Recently in State-Iowa Category

Psychology Today

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Keep up with what is happening in Psychology Today with this website. This website is the online version of the magazine Psychology Today where you can look at anything from addiction to work, but the most fascinating and relative to Psychology and Law would be the Law and Crime section.  Also, to those of you who are going to have a career in psychology or thinking about it, there is a link on this website that allows you to look at psych careers.

Post anything that you find interesting on this website and make a connection with what is happening in the world today with what we are talking about in class.

Missing ISU Student Found

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As some of you may have heard in the past months, a student at ISU named Jon Lacina has been missing since January 22, 2010 in Ames, Iowa. He was last seen at about 9:30 that night and no traces of him were found. The police did many different investigations to try and find him, but nothing helped. There were also helicopter and local waterway searches, but still nothing was ever found.

On April 14th, Jon's body was found by an ISU police officer in the Dairy Pavilion, owned by ISU, about a mile from Central Campus. They forensics department is still looking to figure out how he died and they won't know for weeks.

This tragic circumstance is something that police and other officials should not dismiss. Lacina's family and friends knew him to be a smart, loving person with a love for music and art and he was not a person who takes risks. All of these aspects of his life make you wonder what really happened, since he seemed to be a well-rounded young man. It also makes me wonder why the police didn't check the dairy barns more extensively, since it is in a more remote location but still in range of campus. Another thing that bothers me is what if he was killed? How would we ever find the killer? Is that person still in Ames walking around campus? It is a frightening feeling and now that the police found the body, the investigators should be doing lots more research to find out what really happened.

Autopsy Service

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When I was working on my portfolio, I wanted to find a bit more information on Autopsy's.  I found a link to the University of Iowa's autopsy service and found it pretty informational.

The Most Dangerous Game

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While reading the novel Mind Hunter by John Douglas for my book report assignment, I came across a particularly interesting case. In the early 1980's Robert Hansen went on a murderous rampage that shocked the community of Anchorage, Alaska. Hansen, known throughout his community as a mild mannered baker with a strong affinity for hunting, was abducting local prostitutes and strippers, taking them back to his home while he raped and tortured them, then flew them out to his cabin in the woods where he promised if they cooperated they would be released. He would then let them go naked through the wooded area where he would hunt them down.


I was very interested in this case for two reasons. The first reason was that the killers MO closely followed one of my favorite short stories that I read in High School; The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. The story is about some shipwrecked sailors who find themselves being systematically hunted down one-by-one through an island jungle. They are hunted by a man named General Zarroff, who tired of hunting animals and wanted more of a challenge. In Douglas's novel, he cites many similarities between Hansen and Zarroff, not only in MO. According to Douglas, Hansen felt that by killing prostitutes and women he felt were degenerate, he was doing society a favor. Likewise Zarroff felt that shipmen were degenerates and tramps.


The second reason that I found this case so interesting was because the killer, Robert Hansen started his criminal career about 40 miles from where I grew up; in small town Pocahontas, IA. In the 1960, Hansen served as a police academy instructor in Pocahontas. Later that year he was arrested for burning down a school bus garage and was sentenced to jail for 4 years. It was after this time that he moved to Alaska. Because Hansen had moved away from the area nearly 20 years before he started his killing spree, I was unaware of his existence and my friends from that area were also unaware. Digging a little deeper into Hansen's past, I discovered he was born in Estherville, Iowa; the small town where both of my parents grew up, but again, because Hansen hadn't lived there since before my parents were born, they were unfamiliar with the case. However, I do plan on asking my grandparents if they are at all familiar with Hansen since he would be closer to their age.

One of the themes that Douglas talks about in his book is that Hansen is an excellent example of how a killers MO changes and develops with each kill. In his earlier killings of prostitutes, Hansen would simply tie them up and kill them execution style, then fly their bodies and level them in the wooded area near his cabin. As he became more confident in his killings, Hansen began to torture his victims and then finally began to hunt them like animals. It is because of this sort of changing pattern that it makes a series of murders hard to tie together. If four women are murdered in different ways, people assume that it is a different killer. Douglas argues that MO can change while significance of the murder does not change. In this case, we see Hansen's method of killing change but they are all related in how they spoke to Hansen personally. He liked the thrill of the hunt, and he went after high-risk individuals such as prostitutes.  


As we all know Parkersburg, Iowa and the whole state of Iowa suffered a tremendous loss, Ed Thomas. Mr. Thomas was the high school football coach, track coach, teacher, driving instructor, and most of all a father, husband, and grandfather.

The trial for Mark Becker is in some of its last states. The jury has been in deliberation for over 8 hours now. They will either find of him guilty of 1st degree murder with life in prison without parole, or they will find him guilty, but categorize him as insane and Becker will undergo dramatic psychiatric evaluations.

This is a trial that is using the Insanity Plea, which is very unheard of for today. It is hard to prove someone legally insane, because you have to prove to everyone that before the crime, the time of the crime, and after the crime, that Mark Becker had no idea what was going on and it was out of his control. I want to make it clear that insanity is a legal term when used in law, not a medical term. Insanity is when they try to see if Mark Becker knew what he was doing, and if he knew right from wrong throughout the whole process of the crime.

This is going to be a hard case to defend based on the facts. Mark Becker did plan out this murder. He dressed so that he could hide a gun in his clothing. He drove himself to the high school and admitted to being scared that he would be pulled over with a loaded gun on him. These are just a few things that push away from the insanity plea.

Below is the Des Moines Register, which has been following the trial very closely. On the left side bar is over 15 blogs that take you through the trial, even a blog just recently posted about the juror's deliberation. In the middle of the web page will a section also taking you through the trial in detail.

I urge everyone to go through theses blogs and really see what it is like for the people of the court system. They have an expert witness, a Psychiatrist that the prosecution hired and his diagnosis and thoughts are very interesting to read.

Iowa Police Issue an Amber Alert

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      In a previous post I wrote about a girl who was abducted during the super bowl and later found dead after authorities delayed releasing an Amber Alert. This idea brought about many questions regarding who is allowed to release amber alerts and what is the criteria? Interestingly enough, today while I was driving back to Cedar Falls an important announcement interrupted the song playing on the radio. This announcement came from the Iowa Police issuing an Amber Alert for 14 year old, Janakaye Marie Lee, of Council Bluffs stating she had been abducted earlier today and seems to be in danger. Interestingly enough later in the day when I was on the internet trying to find more information regarding the Amber Alert  I found it had been cancelled; however the girl is still missing. The police felt this situation was important enough to issue an amber alert, yet later retracted the alert because they felt she was not longer in danger. Yet if you read on the girl is still missing, and the person who is suspected to have taken her left a suicide note. I felt this article/situation was interesting not only does it deal with law enforcement and the procedures they go through when looking at a case (more specifically an abduction case) but it also is taking place here in Iowa. From the information given we know the amber alert was released because Lee was in danger, and we know it was retracted because Lee is not said to be in danger anymore. I would be interested to know what ideas and pieces to this puzzle made police retract the amber alert. Also, for those of you who have read my post on the super bowl killing I want to highlight that for the young girl taken in that situation an Amber Alert was not issued until 18 hours later.


Below are some links referred to in this post:

News Report of Janakaye Marie Lee's abduction (KCCI, Des Moines)

Cancelled Amber Alert for Lee:

This website shows the cancelled alert; however, you can still see the type of information police obtained and used in creating the Amber Alert.

Iowa Amber Alert Website

Super bowl Killing Link:


This case is from my hometown and is suprising to me because I personally know this kid and my brother was good friends with him. Bryce Gully was being charged with first degree murder and robbery after supossibly shooting a man during a drug deal and bragged about it and sent pic messages with a gun and money. There are cameras in place in "crack ave."  in pleasent valley (down the street from where i live) that the police were using for surveillance on the drugs. It went to court and he was going to be charged as an adult at 15, but was found not guilty. T he reason for this was a combination of things. They had a bunch of  kids from the neighborhood come in and say so an so  did it and there was no clear descritption between all of them but there was a concensus from the people who were in the car with matt huffman when he was shot. This kid had a long string of criminal charges prior and they found him hiding under a bed. The second reason he was not convicted was because they had a minor error in the evidence and gully kept pushing for a trial since you can never be tried for the same crime twice. He bragged about being unstoppable afterwards until  he was later charged with an unrelated crime a felony for stabbing another kid. Hmmm.. I'm pretty sure he has a patern going on here    here are some of the links you can find info. on,0,4798942.story or just google his name . So why do some guilty people go free is it because of other variables such as age etc.. The victims family even forgave him and the jury said they didn't want to possibly put an innocent kid behind bars?
This article made me absolutely sick!  A man from Sioux City was charged with punching his puppy to death.  The worst part was, he was found guilty of animal torture and was only sentenced to jail for year, which he will only spend a month of there, since he was credited for previous time spent there.  The judge wanted to keep in mind that he didn't kill an actual person, but how is it ok that an innocent puppy was murdered and in an awful way.   Since this man didn't have a history of domestic violence the judge was even more lenient.  Along with his Jail time Loggins is to pay a $625 fine, $300 to the Iowa Department of Corrections and he will have to reimburse the Woodbury County Jail $50 for each day he is there. He's also required to undergo substance abuse counseling and a psychological evaluation.

Sex Offender Stigma

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This article is about a guy that was a convicted sex offender in Iowa that moved to Oklahoma to get away from the harassments he was encountering in Des Moines. When he received a new drivers license in Oklahoma it had "sex offender" in red writing under his picture. Even though he was no longer registered as a sex offender in Iowa, he was forced to live with this stigma in Oklahoma. He was not able to go to the mall, library, or his little brothers football games. His mother fought the legislature to change the law so that expunged sex offenders do not need to be labeled as sex offenders in the state of Oklahoma. He is no longer stigmatized by this label. Sex offender registries are in my opinion kind of a controversial issue. In some instances I agree that people should have to register and should not be permitted around children, but in this guys case he was 16 and he thought the girl was 15 but turns out she was 13. Even thought a lot of people say that is too young to be particiapating in these activities, that is not the point in this case. Im not sure this guys needs to be stigmatized for the rest of his life for his crime in this case.