Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life on the inside (or alternately titled “Baby, it’s cold outside”)


Okay, I admit it; I'm weird.  This Friday morning I woke up at my regular time (5:45am) and even though I have the day off, I quickly grabbed the remote & turned on the tv--ah, perfect timing.  The weather segment on the morning news was just starting and as predicted, the temperature is around -10F (and with the wind chill, -20F).  We are in a serious deep freeze & it hasn't been this cold in 15 years!  All schools are closed today, and businesses left & right are shutting down too, it seems... oh dear.  Heh heh!

Okay, I know it's not funny--this is dangerous stuff.  But I requested the day off a couple weeks ago (only because I have a bit of vacation time accumulated), & didn't know it would work out as well as it did.  When the weatherman says "Please don't go out unless you absolutely have to" then I have NO CHOICE but to be a recluse for the day!  

The only thing to do now is make a pot of coffee and decide what I'm going to do for the day that doesn't require me to leave my couch for any extended period of time.  Now where's that remote?    

BSG Season 4 

Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica just arrived a couple days ago from & I couldn't be more excited; who knew that a campy 70's TV show would someday be remade to become one of the greatest sci-fi series in tv history? 


Truth be told however, I admit to having some mixed feelings about my 'forced captivity'; when I scheduled today off, I'd forgotten all about Monday being a holiday too.  So aside from some marathon episode viewing of Battlestar Galactica...I suppose I'd better find some other things to do or else I really WILL feel like a prisoner.   blue warrior artwork


Just got this cool piece of primitive artwork for my prison cell...


If my sister Shawn was here, she'd probably be beside herself--"why don't you turn off that computer for awhile, get off your couch & hang those new patio drapes??"  Well, I suppose if I get bored enough...okay, this is something I've been meaning to do for a couple weeks now; but my stepstool is outside, and my patio doors are frozen shut!  It would appear that Mother Nature has granted me a reprieve.

All this prison-related nonsense reminds me of a rather chilling tale, something I've always kept mum about--but now it feels okay to share.  (And in true Dragnet fashion, the name of a particular friend has been changed to 'protect the innocent'.)



"The Curious Case of a Friend of a Friend"

A few years ago I was good friends with a quiet, hardworking girl who I'll refer to as Paula.  I liked her immensely (& still do) so I was concerned when I arrived at work one morning to find her pretty upset.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said it was nothing, but later confessed she was torn up inside because her best friend since college was in PRISON at the moment, on "trumped up charges" for something her friend's husband had done.  

I said "What'd he do?  Steal a car?  Forge some checks?"  Paula said there was some theft involved, but didn't want to go into any detail.  The only thing she added was that he was an ex-Navy Seal, and was seriously mental.  Sensing her reluctance to talk about it, I dropped the matter.

As the weeks followed, I would ask her from time to time how her friend was (who was in a Maryland prison that Paula often visited on weekends).  She usually just replied "despondent" or "feeling hopeless".

Several weeks later, I'm talking to my mom on the phone & she asks me if I've seen a recent 'crime special' on A&E called 'Thrill Killers', which she loved. (It's being repeated that night.)  It involves a young local woman--Erika Sifrit, only child of a well-to-do family who meets an ex-Navy seal named Benjamin Sifrit while on vacation & marries him just a couple weeks later.  Her parents grow increasingly alarmed as their daughter & new son-in-law get into tattoos, snakes and guns (& unknown to anyone, breaking into places like Hooters to steal & sell logo-merchandise on Ebay.)


(Erika & her husband Benjamin, in Ocean City)

What makes their story especially chilling is when this young couple go on vacation to Ocean City, Maryland.  While there, they befriend another couple, invite them back to their condo.  The couple is shot & their bodies are disposed of.   No reason--Erika insists her husband was obsessed with the idea of killing people for the sheer thrill of it.   How were they caught?  They were burglarizing the Hooters restaurant there, tripped an alarm & the police arrived.  While doing a search of the Sifrits vehicle, various personal items belonging to a 'missing couple on the news' are found.  Erika is even wearing the missing man's ring on a necklace (at her husbands insistence).  She later confesses to helping chop up the bodies and dumping them in various dumpsters about Ocean City. 

(They were tried separately, and Erika received 'life plus 20' for supposedly masterminding the crime, which she vehemently denied. She was currently waiting for the Supreme Court to hear her appeal.)

It was fascinating stuff, and then it hit me--this guy was an ex-Navy Seal?  How often do you hear that? Isn't my friend Paula's girlfriend married to a--it can't be!  The next day I approach Paula:  "Is your friend Erika Sifrit by chance?"  She says "Oh no--how did you find out?"  OMIGOD! 

I tell her about the A&E special, the ex-Navy Seal and putting two & two together; she says "I knew I let something slip.  Douglas, I've known Erika for years & this was her husband's madness, not hers." 

We talked about it from time to time, and Paula never wavered in her belief that her friend was innocent of the murders, let alone masterminded anything--just a submissive person, and fearful of Benjamin & his threats on her family's life.  She told me stories about Erika's life in prison & sometimes after a boring weekend, I'd say "I know how Erika feels, sometimes my little apartment feels like prison too"  and Paula always said the same thing:  "Doug, trust me it's not.  You have no idea." 

For the record, Erika appealed her sentence all the way to the Maryland Supreme Court, on the grounds that she had been led to believe the DA would get her a reduced sentence if she showed them where the body parts were disposed of.  Her appeals were all denied.   And finally, when I told my mom about my 'connection of sorts' to this famous case, I thought she'd love it but that didn't exactly happen.

MOM:  Doug, please don't let Paula know your full name!

DOUG: Mom I've worked beside her for years--trust me, she knows it.

MOM:  Does Erika Sifrit know that her friend Paula works with you?

DOUG: Yeah, Paula tells Erika about our talks sometimes.

MOM:  PLEASE TELL ME that Erika doesn't know your name!  She's a criminal mastermind!  WHO KNOWS what underworld connections she has on the outside!

DOUG:  Mom, you seriously can't--okay, she'll never know.

Well, even though I doubted her innocence, I never saw Erika as a 'criminal mastermind'; but as time went by I did come to believe she was everything Paula said she was.  Just a nice girl that was so eager to do the right thing, she did all the wrong things instead.

Okay, I don't feel like I'm in Apache-Prison anymore.  And Shawn, if you're reading this...I'm going to get to work on hanging those new drapes.

                native american freedom

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