July 28, 2009

A Really Sad Story

The local paper brings us many stories of people being murdered. You become jaded to them, it seems to happen so frequently. This past weekend was one of the most violent in Los Angeles in awhile, gang shootings, drug deals gone bad, etc. But sometimes, one of the stories stands out. One of those, "This could happen to me", types. This poor girl, 17 years old, went on an errand for her Mom and crossed paths with a PoS who, by all rights, sounds like he shouldn't have even been out to roam the streets.

Article here.

Collision of 2 L.A. worlds may have led to girl's death

Lily Burk, 17, was a bright, bookish teen who showed vast promise. Charlie Samuel, who is accused of killing her, is a transient with a long record of arrests and drug use.

By Richard Winton, Ari B. Bloomekatz and Joel Rubin
July 28, 2009

Lily Burk and Charles Samuel walked in separate worlds.

Burk was a bright, bookish 17-year-old, whose future was ahead of her. After a summer in which she was to appear on stage as the lead in a play and volunteer at a skid row needle exchange program, she was to have started her final year of high school.

Samuel, 50, had been in and out of prisons for decades. He was a transient with a long record of criminal activities and drug abuse.

Friday, on a hot, bright afternoon, chance brought the two together on a quiet, tree-lined street.

Burk walked down Wilshire Place about 3 p.m., leaving the former Bullock's Wilshire department store that today is home to Southwestern University School of Law. Under her arm, she carried a box of paperwork that her mother, who taught at the school, had asked her to pick up.

Samuel had walked out of a nearby residential drug treatment program earlier in the afternoon. He had been ordered there after a recent arrest but had been given permission to leave for the day.

As Burk approached her Volvo sedan near 7th Street, Samuel confronted her. Moments later the car drove off -- a security video shows Samuel behind the wheel and Burk in the passenger seat, but it does not capture the exact moment of the alleged abduction.

By dusk, Burk was dead, her body left in her car in a downtown parking lot -- her head beaten and her neck slashed, according to Los Angeles police and other law enforcement officials. Samuel killed her, police suspect, during a botched robbery. He was arrested within 90 minutes of her death on an unrelated charge and was held in custody.

On Sunday, fingerprints linked him to the young woman's death, and he was arrested again late that night on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail.

The alleged abduction and killing of a teenage girl, rare for its apparent randomness even in a metropolis like Los Angeles, jolted the city over the weekend, leaving parents to second-guess when they can ever fully trust that their children are safe.

"This could have been you, it could have been your daughter, and that is what drives it home," said Los Angeles Police Department First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell. Veteran LAPD homicide detectives could not recall the last time a teen in the city was abducted by a stranger and killed.

Police detectives pieced together their preliminary account of Burk's slaying from security camera footage that captured the teenager and man at several points as they moved from the law school into the maze of streets in downtown's Little Tokyo and skid row.

With Samuel standing by her side "and in control of her body," Burk tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to withdraw cash at a downtown ATM using a credit card. The attempts began a little more than 30 minutes after she was abducted, said Det. Thayer Lake, one of the investigators on the case.

Over the next 25 minutes, Burk made a call to her mother and then to her father, telling them she needed money to buy a pair of shoes. After her father told Burk that the credit card was not set up for cash withdrawals, she told him she would come home soon. The parents did not hear panic or fear in their daughter's voice, a spokesman for the family and police said.

Sometime over the next 50 minutes Samuel killed the girl, police allege. They do not know where the killing took place or how exactly, but at 4:52 p.m., Samuel pulled the Volvo into a parking lot surrounded by industrial buildings near Alameda and 5th streets. Because he left the car immediately, detectives believe Burk was already dead.

Samuel walked for nearly a mile through the heart of skid row, gripping a beer can partly concealed in a brown paper bag. As he approached 3rd and Los Angeles streets, two officers patrolling on horseback stopped him for drinking in public.

Samuel told them that he was on parole for a previous offense and agreed to be searched, police said. When a search revealed a pipe for smoking crack cocaine in his pocket, the officers arrested him.

At a news conference Monday, one of the officers described the arrest as "routine as routine could be." Law enforcement sources involved in the case, who spoke on the condition that their names not be used because of the continuing investigation, confirmed that the officers found a key to a Volvo and a cellphone on Samuel. They turned out to be Burk's. The officers thought it suspicious, and they searched the area for the car.

Blood was also visible on Samuel's clothing when he was detained, the sources said, although it was unclear whether the arresting officers saw it.

Burk's parents, meanwhile, grew increasingly concerned and frantic Friday evening when their daughter did not return home. They placed calls to the girl's friends, hoping she had stopped for a visit. About 7 p.m., they contacted police to report her missing.

A detective reviewed Burk's cellphone use and ATM activity, then searched in the skid row area for her until 3 the next morning, while family friends conducted their own search in the area of her last phone call.

At dawn Saturday, a worker from a business on Alameda Street approached the Volvo to tell the driver to move the car. He found Burk's body, and a co-worker called 911.

By Sunday morning, fingerprints lifted from the car were matched to Samuel. Authorities checked his name against law enforcement databases and were surprised to see he was already in custody on drug charges. Police declined to release a photo of Samuel, citing concerns it could taint interviews with possible witnesses.

The charges, if true, would mark a serious escalation in violence for a man who has had several run-ins with the law, mostly in the Inland Empire.

In July 1987, Samuel was sentenced to six years in prison for robbing a residence in San Bernardino County, according to the California Department of Corrections. In the years that followed, Samuel was paroled several times and repeatedly returned to prison when he committed other crimes or otherwise violated the terms of his release, records show.

Most recently, in late April he was rearrested in North Hollywood for an unspecified parole violation. In early June he was released from prison and entered the court-ordered drug treatment program on Menlo Avenue, a mile and a half from the law school where he allegedly abducted Burk.

As the legal case against Samuel took shape, family and friends of Burk continued to mourn her. A production of a David Mamet play that was to have opened this week with her as one of the stars was canceled. And the staff at Homeless Health Care Los Angeles in downtown, where Burk worked last summer in the group's drug outreach and needle exchange program, struggled to come to grips with her death. Burk planned to return to work at the program.

"Loving," said James Hundley, the program coordinator, when asked to recall the girl. "When I'd look at her, that's what came to mind. That was just her."

Posted by Valkyre at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2009

Swine Flu Ain't For Nothing On This

So, I've been streaming The Tudors over on Netflix. Seems the kingdom is getting struck by something they call the Sweating Sickness. So, I think to myself, "Malaria". But, this thing works quickly. Seems as soon as people show symptoms, they have about 3 hours left to live. So, I went to Google and put in "sweating sickness tudors" and got an interesting hit. It's from luminarium.org. It's an article about English Sweating Sickness. Interestingly enough, it seemed to attack the wealthy more than the poor. From the site:


ENGLISH SWEATING-SICKNESS

THE SWEATING SICKNESS. A remarkable form of disease, not known in England before, attracted attention at the very beginning of the reign of Henry VII. It was known indeed a few days after the landing of Henry at Milford Haven on the 7th of August 1485, as there is clear evidence of its being spoken of before the battle of Bosworth on the 22nd of August. Soon after the arrival of Henry in London on the 28th of August it broke out in the capital, and caused great mortality. This alarming malady soon became known as the sweating-sickness. It was regarded as being quite distinct from the plague, the pestilential fever or other epidemics previously known, not only by the special symptom which gave it its name, but also by its extremely rapid and fatal course.

From 1485 nothing more was heard of it till 1507, when the second outbreak occurred, which was much less fatal than the first. In 1517 was a third and much more severe epidemic. In Oxford and Cambridge it was very fatal, as well as in other towns, where in some cases half the population are said to have perished. There is evidence of the disease having spread to Calais and Antwerp, but with these exceptions it was confined to England.

In 1528 the disease recurred for the fourth time, and with great severity. It first showed itself in London at the end of May, and speedily spread over the whole of England, though not into Scotland or Ireland. In London the mortality was very great; the court was broken up, and Henry VIII left London, frequently changing his residence. The most remarkable fact about this epidemic is that it spread over the Continent, suddenly appearing at Hamburg, and spreading so rapidly that in a few weeks more than a thousand persons died. Thus was the terrible sweating-sickness started on a destructive course, during which it caused fearful mortality throughout eastern Europe. France, Italy and the southern countries were spared. It spread much in the same way as cholera, passing, in one direction, from north to south, arriving at Switzerland in December, in another northwards to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, also eastwards to Lithuania, Poland and Russia, and westwards to Flanders and Holland, unless indeed the epidemic, which declared itself simultaneously at Antwerp and Amsterdam on the morning of the 27th of September, came from England direct. In each place which it affected it prevailed for a short time only — generally not more than a fortnight. By the end of the year it had entirely disappeared, except in eastern Switzerland, where it lingered into the next year; and the terrible "English sweat" has never appeared again, at least in the same form, on the Continent. England was, however, destined to suffer from one more outbreak of the disease, which occurred in 1551, and with regard to this we have the great advantage of an account by an eyewitness, John Kaye or Caius, the eminent physician.

Symptoms
The symptoms as described by Caius and others were as follows. The disease began very suddenly with a sense of apprehension, followed by cold shivers (sometimes very violent), giddiness, headache and severe pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs, with great prostration. After the cold stage, which might last from half-an-hour to three hours, followed the stage of heat and sweating. The characteristic sweat broke out suddenly, and, as it seemed to those accustomed to the disease, without any obvious cause. With the sweat, or after that was poured out, came a sense of heat, and with this headache and delirium, rapid pulse and intense thirst. Palpitation and pain in the heart were frequent symptoms. No eruption of any kind on the skin was generally observed; Caius makes no allusion to such a symptom. In the later stages there was either general prostration and collapse, or an irresistible tendency to sleep, which was thought to be fatal if the patient were permitted to give way to it. The malady was remarkably rapid in its course, being sometimes fatal even in two or three hours, and some patients died in less than that time. More commonly it was protracted to a period of twelve to twenty-four hours, beyond which it rarely lasted. Those who survived for twenty-four hours were considered safe.

The disease, unlike the plague, was not especially fatal to the poor, but rather, as Caius affirms, attacked the richer sort and those who were free livers according to the custom of England in those days. "They which had this sweat sore with peril of death were either men of wealth, ease or welfare, or of the poorer sort, such as were idle persons, good ale drinkers and taverne haunters."

Causes.
Some attributed the disease to the English climate, its moisture and its fogs, or to the intemperate habits of the English people, and to the frightful want of cleanliness in their houses and surroundings which is noticed by Erasmus in a well-known passage, and about which Caius is equally explicit. But we must conclude that climate, season, and manner of life were not adequate, either separately or collectively, to produce the disease, though each may have acted sometimes as a predisposing cause. The sweating-sickness was in fact, to use modern language, a specific infective disease, in the same sense as plague, typhus, scarlet fever, or malaria.

Authorities
For history see Bacon's Life of Henry VII, and the chronicles of Grafton, Holinshed, Baker, Fabyan, &c. The only English medical account is that of John Caius, who wrote in English A Boke or Counseill Against the Disease commonly called the Sweate, or Sweating Sicknesse (London, 1552); and in Latin De ephemera britannica (Louvain, 1556; reprinted London, 1721). The English tract is reprinted in Babington's translation of Hecker's Epidemics of the Middle Ages (Syd. Soc., 1844). This also contains Hecker's valuable treatise on the English sweat, published in German (1834), and also printed in his Volkskrankheiten des Mittelalters, edited by Hirsch (Berlin, 1865). Grüner's Scriptores de sudore anglico (Jena, 1847), contains nearly all the original documents, including the two treatises of Caius. See also Hirsch, Handbook of Geographical and Historical Pathology, trans. by Creighton (New Syd. Soc., 1885).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Excerpted from:

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Ed. Vol XXVI.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910. 187.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2009

My First Text Message Phish

Or, should I said SMISH. Wow! What a Fourth of July surprise! I got a text message today, claiming to be from Farmers and Merchants Bank. Interesting, since I don't have an account with them. Also, I don't give out my cell phone to anyone, other than family. The fact that the message wasn't personalized is enough to scream scam. Also the misspelled word. Here is the message I received:

FRM:fmbonline

MSG:Farmers and Merchants Notice.

Plase(sic) verify your online info

at 1-(888)523-1872

Interesting enough, when the text message came in, it said the number it was from was 1010100004. I tried to look up the "1-888" online, but haven't come across any complaints about it yet. I hope that anyone who gets this phish attempt, doesn't fall for it.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)