I choose art and beauty, vague as those terms are, against ugliness and horrors in which we live today. For somebody to look at a flower or listen to music does something to one, has a positive effect, and being surrounded by ugliness and horror does something negative. So I feel my duty not to betray those poets, scientists, saints, singers, troubadours of the past centuries who did everything that humanity would become more beautiful. - Jonas Mekas, via Happiness is a Choice You Make
Melissa Keister, 37, of New Columbia, Pa. has been accused of starving and beating a young foster girl in her care. Police say the girl was severely underweight and motionless. Keister is accused of starving the girl and making her drink vinegar until she threw up when she was caught sneaking food.
Investigators say the child was forced to stay within a taped square in her bedroom with an alarm on the door. She had to sleep naked on the floor. Keister is also accused of hitting the child and banging her head repeatedly on the corner of a desk.
"The little girl would run laps around the house to be disciplined. She would say, 'I'll behave myself, I'll listen, or I won't do that,' the whole time she was running," said neighbor Julie Kyle.
Keister has been charged with child endangerment. She has no previous record so at worst, she’ll get a suspended sentence.
Two former Dearborn County foster parents were convicted of multiple counts of abuse against children in their care. Diane Combs, 56, pleaded guilty to multiple counts including aggravated battery and will serve 20 years in prison followed by 12 years of probation.
She was originally charged with:
Aggravated battery and knowingly inflicting injury that creates a substantial risk of death
Domestic battery against a disabled person causing bodily injury
Domestic battery with bodily injury to a person under 14 years old
Battery on a child
Domestic battery by bodily waste
Battery by bodily waste when the victim is 14 years old, strangulation
Timothy Combs, 60, pleaded guilty to three counts of battery and will serve 18 years in prison with five years suspended.
He was originally charged with:
Aggravated battery that causes serious permanent disfigurement
Domestic battery against a disabled person with bodily injury
Battery resulting in bodily injury of a person under 14 years old
Domestic battery committed in the presence of a child younger than 16 years old.
The prosecutor’s office released video of the Combs’ that shows the couple hitting and using vulgar language directed at the young children in their care. The video was taken by an older teenage child in the couple’s care. She took the video after seeing Diane Combs kick a 6-year-old in the face, causing the child to fall back about three feet and cry.
The child you can heard to cough, gasp, and say “ow.”
Diane Combs then says, “I don’t give a s---. Get up,” as she undresses him, picks up his naked body by his neck and places him on the side of the recliner, with a diaper in his mouth.
She then says, “now squat,” and slaps the boy in the face, knocking him to the ground in front of the other young boy and says, “dumb little b------.”
Another video clip shows Timothy Combs pick up the 4-year-old boy by his left wrist, drop him to the ground, kick him, then say, “get up," a court official says.
Diane Combs, will serve 20 years in prison followed by 12 years of probation. Timothy Combs, and will serve 18 years in prison with five years suspended.
The Lady in the Fountain.
On the morning of June 2, 1969, Shirley Lee Widgeon Parker, 35, a hard-working, well-liked, respectable, twice-divorced secretary was found lying dead in the fountain in Druid Lake in the city of Baltimore. The body had been there, beneath water level where it couldn’t be seen, since at least April 23.
How she got there, all these decades later, no one is really sure. The fountain is in 24 feet of water, 35 yards from the lawn that surrounds it. Beyond that, the lake that the fountain sits in is surrounded by a high metal fence.
Beautiful, vivacious and popular, Shirley Parker was a bookkeeper, barmaid, and waitress at Baltimore’s infamous Sphinx Club. The Sphinx was opened by Charlie Tilghman in 1946 and within a year it was the nation’s hottest spots and the first minority-owned membership clubs in the whole of North and South America. “It had,” The Afro-American Newspapers wrote “a certain air about it, a pronounced style that set it apart, the one spot where, if you waited long enough you were sure to meet everyone who is anyone”
She was so beautiful that she worked occasionally as a still window model for The Hecht Company, a chain of department stores. Shirley was also a secretary in a branch of the Urban League and a volunteer for the politically powerful Baltimore County NAACP. She was the mother of two boys. One lived with his father, her first husband, in Pennsylvania while the second son, David lived with Shirley and her mother.
She had been dating and supporting a 33-year-old man named Arno West.
The facts of the case are that on the night of April 23, 1969, before she had gone to work at the Sphinx, Shirly had met some friends at a cocktail lounge on Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore. It was there that she learned that Arno West had used her paycheck to buy a pants suit for another girlfriend, a woman who worked for the Social Security Administration.
Upset, she reported for work at the Sphinx on time, dressed in usual fashionable style in brown hip-hugger slacks, a yellow, orange and white print blouse, a rust-colored coat and pile-lined, knee-length boots.
At around midnight, her manager reported that Shirley suddenly and unexpectedly stormed out of the and went directly to where West was living with his mother. Neighbors later reported hearing West and Shirly argue loudly on the front porch of the house.
The shouting stopped and the couple began to talk it out. West took Shirly out to a bar for a drink and then to visit friends. Afterward West and Shirly went for a late-night ride. West said Shirley asked him to drop her off her in Druid Hill Park, near the lake. “After she got out of the car on Cloverdale Road, near the park, and started walking, he told police he became worried and followed her,” he later said. He added that just before he took off, he saw Shirly climbing over the 15-foot-high iron railing around the lake. He drove off and then came back because she had left her purse in his car. He handed her the purse, he said and convinced her not to go into the park. West said she agreed and that he drove her home.
But Shirly never returned home that night. Her disappearance frightened those who knew her. She wasn’t the type of person to just up and leave. She was responsible and punctual in all things. After a few more days, a television news story led nationwide search which led to people claiming to have seen Shirly in Utah, Colorado and California. A Baltimore medium said she was getting vibrations about Shirly and that the case “will soon reveal one of the most horrible crimes in history.”
After a week, Arno West said that while he happened to be driving past Druid Hill Park, he happened to see Shirly’s purse hanging from the inside of the railing surrounding the lake and phoned the police. Police dragged the lake in Druid Hill Park, but no body was found.
Almost three months later, on June 2, 1969, the Baltimore County Bureau of Highways sent an electrical crew to repair two burned-out lights in the fountain at the center of Druid Park Lake.
A technician in a ladder truck looked down into the fountain and saw Shirly’s body lying face down two feet of water in the fountain. The Baltimore County coroner said that the body was much to decomposed to determine the means of death. He could positively establish that she wasn’t strangled, stabbed or shot. There was no drug use involved. With no other choice, Shirly’s death was reported as hypothermia, but the corner was quick to point out that is was very possible that Shirly had drowned before she was placed in the fountain. (She was a strong, award-winning swimmer)
Was it suicide? She was extremely upset before she disappeared. But how did she die of hypothermia on an early summer night? The record shows that between 1AM and 4 PM on the night she disappeared, that the temperature was 70 degrees.
The first early theory was that Arno West followed her into the park, knocked her unconscious and tossed her into the fountain. But the body showed no signs of trauma and its doubtful that West, a small man, could have carried Shirly’s 110-pound body into water, pull her across the lake and lift her 20 feet up the long metal ladder at the side of the fountain.
Witnesses sprang up with dubious stories about she West….at 2AM in the dark….rowing boat on the water that night; others say they saw Arno West looking at the fountain through a pair of binoculars. West didn’t help his own case by failing a lie detector test. But, since there was no crime committed, he was never arrested.
Shirly son David, now a man in his late fifties, offered this explanation "What I think happened was my mother swam out into the lake because she was an excellent swimmer, she got awards for swimming. I feel like she swam out there to clear her mind after the argument with Arno and to think about me and my brother. I think when she was ready to go, she stood up and fell back and hit her head on the water spout where, because the autopsy said she had a hole in the back of her head….I don’t believe (West) had anything to do with it. That man had to go to a mental hospital after my mother died. He had to be put in a hospital for a little bit because everyone was accusing him.”
The case remains open.
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Tate T. Pirnie, 25, of Wisconsin, originally been charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 12. pleaded no contest to third-degree sexual assault of a foster child and felony child abuse was sentenced to six years in prison. Pirnie must serve at least three years, less 445 days, before his mandatory release.
He child, on the other, got a life sentence of trauma. She’s 12 years old now and is already in treatment for depression at this time, she in weekly counseling, she can’t sleep without medication and when she does sleep she has horrific nightmares.
The female foster child said that in September 2016 — when she was 9 years old — Pirnie had sexually assaulted her on at least two separate occasions.
Pirnie was told by an officer that the victim was found with Pirnie’s semen inside her, and Pirnie gave an explanation involving a teddy bear he owned that he said might have been the reason for that.
However, semen was never discovered on or in the victim. The story, Smith said, showed that Pirnie thought it was possible and was trying to make excuses.
His own attorney said “I don’t mean to be harsh, but he’s not the smartest client I’ve ever had. ... The only thing he could think of was this bear”
“Though he did not fully confess, he basically did,” a prosecutor said. “They had nobody to tell, no place to go. They did stay with adults once in a while who kept letting them down. From a predatory standpoint, the victim in this case was a very good victim — she had no support, she was young, scared, scared of the state, and that’s why we don’t have a jury (trial),”