Laundrie’s remains confirmed as those found in park

Alivia Giles

News

Oct. 20, 2021

On September 11, 22-year-old social media personality and travel vlogger Gabby Petito, was reported missing while on a road trip. On September 19, Petito’s body was found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.

On October 13, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled Petito’s death a homicide and it was reported she had died by manual strangulation.

Petito’s fiancé 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, whom she had been on the trip with, returned to his Florida home without her. Laundrie disappeared after refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.

On October 21, 38 days after Laundrie was reportedly last seen by his parents, human remains discovered at the same area where officials found his personal belongings were confirmed to belong to Laundrie. The items had been recently submerged under water.

“A comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found [on October 20] are those of Brian Laundrie,” Amy Jewett Sampson, public affairs specialist for the FBI, said in a statement.

A backpack and other items consistent with those Laundrie had in his possession and skeletal remains were found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which connects to Florida’s Carlton Reserve. This has been a primary search location for investigators.

FBI agents and North Port police were directed to the location by Laundrie’s parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie, who had accompanied law enforcement to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park to search for Laundrie.

The FBI Tampa Evidence Response Team will likely spend several days investigating the area as well as the items and remains found at the location.

Laundrie was not charged in Petito’s death, rather his arrest warrant was issued for the illegal use of Petito’s debit card to withdraw money after she had died.

Although both Petito and Laundrie shared pictures and videos on their social media platforms of what appeared to be an idyllic relationship, it appears that in recent months conflict had arisen between them.

On August 12, police in Moab, Utah responded to reports of a physical fight, which had escalated from an argument between Petito and Laundrie. According to audio from the Grand County Sherriff’s Office, the 911 caller told dispatchers they had seen Laundrie hitting Petito.

Another witness told police they saw what appeared to be Petito and Laundrie arguing over a phone. The witness went on to say Petito hit Laundrie in the arm, before climbing into the driver’s side door as if Laundrie had locked her out of the van.

The report described Petito as “confused and emotional” and Officer Daniel Robbins called the events of August 12, the result of “a mental health crisis.” No charges were filed.

Laundrie’s parents have chosen to remain mostly quiet throughout the search for their son. “Chris and Roberta Laundrie will wait for the forensic identification of the remains before [commenting],” Bertolino said on October 20.

“Gabby’s family is not doing interviews or making a statement at this time,” Rick Stafford, a lawyer for the Petito family said following the identification of Laundrie’s remains, “Gabby’s family will make a statement . . . when they are emotionally ready.”

Zodiac Killer Possibly Identified

Ella Bright

News

October 20, 2021

In a press release a few weeks ago, an independent group of cold-case investigators called the “Case Breakers” have allegedly found the identity of the Zodiac Killer: a man who died three years ago living in the Sierra foothills named Gary Francis Poste.

The Zodiac Killer was linked directly to five murders in Northern California in the years 1968 and 1969, but his actual number of victims could be much more. From the years 1969 to 1974, he taunted police and sent threats to various newspapers.

One such letter, addressed to the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle and Vallejo Times-Herald with no return address, began with this statement: “Dear Editor: I am the killer of the 2 teenagers last Christmas at Lake Herman.” The letter went on to describe the murders in detail that only the killer would know, along with the threat of more killing if the crimes weren’t published on the newspapers’ front pages.

Each letter ended with the symbol of a circle with a cross through it. The letters were also each accompanied by one part of a three-part cipher that he claimed contained his identity. These ciphers were decoded and revealed to say, “I like killing people because it is so much fun. It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal of all.”

In all, the serial killer claimed to have killed 37 people and even would send bloody bits of clothing to try and prove the crimes in his letters. He abruptly stopped sending threats in the mail in 1974, and the case has been cold ever since.

Until, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, the Case Breakers released their findings.

The group, a team of 40 former law enforcement investigators, claimed they identified the Zodiac Killer through pieces of forensic and physical evidence, as well as testimony from eyewitnesses. They also filed court affidavits and acquired decades of photos from their suspect’s former darkroom.

“He lived a double life,” said the alleged killer’s neighbor in an interview with the press. “As I’m an adult thinking back, it all kind of makes sense now. At the time when I was a teenager, I didn’t put two and two together until I got older. It hit me full-blown that Gary’s the Zodiac.”

Poste was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse in 2016. The same neighbor told reporters that his spouse would only sleep on the couch and that she saw Poste take out his aggression on her.

Where the Case Breakers linked Poste to physical and forensic evidence, some Internet users linked him to more digital footprints. In a screenshotted 2018 Facebook post, shortly after Poste’s death, he posed with a man named Glynn Barnes, who wrote “My last visit with old man! Gary Poste! Zodiac?” in the caption.

“That Facebook post is the weirdest bit of evidence to me,” said Olivia Clark (‘24). “That’s what gives me hope that they found the right person.”

Despite the press release, the Case Breakers have not been able to link DNA evidence to Poste, and the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department have told the press that the case is still very much open.

“The Zodiac Killer case remains open,” said the FBI in a statement to CNN. “We have no new information to share at the moment.”

“I thought it was confirmed that they actually identified [The Zodiac Killer], so hearing the FBI say the case is still cold is disappointing,” said Clark. “This should be a priority for the FBI and the police, even if the killer is already dead or close to dead. In the end, many people were needlessly murdered and there needs to be justice for them and their loved ones.”

Major Media Downtime

Felix Stoll

News

10/19/2021

The social media world has been rocked by another whistleblower case, this time addressing Facebook. A former Facebook data scientist, Frances Haugen, who had been part of the company back in 2019, came forward with accusations against the multimillion-dollar media company.

Haugen is a thirty-seven-year-old data expert from Iowa who possesses a degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in business from Harvard. Before joining the Facebook team, she worked 15 years in the field, holding positions at Google, Pinterest and Yelp.

In 2019 she was recruited to Facebook, where she requested to be placed in the division specializing in fighting misinformation — motivated by her loss of a friend to the conspiracy theory pipeline.

When she came forward, she alleged that Facebook’s algorithm turns a blind eye to misinformation campaigns present on the site due to the company seeking to maximize profit at any expense. The evidence brought forward in her testimony, set in front of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection consisted of posts dating back to the 2020 election as well as posts that involve information regarding the January 6 insurrection.

Haugen claims that after President Joe Biden’s win over former President Donald Trump in the past election, Facebook turned off all safeguards against the spread of misinformation. This subsequently led to enough posts being spread to organize the insurrection.

Additionally, she testified that Facebook’s own research clearly shows that the site amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest, but that the company chose to ignore it.

The accusations that Haugen has made against Facebook come after she released data revealing the potential harm that Facebook’s other app Instagram has on young people– especially teenage girls. Her research shows findings that say that peer pressure from the popular photo-sharing app leads to eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal ideation. These claims were already being investigated by the Senate’s subcommittee before the hearing took place.

Alongside Haugen’s allegations come those of Sophie Zhang, another former Facebook data scientist, who recently testified against Facebook before the British Parliament. She spoke about how Facebook’s policy involves removing fake accounts, but that this is often set aside when it comes to accounts possibly tied to political leaders or organizations. Furthermore, there are no policies against business and organization profiles posting information that could be deemed false.

Mass amounts of coordinated inauthentic behavior, as Facebook identifies it, takes place in the form of fake accounts set up by other countries in order to spread misinformation about American politics, such as accounts tied to Russia in the 2016 election.

Zhang also claims that Facebook does not uphold democracy and is instead interested only in profit.

Facebook’s co-owner and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has publicly stated that the allegations made against the company are false and have no backing. He asserts that there is no evidence that Facebook is the cause of mass social polarization.

After the whistleblower events came a large-scale media outage on Oct. 4. Facebook, along with their other– apps Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Oculus– experienced a prolonged downtime. During this downtime, employees reported their badges would not allow them entrance into Facebook buildings.

At one point, the Facebook domain disappeared, leading many to suspect data scrubbing at the company headquarters. Due to the inability to access social media, along with concerns of data safety, many other sites, such as Twitter, experienced an influx in user activity that caused more social media outages.

Alternative opportunities for student breaks.

Sarah Sheathelm

20 October 2021

It is no secret that Alma College prides itself in giving it’s students ample opportunity for travelling and service. One of those is the alternative break program.

Alternative breaks are presented to students to travel or work with nonprofit organizations throughout the duration, or at least some of, their break from classes and extracurricular activities.

With the much anticipated fall break recently behind us, one cannot help but wonder about the experience shared by peers on their alternative breaks and the opportunities presented to them.

There are many different options to choose from, some in nature. “For fall break, I travelled with the climbing club to Red River Gorge, Kentucky,” said Taylor Neeb (‘21). “We camped with fellow rock climbers from all over the United States within the mountain gorge. We hiked into Mire Vally to find beautiful rock walls and cliff faces to climb, as well as catch the morning sunrise.”

Others focus on non-profit organizations. “I went to the Dream Works Resale shoppe in Ithaca,” said Natalie Walsh (‘22). “This non-profit provides social, recreational, and vocational opportunities to people with differing abilities. I worked alongside 2 other peers for the day, helping them organize all the donations they had recently received. This included opening donations, figuring out what was good to keep and what might have been too old or unclean for use.”

There are various reasons students choose to participate. “I decided to go to Kentucky because I am a transfer student, and travelling across the country for four days was not viable.” said Belle Banks (‘25). “So going on an adventure with my club just made sense. I was wary about the eight hour drive, but I discovered that I actually really love road tripping! The scenic views and new friends were amazing.

From the same trip, another student shares their perspective. “I grew up in Kentucky until I was six,” said Neeb. “I was never able to experience the state’s incredible nature. Being able to sleep under the stars in a hammock surrounded by people who share a passion and aspiration to climb was indescribable.

Another reason is faculty influences. “An advisor for one of my clubs, Sheryle Dion, told me that her daughter liked to work there,” said Walsh. “I decided that I would go and see what it was like! There were so many different items offered at a cheap price, and it was a very cute set-up.”

Students who participate encourage their peers to do the same. “Overall, I’m so glad I went,” said Banks. “I’m surprised that more people have not looked into alternative breaks. I feel like I have honestly grown as a person and as a rock climber. Peace, love and Miguel.”

Other students share their longing to adventure back and experience more. “The experience was wonderful,” said Neeb. “While the weather provided trials and tribulations, there was always a

sense of calmness from being outdoors that would eventually settle over, and I hope to go back again to see more of the mountainside and create stronger relationships with other climbers!”

Some share sentiments of being able to give back. “Other than that, it was just a great experience,” said Walsh. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to see another part of our wonderful community!”

Alternative breaks come highly recommended from various students and many are offered for every break Alma College has. There is an opportunity for all to enjoy.

The rewarding feeling of being able to give back to the community or travel is one that will impact each student positively. Whether travelling or working locally, there are breaks for all students to find interest in.

Alma ASU

Diversity is a concept that can create undivided parallels in the world. The dimensions that separate people based upon identities such as race, gender and class create people’s uniqueness but also creates societal disruption. To combat the isolation that comes from having a diverse background students at Alma College have created the first ever Asian Student Union (ASU) on campus. Similar to the well known Black Student Union (BSU) at Alma, the ASU’s  purpose is to create a platform that is accessible for all students on campus to learn about and help create a safe environment for students of Asian and Asian American descent. To help explain more about what Alma’s ASU is and what it will mean for students I interviewed Kristina Her (‘22) President of the Alma Asian Student Union.  

When asked what ASU was and what it will entail for Alma College, Kristina Her explained, “Asian Student Union was created to serve as a support group and an educational resource for all students who are interested in learning more about Asian cultures. We hope this organization will disperse stereotypes regarding Asians and Asian Americans through workshops and cultural events in hopes of creating an Asian voice on campus. We plan to collaborate and unite with other minority student organizations and communities on a local and statewide scale to promote cultural diversity. This will provide students of all cultures to expand their cultural knowledge and understanding of Asian and Asian-American society and to eliminate narrow-mindedness, invigorate the apathetic, and promote cultural diversity. We hope to achieve these goals through active campus involvement, volunteering, and community outreach.” 

For the first event the ASU hosted a Curry Bar Mixer on Thursday October 7th at the TVD North and South Commons. The event’s goal was to introduce ASU to students, faculty and staff. Kristina Her explained, “Food events are a big focus as well since food is important to Asian culture and often ridiculed. We hope to host food events (similar to the International Club’s World Kitchens) for various Asian culture’s celebrations, such as the different New Years celebrations, important holidays, etc.” Other events they plan on hosting such as self-care nights and student and staff-led discussion panels will be tied to their core values of creating a safe space to promote diversity inclusion for Asian students and their allies.  

The Asian Student Union is an organization open to all students on campus regardless of identity background. It is an opportunity for students to have a space to feel comfortable learning about different cultural backgrounds, specifically regarding Asians and Pacific Islanders. Rosemary Hathaway (‘23) Vice President of ASU said, “I only know a few Asian students on campus so it is exciting to be able to have an inclusive space where I can meet others that have a similar identity. The Asian Student Union will allow open dialogue for all students.” If any student is interested in joining please contact Julia Dang or Kristina Her at her1km@alma.edu.  

2021 Alma College Alumni Awards

Campus 

Megan Neeley 

October 6, 2021 

Each year, the Alma college and alumni community recognize outstanding alumni with the Alma College Alumni Awards presented during Homecoming weekend. These five awards include the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Herbert Award, the Smith Award, the Young Alumni Award, and the honor of Grand Marshal.  

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor to be presented to Alma College alumni. This award is given to those who have brought distinction and prestige to Alma College through their profession. The 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award was received by Shelley Bausch and Stephan Meyer.   

Bausch graduated in 1988 with a Bachler of Science degree in biology and business administration. She is now the Senior Vice President at Axalta Coating Systems. Bausch highly values the liberal arts education she received at Alma and has used it to shape her professional career. 

Also receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award was Stephan Meyer who graduated in 1980 with a Bachler of Science degree in biology. Meyer is highly involved in the health care industry as a managing partner of River Marsh Capital LLC and an operating partner at Beecken Petty O’Keefe and Company. He served on the Alma College Board of Trustees in the past. Meyers and his wife were both involved in various charitable activities on campus.  

The Herbert Award, after George Herbert, whose love for Alma is an inspiration to alumni, represents the loyalty and service of the nominee to the Alumni Association. This award was presented to Denette Taylor, class of 1984, who double-majored in mathematics and physics. She is now a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s Disease at the Hauenstein Neuroscience Center. Taylor gives back to Alma College by generously coordinating real-world opportunities for current Alma College students in the medical field.  

The Smith Award recognizes alumni known for aiding student recruitment, providing students with important career steps or those that serve on an Alma College board or council. Paul Burns received the Smith Award this year. Burns served on the Alma College Parent and Family Board from 2016-2019 and volunteered at many admissions visit days and commencement ceremonies. He graduated with a double major in biology and chemistry in 1981. Burns is now a senior physician manager for Dow Chemical Company.   

The Young Alumni Award is presented to an alum of the past five to 15 years who shows the values of Alma College at a high professional level or in volunteer service. David Braidwood, class of 2011, is the receiver of this award as he is now a relationship manager for high growth talent solutions at LinkedIn and attributes Alma College as the reason he has been able to explore many opportunities in his professional pursuits.  

This year, Grand Marshal, representing the essence of Alma College, was Ed Lorenz. Lorenz is a highly accomplished historian. He was a Reid-Knox Professor of History and Political Science here at Alma from 1989 to 2018. Lorenz is also a three-time recipient of the Barlow Award for Faculty Excellence and has been voted Outstanding Faculty in the Social Sciences on numerous occasions.   

“Celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of our Alma College alumni is one of the highlights of Homecoming,” said Sherie Veramay of the Advancement Office. “Time and time again, our graduates prove that an Alma education does indeed produce citizens who live out Alma’s mission: to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly.”  

Alma College’s Advanced Drawing and Painting class has completed a mural in downtown Alma at 201 W Superior Street.

Emily McDonald 

Campus 

October 6, 2021 

Alma College’s Advanced Drawing and Painting class has completed a mural in downtown Alma at 201 W Superior Street. 

The project began when a local business owner and the Keep Alma Beautiful Committee reached out to professor Jillian Dickson. Students then pitched design ideas for the business owner to make a final selection for the piece that would be painted on the business’s outer-wall. Dickson says, “The professionalism in which each student prepared and built a proposed design for the space was inspiring. There were so many fantastic proposals.” 

While there were many impressive designs to choose from, it was the work of Sam Smith (‘22) that was ultimately selected to become the mural that the class would work to complete. 

When speaking of her design, Smith says, “I was drawn to the idea of incorporating the Pine River into the downtown space of Alma.  I was really inspired by simple geometric shaping being the basis for the whole design.  While a mural can be this amazingly rendered and complex piece of art, precise designs and color palettes are just as engaging and really nice to take pictures in front of.” 

The mural project was worked on with dedication from the Advanced Drawing and Painting classes and help from the Drawing I students. Dickson is proud of the effort of her students, saying “It was exciting to see students from every discipline and untwined major engage meaningfully in building professional art.” 

The art students put a lot of time and effort into this mural. Smith shares that one of their greatest difficulties with the project, besides finding time to work within their busy schedules, was painting on the brick material. 

“The cracks and divots make it really hard to have a smooth and even color coating, so you have to be really attentive to what you’re doing and fill in every little hole.” Smith explained. 

Professor Dickson hopes that the students involved with this project will learn to understand the impact of art on the community as well as the entrepreneurial opportunities that being an artist can provide. These lessons proved to be effective, at least for Smith who shares,  

“I enjoy this class with Jillian because we are really pushed to explore our creativity while simultaneously learning more about the professional job field for after graduation as art majors.  It really is the joy of having a liberal arts degree, we’re getting firsthand experience in all these areas of art outside the studio.”  

Smith comments, “To have a legacy as amazing as this is an honor as an Alma student.  I have known many of my classmates from this class since the first time I set foot into the Art department, so to be able to watch us grow as college students and work on this project together has created memories that will last a lifetime.  Alma has become a home to many students, so to be able to make our mark on the community is an honor.” 

Biden Works on Vaccine Mandates in Businesses

Claire Hipps  

Features  

10/6/2021 

With just over 50% of the American population fully vaccinated and the rise of the Delta variant, the Biden administration’s goals are currently to vaccinate the unvaccinated, further protect the vaccinated, keep schools safely open, increase testing, protect economic recovery, and improve care for those with COVID-19.   

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and health Administration (OSHA) is working toward requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to require unvaccinated employees to either get vaccinated or be tested weekly, according to the White House. By their estimation, this will impact over 80 million workers in the private sector. Although many business groups have praised the White House for its stance on the pandemic, there has been fierce opposition from Republicans, according to the Washington Post.  

Republican attorneys general in more than 24 states are acting in legal opposition to the rule. Some are filing against the administration, and others are exploring legislative exemptions, according to the Washington Post. This will likely complicate the legal situation in Michigan surrounding the constitutionality of various pandemic-era policies as the rulings in these cases are released.  

When asked about the constitutionality of vaccine mandates, Kristin Olbertson, Associate Professor of History at Alma College, said that “the Supreme Court has ruled that local governments can require community members to be vaccinated.” 

“States have fairly broad powers, called ‘police powers,’ to act to protect the health and safety of their citizens,” said Olbertson. “When private businesses require vaccines for employees or customers, this generally does not raise any constitutional issues, because people can choose to work or take their business elsewhere.” 

Similarly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission affirmed that public and private employers are legally able to require vaccinations and use threat of termination as enforcement, according to the Washington Post.  Many businesses independently see the benefit of having a fully vaccinated staff and have already instituted vaccine requirements voluntarily. The OSHA policy has not drawn notable opposition from primary business lobbying groups thus far, according to the Washington Post.   

“In non-healthcare settings…, [having fully vaccinated employees] would permit all employees to work without mask [and] would lower the risk of COVID exposure at work, thus minimizing employee absences…” said Olbertson.  

The pandemic has disrupted our lives in profound ways and has done so for a prolonged period. With the rise of the Delta variant complicating our return to normalcy, every person should seriously consider vaccination and adhering to pandemic protocols.  

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