Monday, April 23, 2007

It's been a long time

It's been so long since I last posted I almost forgot how... and the format has changed. What's this about Google blogs? Anyway, I was in Blacksburg, Virginia all of last week. I'll post again tomorrow to let you all know how it went. Meanwhile, here's some of what it looked like there.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sad News

The news we had all thought, but didn't want to hear, came today. The two boys missing since Tuesday were found dead in the Dan River. It was the news I'd feared since first arriving on the scene that day. After officials told us that 3 different tracking dogs at 3 different times tracked the boys scent to the river's edge I knew we'd be hearing this news. I knew we'd be hearing it today. Unfortunately, I've been on these kinds of searches before. I'd covered more than a few drownings in Kentucky at my first television station. And I always remember what one rescue worker told me. "It takes 3 days before the body will resurface." A grim reality that most likely took place today. A grim reality that I had hoped we wouldn't be faced with. A grim reality that the parents, family and friends now have to deal with. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


No, not me. But there are two little boys from Stokes County here in North Carolina who've been missing since Tuesday around lunchtime. 3 and 4 year old Jacob and J.W. White left their Danbury home about 11am and haven't been seen since. Brent and I have been in Stokes County turning packages and live shots for noon, five, five-thirty and six o'clock shows since first receiving the news that day.

Here I am yesterday on the Kernersville Rescue Team's boat stuck on some rocks but still shooting video for the story. That was the second time our boat was stuck and we eventually made our way back down the Dan River and I got off just downstream to my awaiting buddy Brent. After over an hour and making it just a quarter of a mile down stream I quickly saw the challenges many searchers were facing. The river on the day the two went missing was about 4 times higher than normal. It's now back down and this poses new challenges for any boat trying to navigate the small river.

This is our 5 O'clock package from today which shows some of the different methods being used to find them. There are plenty of other stories and interviews on the website to keep you up to date on the search. Let's all pray this story somehow has a happy ending. But as the minutes turn to hours and the hours turn to days, it's not looking good for the two little boys who left the house wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hot Enough?

All we've been talking about for the past week has been this heat wave. That's all folks talk about when amongst friends, co-workers, family. So I find it odd that voters in a recent poll on my station's website asking what should be covered next overwelmingly said, "It's hot, we get it."

So, if that's the case if we stopped doing the stories on the heat. Stopped telling viewers what the high temps of the day were. Stopped showing workers in the heat. Stopped doing stories about who has the hottest job. Stopped showing the difference between certain types of thermometers or folks living without air conditioners. Would people then watch more? I don't think so. As much as viewers may say, "too much." I also believe if we ignored this heat wave people would inevitably call and say, "are you crazy, the heat's the story." Or would they?

Do they not want to know that it was so hot yesterday that the pavement buckled on a local interstate? You tell me. I'm genuinely interested in seeing why nearly 80% of our viewers say, "it's hot, we get it."

Meet a Hero

I met a hero yesterday. She saved her father's life last week. And she's only ten.

Meet Jamie Abernathy. We met her yesterday in her dad's hospital room at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She's a typical ten year old. A little shy with the camera on her. But otherwise bouncing around the room and smiling at the fact her father is still alive.

James Abernathy was at a friend's house helping with a car. When he poured gas into the carburator (something I've done before more than a few years ago) the car backfired causing the gasoline to ignite, along with his arm and side. Little Jamie was playing nearby and saw what happened. She told her father to "stop, drop and roll." Doctors say at the very least it kept Mr. Abernathy from having SEVERE burns. At best, it saved his life.

You can view the story here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Toys

I've recently come across some new toys to add to my blog. At the right you can see where folks are visiting from on the NeoEarth toy. I've also added a poll. For now I'll leave it with the current question but if anyone has an idea for another poll, let me know. Also, I may add a couple of flash games you can play.

Hopefully this will keep some of you busy when you stop in. It's been a slow summer but today's story sounds like a good one. I'll take a couple of pics and blog about it soon, maybe tonight.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

10 Years

It's been ten years since Morgan Violi was abducted while playing with friends at her apartment complex. I wrote about this story in February but thought I'd bring it up again since it is something I think about often.

The Bowling Green Daily News published an article Monday about the ten year anniversary of her abduction. I can't help but feel for the family. Not knowing who did this and knowing he is still out there free just tears me up inside.

Daily News (Bowling Green, KY)Killer’s trail staying cold Morgan abduction, 10 years later
Published: July 24, 2006
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the abduction and eventual slaying of 7-year-old Morgan Jade Violi, and investigators are no closer to making an arrest.
Morgan’s family is still seeking answers to who may have killed the girl and what happened in her last few hours.
Her family is hoping that now that 10 years have passed, the person or persons responsible feel guilty and will confess to their role in the crime, said Linda Whitlow, her aunt, and Dewayne Whitlow, her cousin.
Having someone come forward would give the family a lot of closure, Dewayne Whitlow said.
Stacey Violi, Morgan’s mother, said that while she wants someone to come forward about the crime, she doesn’t know if it would bring her any closure.
“It won’t stop it from hurting. It wouldn’t bring my little girl back,” she said. “I would like to know everything about that day.”
They also want someone to be punished for Morgan’s death, Linda Whitlow said.
Although it’s been 10 years since Morgan was taken on July 24, 1996, in front of Colony Apartments off Shive Lane and later killed, sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday, Violi said in a recent phone conversation with the Daily News.
“That’s the day I lost my faith in the human race,” she said, at times crying. “I never realized there was anyone that evil who could just take her and do that.”
Violi said her anger makes her want retribution.
“Revenge is a double-edged sword, but I’ll suffer every day the rest of my life and I want someone else to suffer for the rest of their life,” she said.
Morgan was playing with a friend that day when she was grabbed by a man and taken way in a maroon van. The original Bowling Green Police Department reports list the driver of the van as a 6-foot 1-inch white male, weighing 180 pounds with brown hair and two to three days of beard growth.
A nationwide search and billboard campaigns led police on false chases. Morgan’s remains were found Oct. 20, 1996, along North Swift Road near White House, Tenn. The spot was close enough to Interstate 65 that traffic noises could still be heard.
The location, which then was sparsely populated and today has numerous houses, is about 40 miles from Bowling Green. The memorial that had been created there to remember Morgan is gone.
A white van was seen near the site where her remains were found, but it was never located. A search for the van, which had custom glass windows, was a large part of the investigation for some time.
The van was found at a truck stop on the Peytonsville Road exit off I-65 in Franklin, Tenn., according to FBI reports. The van had been stolen in Dayton, Ohio.
For several years, Kim Ferrell kept a memorial of a cross and roses dedicated to Morgan by the culvert where her body was dumped – Ferrell’s home then was less than 50 yards away. But that memorial is no longer there and much of the culvert has been covered for new driveways.
Ferrell no longer lives in the house, Violi said.
“I quit going down to that spot two or three years ago; it was just too hard,” Violi said.
Today, Violi and her daughters will go to Morgan’s grave and release 10 purple balloons to commemorate the years she’s been gone. They also will go on her birthday later this year and release 18 for each year she would have been alive.
“The girls and I stick together. They lost their innocence that day, too,” Violi said. “Some people carry scars physically; others carry theirs emotionally.”
It was three or four years before Violi and her daughters could even have pictures of Morgan up in their home, she said.
“I just wonder if the person or persons responsible are able to lay down at night and close their eyes without thinking of Morgan in her last hours and even minutes,” Linda Whitlow said.
Morgan’s case was featured in a segment on the television show Unsolved Mysteries. Violi said she would like to do that again to try to get answers about her daughter’s death.
There are some cases that have been solved after several decades and this case is still being looked at, said David Beyer, media coordinator for the FBI office in Louisville.
“But the more years that pass, the less likely it becomes the person or persons responsible will be caught,” he said.
The FBI still questions anyone being investigated in a similar abduction about the Violi case, Beyer said.
Warren County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Roger Osborne said he was on patrol when the abduction call came in.
“We went up to the first overpass on (Interstate) 65 and watched the vehicles for one matching the description,” he said. “We (law enforcement) had the entire area surrounded.”
It is hard to believe the abductor was able to get out of the area, Osborne said.
Violi said she calls the FBI less often for updates about the case – the FBI would say they’re working on it, but there really aren’t any good leads.
The FBI received more than 2,000 leads in the case within months after Morgan was taken. Tips about the case still come in, Beyer said.
The community has really been there for the family, Violi said. She also credited Whitlow and her daughters for helping her deal with her grief.
People haven’t forgotten about Morgan, Violi said. She hopes her daughter’s story reminds other parents to hold on tighter to their children and keep an eye on them.
There have been two recent reports of what could have been attempted kidnappings – both involved a green van.
In June, two men in a green van approached children in a neighborhood off Plano Road. The men asked the children to help find their lost dog, a tactic often used by child predators, police said.
Then on July 11, a green van was spotted in a neighborhood off Three Springs Road and an occupant was apparently watching a young girl in the front yard.
Parents need to watch their children all the time when they’re outside, Violi said when asked about the recent reports.
“You can teach your children all the right things, but when push comes to shove, a child is no match for an adult,” she said. “Morgan was kicking and screaming, but she was still taken.”
If parents can’t watch their child while they’re outside, the child needs to come in, Violi said. If you see something suspicious, call the police.
“Morgan wasn’t the first child they saw. They came back into an apartment complex with one way in and out,” she said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
— Anyone with information about this case can call the FBI at (270) 583-3941 or the Bowling Green Police Department at 393-4244.

Copyright 2006 News Publishing LLC (Bowling Green, KY)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Yes, it's hot. Everyone knows it's hot. But we still have to TELL everyone it's hot. So Brent and I headed out to find hot jobs in the western piedmont. And our co-horts Eric White and Danny Spillane headed out to find the same in their neck of the woods.

Inspired by a recent edition of "Dirty Jobs" I figured it wouldn't be too hard to find some roofers sweatin' it out. After a dozen calls Brent had a willing company doing a job in eastern Winston-Salem. We headed that way discussing interesting ways to tell the story. As we arrived things weren't looking good as 4 men leaned casually on a 1973 Dodge pickup. The only man working was on the roof with an oversize broom sweeping up some dust leftover from the FINISHED job. The owner could see our disappointment and said, "oh, you wanted us working?" And turned to one of his employees and shouted, "Carl, get up dar an rip sum dem shingles off, den... put 'em back dowwwwwn." Ummmm, no we can't do that. We'll find another roofer. No staging here.

As we drove back toward another possible site Brent thumbed through the Yellow Pages and struck paydirt. A crew was working in nearby Mocksville on an old country store roof. 30 minutes later we were climbing the ladder with them.

Once we got back to the bureau we started planning out the live shot. As Brent logged what we had shot and started writing the five package, I went to the roof of the Winston-Salem Journal, where our office is located. A few ideas bounced around later and our colleague Wes Barrett would be on the ground shooting us on the roof. The Chief, Keith Hale, rolled in with a prop I had seen used before and he manned the truck to give us three cameras (mine, Wes's, and the mast cam).

The five package focused on some other things we'd shot during the day. Some guys on window washing type scaffolding, and the pool. You can see it here if you click on the video link.

The six package ran as team coverage with Eric going first. You can see our three camera live shot after his runs first. Here's the package.