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Protect Yourself From Predators

May 20, 2008
A top headline news story coming out of Idaho this past week involves the death of Idaho resident Sue Newby. Her husband, Mark Newby committed suicide when the police were closing in on him while investigating the suspicious death. Ada County Sheriff's deputies had reason to believe the death was not, as reported by Mr. Newby, an accident, in part due to evidence of an affair and a motive of financial gain.

The Idaho Statesman (www.idahostatesman.com) reported:

'On April 2, Sue Newby told a friend she planned to take a horse ride with her husband and confront him about a suspected affair.

On April 4, she was dead in the bottom of Rocky Canyon north of Eagle. What happened that day may never be known. Mark D. Newby, 46, killed himself with a gunshot to his head late Wednesday, say Ada County sheriff's deputies who discovered the body when they arrived at his home with a search warrant as they investigated Sue Newby's death.'

Friends and family of Sue were suspicious of the death from the onset, as were several horse enthusiasts who said the details of the "accident" didn't make sense. They rightfully encouraged law enforcement to dig deeply into this case, and to the credit of the investigators, they did. They quickly developed sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant for Newby's residence.

The point of my writing though is not to dwell on the circumstances which led to Sue Newby's tragic death, but to offer some occasionally overlooked advice for women in potentially vulnerable situations.

In this case Sue Newby told friends she planned to confront her husband about a suspected affair while the two of them were horseback riding in a remote area; this was not a good idea. She should have confronted him at home or in a public place with just enough privacy for a conversation, not an otherwise unattended act of violence or murder.

In my 21 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, I had the misfortune to see worse-case endings similar to this in many cases. The common denominator was often that the victim placed herself in a vulnerable situation. Linda Sobek was a model who was murdered in 1995 by photographer Charles Rathbun at a remote photo shoot. Rathbun had attempted to rape Sobek before murdering her and reporting her death as an accident. This is one of the more notorious cases of which I am reminded, but there are many others that come to mind. And although these two cases are markedly different, there remains a common denominator of vulnerability.

What should be known to all women, young ladies and even boys is that predators come in all sizes, shapes, social-economical and ethnic classes; they represent all professions (yes, even law enforcement), religious sectors (remember the Catholic priest scandals?) and recreational groups (scouting groups, team sports, etc.). Their prey most often have the common denominator of vulnerability in a variety of ways too many and complex to discuss in this article. The real point is this: Since predators fit so neatly into society before and often after striking out at their prey, it is imperative that we do not allow ourselves or our loved ones to become prey.

The following are a few suggestions in protecting ones self:

If your daughter or girlfriend (or you) is planning to meet someone with whom she has established an internet relationship, a very common occurrence these days, encourage (actually, insist!) her to meet him in a safe and neutral environment. (I say neutral because it is equally important she not reveal her residence to someone she knows nothing about.) Have an exit strategy in the event things do not go as planned, and always tell someone trustworthy where you plan to be and when you expect to be finished.

If your son, daughter, friend or sibling is involved in sports or other recreational activities, don't assume the "adult" in the situation is trustworthy. Never allow him or her to be alone with the "coach" and remember there is safety in numbers.

If you or your best friend is having trouble in a current relationship and plan to break it off or confront the significant other, do so in the manner previously described for meeting someone for the first time. Also, as in that case, have a simple yet effective exit strategy and be prepared to implement it at the first sign of trouble.

Finally, seriously consider having background checks of strangers you are considering dating or allowing access to your children or loved ones. Remember, these are very different times than generations past when everyone in a community knew everyone else, and seldom did their social circles extend beyond that community. Technology has shrunk our world, and for all of its good, there are plenty of underlying evils.
About the Author
Danny R. Smith, founder and owner of DRS Investigations, LLC in Idaho, is a former homicide detective from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. For more information about the author, please visit his web site: DRS Investigations, LLC
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