Gone Missing by Linda Castillo – Amish Crime Fiction – Vanishing Teens, Sex, and Murder

Bestselling author, Linda Castillo, released Gone Missing, her fourth crime fiction novel featuring formerly Amish woman, Kate Burkholder, on June 19. Castillo’s trademark talent is exposing the flaws of the often perceived, Simon-pure Amish community.

Kate, 33, is chief of police in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio. Raised Amish, she left the order at eighteen to live as an Englischer. Fate produced a career in criminal justice, and a return to her hometown, despite being excommunicated from the church.

John Tomasetti, is an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in Cleveland. He asks Kate to consult on two cases involving missing Amish teenage girls, both from towns within a one hundred mile radius.

Kate seizes the opportunity to expand her professional comfort zone, ultimately anticipating the time she’ll spend with Tomasetti. The two have become part-time lovers; and as a reader, you wonder where their relationship is headed; “The long-distance aspect of our relationship has worked well for us. We’re too independent for anything too cozy. But I know that no matter how hard we try to keep things simple, relationships have a way of becoming complicated.”

The couple met a year-and-a-half ago while working on the Slaughterhouse Murders case, and each bares their own pain. Kate is haunted by the memory of being raped at 14: “I learned at a formative age that even on perfect, sunny days, bad things happen.” Tomasetti is scarred by the murder of his wife and two young daughters three years ago.

Are the Amish teen mysteries somehow connected? Could they be related to rumspringa?

Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens explore English ways of life and adults look the other way, before they join the church. It’s an exciting period of personal discovery and growth. Self-expression includes listening to music and dressing trendy. Some adolescents take it to the extreme, experimenting with alcohol, drugs, and sex. At least eighty percent of Amish teens return to the order and become baptized.

Kate’s fluency in Pennsylvania Dutch is an investigative asset when dealing with the Amish; and most are taken aback when she speaks in their tongue: “Guder mariye,” I say, bowing my head in respect as I bid them good morning.”

Consumed with the missing Amish teens investigation, Kate receives numerous calls from Painters Mill mayor, Augie Brock. His son Bradford, 17, was recently arrested for possession of weed, a meth pipe, and assaulting an officer. The mayor is determined to have Kate drop the charges, insisting Bradford will be ruined if convicted.

Castillo appeared at the Kent State University-Geauga County Campus June 25 during her Gone Missing book tour. She described traveling to Fredericktown, Ohio, her brother-in-law’s birthplace, in 2004. Already an accomplished romance writer, it was there she became inspired to juxtaposition the bucolic lifestyle of the Amish against brutal crime. Because, as she says, “Nobody’s perfect, not even the Amish.”

In Gone Missing, Castillo continues the series’ characters’ self-exploration and growth. If you’ve read Castillo’s previous books featuring Kate Burkholder, you’ve undoubtedly been waiting for her next adventure. If you’re new to Castillo’s narratives, dive in with Gone Missing. Three other entertaining, mysteries await your discovery.

For all things Amish, visit Amish America at: http://amishamerica.com/about.

Curfew Laws: Why You Need to Know Where Your Child Is

Many parents today remember a time when the 10 p.m. news began with a question for viewers: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your child is?”

It’s a good question when you consider what often happens at night: vandalism, underage drinking, drive-by shootings. That’s why more than 500 U.S. cities, including La Crosse, Wis., have curfew laws on the books.

Curfew laws are ostensibly designed to prevent crime, though there’s no definitive research to demonstrate that they do so. Many believe their real value is in giving law enforcement officers the ability to stop and question teens about what they may be doing in the middle of the night. If teens don’t have a legitimate reason for being out and about, officers then can take some action to get kids home.

In any case, it is a law currently on the local books, and if you have children and want to avoid penalties, you need to understand it. You’ll find slight differences among municipalities in the region; here is how it works in La Crosse.

For ages 15 to 17, curfew begins at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it’s 12:30 a.m. During summer months (defined as June 1 through August 31), it’s 12:30 a.m. all week.

For ages 12 to 14, curfew begins at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it’s 11 p.m. During the summer, curfew begins at 11 p.m. all week.

For ages 11 and under, curfew is at 10 p.m. at all times.

Exceptions are made in certain situations, including when kids are:

  • running an emergency errand for their parents;
  • working or traveling home from work;
  • are returning home by the most direct route from another private home;
  • going to or from school activities;
  • are with a parent, guardian or other adult having legal custody.

If your child is found violating curfew laws, police will write a citation carrying a penalty of $101. To contest a citation or the fine in La Crosse, families go before the municipal court. The judge there has some discretion and may order community service in lieu of the fee.

In any case, when you consider the trouble that kids can encounter on the streets at night, whether through their own making or as innocent victims, adhering to curfew laws can give your child an added measure of safety-and you more peace of mind.

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Does the Bible Advocate “Tough Love?” How Tough?

Does the Bible say to give capital punishment to a rebellious teenager?

What if he joins a gang? What if he commits multiple crimes?

Here’s what the Bible says:

If a man has a teenage son who is defiant and rebellious, he refuses to listen to his father and mother.

The parents try to discipline him – he still does not listen.

His father and mother should do whatever it takes to bring him to the elders of his community

And tell them “Our son is defiant and rebellious – he does not listen to our words – all he cares about is his own physical pleasures”.

The townspeople should then stone him with stones – so that you destroy evil from amongst your midst.

Then all the people will hear and be afraid.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

All the Rabbis who have studied the Bible for the last 2500 years say that this is one of those laws that God does not mean to ever be taken literally. You do not stone a child because he steals and is defiant. These Rabbis say that in the entire legal history of Biblical Law – the courts would never impose capital punishment on teenagers.

Instead, this purpose of this law is to teach a principle. A principle that a community has the responsibility of doing “whatever it takes” to help parents deal with difficult children. We all know that if a child joins a gang; then he is very likely to end up on the wrong side of the law for his whole life. He is likely to be a criminal and hurt people. He may end up in prison for life. He may end up being a mass murderer. When a teenager starts going down the path of crime – it’s hard to get him out of it later on. The community must do everything it can to make sure that he gets off the path of crime.

The Bible is telling us that it is almost better to have this child die, then to have him lead a life of crime or a life of being on drugs, or a life of hurting other people.

The Bible is telling us that if the community allows the teenager to live a life of crime or a life of drugs – then the community has essentially murdered the child.

Tough Love. – That is what is called for!

The community should use whatever tools it has. Whatever it takes. If it will take jail to shock the teenager back to “reality” then do that. If it takes therapy and drug rehab then do that. You may have to physically impose a curfew – i.e. having the bigger men physically restrain the teen from going out at night, then do that. The life of a teenage child is too precious to waste by allowing the child to become a horror to his society.

What can you do to help disturbed children? What can your community do to save their lives? How tough is the love you will have to give – to make sure that you stop a teenager who’s joined a gang or is living a life of petty crime?

El Tempranillo: The King of the Sierra Morena and Thief of Andalucia

All countries have their scallywags, men and women who prefer to live outside the law. They exist on their wits in a hostile and lonely environment, not unlike marriage perhaps but still a desperate place. The outlaws’ life has brought fame to some, infamy to others but very short careers usually with a bloody end to most.

Terrorising the prairie towns of the Wild West was Jesse James and others of his ilk. Making a nuisance of himself in the antipodes was the metal clad Ned Kelly. With very few exceptions they were bully-boys thugs and murderers, yet they became idolised by later generations. Their crimes whitewashed and their limited humanity elevated. Some are composite outlaws with the deeds of others attributed to them. Dick Turpin never made the famous ride to York. It was John Nevison, alias Swift Nick half a century earlier. At least two anonymous individuals compose the character of Robin Hood. Considering the brutality and uncertainty of the age labelling his men as Merry is extremely questionable. Mr Hood’s rather strange fiscal policy of taking from the rich and giving to the poor is also questionable. It was nothing more than bribes granted to secure his base of operations.

Bandits can only operate where conditions allow. There must be a certain amount of law and order to enable the movement of people and goods. Hordes of baddies moving through the countryside are synonymous with a developing nation. When national organisation is such as to restrict their activities, daylight robbery becomes the task of gas, electric and banking concerns.

Spain has had its share of rapscallions operating in all of its regions. In the nineteenth century, Andalucían brigandage was an attraction for early tourists. These travellers purposely fell into the hands of the many bands of bandoleros. British and other Europeans were known to pay for the privilege of such an encounter. One can imagine the heroic stories told over roaring fires on cold winter nights. In any event it was probably safer than a ‘Club 18 to 30’ bargain weekend.

Arguably the most famous Andalucían bandolero was José Maria Hinojosa Cabacho. Known as El Tempranillo, this epithet probably refers to his early entry into banditry at the age of thirteen. El Tempranillo had all the characteristics necessary for local hero status. The first perquisite is to become an outlaw after the righting of some wrong. In El Tempranillo’s case he appears to have committed murder while still in his teens. Born on the 21st of June 1805, this would mean the incident took place in 1818 after the French occupation but still uncertain times. There are some references to him protecting his family, in particular his Mother. In 1818 the village of his birth, Jauja, would have been a remote place, adding some weight to the anecdote of his downfall. It was probably the need to escape the law that he joined a band of outlaws.

Like all successful highwaymen a highway is, by definition required. José Maria’s was the Despeñaperros Pass, roughly translated as ‘the place where dogs fall off rocks’, implying treacherous cliffs rather than genetically stupid dogs. The pass is on the Andalucían northern border, an ideal location for a young bandit chief and his gang. With regular through traffic but sufficiently isolated to make a quick response by the authorities difficult. He practised his art in broad daylight demanding 10% of a traveller’s wealth in return for safe conduct through the pass. His flamboyant style and initial success established him as a bona fide highwayman in the highest tradition. José’s ability to obscure the most felonious and seedy events in a fog of spin, self righteous justification and lies would have made him a welcome member of any of today’s political parties. Keeping the local population loyal with liberal doses of cash, gave the El Tempranillo myth a veneer of benevolence.

The gallantry of such English men of the road as Captain James Hind and Claude Duval is legendary and our José wasn’t to be outdone. When relieving a female traveller of her jewellery he reputedly said ‘A hand so beautiful as yours does not need adornments’. Her words about the loss of her trinkets are not on record. The encounter, embellished if not completely fabricated by our Bandit. A short man with one hand, the other lost after an accident with a pistol. He became a cult figure in Andalucía. He could separate travellers from their loose change and had a flair for public relations. While the King ruled Spain, El Tempranillo ruled the mountains. The title King of the Sierra Morena was probably José Maria’s own invention. Soon he warranted a bounty of 6000 reales dead or alive. José was becoming an embarrassment to the authorities.

Unlike the archetypical highwaymen of northern Europe José married, but his wife María Gerónima francés died during childbirth. José’s Son survived and was indirectly responsible for El Tempranillo’s most conspicuous act. In 1831 along with 50 of his men he took control of the mountain village of Grazalema. This audacious act was simply to allow the baptising of his offspring at the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Aurora. The local authorities outnumbered and out-gunned looked on helplessly as the bandolero completed his religious observances. José’s reputation spread beyond southern Spain. Writing of the 1830s the British writer John Ford noted ‘When Fernando VII was King of Spain and José Maria was the love of Andalucía’.

With an expansion of his fame, so his presence became almost universal. Simultaneous sightings occurred in venues separated by dozens of kilometres. The provenance of caves became attributed to him, local town’s people invented tales and encounters with the famous bandolero just so they could claim association. The momentum of his popularity was unstoppable. Along with his other misappropriations he stole the Kings limelight and vied with him for acclaim. The monarch had to act but he had a problem. On the one hand he had a criminal on the loose, committing crimes with an ever increasing audacity. On the other, he had a man revered by the population of Andalucía, a hero almost.

Fernando VII was in this instance very astute or at least his advisers were. He had to neutralise the bandit while avoiding the civil unrest which would undoubtedly occur if he blatantly went after El Tempranillo. His solution was to pardon the outlaw and put him at the head of a force of sixty men. The role was to hunt down and capture bandoleros, a classic example of setting a thief to catch a thief. The unit was the Escuadrón Franco de Protección y Seguridad Pública de Andalucía (The free squadron for the public protection of Andalucía). The impressive title implying that government pay was not at all good.

Ironically El Tempranillo met his end while bringing the bandolero El Barbarello to justice. José Maria Hinojosa Cabacho died on the 23rd of September 1833 from his wounds. He left very little in the way of tangible wealth but a fortune in the folklore of Andalucía.

Why do seemingly respectable people admire highwaymen and others of their ilk? These people robbed murdered and were generally antisocial, usually meeting their end in a ditch or on the gallows. Is it a reaction to the over organised life we lead today? A yearning from every person worth his salt to be free, to control his own destiny?

If I thought I had half a chance of success, I for one would be out there stalking the open road. El Gordo, demanding money with menaces or perhaps with the threat of a Chinese burn, but certainly carousing in some jovial inn with my cronies.