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Monday night's interview with Jon Woods was a difficult one.
If you watched, you know that he had just heard 24 hours earlier that his young adult daughter had been murdered. A short time earlier, the police showed up at his house with the devastating news. I did not know that he was going to be a guest on our show until less than one hour before the show. We were going to cover the topic of the murder of his daughter with a reporter but — 60 minutes before the show — I received a call from a producer that Jon had just landed in New York City from his home in Ohio and would do our show. I did not know if this was wise or not and I was worried about him. It had been less than 24 hours since his world got rocked so viciously. I don't know him, but feared the interview would be extremely raw for him. I did not want to make matters worse for a grieving parent — if that is even possible. Is there anything worse than hearing your child has been murdered? I said yes to the interview.
I hope it was cathartic for him to talk about his daughter. After the interview, I thought with reflection, that the interview was cathartic for him. I know it was extremely difficult. I used to wonder how a parent could talk about a child so publicly under such horrible circumstances — but some parents want to talk and maybe need to talk. They want to publicize the murder to make sure there is justice for the child and they also want to talk about their love for their child. The loss is immense. Children are supposed to outlive their parents.
What struck me most about Jon Woods was how close he was to his daughter. How did I know? By the mere fact that he knew so much about her schedule in New York City. He knew all the plays his daughter had tried out for, all her successes in dancing, etc. Only a parent with close communication would know so much detail. I could tell Jon talked to his adult daughter often. I concluded as I interviewed him that he talked to her daily or constantly e-mailed her — hence they must have been very close. He knew so many details about her life in New York City. Of course I am sure he is permanently hurt by not knowing the one detail: Who would kill his daughter?
Last night, at the end of the show, I promised to update you on a story we did last year (see below.) A family was murdered in Mississippi and we took the show to Mississippi to cover it when it was still a missing persons' story. The article brings you up to date.
Tuesday night we'll be joined by Alan Alda. He will be on the set with me in D.C. I hope you watch!
Now for some randomly selected e-mails (except one... the one from Lt. Taylor below:)
E-mail No. 1
I have been watching the news on Natalee Holloway as many others, I know the entire nation feels for her and her family. I just had a thought that maybe someone in Aruba might have cremated Natalee? Has anyone looked into it?
E-mail No. 2 — Here is an e-mail I have waited for. It relates to the reporting about the arson/rescue in Texas that was discussedin the blog on Thursday and Friday of last week. Read on:
Lt. Carol Taylor
Taylor County Sheriff's Department
ANSWER: Lt. Taylor is my hero... in case you did not read www.gretawire.com on Thursday and Friday of last week, it was there that I recounted how I was wrong in an interview I had with Lt. Taylor two plus years ago... and she has accepted my apology. She is my hero because she is gracious... perhaps something I lacked at the time. I followed up her e-mail and called her yesterday and she said, "When someone apologizes, you should accept it." In addition to being gracious, she is wise. I hope I have learned from her.
E-mail No. 3
The teacher got a way too harsh penalty. She should have been fired for ethics violations, nothing more. The boy needs a new mother who has a realistic understanding of 14-year-old boys.
E-mail No. 4
Greta, I'm sorry but I suggest that there has never been a 14-year-old boy who felt "raped" by any female, regardless her age. I know, I was once a 14-year-old boy myself. As you know, there is a world of difference between a girl (14) being raped and a boy at that age being "raped."
E-mail No. 5
As a former youth pastor, I do not think Mrs. Lafave's sentence was fair at all. There is no way that those boys had any clue what they were getting into. They will be haunted by this woman's face for the rest of their life. I wish they had put her under the jail!
E-mail No. 6
I wonder if gender bias has something to do with Debra LaFave's ridiculously light sentence in her plea bargain? I wonder what would have happened if, instead of being an adult woman having sex with a 14-year-old boy, a nice, childlike, hansom, 25-year-old man with a history of psychiatric treatment and trauma in his life had been having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Seems like three years of house arrest would be unlikely.
I also wonder if Bill O'Reilly will pick up on this in his campaign against sexual predators.
E-mail No. 7
I, along with many people in north Louisiana, support the Aruba boycott by Beth Holloway Twitty. It has come to my attention thru a friend that she was recently watching "Regis and Kelly Live" and noticed that the show is still showing a trip to Aruba as a prize for some lucky studio winner. We feel this is very distasteful and goes against all of us that are boycotting Aruba. If Regis or Kelly had lost a child under Beth's circumstances I don't believe they would so happy about giving away a trip to Aruba... We believe that there should be a unanimous boycott and that many islands are beautiful and would be happy to receive the American dollar.
I have visited Aruba several times when I worked for Princess Cruises and it is a beautiful island yet not safe for us or our children. Please pass this along and hopefully with some pressure from you or your news team that vacation spot will be taken off the wheel. It was on there as of last week. Very unsupportive of Mr. Philbin and Ms. Rippa. Thank you for your time and your fabulous coverage of Natalee Holloway's disappearance.
This next article relates to the murder of a family in Mississippi. Before their bodies were found, we took the show "on the road" to Mississippi to look into their disappearance. Unfortunately, they were found murdered 17 days after the family vanished. A family member was arrested and is now standing trial:
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — The defense failed today to exclude testimony from the former wife of Earnest Lee Hargon.
Hargon is the man accused of killing three members of his family in rural Yazoo County.
A jury is being selected this week in Marshall County. Once in place, the panel will be moved to Yazoo County for Hargon's capital murder trial. If convicted, the one-time cattle truck driver could face the death penalty.
Hargon's attorneys had asked Circuit Judge Jannie Lewis before the start of jury selection to exclude testimony from Lisa Ainsworth, citing spousal exclusions. At time of the murders, Hargon lived in the Taylorsville in Smith County with Ainsworth.
District Attorney James Powell there were certain exemptions under the rule, including cases involving the abuse of a child and the act of kidnapping.
Lewis agreed and denied the defense motion.
Hargon is accused in the slayings of his cousin, Michael Hargon; Michael's wife, Rebecca Hargon; and the couple's four-year-old son, James Patrick.
Here is a link to a more in-depth article about the trial.
You might want to click on this link after reading the article below. You just never know...
SOMERVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Paying attention in health class helped a Brewer High School student save a baby girl from choking to death.
Kelli Groves, 17, learned the Heimlich maneuver for infants two weeks ago and used it to save Brooklyn Savannah Jennings on Saturday afternoon at the Piggly Wiggly store where she works. Groves was running the cash register when the baby's mother, Misty Jennings of Somerville, realized Brooklyn was choking.
Groves sat down and put Brooklyn face down on her leg and gently patted her back with the heel of her hand until she spit up mucus. She said she used this special method because the baby was coughing and getting some air; if not, she would have sat the baby up and used her fingers to press under the rib cage.
The baby was breathing when emergency medical technicians arrived.
"It took two to three minutes of doing the Heimlich. It may have been more. I don't remember. I was so nervous," Groves told The Decatur Daily.
The EMTs used a suction device to clear the nose and mouth. They then returned the baby and mother to Parkway Medical Center where Jennings, 24, gave birth to Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. The mother and newborn had left the hospital Saturday afternoon and stopped at the grocery store on the way home.
Jennings said Brooklyn has acid reflux and apparently had a problem with her baby formula being too thick to digest. They returned home Sunday evening.
And finally, the article you have all been waiting for:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gentlemen, start growing your beards.
Anchorage has landed the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships.
The biannual event was held in the United States only once before. That was two years ago in Carson City, Nevada.
Just last month, 243 contestants from 20 different countries competed in the championships in Berlin, Germany.
The next World Beard and Moustache Championships will take place in September of 2007 in Brighton, England. Representatives from Anchorage will attend to help promote and generate enthusiasm for the Alaska beard competition two years later.
During the Anchroage competition, competitors can choose from several different categories, including handlebar moustaches to those sporting the "Fu Manchu" style.
Other categories are for those preferring to grow goatees and other partial beards. And, of course, there are six different categories in the full beard category.
The Southcentral Alaska Beard and Moustache Club will serve as Anchorage's host for the 2009 championships.
Anchorage is no stranger to quirky events, and is certainly familiar with facial hair competitions. For decades, Mr. Fur Face has been one of the highlights of the Miners and Trappers Ball during the winter Fur Rendezvous celebration.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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