Finding Schrodinger’s Cat: A Modified Thought Experiment to Help Understand Why People Go Missing, and How to Solve Missing Person Cases: Part ONE

When someone goes missing, in most cases, no matter the victim, no matter their age or gender, there seems to be more questions than answers.  Even as technology has advanced over the last 20 years from DNA to cell phone usage being used as tools to aid in investigations, thousands of cases are still unsolved.

In 1935 Erwin Schrodinger devised a thought experiment known as “Schrodinger’s Cat.”  His thought experiment was designed to show problems in understanding quantum mechanics when applied to everyday objects. 

In Schrodinger’s thought experiment the “cat” is locked in a box.  Inside the box is a small amount of radiation that may or may not be released at anytime. The box is closed meaning the observer cannot see inside the box, and only after opening the box will the observer know if in fact the cat is alive, or if the cat is dead upon the release of radiation.  Before the box is opened Schrodinger opined that the cat hypothetically is both alive and dead.  To resolve this requires a direct observation.  One could surmise that the cat is an observer and knows whether or not it is alive or dead, or could argue that the cat is not an observer because it is unable to know without an independent observer whether it has died and the cat is in both states both alive and dead at the same time, until the independent observer opens the box. 

What if however Schrodinger opened the box and there was no cat? Unless the box were a portal into another world, Schrodinger would have to surmise that the cat escaped, someone took the cat when he wasn’t looking, Schrodinger as a result of some psychological or physiological abnormality misremembered whether or not he placed the cat inside the box, or perhaps, Schrodinger is lying about placing the cat in the box. 

From an investigative standpoint, in this case of the missing cat until it is found one could surmise that the cat is both alive and dead also.  Once the cat is found then only will the observer know for a fact that the cat is either alive or has died, and if it has died, one can then attempt to determine the cause of death.

For example, using a cat as did Schrodinger; let’s investigate the case where a beloved family pet in a house of a family of four goes missing. The family lives in a rural area on five acres of land. Their closest neighbor is less than four-hundred yards away in a dilapidated mobile home; they have a dog that has been known to chase after the family cat in the past.  The cat however, is known to venture into the neighbor’s unkempt yard to chase after field mice but this only aggravates the neighbors because a member of the family is allergic to cats and the neighbors complain and it causes a rift between both families.

 On a Monday in July, the family of four does not realize the cat is missing until late in the evening when the family is settling down and preparing for bed.  One could suggest that the cat isn’t missing, because the cat knows where it is, so the cat being declared missing is dependent on someone within the household noticing that their beloved cat is missing. 

One member of the family is adamant the cat is missing and should be searched for immediately. Another person in the family states the cat has a habit of hiding or running off and has done this before on several occasions and believes the cat will turn up as it has done in the past. The third family member who has been at home most of the day states it is possible that while they stepped outside to check the mail the cat may have scurried out of the door, but they do not remember the time nor do they remember seeing the cat after coming back inside.  Meanwhile the family member that first realized the cat is missing blames the fourth person in the household of harboring the cat as a mean-spirited prank, because this fourth member of the household has threatened to hide the cat to anger the person just two days earlier. 

Where is the cat?

The family member who declares the cat missing goes outside and calls for the cat, and even searches the yard, but the cat does not return.

The second family member goes back to bed assuming the cat will return. 

The third family member who opened the door and believes they may be responsible for the cat exiting the house begins their own search and approach the neighbors who claim they haven’t seen the cat, but also go onto state that they won’t allow the family member to search the yard, because they had warned the neighbor to keep the cat out of their yard.   

The first and fourth family member argues and the first family member without consent of the fourth goes into the fourth family members room to search it and finds nothing. 

However, what makes this thought experiment compelling is that in the case of the missing cat there are multiple variables unlike Schrodinger’s experiment where the cat is knowingly in the box and can be opened at anytime by the observer.  Instead, it poses more questions and operates under multiple theories and assumptions and perhaps even suggests that the cat is missing and at the same time is not missing. 

If for example the cat is alive, and is lost, perhaps the cat does not consider itself being lost or missing, just considers itself as being here as opposed to being there.  To take it a step further if the cat is dead, the cat does not know that it is dead. 

However, at the same time, although the cat is “missing” let’s theorize that the cat was discovered wandering near the road a few yards from the owner’s home.  A passerby notices the cat, and stops and takes the cat.  Although the original owners still classify the cat as missing, the passerby now has the cat at their own home, and yet the cat is considered missing by the family and not missing by the passerby who found the cat. 

Although this is a possible theory, what if on the day the cat went missing early that Monday morning in July, family member # two on their way to work upon backing up accidentally runs over the cat in the driveway.  The family member believing the best course is to bury the cat in secret rather than upsetting the family with the knowledge that the cat is dead. 

In this case, the cat is knowingly dead, as observed by family member two, knows where the cat is buried, but keeps this a secret from the rest of the family.  Again, one can theorize that the cat is “missing” to the uninformed family members and not “missing” to the informed family member and at the same time theoretically the cat is in two states “alive” and “dead.”

In other words, although in Schrodinger’s experiment the cat is knowingly inside the box in both states of being alive and dead until one opens the box and the cat is observed, in a missing person’s case one could argue that the box is missing and to solve the case one needs to first find the box and the problem is determining who is in possession of the box that holds the secrets in solving the case. 

Reasons People Go Missing:

Because in these types of cases it sometimes can seem as if a person has fallen off the planet, we have to rule out these types of fallacies, and narrow our search in order to rule out the absurd (e.g. abducted by aliens). We can accomplish this by determining that in most cases in which a person is labeled as “missing” there are in fact six factors that we can apply to any “missing person’s” case to examine and investigate: (see graph)

Not all cases involving a person’s disappearance involve “foul play.”  There have been many cases in which a “missing person” case has been investigated to find the victim disappeared as a result of:

  1. accidental death
  2.  intentional suicide
  3. suffering from a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness
  4. Runaway on their own volition; absconded. 

Even though foul play is not always related to a person’s disappearance, the investigation cannot necessarily rule out foul play, because again, unlike Schrodinger’s Cat experiment, there is no box to open and observe.  Until observed or discovered, one can surmise that the “missing person” is alive and dead because the “missing person” is in possession of the theoretical “box”.  

When one is a victim of “foul play,” however, there are essentially two common scenarios:

  • Abduction
  • Murder

The perpetrator(s) of these crimes would be in possession of the “theoretical box”.  In the case of foul play, we can also deduce that there are two types of suspects: (see graph)

In the graph above suspects are either:

  1. Known by the victim (e.g. domestic partner)
  2. Unknown by the victim

In the matter of domestic this could include a current or former spouse, someone they’ve been in a relationship with, (past or present) a friend, or a family member, or someone they work with.

In most cases these individuals are the first persons investigated and scrutinized by law enforcement.  Even so, many cases have gone cold only to learn later during the initial investigation, one of those persons was responsible, but because law enforcement was unable to find enough probable cause to arrest the suspect they were powerless to make an arrest.

When a person is a victim of an unknown perpetrator, there are often two subcategories:

  1. Random
  2. Outlier

To better understand the definition of a random perpetrator one can include serial killers and opportunistic predators, to perhaps a robbery gone wrong scenario.

An outlier on the other hand, is someone who perhaps has met the victim, lives near the victim, a friend of a friend of a friend, to someone who has been stalking the victim for a period of time, but is hard to detect and apprehend, because they are on the periphery of the investigation.

Nevertheless, in all cases involving foul play there is always a motive and the two most common motives are: (See Graph)

  1. Sexual
  2. Murder

Everyone is a Suspect; Even the Cat

In 2013, famous illusionist David Copperfield entertaining an audience at a hotel owned by the MGM Grand made a group of volunteer members disappear.  The group reappeared at the back of the studio a few minutes later.  Copperfield had been performing this vanishing act for years as well as greater acts of illusion such as making the Statue of Liberty disappear.

No harm no foul, right? The audience members volunteered to be part of Copperfield’s illusion, vanished, and reappeared, the audience is amazed by the amazing trick, the show ends and everyone leaves the auditorium satisfied and happy.

But that’s not what happened, during the illusion one of the volunteers was injured during the trick. The injured person filed a civil suit against Copperfield, the suit went to trial, and during the trial Copperfield was obligated under oath to reluctantly explain to jurors how the illusion worked.   Essentially the volunteers were co-conspirators to the illusion by playing along with Copperfield’s act. After being called up on stage, then a burst of lights distracting the audience members, stagehands led the volunteers to stairs below the stage where they followed a tunnel hidden beneath the auditorium leading to the back. The light’s come on, and the vanished audience members reappear. Unfortunately, in this particular show, a volunteer fell while traversing through the tunnel and was injured. 

In a missing person’s case, it often times appears the victim vanished into thin air.  Because of this everyone is a suspect until they can be ruled out even the missing person’s life, lifestyle, and movements are scrutinized.    

Imagine if you will that during an illusionist’s act the magician called forth 10 random volunteers, and after the burst of lights 9 volunteers reappear at the end of the show but the 10th one does not.  In a perfect world, one would assume the auditorium lights would be turned on, the theater sealed, and each and every person would be interrogated by law enforcement.  As audience members and employees are being interrogated, another team of officers searched and cleared the theater, and the audience member is still missing, but everyone who attended the show from audience members to employees and the illusionist are still in the building.  One would have to surmise that the missing person in this scenario is no longer in the building, and left the theater on their own volition, or somehow were taken by someone who snuck in from outside the theater and abducted the audience member against their will. 

We do not live in a perfect world however.  In most cases the clock is against law enforcement especially if the crime was premeditated.  By the time law enforcement become involved, hours, not minutes will have passed providing the suspect opportunity to distance themselves as far away from the crime scene, cover up the crime scene, or create an alibi.

To give an example, on March 24th 1998 while on a Caribbean cruise with her family, 23 year old Amy Lynn Bradley disappeared just before sunrise and the ship docked on the island of Curacao, Antilles. 

Bradley’s family alerted the ship’s Captain soon after realizing Amy was missing, and purportedly asked him to not allow the ship to dock, thereby preventing people from leaving the ship so it could be searched. The Captain of the ship refused, the ship docked, and only after passengers and several employees left the ship was a search conducted.  The Bradley family approached the American Embassy and was able to get the Coast Guard to search the vast ocean in case Bradley had accidentally fallen off the ship, and the FBI became involved and soon after began collecting evidence and questioning passengers and employees.  

Twenty-one years later, Amy Lynn Bradley is still missing, there have been unverified reports suggesting that Bradley was abducted and subsequently forced into sex trafficking. Although, the FBI cannot prove or disprove this theory, one would argue if the Captain of the ship had not docked the ship allowing the opportunity for someone to possibly abduct and smuggle Bradley off the ship, Bradley would have been found as the ship was searched.  Then again, it’s possible even if the Captain had ordered the ship to be anchored and searched prior to docking, Bradley would not have been found because it cannot be ruled out that Bradley accidently fell from her tenth floor ocean view balcony either.

The disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley illustrates the complications, the confusion, one faces when investigating a missing person’s case.  When a person disappears it creates a paradoxical conundrum similar to Schrodinger’s thought experiment.  Without actually observing or having closure by either finding the missing person or arresting the person responsible, the “missing person” seems to be in a state of being both alive and dead or “missing” and “not missing”.  Because her disappearance happened on a cruise ship in open waters, one would surmise the ship to be a safe environment, or finding her would be less complicated, the fact it did happen demonstrates the difficulties law enforcement faces when a person goes missing in cities and small towns across the country. 

Missing Persons Diagnosed with Mental Illness:

Missing person cases also prove difficult especially when it concerns a legal adult, because the person has autonomy and is under no obligation to inform loved ones of their intentions to leave without notice. The challenge then is to designate whether the missing adult is endangered or victim of foul play.   

It is not a crime to go missing.  In 2009, a married man left his home in NW Arkansas to travel to California to work as a photographer.  A few days later his car was found abandoned on the side of a highway in Texas.  The man’s ID and his phone were found with the vehicle.  The man’s wife knew that her husband had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and in the weeks before he left home had been showing signs of paranoia and was most likely not taking his medications.  The man’s wife filed a missing person’s report and within a few days the man was found walking a highway at night by local law enforcement.  The officer spoke with the man, determined that the man was not in violation of any laws and let the man go. 

After leaving the officer the man went missing, and was not heard from again until six months later when the wife received a letter in the mail from her husband.  He had been placed into a mental health facility using an assumed identity. 

Upon his return home and back on medications, the man shared his story with his wife and explained that he abandoned his car because he believed he were being chased by the CIA.  For six months, he lived on the streets, and had somehow made his way a hundred miles south from where he had abandoned his car to Dallas where he lived under an overpass near the downtown area.  He told of stories in which he would be detained by police for his abnormal behavior and taken to hospitals but without identification or insurance the hospitals would release him back on the streets. 

It wasn’t until he was admitted into a hospital and doctors began treating him for schizophrenia and once stable on the medicine the man became aware of his situation and reached out to his wife. 

Although there is a happy ending to this man’s story, it illustrates how a person on their own volition can go missing, and even if they have been diagnosed with a mental illness Law Enforcement are under no obligation to take the missing person into custody if when found the person has not committed a crime or considered to be in danger to himself or others.

The man in this case made a choice to abandon his car, even if the reason for doing so was based on an irrational belief that he was being chased by the CIA and believed his life was in danger.  One could argue that the man did not leave on his own volition, and instead was abducted by his own paranoid ideation and as a result should have been considered as “endangered”; nevertheless, the man had discontinued taking his medications, which most likely caused the paranoia and although his loved one’s believed he was endangered and should have been taken into custody and taken to a hospital for evaluation, the man was under no legal obligation to take his medications and therefore law enforcement was under no legal obligation to consider the man as missing or endangered and instead believed he had chosen to leave of his own volition even if the paranoia was irrational and set off by his preexisting schizophrenia. 

If in this particular case if the man’s family had gone to court and filed for guardianship they may have been able to give Law Enforcement leverage to take the man into custody based on a courts order, but not necessarily. For example, in 2017, another man also diagnosed with schizophrenia was dropped off by his family at a local homeless shelter.  During the investigation by shelter officials to help find the man housing, it was learned that the family members had legal guardianship over the man making it impossible for social workers to get the man assistance because the man was unable to make decisions on his own without the consent of his legal guardian.  Adult Protective Services were contacted and APS, made the social worker’s aware that they would be in contact with the legal guardian, but the process of taking the legal guardian to court would be difficult. 

After social workers learned the man had a court ordered legal guardian they contacted local police to determine if the man could be taken back to the home by police, but police refused to assist without a court order ruling that the legal guardians were obligated to take the family member back into the home.

However, after reaching out to the legal guardians shelter officials were able to establish that the legal guardians had no intentions to assist the family member in finding suitable housing, this gave social workers more leverage to press APS to take custody of the man, and as a consequence within a few weeks, APS were able to find housing for the man. It took over three months for this to happen.  Fortunately, during that time period the man did not leave the shelter or was asked to leave the facility because he may have gone missing as a result. 

Both these examples have happy endings, but this isn’t always the case as in the disappearance of Sarah Rogers a 29 year old artist from Barrington, New Hampshire. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. In December 2004, after an argument with her husband, the husband attempted to take the keys from her, but was unable to do so, and Sarah left the house in her vehicle leaving her 2 year old son behind. 

The husband contacted Rogers’ family and they reported her as missing and endangered.  Her car was found by State Police a few days after she went missing and she had left her cell phone inside. Two days after Sarah left home the police entered her information in the National Crime Information Center. 

Three months later Sarah’s body was discovered in the woods not far from where her car was discovered with the engine still running, the driver’s side door open, Sarah’s purse found in a snow bank near the car, and footprints leading away from the car.  Sarah Roger’s most likely died from hypothermia.

Unlike the two aforementioned cases where both persons were found alive and found housing, cases like Sarah’s are more common when a person suffering from mental illness goes missing. Statistics verify this, and show that 75% of missing adults who are located are deceased when found. 

This statistic does beg the question as to whether or not person’s who go missing who have been diagnosed with a mental illness are not theoretically victims of “foul play.”  If the missing person is motivated to run as a result of being paranoid caused by mental illness, if they are provoked to react by running during a manic episode, they believe their lives are in danger, causing them to put their own lives in danger by running from what they believe is a real threat and the threat should be taken seriously.

 The argument must be made that in these particular cases if someone is reported missing that has a pre-existing mental illness they should be treated as if they are victims of foul play and an alert issued the same as a “Silver Alert” for those over the age of 65 who are considered endangered.   

To take this a step forward, if at a bar, a bartender is obligated by law in most cases to take steps to cut the person off from drinking and attempting to take the person’s keys preventing them from leaving their facility and driving while intoxicated. 

By taking steps to prevent a person with a pre-existing mental illness from leaving or apprehending a person and holding them until they can be seen by a doctor is similar to a bartender or a friend taking the keys from someone who is intoxicated and preventing them from hurting themselves or others. 

Missing Person with Intent to Commit Suicide & Accidental Deaths:

It seems an impossible task to determine that a person is suicidal. One can assume that a person is at risk for suicide, but even in cases where a person has attempted suicide or expressed suicidal ideation, a family can alert authorities. However, in most cases, it is up to a doctor to determine whether or not to detain an individual “against their will” by placing them under psychiatric care under a 5150 order. Nonetheless, even in these cases, within 72 hours, the person will most likely be released, unless the doctor’s evaluate the patient and determine the patient is still at risk. Even then, the doctor most likely will have to take the matter to court to seek the court’s permission to keep the person detained and prove the person is still at risk.  If the court agrees with the doctor’s it is under tight restrictions, meaning that only in the most severe cases will hospitals actually take the matter to court, and the stay may only be granted for a short period. With that said, the courts nor can the hospital forcefully make the patient comply with the treatment, in order to hold that person against their will and comply with treatment the patient would have to be declared incompetent.

If a person goes missing with intent to commit suicide, these cases are problematic because the individual may go to great lengths to distance themselves from being discovered making it impossible to find the decedents remains. 

Because of this, it is difficult to rule out “foul play”, because the missing person has created the distance and gone to great lengths to go undetected, and in many cases will not express their intent to commit suicide prior to their disappearance. 

Cases like this often go unsolved until someone unintentionally finds the missing person’s body and  only then can the case can be resolved.

Accidental deaths are similar to those who go missing with the intent to commit suicide.  The cases involving missing persons who died accidentally are often not resolved until a body is recovered, and in many cases they such as missing persons with intent to commit suicide the decedent’s body may never be recovered. 

Missing Persons: Their Own Volition VS Absconded:

People who go missing on their own volition do so for various reasons; whereas a person who has absconded may do so due to warrants for their arrests most likely disappears in order to evade capture. 

 Those who have absconded to evade capture are going to go to great lengths to avoid being found, yet at the same time although a person has warrants for their arrests still may be victims of foul play. 

The same analogy can be noted with individuals who leave on their own volition. Although they may have disappeared intentionally, it does not mean they were not at the same time being lured to leave by someone with the purpose of harming them. 

Determining if a Missing Person is a Victim of Foul Play:

In cases in which a crime scene is known and a body is found, cases still go unsolved.  However, with a crime scene and the body, investigators are able to determine cause of death, the possible motive of the suspect, whether the suspect was organized or unorganized and create a forensic profile of the suspect.  Whereas in a missing person’s case investigators are tasked with having to determine if the missing person is a victim of foul play often times without a crime scene.

Unfortunately, it seems only when working a case backwards can we explain the motives and movements that led to the circumstances of someone being reported as a missing person. Even with advancements in technology, law enforcement is still bound by rules and procedures that can in some respects drag the case down while they wait for evidence to be examined, track down false leads, or even if they have a credible lead, it does not meet the standard of probable cause to execute a search warrant or make an arrest. 

In examining this statistically, according to the FBI in 2017 out of 651,226 missing person reports made during the year, 587,711 were cancelled or cleared.  As of 2017, the FBI reports that 88,089 missing person’s cases remain active. https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2017-ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics.pdf/view

the 88,089, 35% of those active cases are juveniles under the age of 18 that percentage moves to 46.6% when the definition of juvenile includes anyone under the age of 21. Utilizing the 2nd set of statistics, we find that missing adults over the age of 21 make up 53.4% of active cases.

During a 2012 interview on NPR with Todd Matthews, the director of communications for National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) he stated: “In 2012, we had 661,000 cases of missing persons; and that’s just from that one year. Very quickly, 659,000 of those were canceled. So that means those persons either come back; in some cases, located as deceased persons, maybe never an unidentified person; or just a total misunderstanding. So at the end of 2012, of those 661,000 minus the canceled, we had 2,079 cases that remained at the end of the year as unresolved.” https://www.npr.org/2013/05/07/182000622/majority-of-missing-persons-cases-are-resolved

These statistics seem to confirm that in most cases when a missing report is filed it is quickly resolved and dismissed. This adds to the difficulty in determining whether a person has gone missing of their own volition or is a victim of foul play.

The fact that 88,089 cases remain active is troubling.

Each and every number represents one person who is missing and may or may not be a victim of foul play.  As mentioned in the beginning of this section, when investigators have an active crime scene and a body, the case may go unsolved but they are able to collect evidence, data such as DNA and fingerprints, and perhaps create a profile of the suspect and identify whether or not the killer was organized or unorganized. 

When there is no crime scene, it is difficult to then operate under the assumption that one case involving a missing person can be utilized to better understand the motives behind a similar missing person’s case.  For instance, if several missing persons are reported from one geographical location, law enforcement may recognize a pattern. However, when a person goes missing from one geographical location, the case may seem similar to another missing person case that happened in another geographical location, this may give insight for investigators working the case.  It does not mean however, that for example in:

Hypothetical Case 1: A woman from the east coast goes missing; the husband is the primary suspect; after investigating, the husband is arrested and found guilty is relevant in understanding a similar case such as:

Hypothetical Case 2: A woman from the west coast goes missing; the husband is the primary suspect; after investigating the woman is found to have been abducted and murdered by unknown male, and husband is cleared as a suspect.

In 2017 the CDC reported: Over half of the killings of American women are related to intimate partner violence, with the vast majority of the victims dying at the hands of a current or former romantic partner, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today… About a third of the time, the couple had argued right before the homicide took place, and about 12 percent of the deaths were associated with jealousy. The majority of the victims were under the age of 40, and 15 percent were pregnant. About 54 percent were gun deaths. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/07/homicides-women/534306/

The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) also seems to support the CDC statistics:

…Women are most likely to be killed at home by a current or former male intimate—that is, a husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or former boyfriend. Making this point, the UCR data from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s found that a female is more than 2.5 times as likely to be shot by her male intimate partner as to be shot, stabbed, strangled, bludgeoned, or killed in any other way by a stranger…More recent UCR data for the years 1980 to 2008 reveal that less than 12 percent of all female victims were murdered by strangers… The data reveal that females are almost six times more likely than males to be killed by an intimate partner… The same data reveal that female victims were involved in nearly 64 percent of all intimate killings and 82percent of all sex-related killings. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wicked-deeds/201510/white-females-are-rarely-murder-victims-or-perpetrators

While this data does suggest that there is a distinctive pattern in regards to women who are murdered are most likely killed by an intimate partner, we know that abductions by unknown individuals and abductions by outliers not only happen, we know that the abductions are not only disturbing but can happen in broad daylight, in public places, and within a few seconds a person can be subdued, taken and never seen again. 

One of the most disturbing cases of the aforementioned scenario happened in 2007 when 18 year old Kelsey Smith disappeared from a Target parking lot at a mall in Overland Park, Kansas. Investigators reviewed surveillance footage and were able to confirm Kelsey Smith had been in the store shopping, and watched her check out and leave the store, get in her car and drive away. A couple of hours later however, her car was viewed returning to the mall, dropped off outside of Macy’s and a person seen leaving the vehicle and heading out of the parking lot.

As investigators focused on Kelsey’s movements once departing the store and walking to her car, they slowed the speed of the camera and noticed a flash darting towards Kelsey as she opened the door to her car.  The video is horrifying to watch, but proved that Kelsey was most likely abducted and a victim of foul play. Once investigators had this evidence they were able to go back and track the teenager’s movements through the store and noticed a white male, around 20 years of age, stalking her as she shopped for a present for her boyfriend.

Minutes before Kelsey checked out of the store, the man left the store ahead of her. It was speculated that he had most likely went outside and either back to his truck to obtain a gun, and then lay in wait to subdue the young girl as she entered her car. 

It did not take long for investigators to identify the truck the young man was driving and broadcast it on local television.  Four days later, after receiving a tip from a neighbor who recognized the truck, 26-year-old Edwin Roy “Jack” Hall was arrested. 

On the same day Hall was arrested, after a legal battle with Verizon Wireless to obtain cell phone records, Verizon using cellular data were able to triangulate the last location Kelsey’s phone “pinged” and lead authorities to the location of her body.

The case is a terrifying reminder that apex predators exists and can and will attack a person without premeditation, without prejudice, without empathy, and take someone’s life for their own personal gratification.

Hall had no adult criminal record. Although as a juvenile he had been charged with assault, there is no evidence suggesting he was capable of committing this heinous act.  He was married and a father of a four year old son at the time of the crime. 

Examining the murder of Kelsey Smith, one must accept that there are in fact more suspects involved in missing person’s cases that fit the profile of someone like Edwin Hall–A person that kills because the opportunity presents itself. Or in Hall’s case, became so engrossed mentally to hurt someone for his own personal gratification he did not care if there were camera’s watching, he did not care if anyone caught him in the act, and this makes a person like Hall extremely dangerous because they do not necessarily seem to fit the profile of a predatory killer.

How then do we better understand the mind of predatory killers that are seemingly opportunistic, but in most circumstances do not fit the profile of predatory killers such as infamous serial killers?

The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics defines a serial killing as: involving the killing of several victims in three or more separate events. Psychologists have been able to examine and study serial killers and determine that not all but many serial killers have certain traits that often times start in childhood.

To better understand missing person’s cases, especially those involving foul play, if we follow the modified Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment in which one opens the box and the cat has vanished, one cannot rule out that the missing cat has been abducted from the box.  If Schrodinger were to investigate and learn that several cats have gone missing from the area, he may be inclined to believe that a serial cat burglar is living in the vicinity.  However, if no cats are reported missing, his only clue may be to examine the box and look for evidence.

Schrodinger is able to swab the box and find DNA, fingerprints, and outside the box he finds footprints leading away. When Schrodinger examines the evidence he finds no matches. 

With the evidence placed in a database, years go by and still there are no matches leading to the suspect.  Schrodinger may opine that the suspect has died, or perhaps the suspect has never committed a crime afterwards wherewith the suspect’s prints or DNA may be placed into the database. 

Then imagine when Schrodinger examines the box there is no DNA, no fingerprints inside the box, or no footprints leading away from the box.  If this happens to be the case, Schrodinger would be hard-pressed to prove that a crime had occurred and would have to consider that the cat somehow was able to escape the box on its own without assistance or worse, had been abducted.

Out of all circumstances in which a person may go missing, they all seem to share a common thread:

  1. If a person goes missing on their own volition whether as a result of intent to harm themselves, mental health, they go to great lengths to distance themselves from those who have reported them missing.
  2. If a person has gone missing as a result of foul play the abductor/murderer will go to great lengths to distance themselves from authorities.
  3. Even in the case of where the victim has gone missing as a result of an accident, it can appear that the victim is going to great lengths to stay hidden, however, they may be unable to communicate to others they’ve been in an accident and a perfect example of this is the disappearance of Tanya Rider.

After Tanya Rider went missing after leaving work in September 2007, her husband reported her missing but according to the husband when he reached out to police one department stated it was out of their jurisdiction and referred him to another department who informed Mr. Ryder they could not classify his wife as a missing person because she was an adult and was not considered suicidal. 

Tom Rider asked police to to track her through her cell phone but according to Mr. Rider his request was denied because she was not considered missing. Investigators had noticed activity from Mrs. Ryder’s bank account after she was reported missing giving them the false impression that Mrs. Ryder had gone missing on her own volition and the husband had to prove that they had a joint account and it was he using the bank account.  He then offered to take a polygraph and only after his adamant insistence that something was amiss did police determine that his wife may in fact be missing and endangered.

By analyzing her cell phone data, they were able to determine that her signal was coming from a tower less than five miles from where she was last seen.  Investigators searched the area and found Mrs. Ryder’s car had wrecked twenty feet off the road into a ravine, the car concealed by shrubbery.  8 days after she was reported missing, within a few hours of investigators tracking Mrs. Ryder’s cell phone they found her alive, but in critical condition. 

Therefore, even in a case like that of Mrs. Ryder’s in which she was involved in an accident, it appeared from the investigators standpoint she had purposefully gone missing, and if they hadn’t acted on the cell phone evidence she would have succumbed to her injuries. 

One could argue that in the case of Mrs. Ryder police may have believed Mrs. Ryder was escaping a bad relationship, and her husband was using the police to track her when she didn’t want to be found.  Nevertheless, at the same time, one could argue that whether or not, they could have still tracked her down, and if they were correct and she did in fact leave on her own volition were not obligated to inform her husband.

But this seems to be the rub, if all missing persons cases have a common thread in which it appears that when one goes missing of their own volition, with intent to commit suicide, as a result of an accident, or mental health issues mirrors the actions of perpetrator who has abducted or murdered a person reported missing, that all missing persons cases should be viewed as a result of “foul play” until proven otherwise.

Still, it must be noted that the rationale behind the previous statement is in response to the lack of data explaining the circumstances behind the missing person’s cases that are resolved and subsequently purged from the database.  Perhaps the statistics should show data as to how the missing person’s case was resolved (e.g. percentage of those who came back on their own volition, found alive, found deceased, etc) and the investigative steps taken to find the missing person once a person is listed in the national database.

Closure:

Another common thread when investigating a missing person’s case is finding closure.  As in Schrodinger’s thought experiment until the box is opened and the contents inside observed, the observer cannot know, but only theorize if the cat is alive or dead, and until the observation is made one can hypothesize that the cat is simultaneously both alive and dead.

Families, friends, loved one’s looking for closure cling to hope that their loved one is alive and well, and many will never give up looking or lose hope and will come to the end of own their lives never knowing and never having the closure of bringing their sons or daughters,  mothers or fathers,  husbands or wifes, or sisters or brothers home.

The answers are out there.  Whether the loved one has disappeared of their own volition, or has been a victim of foul play, someone knows the answers, and holds the vital clues to resolving the case and bringing closure to these families.  Someone is in possession of the “box”, that holds the clues in resolving the mystery.

Advancements in Technology:

One of the latest advancements in technology being utilized by police is Genealogy DNA.  This new type of DNA analysis has been used to solve several cold cases by entering DNA from an individual into a database and comparing it to the DNA from a crime, and linking the DNA sample to a person through their family tree. 

It has already been used to solve several cold cases and hold murderers accountable in a court of law:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/22/us/cold-case-killing-1986/index.html https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/26/us/christy-mirack-slaying-update-trnd/index.html

In both of these cases however, there was a crime scene or a body in which DNA and evidence was collected. In missing person’s cases, often times this evidence does not exist until after, at least in the cases of foul play, a body is discovered. 

Regrettably if a missing person is a victim of foul play, the person’s responsible have no intentions of providing the answers.  Most missing person’s cases often times are resolved to this day when someone happens to come across a body partially hidden in a wooded area.  In rare occasions the case is resolved as a result of someone coming forward with information years later after overhearing a conversation by the suspect.

Just recently, 12 years after a missing person’s case stunned the small town of Ocilla, Georgia in 2005 a tip to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations led to the arrest of two individuals.  In 2005, 30 year old Tara Grinstead a beloved high school teacher, and beauty pageant coach, vanished from her home.  Local police were baffled and had little evidence to provide answers, except for a latex glove that was found in Grinstead’s yard. 

Although Law Enforcement was able to extract DNA from the glove, they were unable to match it to anyone in their database.  Investigators interviewed several individuals acquainted with Grinstead and took DNA samples but none were a match. 

In 2017, all that changed when investigators received a tip from a female who claimed her boyfriend confessed to playing a part in Grinstead’s disappearance.  After interviewing the boyfriend, Bo Dukes, he confessed to the GBI and informed them that his friend and former roommate Ryan Duke had killed Grinstead after she walked in on him trying to break into her house.  Bo Dukes assisted Ryan Duke in disposing of Grinstead’s body on an orchard farm Bo Dukes’ family owned and operated.   

With this evidence Bo Duke was arrested and charged with attempting to conceal a death, hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence and soon after, they arrested Ryan Duke for murder, and collected his DNA and made a match to the DNA found in the latex glove. They also learned that Ryan Duke knew Tara Grinstead when he was a student at the high school she worked. 

Ryan Duke went undetected as a suspect because he was an outlier and evaded arrest until his co-conspirator made a tearful confession to his girlfriend who then in turn alerted authorities.

One could argue that if Ryan Duke had not involved another party to assist him in covering up the crime scene who would later implicate him, this crime may have never been solved or it would have taken even longer than 12 years for the DNA evidence to catch up to him. 

Otherwise, it seems that in most cases, unless a body is discovered, or guilt overwhelms a suspect into confessing to a crime, it all comes back to old fashioned detective work, working the streets, analyzing data, interviewing potential suspects, and attempting to find probable cause to obtain search warrants.  Yet, in most cases Law Enforcement are forced into an almost impossible predicament of being one step behind the suspect who always seems to have the advantage because they lack empathy for the victim and they have had time on their side to cover up evidence and conceal a body.

In part 2 of this modified thought experiment individual cases will be examined by attempting to find the missing person by finding the box.

The Voice of Reason: Preface

When I lived in Washington DC, one of the things I loved to do was to get out late at night and walk around the city. I had not lived there for too long and was living in Alexandria near the Pentagon and would rely on the Metro to get me around the city. One night, I made a huge mistake. I decided to start at the Capital, walking west from there through the National Mall to the Washington Monument and from there past the Vietnam War Memorial to the Lincoln Monument. I made my way around the backside of the monument and crossed over the Arlington Bridge crossing the Potomac where at night I could just make out the eternal flame where John Kennedy is buried, and just on the opposite side of the bridge is a metro entrance. Unbeknownst to me, is the Metro closes after a certain time.

The place I stayed was only two stops away if I had been able to hop onto the Metro. But to walk there would have taken another hour or so perhaps. I was exhausted, and I knew that I would have to either find a cab, or walk all the way back to the Smithsonian and hope the Metro station was still open there, or I could attempt to find a closer Metro by going North towards Rosslyn.

So I decided to travel North, but I didn’t follow the roads, I somehow ended up in Arlington Cemetery at night wandering around in the darkness. I was able to use certain markers such as the Washington Monument and the Freeway to my right to keep my bearings as I walked through the pitch black cemetery.

At some point the cemetery came to an end causing me to cross over the freeway, not really sure where I was at until I crossed and looked to my left and spotted the Iwo Jima Memorial. I knew I was heading in the right direction and within fifteen minutes or so I had found the Metro and soon would be back at Pentagon City.

My feet, my legs, my body hurt from walking that long of distance, but it is a night I’ll never forget. Although I was lost and tired, by knowing where I was, by being able to use markers such as the Washington Monument and then the Iwo Jima Memorial I knew I was heading in the right direction even if it was pitch black and quiet and no directional signs pointing me towards the metro I made it.

When I think about this little adventure of mine metaphorically, it does sadden me. These memorials and statues that have been erected in memory of our history as a country, from our first president, to Lincoln to the men and women buried at Arlington Cemetery, land once owned by Robert E. Lee’s family, to the Iwo Jima Memorial, are reminders of our past and wars we’ve fought, and lessons learned, and even more importantly I suppose I wonder how it is through all this we still seem torn and divided as a nation at times. Especially when we have these memorials to remind us of where we’ve been, what it took to get here and the lessons we should learn from these moments in our history.

Why is it I wonder that we as a country are seemingly so divided and I wonder what causes the divisions? Does the division come from the top, from those in power, the lobbyist, using wedge issues as a way to sow dissension and division? Or does it begin at a grassroots level, the voice of the people being heard and we elect the people into office who hear the message and run on a platform to bring about change? Could it be a little bit of both?
In the next few weeks I plan on writing about this conundrum and will attempt to answer these questions. I hope to be a voice of reason, and tackle these tough subjects as Thomas Paine once did in his pamphlet titled “Common Sense” and attempt to, if possible to better understand these divisions and what we can do to bring closure to the issues that divide us.

Game of Thrones Theory: Sansa Stark is the True Winner of the Game of Thrones

I am convinced that Dany’s total war attack on King’s Landing was not an act of madness but a necessary strategy. I believe her murder on the otherhand was a conspiracy concocted by Sansa, Arya, Bran and Tyrion to use Jon Snow to murder Dany giving the throne to Bran and the North to Sansa.

Dany’s refusal to accept the surrender of King’s Landing was not an act of madness.

Dany having learned from her experiences with previous occupations of cities, understood that occupying a city is more difficult than taking the city through force.

Cersai’s approach to defend the city by using its citizens as human sheilds was an act of “madness” and one Dany has to surmise will be the approach other cities she intends on ruling will take in the future.

With two dragons killed, leaving her with Drogon, a small force of Dotraki and Unsullied, her war powers have diminished exponentially. If she were to lose Drogon, her main threat, this would leave her vulnerable and as a consequence she would no longer be a threat.

By continuing her attack on King’s Landing after the city surrendered while seen as an act of madness, one could argue that by doing so it would send a message to other kingdoms that using their people as human shields would not work as a strategy.

This would allow Dany to keep Drogon safe from being killed, and give her an opportunity to act diplomatically under the threat of war and total destruction if other kingdom’s did not remain loyal to her.

On to Jon Snow and his motivations to murder his Queen. Up until his conversation with his sister Arya on the steps of the recently destroyed Red Keep, and Lord Tyron while imprisoned for treason, Jon remains loyal to Dany–up until the point that he believes his family, the Starks are in danger.

However, one has to understand that Jon himself informed Sansa and Arya of his true lineage after being asked not to by Dany. Even so, Snow made his sister’s swear to keep his lineage secret, maintaining his desire to remain loyal to Dany despite his being the rightful heir to the throne.

It is here where I believe Sansa saw a moment to take advantage of this information by using the lessons she learned from Little Finger and Cersai.

One has to argue that Sansa learned to become a master of manipulation from Little Finger and Cersai. After escaping Winterfell where she had been held captive by her masochist husband Ramsay Bolton and arrived at the Wall she was obviously upset when her ideas were dismissed. When Snow gathered forces to attack and retake Winterfell, Sansa advised against Snow’s strategy and again was ignored.

Snow, in the Battle of the Bastards was losing and was essentially doomed until he was rescued by Sansa’s quick thinking by bringing in reinforcements from the Vale. Sansa was the true hero of the Battle of the Bastards and even so, Snow was named the King of the North.

Regardless of their familial relationship and love for Jon, he like Dany was an outsider to the Stark family. When Jon left Winterfell to meet with Dany to obtain dragonglass and her forces, Sansa ordered the execution of Little Finger and displayed that the student had become the teacher. However, Little Finger had been correct in assuming that Sansa did not like being overlooked while her “Bastard” brother took all the credit, and he needed to be eliminated. In this moment it also brought Bran, Sansa, and Arya closer as a family as all three stood in judgment against Little Finger.

Although Sansa disliked Jon having bent the knee to Dany she realized with the threat of the Night King looming cooperating with Dany was necessary. After the Night King was killed, Sansa again was ignored when she advised Dany to allow the troops to rest before attacking King’s Landing. Again, Sansa, was correct and Dany ended up losing more troops, her best friend and another dragon.

As this was happening, Sansa learned of Jon’s true heritage and against Jon’s request to never tell she sought out Tyrion. I believe it was at this time Sansa teamed up with Tyrion to plan a conspiracy to kill Dany. I believe Arya was sent along to King’s Landing as a back up plan to kill Dany if Jon did not complete the mission.

In other words, whether or not Dany had accepted the surrender of King’s Landing when the bells rang or not she was going to be murdered and her murder was orchestrated by Sansa Stark and Bran, and they used Arya and Tyrion as co-conspirators to turn Jon against Dany, and had Jon failed to be convinced to turn against and kill Dany, Arya would have killed Jon, used his face to gain access to Dany and murder her.

Varys death was hand delivered to Dany by Tyrion, although it was Tyrion who had learned of Snow’s true heritage and informed Varys. Sansa and Tyrion used this to their advantage. They knew Varys would act on this information. They also knew how Dany would respond to Varys treasonous act. By turning in Varys this would show Dany that Tyrion was loyal to his Queen, while covering up it was he and Sansa working against her. They also knew this would help turn Jon against her if he felt Sansa’s life were in danger for having informed Tyrion of Jon’s true heritage.

Another lesson Sansa had learned from Cersai was to allow others to do the fighting while she waited in the wings to take control when the fighting was over. Without Drogon, had the forces outside of King’s landing had breeched the walls and fought their way through to the Red Keep, it would have again cost Dany losses she could not afford.

However, without Drogon, one could argue that the battle between the Dothraki, Unsullied, and Northmen, against the Gold Company and the Lannister forces would have been a protracted battle and it’s possible Dany’s forces would have been forced to retreat the same as Stannis Baratheon’s forces.

Dany again was a used as a means to an end leaving the Starks on the throne. It did not matter that Dany murdered innocent civilians, it mattered that Dany took down King’s Landing and without her and Drogon, it may have been impossible for the Starks and their northern bannerman to take down Cersai.

In my opinion, Dany wasn’t murdered or vilified by her actions at King’s Landings, but was the victim of a conspiracy because she was seen as an outsider and she was conspired against by the Starks to use Jon Snow to murder her, and give them two thrones. This was a lesson the Starks have learned over the last 7 seasons, that to win the Game of Thrones one has to win or die, and to win means to not be masters of war or combat but be smarter than those that oppose them. The remaining pack that survived had become powerful. Sansa had become a Queen, having learned from two of the best players in the GOT, Arya an assassin, and Bran the Three-Eyed Raven. In order to survive Dany had to go, and who better to than Jon Snow to carry it out, by turning him against Dany.

This conspiracy theory suggests why it is Arya does not take the white horse and leave King’s Landing and instead stays around lurking, sneaking up on Jon and warning him that she knows a killer when she sees one.

It explains why Tyrion turns on Varys, his trusted friend, to show to Dany that Tyrion remained a trusted friend to Dany who was isolating herself and watching her loyal friends die as she sought the Iron Throne.

This may also explain why Jon was sent back to the Wall, when there was no need for a Wall. In order to complete their objective, it wasn’t the Unsullied that needed justice, because they were leaving King’s Landing and the nobles could have knowing Jon was the rightful heir to the throne voted him to be the King, or could have at least waited for the Unsullied to leave and let Jon return to Winterfell at least. But to sentence him to the Night’s Watch was the final phase, to get Jon to renounce all claims to the throne and allow Sansa to take the North and Bran the six kingdoms where his first act was to make Tyrion his hand. It was a ruse to suggest his being the hand as punishment, it was reward for his part he played in the conspiracy to turn against Dany and support the Starks.

If one remembers, it was Tyrion, unchallenged who immediatly when called upon by the Lords and Ladies to make his case to be the new King that could have made the case for Jon Snow, but instead without hesitation made a passionate speech for Bran. And when Bran was asked if he would be willing to take on the responsibility responded, “Why else would I be here.” Meaning he too was part of the conspiracy all along and once made King, he could grant independence to the North allowing Sansa to rule the North.

Throughout the show, its been said of Jon Snow that “he knew nothing.” Just as Dany was a threat to the Starks, they saw Jon as an outsider too, and for Sansa, Tyrion, Bran and Arya to take total control it was necessary to turn Jon against Dany, murder her, then once they took control of the North and the six kingdoms, send Jon back to the Wall.

This takes us back to the origins of GOT, when a plot to kill Dany was planned by King Robert, and to be carried out by Ned who refused. With Mormont gone, Dany had lost the one person who stood in the way of a successful assassination attempt.

Sansa learned from the mistakes her father made, lessons she learned from her time at King’s Landing, the lessons she learned from Little Finger, and Cersai. It is my belief that Sansa is the winner of the Game of Thrones by conspiring with Tyrion, Bran and Arya to see the Starks survive and avenge the North and the deaths of their family.

Game of Thrones: How will it end? My Theory

My wife and I watched EP 4 of the final season of GOT last night. Knowing that there are only two more episodes to go in this amazing series, and I argue one of the best television shows of all time, I do feel as if I have a theory as to how the story will end.

I will warn you now of SPOILER’S from previous episodes that have led me to my conclusions.

To begin, I just want to say that my two favorite characters are Arya and the Hound. To see these two back together on the road to King’s Landing was awesome.

With that said, let’s dig in.

What chance does Cersai have of winning by going up against the same group of people who won the Battle of Winterfell against the White Walkers? We already know that way back when she was a child she was informed by a witch that her reign as queen would be short lived.

It would seem that Cersai’s death is somewhat inevitable. But we’ll come back to that.

Although the writer’s of GOT have done a great job at creating suspense, when one moves past the tension purposefully created for suspense, at the end of each episode or season you find there is a logical methodology of foreshadowing that has followed throughout the series and I believe this may hold theories as to how the epic saga will end.

With only two episodes to go, the writer’s could give most of us or perhaps all of us who expect Cersai to lose, give us the moment of watching her die a most painful death, and give Daenerys the throne and that’s it: The End.

Simple, and easy, and everyone happy…but not so fast.

Then there’s the dread each viewer has knowing that at anytime one of our favorite character’s could die. In fact people are placing bets each week and the odds change after each episode as who’s going to die and at this point, although several beloved character’s have died, the main players in the GOT are still with us with two episodes to go.

My theory is logical, and I believe has been set up many moons ago and is right before our very eyes.

Cersai’s reign will end. I feel quite confident of this. Everything and everyone still alive outside of her own circle of loyalists want her gone. One could even argue how loyal are the Gold Company to her if they like Sir Bronn can be bought and or change sides without hesitation if Cersai is on the way out. (in fact this is talked about in earlier seasons by the current Queen of King’s Landing during the Battle of Blackwater)

How Cersai’s reign will end is still in question, but not if it will end.

If the logical argument is Cersai is out, the next question is who ends up with the Iron Throne. As EP 4 ended, with the true heritage of Jon Snow being uncovered it does add to the suspense and a possible feud tearing those who love the Queen of Dragons and those who follow The King of the North apart and thereby allowing Cersai to win the throne as the two factions outside King’s Landing fight each other.

Although the writer’s have shown great skill in creating suspense and tension, in the end, it is for dramatic effect and that only, because Cersai is out.

To end GOT with Cersai still sitting on the Iron Throne would not be a surprise, it would be an insult to almost every fan of the show.

Even so, the writer’s also know how to hold an audience to the very end. It wasn’t until the final moment’s of EP 3 we saw Arya leaping into the air and winning the battle of Winterfell. So it’s possible that the writer’s will draw this out until the final episode and keep us on edge in our seats until the credit’s role. But there is no Season 9 so pretty much everything has to happen within two and half hours over the next two Sundays.

We know (at least we think we know) that only one dragon remains alive. We know that Daenerys once again jumped headfirst into battle against the advice of those around her. We know Jon Snow is traveling to Kings Landing with troops. We know the Hound and Arya are close behind. We know Jaimie has also left Winterfell and is on the same road to King’s Landing. Sansa and Lady Brienne are at Winterfell, along with the Free Folk.

How this plays out over the next two episodes I do not know. What I do believe however is that again Cersai is out, possibly as early at the end of EP 5. This allows for the entirety of Ep 6 to figure out what to do with her and who shall sit on the Iron Throne. In fact the last episode could be a fast forward to years after the events depicted over the last 8 seasons as a final farewell to those who died and those who survived.

So here is my theory:

I believe Daenerys is becoming too much like her brother and her ancestors. She believes her right to the throne is divine but yet her brother felt the same. Dany will either grow to understand this and realize she can end tyranny without the throne by helping overthrow Cersai and put someone in the throne who will be the best ruler for the realm. If she does not come to this understanding not only does she stand to lose the support of those loyal to her, but perhaps even worse lose Jon Snow. When Khal Drogo died, and afterwards Lord Mormont, it had a tremendous impact on Dany, to the point that she begged Jon to swear to secrecy his true lineage. Even when Jon vowed he did not want the throne and would remain loyal to her, her having to beg was similar to the scene in which her brother lost his mind and his life in his vain attempt to force Khal Drogo to give him his Army. Is Dany going to be forced to kill Jon Snow in order to protect her quest to rule the Seven Kingdoms? Will Jon Snow sacrifice his life as did Ned Stark to give Dany what she wants because he truly believes she is the rightful heir to the throne?

Since we’re on the subject of Jon Snow…it is true he is willing to make sacrifices. He pledged his allegiance to the Men of the Watch. He then went against the powers that be to break bread with the Free Folk and it cost him his life, only to be revived by the Red Witch. At the Battle of Hardholme he was forced to retreat. At the Battle of the Bastards he would have lost had it not been for Sansa. After being declared the King of the North, he travels to meet Dany only to bend the knee, another sacrifice to gain access to the dragonglass and dragons in order to fight the White Walkers. He sacrificed himself in the battle against the White Walkers and was saved by his Uncle Benjin, at great cost of losing a dragon. Then in the Battle of Winterfell, again it was Arya who saved the day as Dany and Snow fought for their lives in a battle they under most circumstances would have lost. And now, knowing his true lineage, he still bends the knee to Dany even if he has a stronger claim to the throne than her.

No one can deny Jon and Dany’s heroism, their passion, their honor, or even their lineage. Still one could argue that despite this and the loyalty and love of those they have inspired, they may not be best suited to rule the Seven Kingdoms together or separately.

If not Jon and Dany, than who?

I think the answer is quite simple: Sansa Stark.

When watching the last few episodes of GOT, it seems quite obvious to me that Sansa has outgrown her role as Lady of Winterfell. The prophecy told to Cersai as a teenager stated that her reign as queen would not be long, and she would be replaced by someone more beautiful. One could argue that Marjorie the queen to Renley, Goffery, and Tommin fulfilled this part of the prophecy, but I disagree. Cersai did not become the Queen until her youngest son’s death after the loss of his beloved Marjorie. So her reign begins after the death of Marjorie, meaning that there is still another.

So this is my belief: Cersai is out. The Mountain is out. I do not know how either go, but I have a feeling Arya and the Hound will be responsible in the epic battle against The Mountain. I believe that it is quite possible that Jamie now on his way to King’s Landing will encounter the Hound and Arya and hatch a plan which will allow Jamie to slide past the Mountain and the King’s Guard.

Uncle Greyjoy is out. Yara is on her way to King’s Landing. After the “heroic” death of Theon, her hatred for her uncle, and her sworn allegiance to Dany, she will arrive with a greater fleet, and Uncle Greyjoy will either flee once he learns of the Queen’s betrayal concerning his being the father of her child, or by the sight of Dragon fire destroying his fleet. I do not think he will escape Yara’s wrath even if he escapes the Dragon fire and Blackwater.

Once this happen the Gold Company of Bravos will turn against Cersai as foreshadowed in earlier seasons.

At some point, and I know all of us have been waiting for it, there has to be a moment where Jon Snow’s true lineage will exposed. I do not think it will be as a result of the talking heads and little birds, but by fire. One has to assume that since wild fire has been the weapon of choice by the Mad King, to Cersai using it to destroy the church, it’s being produced in greater quantities. Imagine if you will that Jon Snow is seen by the inhabitants of the Red Keep be struck by wild fire and survive the flames. This would surely act as a way to show not only Dany and all the soldiers loyal to Dany and Snow, as well as the city of King’s Landing Jon Snow is more than the bastard son of Ned Stark. It will also show Dany that Snow is a true Dragon.

Speaking of Dragons: we all watched in horror as Greyjoy struck the mighty Dragon several times and it crash into the sea. Problem is, in GOT there are Drowned Gods and Red Witches and well I think you see where I’m going. It’s quite possible this Dragon is not dead, or won’t be revived through some ancient God we’ve yet to be introduced too. Or perhaps Bran, will resurrect the dragon?

But what if Dany and Jon have an even greater secret. No one knows for certain how Dragon’s mate, or if it is even necessary for them to mate to birth Dragons. It is quite possible that there are more Dragons that only Dany and Jon know of. It would be a great strategy for them to keep this a secret.

OK, so where was I? How does this end with Sansa on the throne?

Foreshadowing throughout GOT provides us many theories. We know that someone more beautiful will take the Iron Throne from Cersai. It also well known however, that a Stark must always remain at Winterfell. Bran, or the Three-Eyed-Raven, no longer considers himself a Stark, Arya is now a Faceless Man, and it essentially leaves only Sansa to be the Stark left behind to be at Winterfell.

But again, not so fast. What was it Tormund told Jon before they parted ways in the EP4. You are the North. Jon is also a Stark.

If you will indulge me for a moment, after Mormont’s death, Dany knew Mormont loved her, but she could never love him back. Her rush to King’s Landing after defeating the Night King resulted in losing another Dragon, and the death of another loyal friend Missandei. We know her love for Drogo, and now she is close to losing Jon. Either Dany is going to turn into the Mad Queen and become everything she despises in order to take down Cersai, or, and I believe this to be the case, is after watching how the people not only are loyal to Jon but their love and affection towards him will come to realize the Iron Throne is not worth the cost of losing Jon. Therefore, I believe she will come full-circle to the Dany we met in Season 1. She will acquiesce and bend the knee to Jon, which Jon will refuse.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but wouldn’t it be nice to end the GOT in the way it started. Children in the courtyard of Winterfell, looking up as Dany and Jon stare down lovingly at their children, same as Ned and Catilyn had done?

Then I see Sansa and Lord Tyrion ending up married, as Sansa sits on the Iron Throne. But instead of being the King of the Seven Realms they propose a more democratic society with Jon and Dany in the North, Yara in the Iron Islands, Gendry as Lord of Storm’s End, and so forth and so forth. And maybe perhaps, and what if, a merciful Sansa is allows Jamie and Cersai to live out their lives together happily at Casterly Rock? Whether one hates Cersai or not, she too protested the beheading of Ned Stark. She too, did everything she did to protect her children. And if Theon can redeem himself and the Lady of Winterfell shed tears over his death, she can certainly be merciful to the oft times, spiteful, Queen Cersai.

Lady Brienne will remain head of the King’s Guard alongside Sansa, Sam becomes the Grand Meister of the Citadel changing the rules allowing women to join the ancient order, and Arya travels back to Bravos to continue the ancient order of the Faceless men.

There is no need for the Men of the Watch. There is no wall, there is no threat from the Night King, and all live happily ever after.

Again, what happens is unpredictable I will admit, but there is a way for no more deaths, no more fire and brimstone, no more need for little birds and spies, just peace and what better way to end the bloodshed and undo the wrongs put into play by Littlefinger and others who put the events into motion that would be played out over the last seven seasons?

I guess we’ll see. I don’t mind if my theory is wrong. There are so many predictions out there, all I know is I have loved watching the series, and look forward to seeing how this amazing story ends.

Now what?

That’s always the question making my brain feel as if it’s on fire. I’ve been keeping busy, just finished writing a rough draft for one screenplay and am editing two other screenplays. It shouldn’t take too long to proof all three, register them with the Writer’s Guild, and then begin the process of querying agents and film production companies.

I’ve also recently submitted three short stories for review, but I’ve written about that in a blog post, and I’ve sent queries out for the novella “The Month of April” and I’ve written about that too, but now what?

Having been down this road, I know this is somewhat of a waiting game now once the proofing is complete and the querying begins. That doesn’t mean I should take a break, even if over the last month I’ve written let’s see, 356 pages in total, four different and original stories, three scripts one novella, that’s a lot of words and a lot of pages. But I’m not done, even if I could take a break. What was it Stephen King said, something about talent is cheap as table salt?

The problem I’m having isn’t ideas, because that’s precisely why my brain is on fire as we speak, because it’s burning with ideas, several, and as soon as I focus on one, another story pushes the other out of the way and takes over my thoughts and then another and it goes on like this, until eventually one will take the lead for whatever reason and then it’s off to the races.

But I have to say, that as much as I love writing fiction, a part of me wants to write about current events and trending hashtags, because that’s where I started. Still a part of me has tired of writing about those things because even if you feel like something ought to be said, you realize as soon as you say it you find your email inundated with some who disagree and some who agree, but only partially agree, and then some who just seem angry but admit they didn’t actually read the entire story, just the fact they were compelled to stop what they were doing and skim through it made them angry enough to send me an email and inform me of this aggravation I caused them.

I’ll be the first to admit that I grew up reading Socrates and I love a good debate and playing the devil’s advocate, well I did, when I was younger, but now that I’m older, it doesn’t appeal to me as much. And there is good reason for that, because in the last five years, two situations have happened that I’ve been witness too, in which I realized that not all, let me clarify this, but at least one person I’ve met is completely bat shit crazy and personifies the definition of the word skulking, and the other antagonist in this story is perhaps one of the most duplicitous human beings I’ve ever met who unfortunately is in a position of authority (and I have emails and documents to prove this, as matter of fact on both the skulking psychopath and the inept duplicitous dip shit boss I worked for.)

But let me reiterate: in 45 years, I managed to go through life only reading about these specific types of just god-awful human beings, but only in the last five years actually met two, and I cannot help it if almost every single fiber of my being feels like I should include these two deluded individuals into my next story. And, not only that, but tell the story of the apathetic individuals who know what these two individuals are doing is wrong, and say nothing. I honestly don’t know which party is worse. The two antagonists, or the ones who believe that not taking a side, do not seem to understand the logic that by not taking a side, is in fact taking a side.

Where was I, so there’s that story, which I think should be told, but don’t know if I feel like crossing that bridge again and rethinking what was, when I have only just recently got the smell of the acrid smoke from those burning bridges from stinking up my house out and have began moving on.

Still, there are other stories, such as trending stories that intrigue me as well. But then again, I find myself saying, Chad, you’ve been there, you’ve done that, enjoy writing fiction, and if you can somehow incorporate these current trending stories and the aforementioned stories of the two pricks and the apathetic people who enable them, do that instead.

I mean, it’s doable, writer’s like Upton Sinclair, Ellison, Steinbeck, Hughes, Cullen, and this list could go on and on , they used their prose and poetry to bring about positive change and I’m sure they faced criticism for doing so.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s next, but it ought to be an adventure. And I hope along the way I can entertain, or smile, or perhaps even bring about positive change.

I hope everyone is doing well… Chad.

Oh, and last night after much thought on the subject I deleted my Facebook account and for some reason it felt like ending my relationship with those two nutbags I mentioned in this post.

Today’s Been a Good Day

I was up at around 6am. I started my day as usual. Reread the three short stories I recently sent out for possible publication. Reread my novella The Month of April a story I’ve been sending query letters to publishers, and wrote 40 pages of a new script, 80 pages in total over the last couple of days. The 1st draft is complete and now I go to the editing and proofing stage and hopefully by the middle of next week will be able to register it with the WG.

I plan on submitting this script as well as another script I am also doing some small changes too by the 1st of May.

Also I am pretty confident in the next two projects I will be starting. One will be a script and the other a novel.

I would love to have both projects completed by the end of June.

So the reboot so far is going better than expected.

I hope everyone is doing well… Chad

Let the Reboot Begin

After doing some soul searching and speaking with my wife and mentors I have made the decision to seek traditional publishing versus pursuing self-publishing.

Although I love the convenience of self-publishing, something that wasn’t as easily attainable a few years ago, it does seem more practical of an approach to pursue the traditional route. It is a much longer process of course, but it’s a journey I have taken. I’ve been published and I’ve been rejected, but having started my career as a writer in journalism, I think rejection does make me better as a writer.

Again, I admire the authors who self-publish for whatever reasoning, and I will continue to support indie-authors, but for me personally, this is the route I’ve chosen.

With that said, however, I am happy in making this decision. In the last few days I have sent my manuscript to several publishers and have had two ask for the completed manuscript. So that’s a promising start.

It’s also given me a chance to submit three of my short stories for publication. I’m very excited to hear feedback from the editors.

I am also working on new projects, and am currently 40 pages in to a new script.

Lastly, I have just recently downloaded the Scrivener Software and I was skeptical at first, because I’ve always used either MS Word for my stories, and other software for script writing. And although I have much to learn on all the capabilities Scrivener has to offer, I am loving it’s format and the ability it gives me to begin drafting stories and putting them together and keeping them together. It not only works for script writing, but offers multiple template for writer’s to access.

So I have a lot on my to-do list, and much to accomplish and goals I’d like to obtain by the end of the year. I have several books I’d like to read also from indie-authors. So if you have noticed my stories have gone missing, it was a purposeful act and one I think was made for all the right reasons.

I hope all is well… Chad

The Challenge: Part 3

Yesterday, I was writing about how a painting inspired me to write the book: The Month of April. I mentioned how we never know how or when inspiration will strike, but be always ready. Within a few minutes of me posting that I walked outside for a few minutes and it occurred to me that I’d had two ideas, two separate stories, that what if I put them together and bam, like a bat to the head. There it was.

The challenge is well, this if I can pull this off will be something as a writer I’ve never attempted, and that is to create a fantasy/sci-fi/action/horror/historical/ and whatever other genre you want to throw in there and I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet.

I’ve even downloaded Scrivener and will try it out on a trial basis and if it works as good as it looks, will purchase the software. It may help me create this complex story and put it all together.

So that’s the big news. I’m about to start a major story, possibly even a series of stories, because it really is that “big” of a story. It’s an idea that has been in my mind for sometime, but never really knew how to put it together, and then like I said, it came together.

Again I go back into the rabbit hole. I’ve already warned my wife. She knows where to find me and how to lure me out. Sometimes…

Fingers crossed, as I take this next journey.

The Challenge: Part 2

When it comes to writing, it is a craft. In poetry, there is structure, and different styles, and the same for prose. Now there are different styles of poetry, and prose, and several genres of storytelling. But again, this conversation isn’t necessarily about the style one writes, or the genre one writes, it is about the craft of getting it right.

As I mentioned in my last post about Socrates and that wisdom is knowing you know nothing, you have to take this same approach when writing.

You’ve labored behind your desk, behind a computer tapping away, and 32000 words later, you have your first draft. You read it, you love it, done.

Not so fast. It rarely if ever is “done”. Often times when writing the first draft we use a lot of filler words, and do a lot of telling versus showing. It’s not something we do purposefully. It’s just, we know what we are saying or trying to say, and we are just attempting to get it written. We don’t even notice how many times we use the word “it”, or “that” or “knew” or “watched” or “heard” or “felt”. We don’t notice adverbs, or passive tense, and glance right over comma splices, and dialogue tags, and dangling modifiers and homonyms. I’ll give you an example, I wrote “it had been three 3 1/2 years since I’d been home” in a sentence, and for the life of me I overlooked the word three. Not even the editing software noticed or cared.

However, I also know the costs that come with hiring a “professional editor” and sometimes it’s a choice of buying groceries or finding an editor and we often go for the groceries. Many times, unless you have a great group of friends, or are in college and are in creative writing classes, finding Beta Readers can also be difficult, and if you are anti-social just asking someone is difficult.

Still, though, even if you don’t hire a professional editor or find beta readers, it’s not enough to utilize Microsoft Word software to detect misspelled words or point out sentence fragments, because what it does detect, is awesome, but nowhere near good enough.

I would suggest in saving the money and investing in an editing software program, and maybe even more than one. You can also utilize free sites, such as Hemingway Editor, or Grammarly, to assist you in finding errors, and sticky sentences, and I find them to be very reliable tools as a writer.

For me personally, I have invested in ProWritingAid, Grammarly, and Hemingway Editor and I will take the writing project to all three programs and search for any thing missing, mistakes, etc. Still, with all those fabulous tools working for me, there is nothing greater than a set of eyes. And if you don’t have an editor or a beta reader you have to fine tune yourself to looking for those mistakes, and you will find them (in most cases) even after the editing software assists you in fixing the basic common errors.

One suggestion is to print the story. Yeah, OK, you’ve written 300 pages, and you have a modest, cheap, “Sabre” printer (The Office reference) that may catch on fire if you attempt to print that much. But it really isn’t that expensive to have the book printed and even bound at Staples or Office Depot. This way you aren’t having to sit behind the desk. You can take a red pen and go through each page, taking your time, and highlighting your errors. Think of yourself as a college professor that has 50 essays to grade by 50 freshman and only 3 really gave a damn about impressing the professor with their words.

I will end with this though, don’t become robotic and allow the editing software to fix every thing. It doesn’t really care about style or things you interject as a writer, it isn’t programmed to understand that yes you did mean for a specific word to be there. It wants you to correct it and maybe you should. But trust your instincts also. You know what you are saying and trust that your readers will understand it also.

Trust me, I know the fun part is that first draft, but I encourage you to fall in love with the craft of writing. Fall in love with the editing process, because it will only make you a better writer at the end of the day. Honestly, it will.

The Challenge: Part One

Even as a kid it was always about challenging everything. From my parent’s rules, to school, to conformity, and yes it has gotten me in trouble, but it’s also been something that has made me think differently and approach difficult situations and in doing so helped me make positive changes in peoples lives, and find solutions through deductive reasoning. From helping solve cold cases, to speaking out against hatred and violence, to being able to assist many people in dire situations, find, help, hope or housing.

When it comes to writing, I seem to want to take on that same challenge and accept the same risk of being banished, or making a difference in someone’s life. Even my first visit to the local public library, there was the children’s books on the first floor, and then these huge, 400 page Hard Cover books with dust jackets, and I took Socrates over Curious George. Isn’t that the whole concept behind George is to be curious about what’s upstairs? So if you can pick up what George is putting down, you can bypass George and go straight to Socrates. And there you will find all your curiosities and questions put to the test.

And I loved it. I still do. I love a good old fashioned Socratic debate. Just ask my wife. Ask any person I’ve worked for or with. Ask an old friend, who I no longer talk to because we’re no longer friends because I really do love a good debate.

But even I know, and I can thank Socrates for this: the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.

It’s funny how this statement annoys people. I know because I’ve used it in debate often, and I’ve watched people become visibly upset, thinking what Socrates meant by that, and what I mean by that when I quote Socrates is that I’m calling them stupid. When actually it’s quite the opposite.

To me its a challenge to open your mind. It’s about having intellectual curiosity and it means listening instead of talking, and not just hear what people are saying to you, but listen, watch, and give them your attention.

This is a debate for another time. Because the challenge I’m referring to is when it comes to writing. Since Socrates, there have been many books to challenge me, from religious texts to poetry, from Gatsby, to “Atlas Shrugged.”

These books always seemed to challenge me and the way I think, and the way I look at the world. One book would lead me to another, and so on and would in some respect shape me and my views and have as much of an impact on me as did “life” you know, “reality” the thing that exists outside of our imaginations, the place outside the rabbit hole, where most of all the things we write about we take from up top, and down into the hole and attempt to understand it through allegorical tales, and fables, and parables.

Most of the writing before 2018 has been under pen names, or whatever, because many of the things I wrote about were political, and controversial, and I would receive hate mail, and mail of support, and besides, I’ve always been a private person. I’m not sociable, and I don’t have a huge network of friends, no dinner parties, no game nights, just me and my wife.

I just recently wrote a book “The Month of April” and the main characters are female, lesbian, and I’m a 45 year old man, former Marine, and one may ask: what business do I have attempting to narrate a story as a 21 year old woman and a 19 year old woman?

But I can say assuredly, that the story just came to me. “Like a vision she danced on the front porch as the radio played.” As Springsteen once said. And that’s the truth. All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong powerful, inspiring women. Many of the political writings I had written involved the legalization of same-sex marriage.

I did consider using a pen name to write the story. But eventually said screw it, I wrote it and I’m proud of the story. It’s not overtly sexual, it’s a love story. To me that was the thing, it wasn’t about the identity, it was about love, and love is love, and I didn’t want to make a political statement or push my views on people, I truly did feel inspired by these character’s and most importantly the love they have for each other.

Where was I? This goes beyond writing, it also goes to the challenge of the style of writing. I prefer writing as did one of my favorite short story authors, Raymond Carver “with brevity and intensity.” I love so many styles of writing, but I love the idea of writing a story without as much narration from the author and allowing the reader to take in the story, and read between the lines so to speak, and ask, is the narrator lying, or being honest. If I’m writing as a specific character, the character may not choose to be honest, and in this particular book I use other character’s to challenge the narrator, instead of me as the writer making it my responsibility to do so.

Hemingway once wrote: “If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

In “The Month of April” that is the approach I took while writing the story. The “Thumping,” of music that leads Dani to leave her hotel room. Was it the music, or was it something else motivating her, that she did not proclaim loudly, but it can be deduced that there was more to it than just the music making her unable to sleep. Later, she will be challenged to justify her actions, and that’s the beauty of show versus tell, or allowing the reader to take from the story and realize that it really is about listening to the story, and if I’ve done my job correctly, you will find there is so much more going on and so much depth to the characters, that the reader can establish without me taking them below the surface and pointing out what lies underneath the tip of the iceberg.

According to legend, when the great director Steven Spielberg was approached by the great producer Quincy Jones to direct “The Color Purple”, Spielberg was reluctant direct. Jones purportedly changed Spielberg’s mind by saying you don’t know alien’s either, but you were able to tell that story.

I love that. Whether it’s a true story or not, I don’t know, but I love the rationale behind it.

When writing, I love these challenges, to take on a subject or a character, and if so inspired, to write their story.

So with all that said, I’m going to end this post here.

In Part 2, I will discuss the challenge of not only getting the story written, but the equally important part of getting it right when there is no one standing behind you barking orders or giving you a deadline.