For Writers

KN, p. 306 “Secrets of a Crime Writer”


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My little sister, Bridget, and I chat every few days. We trade stories and joke as we catch up on the stuff of life. She calls to pester me about coming to visit her in North Texas. I call her to make sure she’s staying out of trouble with the Sheriff and avoiding speeding tickets on 287 South.

This time she had me choking with laughter. She has been keeping a list of handy bits of information she swears that she picks up from Kerrian’s Notebook. This is what she shared tonight. Bridget’s guidelines are based on a few articles on the site, and I’ve included some links in bold so you can see what she read.

  • Hand guns are not a good choice for self-defense in the middle of the night if the gun is on a closet shelf in a locked box. I keep an axe next to the bed, so I will use my champion axe throwing skills to take out the bad guy.
  • Bodies in the basement tend to stink up the place. Good thing I don’t have a cellar. Not even a crawl space – in case some nefarious person is looking for a place to hide a body.
  • My phone is not safe from cloning or hacking in these days of cyber attacks, so I shouldn’t use it to pay for anything. That’s okay, since cash is accepted in most places, and I save a bunch on credit card fees.
  • I need to practice at the firing range so that I don’t shoot my foot.
  • Always remember to check the inside of a second-hand refrigerator I might buy, in case the seller stuffs a body inside it while I’m getting the truck ready.
  • Don’t look inside dumpsters at the mall. Ewwww.
  • Don’t travel by air during pollen season. The plane might not make it.
  • Don’t spend the night in jail. There are small spaces and other drawbacks.
  • Avoid having cups of tea in the houses of little old ladies.
  • Attend a writers’ conference. All that talk about murder and mayhem might be fun.

There ya have it. Handy tips from Bridget. Gotta love that sister of mine. Sheila and I just might be taking that road trip soon.



KN, p. 301 “Domestic Terrorism in North Carolina”

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Duke Energy personnel. Photo from: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Note: Actual current events (updated February 4, 2023)

Domestic terrorism: The FBI defines it as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental in nature.


The call came into the police station at 7pm on December 3, 2022, a Saturday night. I imagine that the day shift had left, the tally of parking tickets, breakdowns, and crowd control duties fairly light for a golf resort town on the weekend in the South. A local resident had become concerned when the power went out for his entire block. And then the lights flickered at the station. The officer taking the call looked up, puzzled. Coincidence? The generator kicked in and the lights came back on, the phone call still active.


I assume that the cop reassured the guy at the other end that he would look into it, mentioning that it was probably a neighborhood transformer out, in which case lights would be on pretty quickly. He might have checked the power company website but not see any reports of widespread outages. A call directly to the power company would reveal something quite different. Their internal power map would show a widespread outage getting bigger. We know that a company official told him that first they were checking into it. Backups aside, sometimes stuff just failed. We know that the power company had received a few phone calls from the public similar to the one that came into the police station and were checking those with technicians already in the field.


What was discovered not long afterward was that shots had been fired at two of the substations in the Southern Pines, Moore County, NC area, knocking out the machinery. Located about halfway between Raleigh and Fayetteville, this is normally a destination community for year round golf and shopping. Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields spoke publicly about curfews for the duration of the power outage and announced that it was a criminal investigation, with perpetrators who knew exactly what they were doing, with targeted shots.

Jon Wellinghoff, former head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and now CEO and Founder of Grid Policy, was quoted as saying, “Somebody with a high-powered rifle puts a bullet through the case of a transformer and once it goes into the case of the transformer it hits the coils of the transformer, shorts it out, and it’s gone; That device is no longer operable. It can’t be fixed, it needs to be replaced. It cannot be repaired.”

He spoke about the repairs needed: “A lot of these transformers also are sort of one-offs. It’s not like you can cookie-cutter replace them with another one from some other utility in the next county or the next state. They have to be made sort of custom for the particular substation that they’re in. So if they don’t have spares for that particular substation, it could take a considerable amount of time.”

Governor Roy Cooper visited and shopped in Southern Pines the day after power was restored.. When asked whether it had been a terrible prank or domestic terrorism, he said, “I think investigators are leaving no stone unturned as to what this is.”

Read more at:

The county was under curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., with schools closed and streetlights off while power was out. The temperatures dropped below 40 degrees on some nights with thousands without heat. It took until Thursday, December 8th to bring the county power back on line.

What kind of penalty do the perpetrators face if they are found and convicted?

Under federal law, damaging energy facilities that causes “a significant interruption or impairment of a function” is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

 North Carolina, along with other states, enacted their own terrorism laws a decade ago. Under this law, “felonies are elevated one class if crimes were motivated by a desire to intimidate the whole population, a specific group or the government.”

As of January 4, 2023, no arrests have been made. Governor Cooper has announced a $75,000. reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. The FBI has joined local and State authorities in the investigation of the “willful damage” and have been exploring all possibilities, both for suspects and the reason behind the damage. It won’t be known for sure what the motivation was until the culprits are caught and spoken to.

Warrants have been requested for cell phone records to indicate activity in the area on the days in question. If the public has any information about the attack on the substations, please call the Sheriff’s tip line: 910-947-4444 or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI or

On January 17th, there was a gunfire attack at an electrical substation in Randolph County. The two attacks do not appear to be related. On February 3, the FBI offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information on the attack.

That’s in addition to the $25,000 reward for information on the Moore County grids attack in early December.

In Randolph County, please call the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office at 336-318-6685, if you have information, or contact the FBI at 1-800- CALL FBI or




KN, p. 296 “Kidnapping”

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Kidnapping: “Moving another person a distance by force or fear without the person’s consent.”

I was a kid the first time I heard the term ‘kidnapping.’ A multi-million dollar ransom demand for the safe return of the adult son of a wealthy man had been splashed all over the news. I was horrified that anyone would be mean enough to kidnap anyone, then ask for money not to harm them.


In fact, kidnappings have been committed for centuries. Conquering armies enslaved the conquered to serve in the armies, or to work as domestics for the people back home. In the day of King Richard the Lionhearted, royalty on the losing side in war would be taken from the battlefield and ransomed for enormous sums. Hence the term: king’s ransom. Unscrupulous ship captains conscripted men off the streets to serve on long ocean voyages for no pay.


In the 20th and 21st centuries, ‘kidnappings’ have become frequent enough that they now fall into four categories under the term aggravated kidnapping.

1) kidnapping that causes the victim serious bodily harm or death;

2) kidnapping that involves a demand for a ransom;

3) kidnapping taking place concurrent with a carjacking; and

4) kidnapping based on fraud, force, or fear of a victim who is under age fourteen.


Kidnapping by parents is in another category altogether, since generally, the parents are in the middle of custody fights and no harm is meant toward the child.

Make no mistake about it: both kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping are serious crimes with huge punishment if a conviction is reached. If guns are used, or somebody gets beaten up during the commission of an aggravated kidnapping, the sentence served can be over ten years.  

Revolutionary groups and/or terrorists have employed kidnapping as a way to raise money for their causes. But, all countries look unfavorably on this practice and if caught and convicted, the criminals face time in jail or death by execution.

One of the most famous kidnappings in the 20th century was that of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son, in March, 1932. Ransom notes were delivered, with increasingly higher demands for money. Law enforcement tracked multiple leads, but tragically, the child’s body was found on the side of the road in May, 1932. It became a federal case as pursuit of the kidnapper(s) intensified. It took two years to find the man responsible, another two years to convict and carry out the sentence – death by electrocution. The Lindbergh case resulted in laws that introduced the death penalty for taking a kidnap victim across state lines.

This FBI article relates details of the case:

According to FBI stats, there were over 29,000 active missing person records involving children under the age of 18 at the end of 2021. How do we guard against our children getting snatched? There are a few basic steps to take (suggested by a private investigation firm with offices in Florida, New Jersey, and New York City) that can help keep your child safe:

Cyber Safety
Children now share their lives online, and the downside of all that socialization is that they might be lured by dangerous people to meet in the real world. As long as they live under your roof, you should check to see what they are up to online. Both computer and phone activities should be age appropriate and time-limited. You’re the parent. You’re in charge.

The Check-First Rule
All children should be taught to check with parents first before going anywhere. Period.

Stay aware
Stay off the phone when you are out and about with your children, so that you can be alert to any strangers taking unusual interest in them. In case you get separated in a crowd, children should know their address, parents’ names, and phone numbers by heart.

Ways to React When an Abduction is Attempted
If someone is attempting to forcibly take them somewhere, children need to know how to react if you’re not there. Teach your kids to scream “Call 9-1-1!” or “Call a cop!” One suggestion: They could start spinning their arms around like a windmill, making it harder to grab them. Another suggestion: Give your child a whistle to blow, to scare off anyone trying to avoid attention.

Teach Kids To Spot the Trusted Adults
If someone is bothering your child, and you’re not there, they should look for a security guard, an employee with a name tag, a police officer, or a mom with her own children in tow.

Talk to Your Children
You can help prevent an outsider from taking advantage of your child’s vulnerabilities by letting them know that you’re always ready to listen. Talk to them every day about their day. Be an active part of their lives.

Get to know your neighbors. Be alert to unknown people that keep driving through the neighborhood. In this era of GPS maps, it’s really hard to get lost, and children should never give directions to strangers.

*Photo of the Lindbergh flyer from the FBI files.



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