Will to Kill Versus Will to Live

Before I was born, my parents had a black cocker spaniel named Seven.

She was the seventh puppy in the litter, and the runt, so my parent’s decided to keep her.

One day, when Seven was one-year-old, she disappeared. My parents drove around looking everywhere for her, calling friends to be on the look-out, and also posted signs in the local stores. Although there was no city dog pound, my parents contacted the police and the post office in case they saw Seven during their patrol or mail delivery routes. They also placed an ad in the weekly newspaper.

Two weeks later, my parents found Seven lying in their front yard, barely alive. Because the town was so small, my parents then placed a display ad in the newspaper with a picture of Seven. The photo was not cute at all. Instead, the photo showed Seven’s bloody stomach, which had no fur or skin left on it. It showed Seven’s tongue almost completed detached, held on by a ¼” piece of skin with the remainder of her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth. The ad also mentioned Seven’s two broken back legs, and the skinless, bloody pads on both front feet. My parents offered a monetary reward for information about what happened to Seven so they could inform the veterinarian.

Three days after the newspaper was published, a witness came forward. This witness told police she had seen three 13-year-old boys take Seven from my parent’s yard. Because it was such a small town, the witness also knew the boys’ names.

During police questioning, the boys admitted they were angry at my parents for yelling at them about destroying public property. To get even, they took Seven to the overpass and waited for a train.

As the train was passing underneath the overpass, they threw Seven off the bridge. It was a near 20-foot fall so they assumed Seven would be hit and killed.

Instead, Seven’s will to live was much stronger than their will to kill.

Nobody saw Seven because not only was she a small dog that was now lying flat on her stomach, but the brush and weeds were very tall and dense since the land was unmaintained.

The veterinarian speculated that Seven bit her tongue and broke her legs when she landed. Then due to exhaustion, she likely rested for up to two full days. Because of her will to live and loyalty to my parents, Seven dragged herself the two miles to my parent’s home little by little. Due to the dragging, her front paws and stomach were in very bad condition.

Seven had surgery.

Seven’s tongue was wholly reattached, and she wore casts on both back legs for months. Seven’s front paws were wrapped, and other than the specific scars themselves, Seven’s skin and fur grew back on her stomach.

Seven lived happily another six years. Ironically, she died of cancer at the age of seven.

I don’t share this story to depress you, but to help inspire you to be like Seven. No matter how many times it seems like “life” wants to destroy you, it’s essential to find your will to survive, and to focus on those you love – especially during times of uncertainty.

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Ms. Mozelle MartinFMHP, FHWE, PhD.

  • 35-year  International Forensic Handwriting Expert
  • Author:  What I Learned From Watching CSI
  • Contracted Forensic Mental Health Professional for Jails & Prisons
  • Creator” The Housecall Analyst forensic book series
  • Forensic Consultant since 2007 – FindMeGroup.org
  • Forensic Team Member since 2020 – ColdCaseFoundation.org
  • Former Forensic Consultant – Criminal Minds TV show
  • Media Commentator for ABC, NBC, TruTV, Crime Watch Daily, etc.
  • Plantologist, Pianist, Photographer, and Artist

www.MozelleMartin.com

Nextdoor.com May Not Be Safe!

You’ve likely heard of the social media site for your neighborhood called “NextDoor”. While the concept is great, it may not be safe. This post exists to help you be “neighborly” in a smart, more alert way.

nextdoor

First of all, what is “Nextdoor” ?

Per Nextdoor, it is the “private social network for your neighborhood”. Per Wikipedia, “Nextdoor is a social networking service for neighborhoods. Based in San Francisco, California, the company was founded in 2008 and launched in the United States in October 2011, and is currently available in 11 countries”. Supposedly, users of Nextdoor must submit their real names and addresses to the website.

In layman’s terms, this means that you go to their website, enter your address, and you are automatically placed in the correct group for your neighborhood. In other words, you will be placed in the same “private group” as your neighbors. This means someone in Minneapolis cannot see the posts from a group in Denver, nor can you “share” like you can on Facebook. So essentially, anything posted in your group is supposed to be private.

For example, let’s say I joined Nextdoor when I moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and was auto-placed in the “Payne Phalen Neighborhood”. Now, let’s say that next month I moved to Austin, Texas and, as long as I used a different email address, I would be auto-placed in the “West Lake Hills Neighborhood”. Nextdoor has no way of knowing that I moved, so they are trusting us with transferring our account to the new address. According to their terms of service, we are supposed to do just that. But I wonder how many people choose not to and how many may innocently forget to do so?

What this means is that you can technically stay in your “old” neighborhood group and join your “new” neighborhood group with your new address. Sure, this is a great way for landlords to help keep an eye on their property across the country or world, but it also causes safety and even legal concerns. I mean, just think of the crazy stalker ex who wants to keep an eye on you!

Secondly, is Nextdoor safe?

Nextdoor states on their site, “[we] make it safe to share online the kinds of things you share with your neighbors in person. Every neighbor must verify their address in the neighborhood. Nextdoor is securely encrypted using the HTTPS Internet protocol”.

Um, but is it safe?

Well, supposedly Nextdoor verifies the members who join by asking for a utility bill. However, as a licensed investigator, I did a little experiment. I created a fake utility bill online (changing only the address and made-up account numbers) and they only asked for ONE verification out of 4. So after submitting the one fake utility bill…  wah-lah – within two hours, I was the proud founder (aka: “lead”) of a private neighborhood group in Tennessee, New Jersey, Florida, and California. So yep – that’s a loophole that anyone with even 1/2 of a *techie brain* can jump through.

And that’s exactly what happened last year, December 2018.

Some neighbor who I didn’t know, posted how she had to rehome her beloved pet due to blah, blah, blah. Other neighbors berated her for giving up her pet, while others were supportive. All I said was, “Yes, it is sad when someone feels they have no other choice but to rehome a pet. However, there is no need to pass judgment. Instead, let’s focus on helping her pet find a new, loving home”.

Some other neighbor – supposedly a “lead” – private messaged me and told me to stop telling people it is OK to sell dogs on the group. WHAT?! I didn’t even use the words “ok”, “sell” or “dogs”. I responded that he may have messaged me in error. Instead, he went on Yelp, Google Business, and pretty much everywhere else he could and gave me horrible reviews! He then started calling and sending threatening and sexually-perverse texts and even sent an escort to my home. At least once he followed me to the grocery store, and several times he drove by my home, etc.

As a licensed investigator, I reported him to police but I also did some digging on my own and found out these things about him:

(1) He used a fake name on Nextdoor (against their policy and obvious proof that they didn’t verify him). However, I found his real name when he left a review on Yelp about the “custom tattoo” he received in 2016. He mentioned the name and location of the tattoo shop and the artist as well as a picture of his face and his tat. Then on Facebook, I found out his wife worked for Cigna and saw their vehicles (and license plates!). Gotcha.

(2) He did not live in our neighborhood and NEVER DID so he should not be in our “private neighborhood group” on Nextdoor (also, against their own policy). Hmmm… I wonder if he was someone’s crazy stalker ex?

(3) He worked for the Emergency Management Department for our county. Which means he has access to *everyone’s everything* or anything accessible through the county’s record system.

Now the real kicker to this all was that, even after showing both Yelp Legal and Nextdoor Legal the stacks of proof, they were very uncooperative. Only after I had my attorney threaten a lawsuit against both of them did Yelp remove those fake reviews and Nextdoor actually remove this so-called “lead”.

So I then decided it’s time for me to use a fake name & photo so I could still keep abreast of the crime in the area and other emergencies, but also keep from away from the sociopaths of the group. So I chose to use my maiden name (not really a fake name I guess since it was my legal name for over 30 years). I also changed my photo to my high school graduation picture. Again, not fake… it really was my picture.

Everything was quiet until December 2019.

I was minding my business when some woman pushing a baby in a stroller walked up to my home and accused me of signing for her package. She said, “The post office said it was delivered here and you signed for it. They gave us your address and I am here to pick it up”. When I told her I had no clue what she was talking about, she threatened to “press charges since it’s a federal offense to open and keep someone else’s mail”.

I said, “Well since I’ve worked in the law enforcement field as a forensic handwriting expert for 30 years, I’d love to see that signature”. Without saying another word, she walked away.

Several things are wrong with this scenario:

(1)  If you really think someone has your stolen package, are you going to risk taking a baby to an unknown place? Are you going to go without another adult present? I could have been cooking meth, or been a drug dealer, child molester, sexual predator, or an ax murderer… I would like to believe that even the worst of mothers would think twice about doing that and put the safety of her child first.

(2) My friend is a retired Sheriff Deputy and he was our mail carrier for 2 years before retiring last year. He had told me that their USPS scanner tells the general – but not the exact – area where things were delivered. For example, if you have 3 mailboxes next to each other like I do, it will say that it was delivered to one of those mailboxes but will not say which one of the three. However, she claimed I signed for it. As an aside… because of my background, I was jonesin’ to see that signature!

Anyway, if the mail carrier would have brought me a package to sign for, I would have noticed it was not my name and obviously refused it. According to the Postal Inspector I spoke to yesterday, “If we believe a package was misdelivered, we will go back and check with all the houses to retrieve it. It is also against the law to give a private individual someone else’s private address because of the safety concern. Even if we knew it was there, we would still not reveal another address to anyone”.

(Note in the video below I used their own words “safety concern”)

Then his lady accuser’s husband went on Nextdoor and publicly posted to our entire neighborhood that I stole their mail and gave my exact address.

(3) Since the post office was closed when this occurred, my husband and I went there the following morning to see my supposed signature. I printed out his public post and I had hidden audio so I could record the whole thing. I did take a couple shots and a video short to prove I was there and rotated it throughout the video below for visual effects. However,  you can hear the entire audio (with our addresses edited out for privacy).

Ironically (or maybe not), this accuser’s home address shares the same 1st four numbers of my home address but the street names are very different, and we are miles apart. Although these accuser’s and I were able to amicably agree that this was entirely a “weird” thing, and that, by process of elimination, the not-so-smart mail carrier is the one who messed up, this could have turned out bad for a couple reasons:

  • We could have been unfriendly and aggressive when some random person came to our home and accused us of theft and then threatened us with the police.
  • They could have been unfriendly and aggressive when I said I didn’t have it because if they really thought we had their stolen property, well… it could have turned out very differently.

Plus, the mother and baby could have been scouts to target our home.

So to ask whether or not Nextdoor is safe really depends on several factors. However, in my experience, it seems December is the most unsafe in my specific neighborhood. Maybe there is an “unsafe pattern” in yours?

Bottom line is that I love having the ability to see what my neighbors are selling (beats driving across town), if they need help with something, the fun community activities, and also the crime blotter… but I have taken my self-protection a bit further due to these two experiences…

Since Nextdoor really doesn’t seem to care about vetting anyone or truly verifying anything, I used a picture of my former high school boyfriend (with his permission since he lives across the USA) and used 1/2 of my name and 1/2 of his name to create a new name. That’s my profile now. Strange and perhaps adding to the unsafe factor is that after doing so, I (um, he) was made a “lead” in my neighborhood group. I have no clue how that happened especially since according to Nextdoor’s Terms of Service – I’m technically not a real person and should not be on there.

So please let this be a reminder to you to always be smart and vigilant when protecting yourself and your family including your property, mail, and pets!

After all, these people were once someone’s neighbor too!

 

((Obviously, I have since deleted my 4 fake accounts but I feel it was a necessary act for this experiment and I have all the proof needed just in case it ever comes up)).

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Ms. Mozelle MartinFMHP, FHWE, PhD.

  • 35-year  International Forensic Handwriting Expert
  • Author:  What I Learned From Watching CSI
  • Contracted Forensic Mental Health Professional for Jails & Prisons
  • Creator of The Housecall Analyst forensic book series
  • Forensic Consultant since 2007 – FindMeGroup.org
  • Former Forensic Consultant – Criminal Minds TV show
  • Media Commentator for ABC, NBC, TruTV, Crime Watch Daily, etc.
  • Plantologist, Pianist, Photographer, and Artist

www.MozelleMartin.com

25 Ways Criminals Select Your Home

Each year, approximately 4 million homes are robbed in the United States. Here are some signs to watch for based on various intelligence and law enforcement reports. Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list and the more educated home owners and tenants become, the more the criminals have to change their game. If you know of a method that should be added here, please cite your source and send us an emailWe’ll verify it and possibly update this post.

First, let’s look at a few should-be-obvious-but-often-forgotten tips to safeguard your home and property:

* When the “special sales” like Black Friday or the holiday sales arrive, and then after Christmas gift-giving, people all-too-often put the boxes from their new computer, big screen TV, Xbox or other gaming consoles out on the curb or between / alongside their trash cans. This advertises that these items are in your house which means temptation for those of questionable character. Instead, break down the boxes, and put the pieces out of sight into the actual trash can. It’s even better if you cover those broken-down pieces with more trash. Some even drizzle a bit of oil or some other slimy or “gross-looking liquid” over it because when would-be crooks look into the trash can and see an unknown liquid, they typically walk away. People are scared of what they don’t know.

* Cul-de-sacs and middle-of-the-block houses are robbed the most. Corner lots are the least broken into (I know, seems counter-intuitive). So here are 13 sneaky things FBI agents do to protect their homes and you can do them too.

* Many “inexperienced” criminals start by breaking into your car. Many people leave mail, car registrations, insurance cards, checkbooks, and receipts in their car. This often shows the name, address, and even credit cards and signatures. As a Forensic Handwriting Expert, never ever leave your signatures in public and be sure your signature is as neatly written as possible. If you are ever a victim of forgery, messy signatures are much more difficult to prove (but that’s another blog post). Anyway… always lock your car doors, even if it’s just parked in your driveway or locked in your garage. An electric garage door is pretty easy to open if someone has the will. If you use your glove compartment, keep it locked.

* In line with the above… people leave house keys, car keys, and even garage door openers lying visibly in their cars. In fact, you may think your home is safe when you are the casino or getting a massage but many valets have been busted getting your address from your insurance forms (glove compartment), and then driving to your house and getting in through the garage door opener (which is not breaking & entering). Also, garage door keypads may seem safe but, if people use it often enough, the keypads get worn and the criminals can more easily guess the pin. In fact, 40% of tenants say they have never changed their keypad passcode once it was set-up, so it’s a good idea to change it monthly or quarterly at the very least. Also, with today’s technology, it’s best if you can find a garage door opener to pair with your smartphone or tablet. That way you can eliminate a separate opener altogether.

* First-floor windows and sliding glass doors are very common entry points for burglars. Even people who are extra-concerned about safety often leave their window cracked open so window alarms are great deterrents. 

* Doorbell or other cameras (I have Blink and love it), should definitely be part of your safety plan. They hook up to your smartphone and you can watch your home “live” whether you are just down the street, or across the world enjoying a cruise. You will also get notifications when your camera picks up any form of movement.

* Don’t put your vacation details (ie: dates) on social media. Even if it seems that things are private, they aren’t. Posting details about your absence away from home tells people you will be gone.

* Along with the online information above… be sure your “location” is turned OFF on your phone or table when you take photos or record videos. There is almost always a “location signature” (code) that gets uploaded with it when you share it. Many stalkers, human traffickers, child predators, and other questionable characters have found their victims using this “location” method.

* Be sure you pick up all advertisements, newspapers, and other debris from the front of your house every day. Also be sure to bring in your mail every day. Many people will scour mailboxes to get your personal information. Also, when you leave debris in your yard or driveway, it appears that your house is empty.

* Join places like NextDoor to keep aware of your neighborhood (before you do, please see this post). Neighbors post in the “Crime & Safety” section and it will usually tell you how far from your house it was. Be aware of who lives around you. For example, Criminal Watch Dog is a great resource. Also flood lights or motion lighting is great to have, especially in your more dark or hidden places.

Even using these can be a great deterrent just be sure to hang them high enough and in a way that they can’t see there are no wires. You could wrap some rope with electrical tape or black duct tape to appear like there are wires and then make it appear that they are going from the camera into the house. Another thing you can do it add these and / or these to place around your most vulnerable entry points.

Okay, as promised, here are the 25 ways that criminals target your house before they break in or steal something… 
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(1) A can of Sprite (full or empty) is the “green light”, telling the would-be robbers that the coast is clear. Green anything is often used to show directionality.

(2) A small pile of stones means the home has a dog(s) or other pet that warns (see below)

(3) Any flavor of Fanta is a warning for robbers to be careful because it is unknown if the tenants are home or not.

(4) Any other sudden and / or strange items in front of a house like a cardboard box or tree branch can be a decoy. Do not remove or you could be the target. Instead, call your security company or the police. Don’t take chances.

(5) Anything “red” – a Coke can, snack wrapper or bag, or red cloth is the “stoplight” – a warning for the criminals to expect resistance.

(6) Blue and/or blue and white anything means someone is inside the home that is willing to allow the crime to occur (no resistance) or who will help the perpetrators.

(7) Each morning you should be sure that the sidewalks in front of your house are clear and clean. Then if “something” appears, you know it was very likely strategically placed.

(8) If electricity is off at the main box, be extra careful when leaving the house because the criminals could be waiting for you to leave. Be sure to lock all doors and arm all cameras.

(9) If stones are laying in a row, this indicates how many people are in the house.

(10) If the Coke can is standing upright, the house is empty.

(11) If the Coke can’s opening points toward the house, someone is home.

(12) If you receive a random wrong number on your house, business or cell phone, it can often be to see if anyone is home or in the building. This is not as common anymore but does still occur.

(13) If you see a seemingly out-of-place homeless person, they are often the scouts who are placing the items on the street, on signs or fences, and in front of the targeted houses.

(14) If you see a shoe(s) near or by a gate or driveway, nobody is home. The direction of the shoe shows the ‘escape route’.

(15) Listen to your animal alarms… dogs, ducks, horses, and geese. They sound the “alarm” whenever a stranger encroaches on their territory. Become aware of their various sounds / barks / calls and do not ignore them.

(16) Many times, if your house is targeted and they know you have a dog or other “warning animal”, they will poison it a few days in advance. So if your pet suddenly dies for no apparent health reason or obvious injury, be extra-cautious for up to a week afterward.

(17) Neatly folded snack bags often are weighed down with something inside (ie: a rock). If the opening is facing the house, the owner is home. If it’s facing the road, nobody is home.

(18) Often the direction a bottle is pointed is the way that the criminals should proceed after committing the crime (the ‘escape route’). 

(19) One red brick normally indicates that there is a car about to be stolen.

(20) Stones placed in a row indicate the number of people in the house.

(21) The letter “Z” or a swastika painted on a stop sign or on the road means houses in the street have been marked for burglary. The direction of the swastika points to the house that is targeted.

(22) Two big stones laying together means the tenants are elderly.

(23) Two Coke cans indicate the tenant is armed.

(24) Two or three red bricks mean that the house is targeted.

(25) White milk or egg carton, or a white plastic grocery store bag means the home is an easy target. If the opening points toward the house, the house is marked. If it’s on a fence or stuck in a fence, the home is an easy target.

Hopefully, this post was helpful. If you see any of these on or around your property, make a note of it, take a photo of it (police may need it later), and find a way to warn your neighbors. Also, be sure to share this post because of education + awareness = prevention.
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If in doubt, call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
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Ms. Mozelle MartinFMHP, FHWE, PhD.

  • 35-year  International Forensic Handwriting Expert
  • Author:  What I Learned From Watching CSI
  • Contracted Forensic Mental Health Professional for Jails & Prisons
  • Creator of The Housecall Analyst forensic book series
  • Forensic Consultant since 2007 – FindMeGroup.org
  • Former Forensic Consultant – Criminal Minds TV show
  • Media Commentator for ABC, NBC, TruTV, Crime Watch Daily, etc.
  • Plantologist, Pianist, Photographer, and Artist

www.MozelleMartin.com