (I swear there were maybe 3 months I was my typical self). Because of this stagnant disorder, I kept repeating the horrible thoughts about myself and the lack of things I succeeded in fulfilling that whole year.

It wasn’t enough that I was successful at my job. It wasn’t enough that my husband and daughter were happy and healthy. It wasn’t enough that I spoke with the school superintendent concerning mental health awareness with our youth. It wasn’t enough that due to the latter, the schools have actively been creating more awareness through round table meetings and district meetings. It wasn’t enough that I had two amazing events surrounding my book.

I just wasn’t enough. Because I am my own worst enemy.

2020 started off with me coming to the realization that I had to leave my major depressive episodes behind. I had to be the change. I gave myself a chance to look at life with a new perspective and with an exception of a couple of days, I have been a content and determined woman. I am deeply adamant to not take up residence with major depressive disorder this year.

And then I scrolled through my social media accounts. I noticed several of my friends amazing activities. One just completed a marathon in Disney world. Another had images of almost daily breathtaking hikes. And a third was showing off the muscles they have gotten due to the gym routine they started last year. And me… what did I have to show off my former strength?! That’s right… Nothing!

I have gone to the gym two times since the new year. I went on several dog walks with my mush, Princess. This time, unlike all of 2019, I had an epiphany. The only one who was stopping me from regaining the stable and strong version of myself was me. As hard as it will be, I need to motivate myself to head to the gym, to hike, and to (hopefully) snowshoe. I need to stop make excuses… I’m too tired, I don’t feel well, I’ll start next week (or month, or year). I was never going to be strong if I didn’t even try.

It will be difficult. I had a whole year of making excuses. A year filled with lack of hunger and mobility. But I have to at least give myself a chance, right?! I have to stop being my own worst enemy because if I stay this way, I won’t ever become stable. I know from past experience how much exercise helps my mental well-being. I feel strong after a good strength training session and I feel so rejuvenated after a long hike or snowshoe excursion. I guess this time I have to keep reminding myself how I feel after and that may be all the motivation I need.

I will always be my own worse enemy, but maybe, just maybe, this year I could be accepting of who I am and become my own friend. I deserve to feel better. I deserve to be stable. I deserve to be happy.

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2019, The Year and The Decade

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2019, I can’t say that I am not happy to see you go. I spent most of you in a chronic depressive state. Riding a roller coaster to the point of  my depression becoming cyclical but not quite bipolar. You taught me about self-harm, the urge to see myself in pain, to control something in my life, to feel some sort of emotion. You brought me death of someone close to me, death of my book and its publishing company. You made me lose myself again and again. You turned me into a weak being so unsure if my strength would ever return.

But, 2019, I can’t say all of you was bad. I did two book signings and with that made a good group of friends with other authors. One night together in May and we became so connected that we still chat almost daily. You gave me Princess, the sweetest rescue dog who has brought me so much solace and love. You sent me to California, albeit via a stressful project. I got to see the desert of southern CA including pieces of Joshua Tree National Park. You brought me to some beautiful trails in Vermont. I can definitely say I saw many beautiful things in nature this year.

And your decade, 2019. So much has occurred from 2010 to now. I went through my hardest, deepest episodes of depression. I almost had a son. I loved this boy from the moment I met him and there is still a piece of my heart that is his. You sent me to the short term psych ward in the hospital once again. A place that both scares me and helps me. You introduced me to EMDR therapy, a therapy that saved my life after the grief of having to return my boy to DCF due to my failing mental health. You rewarded me with a new job that gives me the opportunity to travel to places I have never been… Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and areas of California. You were the decade of my 30s, my decade of learning.

Now I need to turn my attention to 2020, and the decade that will be my 40s. I bid you farewell 2019. My aim will be to try not to look back. I am determined to make your successor the year of strength. I am not going to make excuses anymore and live in your shadow.

I woke up this morning a little giddy. Excited that you will be gone in less than 24 hours. That I can take my life back, take me back from the spiraling depression you put me in. I will return to the gym. I will eat correctly again (heck, I’ll eat again). I will take back what is rightfully mine. I will focus on my mental health, taking inventory of what I need and exploring other therapies, other medications. I will welcome 40 with open arms in February, living it up with friends and family (trying new craft beers, yum!). I will get back to my blog, back to True Crime Tuesdays, back to possibly republishing Rising From the Ashes.

And this decade coming up… there is so much that will happen. My baby girl will graduate middle school in 2020, high school in 2024 and most likely college all in the next ten years. There is a chance I will see her get married toward the end of the decade. There will be many more trips to see places & things I never have, like the redwoods of northern CA and the cheese state of Wisconsin. I will continue to write, focusing on the other books that have be swirling around in my head. Maybe I will become a peer specialist, just a plethora of possibilities.

There is so much that I can make happen, and for the first time in a long while, I am excited!

Adios 2019! Sayonara 2010-2019! Good-bye 30s!

Welcome 2020, my 40s, my time to bring me back!

“Reflection”

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When I used to look into the mirror,

I saw a happy, sunshine smile, confidence, compassion and empathy,

Colossal amounts of love, being loved, giving love,

I saw strength the trifecta; muscles, grin lines, intelligence,

And then it all drifted away on a stormy wind.

Now I see hatred with my bitch taking the lead,

On a chariot, riding fiercely with her friends, negativity and loathing,

I see the emptiness in my lack of emotion (laughing no more)

In my eyes that used to shine it’s grassy green hue (now forlorn),

I see my weakness’ growing in numbers,

They prevail over any good I once saw.

I see the scars, tiny slashes on my wrist,

The memory of the internal pain, guilt, and yes, some shame,

The urge rising to repeat the action,

The bitch yelling I deserve the agony, the suffering,

More scarlet droplets trailing down my arm,

And the repetitive thought of how much worse will it get.

The reflection I see, is not a happy one, not a sad one, it is a blank one,

One that feels nothing, embraces apathy,

I am not sure it will change, although I know it did before,

What was that? With pills, therapy and self care I’ll thrive?

Ha, I am doing all those and still nothing changes, fight no more.

With the bitch infinitely cackling, I now take on advice given many times:

Acceptance is key; I invite you in, on my sofa, to envelope me, for eternity.

© Stephanie Paige 11/26/19

“Invisible” – A Poem

I’ve begun to write poetry again. I thought it was a single solitary day a couple of weeks back when I posted a poem, Hidden Pain, on my struggling with mental illness, but it isn’t. When I write poetry, it means I am not doing well. Something is off and I don’t know what and frankly, that frightens me. But like all the many times, years, decades before, I will bounce back (even if I can’t believe it right now).

This past Saturday was especially rough and led to the following poem:

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Invisible

Pieces and parts,

Broken and torn,

Scattered like dirt,

Upon the filthy floor so worn,

Walked on, moved and kicked,

Sucked up and tossed,

One day present,

The next day lost.

 

A microscopic piece of soil,

Flows down the drain,

Quickly gone,

No remnants remain,

The water falls,

Descending me further,

Leaving my home,

Towards the sewer.

 

Asking too much,

Not asking enough,

“What do you want from me?!”

Can’t be strong enough,

Whining, yelling,

Calling my name,

I see you, I hear you,

I feel so ashamed.

 

Always putting myself last,

Pouring from an empty cup,

Who will be there

To help pick me up?

I’ve fought for so long,

Pleasing all of you,

Neglecting my wants,

To appease you two.

 

I walk away,

Down the street,

A little further,

Watching my feet,

I keep going,

Wondering when,

I’ll hear from you,

Asking me where I am.

 

How long will it take,

Before you notice I left?

Walking, wondering,

Breath after breath,

A minute, an hour,

A mile or two,

What does it feel like,

When no one is looking for you?

 

Angry and empty,

(Maybe loved and wanted?)

Crying inside,

So tremendously disappointed,

Sometimes it’s hard to know,

When you’re treated so poor,

When you become invisible,

Alone and ignored.

© Stephanie Paige 10/28/19

 

True Crime Tuesday – “Just One Bite”

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I watch Forensic Files to fall asleep. Most people read or listen to soft music. I need the sound of Peter Thomas narrating to lull me into slumber. Although, he is no Keith Morrison. Anyway, a few days ago as I binged watched Forensic Files for the umpteenth time, I came across an episode that piqued my interest not for the dumb criminal… but to turn the tables… the senseless jury and several law enforcement members. This is Season 8, Episode 7, “Once Bitten”.

The crime is horrific. In Phoenix, AZ in 1991, a lovely vivacious bar tender, 35-year-old Kim Ancona, is stabbed and brutally murdered and left in the back storeroom of the bar she was employed at. The bar owner finds her the next morning and immediately calls 911. The cops are doing their detective work and asking the owner and fellow employees who could have committed this crime. A few of the employees suggest frequent bar patron, Ray Krone. Many of them found him odd. Kim found him attractive and according to her friends, wanted to start a romance with him. Because of this Ray climbs the suspect ladder.

What ultimately seals his fate is a bite mark found on Kim’s body. The bite mark clearly shows a snaggletooth on the top front teeth. They notice that Ray has a snaggletooth after obtaining his bite impression, His blood type (Type O) is found to be the same as the blood found on Kim’s jeans. They also find dark hairs on Kim’s body and assume they are Ray’s even though they are Mongoloid and Ray is Caucasian. Remember, 1991 is before we had more in depth DNA testing. He must be the guy, right?! I forgot to mention, the police found a footprint at the scene. Men’s size 9.5. Ray, poor Ray, wears a 10.5 shoe. But he did it. We know he did. Because the cops said so.

Ray is quickly arrested and brought to trial.

Although his shoe size is bigger than what is found at the scene, the hair is Mongoloid and he has a solid alibi (I forgot to mention that too), Ray is found guilty because the solitary Forensic Odontologist the prosecution puts on the stand, Dr. Raymond Rawson, says without doubt, 100%, the bite mark is Ray Krone’s.

As a side note, in the episode, they show the bite mark and show Ray Krone’s bite mark on top of it several times. Even I can tell they aren’t a perfect match ignoring the snaggletooth. The original bite mark was wider than Ray’s set of teeth.

Ray is sentenced to death in 1992. He is granted a 2nd trial in 1996. This time the defense puts 3 other Forensic Odontologists on the stand who all agree that this infamous bite more is NOT Ray Krone’s. The prosecution, once again, puts Dr. Rawson on the stand who is still sticking by his first testimony that it is totally Mr. Krone’s. So, you would think with 3 other Forensic Odontologists refuting Dr. Rawson that Ray would be cleared of the crime, that reasonable doubt about the stupid bite mark would be found…

Nope. Once again, this second jury finds him guilty and he returns to death row.

Ray educates himself in law while he is there trying to find some way of exonerating himself. The only evidence that has sentenced him to death is a bite mark that isn’t his. Ray’s luck turns around when Arizona, in 2001, created a new law that gave convicted felons access to the evidence in their cases as long as they continue to say they are innocent (frankly, doesn’t everyone claim innocence?!).

Ray has the evidence in his hands and time on his side because in the last 9 years, there have been tremendous advancements in DNA. He and his lawyers request DNA testing of the blood found on Kim’s jeans. The results come back…

… it is not Ray Krone’s! (I know, shocking, right?!)

There is a hit on the DNA to a man named Kenneth Phillips. Kenneth is of Native American descent (Mongoloid), wears a size 9.5 shoe and also has a snaggletooth. Oh, and at the time he lived 600 yards from the bar. Kenneth, a repeated violent sex offender & child molester (a real winner here), claimed he committed this crime while in a drunken black out. He said during interrogation, that he woke up with, literally, blood on his hands. Instead of going to the police, he just ignored it.

Ten years after Ray Krone was sentenced to death, he is released on April 8, 2002.

It is said that there was enough evidence back in 1991 to have put Kenneth Phillips on police’s radar for this crime, but they and prosecution members just ignored it and continued to pursue Ray Krone.

Ray Krone didn’t let his 10 years on death row after being innocent die down. In 2005, he sued the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County (and rightly so). He was awarded $3,000,000 and $1,400,000 respectively. He has become a huge activist in abolishing the death penalty and is the Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence, a non-profit dedicated to ending the death penalty.

And Ray got his snaggletooth fixed.

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Moral of the story: Never judge a bite by its snaggletooth or sometimes it isn’t the criminal who is stupid.

True Crime Tuesdays – “What a Great Idea for a Novel!”

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Some criminals just stay with you. The first criminal I was introduced to was Jeffrey Dahmer. I don’t remember what I was watching but my father told me all about him. I think I was about 12 at the time. His acts were heinous. Killing young men, raping them and having them for dinner. I always wondered if Silence of the Lambs was based on him. Even at that tender age, instead of this disgusting me, Dahmer fascinated me. He has stuck with me since.

And so has Maryann Castorena.

No, she is not anything like Jeffrey Dahmer, but her stupidity is so remarkable I can’t stop thinking about her. I first saw her on Snapped, Season 17, Episode 3. I think my mind was a ball of confusion after the episode was over. I am not sure what she was thinking with her defense, but like I stated, her story (oh, what a story it is!) has adhered itself to some part of my brain, leeching on and not letting go.

Maryann met and started dating a man named Jose Hernandez back in 2005. Love was in the air that they moved in together. At the heart of this story is greed (isn’t it always?!). In 2012, Jose, so infatuated with Maryann, took out a $750,000 life insurance policy. He took this policy out at the insurance company Maryann worked at (convenient, right?!). At the time he put his niece as the beneficiary but question whether he could change that at a later date, say, once he had a wife and kids.

Well, of course Maryann was made aware of this policy and started to manufacture a plan to obtain Jose’s money. If only the policy were in her name already! Maryann was visiting her adult sons one day and met one of their friends, Anthony Delagarza, a member of the gang the Latin Kings. Not the best mother of the year knowing your sons are hanging out with gang members but hey, why not join in, right?! Delagarza claimed he wanted out of the Latin Kings and was working on it. He is truthful in this aspect. In December of 2012, he was officially “jumped” out or in other terms, beaten to a pulp.

But Anthony’s thug-life was not over. Maryann would make sure of that.

In early 2013, Jose had a change of heart and decided he wanted Maryann to have all his money, making her the only beneficiary of his employee stock options plan, his 401k plan, and his life insurance policy through his company. The other one stayed with his niece as the beneficiary.

Ah, it was go time for Maryann!

She started small, having Delagarza destroying the “beat up jalopy” for an insurance payout. This jalopy was a pretty new 2012 Nissan Maxima. Paying him $1,000, he blew up the car (add 1st degree arson to his list of offences). The cover story was that Maryann’s ex-husband did it for revenge. In return, Jose received $40,000 from the insurance company.

This event was so life altering to Jose, that he now changed his beneficiary on his other insurance policy leaving his niece with 60% and Maryann with 40%.

What Maryann never told Jose, was she was in love with someone else and married them July of 2013. She then returned and told Delagarza she needed a favor (seriously man, turn and run!). She wanted him to murder Jose. In return, he would get $50,000 of a 3rd life insurance policy Maryann was going to persuade Jose to take out. So in her charming nature, Maryann gets Jose to take out another $750,000 life insurance policy leaving her as the sole beneficiary.

Side note: Are you adding up the dollar signs in your head? Let’s see… $750,000+(40% of 750,000)+employee stock options, 401K and the other life insurance policy… Maryann stood to gain somewhere between $1.2 – $1.5 million!!!

Now, Jose had to die.

Late 2013, Maryann moved her husband (not Jose) to Michigan from Nevada. She then met with Delagarza several times to discuss the murder of Jose. Meanwhile, Jose now split that first insurance policy 50-50 with his niece and Maryann.

On January 5th, 2014, Delagarza went into action, borrowing a relative’s car and waiting for Jose to leave his apartment and accessing his car. At that time, Delagarza senselessly beat Jose with ball joint remover with a broken prong and left him to die in the snow. Maryann and Delagarzathen got rid of the weapon.

Okay, so why is Maryann Castorena’s murder of her ex-boyfriend so remarkable?! It isn’t necessarily the murder… it is the evidence and defense that is quite the story.

As police searched for Jose’s killer they subsequently interviewed Maryann several times especially since she stood to gain A LOT of money. In these interviews, Maryann was only so happy to give the police Delagarza’s name. Heck, if he was in prison and she wasn’t, she didn’t have to pay him the $50,000 hit fee, right?! (Because $1.2 million isn’t enough!) Well, Delagarza didn’t think twice about throwing Maryann under the bus telling them that she was the mastermind and that…

… she even wrote out the murder plan!

To coin a Yiddish term (yes, I’m Jewish)… Oy Vey!

Maryann had handwritten a note outlining the whole plan to kill Jose from hiding by his car, to beating him, every little aspect was written down. The police ate this up and started searching everywhere for this letter. Instead of burning said letter, the police found it crumpled up inside a book bag. Although I cannot seem to find an image of this letter searching on Google, Oxygen just show a glimpse of it in the Snapped episode.

So far Maryann has broken two of my rules seen in my prior post from March: “What Not To Do When Committing A Crime… The Stupidity of Criminals” . She has written out her murder plan (yes I know she is my example in this post) and she hired someone.

It is obvious that Delagarza was going away for a long time for first-degree murder. Now it was Maryann’s time for her trial. Maryann took that letter she wrote and created this whole defense on it. The defense: the letter wasn’t a murder plot, no, it was a story she heard two women discussing at a restaurant she was at and she thought it sounded like a great idea for a novel or movie!

Um… really Maryann?! Who the hell do you think is buying that defense?!

This “story” she heard and was writing was exactly the way things played out in real life with Jose’s murder.

Needless to say, the jury was not falling for this charade and Maryann is spending her days in prison sentenced to life with not possibility of parole. In the end, Maryann, was it really worth it?!


Maryann stays with me because of the letter. Her stupidity in not only writing the murder plot, but also not disposing it and then claiming it was a book idea is what boggles my mind. How do you get so absorbed in killing a human being for money that you totally miss the idea of being caught?! What goes through your mind as you plan the hit?! Do you really think you will get away with it?!

Maryann, my one advice for you… give up on your writing career.

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True Crime Tuesdays – “Two Strikes… Want to Make it to Three?!”

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I had a whole True Crime Tuesday post ready for this week but when I read a recent news article in our local paper, I knew I had to write about this woman. So here it goes:

The news article’s title intrigued me: Brookfield woman arrested twice in one day

How?! Just how does one accomplish this wondrous title?!

As I read on, I just kept smacking my head.

The woman in question, 23-year-old Elayna Kathleen Smith, was arrested for breaking a full no-contact order. Police took her in at a park-and-ride where she was found in a vehicle with the young man who took the restraining order out against her. The two were first caught driving a vehicle with no front license plate and then the young man was found to have an expired license. After discovering the expired license, cops asked for the young woman’s name. She first gave some fake name but was quickly found out.

So Elayna is hauled in. She is released on a $500 bond.

Well, Elena isn’t the brightest bulb…

Not minutes after she is released, she is caught by an officer in the police department’s parking lot getting into a truck with who you ask… the same young man she is supposed to legally have no contact with! She is released now after posting another $1,000 bond.

She was arraigned on September 30th, 2019 after pleading “Not Guilty” to the three charges against her. Not sure how she plans on getting away with this one!

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I have so many questions on this one:

  • Why was a no-contact order taken out on her?!
  • Why was the guy who took the order out on her with her?!
  • Why did she choose to break the order and get in the truck with the guy?!
  • Were there drugs involved?! Prostitution?!
  • Or… is she just that dense?!

True Crime Tuesday – “Paging Dr. Schneeberger”

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I have to admit, I jumped at the chance to cover this one based solely on this doctor’s last name… Schneeberger (can’t stop laughing, sorry). No offense to any of my readers if your last name is Schneeberger or if any of your relatives last name is Schneeberger. In fact, my maiden name is the last half of this doctor’s last name. But, come on, who didn’t giggle when reading this?!

Now where did I discover Dr. Schneeberger?

To fall asleep at night, I watch episodes of Forensic Files (no judgement please). I am currently on Netflix’s Collection 8 out of 9. Each “collection” has around 50 episodes. Forensic Files is America’s longest running True Crime show commencing in April 23, 1996 and airing through June 17, 2011. That is over 15 years! Within this collection, I fell upon Season 6, Episode 18 “Bad Blood“.

The episode starts out in Kipling, Saskatchewan with a woman named Candice. Candy, as she is called in the episode, had gone to see her doctor (paging Dr. Schneeberger!) for some sort of sedative to calm her anxiety. This is not the first time Candy has seen him. This man was her primary care physician and even delivered her child. But this time was different. This time the doctor got a bit happy with the wrong head on his body. 

The incident occurred on Halloween of 1992. Schneeberger gave Candy a sedative as requested. It knocked her out completely. When she came to, she was disoriented but remembered Dr. Schneeberger sexually assaulting her. She did not say a word to his nurses, but confronted the doctor about the rape. The wonderful doctor was already beginning to cover his story by telling her that the sedative he gave her, Versed, has a strong amnesic effect and can cause vivid dreams.

Candy wasn’t buying it.

She left the office, but drove to a clinic in another town and got a rape kit performed on her. After semen was found she then called the police to report the rape. After reporting the crime, we see Candy being interviewed by Forensic Files, then her mother and then her father. I lost count on how many times “Eh” was said. It must be very prevalent in Saskatchewan versus all other Canadian provinces (Canada readers, please weigh in).

But I digress. The police went to visit Dr. Schneeberger and asked for his blood. Voluntarily, the doctor allowed them to take it… as long as it was in his left arm. No problem, I understand. I am a righty and prefer to donate blood using my non-dominant arm. His blood is not a match to the semen in Candy’s rape kit. Dr. Schneeberger is off the hook… for now.

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Candice doesn’t quite understand how this happened. Prior to the rape she hadn’t had sex in weeks. Meanwhile, the whole town is beginning to gossip about her and frankly, hate her. She, finally, persuades the police to test it again a year later. This time, the nurse who drew the blood looks at the tube and is a bit perplexed stating that this looks like old blood. But once again, the doctor is not a match even though the sample is very degraded. The police close the case in 1994.

Seems like this is the end for Candy getting justice… or is it?

Several years later, Dr. Schneeberger (god I love his name!) is accused by his stepdaughter in 1997 of sexual assault. Schneeberger’s wife, who had remained by his side and loathed Candy, was now singing a different tune. Lisa, his wife, had him arrested and demanded a DNA test to be performed. Candy’s case was reopened. The Mounties weren’t playing this time. They not only took his blood but also a hair sample and a saliva sample. All 3 were a match to the semen in Candy’s rape kit.

So how did Dr. Schneeberger’s blood not match the semen the first two times it was tested? The sneaky doctor reveals this in his 1999 trial for sexual assault. The doctor took a 15cm tube and filled it with one of his male patient’s blood. Aha! Now remember when the nurse was a bit puzzled after the second test stating that the blood looked old? Dr. Schneeburger had left that tube in him for over a year. Not the brightest move. This is why he always wanted his blood taken from his left arm. In the episode, they even zoom in to his second voluntary blood donation and you can actually see the tube in his arm!

Well, because the doctor was now involuntarily demanded to give his DNA, there was no way he was getting away with this!

In 1999, he was sentenced to six years in prison (frankly not enough time if you ask me). He medical license was revoked. His wife divorced him and complained about his citizenship to the the Canadian authorities. You see, Dr. Schneeberger was actually born in Zambia, a country located in south-central Africa. When the good doctor was released four years later on parole, the authorities revoked his citizenship and began deportation procedures. It seems Dr. Schneeburger may have mislead the authorities on his citizenship application (What Dr. Schneeburger lie? No way!) On his 1993 application, he claimed he was not part of an active police investigation. It seems the doctor had “forgotten” about the case Candy had brought against him (maybe he took some Versed!)

Dr. John Schneeberger was deported to South Africa in July 2004.

Candy was elated that she finally got justice, eh.

True Crime Tuesday – The Prodigal Spoiled Brat Son

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This weeks true crime tale begins in West Virginia (no, get your minds out of the gutter, there is no incest in this story). There was a small family of three: a mother, a son, and a stepfather. This is the story of Donald Dunn and the murder and attempted murder of his parents.

I had no idea who Donald Dunn was before watching A Lie To Die For, Season 1, Episode 5, “Deadly Diploma”. I needed a new true crime show to binge watch and the title of the show intrigued me. Due to the fall lineup on the network stations not starting for another week or so, my husband and I decided to watch this show one evening. This is where I met the prodigal son, Donald.

Donald was by all means a typical child. He was loved by his mother, Johanna, and stepfather, Mark. Mark entered Donald’s life pretty early on. He loved the boy, always being there for him. His parents spoiled him. He never had to ask for anything. Johanna and Mark bought him whatever he wanted.

So here we are, a boy who is tremendously loved by his parents and given everything he could ever want. Why would he want to kill his parents?!

Well, as the title states, this millennial fits the stereotype that a lot of people have towards millennials. Donald became lazy. Selfish and lazy.

Donald started community college back in 2008 and then transferred to Marshall University in 2010. It wasn’t long after this transfer that Donald failed out of college. Like any “good” son, he decided not to tell his parents. He moved in with his long time girlfriend and her sister and pretended to go to class. According to them he would leave for 1-2 hours and come back. They didn’t think anything of it. Turns out, young Donald was going and getting high during this time frame. When he was back at the apartment he would play video games and watch movies with his girlfriend. Typical college student behavior. All this while keeping his parents money. He was living the lazy sloth-like life he always wanted… and one he would kill for.

Johanna calls 911 on May 25, 2013, the day that was supposed to be Donald’s college graduation. In this 911 call, Johanna tells police that she shot and killed her husband in self defense. Her son Donald had been in the shower but came upstairs to his mother once he was beckoned to do so. They arrest Johanna and question both at the police station.

Open and shut case, right?! Oh so wrong!

At the police station Johanna is quick to change her story. She tells police that Donald is the one who shot and killed Mark and that he attempted to shoot and kill her as well. He told his mother he had a gift for her and to sit at the dining room table and he’ll bring it to her. Instead he points the gun at the back of her head and shoots. Lucky for Johanna, the gun jams and she frees herself begging her son to turn himself in. Instead he forces her to call the police and tell them she killed Mark.

Now the police don’t know who the heck to believe. That is until…

… Donald breaks!

He fully admits to killing his stepfather and attempting to kill his mother. Then he explains why beginning with:

“First semester there, the classes went from, if you show up, you get an A, to actually having to put forth the effort and do the work,” Donald Dunn told police, “It was just beyond me. I just didn’t have the faculties to do it.” (But you have the faculties to use this word)

Hmmm… didn’t have the faculties to do it. So now Donald is trying to convince everyone he is a big dummy.

He continues by saying he enjoyed living the comfortable life he was living doing nothing and leeching off his parents. He figured to continue that life that he would need to kill his parents to inherit their money, because as he states, it was easier than telling them the truth about flunking out of college. What a typical millennial?! (Honestly, no offense to my millennial readers, he just fits the stereotype perfectly):

“It wasn’t really the thought of upsetting them, I guess it was the thought of losing a vehicle, losing a place to live, losing fancy custom shoes and junk like that,” Donald said. (What a spoiled brat?!)

Donald, trying to make off like he is this dumb-ass, admits to typing up a suicide letter supposedly written by his mom. In the letter he glorifies himself like any good psychopath would, how he is such a treasured son.

But he is not done.

He admits to planning these murders during spring break because his “graduation” was approaching. He started going to gun ranges to practice. He stole his mother’s gun and loaded it with the exact amount of bullets you would need for his “murder/suicide” plan with is mother as the shooter. He had been producing fake report cards from the school and continued to. He had everyone fooled.

The cops who interrogated him have said that he showed no emotion whatsoever after reiterating his story. He was cold and shocked that he didn’t feel anything after killing his stepfather.

In 2014, Donald was convicted of the first degree murder of his stepfather, Mark, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The irony is that even though he tried to kill his mother, she defended him at the trial saying that he was such a good boy growing up. She even went as far as to use the insurance money she got from Mark’s death to hire a lawyer for her son! I understand sticking by your child but he murdered your husband and then you took the victim’s money to pay for the guilty’s lawyer?! Just wrong.

In 2016, Donald appealed his case taking it all the way up to the West Virginia Supreme Court. In some not-so-shattering news, they denied his appeal.

Donald’s mother died not long after his sentence from cancer, an illness she had been suffering from for a while. There is no one left to visit him as the rest of the family has cut their ties. He will die in prison alone…

… as the man who “didn’t have the faculties to do it.”

He has never shown any remorse.

 

 

True Crime Tuesdays – “I Did It All For You, Jodie!”

John_Hinckley_Jr

I don’t know much about John Hinckley Jr. All I knew prior to watching the recent Dateline episode (Season 27, Episode 52) was that he shot President Reagan. After all, I had just had my first birthday a month prior. My focus was on taking my first steps, not true crime. That would come much later.

When I saw the Dateline preview for the episode “Hinckley: Diary of a Dangerous Mind” I became intrigued. I never knew why he did what he did. I never knew that when he shot President Reagan, he shot several other people. And I never knew that the reason behind him shooting the president all lied with his tremendous infatuation with actress Jodie Foster.

Within the episode, they had interviewed some of Hinckley’s childhood chums. They described him as this nice kid, friendly, caring. And then something happened. He changed. He became paranoid. As his friends described him, I jumped up from the sofa scaring my husband as I shouted, “He has schizophrenia!” Leave it to my mentally ill mind to know. I, myself, am not a schizophrenic, but know several people who are and the one thing they all have in common is that their symptoms first appeared in their late teens/early 20s. I have to admit, I high-fived my husband when they did finally diagnose him.

But I digress. A little background on John Hinckley Jr.: He was born in Oklahoma in 1955 to well-to-do parents. Money was not an issue in their house. He grew up in Texas through elementary school on and even into his college years. Because of the symptoms of his mental illness, he wound up dropping out of college and moving back in with his parents who were then living in Colorado.

It was here that he came up with his plan, the plan to shoot (and hopefully kill) the president. Why? Jodie Foster. I know, I know, how are the two connected? My husband and I were greatly perplexed by this, sitting on the edge of the sofa about to fall off, staring at the TV with our faces in a puzzling look. Then the answer was given… the movie Taxi Driver.

Ah, yeah, Taxi Driver! I see the correlation. Totally! (Remember, I was a baby when Reagan was shot. I wasn’t even born when Taxi Driver was released).

So, to put all the points into perspective… Jodie Foster plays a prostitute in Taxi Driver (released in 1976). The lead, played by Robert DeNiro, is a Vietnam Vet who is now driving a taxi through the streets of NYC. He slowly becomes insane and starts to plan the assassination of the presidential candidate and Jodie Foster’s pimp.

Okay, now it is making more sense. Hinckley was obsessed with this movie. This movie was where his obsession with Jodie Foster was fostered (hah, like my play on words there?!). This movie’s lead goes insane. Hinckley was going insane. The lead plans to assassinate the presidential candidate… aha! Hinckley plans to assassinate a president.

Now I got it. All the dots are connected.

On March 30th, 1981, Hinckley fired 6 shots into a large crowd aimed at President Reagan. His first few shots hit police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and press secretary James Brady. It wasn’t until the very last shot, that he hit Reagan. The bullet squeezed by through the small gap at the hinge of the car door and hit Reagan in chest. Reagan recovered as did the others shot, although some of them did not fare as lucky as others.

Hinckley is quickly tackled and arrested after the shooting. It is at this point where they have a psychiatrist see him. He was then given the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Throughout this whole time (prior to the shooting and after) he is in constant contact with (who else?) Jodie Foster. He created this romantic relationship in his head. Called her dorm room. Wrote her letters. He was in love, the obsessive, stalker kind, but in love nonetheless. Meanwhile, Jodie thought the complete opposite. Frankly, he was nothing to her but an annoying man.

Hinckley is brought to trial in 1982. Everyone is 100% positive that he will be found guilty. I mean, there are over dozens of witnesses. The courtroom is waiting with baited breath as the jury files in and reads the verdict…

“Not guilty by reason of insanity!”

The courtroom was in shock! No jail time for someone who shot the president?!

It isn’t that Hinckley got off Scott-free. He was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. During his hospital stay, he decided that conversing with other criminals would be a really good hobby. He and Ted Bundy became good pen pals. He wrote with one of Charles Manson’s women, Lynette Fromme. He tried to get Manson’s contact info but never received it (I guess Manson swiped left on Tinder).

Hinckley did fall in love while in the hospital. He fell for a woman 10 years his senior who was taking up residence there because she shot and killed her 10-year-old daughter. During this tragedy, she cut her arm off as well. The two were crazy about each other and would meet outside, walk together and even enjoyed some sexual escapades. They were so in love that when this woman was released she took a job at St. Elizabeth’s to remain near him. I am not sure how this was allowed by the staff…

In 1987, Hinckley made his first attempt at freedom. He applied to the court for periodic home visits. Because of his correspondence with mass-murderer Ted Bundy, and his continued obsession with Jodie Foster, he was denied.

He was given supervised home visits in 1999. A year later, 2000, the hospital decided he was ready to see the world and suggested unsupervised visits. Not sure what they were thinking, but they quickly realized this was a bad idea and changed their minds.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Hinckley regained supervised visits with his parents. September of 2005, he requested expanded privileges. He received multi-night visits with his parents, who were now living in Williamsburg, VA. In 2007, Hinckley wanted more. He was denied.

In 2009, he was allowed longer visits with his mother (his father had passed away) and he was allowed a driver’s license. With this he had to have a GPS enabled cellphone to which he had to carry all the time.

In 2011, the hospital deemed him safe and not a danger to himself or society. The Department of Justice disagreed.

In 2013, he received longer visits with his mother, now allowing him 17-day stretches.

After over 30 years at St. Elizabeth’s, John Hinckley Jr. was released on September 10, 2016 into the hands of his aging mother who was 90 at the time. He had a whole bunch of conditions he had to keep in order to stay free and seemed to maintain them all. As of November 2018, the court allowed him to move out of his mother’s house and is live on his own.

I know for a fact that he still resides in Williamsburg, VA as I have a friend there who has seen him. He lives a normal life, goes shopping, has a girlfriend.

But what would a good true crime story be without a good humorous twist?! Am I right?!

As of September 10, 2019, Hinckley is seeking permission to move to California. Why? To enter the music business. The judge is reviewing and requesting additional information.


An interesting side note: Hinckley didn’t care which president he tried to assassinate, there was no democrat/republican angle. He is seen in a photograph standing in a crowd behind President Carter. He just never had the right angle. So Reagan was next.

Okay, okay, so what do I think about Hinckley living a “normal” life?
As a person with mental illness, I think he deserves a second chance at a “normal” life. He spent many years, decades, at an institution. He sees a therapist and a psychiatrist. He is what I like to call “in remission”. Why shouldn’t he deserve another chance at life?!
But to play devil’s advocate… he shot a president! He shot other people as well. No, none of them died (although Brady’s death was ruled a homicide 33 years after the shooting). I often wonder what would’ve happened if he succeeded. But, what ifs are pointless.

 

If you enjoyed this installment, please check out last week’s: “I’m Gonna Be A YouTube Sensation!”