Restraining order didn't work for West Hills mother of two
by Dana Bartholomew
A husband vows to kill his wife. She gets a restraining order, but the threats keep coming. She begs the police for help. They tell her to hide.
He finds her anyway.
It's a scenario that police and domestic violence advocates have seen before. While the majority of the time, the system is able to protect women, sometimes it doesn't.
In the case of Michelle Ann Kane, who police say was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in front of the West Hills home of friends where she sought refuge, she had done everything right to ward off an attack. After seeking a divorce, she had filed for a restraining order and then asked police for help only a day before her death.
So how, experts, are asking, could she have still allegedly fallen victim to domestic violence?
"This should be investigated," said Vickie Jensen, a Cal State Northridge professor of sociology who specializes in domestic violence. "Simply telling her to find a safe place -- he's going to find her.
"Batterers have stalked victims from coast to coast."
After a two-day manhunt that led to a motel in the San Bernardino County town of Joshua Tree, police arrested Michael Rodney Kane, 46, of West Hills on suspicion of killing his estranged wife.
Police say the Los Angeles Unified elementary school teacher tracked down his wife of 10 years Saturday to the West Hills home of a friend, where she and their two children had sought refuge.
Just before 8 a.m., police said he forced his way in, confronted his wife, then chased her to the middle of the street. Michelle, 43, died of multiple stab wounds. The children were uninjured.
It was only 18 hours before that police said she had walked into Topanga Station to file a report on how her husband had violated a temporary restraining order and aimed to kill her. They had been separated since December, when Michelle had filed for divorce.
Her husband had no known criminal history, according to a records search.
Police said they met Michelle Kane at 2 p.m. Friday in the Canoga Park station, took down a formal incident report, then did everything possible to advise her how to protect herself. They said she was there for a couple of hours.
"Any time we have a circumstance like this, we'll provide recommendations, suggestions that people can do to keep themselves safe, like going to an alternate location," said Lt. Warren Jones of Topanga Division. "I'm relatively certain that occurred in this case, too, which may have been the motivation for her to stay with friends.
"As much as we'd like to, we can't assign an officer to be with every single person who's involved in a domestic violence incident."
Michelle Kane's attorney, however, on Monday offered a different account. Steve Mindel said he advised her to take all precautions possible with regard to her restraining order.
"She went to the police station Friday, twice, and later called again to seek assistance from what she considered an imminent threat to her life and the lives of her children, " Mindel said in a statement.
Women's advocates had mixed reactions on how well the law enforcement system works against potential batterers, or whether temporary restraining orders are effective. They say three people a day across U.S. die each day at the hand of their intimate partners.
Jensen, of CSUN, said if a temporary restraining order is violated, it is vital to file an incident report so that the abuse would be on record. She also said police should inquire if the abuser was stalking, and that a women's shelter be considered for refuge. At minimum, she said a crisis counselor or the LAPD's Domestic Abuse Response Team should be called for help.
While they lamented the West Hills tragedy, others said there have been thousands of battered women successfully protected by police, as well as court-ordered restraints on abusers.
The first step is to call 9-1-1, said Elizabeth Lunceford, clinical director for the Haven Hills shelter, which serves battered women in the San Fernando Valley. The next step is to call a local or national hotline number.
"Is (a restraining order) a bulletproof vest? No," she said. "Is it an invisible force field around you? No. But it's some form of protection."
Others disagreed. They say that while the 21-day temporary restraining order can help some spouses, it can provoke some men to commit more harm.
"This is a frequent occurrence, the assumption that the restraining order will protect a victim of domestic violence," said Yvette Lozano, director of intervention services for Peace Over Violence, of last weekend's murder. "The victim did what she thought was best for her, but the outcome was unfortunate.
"It sometimes works. And it sometimes doesn't."
Where you can call for help
For domestic violence services, call 211
Los Angeles rape and battering hotline: 213-626-3393
Haven Hills domestic violence crisis line: 818-887-6589
National domestic violence hotline: 800-799-7233
Calif. professor and alleged killer added to FBI's 'Most Wanted' list
by David Ingram
WASHINGTON - The FBI added two people on Monday to its list of most-wanted fugitives: a Mexican laborer accused of killing a woman in Louisiana and a former university professor charged with committing sex crimes in the Philippines.
The FBI is offering $100,000 for information leading to the arrests of the men, who are the 499th and 500th fugitives to be featured on the Ten Most Wanted list.
JosÃ© Manuel GarcÃa Guevara, 25, is a Mexican national who allegedly raped and killed a woman in Lake Charles, La., in 2008, in front of her 4-year-old stepson. Guevara and the woman lived in the same mobile home park, the FBI Walter Lee Williams (FBI)said.
He is believed to be in Mexico but might have traveled back to the United States, the FBI said.
Walter Lee Williams, 64, was an anthropology and gender studies professor at the University of Southern California. He left in 2011, an FBI spokeswoman said.
Using academic research as a guise, Williams traveled in the Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia to have sex with boys who were underage, according to the FBI. The bureau said it had identified 10 victims between ages 9 and 17.
"Mr. Williams allegedly utilized his position to identify at-risk youth for the purpose of sexually exploiting them and documenting those events," FBI Assistant Director Ronald Hosko said at a news conference in Washington.
Williams may have lived in Indonesia and Thailand and traveled to Mexico and Peru, the FBI said.
The Ten Most Wanted list has been in place since 1950. The bureau uses it to draw attention to some of the most dangerous U.S. fugitives.
Of those who have been on it, 469 were caught or located, the FBI said. Others were removed when they had been on so long that publicity was no longer likely to help find them, or for other reasons.
Letter to the Editor
Policing and Immigrants
To the Editor:
Re “ Little-Known Guide (Definitely Not for Tourists) Helps Police in a Diverse City ” (news article, June 11):
In the last decade, more than two-thirds of states saw their foreign-born populations increase by at least 30 percent. A significant proportion of the growth is happening in areas that were once unfamiliar with immigration — in rural communities, suburbs and small cities.
Work that we have done with the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services aims to foster continuing collaborations between police departments and the immigrant communities they serve.
We have identified some promising practices in the field: comprehensive approaches, including dedicated community liaisons, multicultural police advisory councils, and training for police personnel that is developed in partnership with community members.
Effective efforts include training guides, but need to go beyond them and directly involve the community in learning about its barriers to receiving police protection and services. A police officer can learn volumes about a specific community's needs through interactions that take place at a community-based cafe or during a walk through a neighborhood.
Finally, prosecutors, courts, corrections departments and other criminal justice agencies need to think about how to strategically encourage cooperation and gain the trust of the many communities they serve.
New York, June 13, 2013
The writer is program director at the Center on Immigration and Justice, Vera Institute of Justice.
Montebello Unified School District police explorers honored for service
by Sandra T. Molina
MONTEBELLO-After its students logged more than 1,400 community service hours over the past year, the Montebello Unified School District celebrated the achievements of its 30 police explorers during the biennial recognition and graduation ceremony at Eastmont Intermediate School recently.
"These students are an integral part of this community and this is our way of recognizing them for all of the great work they do," said MUSD police Chief Linh Dinh, who heads the program. "I'm so proud of all of our police explorers, some of whom have been involved in Post 640 since its inception in 2009."
The explorer program was founded to provide youths, ages 14 to 20, with a snapshot of law enforcement careers, and also promotes important values including respect, discipline and responsibility.
In addition to shadowing MUSD police officers, the explorers also volunteer and provide assistance at athletic games, and at other district and community events.
The course curriculum, taught by Dinh and other post advisors, includes training on leadership, ethics, search and seizure, community policing, traffic enforcement and more.
"This is a truly unique program that I am sure will have a lasting impact on these students for the rest of their lives," said MUSD board President Hector Chacon. "Not only are we exposing our police explorers to a potential career path, we're also providing them with a wealth of experience and skills that will no doubt benefit them in the future."
Several students have already expressed interest in pursuing careers in criminal justice and public service. In fact, since the inception of the post, about a dozen have gone on to attend the L.A. County Sheriff's Explorer Academy, the Los Angeles Police Academy, and the military.
During Wednesday's graduation, the district honored its all-female color guard, which was formed last year and has since gained high regard in the community.
They are often asked to perform the ceremonial presentation of colors at various community events.
The explorer program is a Learning for Life program of the Boy Scouts of America.
Unlike members of other explorer posts, students in MUSD's program receive course credit for their successful participation and completion of course requirements.
Recruitment for the program is held each fall, however individuals can join at any point during the school year.
For more information about the program, log onto www.montebello.k12.ca.us/musdpd_explorers.