Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lisa Irwin Case: Do You See What I See?

Saturday was a cold, wet day here in Kansas City.  Over 20 cars pulled in the parking lot at the former Sam's Town Casino with hope; hope of bringing closure to the Lisa Irwin case while having an overriding hope that they wouldn't find her....hope that she is still alive.

I arrived around 10 a.m. and stayed about 40 minutes because I had a commitment I could not get out of.  I spoke to several people who were bundled up and checked in at a canopy with a few volunteers, as we tried to keep the canopy from blowing away.

Every person I spoke to that was there told me they did not believe that Texas woman who suggested this search as a result of a what she labeled a psychic vision.  However, like me, their attitude was "what the heck".  What harm does it do to try yet another avenue no matter how it was suggested?  Personally, as I told a reporter for yesterday, I think Google and Google Earth are a psychic's best friend.

We have heard that law enforcement officials sometimes use psychics in missing person cases.  Why?  Is it because of public pressure?  Is it because they don't have to show them their files unlike willing profilers who would lend a hand?

I am not going to be one of those who speak poorly of the FBI or the KCPD.  I have said time and again that I have the utmost respect for them.  After all, we do not know nor should we know all of the nuances of the case and the information they have gathered from witnesses or searches.  There is no reason they should play their hand while they seek a suspect in whatever happened.  If possible, however, perhaps the release of some non-compromising tips would prompt others to consider they may have saw a piece of that puzzle that night and be able to add to it.

Why not ask the good folks at Texas Equine Search to assist?  Again, like the "vision", what is the harm other than cost?

On another note, I have reached out to the man that was using Megan Wright's cell phone the night Lisa disappeared; the phone that someone using Deborah Bradley's phone attempted to call.  I have texted Dane's new cell number and have not yet received a response.  He could very easily minimize the continuance of his name being brought up in this whole affair if we knew the person(s) he was speaking with off and on that night before reportedly crashing on the couch around 5 a.m.  Maybe he refuses to reply since it was me bringing another of Megan's temporary roommates to a Fox4KC interview where his name was then first inserted into the dialogue.

I see a missing baby case that's visibility is rapidly evaporating.  The networks have all packed up and left town.  The local TV stations no longer have it as their lead story. And, rightfully so.  Having been in the news business, I understand that when there is nothing new happening, there is no news to report.

I see a curious person whose name has been brought up into this case that may not be out of jail for a while.  John "Jersey" Tanko has a court date on unrelated charges for April 8, 2012.  He is in Clay County jail on $10k bond and is being represented by a public defender.  Jersey may very well have answers to this case that he refuses to share with law enforcement.  On the other hand, he may be another unlucky person who was an easy scapegoat for lawyers looking to pin public perception of culpability on anybody but their clients.

My office is less than 10 miles from the crime scene.  I have visited with and traded speculation off camera with local and network reporters for weeks about this case.  Even having followed this case at ground zero, there are far too many variables to pinpoint blame in any one direction definitively.  There continue to be too many unanswered questions, so that is why so many good-hearted people got their feet wet Saturday and decided "let's just look".  They would rather be wrong about looking than wonder if they missed an opportunity to do the right thing for an innocent baby who did not ask for any of this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lisa Irwin Case: Mom's Phone Appears to Be the Key

Whether it be the 50 second cell phone call that was reportedly attempted from Deborah Bradley's phone or the alleged attempts to access her voice mail and/or internet some three hours later, it would appear her phone holds the key to many answers in the case of her missing baby, Lisa Irwin.

There are so many unanswered questions in this case and twists and turns, those of us who are watching it closely think about it all the time.  I was watching my Mizzou Tigers play football Saturday afternoon, trying to relax, and I was still sorting out some of the Baby Lisa information in my head.  I could not relax.

The number of people who may have used Deborah Bradley's phone that fateful night are far greater than the number of people who that 11:57 p.m. phone call could have been intended for.  So, rather than try to figure out who was using the phone, it seems more logical to work backwards from who may have been intended to receive the call.

None of this analysis is conclusive, but it is fairly narrow in scope.  Further, I am not impugning anything on any of these persons.  It is what it is.  They may have possibly been intended to receive a call from someone who may, for one reason or another, been using Deborah Bradley's phone.

Keep in mind that Megan Wright claims she had that phone number three or four months prior to this incident.  A former roommate had thought she only had it a month-and-a-half to two months.

Of those that either had access to or was believed to be able to be reached via Megan Wright's cell phone that night:  Megan Wright, Dane G., John "Jersey" Tanko, or the couple who are the head of the household Megan was staying in.  When you consider this small number of people and you work your way back to who may have tried to call them, it may help come closer to solving part of this mystery.  Then, while the married couple who are head of Megan's former household are eliminated as unlikely recipients, it brings us down to those three possibilities of intended recipients:  Megan, Dane, or Jersey.

Why would anybody try to reach any one of those individuals on Megan's phone?  Who could have been trying to reach one of them?  In order to determine who made the attempted phone call, we have to investigate further and find out if any of these people had a connection with any one of these three.  It is not yet known, but here are some possible persons who could have tried to call one of them.  Whomever made the phone call would likely to have had the number memorized, unless it was Deborah Bradley and it was already programmed into her phone.

If the intended recipient was:

  • Megan Wright - Jersey seems the most likely person to have tried to call her.  According to Megan, they met toward the end of March, started dating around the beginning of April and broke up around 10 days, give or take, prior to Lisa Irwin's disappearance.
  • Dane G. - Dane may have well been the unlucky guy who was taking advantage of the use of Megan's phone that night.  But, we do not know who he was on the phone with during the reportedly multiple conversations he had on that phone that evening well into the night.  Dane had not lived in the the house long prior to Lisa Irwin's disappearance.  Did Dane know Jersey, Deborah Bradley, Shane Beagley(who lived two doors down from Bradley and was on her door step that night with her and Samantha Brando from next door), James Brando (Samantha's estranged husband), or Phillip Netz (Bradley's brother; we do not know if he had his own phone).
  • Jersey - Where do we begin on who could have called him?  This is a man who traveled this neighborhood often.  If we believe what others have said, he solicited handyman work in the neighborhood and may have stayed in unoccupied homes there.  In his numerous neighborhood travels, did he ever solicit work from or otherwise meet:  Deborah Bradley, Jeremy Irwin, the Brandos, Shane, or Phillip.
We are told this was not the only time Deborah Bradley's phone was used that night.  There were attempts to access her voice mail and/or the internet at 3:17 a.m. and 3:22 a.m.  First, why would anybody want to access her voice mail besides her?  Would someone else with access to her phone believe they may have had a missed call?  Doubtful.  So, as far as accessing the internet, why would anybody, including Bradley, attempt to access the internet?  However, these attempted phone accesses could have been an accidental "pocket dial" by the same person who attempted to make the call earlier in the evening.  Unless, the *86 feature was used to attempt voice mail access sans it being programmed into speed dial.  Another reason to possibly check voice mail is if Jeremy tried to call Deborah earlier (which he reportedly did) and the holder of the phone listened to that message, IF a message was left.

Find the answers to the phone and we may all be able to solve this case.

UPDATE:  Regarding phone records, Megan Wright said her phone was a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile.  Sprint owns Virgin Mobile.  There is a very high chance that while her phone had no SIMM card, there are still records (CDRs - Cell Detail Records) showing who Dane was on the phone with that night.  If, for example, the cell towers were owned by a carrier other than Sprint, then Sprint has to pay a fee to that other carrier for its users using those towers.  Thus, there is likely an incoming/outgoing call log to prove that the carrier owes that money on behalf of their customer.

If you have any potential leads on this case, feel free to go to my website, and click the "Email Us" tab.  Any thing that is of value will be forward to the Kansas City Police Department.  By discussing some of the unanswered questions, it may help someone to add a piece to this puzzle.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Baby Lisa Irwin Investigation: Megan Wright Reacts to Dane

The information continues to trickle out about the events surrounding the disappearance of baby Lisa Irwin.  Yesterday, Russ Ptacek, NBC Action News investigative reporter at KSHB-TV in Kansas City, spoke with the man who was reportedly on Megan Wright’s cell phone much of that tragic evening.

Dane spoke with Ptacek via text message and Dane’s father had a brief conversation with Ptacek face to face.  If you missed that episode, here is the link to that exclusive story:

In the continuing saga of trying to keep our scorecards up to date, I spoke with Megan Wright this morning and shared Russ’ story with her.  While speaking with me over internet instant messaging (remember her cell phone was confiscated by law enforcement), she discussed her reaction to Dane’s comments.

Rugen:  What do you make of that?  I thought somebody else had said that Dane was on the phone with his girlfriend that night but wasn’t she downstairs with you clipping coupons?

Wright:  He was pissed at me for telling the police that he was the one who I was told had my phone all night. The last time I saw Dane, he glared at me before getting pissy and walking away.
She isn't his girlfriend, although she tried.

Rugen:  Okay.  So who is his girlfriend?

Wright:  From what Dane said to me, she wanted a relationship, he wanted his baby momma back. Or the woman he was with before, the girl with the restraining order on him.

Rugen:  So Dane had a baby with the woman who filed the restraining order against him?

Wright:  I don’t think she was the mother of his child, but she had a child the same age that they raised together, while they were together, as I understood it.  And Dane straight lied to Russ (Ptacek).

Rugen:  The same age as whom?  Which part of what Dane said was lies?

Wright:  He used my phone to call his mom to try to get his phone turned back on, she told him to act like a grown up and get it done himself. I witnessed the conversation.; the same age as Dane's daughter.

Rugen:  What time did he call his mom roughly?

Wright:  Hell if I know, that boy had my phone more than I did.

Rugen:  Any idea if it was early in the evening or after midnight or...?

Wright:  A different day.  TOTALLY DIFFERENT DAY.

Rugen:  So, you are saying that he lied when he told Russ Ptacek he was trying to get his service on that night and that is not true?

Wright:  It was not that night. He called his mother on a totally different day. Mid-morning, I'm not sure the date.

Rugen:  Before or after Baby Lisa's disappearance?

Wright:  After, if I remember correctly.

Rugen:  One of your former roommates tell me that the day after the disappearance the FBI called your cell, Dane answered, and gave them a fake name? Do you know anything about that?

Wright:  Yes. Dane mentioned it to me, and when I was downtown for my interrogation on the 8th, the detectives lied at first, saying that there was no phone call.  Then, less than 5 hours later, told me that it was true. Apparently, they talked for over 20 minutes, Dane gave them a fake name and thought the whole thing was a joke.

Rugen:  Did Dane ever go downtown to talk to law enforcement?

Wright:  Not that I was ever aware of, but I haven't talked to him since the day law enforcement talked to him in the yard. He left late that night, and I stayed away from him because he was constantly glaring at me.

Rugen:  And what day was that.

Wright:  On the second or third time the police came to the house. Close to the (October)12th or 14th, if I had to ball park it.

Rugen:  Okay. Can I ask you a few things about Jersey? When did you all break up again? I'm unclear.

Wright:  About a week and a half before Lisa went missing.

Rugen:  Okay, so when is the last time you saw Jersey or heard from him? Anytime after that?  A next door neighbor, said Jersey came over once, got mad and left on a bicycle yelling at you and fell off the bike. 

Wright:  That was the day we broke up. I chased him out of the house and he jumped on his bike and fell on his face in the middle of the street, not even 10 feet from the driveway. I laughed my ass off. I giggled and screamed "karma is a bitch, and it didn't even take that long this time" as he got back on his bike and left.
Rugen:  And you did not hear from him or see him after that?

Wright:  Like I told you before, he walked up the street about a week later. People in the house let him in. I went to my room (upstairs at the time) and locked myself in. Jersey ended up getting into a fight with my buddy from down the street. Jersey was forced to leave, and I came out of my room. Jersey had tried talking to me, but I could see that he was drunk and belligerent and didn't want to deal with him. That's why I locked myself in.

Rugen:  Then he tried to see you a few days after Lisa disappeared, arriving in what he claimed was a stolen minivan driving it in the yard, but your roommates at the time chased him away?

Wright:  From what I was told, he pulled up into the yard, almost hitting the porch, and no one recognized Jersey at first. Then a friend of mine realized who it was, told a former roommate, and they came downstairs to let me know that Jersey was there. I ran upstairs only to find out that he had been chased away before I got there.

Rugen:  Do you know if Jersey knows Dane or if they have ever met?

Wright:  To my knowledge, they never met while Jersey and I were together, or at the house I was living at, or since then. But I don't know everything about either of them.

Rugen:  Did Jersey have a friendship with anybody else who would have been at the house that night besides you?

Wright:  Not that I was aware of. Jersey had just met the home owners when he had come to visit me from the release center.

Rugen:  Release center?

Wright:  The halfway house on Mulberry street.

Rugen:  What was he there for?

Wright:  He was supposed to be there (not sure the charge) before he met me. He left one day and ended up getting arrested for absconding, and was taken back about three months into our relationship.

Rugen:  And he met you when again?

Wright:  I met Jersey toward the end of March. We started dating the beginning of April.

Rugen:  Okay. And did he live for a period of time in the abandoned house that had the well behind it that authorities searched?

Wright:  Not while we were together; possibly after we broke up.

Rugen:  You have seen and heard so much these last few weeks, any gut instinct or guess as to what you think could have happened that night?

Wright:  I'm still trying not to speculate. I want to stick to just facts. I have my ideas, but I'm keeping them to myself.

Rugen:  Do those ideas involve Jersey?  Any gut feeling that Dane may have just been the unlucky guy using your phone that night when someone tried to call your number
Wright:  I'd rather not hint at my speculations. I won't even tell the guy I’m seeing now!

Rugen:  Has anybody from the Bradley/Irwin family, Stanton, or Tacopina, visited with you about what you know?

Wright:  If I had any information, believe me, I'd put it on blast. I'm not in this for money. Just wanting to do anything and everything in my power to help.
Nope.  Short and Short.  That's about it
Rugen:  Cyndy Short, or a detective for them?

Wright:  Cyndy Short and her sister Mary K.

Rugen:  Is her sister Mary an attorney?

Wright:  I spoke with Mary K many times, and she brought her sister, Cyndy the last time I spoke with her in person.

Rugen:  When was that?

Wright:  I'm not sure. I'll check her business card. Be right back…
"Mary K. Poirier. Mitigation Specialist. The McCallister Law Firm, P.C."
That was a few days before moving out of the house.

Rugen:  Are you sure about the date on that? Because wasn't Cyndy Short no longer representing the family a few weeks before you moved out?  Didn’t you move out last week?

Wright:  Yes, they were still working, even though they were not on the investigation any more.

Rugen:  Did they say why?

Wright:  It was the right thing to do.

Rugen:  And remind me again when you moved out of that house?

Wright:  Just a second, I'll look up the date.
Sunday, the 6th this month.  That evening. I stayed with a friend until Thursday, when I moved to Springfield.

Rugen:  By the way, do you know if Jersey knows or ever met James Brando?

Wright:  Not that he ever mentioned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Baby Lisa Case: More Information, More Questions

The more information that comes out about the Lisa Irwin missing baby case, the more questions that come up.  And I mean on all sides of the argument.  There are a lot of questions I have this morning that I would like to have the answers to so this could all in some way make sense.

First, to set the record straight, ABC’s website ( is indicating that “a male witness who wished to remain anonymous told ‘GMA’ that the person who answered the phone was a drifter named Dane who was living in a house Wright reportedly shared with other people.”  That is inaccurate.

The video GMA, or Good Morning America, showed with that individual was taken from a news story that aired on Fox4 in Kansas City starting Sunday night.  After blogging last week about this source, I drove him to the Fox4 studios Sunday afternoon to speak with reporter Dave Dunn.  To be clear, the reason for the nondisclosure of the source’s name is that they do not wish the series of follow-up queries from reporters.  They do not desire the spotlight, but they do want to help.  The source told Dunn before we started the interview that he was only doing this once.  As we left the studios, Dave asked him how to reach him for anything he may want to follow up on.  The source pointed at me and told him, “You go through him. He knows how to reach me.”

Now, on to the questions that continue to surface.  As I mentioned, there are a lot of unanswered questions from several directions.  In asking, I am not at all being accusatory, I am saying there are holes that need to be filled in.

First, I have reached out to Megan Wright in hopes that she can clarify this for me.  Megan initially indicated that she did not know who was using her cell phone that night.  Then, she told me that her roommates told her it was Dane.  Setting the scene for that night, Megan told me she was downstairs where she slept clipping coupons with Dane’s girlfriend and an ex-boyfriend (not Jersey).  So, if there are two married couples and Dane in the house and one of the married couples have their own cell phone, it pretty much narrows down it had to be one of three other people.  However, there were a couple of young men from across the street and down the block that had visited briefly that night.  Them aside, if you want to know who is using your cell phone, it should not be hard to figure out. It is either the husband or wife of one of the married couples or Dane.

Megan cleared that up in a conversation we had this morning.  By the way, aside from Facebook queries, Megan tells me since my blog and discussion with her last week, the only formal questions she have answered have come from me or CNN’s Jim Spellman.

Rugen:  First, I think you said initially that you didn’t know who was using your phone that night?  Then you said roommates told you it was Dane?

Wright:  Right. Then, after talking to people in the house that were upstairs that night I was told that Dane had it all night.

Rugen:  When did you discover it was Dane?

Wright:  About a week into the investigation.

Rugen:  A week after Lisa was gone?

Wright:  Yes. Around then.

Rugen:  Okay, and why so long?

Wright:  No one said anything about it until then. I don't know why really.  Not for a lack of me asking.

Rugen:  And why did you check your call log that night? What prompted that?

Wright:  I was trying to see if I had missed any calls or messages, which happened a lot considering I left my phone unattended for so long so frequently.

Rugen:  Because you were clipping coupons and you left the phone upstairs to share?

Wright:  Yes. I was downstairs visiting with (Dane’s girlfriend), who I had just met, and (an ex-boyfriend (Not Jersey)), who was at the house to visit me. And we were listening to music, talking, getting to know each other and clipping coupons.

Rugen:  There were a couple of young men from across the street and down the block that were there too?

Wright:  He was there for just a brief time that night. He was helping his sister move furniture with their family. His friend popped in for a while then left I guess. He might have lingered upstairs, but from what he told me, he went home shortly after going upstairs.

Now, why was Megan’s number called?  It had to be from someone, obviously, who had her number.  We are told there was an 11:57pm call from Deborah Bradley’s phone to Megan’s phone that did not go through.  Who made the call? Regardless of who was using Megan’s phone, who was the call intended for?  Was someone trying to reach Dane, Megan, or Jersey, not knowing that he and Megan broke up a week earlier? Was the number programmed into Deborah’s phone or was it memorized by who ever made the call?

Keeping in mind at this point, Jersey had not been seen around the Wright household for the week preceding.  In the days following, I am told he only came around once, reportedly driving into the yard in a stolen minivan looking for Megan.  One of the roommates then reportedly chased him off.

On to that 11:57pm phone call from Bradley’s phone to Megan’s, it was not a random phone number, logic tells us that.  Whether it was “butt-dialed” or purposely dialed, who ever dialed it knew that phone number.  Why would someone be so stupid to take a baby, then call Megan Wright’s number knowing that they just implicated someone on the other end to a crime thus leaving evidence?

Going with the theory that someone abducted Lisa and made that phone call to Wright’s phone at 11:57pm, then there was an alleged eyewitness account by a couple living near the home between 12:15 and 12:30am, what was that person doing for the minimum of 18 minutes after using the cell phone considering the close proximity of the “eyewitness”?  Granted, the phone call did not have to be made from the Bradley home, but if you consider the eyewitness to be credible, you surely would not be going back and forth down the street during that time.

There was a news report last week that there were cell phone pings around 1/3 of a mile away.  That means it was a 2/3 mile radius from the ping.  If you go in one direction from the Bradley/Irwin home, the dumpster is within that radius.  In another direction, the creek that runs behind the house is within the range.  However, again, if the phone was in this person’s possession at 11:57pm, the dumpster fire did not occur for another couple of hours.

While we are on the cell phone, the pings dropped off sometime 3:22am or after.  So, between this time and 4am or earlier when Jeremy got home, someone attempted to access internet and voice mail from Bradley’s phone.   Why?  Whether you be Bradley or an abductor, depending on the version you believe, why?  What are you looking for on the internet? Why would anybody besides Bradley care about her voice mail?  Unless, you have her phone since around midnight and you have a missed call and you think the person on the other end was stupid enough to leave you, the abductor, a message.

By the way, remember the recent interview with the Deborah's father who loaned his cell phone, the one in question, to Deborah.  He described it as a "plain jane" phone.  Is it not so "plain jane" that it had internet capabilities?

What causes a cell phone to stop pinging?  Either you remove the battery or you submerge it water or you set afire.

Regarding the cadaver dogs, I am not going to pretend to be an expert.  But the cadaver dog “hit” is my stumbling block toward believing that there was not an accident in the home that night.  From those I speak with, that cadaver dog hit is valuable.

I am told that when it is said that a cadaver dog has a xx% accuracy, that does not mean that when they do hit it is questionable.  That means that there is an xx% chance they may miss their hit if the handler does not guide them where the scent is.  In other words, if you are in a room and you are wearing perfume and have only been in one corner of the room, the dog would have to be taken to that location in the room where you were as opposed to not being led there.  But when the dog arrives, the hit occurs.

Exploring the possibility of an abduction, how would the potential abductor know that Jeremy would not be there that night and Deborah would be so out of it, they would go undetected?  Did an abductor wait for the lights to go out and then get in the house with Deborah passed out?  What would be their motive?  Would they have blamed Deborah for something that happened in their life that they sought revenge for?

On to another angle, we know Jersey has been looked at.  Both Megan Wright and her roommate told me last week that Jersey is the kind of guy who would try to turn a dime into a dollar.  But if you question whether someone took the baby to sell, how do you find a baby buyer?  You don’t go on Craig’s List to find someone who will buy a baby from you.

I ask these questions not to accuse anybody of anything.  Honestly, I do not know what happened and I can see several different possibilities.  However, there are a lot of questions like these that I would like the answers to, in a perfect world.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Baby Lisa Case: The Cell Phone Mystery

Ron Rugen, Kansas City Private Investigator

After spending a couple hours Wednesday with 20-year-old Megan Wright (the woman who owned the cell phone where a call reportedly came from Baby Lisa’s mom’s phone on that fateful night), I thought a follow up would be in order.  Yesterday, I spoke to another member of the household and that person confirmed everything Megan told me.

Many have questioned what they believe to be inconsistencies in Megan’s story of when that call from one of Deborah Bradley’s phones was received on a phone owned by Megan.  The reality is she does not know for sure.  In speaking with CNN’s Jim Spellman yesterday, he believes the different times she have mentioned have been the result of seeing media accounts or talking to reporters in interviewing her and suggesting specific times to her.  After all, how would she know if one of her roomies deleted her phone's call log?

Megan told me that when her phone was used that night, she got it back with the incoming/outgoing call logs deleted.  Because she was using a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile cell phone, there are no telephone company records and this phone has no SIMM card.  She says she believes that authorities were going to “ghost” her telephone to recover the information.  Megan says authorities still have her phone and a GPS she was advertising for sale on Craig’s List.

Now to my interview yesterday with another household member:  This person has not spoken to any member of the media yet.  They have asked that, on condition of speaking with me, that I not confirm their identity.  The reason:  they want to help but they do not desire a media spotlight.  It is that simple. They have, however, spoken to authorities.

In order to write about what I was told, I will refer to this household member as Kelly, a gender neutral name.  By the way, Megan has temporarily moved to Springfield to get on her feet.  She says it is to take a deep breath after the onslaught of interviews.  She is still accessible by a few of us to answer questions.  My interview two days ago was the last she did.

Now to my conversation with “Kelly”, the former housemate of Megan’s:  Kelly claims Dane, another house member, used Megan’s cell phone off and on that fateful evening from at least 8pm onward.  Oh, by the way, the media report that there were other working cell phones in the house.  It is true, yet Megan was not lying.  One husband and wife living there had their own working cell phone which they kept to themselves.  But the rest of the household did not have operating cell phones and Megan’s was available for their use.

How did Dane end up living there?  Kelly says Dane had met the head of the household through friends and needed a place to stay.

Now, how did the cell phone get the call logs deleted?  Kelly confirmed Megan’s story that she left her phone upstairs that evening while most of the household was downstairs.  Kelly says Dane went to get the phone throughout the evening, used it, then returning it upstairs.  Later in the evening, Megan went to get her phone and noticed someone had deleted the call logs.  Irritated, she cussed and threw her phone on the couch and went back downstairs.  Kelly says Dane again retrieved the phone and used it.

What about Jersey?  Kelly says he was not around the week preceding the incident and they only saw him once the few days following.  That was when Kelly claims Jersey drove into the yard in a stolen minivan and was seeking Megan.

Everyone’s next question is what these guys look like.  Kelly tells me Dane is 5’10” to 5’11” with short brown hair, but long enough to comb.  Jersey is bald and 5’7” to 5’8”.

Kelly tells me authorities came to their home once with cadaver dogs but because they got no “hit” on the front porch, they did not go inside.

Is this a drug home? Kelly tells me no, that is not an accurate characterization of the home.

Having been to the cell phone household as well as other locations, to get your bearings on location, here is clarification.  The house Megan Wright and others lived in that night is about 0.4 mile north of the BP gas station where video cameras captured someone walking down the street out of the woods.  It is unclear whether that “sighting” is related to this case.  The house is also approximately 0.9 of mile north of the infamous dumpster that had a fire in it that night, and it is about 1.1 miles from the Irwin/Bradley home.  That is, if you follow the road on North Brighton Avenue and do not cut through wooded areas.

For the record, authorities are aware of all of this information.

And the confusion continues…..

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Megan Wright: In Her Own Words

The  Lisa Irwin missing baby case gets even more confusing each day.  Now we find that there were three people on that front porch at the Irwin/Bradley house October 3, 2011.  We also hear that a man named Dane, who was living in the same house with Megan Wright, had her telephone at some point during that fateful evening.  Wright says her temporary roommates shared that information only recently. She, in turn, told the authorities.

Wright is the latest among the media interviewees in this Kansas City case gone national.  When I caught up with Wright today, she had just completed a visit by CNN’s Jim Spellman, as well as a phone interview with CNN.  Here is a transcript of our conversation to shed some light on a very confusing issue.

Wright:  (CNN reporter Jim Spellman) seems to be one of the few that has a pretty damn good understanding of everything that's going on; which is admirable, considering how confusing this whole case is.  It's easy to get wrapped up in a sea of interviews.
I've never been very fond of being in front of a camera, but I put my fear aside hoping that opening up to the public, and anyone with a question, that something I say might bring Lisa home safely.

Rugen:  If she's alive.

Wright:  I sincerely hope she is. I know if you look at how long she's been gone it would take a miracle for her to be alive and well, but I hope that's what happens here.

Rugen:  Do you think it's hard to believe she is alive with all of the different versions of the story the family has put out?

Wright:  I try not to speculate, just stick to what I know. It seems fishy to me that the story has changed. But at the same time I know that anything is possible. There are so many versions of what people think have happened. I know how hard it is to be on the wrong end of that, which is why I try not to jump to conclusions.

Rugen:  What time was that phone call made to your phone? I heard once 8:30 p.m. and then I heard 2:30 a.m.

Wright:  I'm not sure exactly. When I got my phone back, my call log was deleted along with my messages. At first the police said around 8:00 pm, but later I was told it was more like 2:30 on the morning of the 4th.

Rugen:  I saw your interview. Dane had the phone?

Wright:  From what I was told by everyone upstairs [where my phone was].

Rugen:  Your roomies?

Wright:  Yes.

Rugen:  Do you know why he took it with him?

Wright:  Well, now ex roomies.  Why he took it with him?

Rugen:  Oh he didnt take it with him he just used it?  It’s a bit confusing. Dane had the phone. Shane is the new person that was on the Bradley front porch?

Wright:  I'm not sure what Dane was doing that night. Shane I guess is a neighbor of Deborah Bradley; a few doors down.  From what I heard, I'm not sure if Dane left or if he was at the house all night. Like I have said before, I was downstairs for a majority of the evening.

Rugen:  Okay, was he living with you?

Wright:  He stayed there for a couple days the first time, and about a week the second time while he said he was waiting for an apartment with a friend.

Rugen:  So you are just kind of someone who is a giving person if friends need a place to stay?

Wright:  Everyone in the house was in a pretty bad position in life; job loss, loss of a home, etc. Everyone was understanding of needing a hand up, not a hand out.

Rugen:  How did you meet all of them?

Wright:  I was introduced by my friend after the last house I was living in was being put on the market for sale. I was given 12 hours to pack and move out. I had nowhere to go. So my buddy introduced me, and we hit it off immediately. They were all understanding to my situation and thought that we could help each other out.  They offered me a place to stay, and I helped with cooking, cleaning etc.

Rugen:  So you all have common friends and that's how they find out they can have a temp place to stay?  Was this your place?

Wright:  I wouldn't say it like that. It wasn't a flop house as it was said to be on Fox. We were all struggling and trying to pull resources to help everyone better their situations. Not just a place to couch surf.
No it was not my place, and I'm no longer living there.

Rugen:  Oh you moved since the baby's disappearance?  You're not there anymore?

Wright:  I was asked to move because the home owner has a family member who was going to move in and help with bills.

Rugen:  So this is not a “meth house” as the internet bloggers have speculated?  When did you move?

Wright:  It's very tough to see the house presented that way, because it's not the case. The people are wonderful and caring and considerate and as nice as could be. Just because they helped out friends doesnt make them drug users or anything else that was said in that report.
I moved on Sunday night, this week.  I'm staying with a friend for the moment. But it's only temporary. I'm afraid I have to move to Springfield for lack of other options. I'm hoping it's a blessing in disguise.

Rugen:  So some of the residents may have used drugs but not characteristic of the house as a whole?

Wright:  I never noticed any drug use. But I primarily stuck to myself.

Rugen:  What about “Jersey”?

Wright:  Where to start?! (laughing)  What about him?

Rugen:  Did I hear you say in an interview he was drug user and that you used to date at one time?

Wright:  I told an interviewer that I suspected that he was. I never witnessed it. But I had speculated that he had used before, if not at that time.

Rugen:  When did you guys date?

Wright:  I dated Jersey for 5 months. He was wonderful for the first 3, then he started acting "shady" is the way to say it, I guess. He started living life with a jailhouse mentality, and that's just not my lifestyle.

Rugen:  What time period?

Wright:  I met Jersey in late April/early May and we began dating shortly after. And we broke up about two weeks before Lisa went missing.

Rugen:  So did you or Jersey ever meet Deborah Bradley or Jeremy Irwin?

Wright:  I'm not sure. He never mentioned it, and while we were together I never witnessed them talking or anything like that. Jersey and I had walked through the neighborhood multiple times a week to get from the house we were living in to his friends’ house off of Chelsea, right down the road from where the family lived.

Rugen:  But you never met them yourself?

Wright:  No, I had never met them.

Rugen:  Now if Dane had the phone it really makes one wonder if he met Deborah and maybe they were fooling around? Because you don't butt dial or randomly dial a number of someone just down the street you never knew before.

Wright:  I hate to speculate. It could have been any of a number of things.

Rugen:  Like?

Wright:  Someone stole the phone and tried to reach me, wrong number, someone calling for someone who had used my phone as a contact number [which was pretty damn common]

Rugen:  So Deborah could have been trying to reach Dane or Jersey?

Wright:  It's possible, I suppose.

Rugen:  Do you think one of them was seeing Deborah romantically.

Wright:  Like I said, anything is possible.

Rugen:  What kind of work are you doing now?

Wright:  I've been so enthralled with the case I haven't had time or the opportunity to look for work.  I'm just barely scraping by.

Rugen:  Enthralled by your accidental involvement via the cell phone?

Wright:  Yes, trying to figure something, anything out. Doing the interviews.  It's been one hell of a time suck.  I had to quit school because my car died on me. Once I finally got the money and the part and someone to fix it, my car goes up in flames, magically, 3 days after I break up with Jersey

Rugen:  Do you think Jersey may have sabotaged it?

Wright:  It's possible.

Rugen:  Do you think if Jersey knows anything about Baby Lisa he will buckle?

Wright:  Maybe? Maybe not.

Rugen:  Do you think he knows anything or he was one of the people the alleged eyewitnesses think they saw?

Wright:  I honestly have no idea.  It's possible that it was him that was sighted.

Rugen:  Did he ever say anything to you about stuff he pulled on people?

Wright:  He never mentioned specifics. I did ask him to tell me about any and all criminal history, and I got a vague answer, but any time I would pry for details... he would shut down. So I stopped asking. I told him as long as the past stayed in the past, we would be fine. But it didn't stay in the past for long.

Rugen:   What did you see in him initially?  Why didnt it stay in the past long?

Wright:  He was a sweet guy, very funny and talkative. charming, as you can imagine. All the good things women look for-- he had it.  But after about three months, the jailhouse mentality kicked in again.

Rugen:  Did you ever see him do any drugs?

Wright:  I never witnessed it.  No.

Rugen:  What kind of things did he do that showed that mentality.

Wright:  Always thinking on his feet, trying to turn a dime into a dollar... just the way he acted and the way he spoke and treated me.  I wouldn't stand for it.

Rugen:  How did he treat you?

Wright:  Like less than an equal. Like I was supposed to be subserviant to him

Rugen:  So you were sharing your phone with others in the house?  Any specific examples of subserviant or disrespect?

Wright:  The statement from him that ended our relationship [my choice] was when he looked at me after looking for a lighter of his and said "Empty your mother fuckin pockets" [sorry for language, but it stung and I remember it vividly.]

Rugen:  So tell me about this phone.

Wright:  It was one of the things I could contribute to the house. The use of my phone, my food stamps toward groceries for everyone, cooking, cleaning, etc.  It was just an understanding in the house.  As long as I wasn't in the middle of a text conversation or using my phone at that second, sure. It was fair game.

Rugen:  Okay. It's confusing for people about all those in the home. Can you tell me their names and their relationship if any?

Wright:  I'd prefer to not give names of the people living in the home. My name was released to the public and it turned into a feeding frenzy. These people are wonderful and they have children and lives... I just couldn't do that to them.  I wouldn't want to break that trust that we've built. Just because I'm not staying there doesn't mean they aren't my friends. They haven't done anything wrong. They were questioned by police and cleared. So in my opinion, they have no involvement in the case and I'd prefer to keep their names out of everything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The New "Journalism"

What happened to the days of researching your own news story as a reporter?  What happened to getting the story the old fashioned way without wooing the newsmaker financially?

The Baby Lisa Irwin missing child case here in Kansas City has opened my eyes to a lot of things.  At 50 years old, I thought I had seen quite a bit.  As a reporter, I have covered presidential visits, presidential campaigns rolling through the Show Me State, the Miss Universe pageant, entertainers, and the mundane local government and school board meetings.

I was so excited as a college student to get out and make my dent in the news world that I went straight through and graduated in November of my senior year.  I had a job in radio news in under a week from leaving college and was covering politics in the state capitol.  It was sure a plum job for a farm boy from rural Mid-Missouri who always wanted to be a news reporter.

But I was lucky enough to learn a few things in college.  My Mass Communications law class taught me a lot about covering my reporting butt; things I have carried with me as a private investigator.  My journalism instruction taught me how to write in a non-presumptuous way.  Along the way, I have worked with some good people who I have learned from as well.

With the advent of internet has come blogging.  The blogging journalists (I couldn't come up with a Brangelina type word for that) range from the trained to the newbies.

In the Baby Lisa case, I have cringed at some of the stories I have read.  One story started out as pointing out how long it had been since the night Baby Lisa was abducted.  Oh, so now we know for sure she was abducted, we just have to find out who did it? I don't think so.

An internet story I read had a dateline of Kansas City, then the reporters name.  Okay, so it specifically didn't say the reporter was in Kansas City covering the story, but it could be very easily assumed.  It got worse.  The story told of several things going on in the Baby Lisa case, quoting people, when I am fairly confident the "reporter" got from other interviews and other coverage from Kansas City area TV stations' internet postings.

What happened to attribution and giving credit where credit is due?  Well, I guess if you never took a journalism class maybe nobody ever taught you that.  I was taught you would give credit such as "according to an Associated Press interview".  Sans the attribution, it makes the reporter look like they did all the work themselves rather than a compilation of news sources.

As a young reporter, adrenaline drove me to getting the scoop; beating the competition.  It was good old fashioned hard work.  Now, rumors circulate of news entities wooing newsmakers with money to curry favor.

I am not accusing nor am I affirming, but the rumors have abounded from many sources that ABC's Good Morning America (GMA) is paying bills for Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley in order to get exclusive access to things like Halloween with the Irwins.  I am told they justify it by saying GMA is an entertainment show, thus it is not "checkbook journalism" popularized by the tabloids.  I hope the multiple rumors are not true.

I would sure hate to believe that reality TV has crossed over into shows that we believe to be representing factual news accounts.  It makes a cynical bystander like myself wonder what is real that I see on the news shows and what is staged.  Are protesters around the world and others the cameras scramble for putting on a show until the camera leaves and returns?

I should point out that local news coverage in Kansas City has been outstanding.  I have had the pleasure of meeting several news reporters during this process and they are, without exception, dedicated, hard working, extremely competent, and probably underpaid.  Sorry, as a former reporter I can vouch for the underpaid part.

By the way, this blog is just my opinion and observation. It is not a news account. :)