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As I am sure you all know, Sarah Lunde (search) was found dead on Saturday morning a short distance from her home. No one is hugely surprised she was found dead, but we all hoped that she would return alive like Elizabeth Smart (search). Needless to say, we are all heartbroken. The poor kid never seemed to have a chance. There does not appear to be much parental supervision in her home — but even in homes where parents are attentive, these crimes can occur.
These stories with bad endings are hard for us to do — especially when we travel to the locations of the searches to do our show. We get to know everyone involve — law enforcement, volunteer searchers, friends, family, etc. You get closer proximity to their disappointment, their grief.
The sheriff and other law enforcement people worked so hard on this investigation. As always, no sleep and only one desire: to find an endangered child. I was very impressed with Sheriff Gee and the people with whom he worked. Their mobile command post made the search operation more efficient and more organized. This is key to any search and time is always a factor. I am sure their mobile command center was expensive to buy, but it is money well spent. We showed some video of the command center on Friday and I hope to post some pictures of it in tomorrow's blog.
We arrived in Florida mid-day on Friday and went to the central location of the search. People were eagerly trying to find — and save — this child. Everywhere you looked as you drove near the family home you would see search groups — generally about six people and a law enforcement person. The purpose of the law enforcement person was to help in the event evidence was found (e.g. the missing bottle from the family home.) The law enforcement person carries a radio and also knows how to collect, without contaminating, possible evidence.
Jeff Brown — a frequent guest and also now a friend — picked me up at the airport on Friday in Tampa. We drove the 50 miles to the Ruskin community search location and got lost en route even though Jeff has a GPS in his car. I teased him about being a "guy" and not willing to ask for directions. I do admit that the area where the family lives is very remote and hard to find.
In addition to going to the search location, Jeff and I went to a local Denny's and talked to people. The people inside Denny's know the mother well and had less than favorable things to say about her. Sarah's sister had worked at the Denny's. It was only by luck that we picked that restaurant and it turned out to be a wealth of information.
Later my producer and I went to Sam's Bar/Restaurant (I was told the mother goes there) and heard very nice things about the mother from the mother's good friend who tends bar there. The comments were in stark contrast to the comments we heard at Denny's.
In short, the community is small enough so that everyone seems to know everyone and everyone has an opinion. While the opinions differ about the family, there was no one in Ruskin who was not heartbroken about the then missing, now dead child.
Now the investigation... what did happen to Sarah?
Here are the e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
I think you used poor judgment in going to the community of the missing 13-year-old girl. I personally couldn't have been more bored and I turned to another station.
E-mail No. 2
A lot of time, talk and politics is going into the creation of this "National Registry" and while I fully agree that it is necessary, I am very concerned that it is not the answer to this horrible problem of child predators and that lawmakers will feel that they've done their best. But, 1) For various reasons not every parent will avail themselves of the information (will they be 'guilty' if anything happens to their child?); 2) Now that I know where these people live shall I move? Keep my children locked in the house until they are 21? Sit in my car and watch the offender day and night? 3) If the county or state police visit the sex offender at 2 p.m. on April 18th and report back to the state that he is working in his garden at the home he is supposed to be in and this is the 3rd or 20th check they have performed this year on him, will that assure his whereabouts at 7 p.m. on April 18th? The time and money spent on follow-ups would be a waste. I'm sure that if a state figured the cost of manpower to monitor these people more closely, they would conclude that it would be cheaper to put on the GPS monitors. The legislators should work on this bill. Thank you for listening,
E-mail No. 3
Why are all the police force around the country in Florida and California wasting their time on these kids that are missing when everyone knows that they are already dead! Give it all up! This, at this point is nothing but a huge joke and huge waist of money and time.
Dean Austin Neifert
HighLands Ranch, CO
E-mail No. 4
Greta, does the suspect have a car? If so, have the authorities checked it for evidence?
Deer Park, TX
ANSWER: Great point. I am going to check this out. If he took her and if he took her in a car, there is a strong chance there will be hair, fiber, DNA, fingerprint evidence in that car.
E-mail No. 5
I just heard on the news that authorities think they have found Sarah's body. This is sad but, unfortunately these days, not surprising. When I heard the news, a thought flashed through my brain — imagine that! We hear very little about the 17-year-old brother who left Sarah alone to get food. But maybe he didn't go to get food. Maybe for some reason the brother killed Sarah, disposed of her body, and then joined his friends to establish an alibi.
As I said — just a thought.
E-mail No. 6
Other than the brother's word of the 13 year old missing in Florida, do police have or have they taken fingerprints that would support the brother's word that Onstott was in the house the morning the girl went missing? It just seems curious, unless the family wasn't aware of Onstott's history (which I just heard on your show was the rape of an adult and not a child), that the family wouldn't have immediately reported her missing after a "sexual offender" showed up at 5:00 a.m. There is something fishy about the brother's tale! Maybe the church should be checked as well. Youth ministers and adult ministers too have been known to perpetrate a time or two! After all, he was, before the brother, the last person to see the girl.
E-mail No. 7
I was wondering. When Sarah's brother went to eat that night, was he alone?
ANSWER: Great question.
E-mail No. 8
The lady you interviewed said the "suspect" pushed his way by the brother and got a half full beer off the table. Who drank the half? Perhaps he did when he was there previously with the missing girl. How else would he know it was there and maybe he was trying to get the evidence out of the house? If this is so, the brother is lucky.
E-mail No. 9
I wonder if Onstott's clothes were wet when he got the half beer. His clothes are bound to have residue from the pond scum if he carried her out in it and weighted down the body. The ponds they showed had bare banks and no bridges from which to drop a body. Those clothes he had on could be a valuable link to the site.
E-mail No. 10
I was watching your show and the reporter that talked to the girl's brother said something that is really bugging me! She said that the mother's former boyfriend walked in and grabbed a beer (half empty) from a table. Where did the beer come from? How did the boyfriend know it was there? Just curious.
E-mail No. 11
Do you think that the sex offender David came to the Lunde household at 5 a.m. specifically to the get the beer bottle? Had he been there earlier, he would have known the mom was out of town, so he could return without interference to retrieve the partially consumed beer that could place him at the scene earlier in the night via fingerprints on the bottle? Maybe he was trying to cover his tracks and remembered he left a beer bottle there with his prints on it. It may be convoluted thinking for a criminal but hey, it's just a thought.
E-mail No. 12
I would just like to thank you and your guests for encouraging your viewers to check their state's sex offender registries online. My family lives in a quiet, rural community and as a parent, I felt like it was also a safe community for my child to grow up in. After watching your show nightly over the past two years, and realizing how easily something can happen to a child, I decided to check our state's registry online. I was shocked nearly to tears when I saw a list of high-risk offenders (level 3 of 4) — 15 to 20 names for my zip code, and three of them were located within a 3-mile radius from my home. Also on the list was a person I went to school with. I am sickened by this, but at least I am informed. Please continue to encourage people to use this information to find out who is in their community. Thank you for opening my eyes.
ANSWER: I think many of us are surprised.
E-mail No. 13
I cannot believe your husband let you go on Operation Falcon. When I saw you I said to myself, "What is she doing there?" And then I really got upset because your vest was only a #3. What's up with that? Glad you're safe.
ANSWER: When he saw the tape and saw what we did, my husband DID have some words with me.
E-mail No. 14
Why is everyone seem to be giving Sarah's mom a free pass what are two teenagers being left alone while mom goes out of town. If something has happened to Sarah her mom should be charged also.
Robert Gomez Jr.
E-mail No. 15 — From Laura Ingle in the Michael Jackson (search) trial:
Subject: Laura note
"Now I know, Neverland is all about booze, pornography, and sex with boys!"
That's what the mother of the teenage accuser in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial blurted out this morning while on cross-exam. The boy's mother is having her highly anticipated "toe-to-toe" with Jackson's lead attorney Tom Mesereau (search). It has been like watching two dogs snarling at each other anxious to attack.
Tom Mesereau launched his questioning of the mother by asking her about a body wax she got while she was in the middle of one of her many "escapes" from "that dungeon called Neverland." She contends she was being held against her will, threatened and bullied by "the Germans" (some of Jackson's security team members) and Jackson himself. When Mesereau asks her about the body wax, she held up her hand to him and said "No! That's wrong," (think "talk to the hand" gesture) she turns to jurors and tells them directly "What he is saying is not true." She goes on, that it was a leg wax. Mesereau asks her if she's like to see a receipt from the waxing that includes a brow, lip, and bikini procedure. She says no, then turns to jury and says, "You've got to understand, these people have a way of choreographing things." Mesereau leans in on lectern and says in a deep voice, "Do you?" She says no.
When she says she didn't do a good job of acting in the rebuttal video saying good things about Jackson, Mesereau leans in again, "I think you're a pretty good one." Judge tells Mesereau not to do that again and says he expects more professional behavior. Judge turns to mom and says, “And you. Answer his questions only, this is just as much your fault as his." Tells the jury to disregard the exchange.
Mesereau is playing audiotape in between his questioning of the mom, cueing his co-counsel like a conductor to a band. He asks a question about something she alleges, the points "cue the tape," and it plays. Mesereau asked her about all the times she got restraining orders against her husband who abused her, then asked her if she ever thought Michael Jackson or anyone he was associated with was using force or fear to control her. She said, “I didn't think that, I knew it." He then asked, "Yet with all your experience with restraining orders, you didn't get one against Michael Jackson or his people?” She responds, "I was too scared of them."
Inside color: Jackson is wearing shiny satin pants with his suit jacket today. I don't know if it's the fabric, but he looks like he's lost even more weight (if that's possible) he doesn't look like he feels well. Catherine Jackson, his mom, came in with him again today, the one constant for Michael throughout this trial. She looks tired and serious, but well dressed and loving whispers back and forth with Michael when they come in the courtroom. The accuser's mom comes in with a purple hooded jacket, with the hood pulled tightly over her head and face, head down as she walks in escorted by D.A.'s people. Today at the morning break, she sat at the witness stand with her hands clasped tight looking down. Looked like she was praying.
Some jurors are taking notes, sometimes grinning when Mesereau seems to catch her in a bizarre statement. One laughed when she didn't know what "the government" meant when Mesereau was referring to prosecutors. That being said, there is evidence that she was being followed by Jackson's people, phone calls of hers were listened in on as she has claimed.
Never a dull moment in Santa Maria. Gotta get back in the courtroom now.
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