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Unfinished Business

April 14, 1989 I was driving home from a specialized training seminar in emergency management. Two of my co-workers were with me. Anxious to return home and avoid rush-hour traffic, we were making fairly good time traveling northbound on Hwy 101. We were tired of being away from our families and friends. Perhaps we were a little tired of each other, I don’t know. I don’t remember exactly why we were listening to the radio, but we were. A news story caught our attention and held it. There had been multiple homicides in our county and the suspect, Ramon Salcido, was being hunted by every law enforcement agency in California.

I remember feeling sorry for the dispatchers, detectives and deputies that were working. Joseph Wambaugh once wrote that law enforcement consisted of “hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” Working in public safety is akin to being on an adrenaline roller coaster and nothing got everyone’s adrenaline going more than a homicide. If I am to be honest, there is a part of the excitement that we’re attracted to, you could scarcely do the job without liking that rush, that flurry of activity, that instant mission that unfolds before you to solve the puzzle and put the bad guy in jail. But multiple homicides put you into overload and don’t give you a chance to come down from your fevered frenzy. No one wants to admit it but these incidents put a chink in your armor and remove a part of your soul. An incident this big leaves gaping holes and spills little pieces of you everywhere.

The dispatchers who received the initial calls took the brunt of the stress, but there was more than enough stress to go around. The detectives and deputies responding get different level of stress. First responders and medical personnel too. They get to see the results. As the details unfolded and the body count increased, local and national news became more and more interested. In the aftermath of Salcido’s murderous spree, his three young daughters were missing. A national manhunt ensued for him and we all hoped to find the girls alive. Everyone, cops and criminals, society and scumbag alike wanted to see Ramon Salcido pay for his crimes. That sentiment increased exponentially when we found the girls. In total he brutally murdered 7 people and attempted to murder 2 others. One of the survivors was Carmina, his 3-year-old daughter. Carmina and her two sisters all had their throats slashed. I remember when they found the girls and rushed her to the hospital. I recall being told they thought she survived because when Salcido threw their tiny bodies away, Carmina landed with her head tucked to her chin, stemming to flow of blood. It was nothing short of miraculous that she survived. I saw a picture of her on a tricycle and for twenty years I have wondered what had become of her.

Friday, October 16, 2009 I turned the television on and to watch 20/20. I had missed the first two or three minutes of the program and hadn’t a clue what topic they would be covering. My mouth dropped open as I saw a familiar face of a detective I had worked with, Detective Mike Brown and the tears began to flow when I realized he was sitting and talking with Carmina.

It was good to see them both. It was difficult to see the pictures and hear the narrated reports. I saw the faces and heard the voices of men and women I had worked with and known for an 11-year period of my life. Never knowing what becomes of the people whose lives intersect with yours during an emergency is taxing. Carmina is not the only person I have thought about over the years but she was on the top of the list.

There is a girl named Melanie who was abandoned by mother at a baby-sitter’s house. I walked into the report writing room and saw a group of deputies standing around the table looking at something. I peered over their shoulders and saw a 2 ½ or 3-year-old girl in overalls. She had her hair in little pigtails and big blue eyes that made her look like a character from a Dr. Seuss book. She was a dead ringer for Cindy Lou Who, standing on the table blinking with wide eyes. She took one look at me, the only woman in a sea of olive drab deputies and put out her arms to be held. I held out my hands and she launched herself at me, tucked her head under my chin, made a big sigh and hung on for dear life. The deputies that had taken her in to the main office were getting a better car seat for her and somehow DJ and his rookie got me to agree to sit in the backseat with Melanie as they took her out to the Dependent Unit. Had I thought things through, I would never have agreed. Melanie sang to me, held my hand and loved on me for the entire trip out there. When we arrived I carried her in and when the folks working there came to take her from me, she screamed, grabbed my clothes and arm and cried, “No! No! I be good! I be good, No! Please No!.”

For what seemed and eternity I couldn’t move and then I realized I had to extricate myself from her and the situation. I went out to the patrol car to wait for the deputies. DJ took one look at me and said, “It’s authorized to cry.” I think I swore at him and threatened him if he ever asked me to do that again. . Later that week I tried calling the Dependent Unit to see how she was and they wouldn’t tell me. It shocked me at first but I realize now why they have that policy. It didn’t stop me from thinking about her. Like Carmina and a couple hundred others, I think of Melanie all the time

I can’t explain exactly why I sobbed while watching 20/20. It was a cathartic moment of sorts but it has also opened a floodgate of emotions that I would just as soon not deal with. In a total of 17 years of public safety there are hundreds if not thousands of memories I would be happy to excise permanently. Eternal sunshine on the spotless mind ain’t such a bad idea, you know? But that’s not how God works.

There is not a doubt in my mind if I ignore my soul and my faith, I could become a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am not the same woman I was twenty years ago and I am very grateful for that, I don’t want to be that woman ever again. She and I are two very disparate personalities but we cannot exist apart from each other. I cannot be the woman I am today without having been the woman I was then. I think the tears I have been crying since Friday are as much for that other woman as they were for Carmina, Mike and the others. I also think I haven’t gotten to the bottom of them. Sometimes you have to knock off a scab to let the infection out.

Most of life is unfinished business looking for resolution. God specializes in that.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

Philippians 1:19-21
19 For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but {that} with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Proverbs 12:21
21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.


Carla said…
Thank you for posting this rozie. It made me cry too, but I guess that's not such a bad thing.
Anonymous said…
You, friend, have a ministry to the least and the lost that few could ever do. Preach on. Write more.
evelynmcfeely said…
Horrific, true. What I find horrific is that ABC would allow Carmina to lie about her father, and her visits with him, and their yes, father/daughter relationship. 20/20 was a vehicle to promote a book of Carmina's "All Is Not Lost". What should sadden many is the knowledge that she first visited Ramon in 2005. They wrote each other, called, and visited on SEVERAL occasions over the next 4 years. What Carmina's book contains is what certain detectives and citizens of Sonoma have told her about that morning on April 14, 1989. .

As well, about the statements she made regarding wanting only an apology from her father. I happen to have pictures of 10 different visits of her with her father at San Quentin. Her first visit to him in 2005 she had brought a friend with her to the Prison. The founder Ms. Solei of the Circ de Solei (spelling). She witnessed Ramons break down and tears when he first saw her. He could do nothing but tell her how sorry he was for what he had done to her, and her mother and family, and other families. That visit was short lived. As Ramon is a very sensitive, emotional man who has ALWAYS carried the burden of what the drug Cocaine did to him after no sleep for 3 days, finding his wife with another man that a.m. and his children left home alone. Angela told Ramon when he found her in a Motel, that she never did love him, and that their first daughter Sofia was from another man. Also, she blurted out to him that her Mother Mrs. Richards was the one who orchestrated their meeting at a dance after Angela had told her she was pregnant. Mrs. Richard (at the base of her religous belief and pride) told Angela to go back to that dance and look for this "father of her child" to tell him. Angela had already searched for him, so she returned to the dance, saw Ramon, and they ended up in a car, and 2 weeks later Angela told him she was pregnant with his child. He never dared to question why their first born, Sofia, has dark hair and the other girls had blonde.

So now. You think I made this up? Ramon's spree all happened from the time he finally found his wife, she told him the shocking fact about Sofia,Ramon was demoted again back to line worker, and his wages went back to what the previously had been.

He was working two jobs to send Angela to a modeling school so she may fulfill her dream, one to support his family.
Then came DSHS with news that a lady Ramon had married briefly when first entering the US, had fathered a child by him and they were demanding current and back child support payments in garnishments, without even establishing first parentage. The stress of now loosing more money was tremendous.

The effects of no sleep, alcohol and cocaine pushed him into a state of mind that is "out of body like", triggered by Angela's retort to his finding her where he did. The rest we know, as it all happened very quickly, in a matter of hours, and Angela at the ATM was to get money and go home, wake up her girls and run like heck after the truth she had thrown at Ramon.

Thus, if you are Christians, and believe in God's Almighty forgiveness for repented sinners, then I ask you to pray for Carmina and to pray for Ramon.

Her visits with her father? Not only does she visit him, he paid for her to go to Mexico and visit her Aunties and Uncles in Los Mochis. Without dictating her behaviour while there, I will only say that Ramon and his Christian friends gathered the money to see that she was brought back to the US.

Carmina (check her myspace website) is a camelion in who she really is, and what she wants people to believe so she can sell her book. Alcohol/drugs/men are not good combinations in life as so many of us know thru our own experience.

God Bless you all on this day to give Thanks to the Lord for all the good that he gives to us and others. Thank you readers for those who actually got thru my writing, I hope that some of you took it to heart.

One who has taken it to heart since 1989..
rosemarie said…
emm... I have chosen to respond to your comment in a post.

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