She Said ‘No’

Writing fro Oklahoma State’s student newspaper, Kassie McClung: Ashley sits at a wooden table and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear with a sweaty palm. Her eyes shift nervously from the officer to the floor. OSU Police Officer Colt Chandler places his folded hands on the table and looks at her, waiting for her to say something.

Ashley wishes she was alone.

Chandler slides a document in front of her.

“All I need from you is a signature right there,” he says in a video provided by OSU Communications. “You can read through there and see what’s going on.”

But Ashley knows what the document says. As soon as she signs the paper her case will be closed, so she scribbles her signature on the bottom line without hesitation.

“Is there any particular reason why we chose to do this?” Chandler asks.

Ashley pauses for a moment.

“I just don’t think it’s a strong case,” she says.

It was the alcohol, the lack of evidence and the little support she felt that shaped her decision to not press charges against her rapist.

It crushed her.

“I felt like I didn’t matter, and what happened to me didn’t matter,” Ashley said in a recent interview with the O’Colly. “I felt like a statistic pushed under the rug.”

Vape Life

Leah Sottile: Two men in flat-billed hats and baggy t-shirts stand back-to-back on a dimly-lit stage. On cue, they bend at the waist, draw their e-cigarettes to their mouths. Wisps of smoke gather around them. And then, slowly, they straighten upward as they inhale. Finally—like human fog machines—the men blow thick, billowing clouds of bright white vapor into the air.

These guys are called “cloud chasers,” the name for e-cig hobbyists who pride themselves on blowing bigger, thicker, longer plumes of smoke.

The win goes to a guy calling himself “The Push,” who bested an entire bracket of cloud chasers during a three-hour livestreamed event in late September. The announcers, two other guys also wearing flat-billed hats, thank everyone who came out to the watch.

“Thank you very, very much,” one says. “Wanna give a big shout to … all the companies that were out here supporting the event, supporting the cause … the cause being fuck Big Tobacco.”

“FUCK Big Tobacco,” the other announcer concurs.

It’s a scene from AmeraVape Technologies’ cloud-chasing competition (you can watch the whole thing here) in Carlsbad, California, the first “pro-vaping circuit” event. AmeraVape Technologies is a manufacturer of vaping equipment, particularly for folks who want to modify their devices to produce more smoke. A few days before, over the phone, AmeraVape’s CEO Erik Hutchinson told me he’s organizing competitions like these in order to bring greater awareness to vaping.

Shadow Of Doubt

Part I, from Cary Aspinwall and Ziva Bransetter: Prosecutor Tim Harris stood before jurors deciding Michelle Murphy’s fate and told them police found someone’s blood near her slain baby’s body — blood he implied could be hers.

“Ladies and gentleman, beyond a reasonable doubt this woman killed her child,” he told them.

What Harris didn’t tell jurors is that as the trial started Nov. 14, 1995, he possessed a report from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that said Murphy’s blood type was different than the type found at the scene. That test determined DNA found at the scene was not hers, contradicting Harris’ implication to jurors about what the Tulsa police lab tests showed.

A Tulsa World investigation shows the state of Oklahoma relied on faulty blood analysis, the dubious testimony of a troubled 14-year-old neighbor and an unrecorded, incriminating statement to convict Murphy. All three elements were so problematic they should have been challenged in court. Also, jurors never heard other evidence that might have given them reasonable doubt about convicting Murphy, who spent 20 years in prison.

‘I’ll Never Forget That Day’

Baxter Holmes: ON ALCATRAZ ISLAND, Calif. — John Hernan dug through memories from six decades back when he patrolled this rock as a correctional officer. And his 93-year-old blue eyes lit up at the mention of basketball.

“If I would’ve known that you were going to be here today,” said Hernan, pointing at the reporter from Boston, “then I would have brought with me a photograph.”

A heartbeat later, Hernan was presented with a black-and-white photo, dated 1956.

“That’s it!” he said.

In early August, Hernan ferried over to this windswept 22-acre island dotting San Francisco Bay for the 80th anniversary of the federal penitentiary’s opening, an event organized by the National Park Service, which runs Alcatraz as a historic site. Hernan was joined by fellow former officers, ex-convicts, and family members who lived here when America’s most notorious prison operated from 1934-63.

But in the infirmary ward on the second floor of the ancient cellhouse, where park rangers served lunch, Hernan found himself discussing two Celtics Hall of Famers and a moment that has all but slipped through the cracks of time.

He eyed the photograph, recognizing the faces: Bill Russell on the left, in the hat, and K.C. Jones in the middle, with the picturesque smile, both of them baby-faced, just weeks removed from winning a second straight NCAA title with the University of San Francisco Dons. And on the far right, a Jesuit priest, Father Richard Scannell.

Then Hernan unspooled an improbable story that even his son had never heard; a story that historians, researchers, archivists, and others associated with the prison, the college, and the area had never heard; a story that some USF players on those teams had never heard; a story that, for some reason, never made the newspapers back then and stayed below the radar since.

It is a story that has faded as those who were there when it unfolded fell ill or died. The few tied to Alcatraz who are still alive — many in their 80s and 90s — refer to themselves as an “endangered species.” But Hernan, who worked at the prison known as “The Rock” from 1955-58, was there. And he remembers.

“I’ll never forget that day,” he said.

Gaining Independence, Finding A Bond

Dan Barry: EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Sunday wedding that was months away, then weeks away, then days away, is now hours away, and there is so much still to do. The bride is panicking, and the groom is trying to calm her between anxious puffs of his cigarette.

Peter and Lori are on their own.

With time running out, they visit a salon to have Lori’s reddish-brown hair coiled into ringlets. They pay $184 for a two-tier cake at Stop & Shop, where the checkout clerk in Lane 1 wishes them good luck. They buy 30 helium balloons, only to have Peter realize in the Party City parking lot that the bouncing bobble will never squeeze into his car.

Lori, who is feeling the time pressure, insists that she can hold the balloons out the passenger-side window. A doubtful Peter reluctantly gives in.

“I’ve got them,” she says. “Don’t worry.”

Peter Maxmean, 35, and Lori Sousa, 48, met five years ago at a sheltered workshop in North Providence, where people with intellectual disabilities performed repetitive jobs for little pay, in isolation. But when a federal investigation turned that workshop upside down last year, among those tumbling into the daylight were two people who had fallen in love within its cinder block walls.

The Priviledge And Burden of Franklin McCallie

Joan Garrett McClane: They came from across the city. They came black and white to the towering brick house on Read Street.

Bankers, lawyers, judges, government workers, retirees, contractors, small-business owners — a constellation of the middle class.

Greeted with tiny coffee cups and wedges of chocolate cake, they stuck name tags to their shirts and blouses and exchanged polite hellos and handshakes until a bell rang and the crowd settled like dust into chairs and couches. Forty-five people, many meeting for the first time, crammed into the living room and waited for a word from the host.

Franklin McCallie looked across the room and was in awe of the sight. The mix was just right, he thought.

This would be the perfect beginning to his small revolution.

Into The Black

Charles Anderson in New Zealand: He awakes alone in the black at 12.03am. He does not look at the clock but he knows the time. He cannot see their faces but he knows who they are. The silhouettes surround him in silence. He is not afraid. He closes his eyes and remembers their story. It is his too.

He remembers the taste of salt, the smell of gasoline, the constant slap of water against his skin. He remembers what absolute loneliness feels like.

He will say he was ready to die. He will say his entire life led up to the moment when he decided not to.

There were nine, including him. They had set out together on a boat called the Easy Rider. The only difference in their story is that he is alive and they are not.

Lost Orphans

Scott Atkinson: FLINT, MI — Ermina Hagerman could not have known she was sending her children to die.

It was November 1885, and it was a desperate time. Her husband, Charles, had died just a month before. He had enlisted in the Civil War at 14, lying about his age, and had survived it all. But now at 34, he was gone, leaving Ermina — or Minnie, as she would be known all her life — alone with their four children. It would have been impossible in such a time for her not to think of how she should have had five children, had they not already lost Leo, one of her oldest twin boys, when he was small.

Minnie was 33 years old. The year 1885 was not a time when you would expect a woman with four children to work, and anyway, the village of Constantine, where she lived, was not one of great opportunity. “Nothing spectacular about it, other than the St. Joseph river flowing through it,” as one local historian said.

Minnie applied for government assistance. She had family in nearby Three Rivers, but they could offer only so much help when it came to her children. Rice and Grace, her two youngest, twins, were deaf.

In this, at least, there was hope. In a city called Flint, halfway up the state, there was a new school operating under what was still a radical idea: Perhaps the deaf and blind could be taught. Perhaps they were capable of learning like the rest of society, capable of learning skills, contributing to and participating in the world, and communicating with it. Her children would have a chance at a future, a trade and a voice.

It was also a boarding school. Minnie’s child-rearing load would be halved. And so she traveled with them, one after the other, to the Michigan Asylum for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, and returned home.

She could not have known that she was sending them to their deaths, nor could she have known that in time, her two youngest children would come to be called orphans, lost to history and forgotten for more than a century until someone came to find them.

Three from Bloomberg

Our pal Tim Loh, who left papers in Connecticut for Bloomberg News, graciously passed along three enterprise stories from the outfit better known for its bread-and-butter business coverage. Take a look.

Alex Nussbaum and David Voreacos: Even in the underbelly of North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields, the murder of Doug Carlile stands out, a tale of a Matt Damon look-alike felon, an Indian tribal leader and an accused hit man with a check list that included items like “practice with pistol.”

There’s even a voice from the grave: “If I disappear or wake up with bullets in my back, promise me you will let everyone know that James Henrikson did it.”

Those were the words Doug Carlile spoke to his family about his business partner before a masked gunman cut him down in the kitchen of his Spokane, Washington, house last December. Police say that Carlile’s murder was probably motivated by a series of complex business transactions that “went bad” in North Dakota’s oil fields.

Spurred by breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, North Dakota now produces more than 1 million barrels of crude a day, surpassing OPEC members such as Qatar and Ecuador. The Bakken’s output, along with surges in Texas and elsewhere, has the U.S. poised to overtake Saudi Arabia next year as the world’s biggest source of crude. Where Teddy Roosevelt once hunted bison, drilling rigs and work camps now crowd the horizon.

Along with oil prosperity has come a spasm of crime unlike any before on the prairie. Where farmers once sealed deals with a handshake, authorities now contend with drug gangs, meth labs, violent crimes, prostitution and investor fraud, all with the same aim in mind: making a quick score.

Tom Moroney: Holy moly!

Marc Gill, the big, bald, bearded genie at center stage, yanks a smorgasbord of heavenly treats from the Ronco Ready Grill.

Here comes the lollipop lamb for Dad and sensible salmon for Mom, and now hot dogs and chicken fingers for their curly-haired girl and two boys. Has our hungry crew stopped for a bite at their favorite all-you-can-eat joint? Better than that, this real-life family of five has landed supporting roles in one of the most anticipated infomercials of the fall season.

But wait, there’s more! Out of Gill’s furnace of fun — an oversized silver toaster-thingy –- emerges a rack of potatoes and asparagus. Gill looks into the camera and pauses to recover from what appears to be a bad case of wide-eyed astonishment.

“Are you kidding me!” he booms as he begins serving the hot goodies. “Who wants to be first?”

Ken Wells: “Let’s go shoot Savannah,” Tom Galjour says as we bounce along in his vanilla-colored Dodge Ram pickup. He’s at the wheel. We’re on a sleepy blacktop road meandering through a sprawl of sugarcane deep in bayou country outside of Houma, Louisiana, where Galjour lives.

It’s an adventure riding with Tom. An oxygen machine pings from his cluttered back seat, supplying the clear-plastic cannula looped over his head and fixed to his nostrils. He soon trades it for a nebulizer, giving himself a breathing treatment as he steers one-handed.

In case you’re wondering, Savannah isn’t a person. It’s Galjour’s affectionate name for his gun and, well, not just any gun. It’s a single-shot, bolt-action ArmaLite .50-caliber rifle. It weighs 35 pounds and is almost 5 feet long. Equipped with a scope, it shoots a projectile that breaks the sound barrier.

Skilled military snipers have used .50 calibers to pick off enemy combatants from more than a mile and a half away. It can penetrate 6-inch concrete walls, no problem, and pierce light armor. Galjour is supplying these data points with deadpan glee. He paid $4,000 for Savannah back when he had money and every shell he fires costs three bucks, but so what?