Wednesday, September 20, 2017
On August 24, 2016, the dead body of ten-year-old Victoria Martens was found in an apartment building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After responding to a 9-1-1 call regarding a domestic dispute, officers discovered Martens' dismembered remains partially wrapped in a burning blanket in her mother's apartment. The victim's mother, 35-year-old Michelle Martens; her boyfriend, 31-year-old Fabian Gonzales; and Gonzales' cousin, 31-year-old Jessica Kelley were arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in great bodily harm or death, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The three suspects have pleaded not guilty in the state's court. Background: Victoria Martens was born on August 23, 2006, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was a student at Petroglyph Elementary School in Albuquerque. Her mother, Michelle Martens, did not have a criminal record in New Mexico, but later told investigators she would seek men online to engage in sexual acts with her two children, including Victoria, while she allegedly watched for pleasure. The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), located in the state capital, Santa Fe, had previously received five phone calls regarding the Martens' household, mostly from Michelle Martens herself, beginning in 2015. Michelle Martens allegedly met Fabian Gonzales on an internet dating service, PlentyOfFish, about a month prior to the killing. Jessica Kelley had been released from prison only four days before the murder. Murder: According to investigators, witnesses saw Jessica Kelley carrying Victoria Martens to the apartment at around 10 p.m. MDT on August 23. Later that night, neighbors reported hearing screaming coming from the apartment. Shorty after, at approximately 4:30 a.m. on August 24, Michelle Martens and Fabian Gonzales left the apartment and reported to neighbors that Kelley had attacked them with an iron. After responding to the 9-1-1 call, police entered the second-story apartment building where they saw smoke coming from behind the closed bathroom door. Upon opening the door, the responding officers discovered the dismembered body of Victoria Martens partially wrapped in a burning blanket. She was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted, strangled to death, and then stabbed and dismembered. Her body was then set on fire. Martens had been given alcohol and methamphetamine prior to her death, according to her mother, in order "to calm her down so Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelley could have sex with her." Investigation and trials: Michelle Martens, Fabian Gonzales, and Jessica Kelley were arrested and charged with the murder of Victoria Martens. The three suspects were held on a USD$1 million cash-only bond. Martens, Gonzales and Kelley were arraigned on September 16, 2016. Initially co-defendants, prosecutors asked the court to try Martens, Gonzales, and Kelley in separate criminal trials. The motion was granted in June 2017. The suspects have pleaded not guilty. On August 14, 2017 the Judge Charles Brown decided that Michelle Martens would be tried first on July 29, 2018. Gonzales would be second in October 2018 and then Kelley would go on trial in January 2019. Internal investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department: On August 4, 2017, the Albuquerque Journal reported that an investigation by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) found that officers from the Albuquerque Police Department "did lie" to the newspaper about the police department's response to a CYFD referral concerning Victoria Martens prior to her death. In December 2016, a sergeant and a commander of the Crimes Against Children Unit told police command staff, including Chief of Police Gorden Eden and a department spokesman officer, that the Albuquerque Police had received referrals from the CYFD about Martens but did not investigate. In late January 2017, two police spokespersons told the Albuquerque Journal that officers did investigate the referrals and stated that interviews with Victoria Martens and her mother had been conducted; however, this was revealed by the investigation to be false. In July 2017, the CPOA investigation discovered that one of the police spokespersons held correct information about the case but fabricated details in the January statements given to the Albuquerque Journal. Reactions: Chief of Police Gorden Eden of the Albuquerque Police Department described the murder as "the most gruesome act of evil I have ever seen in my career". Governor Susana Martinez (R) called for a federal investigation into Martens' murder. Mayor Richard J. Berry (R) tweeted: "We are heartbroken as we mourn the murder of beautiful 10yr old Victoria Martens. Give your kids an extra hug tonight. #justiceForVictoria" A birthday memorial was held for Victoria Martens on August 29, 2016. Two months later, on October 29, a public funeral was held for Martens. In August 2017, Victoria Martens' maternal grandparents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the 2nd District Court against the City of Albuquerque and some of its police officers. The lawsuit alleged that their failure to investigate a report that one of Michelle Martens' boyfriends tried to kiss Victoria was negligence that lead to her murder. The lawsuit said the City of Albuquerque "had in effect policies, practices and customs that condoned and fostered the unlawful conduct of the Albuquerque Police Department. Individual Defendants, and were a direct and proximate cause" of Victoria's murder. The lawsuit seeks policy changes and compensation for the Martens family.
Holidays, commemorations and observances in the Church of Scientology include the following: -February 22: Celebrity Day This is a major holiday for Scientology's many Celebrity Centres, highlighting their achievements and celebrating their existence. The date is specifically the anniversary of the opening of the Celebrity Centre International in Los Angeles in 1970, which, in the Church's words, is "dedicated to the rehabilitation of the culture through art". -March 13: L. Ron Hubbard's birthday A very important holiday in Scientology. -March 24: Student Day This holiday celebrates the commencement of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course in 1961. -April 20: L. Ron Hubbard Exhibition Day According to the Church's official website, this day is "to celebrate the opening in 1991 of the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition in Hollywood, California. Featuring impressive audiovisual displays on the life and accomplishments of L. Ron Hubbard, the exhibition is visited by thousands of Scientologists and non-Scientologists annually." -May 9: Anniversary of Dianetics Hubbard's book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health hit store shelves on this day in 1950. Another very important holiday in Scientology. -May 25: Integrity Day A day of contemplation of Hubbard's 1965 study on Scientology Ethics. -June 6: Maiden Voyage Anniversary The church describes this holiday thus: "Each year the annual Maiden Voyage event, commemorating the anniversary of New OT VIII, has come to be one of the most important gatherings of dedicated Scientologists and an opportunity for senior Church officials to meet and work directly with these parishioners to advance their religion. Scientologists who attend this annual spiritual cruise become “OT Ambassadors” and initiate programs to help Scientologists all over the world advance the aims of Scientology and to reach the top of the Bridge at New OT VIII." -June 18: Academy Day A celebration of Hubbard's Study Tech. -August 12: Sea Org Day Sea Org Day is a special event for all Sea Organization members, with rank and rating promotion ceremonies. It has been alleged by former members that recreational Sea Org Day events are mandatory: one ex-Scientologist claims "the one day a year you are supposed to get the day off, you are made to go on a bus to the beach, be there for roll call, participate in group games, etc." -September 4: Clear Day Clear Day marks the inauguration of Hubbard's Clearing Course, which debuted in 1965. -2nd Sunday in September: Auditor's Day A day of special recognition and acknowledgment for Scientology/Dianetics auditors. This occasion has also been popular with anti-Scientology protestors, as an opportunity to reach students. -October 7: IAS Anniversary From the Church's site: "Held at a different host city each year, members of the IAS gather to commemorate the founding of the IAS and to rededicate themselves to its aims. The annual IAS freedom awards are presented. This event coincides with the annual convention of IAS delegates." -November 27: Publications Day A commemoration of the day "Publications Worldwide" opened at Saint Hill Manor in 1967. -December 7: Flag Land Base Day Celebrates the opening of the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida in 1975. -December 31: New Year's Eve This is the only secular and non-Hubbard-based observance on the official Scientology calendar, which states "This event welcomes in the new year with a review of accomplishments over the previous year and a look forward to the upcoming year and plans for further reach into new areas of society with L. Ron Hubbard’s technology. Stellar accomplishments of Scientology parishioners helping new people to move up The Bridge to Total Freedom are acknowledged." -Additionally, many more anniversaries of notable events in Scientology history are remembered. Examples include January 25 (Criminon day), marking the 1970 founding of the Criminon program, January 28 which celebrates the founding of the Church in New Zealand, February 19 (Narconon Day), marking the 1966 founding of Narconon, March 31, the anniversary of the founding of the Church of Scientology Vienna in 1971, and September 25, which marks the 1980 opening of the first Scientology and Dianetics College in Tel Aviv, Israel, where the concept is presented as a College, not a church.
The backpacker murders were a spate of serial killings that took place in New South Wales, Australia, between 1989 and 1993, committed by Ivan Milat. The bodies of seven missing young people aged 19 to 22 were discovered partially buried in the Belanglo State Forest, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south west of the New South Wales town of Berrima. Five of the victims were foreign backpackers visiting Australia (three German, two British), and two were Australian travellers from Melbourne. Milat was convicted of the murders 27 July 1996 and is currently serving seven consecutive life sentences, as well as 18 years without parole, at the maximum-security Goulburn Correctional Centre. Details- First and second cases: On 19 September 1992, two runners discovered a decaying corpse while orienteering in the Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales, Australia. The following day, police constables Roger Gough and Suzanne Roberts discovered a second body 30 metres (98 ft) from the first. Early media reports suggested that the bodies were of missing British backpackers Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, who had disappeared from the inner Sydney suburb of Kings Cross in April 1992. However, a German couple, Gabor Neugebauer and Anja Habschied, had also disappeared from the Kings Cross area some time after 25 December 1991, and Simone Schmidl, also from Germany, had been reported missing for more than a year. It was also possible that the bodies were of a young Victorian couple, Deborah Everist and James Gibson, who had been missing since leaving Frankston in 1989. Police quickly confirmed, however, that the bodies were those of Clarke and Walters. Walters had been stabbed 14 times; she had been stabbed 4 times in the chest, once in the neck, and 9 times in the back. The stab wounds to her spine would have paralyzed her. Clarke had been shot 10 times in the head. The police believe she had been used as target practice. There were groups of wounds on the back of her head and on either side. Despite a thorough search of the forest over the following five days, no further evidence or bodies were found by police. Investigators ruled out the possibility of further discoveries within Belanglo State Forest. Third and fourth discoveries and body identification: In October 1993, a local man, Bruce Pryor, discovered a human skull and femur in a particularly remote section of the forest. He returned with police to the scene and two more bodies were quickly discovered and identified as Deborah Everist and James Gibson. Gibson's skeleton showed 8 stab wounds. A large knife had cut through his upper spine causing paralysis. Stab wounds to his back and chest would have punctured his heart and lungs. Everist had been savagely beaten. Her skull fractured in two places, her jaw was broken and there were knife marks on her forehead. She had been stabbed once in the back. The presence of Gibson's body in Belanglo was a puzzle to investigators as his backpack and camera had previously been discovered by the side of the road at Galston Gorge, in the northern Sydney suburbs over 120 kilometres (75 mi) to the north. Fifth, sixth and seventh discoveries: On 1 November 1993, a skull was found in a clearing in the forest by police sergeant Jeff Trichter. The skull was later identified as that of Simone Schmidl from Regensburg, Germany. She was last seen hitchhiking on 20 January 1991. Clothing found at the scene was not Schmidl's, but matched that of another missing backpacker, Anja Habschied. Schmidl's skeleton showed eight stab wounds; there may have been many more. Two had severed her spine, others had punctured her heart and lungs. The bodies of Habschied and her boyfriend Gabor Neugebauer were found on 3 November 1993 in shallow graves 50 metres (160 ft) apart. Habschied had been decapitated, but, despite an extensive search, her head was never found. Neugebauer had been shot in the head 6 times. Three bullets entered at the base of the head and three more from the left side. Search for the identity of the serial killer: There were similar aspects to all the murders. Each of the bodies had been deliberately posed face-down with their hands behind their backs, covered by a pyramidal frame of sticks and ferns. Forensic study determined that each had suffered multiple stab wounds to the torso. The killer had evidently spent considerable time with the victims both during and after the murders, as campsites were discovered close to the location of each body and shell casings of the same calibre were also identified at each site. Walters and Schmidl had been stabbed, whereas Clarke and Neugebauer had been shot numerous times in the head and stabbed post-mortem. Habschied had been decapitated and other victims showed signs of strangulation and severe beatings. Speculation arose that the crimes were the work of several killers, at least two. After developing a profile of the killer, the police faced an enormous volume of data from numerous sources. Investigators therefore applied link analysis technology to Roads and Traffic Authority vehicle records, gym memberships, gun licensing, and internal police records. As a result, the list of suspects was progressively narrowed from an extensive list of individuals to a short list of 230, to an even shorter list of 32, which included the killer. On 13 November, New South Wales police received a call from Paul Onions in the U.K. Onions had been backpacking in Australia several years before and, while out hiking, had accepted a ride south out of Sydney from a man known only as "Bill" on 25 January 1990. South of the town of Mittagong, Bill pulled out some ropes and attempted to tie Onions by the hands and then pulled a gun on him, at which point he managed to escape the vehicle while Bill shot at him. Onions flagged down Joanne Berry, a passing motorist, and reported the assault to local police. Onions' statement was backed up by Berry, who also contacted the investigation team, along with the girlfriend of a man who worked with Milat, who thought he should be questioned over the case. On 13 April 1994, Detective Gordon found the note regarding Onions' call to the hotline five months earlier. Superintendent Clive Small immediately called for the original report from Bowral police, but it was missing from their files. Fortunately, Constable Janet Nicholson had taken a full report in her notebook, which provided more details than the original statement. Police confirmed Ivan's brother Richard had been working on the day of the attack, but Ivan had not. Ivan Milat- Background: Ivan Robert Marko Milat was born on 27 December 1944 at Guildford, New South Wales, Australia. He is the son of Yugoslav emigrant Stijphan Marko "Steven" Milat and his Australian wife Margaret Elizabeth Milat. Ivan was the fifth-born of their fourteen children. He was employed as a road worker. Arrest: Milat quickly became a suspect. Police learned he had served prison time and in 1971 had been charged with the abduction of two women and the rape of one of them, although the charges were later dropped. It was also learned that both he and his brother Richard Milat worked together on road gangs along the highway between Sydney and Melbourne, that he owned a property in the vicinity of Belanglo, and had sold a Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive vehicle shortly after the discovery of the bodies of Clarke and Walters. Acquaintances also told police about Milat's obsession with weapons. When the connection between the Belanglo murders and Onions' experience was made, Onions flew to Australia to help with the investigation. On 5 May 1994, Onions positively identified Milat as the man who had picked him up and attempted to tie up and possibly murder him. Milat was arrested on 22 May 1994 at his home at Cinnabar Street, Eagle Vale after 50 police officers surrounded the premises, including heavily armed officers from the Tactical Operations Unit. Homes belonging to his brothers Richard, Alex, Boris, Walter and Bill were also searched at the same time by over 300 police. The search of Milat's home revealed a cache of weapons, including parts of a .22 calibre rifle that matched the type used in the murders, plus clothing, camping equipment and cameras belonging to several of his victims. Milat appeared in court on robbery and weapon charges on 23 May. He did not enter a plea. On 30 May, following continued police investigations, Milat was also charged with the murders of seven backpackers. At the beginning of February 1995, Milat was remanded in custody until June that same year. In March 1996, the trial opened and lasted fifteen weeks. His defence argued that, in spite of the evidence, there was no proof Milat was guilty and attempted to shift the blame to other members of his family, particularly Richard. On 27 July 1996, a jury found Milat guilty of the murders. He was also convicted of the attempted murder, false imprisonment and robbery of Paul Onions, for which he received six years' jail each. For the murders of Caroline Clarke, Joanne Walters, Simone Schmidl, Anja Habschied, Gabor Neugebauer, James Gibson and Deborah Everist, Milat was given a life sentence on each count, with all sentences running consecutively and without the possibility of parole. On his first day in Maitland Gaol, Milat was beaten by another inmate. Almost a year later, he made an escape attempt alongside convicted drug dealer and former Sydney councillor, George Savvas. Savvas was found hanged in his cell the next day and Milat was transferred to the maximum-security super prison in Goulburn, New South Wales. Appeals: Milat appealed against his convictions on the grounds that the quality of legal representation he received was poor and therefore constituted a breach of his common law right to legal representation, established in the landmark case of Dietrich v The Queen. However, Gleeson CJ, Meagher JA and Newman J of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal held that the right to legal representation did not depend on any level or quality of representation unless the quality of representation were so poor that the accused were no better off with it. The Court found that this was not the case, and therefore dismissed the appeal. In 2004, Milat filed an application with the High Court which was heard by Justice Michael McHugh. The orders sought were that Milat be allowed to either attend to make oral submissions in an impending appeal for special leave to the court and that, alternatively, he be allowed to appear via video link. The application was dismissed on the grounds that the issues raised could be adequately addressed by written submission. The grounds of his impending appeal were that the trial judge had erred by allowing the Crown to put a case to the jury unsupported by its own witnesses and had also put forward alternative cases to the jury, one of which had not been argued by the Crown. The case was heard by Justice William Gummow and the application was lost. Self-mutilation in jail: On 26 January 2009, Milat cut off his little finger with a plastic knife, with the intention of mailing the severed digit to the High Court. He was taken to Goulburn Hospital under high security, however on 27 January 2009 Milat was returned to prison after doctors decided surgery to reattach the finger was not possible. Milat had previously injured himself while imprisoned in 2001, when he swallowed razor blades, staples and other metal objects. In 2011, Milat went on a hunger strike, losing 25 kilograms in an unsuccessful attempt to be given a PlayStation. Copycat murder by Milat relative: In 2012, Milat's great-nephew Matthew Milat and his friend Cohen Klein (both aged 19 at the time of their sentencing) were sentenced to 43 years and 32 years in prison respectively, for murdering David Auchterlonie on his 17th birthday with an axe at the Belanglo State Forest in 2010. Matthew Milat struck Auchterlonie with the double-headed axe as Klein recorded the attack with a mobile phone. This was the forest where Ivan Milat had killed and buried his victims. Other developments: -Police maintain that Milat may have been involved in many more murders than the seven for which he was convicted. In 2001, Milat was ordered to give evidence at an inquest into the disappearances of three other female backpackers, but no case has been brought against him, due to lack of evidence. Similar inquiries were launched in 2003, in relation to the disappearance of two nurses and again in 2005, relating to the disappearance of hitchhiker Anette Briffa, but no charges have resulted. -On 8 November 2004, Milat gave a televised interview on Australian Story, in which he denied that any of his family had been implicated in the seven murders. -On 18 July 2005, Milat's former lawyer, John Marsden, who had been fired before the murder trial, made a deathbed statement in which he claimed that Milat had been assisted by his sister Shirley Soire (1946-2003) in the killings of the two British backpackers. -On 27 October 2005, in the New South Wales Supreme Court Milat's final appeal was refused, and he is likely to remain in prison for the rest of his life. In May 2015, Milat's brother Boris told Dr. Steve Aperen, a former homicide detective who serves as a consultant with the LAPD and FBI, among others, that Milat was responsible for another shooting: that of taxi cab driver Neville Knight, in 1962 after Milat admitted to the crime. After conducting polygraph tests with Boris Milat and Allan Dillon, the man convicted of Knight's shooting, Aperen is convinced that both men are telling the truth and that Ivan Milat did in fact shoot Knight. In May 2016, it was announced that Milat's former home in Eagle Vale, New South Wales, was for sale, and listed on the market for $700,000. In popular culture: -The 2005 Australian film Wolf Creek is based on the backpacker murders of two British females and an Australian male. Since the film's release at the Sundance film festival, it has grossed over $30 million and had a sequel, Wolf Creek 2, which was released in 2013 and grossed $4 million. -A miniseries on the Seven Network, Catching Milat, was screened in 2015 and focused on the members of "Task Force Air" who tracked Milat.
LDS Student Association (also known as the Latter-day Saint Student Association or the LDSSA) is an organization established under the direction of the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) to help students enrolled in post-secondary education to have a balanced secular and spiritual educational experience during their years of formal education. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states: The purposes of LDSSA are to help college and university students stay closely affiliated with the Church, succeed in their studies, and achieve a balanced educational-social life while on campus; to motivate LDS students to become a powerful influence for good on the campus; to provide meaningful activities that are consistent with Church standards; and to coordinate Church-related activities for college students. Each chapter of the LDSSA is affiliated with a post-secondary educational institution and the LDS Church. Membership is open to all students enrolled at the institution who espouse the purposes and standards of the LDSSA. Associate membership may be granted to non-students under special circumstances. Membership is not denied to anyone on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, age, gender, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability. Members must keep LDSSA standards at LDSSA-sponsored events, which are the standards of the LDS Church. These standards include, but are not limited to: no acts of sexual immorality, no alcohol consumption or tobacco usage, and no immodest attire. The LDSSA was established in 1960, and today a chapter of the LDSSA exists in many locations that an Institute of Religion of the Church Educational System has been established. The Institute of Religion Advisory Council, with counsel from the faculty advisor(s), provide advice/guidance to the LDSSA and its members. LDSSA chapters at some schools (for example, Harvard College) are not formally and directly governed by the LDS Church, as a result of official school requirements mandating the "local autonomy" of recognized campus organizations. However, they still interact with the local Institutes of Religion and church organization structure in ways similar to those of other LDSSA chapters. One key difference is that such LDSSA chapters hold elections for their president and other board officers, rather than those officers being nominated by the Institute of Religion Advisory Council. Two key figures in establishing the LDSSA were W. Rolfe Kerr and Elaine A. Cannon.