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Monday, December 25, 2006

Death of an Oregon Kidnapper

I recently received a comment on BlogoliticalSean relating the death of Tony Micheletti, one of the people most deeply, shamefully and criminally involved in the abduction of the four Cruz children.

In this post, I am publishing the comment from Judith McKenney—who is a complete stranger to me—and my posted reply to her comment.

Now that I’ve had a week to think about things, I will add some additional comments at the end of the post.

Here’s the post from Judith McKenney:

"Judith McKenney said...

"I discovered your sight (sic) by accident, and just thought, before you make comments you will regret, that Tony Micheletti died, December 15th and 705PM of CJD a very very fast acting brain degenerative desease that robbed him of himself - not unlike Alzheimers's but 100X faster. He went from seemingly healthy to death in 2 months!I hope this information doesn't make you happy, or make you feel he has been punished for some transgression. I knew Tony fairly well, and, if he was guilty of what you assert, I am sure he truly believed he was doing the right thing for the children...and it is ONLY the children who are important! I haven't read your whole article, but in perusing it, I didn't notice where you stated your ex-wife's justification for doing this...she thought she was justified...why?"

Here’s my reply to Ms McKenney’s comment:

Judith McKenney:

I don't know why your comment posted on this thread. I think you were responding to a different post, one of the abduction-related postings, but it posted here. I'll respond to your comment here.

I have little information about any members of the Micheletti family since the kidnapping and had not heard of Tony Micheletti’s death. I had hoped to see him in court someday.

The harm he caused my children and my family is for forever.

My former wife was getting divorced from someone else when the Micheletti family and their friends and associates caused my children to disappear. There was no safety issue, and no allegations of abuse were made by any of the parties.

My children lost both of their homes, all of their friends, their neighborhood, their schools, their dad, their dad's entire family and their opportunities to live a normal life. Their grandmother passed away four years after the kidnapping without seeing or hearing from her grandchildren again.

The only two things that remained constant in their lives were the Micheletti family and the Mormon church, and every person involved in the kidnapping who was not a member of the Micheletti family was a member of the church.

This group of people decided that they wanted to raise my children in a Mormon-controlled environment, knew that the joint custody order was a barrier, and together they planned and carried out a criminal act: the abduction of four children, “…taken, enticed and kept” in violation of a valid joint custody order, a class “B” felony. This was the controlling motive, and they knew they were committing a crime.

That first criminal act led to others. They committed additional criminal acts to protect themselves from discovery.

Child abduction victims suffer emotional damage in the same ways that child sex abuse victims suffer, including an inability to form lasting relationships, to trust others.

My former wife is now with her fifth husband. My children are on their third stepdad, one stepdad for each of the three states they’ve resided in since the order for joint custody was first violated.

Among my adult children I can count one death, two broken marriages, severe depression, failing grades, chemical dependency and other problems and issues.

And the two constants: the Micheletti family and the Mormon church, the same group who decided to take my children out of their schools and put them on the road during the Great Storm of February 1996.

You suggested that Tony Micheletti thought he was doing the right thing for my children, and I want to respond to that:

Tony Micheletti didn’t know my children.

He was not close to my family in any way. I had not seen him in more than five years before the kidnapping, and neither had my children. Later, my son Aaron told me that when they saw “Uncle Tony” on February 12, the day my children disappeared, they did not recognize him.

He absolutely knew that they were taking the children in violation of a valid joint custody order, and I have that in his sworn statement. He also committed perjury, and I have that evidence too.

As I write this comment, the Northwest remains in the grip of major heavy weather. There are three climbers lost on Mt. Hood. A man died in southern Oregon earlier this week after his family became lost and stuck in the snow. Power is out in many areas, and people are in general trying to stay out of the weather and off of the roads.

This is precisely the same weather in which my four children disappeared nearly eleven years ago, and on a day they should have been in school. How do you justify that?

Additional Thoughts on Christmas Day 2006:

It was at “Uncle Tony’s” house near Salem, on the day the children disappeared, that they learned that they were going to Utah and not coming back. They had already been out of school for a week, bouncing from one place to another in Oregon and Washington, during the Great Storm of February 1996.

February 12 was the day they vanished, and they were at Tony Micheletti’s house near Salem that day, a school day.

He wasn’t concerned about the children’s safety in the weather or their absence from their schools. He wasn’t concerned about their elderly and frail grandmother, who was living with me at the time, or our three-generation household.

He didn’t know anything about the Cruz family, had never been to my house, had never been to his own sister’s house. My children had forgotten what he looked like.

So, to suggest that Tony Micheletti acted out of love for my children is a far, far stretch. The smug bastard was always convinced he was smarter than anyone else.

A few weeks after my kids had disappeared, Tony Micheletti was one of several co-kidnappers living in three states who wrote letters describing how wonderful my children’s new lives were at an undisclosed location in Utah.

The fact that there were people in three states who claimed in sworn statements to have a close relationship with my children’s circumstances at a time when I could only guess at their location has never been lost on me.

As if to demonstrate that criminals are never the sharpest pencils in the box, several co-kidnappers wrote sworn statements. The copies I eventually received even have the fax information printed at the top, and that tells a story too. You know that they never thought about faxes and a paper trail.

The story they tell is, basically, “Hey, we’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, all of us, all together. Not only that, we’re a bunch of liars and we’re going to write some lies down and swear they are true.”

Among the Oregon kidnappers, Evelyn Taylor and David Holiday of Hillsboro were smart enough not to put anything in writing, as far as I can tell.

Cynthia Anderson of Clatskanie also perjured herself, but that document didn’t surface for several years.

The really stupid, self-absorbed, most-criminal kidnappers were the now-dead Tony Micheletti, and Chris and Kory Wright in Utah, and they put it in writing.

I had hoped, hoped, hoped to get them all in a courtroom together.

They broke my children’s hearts, all four of them. And they did this knowing full well what they were doing. I will never forgive them for breaking my children’s hearts.

For that fact alone, as a parent, I admit that I have wanted to beat their faces in with a shovel.

They moved my children from one isolated Mormon enclave to another. My children—since 1995—were not permitted to leave the state of Utah except under direct control by Mormon church members. And this is America.

Aaron, after a serious beating, attempted to run away from one of those enclaves. The local police found him hitchhiking in the mountains in the middle of the night and took him back to his mother and stepdad #2, who had administered the beating.

You can really count on those Utah police.

Here’s what I have to say at this time about Tony Micheletti:

Child abduction—by any person—is child abuse. I’m talking to you, Tony.

More on this later, to be sure….

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

President Bush set to hobble the army--again

President Bush plans to announce the bad news after the holidays. He wouldn't want to send the shock wave while the nation is focused on the retail spending season.

Sun Tzu addressed the issue more pointedly more than two thousand years ago: “If one ignorant of military matters is sent to participate in the administration of the army, then in every movement there will be disagreement and mutual frustration and the entire army will be hamstrung.”

Fundamentally, the ignorant President is participating in the administration of the army, and with a record of colossal failure at the task.

Sun Tzu wrote also about how a commander in chief can bring misfortune upon his army:

“Now there are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:

(1) When ignorant that the army should not advance, to order an advance or ignorant that it should not retire, to order a retirement. This is described as ‘hobbling the army.’ (2) When ignorant of military affairs, to participate in their administration. This causes the officers to be perplexed. (3) When ignorant of command problems to share in the exercise of responsibilities. This engenders doubts in the minds of the officers.”

Well, enjoy the holidays. Be comforted that George W. Bush is in the White House, making decisions and such. Do the best you can with that.

I'm betting that things are going to get a whole lot worse; won't get better soon. Not entirely because of Bush's war and the military draft it engendered. Bush's staggering federal deficit and his policies focusing wealth in the hands of the few and moving jobs offshore have crippled the future of the nation.

I wonder which nations will be willing to take the first former U.S. President to go into exile?Behind-the-scene negotiations are no doubt underway. The insiders are planning the route out of town. 2009 is just around the corner. You can bet it will be plush.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New "End the War" in Iraq Sign

I just finished painting the new sign. I'm calling 2008 the Year of the Draft. It may or may not make any difference whether we pull out of Iraq or not as to whether there will be a military draft. That's how monumentally disastrous the Bush Administration may well prove to be. It is too early to tell, but we could already be well down the road to a broader regional conflict in the Middle East. If so, we'll be entering that melee with an army near the breaking point, far from home and on the enemy's choice of ground, all a recipe for massive failure. More on this later

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Waiting for the Lame Duck President

While we are waiting for President Bush to finish skimming the Iraq Study Group Report, the interlude offers the opportunity to reflect on the context of this moment in the history of our nation:

We, the nation and beyond, are poised, mid-war, waiting for the President of the United States to catch up on his required reading.

It is a measure of the President’s lost stature that he was unable to secure an advance copy of the ISG report, but had to wait in line like everyone else. Now we all have to wait for him to get through the material. He is, after all, “The Decider.”

Lives have been lost, more are at stake, the result dependent upon the intellect and steely jaw of the self-proclaimed War President.

It has come down to a crisis moment. All else hinges on an intellectually lazy person’s ability to navigate the big stack of books and reports on his desk, more information in one go than he mastered in umpteen years at university.

The White House indicates this activity could take several weeks, as it involves reading, thinking and possibly the taking of notes.

To complicate matters further, according to President Bush’s biological clock, he should be on vacation right now. He is, in fact, at the time of this writing, months behind his normal vacation schedule.

This fact alone will make him testy and he will bark.

On top of that, the nation expects him to read books, a big stack of them. He is aware that this Iraq Study Group Report is a book, no matter what they want to call it.

He is living the C-student nightmare: the Mother of all Tests on the morrow, administered and graded by all the ghost professors of Christmases past, open-book, can’t be skipped this time, oral boards and all…the odds against triumph are long, escape with tattered dignity a godsend.

The lame duck simmers in the sauce.

Monday, December 04, 2006

End Predatory Patrol Towing in Oregon

The U.S. Court of Appeals determined that patrol towing endangers the safety of the general public, apartment owners and managers and the tow drivers themselves, and upheld California’s ban on patrol towing.

When patrol towing, tow truck drivers are not called by the property owners and do not get authorization to take specific vehicles. Instead, usually in the middle of the night, tow truck operators cruise through parking lots and take any vehicle that they feel they can construe as “harvestable.”

Many states, including California, Florida, New York and Washington, have already enacted legislation to ban the practice.

In those states, tow truck operators must receive authorization to take a specific vehicle -- a signed form -- from the property owner or agent at the time and place of impound. Towing companies may not act as agents of the owner.

In 1994, in the course of deregulating the trucking industry, Congress passed laws preventing states and municipalities from enacting laws affecting the towing industry unless the legislation was safety-related.

While many states subsequently enacted legislation to curb predatory patrol towing as a safety issue, Oregon has lagged behind, and some of the towing operators in Oregon have exploited the opportunity at the expense of the general public.

The U.S. Court of Appeals held that: “…[The] regulation [that] prohibits the removal and towing of a vehicle from private property without the expressed instruction and written authorization from the property owner…[is]…safety-related because ‘the ordinance protects both the vehicle owner and the public from towing mistakes, which may lead to dangerous confrontations, to the owner and his or her family being stranded at a dangerous time and location, to false vehicle theft reports, which waste law enforcement’s limited resources, to unnecessary hazardous tows and to similarly unsafe circumstances. The ordinance also protects against theft of vehicles from private property.’ The California legislature agrees. We now agree as well.” --(United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, May, 2005, West Coast Towing vs City of San Diego)

The good news for Oregonians and for visitors to our state is that bills are being drafted for introduction in the 2007 Legislature that will end patrol towing in Oregon.

Be sure to let your elected officials know that you support this legislation. More on this later.