With no foul play suspected, the police labeled Aundria a runaway and passed her case along to the Youth Services Bureau. Few people who knew the Bowmans questioned the official narrative. Over the years, there had been whispers about the family. Once, when Aundria was in middle school, she boarded the school bus bleeding from her wrist. Some kids gossiped about a suicide attempt, but others said Aundria had cut herself trying to get back into her house after her parents locked her out. There were rumors that Dennis, a former Navy reservist with reddish-brown hair, a goatee, and wire-rimmed glasses, and Brenda, a portly woman with curled bangs who’d once worked at the jewelry counter at Meijer department store, abused Aundria. But back then, what happened behind closed doors was considered family business.
In the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health, between two and four of every 100,000 children are born with Batten disease. They can get it if both their parents are genetic carriers. There are 14 subtypes of the disease, each affecting a different gene, involving a different deficiency, and decreeing a different life span. Conner was diagnosed with subtype CLN2, distinguished by the absence of TPP1. Symptoms initially appear around the age of two; a speech delay is often the first noticeable sign of disease. After that come seizures, language regression, motor dysfunction, and blindness. Patients die between the ages of eight and twelve.
So began the trials of Ann Bilansky. There were two: the legal one and the one staged in the court of public opinion. Often it was hard to tell which was which. Newspapers across Minnesota and as far away as the East Coast wrote breathless accounts of the purported murder and subsequent courtroom drama. People read those stories, staining their fingers with ink, because they were thirsty for news of the devilish Mrs. Bilansky. Like any good gothic novel or penny dreadful, the story was thrilling—all the more because it was true.
The story of Louis & Nancy Dupree.
More than any other foreigner, Dupree knew Afghans, all kinds of Afghans; he was as charmed by goatherds as he was by the royal family. They all had something to teach him, he felt. He assumed that Afghans found him charming, too, and indeed many did. What Dupree failed to see—what other Americans who knew and loved the country less did see—was that while Afghans liked him, that didn’t mean they trusted him. “Afghans were very cautious with Americans,” Ted Eliot, the former ambassador, said. “Their long history with foreigners taught them that you never knew who would be in charge next.”
A good long read for the weekend. “Half a century ago, an American commando vanished in the jungles of Laos. In 2008, he reappeared in Vietnam, reportedly alive and well. But nothing was what it seemed.”
In the spring of 2008, a Christian missionary named Tom Faunce was digging wells in rural Cambodia when he heard a rumor, from a local pastor, about an American soldier who had managed to survive a helicopter crash over Laos in the spring of 1968. According to the pastor, the soldier, a decorated Green Beret, had later married a nurse from a North Vietnamese Army prison, taken the identity of the woman’s dead husband, and migrated with his new wife to the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai. Locally, the man was known as Dang Tan Ngoc. But his real name, the pastor said, was John Hartley Robertson.
Today’s needull is a longish recommendation. This article was Finalist for the National Magazine Award for Multimedia, 2014. This tells the story of few kids from Coronado, California created a $100 million empire becoming the largest pot selling operation on the West Coast.
At the center of it all was Lou Villar. A former Spanish teacher, Lou had taught some of the guys back at Coronado High. Lance originally brought Lou along for his language abilities; it helped that he was a smooth talker. But when he got a look at all that money, Lou discovered an instinct for business. He organized the Company into a visionary outfit, with himself as the kingpin.