Monday, December 19, 2005

75: “The Nightmare Scenario”


Fiction:
From the Hunterstown Morning Sun, Monday, July 20, 2009

Amber Alert Too Late, Suspect Apprehended

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (AP) – An Amber Alert issued by the Pennsylvania State Police in Straban Township yesterday came just two hours too late for a missing Hunterstown teen. The body of Jessica Anon, 13, daughter of Glenda Anon of Hunterstown, and Philip Anon, of Greenbelt, Maryland, was discovered in a small wooded area along U.S. 15 south of York Street. Witnesses reported seeing a car enter a construction area at approximately 5:00 p.m., one hour and 55 minutes before the Amber Alert was issued.

Jessica was playing softball at the Straban Township ball fields next to the rear parking area of the Crossroads Casino, Resort and Spa, located adjacent to the Gateway Gettysburg complex on U.S. 30 just east of Route 15. Several of her friends saw her talking to an adult male after the game, and then get into his car at approximately 4:50 p.m.

Missy Null, also of Hunterstown, thought Anon was being picked up by her estranged father. “We all figured it was her dad, taking her for a visit,” said Null. “It wasn’t until her mom showed up about 5:30 that things started to look bad. We told her mom about Jessie getting into the car with her dad, and she started to freak. She called Jessie’s dad on the phone and he claimed he was still at work in D.C. Mrs. Anon collapsed, and my friend Janie grabbed her cell phone and called 911.”

Pennsylvania State Police and Casino Security responded to the scene, along with ambulances from Huntertown and Gettysburg. Movement to and from the scene was hampered because of the heavy traffic. A photograph of Jessica was obtained from her mother at the scene, and taken to the local Comcast Cable Corporation building on Baltimore Street east of Gettysburg. Channel 10, the cable system’s local access channel began broadcasting the Amber Alert at 6:55 P.M. The local TV stations in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, and northern Maryland were contacted and the Amber Alert was broadcast for several hours. It was cancelled approximately 10 p.m., about an hour after Jessica’s body was found.

Acting on a phoned tip, State Police began searching the construction area behind the A&S housing project along U.S. 15 at about 7:45. The area, scene of high density construction by A&S Builders for the past two years, is the location of low income housing units clustered at the edge of the last acre of trees in the once wooded tract. Police K-9 units aided in the search. Her body was discovered by a K-9 unit behind a swale, and blocked from view by large construction dumpsters.

Home video shot at the ball field by one of the girls allowed police to get a description of the man, and his vehicle, but no other identifying info was obtainable. Surveillance video from the casino enabled police to get a license plate image and thus were able to put out an alert for a tan older model Toyota, with Maryland tags, belonging to a Fin D’Innocenzia, 34, of Timonium, Maryland. D’Innocenzia was apprehended along U.S. Route 70 at approximately midnight last night, by an alert Maryland State Trooper. He is being held in the Frederick County jail in Frederick, pending charges and extradition to Pennsylvania.

D’Innocenzia’s driver’s license photo was identified by three of the girls from the ball field, and by the two witnesses that saw him driving into the construction area shortly after 5:00 p.m.

FBI agents from Harrisburg are aiding in the investigation because of the apparent interstate nature of the crime.

In an emotional press conference at 2:00 a.m., Sgt. Benjamin Voyd, of the Pennsylvania State Police issued the following statement:

At approximately 5 p.m. this afternoon, Jessica Anon, of Hunterstown was abducted from the ball fields next to the Crossroads Casino, Resort and Spa. Acting on information from her mother, and her friends, an Amber Alert was issued shortly before 7:00 p.m. As a result of the Amber Alert, tips received by telephone resulted in the discovery and recovery of Jessie at about 9:00 p.m. With the cooperation of the security service from the casino, video surveillance tapes led to the identification of the vehicle in which Jessie was abducted as belonging to one Fin D’Innocenzia, of Timonium, Maryland. Mr. D’Innocenzia was identified by two witnesses as the driver of the vehicle seen entering the area where Jessie’s body was found. Mr. D’Innocenzia was also identified by witnesses at the scene of the abduction. We will not comment at this time on rumors that Mr. D’Innocenzia has a record as a sexual predator. Maryland State Police apprehended Mr. D’Innocenzia a short time ago, and are holding him at Frederick, Maryland, pending charges and extradition proceedings. Maryland State Police also inform us that they have recovered Jessie’s baseball glove, and her jersey from Mr. D’Innocenzia’s car.

According to the security force at the casino, D’Innocenzia was asked to leave the premises about 4:20 p.m. because of panhandling and drunken behavior. Surveillance video shows him getting into his car and driving through the parking area, toward the access road to the ball fields. A shift supervisor at the casino security office made the decision to end surveillance once D’Innocenzia’s vehicle exited the casino property and entered the public thoroughfare leading to the ball fields.

We would like to thank the FBI for helping to get things established across the state line, and the National Park Service law enforcement staff for assisting in the investigation and providing volunteers for the search.

Voyd refused to entertain questions from the media.

Phone calls to David LeVan, president of Chance Enterprises, the group of out of town investors who built the casino, were not returned. Mr. LeVan was vacationing on his ranch out west. Mrs. Barbara Ernico, the investor who stepped into the duties of publicity specialist for Chance, at first refused to speak to reporters. Later she issued the following statement:

Chance Enterprises no longer has any connection with the Crossroads Casino, Resort and Spa, having sold its interest in the facility several months ago to Wynn Resorts, Ltd., owned by Steve Wynn. Chance Enterprises regrets the unfortunate events of yesterday but sees no connection between the acts of an obviously deranged individual, and Chance’s former casino.
When reached for comment, Mrs. Ernico said, “It would have happened even if we hadn’t built the casino.”
The Adams County Commissioners issued the following statement to the press:

We regret the death of a Jessie Anon. We are appalled that the casino has brought this level of crime to the Gettysburg Area. We were against the casino from the start, thinking it was a bad idea, and very risky socially. Our hearts go out to the Anon family.

The Straban Township supervisors also issued a statement:

We deeply regret this unfortunate incident, and wish to express our deepest sympathy to the Anon family. We would like to thank the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI, the National Park Service and the Maryland State Police for their able assistance in bringing this episode to a conclusion so quickly.

The Supervisors feel that had the state legislature listened to our pleas for an increased cut from the casino, Straban Township would have had its own police force to deal with this situation, and the outcome might have been different for Jessie.

Former township supervisor Jay McDannell refused to comment.

Formal charges are expected to be filed by the Adams County District Attorney’s office by the end of the day tomorrow, but extradition hearings may begin before that, as the FBI is filing interstate flight charges against D’Innocenzia in Federal Court in Harrisburg this afternoon.

In an article in the Hanover Evening Sun, Sunday, December 19, 2005, Mrs. Ernico, speaking as the publicity person for Chance Enterprises, made the following statements:
"It's not good enough to just operate a business - we have to be good community citizens, and we will be."

"I don't think you are going to see an increase in problem gambling, and that's the same for divorce, suicide, prostitution, child abuse and crime - including organized".

"Ultimately, if we allow people to drive drunk or cause other problems - it affects our reputation. We can't, and we won't allow that to happen."

"The people who make up this county have strong values and a high work ethic - I don't think there's going to be social problems, I could be wrong, sure - but if I am, there's money there to deal with it."

A memorial service for Jessica Anon will be held at the Hunterstown Church, Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. No information on funeral arrangements have been made yet, pending release of the remains from the County Coroner.
End fiction.

How do we keep this nightmare scenario from coming to pass? How do we save Jessie's life?

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