Crisis in Kenya Louise Furman News Omondi podcasts Safford video

Crisis in Kenya: A Beyond90Seconds special *VIDEO* report


[youtube_sc url=i7r6rsW3dxw width=430]

(*note: this video was posted on my old YouTube channel)

(Safford, Arizona) Louise Furman checks her e-mail around-the-clock these days, hoping for any word from the friends she’s made in Kenya over the past five years. It’s been this way ever since the east African country’s December 27th presidential election.Louise Furman visiting children in Kenya

“I just don’t know…even if he’s alive,” Furman tells journalist Mark Horner about her friend Faustin “Jack” Omondi.

In a special report, Crisis in Kenya, Horner effectively puts “faces” on the people now affected by the bloodshed that some say has escalated to ethnic cleansing.

The program effectively uses Furman’s own video and photographs taken in Kenya over the past five years.

Go ahead and rely on the collective mass media to assemble all of the facts about what’s unfolding in Kenya. But step into the country and get to know some of its people in Crisis in Kenya, the special report.

A Beyond90Seconds special *VIDEO* report

Curtis Williams Jeremiah Pharms News reporting Rick Neuheisel Seattle Times true crime University of Washington Victory and Ruins

Would your local media have chased this one?

This morning, my hat’s off to The Seattle Times. A story I read on that newspaper’s Web site last evening was still very much on my mind as I drove in this morning’s rush hour traffic in Tucson.

I never expected the story to grab my attention in the fashion it ultimately did. You see, last night as I went to bed, I reached for my cell phone simply to set the alarm. Then I decided to hit the web button on my Treo and surfed over to one of my hometown’s newspapers, The Seattle Times.

That’s when I saw the headline: Key UW linebacker played entire season after his bloody print was tied to shooting

Before I knew it, I was reeled-in, clicking through all of the 23 pages it took to read the entire article on my phone.

You don’t have to like sports to appreciate this article. This is a story about a shooting, a high-profile athlete at a city’s beloved university, and the reasons why the compelling evidence connecting the athlete to the violent crime long remained invisible to nearly everyone.

The football player’s name is Jeremiah Pharms. And while the University of Washington cranked-out a season-long public relations portrait of a family man, the real person beneath the helmet appears to have had a greater loyalty to pitbulls and drugs than he did for wife and children. Well, according to The Seattle Times story, Pharms wasn’t always loyal to his dogs, either.

The Seattle Times has exposed some uncomfortable truths for police, prosecutors, former UW coach Rick Neuheisel and that UW PR Machine (I’m tempted to call it “Animal Pharm,” but that may not be quite fair).

And here’s what really gnawed away at the reporter in me. Documents were sealed in this case. Now, I spent half of my decade in Albuquerque working the court beat. Went to at least one court most every day. I’ve read countless criminal complaints, search warrant affidavits, inventory returns and grand jury indictments. And yes, there were times when documents were sealed. I can still see the staples all ’round the edges of the manilla files that held those court papers.

You know what? Although I was often frustrated, I understood and appreciated the need to seal stuff, at times.

But what were the motivations for sealing documents in the Pharms case? And had the papers not been sealed, what would have been the result of the unavoidable media attention? Perhaps it would have had Pharms walking a straighter line. Surely, it seems the Cleveland Browns would have been less determined in the team’s desire to draft Pharms.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in roll-up your sleeves, get deep in research and digging, damn any public sentiment or pressures reporting read The Seattle Times article. Its caliber is worthy of the awards that will, no doubt, come.

It would have been so easy for the paper to have turned its back on this story. I can hear what I fear so many decision-makers might have said in some newsrooms across the country: It happened eight years ago. No one was killed. We don’t want to upset the University. The UW spends a lot of money on advertising.

The Seattle Times seems to rest in the comfort of knowing that it will still be around long after the Pharms story fades away. I returned to the paper’s Web site this morning and discovered another story about a player on that 2000 Husky team, the late Curtis Williams. It’s a name I know. For, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that while I did not attend the University of Washington, I have been a life-long fan of the team since the early 1970s and the days of Sonny Sixkiller.

The story of Curtis Williams has long been one that has moved people to tears. But the proverbial “rest of the story” now emerges in today’s edition of The Seattle Times.

It turns out the newspaper is running a series of reports focussed on that 2000 Husky team, all under the banner: Victory and Ruins, the disturbing story behind the last great great UW team–and how its legacy still casts a shadow on the Huskies.

More than ever, my hat is off to The Seattle Times and its reporters. And, in the long run, I believe this series will be good for the University of Washington’s football program. If there’s dirt, let it be exposed in the full scrutiny of the media’s light and evaluated in public debate. As that dirt is obliterated, the healing begins. Powers-that-be are, hopefully, more inclined to properly protect the integrity of their program.

What do you think? Would your local media have printed or aired a similar story if it had unfolded in your hometown?

Also, Rick Neuheisel is now the new head coach at his alma mater, UCLA. Neuheisel is no stranger to controversy. Should The Seattle Times series, Victory and Ruins, raise any concerns for UCLA and its fans?

Andress Decision Francis Stubberfield News podcasts Ross Renecker Scott Stubberfield Seattle Supreme Court true crime Washington Yakima

Freed Washington killer says he’s headed to Arizona


61-year-old Ross Renecker’s violent criminal history dates back to his boyhood days. But it was a 1977 murder that put him behind bars for three decades. His victim was a single mother of three whom Renecker abducted from the parking lot of a Seattle-area pancake house.Ross Renecker in court

Chilling details of this case emerge in my interview with the victim’s son, Scott Stubberfield. As the interview unfolds, you’ll learn about the controversial Washington State Supreme Court ruling that resulted in the killer’s release from prison and has invalidated hundreds of murder convictions.

Now the convicted murderer, 61-year-old Ross Renecker, says he’s headed to Arizona to live out the final days of his life.

Hear why the victim’s son says anyone living near Renecker must be careful.

And here’s the kicker: Apparently, Renecker’s new, unsuspecting neighbors won’t be warned about his history.

The story unfolds in this week’s podcast.

News podcasts Safford Stevo Forbrick true crime Wal-Mart

Attempting to Podcast…

*Warning: The suspect in this case is charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. The story is not appropriate for younger readers/listeners.


This is very much an “experiment” on my part, but I believe I have just successfully created a podcast. An old trick for many of you, I’m sure. But here I am, jumping into the fray.

Now, I’m going to attempt to post the podcast within this post. Of course, I bought a book about podcasting nearly a year ago, but only read parts of it some time ago. Trial and error seems to be my thing, at times.

The concept for my first podcast is simple: Take the article that I posted below and, after setting-up the story with a brief introduction, simply read it. Trust me, “beyond90seconds” lives up to its name here; going deeper than a typical local TV news story and offering much more detail. Perhaps too much information for the average person, but for those of you who follow true crime, this podcast will hopefully hold your attention from start to finish.

I also added a few pictures and graphics to the podcast (available in iPod’s .m4a file only) with hopes of making it even more interesting.

I don’t know if I’ll stick to the approach I’ve taken in this debut. But it’s a good baby step, I think, as I learn to gain traction in the blogosphere. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.


News Safford Stevo Forbrick true crime

Alert Wal-Mart workers help police nab man with child porn


by Mark Horner

(Safford, Arizona) The man who drove the unusually long van (it takes up two parking spaces) was not unfamiliar to workers in the photo department at the Wal-Mart store on south 20th Avenue in this rural mining and farming town. The middle-aged man had visited this store several times before.

Two employees now believe he’s the same person who’d telephoned them in the past, asking for permission to use the store’s public-use scanner so that he could burn a CD of nude pictures.

The man returned January 3, 2008 and got busy at that scanner at 7:22 that morning. Wal-Mart photo specialist Esther Barella and the store’s photo department manager, Rachel Rojas, noticed that the customer carefully placed his pictures “upside down” beside the scanner.

The women saw enough to know something was wrong. Picture after picture featured partially or fully nude boys.

The chain of events about to unfold would expose many more images of naked boys; both in pictures and on DVDs . According to the police report, one of the movies would include a child engaged in bestiality.

Wal-Mart co-manager Joe Baldez approached the man at the scanner and started asking questions. Later, Mr. Baldez told police that the man had claimed the boys were his sons in Venezuela. The manager added that the customer had appeared nervous, and had stated, “I don’t have time for this,” before marching out of the store.

The man had left with his original pictures. But he’d forgotten to take that Kodak Picture CD he’d just burned. He never paid for it, either.

At 8:21am, Mr. Baldez called police.

That forgotten CD is now referred to as “Item #1” in a police report. Investigators found 28 images on it. Most of the pictures show nude boys or partially nude boys. One child appears to be under the age of 15. Another boy, who appears fully nude in three pictures, appears to be less than 10-years-old.

Six of the pictures on the CD are simply head shots of a bearded, middle-aged man: The very man who’d just left the store.

A good starting point for evidence.

Safford Police Officer Herschel Medlin arrived at the Wal-Mart store at 8:27am. One look at the pics on the CD convinced him that he needed to find the mystery man who’d left the scene only minutes earlier.

Mr. Baldez offered a description of the blue van usually driven by the customer. Ms. Barella and Ms. Rojas explained that the older model vehicle had distinct features, including “gas cans on the back of it” and its unusual length.

Officer Medlin went outside and surveyed the parking lot. Finding no sign of the van, he contacted police in the neighboring town of Thatcher and requested their help in finding the vehicle. Safford police detectives were also called to the scene.

Detective Diane Thomas spoke with Wal-Mart security employees Jacob Wiltbank and Brandt Dobosh and managed to locate surveillance video of the van. It appeared to be an older model (1970’s or ’80’s) vehicle, possibly faded-blue, and about 18-feet long.

Security video also revealed that the man had initially entered the store at 5am. He was white, wore a plaid shirt and a “beret type hat.”

In the surveillance video, the man could be seen putting on a black jacket before leaving the store.

Officer Medlin also learned that the suspect had scribbled a name on a sign-in sheet before using the scanner. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the first name appeared to “Ken” or “Keith.” The last name started with a “Z.” The rest was too difficult to make out.

At 9:06am, the Arizona Department of Public Safety advised Safford Police that one of its officers, Stewart Shupe, had stopped a blue van at milepost 113 on Highway 191. It had been heading south.

Sixteen minutes after the heads-up call from DPS, Officer Medlin arrived at the scene on Highway 191. Safford police Captain Dennis Whisman and Detective Sergeant Jason Knight were also present. Officer Medlin immediately recognized that the van was the same vehicle that had appeared on the Wal-Mart surveillance video.

According to Officer Medlin’s police report, the driver of the van admitted that he’d scanned pictures at Wal-Mart earlier that day. Detective Sergeant Knight asked the driver if he would show the officers the pictures that had been scanned.

The man got out of the van and handed Officer Medlin a “brown zippered folder.” The folder contained the same pictures that Officer Medlin had seen on the Kodak Picture CD. And the driver of the van appeared to be the man pictured on that CD.

Officer Medlin asked the man about the children in the pictures.

Who were they?

In his police report, Medlin states that the man claimed the kids were his children in Venezuela.

“What are their birthdays?” Medlin asked.

“Uh, uh, uh, uh,” is the response noted in the police report.

Officer Medlin wasn’t done asking questions.

He asked for the name of the boys’ mother and for their address.

“Uh, uh, uh, uh,” once again.

The officer wanted to know how he could contact the mother or the boys.

“I don’t want you to contact them. I would like a lawyer,” is the response recalled in the police report.

The driver of the van was handcuffed, searched and placed into the back of Officer Medlin’s police car.

Two more lawmen arrived at the scene: Detective Sergeant Mark Smith from the Graham County Sheriff’s Office and the Safford Police Department’s Detective Bill Wren.

But who was the mystery man?

Officer Medlin studied the suspect’s driver’s license and saw the name Stevo Byrom Emmanuel Forbrick.

A probable cause search revealed more information about the van. The vehicle had a kitchen, including a stove and a refrigerator.

At the back of the van, police found a bedroom, TV, DVD player and a RadioShack 50-channel scanner.

The officers noticed that when they spoke on their radios, they could hear themselves on the scanner in Forbrick’s van. It had been programmed to their frequency. And the scanner had been wired into all of the speakers throughout the van.

Inside a wooden box “that contains a peyote cactus sticker,” Officer Medlin also found “a smoking device commonly used to smoke illegal drugs.” Next to “the pipe,” Medlin located a pill bottlevan_3.jpg with a plastic bag inside. The bag, he wrote in his report, contained “an unknown green plant substance.” Something he also found in a brown glass jar.

While waiting for a truck to arrive to take the van to a local tow yard, Detective Wren noticed the van was registered to a “Steven G. Forbrick.” Detective Wren later spoke with Forbrick at the jail and asked about the slight discrepancy in the name. The suspect explained that his name had originally been Steven G. Forbrick, but that he’d legally changed it to Stevo Byrom Emmanuel Forbrick. The vehicle was still registered under his former name, Forbrick explained (note: elsewhere in the police report–away from the narrative–the suspect is also listed as Steven E. Forbrick).

Inside the Safford Police Department, Detective Wren and Officer Medlin sorted through the evidence. The items found in Forbrick’s van included information about a storage unit.

At 11:40am the following day, police executed a search warrant on storage unit #175 at More Self Storage in Safford.storage_3.jpg Investigators had confirmed that the unit was currently rented to Forbrick.

Investigators found two plastic bags containing 29 DVDs and another Kodak Picture CD.

Most of the DVDs contained video of naked boys swimming in pools, hiking, camping, kissing, showering and performing gymnastics. The movie titles included “The Gang of Wet Rascals,” “Makin’ Mischief” and “Rascals in the Woods.”

According to the police report, a 94-minute DVD featured nude boys less than 10-years-old “talking about how they are in love with each other…” The police report also states that this same DVD shows “a nude boy having intercourse with a live goose in the presence of several other nude underage boys…”

The picture CD found in the storage unit was labeled “JZK babys and peyote way.” It contained pictures of a nude boy who appeared to be less than 10-years-old.

Investigators stated that much of the evidence in this case is “sexually suggestive.”

Other items found in the storage unit included books and magazines. A magazine titled “Gender Bender” contained pictures of transvestites and men engaged in sex acts.

Other evidence seized in this case includes an Argus 35mm camera with film and a Sunshine 35mm camera with film.

Forbrick’s van is a 2-tone blue 1983 Ford with Arizona license plate WA00840. The police report states he resides at the 7800 block of Siesta Del Retiro in Graham County. However, the Eastern Arizona Courier in Safford reports that Forbrick lived in his van.

Forbrick is charged with sexual exploitation of a child and is currently held on a $15,000 cash bond.

Anyone with additional information about this case can call the Safford Police Department at ( 928 ) 428-6884.