Thursday, September 27, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Part 4: Haven, Jordan and Elijah Halstead - Scott Allen

This is the last in a series of four letters I submitted to ACN to discuss a tragic house fire in September 1999 that claimed the lives a father and three children. My hope in writing the letters is to remember these precious children and also to help raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence/intimate partner violence, mental health, and substance abuse.

I’m not sure if anyone or any group would like to create some sort of permanent campaign or memorial in honor of these children. Perhaps this series of letters will have to suffice. I don’t seek to divide people with these letters, but to bring people together to remember Haven, Jordan, and Elijah so that current and future children are spared from violence and death. Whatever intervention was needed to prevent their deaths, it was not to be. If resources or initiative were lacking at the time, it was with no malfeasance or done by wittingly putting these children in danger. I hope we can all work together, even if it’s just among neighbors, to make Amador County a safer place for everyone, particularly our children. There are wonderful people and institutions in Amador County that work very hard every day to help families deal with mental health problems, substance abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), child custody matters, etc. The key is putting people in touch with services and encouraging them to report their or others’ suffering. I’m no savior or anyone special, but maybe something could be done that can permanently memorialize these children that can also add in some way to the current effort in Amador County to help connect people with resources that will ultimately help protect people and their families from IPV and other issues I’ve mentioned.

I hesitated to send my thoughts as letters to the editor. It’s a very sensitive subject and I’m by no means an expert on any of the issues discussed in these letters that our community/society faces. Additionally, you’d be forgiven for thinking I could have met my goal of raising awareness about these issues without bringing up such a dreadful and traumatic incident. However, I felt this compulsion to discuss Haven, Jordan, and Elijah because I wanted to connect them to a current call for action. I know the community deeply mourned these children after their deaths. I don’t mean to chastise anyone for not, for example, building a monument in memory of the children. There is no right or wrong way to remember a loved one or friend that you have lost. I know these children aren’t truly forgotten. My intent with these letters is two-fold: 1) to remember Haven, Jordan, and Elijah because what happened to them was so unfair and unspeakably sad; and, 2) to add a small voice to the chorus of people who are speaking up loudly everyday to help their fellow Amadorians who are facing the kinds of issues I’ve discussed.

If I have failed in my efforts or if I’ve grossly mischaracterized people and events in these letters, I apologize. I’ve done my best to present my opinion in a thoughtful manner and include facts, at least as I understand them. My hope is that even if my letters are riddled with inaccuracies, someone finds a tiny piece of information that can help them. My feelings about all of this aren’t important and are barely worth mentioning. The only thing that I do feel is important is that I feel it necessary to keep these children in our collective consciousness. I think their story can possibly help other couples or families dealing with hardship. If that’s not possible, perhaps you can use your own memory of lost friend or loved one to bring about change. Please understand that I’m almost 20 years late to this story. Apart from the deep sadness I feel about the loss of these children, I also feel helpless. I wanted to find a way in 2018 to help these children who died on September 14, 1999. What could I do? Not much. At least for now, writing about them was all I could think of, as misguided as that writing may be. I hope I’ve helped. If not, I am sorry.

I don’t think it’s possible to not leave the story of what happened to Haven, Jordan, and Elijah Halstead on a somber note. I’ve found that sometimes a good treatment (albeit a temporary one) for moments of sadness is music. It took years before I could develop an appreciation for so-called “Easy Listening” music. One song finally stood out to me in adulthood, and that is James Taylor’s “Shower The People.” The lyrics and meaning are simplistic and idealistic. But they speak to the absolute necessity for people, especially families and friends, to never stop sharing their love for each other. And to me, love is protection. We can’t protect Haven, Jordan, and Elijah, but we can work to protect our children today in 2018 and in the future. Life, marriage, and family can be complicated and difficult, but we should always be able to take refuge in each other’s love, especially, and always, children. I want to leave everyone with a simple reminder courtesy of James Taylor:

“…Oh, father and mother, sister and brother
If it feels nice, don't think twice

Just shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna work out fine if you only will
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way you feel
Things are gonna be much better if you only will

You can run but you cannot hide
This is widely known
And what you plan to do with your foolish pride
When you're all by yourself alone
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel
You can feel it beginning to ease
I think it's true what they say about the squeaky wheel
Always getting the grease.

Better to shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna be just fine if you only will
Shower the people you love with love
Show them the way that you feel
Things are gonna be much better if you only will…”

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Part 3: Haven, Jordan and Elijah Halstead - Scott Allen

This is the third letter in a series of four on the September 1999 house fire that claimed the lives of Timothy Halstead, and his three children Haven, Jordan, and Elijah. As mentioned in my previous letters my hope in writing the letters is to remember these precious children and also to help raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence/intimate partner violence, mental health, and substance abuse.

This happened in 1999, well before where we are now with the MeToo movement and the incredibly heightened awareness of mental illness. It’s heartening to know that so many brave women, and even men, are speaking out today against abuse and violence. That hopefully will go a long way towards avoiding senseless deaths down the line, particularly when it involves couples/families. Unfortunately, bad, terrible, and unspeakable things happen to human beings every day. It’s the human condition – it’s unavoidable. We all suffer as adults, but the least we can do is protect children as much as possible from that suffering. Nothing can be done for Jordan, Elijah, Haven, and their father. Those children will never get the justice they deserve, nor will their family. There will never be closure - no silver lining - when something like this happens. Haven Devon Halstead would be 27 years old right now; Jordan Mathias Alexander Halstead, 24; Elijah Murray Halstead, 23. They should all still be with us today, as should so many other innocent women and children lost to senseless violence. Additionally, Timothy Halstead should be with us also. My intent in saying that is not to forgive, honor, or memorialize Tim Halstead, and it is not meant to deflect his culpability or minimize the horrific act; an act I believe he purposely caused. It is only to acknowledge that he needed serious help.

If our kids don’t matter, then nothing else matters. Virtually every decision we make should be influenced by whether it will leave children better off today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and in 50 years. Intimate partner violence (IPV)/domestic violence is a kind of slow drip toxin that slowly but surely contaminates and decimates the body over months and years. Eventually the body fills up though. Without extraordinary - and perhaps at the time impossible - measures, the deaths of Haven, Jordan, Elijah, and Timothy Halstead may not have been preventable. It’s possible that the rage Timothy Halstead felt towards Alyse Alexander was so unbelievably intense (and the extent of which wasn’t fully known by friends or family) that as many stated in the days after the fire, no one thought he’d try to inflict as much pain on Alyse as possible by hurting their children. Perhaps it’s a case of someone in dire need of mental health care suddenly “snapping.” He just snapped the morning of the court date that was only hours away to address reinstatement of a restraining order Alyse had against him (she had previously requested, and the court granted, the restraining order be dropped). Additionally, on the day of the fire, he was to submit to the court written verification that had enrolled in court-ordered weekly anger-management counseling. Based only on what I’ve read, he had no history of abuse or threats towards his children. I don’t have the answers. I’m not a mental health practitioner, a lawyer, family law expert, social worker, or law enforcement officer, and I don’t pretend to be. I won’t be offended if someone who works in one of these professions points out where I may be wrong, am misinterpreting something, or that I’m just plain misinformed. I’m trying to be thoughtful, but I know I will probably fall short.

What I do know is that it’s vital to let someone know if you think someone and/or their children are in a violent situation. It’s probably very uncomfortable to make a claim against someone else and end up being wrong. If you’re a victim, hopefully you have someone you trust with whom you can confide. You don't have to tell the world, but if you tell the right people at least you have an opportunity to get the necessary help. If you know someone who is mentally ill, and you think they may harm themselves or others, tell someone. Silence can be dangerous. In its most nefarious form, silence can be complicity. Silence can also be used to hide shame and embarrassment and/or to avoid accountability. Perhaps all of this writing simply serves as a reminder to me and anyone who reads this that it’s okay to be inquisitive sometimes. Not to purposely cause mental anguish for anyone, of course, but to encourage anyone who knows someone who may be in trouble. Perhaps you, the reader, are in trouble and need help. It might take an outsider to help pull someone/a family out of a volatile situation. We may at times need an advocate to help us out. Advocates might be neighbors, friends, or complete strangers. For anyone who has tried, either successfully or unsuccessfully, to intervene in another family’s problems, it was probably quite uncomfortable to insert yourself into a situation you thought needed addressing or to save someone you thought needed saving. Maybe you told a parent how to raise their child. Maybe you called the police or Child Protective Services. Maybe you confronted someone’s violent ex-partner. Maybe you were right in the end. Maybe you were wrong. Maybe your decision ended a friendship. Maybe your decision to intervene saved a marriage, or improved the lives of children, or even saved a life (or lives). The victim(s) is not at fault for creating the situation, but they may need someone else to help remove them from that situation. It might be hard to know what the right thing to do is. It’s okay to ask for help and to ask if someone else needs help. Maybe everything humanly possible was done by everyone to help and protect this family. Regardless, and almost 20 years later, I still feel compelled to help remind folks of the critical need seek help for yourself or others that are in danger.

“If You See Something, Say Something” is the Department of Homeland Security’s slogan which “engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness-building, partnerships, and other outreach.” Depending on the source and the criterion used, one’s odds of dying on American soil as the result of a terrorist attack is anywhere from 1 in 1,000,000 to 1 in 20,000,000. Politically motivated terrorism is real, but it is a very distant threat to our everyday lives, especially in Amador County. In contrast, nearly 1 in 4 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC). However, most IPV incidents are never reported. Additionally, the CDC found that from 2003-2014, more than 55 percent of female homicide victims were killed in connection to IPV. Also, per CDC, in 2015, homicide was among the 15 leading causes of death for age groups under 1 year (14th), ages 1–4 (3rd), ages 5–14 (5th). I don’t cite all of this information to try to cause a phrenzy of people snooping on their neighbors or friends to see what they are doing to each other or their children. It is a reminder that IPV is far and away more common than many of the things we typically fear, as well as a reminder to speak up if you think something is wrong. You might have to speak up repeatedly. You may cause discomfort or anger. Amador County does have resources to help people dealing with IPV, mental health issues, drug/alcohol dependency, etc. Reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Health Amador County office, Operation Care, the Amador County Behavioral Health Department, or The Resource Connection, to name a few. Or talk to a friend, a stranger, a colleague, a clergy member - anyone whom you trust. The California Judicial Council has a domestic violence self-help section on its website. I’m surely leaving out other great resources.

Previously reported upon data from the 2018 County Health Status Profile (California Department of Public Health) shows that Amador County had the third highest suicide rate in the state from 2014-2016. While in raw numbers homicides in Amador County are rare, Amador County had the 11th highest homicide rate from 2014-2016. Amador County experienced a double-murder-suicide as recently as April of this year. This is a small community and we need to use the personal connections we have that are lacking in many larger communities to help one another if we think someone or some family may be in trouble. That might not be enough, but we can at least try.

My hope is that this letter, and all of my letters on this issue, can help connect someone with the services they need. I will leave you with one final letter on the matter that I hope will appear soon after this letter.

Foothill Conservancy: Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands - Fri Nov 16

Celebrate California’s newly designated Wild and Scenic River, the Moke with bluegrass greats Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands

On Friday, November 16th, Grammy-nominated bluegrass musician Laurie Lewis and her band, the Right Hands, will perform a family-friendly concert in Mokelumne Hill. The event is a special celebration of Wild & Scenic designation of the Mokelumne River and a benefit for the Foothill Conservancy. It will be held at the historic Mokelumne Hill Town Hall on Main Street, starting at 7:00 p.m.

“We’re really excited to have Laurie return to Calaveras with her band,” said Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Amanda Nelson “Laurie’s a wonderful musician and long-time river advocate, and the band is amazing. Since Laurie’s concert here sold out in 2011, and 2015 we’re urging everyone to buy tickets early so they get a chance to enjoy this special evening of traditional and original bluegrass music.” The event is co-sponsored with California Wilderness Coalition.

Laurie Lewis has entertained audiences around the world since the early 1980s as a solo performer, in duos with Tom Rozum and Kathy Kallick, and with her band. Laurie and Tom were nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for their album “The Oak and the Laurel.” In addition to that Grammy nomination, Lewis also performed on the 1997 Grammy-award winning album “True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe,” and the Grammy-nominated Ralph Stanley & Friends’ release “Clinch Mountain Country.”

An exceptional fiddler known for her beautiful singing and rich songwriting, Laurie has been named “Female Vocalist of the Year” several times by the International Bluegrass Music Association. IBMA executive director Dan Hays calls Laurie “one of the preeminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time.” Acclaimed musician Sam Bush calls her “a great singer, terrific fiddle player, fine songwriter, and one very good band leader.”

In Mokelumne Hill, Laurie will be joined by frequent partner Tom Rozum, Patrick Sauber and Max Schwartz. Tom’s versatility and diverse musical influences come to the fore every night on stage with the band. He primarily plays mandolin in the group, but is also an accomplished fiddle, mandola, and guitar player. Tom’s background as a rock and swing musician adds a uniquely satisfying flavor to the band. He is a fine lead vocalist, the ideal harmony partner for Laurie.

Patrick is a formidable talent on banjo, Cajun accordion, mandolin, and guitar. He has performed with the late Doc Watson, Herb Pedersen, Weird Al Yankovic, The Limeliters, Dirk Powell, and many others. Patrick has a keen ear, unusual musical depth and technical expertise and an encyclopedic knowledge of traditional music forms.

Max, a Berkeley High School senior, is a rising star on the bluegrass banjo scene after playing for many years in his family’s bluegrass band, Oak Grove. At the tender age of 18, he understands the inner workings and sense of groove of a bluegrass band in a way that many older players have yet to master.

In Mokelumne Hill, Laurie and the Right Hands are likely to pay homage to such eminent influences as Woody Guthrie, Hazel Dickens, Grandpa Jones, and the inimitable Bill Monroe, as well as performing Laurie’s own compositions.

Tickets for the concert are on sale now. Tickets for adults are $35 in advance, $40 on the day of the show. Tickets for children under 12 are $15. Advance tickets can be purchased online from Brown Paper Tickets at or in Jackson from the Foothill Conservancy. Refreshments, including wine and beer, will be on sale at the event.

For more information, please contact Foothill Conservancy’s Carolyn at 209-223-3508 or

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Part 2: Haven, Jordan and Elijah Halstead - Scott Allen

This is the second letter in a series of four on the September 1999 house fire that claimed the lives of Timothy Halstead, and his three children Haven, Jordan, and Elijah. As mentioned in my first letter my hope in writing the letters is to remember these precious children and also to help raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence/intimate partner violence, mental health, and substance abuse.

There are people who know far, far more than I could ever know about the Alexander-Halstead family, so I don’t pretend to be the arbiter of truth on the matter. I don’t know anyone’s private thoughts or actions. Honestly, I’m hoping that someone will write in response to me telling me how I’ve got it all wrong and here is what really happened. Maybe someone involved in the custody case or who was a friend can present some facts or maybe provide a different perspective. From what I’ve gathered, as of January 7, 2000, the Amador County Sheriff's Office said the investigation would continue into the deaths. That was the last word on the investigation that I could find. I know that we don’t always get the answers we want in life. Things aren’t always nice tidy affairs that are easily explainable. This case may be more complex than I’ll ever know, and I may just have to live with things as they were in late ’99 and early ’00. I acknowledge that my thoughts will not be well-received by everyone (or anyone?). I’m sorry that this is painful to you, the reader. I’m sorry if I needlessly and foolishly dredged up a tragedy that is perhaps best left alone. If you are a family member or were a friend of the family I’m sorry for revisiting the pain that was inflicted on you. Maybe the reason why I’ve never heard anyone talk about these children over the years is simply because it’s too painful. Perhaps that fact is lost on me more than I realize, and all my words are a waste. My intent is not to be callous or reckless, but I understand that it is unavoidable that I deeply offend or hurt someone’s feelings. For that, I apologize. I had to constantly remind myself while composing these letters that I’m talking about real people. Real people, real lives, real emotions, and real deaths. It’s unfathomable to imagine what it was like for Alyse Alexander and her family, and friends of the family to deal with such a profound and sudden loss. There is no scale that can measure a loss of that magnitude. I honestly don’t know how Alyse Alexander lived on.

I’m sure many people wondered then, and maybe even in 2018, how something like this could have happened. I don’t intend to try to blame anyone or any entity for any possible errors, failures, or omissions that may have in whole or in part led to Tim Halstead killing himself and his children. It’s probably controversial enough that I’m even claiming that Halstead did indeed murder his children, especially since law enforcement could not determine that it was a murder-suicide. Additionally, I don’t intend to speak for anyone, including the mother of Haven, Jordan, and Elijah – Alyse Alexander –  who sadly passed away in Arkansas in 2014 at the age of 45 (she is survived by two children from another relationship). I don’t know any more than what is publicly available. This tragedy simply could have come down to a failure of imagination: no one could have imagined that Tim Halstead would ever hurt his kids; his history of threats/violence, possibly declining mental health, and alleged alcohol/drug abuse issues notwithstanding. The November 1999 articles written by Cheryl Romo in the L.A. Daily Journal generated a lot of interest. In fact, the L.A. Daily Journal received more letters to the editor in response to her articles than any other articles in memory, at the time. From what I can tell, the articles were not well-received in Amador County. I think some believed that Amador County was being painted as some wild west county where men beat their female partners with impunity and that the county court was ill-equipped to protect women and children from violent men. I don’t know what is more painful to believe: that is was preventable or that it wasn’t. At least if it was preventable, that means there is some room somewhere for improvement in how we perceive and deal with IPV and its associated issues. Whether or not the deaths of these children were a catalyst for change, presumably processes changed, funding and training increased, awareness was raised, and lessons were learned since the time of the deaths in 1999. However, there is no permanent evidence that I’m aware of that serves as a reminder of what happened (other than the empty lot where the house once stood): No memorial. No fund. No awareness campaign to honor the children. It’s obviously not a fond memory, and I understand that people grieve and choose to remember lost loved ones in different ways. It was traumatic for all involved. Losing three young children is unimaginable. It likely left many people immobilized or feeling helpless; probably not able to think or act in certain ways without feeling intense grief. I’m certainly not implying that anyone did anything wrong as far as how these children were remembered and memorialized. Not every tragedy needs ongoing public displays of grief or other public actions. People should be allowed to remember lost loved ones in their hearts and in their minds, and I want to be respectful of those who wish to mourn privately and remain anonymous in doing so. It could simply be that at the time I was too uninvolved in the community to be aware of what happened or too oblivious to care about any kind of commemoration on behalf of the children at the time. Now, as an adult, I feel compelled to put my thoughts on paper in order to help someone who may be in danger of being abused (or causing abuse) to seek help, to help someone who may need mental health services, and to call upon everyone to speak up for those who are unable.

I’d love to think that if my current 36-year old self could be transported back to 1999 and I knew this family I would jump in to save the day. I’d love to think that, as I’m sure so many others have thought as well. But, in reality, I hate being nosy. I hate the thought of offending a neighbor who I thought, for example, was treating their partner/children poorly, only for me to be proven wrong (and rightfully embarrassed). So, I can’t pretend that I would definitely have acted any differently or better than those who knew this family. What happened on that day is a tragedy for “us.” A tragedy for humankind. Any time children, especially as young as Haven (8), Jordan (5), and Elijah (4), are killed, humankind has lost something. We lose the innocence the children bring to this world. We lose the love and curiosity of these children. Additionally, we lost the human potential of these children. According to what I’ve read about the family from the L.A. Daily Journal article, friends said that Haven loved to shop, Jordan loved Pok√©mon, and Elijah loved everything. Simply based on their pictures alone, these children were obviously very sweet and very precious.

Friends and certainly the family felt/feel the loss infinitely more than the community, society, the world, or me. With such profound loss, I’ve found that it reverberates. Sometimes for years, sometimes forever. When a friend of mine passed away in 2000 during our senior year of high school, I felt the shockwaves for years. It wasn’t until I was able to somehow deflect those shockwaves and turn them into vibrations that I was able to fully come to terms with his passing and that he was gone, and that I didn’t need to rage against whatever it was I was raging against any longer. For a long time, I was so worried that people/the community would forget him. I think it was when I finally realized he wouldn’t be forgotten, that the profound sadness I felt began to subside and the healing could begin (i.e. turning shockwaves into vibrations). Some of you knew him. His name is Michael Neville, and we just experienced the 19th annual basketball tournament held in his honor. I think that’s what I was worried about with Haven, Jordan, and Elijah. That they were somehow forgotten. I think that’s why I care so much about these children who I didn’t know and to whom I have no connection. Of course, I know there are numerous classmates, friends, and family that never have and never will forget them. I know these children are not forgotten. They were and still are deeply loved by so many. I guess I just want to add in some small way all these years later to the enormous love that so many had for these children. A love that no doubt endures to this day.

If you’ve come this far and read this and the first letter, perhaps you’ll read the third and fourth letters about these children. Until then, please reach out to someone if you, or people you know, are in a violent or volatile situation and need help.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Part 1: Haven, Jordan and Elijah Halstead - Scott Allen

This is the first in a series of four letters I submitted to Amador Community News to discuss a tragic house fire in September 1999 that claimed the lives a father and three children. My hope in writing the letters is to remember these precious children and also to help raise awareness of the issues of domestic violence/intimate partner violence, mental health, and substance abuse.

Over a year ago, I happened upon a tragic story from 1999 involving the deaths of three young children and their father in a house fire in Pioneer. It was shocking and incredibly sad to read. The more I looked into the story, the more disturbing it became (the parents estranged, death threats made by the father towards the mother, and violence). Even though I oddly had no memory of the fire and have no connection to the family, I felt extremely uneasy about it all. I decided to write a series of letters to the editor expressing my feelings about it, to remember the children, and as a small gesture toward hopefully preventing future tragedies. This story is profoundly sad. I acknowledge that many people may be upset by having to revisit this and to read what I have to say about it, especially after almost 20 years having passed. Please know that my intent is to help, not to divide, while fully understanding that I’m re-opening a deep wound to the community. I’m aware that I may fail in my effort.

Early on the morning of September 14, 1999, the house at 25605 Sherwood Drive in Pioneer was a raging inferno. Neighbors called 911. But by time firefighters arrived the house was on the verge of collapsing and firefighters could not even get close to the fire due to its intensity and had to wait until the next day to search through the rubble. According to fire officials at the time, were it not for the cool, damp conditions that morning, the fire may have created far more destruction in the area. Timothy Halstead and his three children, Haven (age 8), Jordan (age 5), and Elijah (age 4) Halstead were inside the house. All four perished. Neighbors noticed that the gate to the property was closed. They also noticed that Halstead’s truck was parked across the entrance, blocking entry. Neighbors could not recall ever seeing the gate closed or seeing the truck parked in that way. The smell of gasoline was strong, according to witnesses. Investigators eventually concluded that the fire was deliberately set and that an unknown accelerant was used but could not officially declare the deaths a murder-suicide. Authorities could not determine a cause of death for the children because of the extreme amount of damage done to their bodies by the fire. However, somehow, blunt-force trauma and puncture trauma were ruled out as causes of death of the children. Additionally, poisoning was ruled out as a cause of death for Haven Halstead. The official cause of death for Tim Halstead was by “inhalation of products of combustion.” Halstead and the children’s mother, Alyse Alexander, were separated at the time. Halstead had once told a friend that he would kill Alyse if she took his kids away from him. There are affidavits from Alyse stating that he threatened to kill her. He was convicted of beating a neighbor who had allegedly had a relationship with Ms. Alexander. She also had a restraining order against Halstead. It was also alleged that Tim Halstead was abusing alcohol and/or drugs. If you believe, like I do, that Tim Halstead committed a triple-murder-suicide, I think there are enough dots to connect for a reasonable person to assume he had some sort of mental health issue as well. However, it’s only an assumption. One thing is clear: despite all that family, friends, the legal system, therapists, law enforcement, and others knew about this family, no one foresaw Tim Halstead hurting his children. Though, for some there was a belief that there was no way Tim Halstead would purposely kill his children. It was either an accident or maybe even murder by an unknown assailant. We know that suicide often defies prediction. Perhaps this deadly act fits into that narrative?

I was 17 at the time of the deaths. Somehow, I have no recollection of it or the aftermath. “Wtf?!” That was my first thought when I read about the fire. How could I have missed something like this? For someone that still remembers a lot about my teen years, it was bizarre that I hadn’t at least heard about it from someone. But, I hadn’t heard about it from anyone; not in 1999, not in 2009, or now. The fire, the deaths, and the aftermath were reported in the Ledger Dispatch, the Stockton Record, the Sacramento Bee, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Reno Gazette-Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. Investigative reporting was also done by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, which featured two stories by Cheryl Romo published in November 1999: one titled “Suffer the Children” which reported on the children’s deaths and sought to figure out what led to them. The other, titled “When Doves Cry,” detailed Amador County’s problem in properly dealing with domestic violence. The proximity of the tragedy- Pioneer, Amador County- added to the level of unease I felt. Something like that could happen here? What’s more, I have a son who is the same age now (4) as Elijah was when he died. The suffering of children has definitely taken on new meaning since my wife and I had a child of our own. Lastly, not long after I read about these children, I asked myself, “How could this have happened?” This family’s issues were known to the legal system and other professionals involved with the family. Separations, divorces, and child custody matters can be nasty and traumatic, but no one is supposed to die. Needless to say, this story captured my attention like no other that I can recall. In fact, it has haunted me for over a year now.

Please know that I’m not an investigative journalist and I don’t pretend to be. I’m not presenting new information here, I’m just a regular citizen looking at an old case in search of answers. Obviously, even if I wanted to, I don’t have the resources to do a deep dive into this tragedy in the way that Dateline NBC or PBS’s Frontline, for example, tackle controversial topics. Perhaps something like that was needed in 1999 or 2000. But now? I don’t know what purpose it would serve, other than to open a wound that I’m already re-opening. I’m not sure it would bring any sort of closure to anyone involved, but who knows. Maybe there is truly nothing to follow up on. I don’t doubt that everyone involved in the investigation of the deaths did anything but their best to determine what happened. Perhaps I’m just used to being able to know virtually everything about anything just by using Google. And/or, maybe I’m just on my own selfish yet futile journey to bring meaning to something that defies meaning. But, when someone dies tragically, especially children, we often try to do something to try to prevent future tragedies, right? We use the heartbreak as an opportunity for reform, to help others, to enrich lives, and to avoid the death(s) from being in vain. Maybe I’m in the minority in thinking the fire was foul play by Tim Halstead. Maybe most folks think at the very least that he didn’t murder his own children. Is that why there is no permanent public memorial or something like a domestic violence/intimate partner violence (IPV) or mental health awareness campaign in the children’s honor? Is there no issue to reform or for which to raise awareness? Perhaps the only issue here is one person gone completely off the rails; an act that defied prediction or intervention. If the fire and the deaths were indeed somehow a tragic accident, it would make sense that no one linked any kind of public IPV awareness campaign or mental health awareness effort to the tragedy. I’m coming into this almost 20 years late, so there is much I don’t know and much of which I’m not aware. I know that in the days after their deaths a memorial service attended by about 200 people was held at Pioneer Elementary, where Haven and Jordan attended, for the three children. I can’t imagine the sadness and anguish from that day. We don’t need a tragedy to raise awareness for something or help people in need. However, this tragedy has had a profound effect on me. It’s difficult for me to grasp the enormity of what I’m writing about. I hesitated even sending this to the ACN. My thoughts may have been better off kept to myself, but here they are anyway.

My hope in writing these letters is to try to remember and maybe even re-kindle an effort(s) that I’m not aware of that were made in the aftermath of the deaths of these children to honor them and help children and families in Amador County. I have three more letters on this subject that hopefully will appear in ACN some point.

Scott Allen

The Jefferson Messenger - Ed 18 Vol 2

The Jefferson Messenger 

Edition 18. September 22, 2018 . Volume 2
Constitution Week
Message from The Constitutional Convention of 1787

The State of Jefferson
Greetings to our fellow patriots in the new state of Jefferson! We recognize and understand the challenges that you are facing in your continual struggle for liberty and the creation of a Constitution that will protect the rights of the People, and that will limit the powers of a government that seeks only to grow and expand.
Please know that we did the best we could to look into the future and anticipate what you would need in a world that we could only imagine. It was clear to us that the key to the success of a Constitutional Republic would always be an informed, honorable, and moral People. All of our plans and formulations were predicated on this expectation, as hopeful as it may have seemed, even in 1787. But from the onset of our Constitutional creation, Benjamin Franklin warned that we were being given a Republic, if we could keep it.
Extensive research and study, along with difficult experience has shown us that the most important issue facing a free people is the establishment of a government with limited powers, and a system of checks and balances on those powers. We created a central government of three branches with the most important branch for the representation of the People being the directly elected legislative body. The recognition of the absolute need for representation was evident during the Constitutional ratification process. It became a matter for debate among the various states on the need for a revision that would clearly establish a system that would allow for the increased number of representatives as the population increased. In fact, some states held that as a requirement for their ratification. Even in the early years, that became the primary issue of importance to a People who wished to perpetuate liberty and limit government.
Your situation is no different today. Representation is still the key to a government that is of, by, and for the People. As we look into our future, and your present, we puzzle at how it has gone so wrong. What could we have done, and what can you still do to reclaim the legacy of Liberty?
First: Do what you can with education and information to return to an informed, honorable, and moral people. Do not accept leaders who do not display these attributes. Set examples by your own behavior to encourage others.
Second: Demand that your elected and appointed officials honor their oaths of office. Establish new laws, if necessary that provide penalties for any violations of these oaths.
Third: Require that you are well-represented by a ratio of elected officials to the population that allows close supervision by the People of their elected representatives. We provided this for you in Article the First, but we were not vigilant and did not realize that our efforts were thwarted by our own carelessness and by those who opposed this revision to the Constitution.
Fourth: Do not allow the unequal expansion of the Executive and Judicial branches in relation to the Legislative branch. This removes the power of the People and grants it to officials who are not directly accountable, and responsible, for protecting the rights of the citizens.
Fifth: Accept no deviation from the Constitution that we established for you. Hold as inviolable the precious rights that are delineated in the first ten amendments and all rights that derive from them. Return to a Senate that answers to the protection of the rights of the States, rather than to their own financial interests. Remove from the government the authority to tax you as an individual. Force the government by your voice and actions to honor its obligation to provide you with a republican form of government. Demand that the Senate operates under a simple majority vote, and that all revenue bills originate in the House. Do not let your representatives pay respects to special interest money instead of your rights.
Sixth: You have a particularly unique opportunity to correct many deficiencies in the functioning of government by the creation of your own State of Jefferson and its new laws and Constitution. Hold your officials accountable. Demand that the central government honor the tenets of the Constitution that we created and for which you are now responsible.
When we declared that we were ordaining and establishing this Constitution to ourselves, our posterity, and the United States of America, we did it with a sacred oath in our hearts and souls. We still honor our oath and expect that you will hold that sacred oath for your families, your country, and a future that demands a People who love Liberty. Do not let our efforts, our sacrifices, and our legacy be for naught. On this sacred day of honoring the signing of our shared Constitution, honor the Patriots who made it a reality by taking on the onerous task of shouldering the burden for them all.
Janet Chandler
Burney, Shasta County
State of Jefferson
Congratulations Mariposa and Stanislaus Counties!
Mark Baird presented the Declarations for Mariposa and Stanislaus Counties to Ted Muhlhauser in the Office of the Secretary of State in Sacramento on September 21, 2018. #Jefferson23Strong!

Penny Garland
David Garcia
David Garcia, a beloved patriot and strong supporter of the State of Jefferson, left his earthly home suddenly last Saturday while away from home.  His death was a result from his diabetes but at this point we do not have many details as his wife and family are in shock and grieving greatly.  
David was a hard working man and bold advocate for the State of Jefferson movement.  He loved his Mexican heritage but he loved being an American even more.  There was nothing he loved more than explaining to people the opportunities available in America when true liberty and freedom are protected and endure.  He traveled near and far and talked to everyone he could about the need for better representation in Northern California.  He gave time and time again of his resources and time to further promote the State of Jefferson to not only the Spanish working and speaking community, but also to the Russian, German and Italian speaking people as well because he could speak 6 languages!   Please pray for Martha (his wife), children and loved ones who are feeling this loss in a much greater way than the rest of us.  
 We know that there will be many expenses for his funeral and for his family and we will update their needs as they are assessed.  There is aGoFundMe account set up in his name if you would like to contribute.
Bret Murphy

The services for David can be found on the GoFundMe page by clicking the  Read Latest Update link at the bottom of the page . If you make a comment on the page, you will also receive email updates. This information will be updated on the GoFundMe page when it becomes available.
Events are happening all over Jefferson Counties, too many to list here. For more information, please check the website, Events and Meetings or copy & paste:
Second Annual Liberty Festival
Don't forget to join us at the Liberty Festival on October 6, from Noon to 8pm at the Anderson River Park Amphitheater. It is located at 2800 Rupert Ln in Anderson. There will be bands, activities for the kids, food, beer and various booths. Remember to bring your own chairs. Also don't forget to pick up your raffle tickets for a Glock. It will be your choice of size and caliber if you are the lucky winner. Tickets are $5 each or $20 for 5 tickets. The raffle will be held when all tickets are sold. You may contact Britt at 530-339-6286 or you can email for more  information regarding the event.
Penny Garland
Drawing in El Dorado County
El Dorado County State of Jefferson Committee is having a drawing! Only 100 tickets will be sold at $20 each.
The drawing features:
5.56/223 cal
Bushnell AR Optics 1 xMP
Zombie Assault red/grn T-dot rifle scope
Harris bipod
UTG Rail Covers
Custom flash suppressor
2x 10-round clips
Many extra "Zombie" Signage
Custom Zombie Cerakote butt stock & clips
Custom Plano Locking

To purchase tickets, contact Steve Klinger at 916-799-4916. The drawing will be held after all tickets have been sold.
Penny Garland
~Jefferson's Desk~
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather bed.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Conference Call
September 23, 2018 @ 7:00 PM
Join us to find out about the latest happenings in Jefferson.

Conference Call Phone number:
Access Code: 989-704-2586#

Click here to join the Chatroom
Don't miss out!  Mark your calendar for upcoming calls!
  • Oct 14th and Oct 28th
  • Nov 11th and Nov 25th (no call)
  • Dec 9th and Dec 23rd (no call)
Jefferson Liberty Radio has knocked it out of the park again!
Don't miss their latest podcast with Jake Wenger, 4th Generation farmer and former MID Board Member. Jake is an extremely knowledgeable and well spoken advocate for our water rights and the threat posed by the Bay-Delta Plan, which is almost certain to be put into play later this year. He also addresses issues surrounding the State of Jefferson formation and how it affects water rights.
Listen to the latest podcast here.
Here are some of the resources he mentioned during the interview:

Worth Your Fight
Save the Stan
Tuolumne River Management Plan

Matthew Davies
Technical Producer,
Jefferson Liberty Radio

Standing County
Committee Meetings

Subject to change without notice.

Coos County, OR
3rd Wednesday each month 6PM
60 W Third St
Coquille, OR

Curry County, OR
2nd Wednesday each month -
6:00 PM
Panthers Den
29513 Ellensburg Ave
Gold Beach, OR

Douglas County, OR
2nd Tuesday each month - 6 PM
Republican Headquarters
506 SE Jackson St
Roseburg, OR

El Dorado County
2nd Tuesday each month -
6:30 PM
American Legion Hall, 4561 Greenstone Road, Placerville
Doors open 5:30 to 6:30 PM, to socialize, ask questions, buy merchandise, and/or enjoy a meal.  The meeting time: 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Jackson County, OR
2nd Thursday each month -
6:30 PM
County Library
412 E Main St
Rogue River, OR

Josephine County, OR
1st Thursday each month - 6:00 PM
Elmer's Restaurant
GP Parkway and Foothill Blvd
Grants Pass, OR

3rd Thursday each month -
6:00 PM
Kerby Belt Building

Klamath County, OR
1st Wednesday each month -
6:00 PM
Shasta View Community Hall
5831 E Shasta Way
Klamath Falls, OR

Mariposa County
4th Tuesday each month - 5:30 PM
Happy Burger Diner Meeting Room
5120 State Hwy 140 at 12
th St

Nevada County
2nd and 4th Mondays each month - 6:00 PM
Robinson's Conference Center 293 Lower Grass Valley Hwy
Nevada City

Placer County
3rd Tuesday each month - 6 PM
Round Table Pizza
2345 Sunset Blvd

Shasta County
Mondays at 5:30 PM
2570 S. Bonnyview Road

Shasta Co Intermountain Patriots
2nd Tuesday each month - 6:30 PM
Burney Lions Hall
Main Street, Burney

4th Tuesday each month
Social time - 5 PM
The Ol Merc
Hwy 299, McArthur
Meeting time - 6:30 PM
McArthur Lions Hall,  Hwy 299

Stanisluas County
1st & 3rd Wednesday each month - 5:30 PM
Grizzly Rock Cafe
4905 North Golden State Blvd 

Sutter and Yuba Counties
 4th Monday each month - 6:30 PM
Church of Glad Tidings Building 500, Room 212
1179 Eager Road
Yuba City

Tehama County
 1st  & 3rd Friday each month -
7:00 PM
Westside Grange
20794 Walnut Street
Red Bluff

Trinity County
 2nd Thursday each month -
6:30 PM
Hayfork Community Church
7450 State Highway 3

3rd Wednesday each month -
6:00 PM
Round Table Pizza
120 Nugget Lane

Tuolumne County
2nd Tuesday each month -
6:00 PM
Sonora Re/Max Building, 207 S Washington Street