Tag Archives: divorce

Divorce sends me back to the UK and waiting for my Peppy Miller

By Calvin Palmer

Regular readers of this blog, the three of you know who you are, will have noticed the change in the header photograph. The cityscape of Jacksonville is gone and has been replaced with a photograph of the Cromarty Firth in Scotland.

I am back in the UK for a while and facing an uncertain future after my wife – aged 56 going on 23 – decided to divorce me after 13 years of marriage. Her timing was impeccable. The announcement came on the eve of our wedding anniversary.

The news was not unexpected but it still came as something of a shock. Given that my income last year amounted to $90.40 from amazon.com advertising on another blog site, I had little option but to head back to the UK and take stock of the situation.

I am staying in the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland, courtesy of a friend from my university days who kindly offered me accommodation while I find my feet and rebuild my self-confidence before heading back to the United States to start my life there all over again . I will forever be in his debt.

After living in the Riverside area of Jacksonville, and on a busy road, the first thing I noticed was the peace and quiet. I have yet to hear a vehicle pass by the house at night; mind you, the house in Scotland is situated 150 yards from the road, which is a dead-end.

So the sound of trains blowing their horns at every level crossing has disappeared from my life – I kind of miss that – but I am certainly glad to be free of those inconsiderate bastards who used to drive through Riverside with their drums and bass tracks pounding from the subwoofers in their cars and shattering the stillness of the early hours.

I don’t know whether it is just me but the older I get I find my tolerance of noise is lower than when I was younger, so being surrounded by the Scottish countryside is perfect for me.

But there are drawbacks. My location is a little remote; the nearest village is a 15-minute drive away. I have had little chance to socialize. I am not sure the people in these parts will respond to conversation from strangers in the same way that Americans do. We shall see.

I made my debut back on British roads yesterday and did all right, given that most of the route was along single-track roads. They appear extremely narrow after driving on roads in America.

I have also rediscovered the noble art of pegging washing out on a washing line. In both Texas and Florida, despite the hot climes, washing was always dried in the tumble drier. I know, it was scandalous behaviour, right up there with driving a car powered by 3.5 litre V6 engine.

The highlight of the week was watching The Artist; my hosts had recorded the film on their Skybox. I knew the film had been well received by the critics and won a raft of awards but, hitherto, I had not been drawn towards it – a great failing on my part.

It turned out to be one of the best films I have seen in a long time. The lack of dialogue hardly seemed to matter, mainly because of the superb acting of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, the masterful direction of Michel Hazanivicius and the wonderful score by Ludovic Bource.

The film got a bit too close for comfort in the final scenes after George Valentin was told to get out of the house by his wife. I readily identified with the character’s slide into reduced circumstances and could feel his growing sense of desperation. Unlike George, I have not sought refuge in a bottle; perhaps that will come later, although I sincerely hope not.

George was eventually saved from the abyss by the charming Peppy Miller, who helped him to bury his pride and resurrect his career.

Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) in a scene from The Artist. Picture courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) in a scene from The Artist. Picture courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

When the film ended, I was left to ponder, where is my Peppy Miller? I hope she turns up soon.

So if any of you delightful women out there can come to the rescue of a writer/sub-editor/proof-reader/photographer and generally nice guy, just get in touch.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Europe, Film, United Kingdom

Racy text messages land couple in jail

By Calvin Palmer

Racy text messages exchanged between two Emirates Airline cabin crew members landed the couple with a three-month prison sentence.

The then-married flight attendant, 42, and her male supervisor, 47, were convicted of “coercion to commit sin”.

The messages came to light as a result of a bitter divorce battle, which began in 2007, between the flight attendant and her husband.

The divorce court ordered Dubai’s telecommunications company, Etisalat, to produce the text messages after the husband accused his wife of an affair.

The text messages were provided in 2008, allowing the husband to file a “criminal complaint” against his wife.

The couple, both Indian, were sentenced in December to six months in prison to be followed by deportation. An appeals court last week reduced the jail time to three months and dropped the expulsion penalty.

The court ruling said there was not enough evidence to determine whether the couple had an affair, which would have likely brought a harsher sentence.

The court also handed a three-month jail sentence to the attendant’s sister for perjury, after she claimed she had been having the affair and had been using her sister’s telephone.

The attendant’s husband has since gained custody of the couple’s four-year-old son after the divorce was finalized.

Earlier this week, a British marketing consultant appealed a sentence handed down by the court for kissing his girlfriend in a restaurant last November.

Ayman Najafi, 24, and Charlotte Adams, 26, deny indecency charges, saying they pecked each other on the cheek as a greeting in the restaurant in the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex.

They were found guilty of public indecency, and sentenced to a month’s jail followed by deportation. They were freed on bail pending appeal.

At the appeal hearing on Sunday, Mr Najafi said the pair’s behavior had not been inappropriate.

“We kissed each other on the cheek as a greeting, nothing more,” he told Judge Aysar Fouad. Adams pointed at her cheek to show where contact had taken place.

The court reserved its verdict until April 4, renewing the couple’s bail but keeping their passports so that they cannot leave the United Arab Emirates.

The couple knew each other before they met up in Dubai, but both say they were not boyfriend and girlfriend.

Adams is an estate agent from north London.

[Based on reports by the Associated Press, AFP and The Daily Telegraph.]

Add to Technorati Favorites

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Justice, News

Alleged killer attended the funeral of victims

By Calvin Palmer

A man suspected of the murder of five family members in a farming community in Illinois attended the funeral of the victims.

Christopher J. Harris, 30, was arrested yesterday afternoon, Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols said.

He is charged with murdering Raymond “Rick” Gee, 46, and Ruth Gee, 39, and children Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14 and Austin Gee, 11. Their bodies were discovered on September 21 at the family home in Beason. They apparently had been beaten to death.

Another daughter, 3-year-old Tabitha, was badly injured and is in a Peoria hospital.

Harris was caught on camera, by a State Journal-Register photographer, standing amid other family members during the funerals for the Gee family on Monday.

He was formerly married to Nicole Gee, Rick Gee’s daughter, who did not live at the home. Nicole Gee received a divorce from Harris in March of 2007 based on grounds of mental cruelty.

But more recent court records show Harris sharing the same Beason address as Nicole Gee.

Neighbor Marjorie Wright said last night that she saw Harris move a gray pickup into the garage at Nicole Gee’s home several days ago.

Nichols also would not comment on whether Harris is thought to have acted alone and how he allegedly committed the crime.

Nichols did say Harris owns a primer-gray 1989 Ford Ranger pickup truck, which police have seized. He would not say where the truck was found.

“This arrest is not the culmination of this investigation,” Nichols said. “There are more investigative leads to be followed.

“We have not determined at this time if more arrests may come. We are confident in the forensic evidence analyzed thus far.”

The suspect’s mother, Debbie Harris, vehemently rejected the charges against her son and said he was hoping to remarry Nicole Gee.

[Based on reports by stltoday.com and The Register-Mail.]

Add to Technorati Favorites

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, News

‘Plane crash’ businessman captured in Florida campground

By Calvin Palmer

The Indiana businessman who tried to fake his death in a plane crash was taken into custody last night by U.S. Marshals from Tallahassee, Florida.

Officers found 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker at a campground in Quincy, Florida, where he had apparently tried to take his own life.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Michael Richards said Schrenker was in a tent with a slashed wrist when they arrived.

“He had cut one of his wrists, but he is still alive,” Richards said.

The missing pilot was tracked down after investigators developed leads that he might be in Florida and forwarded to U.S. Marshals officers there, Richards said.

On Sunday, Schrenker took off from Anderson Indiana in a single-engine Piper Malibu en route to Destin, Florida.  Over Alabama he radioed from 2,000 feet that he was in trouble. He told the tower the windshield had imploded, and that his face was plastered with blood.

Then the radio fell silent.

Military jets tried to intercept the plane and found the door open, the cockpit dark. The pilots followed until the aircraft crashed in a Florida Panhandle bayou surrounded by homes.

Schrenker had parachuted from the plane and turned up in Childersburg, Alabama.  Police picked him up and he told them he had had a canoeing accident.

He spent the night at a hotel and then fled to a storage unit seven miles away where he had hidden a motorcycle and that was the last that was seen of him.  Police began to believe that he was no longer in the United States.

But he was tracked down after investigators developed leads that he might be in Florida and the information was forwarded to U.S. Marshals officers there, Richards said.

Earlier yesterday, authorities in Indiana charged Schrenker with financial fraud.  Prosecutors say he acted as a financial adviser and made business transactions after his state license expired on Dec. 31.

Schrenker had lived a high-flying life as an investment manager but it appeared to be spiraling downward. He lost a half-million-dollar judgment against one of his companies and his wife filed for divorce. His businesses — Heritage Wealth Management Inc., Heritage Insurance Services Inc. and Icon Wealth Management — came under investigation for possible securities violations.

On Friday, two days before the crash, a federal judge in Maryland issued a $533,500 judgment against Heritage Wealth Management Inc., and in favor of OM Financial Life Insurance Co. The OM lawsuit contended Heritage Wealth Management should return more than $230,000 in commissions because of problems with insurance or annuity plans it sold.

Angry investors also accuse him of stealing potentially millions in savings they entrusted to him.

“We’ve learned over time that he’s a pathological liar — you don’t believe a single word that comes out of his mouth,” said Charles Kinney, a 49-year-old airline pilot from Atlanta who alleges Schrenker pocketed at least $135,000 of his parents’ retirement fund.

[Based on reports by Associated Press and newsday.com.]

Add to Technorati Favorites

6 Comments

Filed under Crime, News

Police chief believes ‘plane crash’ businessman has left the U.S.

By Calvin Palmer

Authorities searching for an Indiana businessman who may have tried to fake his own death in a plane crash say that he could be anywhere.

Police Chief David Latimer of Harpersville, Alabama, says there’s no reason to believe 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker is still in Alabama.

“He could be anywhere at all,” said Latimer after investigators discovered that Schrenker stashed a red motorcycle at a storage unit, and now, the bike is gone and his clothes were left behind in a storage bin.

“Within 10 hours he could be in New Orleans, halfway to Houston, in Atlanta, anywhere,” said Latimer.   “I believe he’s out of the U.S.  He jumped out an airplane and left it to crash who knows where. He’s shown a total disregard for human life. I think he’d do anything to get away.”

Schrenker bailed out of his plane over Alabama and the plane eventually crashed near Destin, Florida.

Authorities are trying to figure out if Schrenker faked his own death after his wife filed for divorce, his companies were targeted by investigators and he lost $500,000 in a court case.

Today, authorities in Indiana charged Schrenker with financial fraud.  Prosecutors say he acted as a financial adviser and made business transactions after his state license expired on Dec. 31.

The investigation into Schrenker’s disappearance began Sunday night, when his plane went down en route to Destin, Florida, from Anderson, Indiana.  Schrenker had reported that the windshield imploded and that he was bleeding profusely, officials said.

After he stopped responding to air traffic controllers, military jets tried to intercept the plane. The pilots reported the door was open and the cockpit was dark.  The followed the single-engine Piper Malibu until it crashed in a bayou.  Authorities said Schrenker apparently put the plane on autopilot for more than 200 miles, bailed out over Alabama and left the plane to crash in Florida.

Police in Childersburg, Alabama, southeast of Birmingham, later said they picked up a man using Schrenker’s Indiana driver’s license and took him to a hotel. The man was wet from the knees down and told the officers he’d been in a canoe accident.

By the time police learned of the crash investigation and came back to the hotel, the man was gone. He had paid for his room in cash before running into the woods next to the hotel.

Later, it emerged that Schrenker had parked a red Yamaha motorcycle with packed saddlebags in a storage unit about 7 miles away from Childersburg. Yesterday the motorcycle was gone and Schrenker’s still-damp jeans, wet gray socks, hiking boots and a T-shirt were in a trash bin nearby.

Last night, Schrenker’s neighbor in Indiana, Tom Britt, received an e-mail claiming the crash was an accident and wanting the investigation into his companies to succeed.

U.S. Marshals declined to say if they believed the e-mail was authentic. Britt said authorities asked him not to make it public.
Britt quoted Schrenker as saying, “I embarrassed my family for the last time.” He turned the e-mail over to authorities, fearing it was a suicide note.

In the e-mail, Britt is asked to set the record straight and Schrenker says he’s stunned after reading coverage of the case on the Internet. According to the e-mail, the accident was caused when the window on the pilot side imploded, spraying him with glass and reducing cabin pressure.

The e-mail states: “Hypoxia can cause people to make terrible decisions and I simply put on my parachute and survival gear and bailed out.”

U.S. Marshals spokesman Michael Richards in Birmingham declined to detail where agents are looking or how the search is being conducted.

Schrenker lived a high-flying life as an investment manager and was an experienced recreational pilot. He bought luxury automobiles, two airplanes and built a 10,000-square-foot house in an upmarket neighborhood full of million-dollar homes known as “Cocktail Cove.”

But his life appeared to be spiraling downward. He lost a half-million-dollar judgment against one of his companies and his wife filed for divorce. His businesses — Heritage Wealth Management Inc., Heritage Insurance Services Inc. and Icon Wealth Management — are under investigation for possible securities violations.

Jim Gavin, a spokesman for Indiana’s secretary of state, said investigators are looking at possible securities violations.  Officers searched Schrenker’s home on December 31 looking for computers, notes, photos and other documents related to those companies.

On Friday, two days before the crash, a federal judge in Maryland issued a $533,500 judgment against Heritage Wealth Management Inc., and in favor of OM Financial Life Insurance Co. The OM lawsuit contended Heritage Wealth Management should return more than $230,000 in commissions because of problems with insurance or annuity plans it sold.

[Based on reports by newsday.com and Associated Press.]

Add to Technorati Favorites

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Cross-dressing millionaire doctor found hanged in prison cell

By Calvin Palmer

Richard Sharpe, the cross-dressing millionaire Harvard dermatologist who was given a life sentence for killing his estranged wife, has been found hanged in his cell.

He was found by his cellmate at MCI-Norfolk, Massachusetts, on Monday evening and pronounced dead at hospital, said Department of Correction spokeswoman Diane Wiffin.

Sharpe’s death is under investigation by the Department of Correction and Norfolk district attorney’s office, she said.

Sharpe, 54, was convicted in 2001 of shooting his wife, Karen, in the foyer of her Wenham home in July 2000 as her brother and others looked on.

In 2007, he was acquitted of charges he tried to hire a hitman to kill the prosecutor in his murder trial.

Prosecutors said he killed his wife because he was angry over the prospect of losing $3 million in their divorce.

His arrest drew national attention when photographs of him wearing slinky dresses and fishnet stockings were widely published. His wife had said in earlier affidavits that he stole her birth control pills in an effort to enlarge his breasts.

At his trial, Sharpe testified that he began cross-dressing at a young age to escape his father’s rage. Defense witnesses, including Sharpe’s siblings, testified that Sharpe was abused for years by his father. He testified he didn’t remember much about the night of the killing.

A defense psychiatrist said Sharpe suffered from a half-dozen disorders, including depression and intermittent explosive disorder, which causes bursts of rage or aggression. The expert said alcohol made them worse.

But prosecutors said Sharpe faked symptoms of mental illness. He did not kill his wife in a burst of rage, they argued, but planned the slaying after she left him.

Mark Smith, a partner in the law firm that represented her in the divorce, said he hoped that Sharpe’s death “brings some closure to this nightmare for the three Sharpe children.”

Sharpe had previously tried to hang himself in his cell in 2002.

[Based on a report by Associated Press.]

Add to Technorati Favorites

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, News